Archives for November 2008

[2 Minute Review] A Kingdom For Keflings

How can a game that has absolutely zero conflict compete in today’s hyperviolent market?

Typical Screen

Welcome to the most relaxing game of 2008.

DO: Take a scrubby patch of land and transform it into a thriving kingdom.

TYPE: Building/Resource Management

PLATFORM: XBLA

PRICE: 800 MS Points

MEAT: You are a giant in the land of the Keflings, strange little people who want nothing more than to do your bidding. The entire game consists of you ordering the Keflings to harvest resources which can be used to construct a staggering variety buildings. The ultimate goal of the game is to build a castle but getting there can take anywhere from 8-12 hours. It’s one of those games where you can pop in for a few minutes to build one building or spend hours just chilling while you watch your kingdom flourish. This game was so addictive that I’d find myself pulled away from AAA titles like Mirror’s Edge or Left 4 Dead to get back to my kingdom. It is a perfect tonic for those times when you get frustrated and need a break from the more hectic gameplay of straight-up action games.

PERKS: An amazing guitar soundtrack; using your avatar; being able to kick the Keflings around the map (and get an achievement for it).

SCREAMS: For a camera that can be rotated 360 degrees; for a camera that will stay where you put it instead of snapping back into the default isometric view; for a better way to keep track of what building components have been used in a given blueprint so that you don’t make 30 reading rooms by accident.

VERDICT: Buy. This game may be a little TOO relaxing for every gamer, but take the demo for a spin to see if it is for you. In this day of hyperviolence and gore dripping from every corner of the screen, it is nice to see a game pride itself on its lack of conflict. Just make sure you aren’t tired when you play the game as the soundtrack will lull you to sleep.

Out Of Time

Wednesday was a glorious day. Why?

Chrono Trigger DS just landed in my hands today and I’ve already sunk far too much time into it. For a 13 year old game, it still holds up amazingly well and the new tweaks are kind of nice.

There’s also the added bonus that I finally have a legitimate portable copy of what is probably my all-time favourite videogame, period. I have a top 10 list of favourite games and it’s often in flux, though many games tend to stay in it for a long time. Chrono Trigger is on a whole other level of adoration though. It’s the Mona Lisa of JRPGs as far as I’m concerned.

What am I doing typing this? I’m off to go romp through time with my band of merry adventurers!

Sony Marks Down Some Digital Bits

I just scored The Last Guy, PixelJunk Eden, and echochrome for $15 total on the PSN store. Prices are good for about a week. There’s more, but I’m being lazy. Here’s other things that may make other people happy.

May 8, 2009

I have this spot in my soul that comes out every so often to play. I don’t talk much here about movies, but this cannot come soon enough.

If you do some digging, you’ll find the Cloverfield monster.

Immersion

Photographer Robbie Cooper shows just how focused young video-game players can be.

Come back here and let me stab you!

Link.

In from the cold

I returned on Friday from the COLDEST business trip ever and am just now getting around to catching up on emails, feeds and games. I didn’t get much gaming in over the weekend, but I’ve got pretty much the whole week off, so I’m looking forward to cramming in as many games, books and movies as I can.

Thanks to my fellow bloggers for keeping the site alive and well why I was pretty much isolated from the real world while I was working in Northern Maine. Being without internet when there’s nothing else to do is pretty soul-crushing.

So I’m out of the loop right now from the video game world. I haven’t even downloaded the new Xbox 360 dashboard. But I should be caught up soon. In the meantime, here’s the fastest Super Mario speed run I’ve ever seen:

MK vs DC: First Impressions

Freaking awesome!!!

That about sums up my first impression.

I played through the DC story line and started up the MK side tonight. The story really works and the way it’s layed out is great too. The fighting mechanics are fun fun fun. The new klose kombat and free-fall kombat are a new and fresh addition. I’ll write up a more in depth review of the game after I’ve put enough time into it. For now I’m just enjoying it to the fullest.

[2 Minute Review] Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Note: This review is full of light spoilers but does not divulge the outcome or major points of the plot.

Can a game cause a person to embrace the dark side?

Yes, one feels the hatred flowing through them while playing this game. One also feels the elation of redemption once it’s all over.

DO: You are every Star Wars fan’s dream. Kill anything that moves using Force powers–with ultimate effect.

TYPE:
3rd person action platformer

PLATFORM: 360 and PS3 (in this iteration) (360 version reviewed here)

PRICE:
$60

MEAT: Made an orphan by Darth Vader and impressed to become his adept in the Force the player is forced (heh) to become a double agent and start an uprising for the purpose of Vader wanting to overcome the Emperor and have you rule at his side. Premise aside the game is an ongoing trial of frustration. Storm Troopers can block Force powers and unwieldy camera angles make knowing where the action is rather difficult. The camera also helps in missing numerous jumps when it comes to certain levels. Throw in a useless save system and some broken save points and you tend to know what it’s like to experience the extreme power of the dark side. On more than one occasion I felt as if I could Force pull the disc from the 360 tray. The game looks and sounds great, and only during the endgame when you have most of your powers at their full potential does the game play tend to get exciting. Perhaps though the most squandered potential of any video game moment of all time is lost during the often advertised Star Destroyer scene. You’re tasked to use your Force powers to pull it down right out of the sky. Instead of being an epic moment, it becomes one of trial and error and then develops a sense of defecating relief once it’s over. The following cut scene barely manages to cover that guffaw. However that leads me to the game’s redeeming moment: the story. Let me finish by saying that it ranks in the top three of Star Wars stories grouped with The Empire Strikes Back and Knights of the Old Republic. I’ve only done this once before playing a video game, but I teared up during the final cut scene. Maybe my frustration of playing gave way to an empathy with the frustration that the apprentice felt?

PERKS: wielding the Force in its full glory is awesome; excellent graphic design, sound effects, and soundtrack; one of the greatest Star Wars stories–is it any wonder Lucas considers the game canon?

SCREAMS: to have been play tested–by people; to have better enemy awareness; to have an enemy AI other than throwing wave after wave of troopers at you; to display real lightsaber effects and not essentially be a lit wooden pole; to not have Quick Timed Events; to have a better Force power progression; to be made into a proper movie

VERDICT:
Rent. This rating was really hard for me especially if you’ve read my previous frustrations. Rent it for the story alone. Otherwise watch the cut scenes on YouTube or read the book. If it wasn’t for the story I would have recommended that you Pass on the pain. They’ve sold over 1.5 million copies so will probably see a sequel with the same crappy game play.

Here’s my gamercard to show I completed the game.

The Force Unleashed: Elated Frustration

I’ve shared my initial thoughts about the game in the past, but recently I’ve forced myself through the pain (“I need my pain!”–sorry wrong sci-fi franchise reference) and have started to finish it.

I just completed the star destroyer level.

I want to go on record and say that it is the most wasted potential of an epic moment in a video game of all time. To put it into a frame of mind, most fans had never even thought of the idea of pulling down a star destroyer using the force. LucasArts really had something there. It really got people hyped up and was a major selling point of the game.

How could they even package it and call it entertaining? Who signed off on it? It is a huge trial and error task of frustration.

The reason being that the quicktime events do not match the actions on screen. They’re just slightly off. TIP: Ignore the buttons on the bottom of the screen for the most part and just make the star destroyer look directly at you. When the light turns green, pull that sucker down.

The developers at LucasArts must have known that they had the most sucktacular epic fail of a level on their hands so they ramped up the cinematic that follows it.

Those last five minutes were better than the new trilogy movies combined.

The dialogue, plot twists, use of Star Wars cliches (and not being cheesy), camera angles, and voice acting make it one of the best contemporary video game cinematics I’ve ever witnessed.

Forget Clone Wars on Cartoon Network (they might be killing off Jar Jar tomorrow night!), Lucas should have focused on animating this story. I think it’s the best self-contained story in the Star Wars Universe behind The Empire Strikes Back.

Trophies Mandatory? About Dang Time

Was doing my daily browsing of kotaku and found out that Sony is making trophies mandatory for PS3 games come January.

Finally.

I know of many people who choose 360 games over their PS3 counterparts just for achievements alone. I’ve had more fun with my PS3 in the last two months than any other system. Competition is good. I want to see it survive.