>A Quick One Before He Goes Away

>Tomorrow I leave for London for a week; family vacation. In other words, plenty of DS time during the down time. I bought Wordjong because, well, I like word games and puzzle games, and that’s as good a combination of both as there is on the DS right now. It’s fine, I just wish there was more to it; or, at least, that the bottom screen was a little bigger.

And as long as we’re talking about word/puzzle games, I would LOVE to see a Scrabble game for the DS, but which would also include Scrabble Blast and Scrabble Rack – both of which are available free online, and both of which would greatly enhance a DS Scrabble cartridge. (Blast is a Boggle-y sort of game, and Rack is an anagram/word finding game, both of which I’ve spent too many workplace hours with.)

I had just enough time last night to try out my GameFlown copies of MLB2K8 and Bully; I want to keep my queue intact for when I get back, and that would mean having a copy of Condemned 2 waiting to be opened. Quick impressions:

It took me exactly 3 minutes of gameplay to tell me that MLB2K8 absolutely sucks. Say what you will about EA and Madden, and how fucking terrible it is that EA basically eliminated the NFL2K series – and I’ve said it – at least Madden still manages to be playable, year after interminable year. I was pleased that the MLB2K series was able to snag exclusive baseball rights, if only to serve as a nice “fuck you” to EA, but by the same token, they’ve done absolutely NOTHING with the privilege; if anything, they’ve managed to make each successive year’s game somehow worse. I will never understand why I should have to re-learn how to play the same baseball game I’ve been playing for years, especially when the new changes feel incredibly unintuitive and unnecessary, and ESPECIALLY when there are still horrendous problems that never get fixed. MBL2K8 is somehow uglier than 2K7, which seems preposterous. I didn’t even get 2 outs into the top of the 1st inning before I knew that it just wasn’t worth it.

Conversely, it took me about 10 minutes to realize that I’m going to want to spend some serious time with Bully; I was only able to do see the first few cutscenes and get into a few fistfights before I had to turn it off, but I’m intrigued. When I get back from London, my plan is to finish Lost Odyssey and then work with Bully until GTA4 drops. Sounds like a plan.

>Hypothetical Question #1

>
This image comes from Xbox360 Fanboy’s preview of the upcoming Xbox360 game Dark Sector. Dark Sector is not a game I care about, and Xbox360 Fanboy has clearly altered this image with a fake achievement. Which brings me to this inaugural installment of “Hypothetical Question.”

HQ#1 – Would you play an Xbox360 game if it had the potential for 2000 Achievement Points, but also had the ability to lower your overall Gamerscore if you played it poorly?

>FEZ!

>I’ve been busy as hell lately, and meanwhile my Google Reader has been exploding left and right with GDC coverage. Which is why I’m so happy to have taken 5 minutes to actually read through some of the stuff that’s being reported on [most of which revolves around Too Human (which might not suck after all), Fable 2 (yes please) and/or the Gears of War 2 non-trailer], because I just saw this video for FEZ, which appears to be an upcoming XBLA game, and it’s blowing my fucking mind.

(There’s a better trailer for this here, which I can’t embed for some reason.)
http://www.gametrailers.com/remote_wrap.php?mid=30850

>DMCmeh

>My Gameflown copy of DMC4 arrived on Saturday; gave it a quick spin Saturday night and for a bit on Sunday.

Short version: couldn’t care less. It’s certainly very pretty, and it’s nice to see that the UE3 is capable of producing colors other than gray, but as for the game itself… it’s (to me) a generic 3rd person action game that is so rooted in the conventions of the past that it almost feels anachronistic.

I was listening to Major Nelson’s podcast on the way into work this morning, and he has an interview with some Capcom Community dude, and the dude basically said that the game is about “looking cool” and “being stylish”, that you can spam on the sword in order to get through the game but you get low scores for doing so. First of all: computers shouldn’t be judging beauty. Secondly: who gives a shit? Nero is such a whiny little douchebag that it’s a challenge for me just to stay interested in the game itself; now I have to worry about making him jump and leap and prance? What the fuck?

(I know Ninja Gaiden had a scoring system, too, but that game was brutally hard, and just getting through a level was reward enough.)

The camera in DMC4 is fucking terrible, if only because it fucks up your controls. For the most part, this isn’t that big a deal because the camera almost never changes during combat, but when you’re running around, it’s a pain in the ass – you can be running up a staircase, and then when you get out you find yourself running back down because the change in camera also changes your controls.

Taking a quick look at the Achievements – I think I got all I’d care to get, since it seems the vast majority of them involve playing the game a zillion times with multiple characters at various difficulty settings. Who gives a shit? I made it through Mission 6 before I realized I had to start backtracking and I couldn’t have cared less.

———–

I don’t know why, but I have become tremendously excited for Lost Odyssey. I liked Blue Dragon more than most people, although I never bothered to finish it; I’m probably halfway through the 3rd disc and couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do. Lost Odyssey looks a lot more promising, and engaging, and while a lot of previews are talking about how archaic the game is, my experience with JRPGs is actually pretty limited so I’m not all that jaded.

———–

Will there ever be a Skies of Arcadia sequel, as long as we’re talking about JRPGs? Goddamn I loved that game.

———–

I constantly misspell Odyssey, and for that I blame Oddworld.

>Catching Up

>Life’s been pretty busy lately; haven’t had time for much of anything, let alone gaming, or – more to the point – writing about gaming.  So, then:

1.  Duke Nukem 3D coming to XBLA.  DN3D is what got me into PC shooters; I never did any of the multiplayer or anything, I was simply a slavish devotee of the single player.  And to be honest, I’m not entirely sure I played the whole game – my brother-in-law-to-be had installed the shareware version of it on my brother’s computer, and so I think there might have been a few levels that I never had access to.  In any event, this is even MORE exciting to me than the release of DNF. 

2.  Hey, Microsoft, I’ve got an idea for you.  You’ve said repeatedly that you didn’t include an HD-DVD drive in the 360 because you respected the consumer’s appetite for choice, and that you weren’t necessarily opposed to the idea of Blu-Ray.  So, then:  why not make a Blu-Ray add-on?  I’ll tell you right now, if you make a Blu-Ray add-on and sell it for less than $250, that means that I don’t have to buy a PS3.  We all know that you’re hoping for digital distribution to be the way of the future – and I agree with you 100% – but in the meantime, this is something you absolutely have to do.

3.  Played a bit of Poker Smash this morning before work; it’s a great puzzler.  It’s based on the Bejeweled concept of 3-match, except instead of colors, you’re looking to make poker hands, from 3-of-a-kind on up.  And you’re only allowed to move pieces horizontally.  And the board keeps moving, so there’s an element of time pressure.   And it’s quite pretty, which is an added bonus.  Best of all, I got an Achievement or two during my time with the trial version, which pretty much sealed the deal in terms of me unlocking the full version.  Developers, you should know: alerting a potential customer of a demo version of your game that they’ve unlocked Achievements has GOT to have a measurable impact on sales. 

4.  Mass Effect DLC is on its way.  Goddamn.  Just when I thought I’d gotten that game out of my system.  However… my first impression of this is pretty underwhelming; 60-90 minutes of gameplay, most of which will probably be spent in loading screens and/or buildings we’ve already seen on a million other planets?  Bioware – wake me up when you get something like The Shivering Isles ready to go.

>The RPM Challenge

>I’m crossposting this from my LJ, if only because (1) while videogames are a big part of my life and interest, music is really where it’s at, and as such (2) if I end up doing this, I might not be posting here that much next month.

I’ve gotta say, I’m very seriously considering doing the RPM Challenge this year (which is like NaNoWriMo, except for music). 

And I have to say that instead of being frustrated, I’m instead rather amused at how much of a fuss my brain is putting up, as I sit here and dally and dither about.  If I’m going to do it, I should just fucking DO it; I haven’t even really come up with a good reason NOT to. 

The only thing that comes up is that I literally just found out about this a day or two ago, after coming across it in a friend’s blog. Everybody knows that November is NNWM… I didn’t know that February was “Write And Record An Album Month”.  So part of my brain is going “I’m not ready yet, I’m not prepared to do this yet, I don’t want to just jump in blindly.”  And the other part of my brain is saying, “You’ll never be ready, you’ll never be 100% prepared, so why the hell NOT just go for it?”

I’m sure I’ll end up doing it.  I just need to get used to the idea for another 24 hours, and then I’ll go for it.

And then I’ll bore you all to death.

>DMC4 demo

>Demos are a tricky business. They’re arguably the most effective way of selling a game to a prospective buyer, but you have to very careful about what you actually show off. The Crackdown demo was utterly fantastic, as you were able to quickly level up and see what your character could eventually do; the Burnout Paradise demo was terrible, because it was incredibly restrictive and failed to show off the game’s strengths. (See this fantastic article about that very topic.)

That said, I went into the Devil May Cry 4 demo with an open mind. Let me just say, right off the bat – I’ve never played any of the games in the Devil May Cry franchise. I’ve been repeatedly told in the gaming press that I should be super-excited about DMC4, though; it’s using the Unreal 3 engine, it’s finally on the Xbox360, etc. I downloaded yesterday’s demo like everybody else, because, well, why not? I was home sick and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Now that I’ve played both of the demo’s segments, I am totally underwhelmed. But this is a much more damaging situation than the Burnout Paradise demo. The BP demo was showing off a tiny, tiny piece of a much larger puzzle, and taken out of context it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. The DMC4 demo, however, looked to be what the game will ultimately be like, and frankly it looked stupid.

Well, maybe that’s not the right word. The game looks tremendous, after all – the environments are absolutely beautiful and the character designs look incredible. It’s just that the game itself is stupid.

To wit:

  • the main player character is a whiny, petulant douchebag
  • the game’s geography makes absolutely no sense; you are in a sunny seaside town, you open a door and suddenly you’re on a snowy, frozen mountainside; then you open another door and you’re in a burning village, in the countryside (which looks right out of an early level in Ninja Gaiden, actually)
  • for all its technological prowess, it still adheres to well-worn cliches every chance it gets, none more annoying and nonsensical than the arbitrary sealing-off of rooms while you fight bad guys
  • the boss you fight in the burning village is a fucking Balrog, for all intents and purposes
  • right before you get to the boss fight, your character actually whines: “Oh great. More demons.” If your douchebag protagonist is whining about the stuff he has to do – i.e., combat, the stuff that supposedly makes your game awesome – then maybe your game sucks.

It’s staying on my Gamefly queue, because, well, why not. But goddamn, this demo did absolutely nothing to whet my appetite.

>Intro

>So, here I am.

I’d get into the whys and wherefores, but I’ve had a horrendous headcold for the last 3 days and I’m not really all that coherent. For now, I’ll just say – here I am.

For what it’s worth – this blog is a continuation of my old GS blog, except now I get to say “fuck”.

In the meantime:

I broke 30,000 Points the other day. I’ll admit that I did a little bit of padding to try to get to that point, including purchasing Boogie Bunnies or whatever the hell it’s called on XBL, but I do want to say that I broke 30,000 proper on Call of Duty 4, on Veteran. Currently I am pinned down in the television studio, and I suspect that’s where I’ll stay until I get tired of Burnout Paradise.

And as for Burnout – goddamn. As with everyone else, the demo left a lot to be desired, but now I “get” it. I wrote a longer thing about this already, except I hadn’t done any of the multiplayer; last night I hooked up with a friend and we did some of the challenges together, which was actually kinda fun – it actually reminded both of us of the original Xbox’s “Midtown Madness 3”, because that game had an online mode which was utterly free-form and very cool, if somewhat aimless. Anyway, the first 10-15 challenges (which is all we got through) are pretty easy and/or not tremendously exciting, but you can see where it might eventually lead and would certainly be a lot of fun with more people. I’m not yet sure how online racing and road rages take place, though, but I’m sure it can be done. (Right?)

Currently trying to download the Devil May Cry demo, like every other 360 user on the planet; I’ve had it running for 90 minutes and I’m only 8% into it. Ugh.