Delayed Responsibility

I Shouldn't Be Gaming Right Now… But I Am!

Archive for November, 2008

More Prince of Persia, More Money!

Posted by deckard47 on November 18, 2008

I noticed (as I was checking Kotaku this morning) that Tomb Raider: Underworld is out today. I have to say, I want this game pretty badly, despite my experience with its nearly jerky camera (in the demo). Still, I like how the game has areal story now, and I like how her motivation is less ludicrous than “ooh, look, a pretty Scion!” I guess we’ll see, because to buy a new game right now is a daunting prospect, financially. Stupid money.

In other news, there’s a whole slew of new trailers up over at Gametrailers for the Prince of Persia game. They all look cool, but I’m kind of worried about the gameplay implementation of Elika. I like the fact that she helps you in a way that’s less intrusive, but it seems to me that she is basically just a way to let the Prince do things he couldn’t do before. I understand that it’s fun, but its as if some designer said “why can’t he jump farther,” and somebody else said “it would look fake.” So they decided to build a crutch in… Likewise, the combat just seems like the old combat, but with crazier blue effects. I’m still very excited about it, to be honest; it looks sweet, and I’m sure it’ll be fun to play. Oh, and the Prince’s voice? Not so cool. Maybe it’ll grow on me, but instead of sounding like an English Aladin (which is totally what he was in Sands of Time), he sounds like a laddish fratboy. Cross your fingers, I guess.

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The New Prince of Persia Trailer: So cool

Posted by deckard47 on November 14, 2008

I’m in a hurry, no time to post more than this, but this new trailer is fantastic. The second half is the same music video-esque stuff as before, but the first half is like comic book trailer mixing the Prince of Persia and The Lord of the Rings. So cool!

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Feeling Bad about Mirror’s Edge

Posted by deckard47 on November 13, 2008

Two things to discuss today. First, I wrote an article recently for Game Set Watch. It focused on The Lord of the Rings: the Third Age, and JediKnight: Jedi Outcast. In it, I compared Outcast unfavorably with  The Third Age. Now, I loved Outcast when I played it, and I’d be the first to compare it favorably to all other Star Wars Jedi games. But, I don’t think that precludes me from critiquing it on other grounds. Still, it came as a surprise to me when an employee over at Raven Software wrote to me about my article. He took offense at me calling Outcast “unambitious.” We preceded to have a really interesting conversation about Outcast, among other things. He seems like an awesome guy, and I hope that Raven keeps kicking ass (please tell me you’ve all played Elite Force?). It just reminded me that I and other bloggers sling a lot of shit at games, and those games take years to make. So, good or bad, give them the credit they deserve just for making the games.

Anyway, second topic of discussion for today will be Mirror’s Edge. Mon frere just acquired it, and he’s been playing it for most of the night. It frustrates him to an amazingly high degree, even more than Dead Space did (and that game made him serioursly angry). Mostly, it’s the weird, annoying little things that get him: getting stuck on light fixtures, or bumps in the wall, or other tiny shit. Also, as he just pointed out to me, ina 2D platformer you can always see the problem with your strategy. You know what caused your fall or failure. In Mirror’s Edge, disaster can strike from any direction, and you won’t know what the hell it was until the fifth time it happens to you.

Also, Mirror’s Edge has pretty mediocre writing. It’s not bad, but it’s almost instantly forgettable. Worse than the writing is the acting. It’s as if the actors were pronouncing English words phonetically, with no knowledge of their significance. One actor, mocking out heroin, keeps calling her “Faithy.” Perhaps the writers meant to imply a past affair or relationship, but we’ll never know: the actor makes it sound like he’s insulting his kid sister. Classy. It looks and plays great otherwise, and the reviewers who say the time trials are unimportant are dumb. They’re especially interesting looking, especially after the offensive trial and error indoor fight sequences. I want to run and jump and race, not figure out the right order to quick-time-event-kill soldiers that yell “go go go!” as they shoot me.

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Kotaku Posts About My Article, Oddly

Posted by deckard47 on November 10, 2008

So, since my last post was about me (a topic I love), this one will be too. Kotaku’s weekend editor, Owen Good, posted a thing about my latest GSW article (the one about LOTR: TTA, and JK: Jedi Outcast). Anyway, I went over and checked it out, wanting of course to do the impossible: i.e. tell everyone “no, that’s not what I meant, let me retract my words and rephrase them!” Silly me. Anyway, check it out, some interesting things said, some less so. Again, I’m surprised, and happy, I guess. Sweet.

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New Articles Up!

Posted by deckard47 on November 7, 2008

So as of right now, I have posted my articles (from GSW and Gamers’ Temple) over there on the right. I’m going to do something better than that soon, but for now, there are the links. The Witcher Enhanced Edition review just went up over at Gamers’ Temple, and an article about good bad games just appeared over at GSW. So exciting! I’m going to make a creamy shrimp pasta sauce tonight. Even more exciting.

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Fallout Schmallout: EVE is Amazing!

Posted by deckard47 on November 7, 2008

No, I actually haven’t played the tiniest bit of EVE Online, but you must, must check this out. EVE Online is making it so players can add customizable shops and other baubles to space stations, which in turn will be filled by custom NPCs and such. I can’t believe how attractive that sounds (as Kotaku’s Fahey says here), and how much like DS9 it is. Must resist urge to play a game that eats my money like I eat gummy bears.

The truth is, I am having trouble writing about Fallout 3. I did some work this morning, and then decided I would sit down and write something about my latest journey to the Capital Wasteland. So far, little has been accomplished. I feel like a game that has me this conflicted about whether I like it or not should be a perfect source of information. Blech. I really just want to see J.C.V.D. My silly town doesn’t have it yet.

I guess I’ll just think here and think about creating my own space saloon.

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Where’s My Louis Armstrong?

Posted by deckard47 on November 6, 2008

Time for a Fallout 3 update. I’m trying to finish “The Family” quest, which involves my character tracking down what appear to be a family of moddern day vampires. It sounds great (although it is so like Oblivion), and it’s fun for a bit, but then I realize that I’m just checking various Oblivion dungeons (sure, they’re in subway stations and mansions, but their dungeons all the same) for guys. And it is getting old.

Yet even as the specter of Oblivion rears its medieval head, a bit more fo (what I consider to be) Fallout peaks through. I keep on finding “rail spike” rounds or some such, obviously destined for some kind of “railgun.” I long for this rail spike gun like nothing else I’ve ever wanted in a game. Kind of. It’s actually amazing, how their devilish little crafting system drags me in. If I have the right materials, I can make a bottle cap mine… This means I use currency as a weapon. Nice. Also, when I buy the schematic for a gun, that’s not the end. If I find identicle schematics, my final gun (whenever I craft it) will be of a higher quality. Excellent.

Mini-Nuke attack! Oh, that reminds me, I just found out that there is a way for me to pick up the schematics for a nuke grenade. I am almost speechless with anticipation.

This kind of detail is also bestowed upon repairing items found in the wasteland, which can be done to increase damage and value. Likewise, the Bobbleheads that are hidden throughout the game aren’t just gloriphied trophies: they bestow small bonuses to different skills. It’s very much like Mass Effect’s achievements, which conferred ingame bonuses. Way to go bethesda.

Suddenly, I want to take back what I said about evil characters. In my good game, I stumbled upon a huge slaving complex, which was completely off limits to me. I want to get there with my evil guy, and explore! I want that so badly.

I’m still very far from getting anywhere in the game, but I can say that it’s frustrating and fun in almost equal amounts. More missives from the Wasteland to follow shortly.

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Election, Election

Posted by deckard47 on November 5, 2008

So I’m watching the returns, hoping, as I am want to do. I just spent a lot of today doing a lot of gaming, writing, and lots of nothing. I can safely say that Dead Space rocks just as much as it did this morning. In Fallout 3 news, I’ve played a bit more of it, and I can say this: it is definitely better than Oblivion. I almost feel like it should be compared to that game, as opposed to the old Fallouts. It’s big, varied, deep, and ultimately, oddly shoddy in places (just less so than Oblivion was). What it takes from the Fallout are its setting and its tone (for the most part), and the skill-influenced conversation trees.

By the way, that last feature is one of my favorites in the whole game. I love being able to create a different conversation tree because I have high endurance. Quite awesome. So, its very fun, but I can see it petering out like Oblivion did. I’m worried that beyond the aforementioned conversation techniques, it’s going to be the same brand of bland storytelling. I could be wrong, because the writing is definitely better in places, as is the acting. I’m crossing my fingers, because I really want to like this.

The combat is just as the rest of the world says it is: stunted and finicky. V.A.T.S. helps to ameliorate the situation somewhat, but I can only watch heads blowing up for so long before I get testy. Horribly, I’m finding the evil options too harsh. I don’t like destroying an entire town, because it removes a whole batch of quests from my reach. If you could have seen me when I realized this, you would know what the deepest kind of indecision looks like. Now I absolutely must play the game twice (if not three times) to assuage my peculiar predilections. Life is tough.

Anyway, I think I’ll keep on trying with it, maybe not later tonight, but definitely tomorrow. I need to get my character beyond that initial sucky stage. Time to go watch Obama win (projected-wise).

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Impressions/Review: Dead Space (or how I learned to stop freaking out and kill aliens)

Posted by deckard47 on November 4, 2008

So, I’m still playing through Dead Space, but I thought I’d stop by and write a bit about it. I’ve recently been thinking that too many games operate in the shadow of Aliens, especially in the atmosphere created by that movies’ characters. So, it’s with amusement that I encounter a game that steals everything else from Ripley’s world: setting, plot, enemies (kinda), and lines of dialogue. I mean, when you hear somebody give the “we’re here to destroy, not to analyze or bring back” line, you know what’s going on.

This has, of course, been pointed out by many people, all over the internet. It seems to me they’re also talking about gameplay. They say that this game is like Aliens, with its frantic action and small scares, and less like Alien’s slow creeping dread. Again, correct. What they don’t mention is that the story, which mixes the aforementioned movies with The Thing and a bit of religious zeal, is hackneyed beyond belief.

The game sends you from one end of the spaceship Ishimura to another, fixing leaks, restarting generators, and basically acting like the meanest, most badass space janitor/engineer in history. Let me say, right out of the gate, that I loved this game. I thought that it was beautiful, fun, tense, and occasionally scary. I never for once thought it was original or creative (except in its depiction of zero gravity and vacuum situations, which are absolutely brilliant).

What Dead Space is, is carefully and stylishly unoriginal. You’ll love playing it, but when you aren’t playing it, it’s hard to say what’s so great about it. It has some really great set-pieces, some sweet effects, and solid gameplay, and that’s all. Every other design move smacks of laziness or lack of creativity.

Let’s take our hero and avatar, Isaac Clark. Mr. Clark (whose face you can only glimpse for a moment or two from start to finish) is a voiceless middle-aged white dude it would appear, who specializes in heavy breathing and killing things. You are ostensibly interested in the plight of the Ishimura becasue your ex is on it, but we never really care about this “relationship.” The problem is that Isaac has been saddled with modern video games’ most ludicrous trope: the “everyman” silent protagonist.

Isaac never speaks, and you never get any indication of his mood, other than that he doesn’t like dying. He wear’s a mask throughout the game, and reacts to little. Apparently, this makes him relatable, because so many of us are demure, voiceless, deep space mechanics who constantly wear masks. Again, really guys? I don’t see how you can relate to a character who does not exist. I guess it lets you make stuff up about him, it lets us call him a “blank slate” or some other foolishness.

What it also does is make me absolutely not care about his plight. I don’t care about his ex, I don’t care about his shipmates (why should I, they just spout dialogue and send me to tighten some screws down in Engineering), and I really don’t care about the [Spoilers ahead] stupid mad scientist who talks at me through windows and wants to meld humans and aliens. Unthinkable. [End of the spoilers] The plot is bad, and it gets worse, and eventually you wonder why you’re still playing.

It doesn’t help that Dead Space makes Drake’s Fortune look scary. It creates a very creapy setting, and does next to nothing with it. I can count on my hand the number of time I was scared by this game:

1) When the unkillable monster is banging around in the walls and coming after me and he has such a scary voice! No really, this part scared me silly, and had me running around without my normal care and caution. Oh, right, that was stolen from Resident Evil 2, and Nemesis unless I’m much mistaken.

2) The first time a vent pops into your face and nothing evil pops out after it. This will happen 500 times throughout the game.

3) The first time the lights go out. For more on numbers 2 and 3, check out Graffiti Gamer’s take on Dead Space. No, seriously, go check it out and come right back, because I am too lazy to say what he put so well.

So there you have it. Three scares. Of course, I kind of like this. I love killing monsters, aiming precisely at their limbs, changing guns manicly (oh, and let us congratulate EA Redwood on the Ripper, my favorite remote controlled spinng saw gun), and cursing my frail engineer’s body. Its fun, and it never got too scary, like some games that make me take a break or two. You get the feeling that they’re trying so very hard, and its a bit sad. When I see a dark shape in the distance, which turns and disappears, I don’t get scared. I know he’ll pop out of a vent later! Likewise, when I find a scientist who promptly slits her throat because of the horror, I just check for an item drop. None of the survivors ever surprise you and go hostile (which I think would have been a brilliant scare), so you never have to worry.

They miss even the basic scares. Where’s the alien dropping on my face when I’m minding my business in an elevator? Where’s the alien that actually surprises me, ever? I’m not sure how to accomplsh this, but I know that AVP 2, Drake’s Fortune, and all of the Resident Evil games did a better job at creating atmosphere than Dead Space does. I mean, the hallway where arms attack/grope Leon Kenedy in the police station scared the living daylights out of me, and that was one of many moments in the game.

This is all to say that the game annoys me on a very deep level, and is still amazingly fun. I want to play it again, on either Impossible mode or on Hard mode again with beefed up weapons. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m sure I can forgive it its faults for another run through its scary spaceship. The interface is fantastic. It’s a holo-inventory/map that you project into the air in front of your suit. It’s sweet and pretty and fun. Oh, and about an hour ago, I realized that it was emitting from the collar of his suit, where there was a little readout. So cool! Must go look at in an elevator for minutes!

In case you were wondering (and who isn’t!), this is what I wanted the next Aliens game to be like. I’m sure Colonial Marines willo be alright, but if this game had been about Ripley’s monsters, I would have been in heaven. If that world could have been realized in the same way as the Ishimura, all would have been right with the world. Oh well. How about in the sequel, Isaac talks? Please? And maybe we all can stop pretending that we empathize with masked space mechanics who don’t speak.

UPDATE: Some guys just dropped into my elevator. They were not sary.

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