Tag Archives: Metal Gear Solid

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – Eyes-on at E3 2014

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain - Eyes-on at E3 2014

The horse pooped.

The hands-off theatre demo shown at E3 2014 for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain starts off with an extended version of the trailer shown at the Sony press briefing and then dives into a familiar bit where Ocelot is leading Snake to a desert crest, monologuing his kerchiefed heart out as he explains the situation out here in Afghanistan. This is also where a tutorial is offered but skipped for the sake of the demo’s time slot.

And then, as the Konami-staffed player begins to trot down the dusty path with Snake riding his steed, the horse poops. From conversations with other people in other demo sessions, that was no a random event but instead scripted, and knowing that, it seemed to set the entire tone for what The Phantom Pain would be: more Metal Gear Solid.

We ride on down a bit and horse stealth up (a new mechanic you’ve seen in past trailers where Snake leans off to one side, lowering his profile and reducing his chance of being spotted) close to a wall where on the other side stands some guards. After using Snake’s sparking mechanical arm to lure one dude over and a wall to crush his head, he sticks up another and gets some choice information regarding a storage container nearby.

This is where we are introduced to the Fulton recovery system, something you may recall from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. (For those of you unfamiliar, it’s an awful lot like the Skyhook implement in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, both of which are based on real US military technologies.) In exchange for the in-game currency of GMP, you can Fulton away pretty much anything back to Mother Base.

This includes any enemy soldiers you subdue to staff your operations, the aforementioned storage container full of materials, and even a sheep that happens to wander by at that moment. It’s all up for grabs and it all goes back to Mother Base, another element introduced in Peace Walker.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

And while so far it seems like a lot is brought in from Peace Walker, The Phantom Pain actually has a lot more in common with Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes from earlier this year. In fact, it appears to handle exactly the same as Ground Zeroes, which should be no surprise. That was effectively an appetizer as much as it was a proof of concept for the sweeping changes brought to fruition in The Phantom Pain, mechanics and all. Consider that the area available for this game is “200 times the size of Ground Zeroes.” Yeah.

We then make our way to a point overlooking our actual objective within an enemy camp. Using binoculars, Snake can tag any enemy and keep tabs on him through walls and various states of existence. Busting out the Phantom Cigar, an e-cigar that “heightens Snake’s perception of time” (with holographic smoke!), we go through a couple days and watch on the map as we track the movements and schedules of our tagged foes. We can see when they sleep, when they go on duty, and when they just meander, all while the time of day dynamically changes.

But now it’s time to actually infiltrate the compound, an area itself nearly the size of Ground Zeroes in its entirety. Going about and taking out one guard at a time, we are treated to the other new systems of The Phantom Pain. At any time, we can staff those back at Mother Base to do our bidding, including research and development. In this case, we have the classic cardboard box studied and delivered to us out in the field.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Snake jumps into the box only to emerge in the actual cardboard box. But it has become quite the advanced piece of technology. For instance, you can pop out of any given side at any time. Go up top and you can pop a dude in the head with a tranquilizer and then drop right back down with no one the wiser, eliminating the old hassle of equipping and unequipping over and over again. Or, if you get spotted, you can dive out of one of the sides to cover, leaving the box as a decoy and allowing you to go around to get the drop on your would-be capturer.

We go around, CQCing people in the face and whatnot and Fultoning everything and everyone in sight (which works on vehicles as well, but unsurprisingly fails to succeed indoors and in poor weather). Eventually we get our objective, recovering an unexpected hostage and gathering the expected intel. Unfortunately, a guard spots us and now it’s time to fight and escape.

Utilizing Mother Base once more, we call in an airstrike while we flee in a stolen jeep to the rendezvous point, which the demo player impressively showcases behind him while not crashing into anything. We hope in the helicopter, which can still be attacked while on the last leg of any exfiltration, and dash off to Mother Base.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

And here we are shown the expanded role of the sea-bound headquarters. Rather than being a largely conceptual entity in Peace Walker, Mother Base is now a fully operational and walkable thing. Everything you Fulton will be back here and waiting including the jeep and the sheep we previously balloon’d as well as the people you have no working under your stead. They will go off on their own missions while not improving their skills at the base, firing rounds at the shooting range and practicing their CQC.

All the raw materials you collect will also be used to expand your base. The one we see in the demo is several platforms large with another being built out at sea, but everyone’s starts at one platform and will eventually become unique to everyone else’s Mother Base. You can build defenses like armed UAV drones as well as set up Fulton’d missile launchers and the like.

The defenses will come in handy when, obviously, attackers come. Yes, those that you piss off during your time in the field will come after you at Mother Base, but those that you befriend will also come to your aid as well. It adds an interesting meta, concurrent consideration to all the tactical espionage you engage with during the story missions.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

What’s not clear, however, is if this will become a hindrance or a nuisance or similar, having to constantly dip out to make sure your Mother Base isn’t falling apart. It’s also not clear if exploring the massive space of the game’s map will happen organically or if it’s open world in the same way Batman: Arkham City is an open world where some filler enemies occupy you between singular set pieces that basically function as isolated levels.

Really, a lot remains unanswered about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but much of it seems promising. Ground Zeroes is the mechanical basis of this game, and Ground Zeroes is easily the most amenable of the franchise to control and actually play. And it’s full of super serious nonsense coupled with weird Kojima humor, the cherry on top of a horse-pooping sundae. We’ll see how it shapes up when it releases…some time?

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Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Review: Briefing in Brief

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

There’s a concession you have to make if you’re going to enjoy any bit of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. This is not the full, rambling, probably-going-to-be-good Metal Gear Solid V you’ve been waiting for. No, that’s going to be Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Ground Zeroes, instead, sits somewhere between a demo and a traditional, full-length Metal Gear game. But as oddly sized as it is, there’s a lot to like.

Ground Zeroes puts you back in the shoes of Big Boss/Snake, albeit with Kiefer Sutherland voicing the gravelly, one-eyed spy now instead of David Hayter, throwing you into the fray between Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and the aforementioned, upcoming The Phantom Pain. Set in 1975, you’ll be infiltrating an American base called Camp Omega, aiming to retrieve a handful of assets.

If you need to know the context to any of that, well, I’m sorry. Unless you want this review to be something around the size of three to four Harry Potters, you’ll have to hit up Wikipedia for that. Or check out the 11-page Backstory thing in the game. It’s just pure text, but it is, if nothing else, accurate. This should tell you that for as much as this is an oddity of retail, it is as wholly committed to the series’ mythos as any other game before it.

It also lavishes in its inanities. Or rather, its creator’s inanities. Hideo Kojima’s relatively toned-down narrative approach to Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has gone full-on, well, Kojima. The 10-minute cutscene that opens the game, while incredibly gorgeous, exemplifies how well the designer takes the overly melodramatic and barely comprehendible elements of the franchise’s insane plotline and makes it seem like duh doy, this is how the world works.

In terms of gameplay, however, Ground Zeroes is quite the departure. It drops you into what is basically an open world and tells you to go accomplish some tasks. Past Metal Gear games are fairly open as well, but they put you in open areas that belong to discrete levels. Ground Zeroes is a single island, all of which is open you to, and throws in a day-night cycle with weather variability.

The switch from explicit levels to a fully, more traditional open world is surprisingly beneficial to the familiar stealthy mechanics of the game. The radar has been removed and been replaced with the soup du jour of open world mechanics: enemy tagging. But this allows you to take advantage of Snake’s greater maneuverability so that when you sneak your way somewhere you’re not supposed to be, you can reward yourself with increased awareness of what’s around you.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

This also means that much of the tedium of waiting under a table or in a locker in the games of old (which, admittedly, were designed around those moments) gives way to facilitated travels. It makes sense, given that you now could potentially have an entire island to traverse, and inching your way across a whole base isn’t anyone’s idea of fun, but it also gives the game a much faster feel, like this younger Snake is brasher than his more aged iterations.

A gimme to this is that Ground Zeroes is somewhat built around the idea of getting caught in an open world. One neat aspect of this is that if you do get spotted, time slows down for a bit, allowing you to give it your best to resolve the situation before reinforcements are called. It can make the game much too easy overall, but it also takes away the problem of getting spotted and being forced to vacate a whole section of the base while the open world AI resets.

After that, when you do get caught and alarms are sounded, is when problems are revealed. To solve the same problem, though from a different perspective (“you’re busted” instead of “you’re about to be busted”), Ground Zeroes integrates a more traditional third-person shooter scheme. Action has always been an option in the franchise, but now it’s been commoditized into something that wants to be familiar.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

Except that it’s not. Shooting always felt off in Ground Zeroes. Either you’re lighting up a dude with what seems like three too many bullets or wishing you could get closer to CQC him or running away to let their meager ambition wither away. Obviously this is and probably always will be a series about stealth, but that doesn’t mean the moments where you’re caught should be unpleasant. (I will say, however, that driving a tank and blowing up huge fuel reserves is a lot of Bay-sian fun.)

The good news is that the stealth bits make up for it (also you can just reload a checkpoint when you are busted so you can avoid shooting or running your way to freedom). The additional bits that Snake is capable of now makes moving him around much more enjoyable. He’ll automatically cozy up to corners and whatnot if he’s close enough. CQC is no longer an arcane practice of hoping for the best but now intuitive and easily made to do what you want.

And it is such a smooth game. It feels fluid and looks fluid. The engine, previously boasted in an impressive GDC video, is capable of some insanely beautiful things. Rain and nighttime, two of the hardest situations to accurately portray in video games, both look exemplary here, and somehow even better combined. Facial animations and character models look straight-up out of a pre-rendered cutscene, but nothing here is; it’s all real time.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

It is, however, a very short experience. You can probably finish it in less than two hours. Eurogamer actually beat it in ten minutes earlier today while CVG did it in 18 minutes with an S rank. And once it’s all over, you’re unlikely to feel fulfilled by the narrative. It touches on a lot of what was compelling about The Phantom Pains‘ (unbelievable) trailer, but it is ultimately lackluster.

But for those scant few hours you’re playing Ground Zeroes, it’s quite the ride. Experimenting with an open world of familiar but refreshed and refined mechanics is a ton of fun, and getting this little appetizer of Kojima narrative nonsense is titillating. As long as you’re aware of what you’re getting into, which is to say a brief, half-demo, half-full-length game (and priced accordingly) that doesn’t go far beyond whetting your appetite, then you have a lot to look forward to in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.

+ Absolutely gorgeous game with incredible effects and sound design
+ Moves like butter, like a game you wish every other Metal Gear would move like
+ The open world works amazingly well
– Disappointing in its narrative arc, ending somewhere between getting started and getting there
– Action bits don’t feel great

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Game Review: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
Release: March 18, 2014
Genre: Third-person stealth action
Developer: Kojima Productions
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Players: Single-player
MSRP: $29.99
Website: http://metalgearsolid.com/‎

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Some Sort of Stigma

Some Sort of Stigma

As video games continue to exist and be an openly available consumer-based industry, stigmas begin to form. Some already exist and apply to the world outside of the game, such as gender and age markets, platform price points, and the sobering hiring-firing cycle of traditional development, but the ones that pertain to the products themselves are just as multifaceted and interesting. They can begin as one thing and slowly change and morph into new predilections as standards and practices evolve.

With a shooter, you come to expect certain things because that’s just the way they are. You expect some sort of indicator to come up around the reticle when you’re damaging something, you expect a variety of weapons that cover a set array of utilities, and you expect some sort of shooting/meleeing interplay. That’s what we’ve been trained to believe a shooter will provide, even though that wasn’t always the case. Save for the plethora of firearms and their distributed use, these are modern conventions brought about by relatively recent titles.

These stigmas can go on and on for most every other genre, too. Fighting games have metered super moves, racing games have driving lines, and mobile games have in-app purchases. They may not be categorically true, but the fact that the majority (or majority of significant releases, anyways) hove close to this stricture makes it certainly seem that way.

Take stealth games, for example. When you think of sneaking around in a video game, you think of waiting in the shadows, not getting spotted, and accomplishing some task unseen. You get in, get out, and don’t get caught. A perfect run in any stealth game is obviously the one where you accomplish it like a ghost: invisible. We know that because Splinter Cell taught us that a good sneak-fest ends with zero alerted guards and zero trigger alarms. Metal Gear Solid taught us that the punishment of fighting enemies in some strange combat framework was reason enough to warrant us channeling our inner 90s Swayze.

Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine, though, begs to differ. Andy Schatz’s stealth co-op game is all about being sneaky little thieves and accomplishing furtive goals under some searching gaze. The difference, however, between Monaco and the Dishonoreds and Mark of the Ninjas of the world is that there’s a timer.

I guess, really, it’s not the timer itself since many stealth games have timers either as a scoring mechanism or individual event-type situations, but it’s what the timer does to you as a player. Whereas other stealth games follow within the general confines of the genre in that all of the non-sneaking mechanics such as shooting and stabbing and whatnot all primarily exist to get you out of a jam and back into a state of calm (or maintain that state of calm depending on how your skill level).

Monaco really bucks that trend because your primary sneaking mechanic is the same as your primary get-out-of-trouble mechanic: movement. Each character has a special ability, but that usually lends itself to cooperative teamwork instead of individual tiptoeing. Instead, your primary action is to simply move, either in a whisper-quiet walk or an all-out run. The difference in input simple and plays into that timer.

It’s human nature to desire to be the best, or at least the best you can be. Getting your personal completion time down to mere minutes is utterly intoxicating, so when it’s so simple to shave entire seconds off, you often act upon that impulse. So you run. You’ll run and charge headfirst into situations you probably should have surreptitiously entered, but that’s because it’s so easy to get in and out of your sneaking and escape modes. If you don’t get caught, great! If you’re seen, then you’re already running, and if you keep running, you get a lower time. Fantastic!

This is counter to the single most monolithic stigma of stealth games: getting caught is a failure. In Monaco, getting caught means nothing except get your ass out of there. All that contributes to your time is how long it takes you to get your job done (steal stuff) and how well you did it (amount of stuff stolen). It’s simple in its ways of pushing you to break every preconceived notion of stealth you have and just go for it, a sentiment usually reserved for platformers and shooters.

It provides a moment of reconsideration in what stealth really is. Look at Pac-Man. That old school arcade chase-around might be the first instance of a stealth game; it perfectly mimics mostly every other title in the genre’s post-alert state. You are on the run and being chased by, ostensibly, guards as you try to steal all of the dots and fruit. The only difference is that there is not sneaking mode (unless you count gaming the enemy AI) and there’s no real true escape; you are always running.

So maybe Monaco isn’t really breaking any stereotypes of the stealth genre. Maybe it’s simply a return to form for what they really are. It’s the thrill of the escape. Even games where the focus is on not getting caught like Splinter Cell and Hitman, they are all really just about getting away. It just so happens that in those cases, the best way to haul ass is to be deliberate and calculated. Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine strips out the cautious methodologies and goes back to the first stealth stigma: all you have to do is run.

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Why the Hayte(r)

Why the Hayte(r)

David Hayter is doing fine. The man with the vocal chords made of gravel is mostly known for voice acting Snake (and all other clones, descendants, progenitors, etc.) in the Metal Gear Solid series. He defines what it means to be a lone wolf action hero whose philosophical quandaries outmatch his ability to kill a man to many people, perhaps even an entire generation of gamers, developers, and writers.

Hayter has plenty of other things on his plate, though. Aside from a few one-off live action acting gigs and a plethora of other voice acting roles, Hayter is primarily known for his screenwriting. He wrote the 2009 adaptation of Watchmen, X-Men and X2: X-Men United, and The Scorpion King and will make his directorial debut soon with Wolves. What I’m saying is that Hayter is going to be fine not being Snake anymore (if lacking in a few Twitter lessons).

The question, though, is whether everyone else will be.

Late last month, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes) was officially announced. It featured a lot of what we already knew about the game due to either sloppy secret-keeping, a desire to avoid another Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty switcheroo fiasco, or some combination of the two. It had Snake, stealth, and narrative nonsense translated into visual nonsense—the Kojima mirepoix, as it were.

What it didn’t have, however, was Hayter’s signature voice backing the grizzled war veteran. It’s a testament to how much Hayter has done for the character and the franchise in how quickly and ubiquitously fans were able to point out the fact that it was not him voicing the sneaky, I’m-too-old-for-this-shit commando. Fans were understandably upset.

So imagine how they took it when they found out Hayter wasn’t even approached to voice Snake. Issued through a *shudder* TwitLonger statement—perhaps the most telling sign of the times—Hayter set the record straight: he’d come back from Canada to LA after working on Wolves to find out that voice recording for the new Metal Gear Solid titles had already started. So he talked with someone involved in the production and found out he wouldn’t be needed.

Handled with aplomb and like a consummate professional, Hayter told fans he valued his time as Snake and, given the chance, would keep doing it. “It’s been fifteen years, nine games, and an enormous blast to undertake,” he wrote. “If it were my choice, I would do this role forever.” Of course, that decision lies with Kojima, but Hayter does take time out to thank his fans for sticking by him.

And I’ll admit that I was a bit sad, as well. Metal Gear Solid was actually one of the first non-arcade games I ever went back to beat multiple times, and ever since then, I’ve always gone back for more on every other (console) release. So the nostalgia weights heavy on me, too, but does the voice necessarily make the character?

To an extent, the answer is obviously yes. Even casual observers were quick to notice that Snake simply did not sound like Snake, let alone the sort of folk that have FOXHOUND tattoos. I remember I used to be a huge fan of the Pokémon animated series. I remember I wormed my way out of a day at the mall with my parents just to watch the US premiere episode (which was, oddly enough, not the first episode of the season and really threw me for a loop).

After eight seasons of hearing Eric Stuart and Veronica Taylor do bang-up jobs as Brock/James and Ash respectively, it was shocking to hear them change. They were swapped out after Pokémon USA took over the rights to the anime and aimed to keep production costs low with simple sound-alike voice actors. I was, as much as you can in such nascent years, livid. How dare they tinker with such a perfect show. I couldn’t believe it.

One week later, it never came up again. Unless some friends and I were shooting the breeze over old episodes, it didn’t even bother me. Ash, as much as I loved the character, had changed. He had been shaped, obviously, by the talents and inflections and personal touches of Taylor to become the personality, but the type of character had changed that a new voice actor seemed natural. The Advanced trilogy was over and Ketchum and the game were off to the Battle Frontier; it kind of made sense that this would be the time to recast.

The same goes for Snake and Hayter. The character was obviously cultivated by influences and knowledge and quirks of Hayter’s that no one else could have brought to the table, but Snake is hardly the same person as before. Hell, he literally is not the same person in some cases. I’d like to think of it as if the original voice actor created and crafted and honed the template, and now someone else can fill it and make it their own as well. Narratively, now is the time; Big Boss has been in a coma for nine years (and in Ground Zeroes‘ case, will be right after the aspirations for Outer Heaven come to light), so why not a new voice?

Changing a voice actor is much simpler than changing a live action actor. It takes fans to notice when a voice changes, but it only takes eyes to notice they’ve swapped out Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal. And the change itself may not be necessary, but it’s usually more beneficial than diehard enthusiasts are willing to admit. The originals lay the groundwork, the foundation of a character, and those that follow can then build in their stead and create new characters. Don’t get me wrong; I would love to see Hayter return for this and all other Metal Gear Solid games. But war has changed, and so have voice actors.

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Top 10 Video Game Text Tones

Top 10 Video Game Text Tones

Here’s a bit of an oddity: I’m doing a top 10 list! It’s not that I don’t like them or hate the number 10. It’s more that I find the idea of delving deep into a single aspect of a game much more intriguing than spreading myself over the broad base necessary to make a list. I’d rather talk about how oppression and empowerment are the dominant themes of the Far Cry games or how the marketing for Assassin’s Creed III spoiled some surprise twists of the game’s story than talk about every weird peripheral made in the last 20 years or the most useless innovations of the 90s.

I’m also horribly indecisive and hate picking a number one anything.

But this was one I just couldn’t get out of my head. A few nights ago, a friend of mine’s phone went off with a text alert and it was the Metal Gear Solid alert sound. You know the one. That shrill, rising pluck that seems both brief and drawn out. I’ve heard it as many people’s text ringtones, but this is the first time I’ve seen someone confront its user: “Why? Can’t you be more original?” another friend asked.

So the next few hours kind of turned into some hot debate about what classic but slightly obscure video game dings would make for good text alerts (phone ringtones are a completely different story). They needed to be immediately recognizable to those in the know but not abhorrently overdone. They also can’t be too long (sorry Metroid‘s “Item Fanfare“). It’s a tricky balance because you have to dive deep into your brain to find things that you forgot you knew. I’m not saying we managed to nail that since there are some obvious choices that we just couldn’t pass up, but there are a few here that I think are more original. Anyways, here is what we arrived at.

10. Mass Effect‘s Wrex/Shepard Interaction – I’d take either one because both are so ridiculous. Maybe I’d put “Wrex” for SMS and “Shepard” for apps. I don’t know. I just know that anyone who hears that is immediately going to go, “wait..is that…” and then go straight to laughing and quoting it for the next five minutes.

9. Mega Man 2‘s Boss Select – But really just the last part. The entire thing taken as a whole is far too long for a text (for me, anyways), but if you just take the last bit at around five seconds in, it should still be recognizable and then you can suss out who you want to befriend, defriend, and shoot with a Mega Buster.

8. The Final Fantasy Cursor Sound – Basically every Final Fantasy game has the same cursor sound, so I don’t think it would really matter which one. I mean, they all have their microsecond of quirk and personality and I’m partial to the Final Fantasy X one myself, but any of them—any—would make for a great choice. Plus, when someone correctly identifies which particular Final Fantasy your ringtone came from, you then get to/have to make out. Yes, it’s the law.

7. Nintendo Game Boy Boot Sound – What an icon sound. It plays to just about everybody’s childhood without necessarily pandering to it. Upon hearing it, everyone around will have their eyes roll back into their heads and slink back in their chairs as they remember everything about the early and mid-90s.

6. PlayStation 3 Trophy / Xbox 360 Achievement – I know, I know. I said we weren’t going to go into the obvious choices, but come on. These two dings are so forcibly ingrained in your mind as something positive, you’ll never not be happy about getting a text. You’ll visibly perk up and say aloud, “ooh!” It’s impossible not to, which I would say is good enough reason to put it on this list.

5. Pac-Man‘s Waka Waka – Specifically two wakas. No more, no less. Two is the ideal number since the first one will gently prod the brain of anyone around you with the nostalgia stick and then the second one will mercilessly beat them with it. It’s the perfect combo. Just that simple waka waka and bam! You’ve got your hooks in them.

4. Final Fantasy VII‘s Chocobo Warble – Full disclosure: this is a bit of a personal choice. I’m not entirely sure everyone in the will be able to identify with it, but we really like FFVII. Like, a lot. So this is going on there because it’s awesome and it makes me want to ride giant chickens so deal with it.

3. No More Heroes‘ Energize – This is one 90% of the world is going to have no idea is from anything real, but that doesn’t matter; it’s that other 10% that’s key because they played and treasured a god damn amazing game. But for the majority of the population, it still sounds like a pretty fucking sweet text alert, so win-win!

2. Half-Life‘s Health Noise – I think this is pretty much the perfect video game text tone. It’s short, distinct, and utterly recognizable without being too popular. Only after hearing someone else use this will people go, “crap! That should have been me!” I also think it’s just an incredible sound effect and would be number one if that conversation wasn’t a democracy.

1. The Mario Coin – I mean, come on. You kind of knew this was coming. It might be overdone, but it’s classic for a reason. Literally everyone from a graveyard full of dead cosmonauts to a newborn baby will hear this and give you a knowing nod before moving on with their lives. It’s universal recognition. It also invites serendipity.

Anecdote: I was walking out of my philosophy class at Texas Tech, dropped my pen, and reached down to pick it up. As soon as I made contact, someone passing by got a text and it was this alert. I stood up, he stopped, and we looked at each other. Then we dabbed knucks and parted ways, never to see each other ever again.

So there you have it. This was the list we arrived at after a few hours of heated debate and rash, slightly inebriated decisions. I know you’re going to complain that we missed some like the Metroid PrimeData Received” or the Metal Gear Solid codec sound, but this is just the top 10. On a list of all-time greats, those would of course be on there, along with Mario’s jump, Persona 4’s “pipipi” ringtone, the classic Capcom intro, Pokémon healing chime, and so many more. But go ahead and leave your comments below. I’d love to hear how dumb I am for leaving off your current ringtone!

No really, I would. Let me know what I missed!

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E3 ’09: Sony

Jack Tretton said “2008 is the year of the PlayStation 3.”

To be honest, it wasn’t. Sure, we had Metal Gear Solid 4 and LittleBigPlanet, but neither were the top sellers they probably should have been. And with Final Fantasy XIII and the next title in the Metal Gear franchise, “Metal Gear Solid: Rising” both coming to the Xbox 360, what’s Sony’s move?

It’s rumored that a new PSP model was going to be one of their biggest announcements, but the internet got the best of them, and the PSP Go! is known almost in its entirety already, and has been for the past week.

Sony started off their year with the bang that was Killzone 2. Down the pipe we know they have the likes of God of War 3 and Uncharted 2. But will it be enough? Does the former gaming juggernaut have any earthshattering surprises up their sleeves? Will they try to jump onto the motion control bandwagon like Microsoft has with Project Natal?

It’s time to find out.

12:50 – Waiting for the Sony conference, something has occured to me. I’ve been told more than once that I look vaguely like G4’s Adam Sessler. The thought terrifies me. What do you think?

1:12 – We’re starting at last. Montage of some upcoming games. Uncharted 2, Ratchet and Clank, God of War 3, LittleBigPlanet, Heavy Rain… Some pretty big games on their way. Video is set to the musical stylings of Queen.

1:14 – Jack Tretton is on-stage, thanking God that the press showed up. Joking about press leaks and how he was worried there’d be no reason to come (referencing the afforementioned PSP Go! stuff), much to the pleasure of those in attendence. Classy.

1:17 – Claims that Sony is the only company with 3 successful systems on-sale at once, referring to the PS2, PS3 and PSP. Thing is, I think Nintendo did the same thing for at least a short while with Wii, DS and GameBoy Advance.

1:18 – Talking about the PlayStation 2. How long is it going to take until Sony finally stops talking about it? Oh, right. This is PS2 year 9, and they’re going for the whole 10-year life cycle thing.

1:19 – Over 100 new titles for the PS2 this year? Crazy.

1:20 – Talking numbers. Standard affair, but it reminds me why Microsoft’s conference was so great. It didn’t have any of this stuff. Jack is currently talking about how great inFamous is, which, sure. It’s pretty rad.

1:22 – Someone from Naughty Dog is out to talk about Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Multiplayer beta starts tonight at midnight. Going to show single-player here, now.

1:23 – The crowd is cheering as Nathan Drake scales a building. Game looks impressive graphically and seems to have some nice dialogue during gameplay. Oh look, a nice helicopter…

1:24 – Action has camped up. Gunplay is being shown. Looks standard but well done, and mixed with all this Lara Croft-like acrobatics could make for some cool situations.

1:26 – Game looks intense and pretty cinematic. Keep an eye on this one, PS3 owners.

1:27 – We’re finally going to see gameplay of MAG – Massive Action Game. 256 players simultaneously fighting a battle.

1:28 – They’ve got 256 actual players about to play this demo. Impressive.

1:29 – Looks like a pretty involved multiplayer FPS, with every player assigned to a squad (across two large teams), and a squad leader capable of giving commands to his squad. Seems to be objective-based gameplay.

1:31 – XP system a la Call of Duty 4 confirmed. Dude just got +5 EXP for killing another dude.

1:32 – Spawn points, a la Battlefield, have to be secured for attacking players to push forward toward their goal. Players (or at least squad commanders) can call airstrikes. Seems to take a lot of tactical strategy. Hopefully that won’t be an issue with so many idiots playing online. MAG will be playable on the show floor, and should be out this fall.

1:33 – Time to move to the PSP.

1:35 – The crowd is actually cheering at a pink PSP Hannah Montana bundle. They’re either jokesters or paid. Or both.

1:36 – Kaz Hirai is making his way to the stage.

1:37 – He pulled a PSP Go out of his pocket. Says it has a couple of names, the first being “Worst kept secret of E3.” Glad to see they’re light about the subject and acknowledging it.

1:38 – PSP Go has no UMD drive, and all of its games and software are download-only, somewhat like the iPhone. 50% smaller than the regular PSP. Controls slide out, like a Sidekick Slide cellphone.

1:39 – Media Go announced, which replaces the Media Manager of before. It’s a PC application that is used to transfer media to your PSP.

1:40 – Now he’s talking about some weird sounding program called “Sense Me” that analyses your music library and chooses songs for you based on the mood you select… Or something. He glossed over it really fast. Comic in Fall.

1:42 – PSP Go will be $249.99. PSP 3000 will still be $169.99. Anyone sold on Go? I’m not, personally.

1:44 – The father of Grand Turismo is coming onto the stage.

1:45 – Grand Turismo PSP announced at long last. He has it running on a PSP Go right now. The device does indeed look small, which could be nice. Says that even though the device is small, the game is a full-scale Grand Turismo experience.

1:46 – The translator seems to be reading notes the whole time, which is kind of weird.

1:47 – Tons of cars (800+) and tracks, plus content sharing. You can trade cars with friends in an attempt to “catch them all.”

1:50 – Playing a trailer of the game now. It looks like a Grand Turismo game. SURPRISE! Apparently it’s coming October 1, 2009.

1:51 – Something Metal Gear is coming. Hideo Kojima is showing up. I wonder if it feels like coming home to your family after announcing that you’re sleeping with their enemy.

1:52 – He’s not here to talk about Metal Gear Solid: Rising, though. He’s talking about a PSP game called Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker. Set 10 years after MGS3. We had heard a bit about this yesterday, so not a huge shock, but still nice.

1:53 – Kojima is writing and producing. Says it’s a true MGS sequel, not a spin-off or sidestory. So much for MGS4 being Kojima’s last Metal Gear game!

1:55 – Here’s a trailer. Kicks off with some live-action stock footage and some voice-over. Looks like the continuing adventures of Big Boss in the lead-up to Outer Heaven.

1:56 – Graphics look really sharp for a portable title. Lot’s of sneaking, so hey, it’s a Metal Gear game.

1:57 – There’s… 4 Snakes/Big Bosses/Clones on screen right now. Say what? They’re facing a Metal Gear, looks like. And the trailer ends with the infamous cardboard box antics. Coming in 2010. My interest is piqued.

2:00 – Jack is back on stage talking about… Resident Evil on PSP? Brand new, exclusive game sounds like, but… That’s all we got.

2:00 – Hannah Montana was name dropped again, and the crowd cheered again.

2:02 – Montage of upcoming PSP titles. Final Fantasy Dissidia, Monster Hunter, LittleBigPlanet, Soul Calibur and others are in the lineup.

2:05 – Time to talk PlayStation Newtork games.

2:06 – Adding over 50 PS1 classics to the service this year, starting today with Final Fantasy VII. Fanboys everywhere can rejoice.

2:07 – Talking about PlayStation Home and where it’s come since launch 6 months ago. As one of the millions that was pretty disappointed by Home, I’m not sure many in attendence care too much.

2:10 – PS3 video now. There’s Uncharted 2 again. inFamous, Madden, Final Fantasy XIII… The usual suspects. Batman: Arkham Assylum, White Knight Story and Ninja Gaiden and there too, with many more. Seems to be a solid lineup.

2:15 – Got to say, this is a long montage with tons and tons of games being shown. Not all of them are exclusive, by any means, but PS3 owners should be happy with what’s available.

2:16 – Announcing Agent, a Rockstar game that’s exclusive to the PS3. Nice move, Sony. That could be a smart move after the blunder of losing GTA.

2:17 – Ubisoft folks are on-stage to show Assassin’s Creed II. Wasn’t Ubisoft’s press conference yesterday?

2:18 – Now, I was a big fan of the original Assassin’s Creed, so I may be biased, but this sequel looks fantastic. I’m liking the new setting a lot.

2:18 – Leonardo DaVinci is one of Ezio’s “friends” that helps him become an assassin. He sounds like Bond’s “M”, providing Ezio with gadgets and weapons.

2:20 – Ezio is deadlier than Altair, the hero in the first game. And he looks it. The crowd seems impressed with deal-blade assassination.

2:21 – Italian dude was just OWNED. Assassination complete. Time to get the hell out of dodge.

2:22 – The crowd cheers as the demo ends. I’m impressed. The game launches this holiday season, along with an original PSP Assassin’s Creed title.

2:24 – A video is playing of Final Fantasy XIII. I’m a big Final Fantasy fan, but I’m kind of sick of seeing this one and just want to play it already. Still, I like the English voices being displayed here.

2:27 – Dude, WHAT? Jack just announce Final Fantasy 14?!?!?!? 13 isn’t even out yet!!!! Bir us XIII Versus. He also makes sure to say that the PS3 will be the only console it will be available on.

2:28 – Wait… This trailer is reminding me of Final Fantasy XI. The online game.

2:29 – AHA! Called it. Final Fantasy XIV: Online. Extremely less excited now. Unexcited to the point that I barely care. Interesting that it’s PS3-only, though.

2:30 – Now Sony is showing off a new motion controller. Everyone is jumping on the Wii train!

2:31 – Ok, I’ve just gotta say it… This motion controller – in its current form, which they stress will change – looks like a dildo.

2:32 – Looks like it interacts with the PlayStation Eye in order to replace the dildo device with a racket, golf club, stop sign… Maybe even a real dildo?

2:32 – Dude running the demo just said, “It’s still hard.” That’s way funnier to me than it should be.

2:34 – The technology looks cool, I’ve gotta say, but what’s gonna happen in the new war between the Wiimote, this thing, and Natal?

2:36 – “Sub-millimeter accuracy.” Accurate enough to write and draw with the little wand-dildo.

2:37 – Looks way too similar to the Wii Remote for me to be super stoked, but it does look like better technology than the Wii uses. I may have to write up my thoughts on all this motion stuff in a seperate blog.

2:39 – Fighting monsters with swords and throwing stars. Looks fun enough. Oh, bows too. It’s an archery kinda day between this and Wii Sports Resort. This one may be impressing me more.

2:41 – “PlayStation Motion Controller” coming Spring 2010. I wonder if Nintendo will launch a new Wii next year, too, to combat this and Natal.

2:42 – Talking LittleBigPlanet costumes. Disney themed. Awwww, cute little Jack Sparrow Sackboy!

2:43 – Just announced ModNation Racers. Another “Play. Create. Share.” title like LittleBigPlanet. I’m guessing you can design tracks and whatnot.

2:44 – Yeah, the character creation looks similar to LittleBigPlanet, though it’s a slightly different style. You can also customize cars, looks like.

2:46 – Real-time physics, drifting… Looks like a standard kart racer. Looks nice graphically, though, and customization could be a big draw I suppose. It’ll have to top the creation tools of TrackMania, though.

2:47 – Tracks are rendered and playable in seconds, so that’s kind of cool. The creation stuff does indeed look pretty easy and cool. You can add mountains!

2:49 – A friend just mentioned that this is basically Mario Kart meets LittleBigPlanet, and that’s pretty darn accurate. So if that sounds awesome to you, then maybe you should be excited.

2:51 – Jack is back.

2:53 – Third title in the “Ico” trilogy is known as “The Last Guardian.” Looks like the “Project Trico” footage that actually leaked awhile back, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. A lot of people have been anxiously awaiting this team’s newest title.

2:54 – For those not in the know, this game is from the people who made “Ico” and “Shadow of the Colossous” for the PS2. Very artsy (and good) games. This new game follows in the same vein in a lot of ways, with a weird furry/feathery creature and a small boy.

2:56 – Yeah, aside from the title “The Last Guardian” and maybe some touchups and new footage, this is the exact same trailer that leaked before. Oh well, it looks outstanding and very stylized in HD.

2:57 – Short tease of Grand Turismo 5 for the PS3 now. Seems like some people have been waiting for this one forever, but realistic car racing isn’t really my thing.

2:59 – GT5 looks good graphically, if this stuff is in-engine. But that’s all I can really say.

3:00 – Time for God of War 3!

3:02 – This totally looks like a God of War game, which, hey, is a good thing. They say it’s the last part of a trilogy. Really, now?

3:02 – Harpy riding!

3:03 – Did Kratos just sprout wings for a second? Other than that, it looks like pretty standard GoW gameplay. Looks very, very epic, though, and gorgeous graphically. Should easily please fans of the series.

3:05 – Confirmed: Quick-time events are back. They look better, though.

3:06 – Those interested in God of War should definitely track down a video of this gameplay demonstration when all this is done. I can’t really describe it. But it’s brutal in all the right ways.

3:07 – Coming out March 2010.

3:08 – That’s a wrap.

Pretty impressive, I’ve gotta say. Sony didn’t let leaks or Microsoft’s guns get to them. The conference went really well. We’ll have more in terms of coverage and comparisons later.

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