Ruth's Diary


Unlike most people I love it when I get to say 'I told you so'. When I was sick, I wrote about my visit to the doctor on a Tuesday. My cold had disappeared that Saturday. I'm happily keeping the nasal spray though because I'm always preoccupied with keeping my nose clear.

At this time of year, I had originally thought that I would talk about certain things. The Sonic Fan Film for instance. I was so happy when it was uploaded, but then, I just found myself without a strong reaction once I'd seen it through. My overwhelming thought was that it was not a movie, but a pilot episode for a series that will never be produced.

Another topic I thought I would write about is the Watchmen comic. I love the movie, it's just that, at the time it came out I remember talking to someone on the internet (so we were anonymous to each other) telling him that while he may love the comic, he should give the movie a chance before criticising it, or something to that effect. I can't remember what I said, I just remember reacting to his fierce declaration that he will never see it, but I saw it on release day and loved it. He had conceded that he did see it in the end and felt it was as faithful a movie adaptation as would be possible, but he would always prefer the book and felt I owe it to myself to read it one day. I said I would, even though I was not inclined to.

Well the fates came together and my current flatmate actually owns a copy. He had previously loaned it to Vašek, my friend and co-worker, who in turn felt the book was superior. Bear in mind, he saw the movie first. He encouraged me to read it through, so I did, and...again, no strong reaction. Other than, 'actually I prefer the movie'. There are actually some interesting talking points when you compare the two versions; I now understand why many comic fans did not view the movie that favourably but...I don't know, I'm just not inclined to devote an entire blog post to it right now.

So back to video games: I've been playing Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale for roughly a month now, have got the platinum trophy, and I still find it tons of fun (despite online players beating me to a pulp most of the time). It really is a love-letter to Playstation games, from the awesome introduction movie (no game has featured one of those in a while) that uses the standard PS3 menu background as its arena, to the various levels and characters from Playstation's history. The best part is that you can win with any character, some are just easier to master than others and some characters do not suit certain personality types too well. I played through with Rachet (and Clank) yesterday and my God, I found them such a chore to play with. Their Level 3 Super Attack is awesome though - I'm getting ahead of myself!

Any match can have either 2, 3 or 4 players, which can also be divided into teams. Other match settings involve the type, like timed (get the most points in a set time), kills (be the first to perform X amount of kills) or stock (last man standing, the idea is to die as little as possible). Another match setting is whether items and weapons will be usable. These items appear in the level as you play, which you can then use against your opponent. These items are taken from various games, so I squeed when I recognised the hedgehog bomb from Resistance. The final match setting is whether the match is influenced by level hazards or not. Basically, you and your opponents can be 'attacked' by the level in various ways if hazards are on. The obvious attack is if an aggressor from a featured level attacks you, a more creative one is being made to answer a Playstation trivia question on the Buzz level. If you're not standing on the correct answer by the time-up, you get pied in the face. It's funny how the posed question makes a fight come to a gradual standstill, with the various players just standing on an answer.

So, levels. Each level is actually a mash-up. So in the case of Alden's Tower, you start off in the level inspired by inFamous, but then the level changes into the scenery from Sly Cooper games. This is referred to as the level getting 'invaded' by another. In the case of the level Dojo, the world of Parappa Da Rappa really is invaded by a giant robot from Killzone, but in the case of Stowaways, the sight of Columbia (from the game Bioshock Infinite) just glides in. Oh but then some of the creatures try to attack you. Some invasions are downright hilarious, like Franzea: the level of Loco Roco getting smashed to pieces by a Metal Gear Ray, which then gets attacked by Loco Roco in return.

While All-Stars did get many positive reviews, I did wonder if there was any criticism levelled at it, as I did have my own gripes as well. A key criticism was that some of the playable characters featured were not necessarily suited to a fighter genre, picked more for marketability. This was obviously the case with Dante (Devil May Cry) and Big Daddy (from Bioshock). I have to say, it's a clever way of advertising upcoming games and seeing what Columbia looks like made me think 'I'm definitely getting Bioshock Infinite in March!' But credit where credit is due, each character was programmed in a way so that they work in the matches. Every character basically has 3 different attack buttons, with X for jump. They also all have "throws" (grabbing moves) and 3 levels of super attacks. The only way to get kills is with these supers basically, as there are no health bars and you have to attack to charge the meters and get these supers. The longer you charge, the higher the level and the larger the damage. You can also use the items to get orbs that charge up your meter. Going back to characters, I think I already said that Crash Bandicoot should have been included.

So, personal gripes. As you can tell from my description of the many many things happening on screen during a fight, I initially (sometimes still do) lose where I am on screen. I also feel Kratos is way overpowered. Another annoying thing is that the manual is terrible. Nothing explained the belt system, so I had to look up online how belts worked (it's a sort of ranking system for how you play online). I also had to look up which game was referenced for some levels because I had no idea where the robot that invaded Columbia came from (turned out it was Twisted Metal). Also, why are Cole and Evil Cole both featured? I can only assume there was some sort of pressure from the developer Sucker Punch because Resistance is a game that is heavily referenced in All-Stars, yet Nathan Hale or Jo Capelli is not a playable character, WTF?

But this game is tons of fun. In order to get the trophy for playing against someone in your friends list, I joined the IGN forums and joined a tournament. Got me the trophy easily and I now have some new people to play with. Also for offline there are the combat trials, which provide fresh challenges.

Also, while the set-up for arcade mode is almost always stupid, the most entertaining interactions are between Sly Cooper and Nathan Drake.

Aaaaand another complaint: why do we have to sign the Fair Use Agreement every single time we select online play????

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