Archives for August 2008

Ubiquity: It Will Change the Web

I’m not going to explain it. Try it.

It has been the rage all day on the web. I’ve been using it off and on and it’s been amazing.

Think of it as a simple way to use anything from anywhere on the web and use it for almost whatever you want. If I was Microsoft, I would be shaking in my boots. When this is added to Firefox–and it will be, it will revolutionize how we share information with one another.

Now, back to gaming.

In [Nat’s] Hands: Too Human Among Others

Let the teasing commence.

Getting this title has raised an interesting dilemma for me regarding professional game reviews. It’s something I intend to address in the next couple of days once I get my thoughts about it in order.

The game? Forget the story and all the online drama. Just play it to play it. You know, like Pac Man. I think if the game just said, “There are a bunch of bad monsters threatening humanity. Kill them.” It would have been fine.

Other than constant drops, the three co-op games I’ve played so far have been fun.

Since getting the PS3, I’ve been itching to play some PS2 games I’ve missed (either playing or missed playing). I picked up Shadow of the Colossus and Rogue Trooper.

Rogue Trooper is one of the most underrated, insanely fun games I’ve ever played. (UPDATE: I found this while googling. Holy crap, on the Wii!)

In My Hands (again)

A review copy of Soul Calibur IV showed up yesterday. So coupled with yesterday’s post, I am loaded down with a plethora, nay, an abundance of games. Many first impressions to come, but it’s time to play some games!

In My Hands

On my hard drive: Geometry Wars 2

Also thinking about getting into my hands: Braid, Bionic Commando, Galaga Legions

Plugging In

I’m finally plugging back in after a week of almost complete disconnectedness. The missus and I took a week-long vacation with no kids and no connections. The only communication I had were brief posts to my Twitter via text messages from my cell phone. I never checked email, the site, nothing. It felt great. Untethered and fancy free.

But now it’s back to the real world. I’m behind on my emails and what-not around here, so if you’ve emailed me recently — I’m getting to it, I promise. I’m dreading the pile of work awaiting me tomorrow. Not fun. On top of all that, my daughter starts kindergarten tomorrow. Things are going to be crazy around these parts for a little while.

But after the trip, I’m feeling refreshed and ready to get back to normal. At least until the next trip.

[2 Minute Review] Bully: Scholarship Edition

Can an ape work his way to the top of the school social pyramid?

Yes, and the journey is satisfying.

DO: Crack heads, kiss girls and uh…well, attend classes, and run from authority figures to be the big man on campus

TYPE: Third-person sandbox

PLATFORM: 360 (reviewed here) and Wii

PRICE: $29.99

MEAT: You play as Jimmy Hopkins—misfit, intellectual, romantic, mascot, leader, and above all, bully. There are four cliques in the school and they all hate each other. Your job is to unite the geeks, preps, greasers, and jocks under one banner—Jimmy’s. All the while, you have to go to classes and perform mini-games for clothing and skills upgrades. You can skip them as well. However, skipping and not being in dress code will land you a beatdown by the school’s prefects if caught. You’ll eventually get to wander all over the town that surrounds the school and be able to perform numerous missions and side quests in order to be the guy in charge of it all. Of course, someone else has the same idea. This has all been done before in 2006 on the PS2. Yep, this is a port with a couple of additions, including new game stopping glitches.

PERKS: excellent style and presentation, well paced, some great achievements for the whores, 20+ hours of play; mini-games are not lame—well, most are not; stellar voice acting (best I’ve ever seen, er, heard), excellent motion capture; superb dialogue; numerous LOL moments

SCREAMS: to have been better tested—the second time around (360 version—there is a patch, thankfully); some achievements are silly repetitive time sinks that you would not do in the general order of play; to have better controls in the mini games—timing is brutal on some; to have had an online or, better yet, co-op component; the main villain is a downer; buttonmashing traverses Billy faster but it offers no benefit the faster you mash; to have an auto-save feature (don’t ask)

VERDICT: Buy. Get it if you’ve never played the PS2 version.

I find it funny most professional reviewers don’t do this, but here’s my gamercard to show I completed the game.

The flying rat infestation

Speaking of GTA IV and cheats, I recently uploaded a set of three maps to Flickr that have the locations of all the pigeons in the city (again, there’s an achievement for that). Now that I’ve finished the game and Niko has done what he needed to do, I suddenly feel a responsibility to clean up the pigeon problem in Liberty City.

If you’re like me and you’re interested in exterminating all the flying rats, you can check out the Flickr set here. I’ve embedded the images after the jump.

[Read more…]

[2 Minute Review] Top Spin 3

Should I break a sweat playing a sports game?

Well, I maybe didn’t break a sweat, but I did cramp my brain.

DO: Play possibly the most realistic tennis game ever. Overhand smashes, drop shots at the net and grunts that would make Maria Sharapova proud. (Okay, maybe that was just me)

TYPE: Tennis (hopefully that’s obvious).

PLATFORM: Xbox 360 (also available on everything else but the PC).

PRICE: $59.99 on the 360.

MEAT: On the surface, it’s another sports game. Where Top Spin 3 really shines is its complexity. At times it can be extremely difficult and hard to get used to, but it becomes second nature pretty quickly. The tutorials are very well done, and get deep fast. It may be a surprise, but I’m not a professional tennis player. So I can’t say if this “feels” right, but some of the shots definitely feel like they should.

There’s a career mode, of course, which I spent most of my time in. There’s nothing new here. Play some matches, get some points to get better skills, rinse, repeat. It’s fun, it’s addictive and I’ll be playing this much more. Oh, and the character creator? My daughter could have played with that for hours. Yay for electronic paper dolls!

PERKS: We’re getting dangerously close to the uncanny valley. Not sure if that’s a perk?

SCREAMS: Nothing new? Even though this is the first Top Spin game I’ve played, I’ve played enough sports games to know there’s only so much improvement can be made. It also can be insanely complex if you want it to.

VERDICT: For most gamers, this is a rental. Tennis fans and sports fans know what they’re getting and are more likely to pick it up. It’s a good buy for a specific group of gamers. You know whether you are in that group or not. If you’re not, you probably won’t be playing this.

Too Human: I’ll Ask It Again

Is it any good? Personally, I need to see more blog reviews of games. I mean, we are the ones in the trenches. We are the ones playing games (hopefully) for enjoyment. It’s not our job to quick-play and meet a deadline and look over our shoulders at the marketing department.

Aeropause seems to think it’s good—and I don’t mean like those feminist yogurt commercials good.

Being that I am only halfway through the games main story I can’t really review it, but from what I have played so far I think the game is worthy of a 80% score. It would be a shame if this game doesn’t get a chance to improve upon itself with a sequel because of a few reviewers who just didn’t get the game. I know this is only my opinion but I truly think that Too Human is a game worthy of your money.

In the post, the author does seem to cover more of the negative aspects of the game. (I want to hear positive, people!) However, he thinks it’s a solid 80%. I’ve also heard this from others.

I think what I can honestly deduce from this game is that it does a good job of creating the love it/hate it mentality. There’s not much in the middle of the road.

Here’s the callout: show us some blog reviews in your comments below…or review it yourself.

Is Too Human Any Good?

I know that one of the games (released today) has been on some of our readers minds for a while now. It’s just recently come up on mine. I’m actually in the process of playing through some 360 games so I can trade them in (NEW RULE: one game at a time—more on that later). I was even thinking of using the credit for Too Human. Things are not looking bright with the mainstream hardcore press.

From Gamespot—who gave the game a 5.5—a surprisingly low score for a AAA developer. Here’s their opening salvo:

Too Human drops a juicy plot development at the most inopportune time: its very end. It’s the obvious manner of setting up a sequel, the infamous “to be continued…” we’ve come to expect from television shows and, yes, even some modern video games. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it exemplifies the core experience of this action/role-playing hybrid. Too Human is a game of false starts and unrealized potential that infiltrate almost every aspect of the game, from story, to combat, to balance. Its elements feel stitched together, making for a patchwork quilt of a game that’s fraying at the seams.

Probably of all the mainstream reviewing sites, I trust Gamespot the most. Only once or twice have they ever steered me wrong. This does not bode well. I had mentioned on other forums that the lack of pre-release reviews was not a good sign. It usually never works in the developer’s favor.

After playing the unispiring demo, and like I’ve mentioned to others, I’m not paying $60 for this game—in credit or cash. Unless there’s some hidden ecstacy or bliss that the reviewers are overlooking. Sites like Gamespot, Gamespy, and 1up are being the most critical. Metacritic seems to raise the average (67), but it doesn’t look promising.