>shootin’ stuff

>The floodgates are starting to open; good games are starting to trickle forth.  Let’s pick up where I left off.

1.  I finished Stacking.  I’m not 100% finished with it – I still have a bunch of hi-jinks to do and a few special dolls to collect – and I hope that if the release calendar dries up a bit, I’ll find the time to go back and do those things.  It was wonderful and charming and unique and clever and everything I’d hope it would be.

2.  We had company at one point over the 3-day weekend, and so we got in some 4-player You Don’t Know Jack, which is really the way that game should be played.  The game can be played with the buzzer controllers from Scene It! (another fine trivia game), so if you’re short on regular controllers (or if your buzzers are collecting dust), break ’em out.

3.  I’m starting to get very excited for Dragon Age 2, so I decided to dive back into my PC’s version of Dragon Age: Origins, which I hadn’t picked up in months.  I’d tried to play the first game on the 360, but the game was ugly and the controls were weird – it was as if the game wanted you to believe it was an action RPG, but it wasn’t at all an action RPG – and gave up.  And then, of course, Steam had the PC version on sale, which I quickly bought… and then didn’t play, either.  Anyway, whatever; I finally finished the prologue and now I recognize where I am from my first playthrough.  The game definitely feels better on the PC, but it’s still not quite what I want.

4.  What I want, really, is much closer to what the Dragon Age 2 demo appears to portend.  I played it last night, and, lo and behold – it actually is an action RPG, where button presses correspond to real-time actions, and it looks great and plays great and borrows just enough from the Mass Effect 2 playbook to pretty much guarantee that I’m going to love the hell out of it, assuming I have time to play it.

5.  I ordered both Bulletstorm and Killzone 3 from Amazon, because I am an idiot and figured that the $20 credits I’d get for ordering them would come in handy for all the must-have titles I’m going to be ordering later, conveniently forgetting that these two games were still full price.  Which to play first?  Well, the 360 was already warmed up from the DA2 demo, so I figured I’d give Bulletstorm a go.  And it went pretty well, until the game locked up on me in the second chapter.  So then I switched over to Killzone, which is jaw-droppingly beautiful – it can seem like you’re playing a first person Final Fantasy game, with guns – and that was fun, although the PS3 controller can feel like an alien artifact when it comes to shooters, for me.  And so I got up to a certain point where I kept dying, and I decided to switch back to Bulletstorm.  And as it turned out, the game had locked up for me at the exact moment before the game starts becoming… the game, with the scoring system and the craziness.  And once I started I couldn’t look back.  It took a few minutes to get used to the controls again – KZ3 and the PS3 controller had messed me up – but all I can say is, Wowee Zowee.  Fun as hell.

6.  Finally, because I am an addict, I bought Bejeweled Blitz for XBLA this morning before I left for work.  I’ve been playing Bejeweled in some form for at least 10 years now, maybe longer, and I’m pretty good at it.  Let me rephrase that:  I’m fucking awesome at it.  I’m an average gamer in most things, but when it comes to Bejeweled I am a genius.  I generally score in the 200K-300K without boosts without really trying, I generally end a week’s tournament in the mid-500Ks, and my all-time high is in the 900Ks.  So, please consider my expert opinion when I advise you to KEEP your 800 points in your virtual wallet and DON’T BUY BEJEWELED BLITZ FOR XBLA.  It SUCKS.  The control scheme is totally fucked up and unintuitive and there’s no option to change it back to the original, vanilla scheme that was featured in Bejeweled 2.  I understand that playing Bejeweled with a gamepad isn’t as elegant as it is with a mouse, and I further understand that Blitz places a special emphasis on speed, and as such I can at least conceptually appreciate that they were trying to make the control scheme quicker.  But it doesn’t make any intuitive sense, and as someone who has played more games and sunk more time into Bejeweled than probably every other game combined, ever, I shouldn’t have to feel like a goddamned novice when I’m playing a game I’ve already played a thousand times. 

>Quick Hits: Stacking, YDKJ

>Sorry I haven’t posted in a while.  Also, sorry that every post I write these days leads off with an apology.  I’ve been super-busy lately, and haven’t had very much (if any) gaming time, besides playing with my iPod to and from work.  (Flick Golf is a fun, cheap time-waster, by the way.)

Last night, though, the planets aligned; 2 games arrived, and my wife was out of the house.  So I got to sit down and play a bit of both Stacking and You Don’t Know Jack.

Let’s start with YDKJ, because there’s not very much to say.  If you were a fan of the original games on the PC in the late 90s, then you will love the shit out of this new version.  It’s pretty much the exact same experience, which, when you think about it, is an amazing testament to how great the original games were.  I hope that more people on my friends list pick this up; I’d love to get some online play going.  Or, alternately, I’d have more people over to the house. 

Stacking is the latest downloadable title from Tim Schafer’s DoubleFine Productions, and as such, it is beautiful and charming and original and wonderful.  Not necessarily laugh-out-loud funny, but that’s not really what the game is about; the game is about solving puzzles, and the puzzles are solved via Russian stacking dolls.  It’s hard to explain without actually having the game in your hands, so just go and download it and we’ll talk later.