January 31, 2008
While the story is somewhat interesting, the dialog and presentation are horrible. Characters have monologs that sound like they were written in high school, and they’re delivered with enough ham it’s a wonder the warning label doesn’t say, “Not a Kosher product.”
Death and the game’s core mechanics are exactly like that of the Battlefield games. Death costs you a ticket, and you can respawn and change your class at any spawn point you control. You capture control points by being in their vicinity while the enemy is absent.
The game does have some power ups. The lightning bolt gives you a burst of speed, depth charges allow you to create a small explosions, shields restore your health, blue crosses give you more tickets, and the red bullets improve your weapons strength. There’s nothing exciting about these power ups if you ask me. I think most of them were available in NES shooters.
This game also has boss fights, which is too bad. The bosses require you to learn one or two patterns, and then build a tactic to overcome it. I think it’s odd that the bosses are so easy since the rest of the game is so frustratingly difficult. On Normal mode I had to replay most missions at least twice. The AI on your team mates seems to point the bots in different directions (and rarely to the spawn point you’re after or defending) while the enemy AI swarms together with a clear destination in mind.
The controls are very similar to Geometry Wars, only slightly more complicated. The only difference is right trigger gives you a short sprint and the x button gives you a sustained sprint. I never felt myself fighting the controls, but I can’t say I want to see them again either.
The graphics are great for an Xbox live arcade title, but I wish the models were a bit larger. It’s easy for three of the four classes to hide behind foreground objects, and it’s common to lose track of your character in close quarters.
Skip it: If you got this game for free, I think you paid the right price. Other reviewers keep saying how great it is, but I feel once the novelty of cutscenes wears off you won’t be coming back. I think everything this game does has been done better elsewhere. You shouldn’t feel like you need to play this game at all.
Get the Demo: If you’re the kind of person who just doesn’t understand Domination, Head Quarters or Sabotage in Call of Duty 4, this game can teach you the mechanics. Just get the demo as a primer, I doubt you’ll need the entire game.
Buy it: If you missed out on the free offer, but you’re curious about the quality we can expect for the Ender’s Game adaptation, go ahead and drop your money. I can’t think of another reason to spend points on this.
January 31, 2008
Doctor Kawashima apparently isn’t getting paid for the Brain Age games. Apparently he refused ~$11 million US, saying he did it for the love. The anarco-communist in me respects that, but the capitalist says, “What the hell?!”
Vintage Computing did a round up comparison of used games versus virtual console. If you buy everything on that list VC is considerably cheaper, although some items are a better buy in physical medium. I know people that collect NES carts, so I doubt the used market will ever die completely, but VC certainly seems like a better deal for the casuals.
News is in early today. In a few weeks all of my updates will either be before noon or after midnight CST. Hopefully news will always be in the morning.
January 30, 2008
The scumbag mentioned in yesterday’s news was found guilty. I hope he actually did it.
Kotaku reports the Devil May Cry localized anime is probably canceled. I hope that isn’t the case, but I’m sure you can always buy the import from Amazon but I don’t think it has English sub-titles. Amazon does still have the localized version on presale, and there’s only a week to go. I guess we’ll have confirmation or denial on this story in about a week.
The EU has settled an important issue. As far as their tax collectors are concerned video games are art, and so game makers are entitled to the same tax breaks as musicians, film makers, and regular old artists.
I have a long standing disliking of Sony. It probably started when the PS2 killed the Dreamcast. I try not to begrudge them, but as soon as I start showing interest in their products they go and do something like this. I bought a PSP on launch and I picked up three games with it. Hell, I even bought a few UMDs during those early months. I guess helping them get off the ground means I have to buy a new device every three years if I want to keep up with software features.
Because of this site I’m sure to buy a PS3 at some point, however I will remain hesitant to recommend their hardware to anyone else. Support is a factor. Fanboy disclaimer: I did NOT say the Xbox 360 is superior.
January 29, 2008
You may remember sometime last year a man was charged with killing his baby for knocking over an Xbox. Now the prosecution is claiming that the man was “obsessed with video games, playing up to six hours a day.” I hate to associate myself with this guy should he in fact be guilty, but if six hours/day (maximum) is an obsession I’d love to know what he’d call me. Can’t a person be a scumbag and a gamer?
I never would have heard this if not for Kotaku. Bastards.
I was going to write a bit conspariacy theory about Nintendo producing shortages for Super Smash Brothers: Brawl to ramp up hype. However Wii Wii beat me to it.
Finally we’re going to try to do as many video reviews as possible. I have a really rough proof of concept done, and I’m confident that my review this week will work out well. It may take a few weeks for the balance between video and written reviews to be struck, but I’m sure everyone will be happy in the end.
January 28, 2008
The biggest story of the day continues to be the EA vs Fox ordeal. Cooper Lawrence kind-of-sort-of apologized to gamers for speaking out of turn, which is appreciated. I suppose now her books might get ripped on slightly less, but the damage has been done. (Incidentally if you want to see the NYT article without signing up for a free membership you can do so here.)
One of the inspirations for this site, Adam Sessler, pipes in about it. I think G4 will let this video ride, hopefully it’s not broken by the time you read this.
The game also got some support from an unusual source. Jack Thompson shows a moment of clarity even though he has gone after EA in the past. I guess it’s hard to argue that Mass Effect was aimed at children, but it still seems strange that he denounced Fox’s accusations. I used to think he was just a publicity hound, stirring up the public for a quick buck, but maybe he really does believe everything he says. I don’t know which impression of JT is scarier. Either way, to have him on our side in this debate shows how far off kilter Fox is.
We’re a step closer to homebrew on the Wii. I know you can get the Wii-mote to work with all manner of devices, but there’s something charming about the idea of launching a “Homebrew” channel on the console the wii-mote was intended for. I can guarantee the indy scene has better ideas for the device.
For today’s humor piece I present you with a strip from my favorite web comic.
January 26, 2008
Fancy Pants Adventure 2
I have not played the first Fancy Pants Adventure game. That said, this game’s creator must have been influenced by Sonic the Hedgehog, as Fancy Pants Adventure 2 reminds me of everything that was good in Sonic the Hedgehog games. The level design is creative and the platforming is fast-paced, requiring instant decision making. Pulling off the necessary stunts looks awesome, too. The character and level design are all charming, and the music resembles that typical of a Mario or Sonic game. Controls take a little getting used to, but after some time playing, it feels pretty natural. You use the arrow keys to go left or right, the S key to jump, and the up key to enter doors.
Check it out: If you like platforming games or are a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog, you’ll love this.
The object of this game is to remember a shape that’s given and then try to reproduce the shape yourself. You’re given a grade based on how close you get, and at the end of each level, your score is tallied. There are a couple different music selections to choose from, and the game play is kind of like something you would see in Brain Age.
Check it out: If you like Brain Age and the like you’ll enjoy this.
This game is a unique take on the tower defense formula. You choose which turrets you use and where, and then control one turret at a time to fire on incoming enemies. Each turret has a certain amount of life and you can level them up, giving them more health, more damage, and a faster recharge rate. You can pick what maps you play, and there’s a lot of strategy in choosing what areas you defend. My only complaint is that the difficulty is fairly high at the beginning, but it’s possible I just suck at this – I have only managed to finish the first level. The idea is neat, but I think the difficulty needs to be toned down.
I managed to find one bug; if I alt-tabbed to a different window or switched browser tabs, I wasn’t able to control the turret anymore. Hopefully that’ll get fixed in updates for the game.
Check it out: If you’re looking for a challenge and looking to try a new spin on tower defense games.
If you have not played Geometry Wars, this is a great way to get an idea of what it’s like. Luminara controls like an arcade shooter: point your mouse, shoot with the left button, and move with the W A S D keys or the arrow keys.
The music, sounds, and bursts of color when enemies die help keep the adrenaline flowing throughout Luminara. Each level has more and more enemies on the screen, with different variations as to what they do. There are also power ups available. Unlike Geometry Wars, this doesn’t have AI controlled enemies, which makes it easier to play.
Check it out: If you want to have an idea of what Geometry Wars is like, this is a good place to start. It’s also a good choice if you need to take out some frustration.
January 25, 2008
The 360 (Zune and some other PC devices) are turning a profit at long last. Engaget is kind of snide about the whole deal but MS churned out 524 million in profit this quarter which is more money than I’m likely to see in my life.
In the bullshit bin we find Fox has sent an invitation to EA to appear on their channel. I guess you can’t say “We lied about a product” without a representative there to be cross examined by some Jack Thompson wannabe.
I wish there was more to report, but all the other news I read today seemed a bit like hype. I guess that’s what other sites do on slow news days.
January 25, 2008
Buy it here!
This game is ideally suited for portable systems because it is turn based. Having the freedom to put the PSP to sleep at any point is liberating. When you get off the bus or finish your break you don’t need to worry about finishing an attack before putting the game away.
I had never gotten too far in FFT, the main reason for that is because the original localization was horrible. The new port fixes that. I debated discussing the finer points of the story, but I’ve decided against it. As of this writing the game is three days away from being ten years old, so technically the statute of limitations is up on this. However I think it’s possible there’s a whole new generation of gamers out there who haven’t had a chance to play it and I think they should have a clean slate. You should know that it is worth playing to finish the story.
The translation also improved the help text for spells and abilities. It’s now possible for a reasonably intelligent person to understand the exact effects of all the spells in the game without experimentation. I can’t tell you how much that one little change helped me out.
The graphics are fine; they don’t detract from the experience at all. In fact the new cut scenes look amazing – and they are fully animated this time. There are still some scenes done in the game engine which is a bit disappointing. Over all the presentation is great, I doubt anyone will complain.
I wasn’t able to unlock any of the new jobs, but judging by the care they took with the rest of the game I’d assume they don’t mess with the overall balance. The difficulty for the first two chapters (which is as far as I was able to get) didn’t appear to change, although the guest AI seems to be more competent. On mission where you need to protect a guest, the NPC does a good job of staying out of harm’s way whenever possible.
I did run into patches of additional content. For example there is a point where you play as Delita (an occasional guest member of your party) who is defending a princess from a group of three hostile forces. It gives you a little more insight into a fairly convoluted story, which is greatly appreciated.
They also added multiplayer modes. I wasn’t able to test them (I don’t know anyone else who owns a PSP) but it does look like a great way to level your characters/get better equipment.
Skip it: This game requires you have at least a casual interest in strategy RPGs. The story is about political maneuvering and conflict between classes, if that’s not your thing look away.
Rent it: If you feel you’re “done” with the original FFT, this disc might revitalize it for you.
Buy it: If you’ve enjoyed Disgaea, or George R. R. Martin novels you’ll get a kick out of this game. It takes itself seriously (with the exception of some of the side missions) and it can come off a bit corny, but if you’re willing to buy into the story you won’t be sorry.
January 24, 2008
I spent about 30 minutes on the Devil May Cry 4 demo tonight. As Graffiti Gamer points out the default controls on the 360 leave something to be desired. I assume Capcom’s going to let us map the controls as we see fit, but I also assumed Dead Rising was going to have a “free play”/open ended mode.
January 24, 2008
The Fox News story is still making headlines. EA has requested a retraction from Fox, but I doubt it’ll happen. EA specifically said they weren’t threatening legal action at this point, which I think is interesting. Could it be that EA doesn’t feel they have a case? What Fox News (or at least Cooper Lawrence) said sounds like slander to me.
PS3Fanboy tells us Best Buy plans on discontinuing the 80 gig PS3, leaving only the gimped 40 gig model in their stores. They further speculate that Sony intends to release a white PS3, which wouldn’t be a shock. The question is will they release a backwards compatible version at $300, and if they do will they push the PS-trite model down to something in the ballpark of $150?
It seems like THQ has fallen on hard times. They’ve discontinued Stuntman and Juiced all together, but they’re going to keep going with WWE Smackdown Vs Raw and MX vs ATV. I can’t say I’ve played any of these games, but none of them seem very compelling. Maybe THQ will take that money they’re saving and sink it into an interesting, original IP. We can dream.