Tuesday, April 29, 2008
If my wife is reading this, I swear that I left my game on overnight and haven't been playing it the entire time.
I really enjoyed the first return of Prince of Persia, the Sands of Time. The series went downhill a little after that, but was still a great set of games. Assassin's Creed, the newest from the Ubisoft team who built the first Prince of Persia games, shows its pedigree, and if it demonstrates what may be capable from a new trilogy in the future, I have great hopes. More to come on this.
The game tracks your online progress using VR points, among other statistics. I have no idea what VR stands for. But you gain points for coming in the top three or four finishers, depending on how many people are in each match, and lose for coming in the bottom three or four. I've gotten up to about 5400 points, as I win more than I lose. But those 10th place finishes are still possible, and hearbreaking, especially when you see your rating plummet.
The game also tracks a number of other statistics, including your first place finishes, your bumps and item launches, all kinds of stuff. Really cool to watch and see just how many times you've ran into someone.
Online play is just a blast, it's the core of the game, and it shows. Multiplay Kart is where it's at.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Too bad I have to wait a year for the PC version...
And I have to say, wow, they're worth the wait. Almost every single one of these items look fantastic, and if they don't look great they're merely adequate. Unlike some of the other "high-end" items -- such as some Destroyer weapons -- none of these you'd be ashamed to carry. Especially the martial weapons such as sword, axe, spears, and scythes look fantastic. The staff is also an attractive item.
Those characters who have already completed the story need only repeat the final mission to gain access to the end area, and are treated to a Deldrimor Talisman and a humorous sequence involving the "missing" NPC characters absent from Hell's Precipice, the final mission.
I haven't gone to pick mine up yet -- only because I can't decide what I want!
Online, you can play with participants worldwide, within your region, or on your friends list. Because I don't have anyone's friend code yet, I just did a match in my region. When starting a match, you get a cute visual of who is joining the match, what their Mii looks like, and where approximately they are in the world. It seems to leverage the same look as the world in the Weather Channel. Additionally, those matched have a score close to yours -- you start with 5000 points, and win or lose points depending on your score at the end.
Once twelve participants are gathered -- and it looked like I was pulled into an existing match with 10 others, as I could spectate on another match as I waited to join -- the match initiates. You can chose your racer and kart, and then vote on a track. Then you're ready to go.
I also have to say this is very quick. It took less than 30 seconds from clicking the region menu item to the start of the race. Perfectly suited to fast play, and much more satisfying than the matching services on SSBB.
The race itself was great. Zero lag at all, even with two racers on the screen -- my son played with me. Thankfully we played on Mario Circuit from the SNES kart game, and I managed to edge out my competitors to take home the gold on my first online match!
In the end, the multiplay on Mario Kart Wii seems to be the best online experience that can be had on the Wii.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
The steering wheel was his main focus; he just thought it was fantastic. And it is very clever, and pretty easy to use. It offers a very direct input method, great for beginners. Also, as I suspected, the game supports a wide array of other input methods, including the Classic Controller and the Gamecube controller. Classic all the way baby.
The game itself is fantastic. I was first greatly pleased by the excellent menus system. Easy to use, pleasing to look at. Very good in a game that just has loads of options.
We jumped right into a game, and it's a blast. The action with twelve participants on the map at any one time is crazy. The items of course are insanely overpowered. Maintaining a lead is difficult, and you're never quite certain you can even stay on the track -- but that's a hallmark of the series. The action is very fun, and the twelve-player multiplay (with up to two on a single system) offers the best online experience you can get on the Wii.
Mario Kart Wii serves up so much fun, so many maps, characters, and karts, with so many game types both on and offline, it's a shame not to pick it up.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
We have Pokemon Diamond, and have had it for a while. I played through the game quite a ways before getting bored -- almost every battle is the same. But I had to pick it up again because he just loves some of the legendary pokemon, specifically Dialga, whom he has named Whiskey. I managed to play through to where you can capture the legendary, and came to enjoy the game again.
While still quite a bit repetitive, getting your little monsters higher in levels is pretty satisfying. And because the game allows you to repeat instances earlier in the game, you can always go back with your lower-level guys and train them up a bit more.
The driving factor really has been Super Smash Brothers Brawl. Several of the Pokemon from Diamond and Pearl are in Brawl, so it just feels fun to catch those we're familiar with. I'm trying to get Lucario now, which is an involved process of procuring an egg, tending to that egg by walking with it all over Sinnoh, hatching it into Riolu, and then leveling him up to Lucario.
I tell myself that it's for my son, but in reality, the little monsters may have gotten their adorable and terrible hooks into me.
Enjoy the wacky video -- and judge for yourself!
And, by the way... Mario Kart for SNES came out in September of 1992. The above Wacky Wheels came out in October of 1994. Mart insists a time machine was employed.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
My legendary luck returned as I picked up a shard on the second group, and a mated pair of shards at the end of our hour-long session. Greg picked up a key after my two shards, and Mike had to complain about his unfair treatment. He didn't get a single shard or key, and the chest finds were bad, although he did get a rare monk rune.
We got booted because we took the Gift of Griffons quest that we were unprepared for. Normally, you want to clear out a large part of the zone and not approach the griffons before clearing out the pops that come with the quest. But I got lazy, and so we lost, and were sent back to Temple of Ages for our carelessness.
But, it was fun nontheless. I still really want to clear the entire zone to get a chest and the ability to display the Fissure of Woe in the Hall of Monuments.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Gamespot has information about an upcoming Bioware RPG. Okay, nothing out of the ordinary there -- definately what the company is known for. However, the game features characters from the Sonic The Hedgehog universe. Hmm... That's a little different. Now, imagine the platform. Surely it's for Xbox360? Negative. It's for DS.
I just don't know what to say, except I'm excited. Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood looks to be a colorful and lively RPG experience. I'm also greatly warming to the Sonic cast as I've enjoyed his dynamic, poky blueness on Super Smash Brothers Brawl. Initial screens seem incredibly detailed and utterly adorable.
With the talent behind the game, it holds much promise for a great experience on the handheld. The experiences to be had on the little DS have been superior, from Mario Kart, Advance Wars: Dual Strike, Zelda Phantom Hourglass, and Professor Leyton, the Sonic RPG may be another game that carves out a place among the great handheld games of this generation. One to watch
Paper Mario is available on the Wii Virtual Console where I've been playing it, but the title originally released for N64 in 2001. Paper Mario was the first in the series, followed with Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door on GameCube and Super Paper Mario on the Wii. These two more recent titles are also incredible and you owe it to yourself to check them out.
But Paper Mario itself is an entertaining and adorable adventure RPG. It's 1000 Wii Points ($10) on the Virtual Console, and considering I clocked in over 20 hours of play, that's quite a value.
The gameplay is simple but satisfying: combat is turn-based with action commands that you can use at the right time during a combat sequence to power up your attacks or increase defense. The usual leveling up conventions apply here; you can improve per level HP, FP (flower points, used for "special" attacks), and BP (badge points, used to equip greater and more flexible badges that increase your attack types or recharge energy or whatever). The game also doesn't take itself very seriously, there is a lot of humor and it even makes light of the usual role-playing concepts of the silent hero, rescuing the princess, etc.
I had a ton of fun with the game even seven years after the fact. Now that I've completed all the Paper Mario games, I don't know where I'll turn next! Oh yes I do, Okami.
Command and Conquer: Kane's Wrath is another story. While I really liked the missions that individually make up the game, it doesn't feel cohesive. It can't really be named a campaign. It's more like the missions from the Red Alert Aftermath, in fact the whole game is like that -- rather than a comprehensive add-on it introduces new units, stand-alone missions, and new game modes. I like Kane's Wrath as a whole, but trying to call it anything more than supporting material is a stretch.
I love going from wildly different game types. The slow, story-driven pace of the witty Paper Mario is a great contrast to the frenetic action of the fast-paced RTS of Kane's Wrath. Now I'll have to move back to the deeply strategic Advance Wars: Days of Ruin and possibly pick up the action-adventure Okami. Oh and don't forget the wacky Mario Kart Wii comes out a week from Sunday!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Ah, so reading more, apparently Warhammer 40k II debuts the Essence Engine 2.0 -- no wonder the screens look like Company of Heroes.
I could load it up on the DS, but come on...
IGN creams all over the Wii "port" in their review. This is a game I've eyed for a long time and would love to pick up. And it's a $40 title, woo woo!
I seemed to learn something very key at the beginning of the game: apparently antlions have trouble in water.
The quartet drowned when they tried to come at me in this underground cavern, begging the question: why aren't we using water to protect our homes?!
Anyway, the game is a blast so far, there have been lots of cool moments, and I've only been stuck one time so far!
Monday, April 14, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
There are three status mode for any challenge: hidden, revealed, or completed. If the challenge is hidden, it exists only as a blue block on the screen and you aren't sure what you need to do to complete it. The revealed status appears in red with an object silhouette and may give some or all details about how to get it and what becomes unlocked when you clear it. And, of course, when completed the item, or level, or music, or masterpiece becomes available.
I've cleared the vast majority of unlocks. There are a total of 128, and of those I've cleared probably 100, with under ten still blue. Some, such as clearing Boss Battles on intense, may simply be beyond my skill. Luckily, you have a selection of Golden Hammers you can use to break a challenge without having to complete said challenge. I can only hope I have enough -- I believe you have access only to five throughout your play, and once used they are gone forever.
I may just have to get better at the game!
Friday, April 11, 2008
However, the ending was... Incomplete. As far as the story goes. Even more so than HL2 itself -- which was pretty contrived. I'm gonna have to go to Episode 2 and see just what the hell is going on.
Some great historical ones are Swamp Buggy Racing and eXtreme Paintbrawl. Two epic reviews from PCGamer, Mike and I have laughed about them for years. Definately titles to avoid.
A recent review about a bad game I read was for M&M's Kart Racing. This unabashed marketing exercise is just hysterical. I bothered to watch a video for it that includes some of the terrible camera work and audio. It's just face-palm bad.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Half-Life 2 is a romp. There is an incredible depth of experience, from frantic vehicle sequences to great physics set pieces, high-powered high-tech platforming, and yes, even though I don't enjoy it, silly infected human shooter elements. In all, a fun, funny, varied experience.
Half-Life 2 : Episode 1 is none of that. It is some kind of a lame survival horror game. I spent like four hours underground. The part where you're waiting for the elevator? Incredibly frustrating. Look, I don't want to fish around in the dark. If I wanted that, I'd play Doom3 or some other trash.
So now that I'm above ground, it's a little more interesting, but it's hard to stay with it. It's a little disappointing. Where are the swinging pillars smashing my eneies and zooming vehicles? It's like Alyx just does all my work for me. She gets a sniper rifle? Where's my damn sniper rifle? I'm like the bait just dragging dudes with head crabs all over the place for her to shoot.
I guess that's what I get for playing an expansion to a game two years late. The shine's off.
But don't let that dissuade you from the Orange Box. The three titles above are surely worth it, even if you never play the episodes.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
This epic thread, entitled Reasons why it's worth to be a PCgamer in 2008 (not to be confused with the magazine) list many reasons why PC exclusives are to drool over -- Sins of a Solar Empire and StarCraft II are just the tip of the iceberg.
However, a new game I hadn't seen yet seems very intriguing. It's called Demigod, and it comes from Gas Powered Games Chris Taylor and friends. Reportedly heavily influenced by the WCIII Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) map/mod stylings, the sheer scope of this game is arresting.
(Image reposted from 1UP.com, not my work.)
A blend of RPG and RTS, Demigod will bring the DOTA gameplay forefront by focusing on heroes -- those customizable, leveling friends from many other games. But you also get to build your base, and just massive units, to go with them. Looks like a much more intimate scale than the prior work of Gas Powered's Supreme Commander.
A funny dovetail with Sins of a Solar Empire -- both games share Stardock as a publisher! I was very happy to install my retail copy of Solar Empire easily and run it without requiring the CD. Kudos to Stardock for not punishing people for buying their game.
And let's not forget that Guild Wars 2 should be rearing its dragon-sized head sometime in 2008. ArenaNet keeps saying a beta is just around the corner... Sign me up!
It's good to be on the PC -- but I'm also hedging my bets with the Wii.
I got into trouble when I was low on life and Mart (as Sheik) picked up a star wand and he started chasing me down.
I then got in between a Shiek and a soccer ball and got booted!
I got revenge later, although this pose seems slightly obscene...
In the end, it went to Sudden Death! I got him in the end -- lucky hit!
I wondered why I was completely alone in my direct attack. I thought they were just being lazy... No, they were working hard -- from afar!
The rocket attack, combine with some timely Panther action and supporting Hummels just erase the American base. But look out for that friendly fire!
Monday, April 7, 2008
Have some screens of a match I played with Alex on Delfino Square. This map is from Super Mario Sunshine and has some great elements -- it transports you to several seperate areas consisting of aerial, pillars over water water, and beach-like settings.
I, as Captain Falcon, put the hurt on Pit.
The old-school Batman-style graphics crack me up.
A knee to the face and he goes flying.
Friday, April 4, 2008
I'd love to post some screens of Wolf and new stages, but my SD card crapped out. Lost the replays that I had on there and can't transfer any new ones. I should pick another one up this weekend to replace the busted one.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Crazy how fast that time goes, but wow I've done a lot in that time.
Expect some fun birthday celebrations coming up.
Mass Effect, the game that everyone said was going to be XBox only, an exclusive, no never anywhere else, comes out for PC in May. I said it was going to come out for PC, because BioWare as a company likes money. That will be one I pick up. Hopefully they will fix the slightly painful inventory system.
No word on when Grand Theft Auto IV is coming to PC. I know it is, because every other game has, and I know for a fact that Rockstar also likes money. I will wait for it on PC, as I have every other GTA game, because shooting people on a television is not something my 6-year-old is ready for. And also anti-aliasing.
And in Halo 3 news... Nah kidding, thankfully it's not coming to PC. We have enough shooters.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Anyway, we had a fun session yesterday evening. Mike joined us as well, and I decided to stretch my experience in the game. I'd never really played an engineer, and before I nearly always took the teleporters, dispensers, and friendly turrets for granted.
Man the class is hard to play well.
Construction placement is so nuanced. I don't know the maps incredibly well, so it's difficult to find the place for turrets in chokepoints, or place dispensers and teleporters close enough to the action but not close enough that everyone gets killed. Definately requires practice.
But I spent most of the evening as a healbot. Earlier I was playing as backup to Mike's heavy. We had several good uber charges. But here's him in his astute soldier guise. Note the jutting jaw and dull grin.
Not only is TF2 fun to play, it's free to play, once you actually purchase the game, unlike those poor souls on Live. In addition, when the PC crew will get free updates and a new map sometime later in april, it's like consolers will have to either pay or not get it at all. Seems like a pretty crappy deal to me.
Unfortunately for PC gamers, it seems those of us who were smart enough to pick up the Orange Box while it was available made the smart choice. Word on the street is that Portal and TF2 will be $20 and $30 respectively, and that Orange Box may no longer be offered on the PC. Not that those definately aren't worth the money; they are. It's just that Orange Box is, for lack of a better term, $100 pounds of awesome in a $50 pound Orange Box.