Ground Zeroes costs how much, now? Interesting.

[Update: Without looking around too much I assumed GZ would have side-missions, and the official Konami blog for makes this clear:

MULTIPLE MISSIONS AND TASKS – Ground Zeroes boasts a central story mode and additional side-missions ranging from tactical action, aerial assaults and “covert” stages that will be sure to surprise.

So there you have it.  A story mode, side-missions, aerial assaults, covert stages… This is definitely not a little demo.]

Finally we know something about Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes‘ release date and price.  As Kojima hinted many times, Ground Zeroes will be a separately released prologue from The Phantom Pain itself, and will even have a boxed retail version for current gen consoles.  It’ll cost $20 on the current-gen systems and $30 to download it on next-gen.

Judging by what we’ve seen in the preview trailers and demonstrations the “Ground Zeroes” mission itself seems to be pretty small, which is why people are upset about the $30 price point.  But is this really a ripoff, or a sign that the game is a lot bigger and more interesting than we have been led to believe?

In the TGS demo we see a long list of classified missions to choose from, and the rescue mission for Chico is only one of them.  Another mission (specially prepared for that show) was in in the evening, in clear weather.  Since neither mission seemed to have a day/night cycle, or dynamic weather, we might be able to expect a series of missions leading up to the “main” one, teaching us how Mother Base will work, or training us how to use the various systems The Phantom Pain is going to use.  Think of it as VR training, the briefing section, and MGS3’s “Virtuous Mission” all rolled into one.  Prologues are generally supposed to introduce and establish the ideas and names that the audience will be meeting later on.  It plants the seed, so that it’s not overwhelming later on.  If MGSV is as big as Kojima has bragged before, we’ll need a $30 game to handle all of that prologue.


Because MGS fans are familiar with the Tanker Chapter of MGS2, and the Virtuous Mission of MGS3, many have been assuming the same thing here, but I doubt Ground Zeroes will even be included on The Phantom Pain disc when its released.  Not only would this make Ground Zeroes more appealing as a stand-alone, but it will allow The Phantom Pain‘s madness to shine brighter.

Big Boss is in a coma for 9 years.  The time between GZ and TPP releases will give us a sense of that long waiting period, certainly.  Then, when we finally see Big Boss waking up from a coma with a horn in his head and a missing arm, the mystery about the game will feel that much more intense.

The amazing Valve strategy, part 2

[Here is part 1]

So now we know about Steam Machines and the Steam Controller, both of which are in beta testing phase along with the earlier announced SteamOS.  You’re probably confused, so let me try to explain why this makes perfect sense, and why it’s great.


The Steam Controller allows for mouse speed and precision, according to Valve and those who’ve tried it

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The amazing Valve strategy, part 1

In my Next-Gen Hopes article, I mentioned that I hoped the “Steam Box” would ultimately be the winner of the next generation of consoles.  Gabe Newell’s ambition to save PC gaming from the blundering greed of Microsoft is much more important than bragging rights in a “console war” that lasts for a few years and then becomes irrelevant.


SteamOS is a real operating system designed to not only replace your keyboard and mouse with a controller, but do it in a way that looks comfortable at a distance on a big screen.  Here’s why SteamOS is an interesting proposition:

1. As it stands, Steam runs on top of Windows (or Mac, or Linux) which hogs a certain percent of the computer’s power for itself in the background.  But SteamOS wouldn’t run on top of anything, so it uses 100% of the computer’s resources for itself and the games.  This means less waiting for a game to load, less overheating, and more efficiency overall.  Anyone who suffered with Windows Vista knows how big a difference a shitty OS can make when you want to play something.  Of course SteamOS won’t do nearly as many things as Windows does, but why should it?  It’s for games and multimedia, not setting up an office network with a shared printer.

2. Windows has always been an open platform, but Windows 8 is threatening to move toward a “walled garden” system, which is terrible news for PC users.  Right now you or I can create programs for Windows and share them with everybody else, or download stuff freely.  And we take this for granted.  But it seems Microsoft would like to become the one who dictates what is and isn’t acceptable on Windows, which is why SteamOS needs to exist, to be a safe haven for developers who don’t want to bargain with the devil.  100% free.

3. Being designed “for the living room” means the buttons on the screen will be large, simple, and easy to see at a distance.  Steam’s “Big Picture Mode” already does this well, and can be navigated by a gamepad or a traditional mouse/keyboard.  They even have their own on-screen keyboard for typing with a controller, which is… interesting.  The emphasis on “living room” is because people who hook up their PC’s to their TV’s are always squinting and trying to find the cursor, having a super high resolution and tiny interface designed to be seen up close, on a monitor.  It’s about ease of use.  Turn on the system, SteamOS loads up, and suddenly you have access to all your stuff in a clear and cozy display — like a gaming console!


4. Each and every computer running SteamOS is supposed to be able to relay signals to and from your primary gaming rig without actually doing the heavy lifting itself; which means you’ll be playing your PC in another room, wirelessly.  This is a new phenomenon, but an awesome one; the PS Vita will be able to relay the PS4’s signal as well, with minimal latency problems.  Think of it this way: you hook up a tiny, cheap computer to your TV, install the free SteamOS instead of expensive Windows, and when it boots up, suddenly you can play your entire library of Steam games instantly.  (I assume you’d need to have your PC turned on, with Steam application opened and synchronized.)  And because Steam uses cloud storage, you wouldn’t need to even save your game on the cheap device hooked up to the TV, or transfer saves back and forth between your primary gaming rig.  The more next-gen games get ported to Steam, the more silly the tiny catalog and limited functionality of your PS4 or Xbox One are going to look in comparison.

Hardware is another matter, and I’m sure that will be the subject of the next unveiling, in just a day or two!  I want to see what kind of controller they’ll be creating, and how it will stack up to Sony and Microsoft’s gamepads.  I want to see what kind of super-efficient “Steam Box” consoles their partners will develop, and how they’ll be sold.  I want to know everything!

(For the record, I agree with the theory that the third announcement will be the long-awaited Source 2 Engine, which will be 100% free to use, and automatically compatible with SteamOS.  That would be an awesome way to get big developers to develop for SteamOS, that’s for sure.  Of course it should ship along with Half-Life 3!)


The 5 Worst Performances in the Metal Gear Solid Franchise

The 5 Worst Performances in the Metal Gear Solid Franchise

Here’s the piece I wrote for, critiquing and analyzing the worst performances in the Metal Gear Solid franchise.  If you agree it’s better than most of the crap on the internet, share it on Tumblr or Facebook or wherever folks go these days, because I’d like this one to make some waves, if possible.

Official Review (MGS2: A Complete Breakdown)


Part VII Review

Bottom Line: A legend in its own mind.

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