>Super-Quick Impressions: RE5, Halo Wars, GTA:CW

>One of the first things they tell you in acting class (well, one of the first things they told me) is that when you’re in an audition, the directors can pretty much make up their mind within the first 10 seconds whether you’re right for the part or not. It’s true that sometimes a gut impression can prove wrong, but they’re awfully hard to shake one way or the other.

I’ve been finding more and more lately that if a game, book or TV show doesn’t immediately grab me, I tend to lose interest (and patience) very quickly. I’m not entirely sure why this is – either I’ve developed adult-onset ADD, or my standards have become unreasonably high, or maybe it’s just that my bullshit detector is malfunctioning. In any event, I’ve been pretty busy lately and I’ve found myself having trouble getting sucked into anything (with the very notable exception of the now-defunct TV show The Wire, which I’ve been devouring like mad).

Hence, my quick impressions of 3 rather notable games.

With regard to Halo Wars, I’d played the demo and enjoyed it enough to let it remain in my Gamefly queue, although my 360 was in the shop when it arrived; when my 360 got back to me and I’d gotten over my initial infatuation with GTA4:L&D, I popped in the HW disc and quickly burned through the tutorial and the first level, which is exactly what the demo was. But as soon as the second level started, and the freeform nature of the game finally took hold, I found myself not really terribly interested or invested in what was happening, and I gave up about shortly thereafter. I’m gonna chalk this up to my own reluctance to dive in to the RTS genre, though; the game would appear to be very well made and even in my short time with it I didn’t find anything that would otherwise turn me off, other than the nature of the game itself.

On the other hand, I’d played the Resident Evil 5 demo along with half the world and was utterly underwhelmed; the game felt antiquated in all the worst possible ways and the super-deluxe graphics only reinforced how un-modern the game actually is. I kept the game in my queue just for the hell of it, though, and when I started playing it over the weekend, I have to admit I found myself getting kinda sucked in to it. The controls are still 1997-ish but they weren’t as offensive as I found them to be in the demo. It’s certainly faithful to the RE conventions, for better or worse; even though I hadn’t really played an RE game since the Dreamcast’s Code Veronica, I immediately knew what I was in for. But it is true that the game is incredibly antiquated, and while I suppose I can respect Capcom’s decision to err on the side of fanboy pleasure instead of actual 2009 playability, it’s definitely going to need a dramatic overhaul in order to really stay relevant.

The “tension” that supposedly results from not having any ammo is really just an artificial frustration that immediately destroys the suspension of disbelief; for example, for a series that’s already stretching that disbelief (leaving alone the whole “killing zombies” thing), are we really to accept that these trained soldiers we play as would enter a combat zone without carrying any additional ammunition? Here’s my suggestion, as long as we’re operating under the notion that limited ammo is a necessary component to a successful RE game: I think if you really want to heighten the tension, you should start the game with all the ammo you’re ever going to get. You will think twice about taking a difficult shot if you know you’re never going to get that bullet back.

I’ve only finished the first 2 missions, in any event, so it’s not like I can really talk about the RE5 experience with any authority. That said, what I’ve seen is encouraging, and unlike HW, I’m still holding on to my copy.

Finally, my copy of GTA: Chinatown Wars for the DS arrived today, and I played the first mission just a short while ago during my lunch hour. And even though that really only amounts to about 10 minutes, I can already tell this is a better game than the PSP games, and certainly better than the GBA title. The novelty of seeing the word “fuck” on a DS screen is pretty goddamned hilarious, but more to the point – it looks great, and it has that all-too-elusive feel of its console brethren. It’s not a compromised vision at all – it is clearly its own beast. I am very much looking forward to checking it out for real.

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