Archives for August 2009

Star Wars: TFU for $10?

Amazon’s Deal of the Day is the 360 version of Star Wars: The Force Unleased. At $10, it now fits our criteria from rent to buy. It’s a frustration that’s worth the $10–if you’re into that.

Fall Feelings

As a family man, summers are awesome. The kids are out of school and get to stay up later, we go to all kinds of horrible movies that are tons of fun (G.I. Joe may replace Starship Troopers as my favorite bad movie), and there is the usual family vacation.

As a gamer, summer is a wasteland. Typically what happens is that I manage to purchase all the games I have been waiting to hit the price I am willing to pay for them. Once those are caught up I hit the usual ennui as I find myself stuck with the same titles. Honestly, without Shadow Complex and Marvel vs. Capcom 2 I may have gone insane.

Now that the fall deluge is upon us, there are more games than what would be financially responsible to purchase. On my radar this season are a plethora of games (“Would you say I have a plethora?”).

September 1st
Guitar Hero 5
85 songs, the ability to play any instrument you want at any time, avatar support, and Johnny Freakin’ Cash. Geez, the only way they could make this game sweeter is if they offered a free game with it. Oh wait! Order Guitar Hero 5 before October 1st and get Guitar Hero: Van Halen free! I love Van Halen! Sadly, even though I think Activision is flooding the market with these games and is going to single-handedly destroy the music rhythm genre, my pre-order is in. Also, the play any instrument any time feature is going to finally resolve the usual “Do you want to play Guitar or Bass” that precedes every song.

Section 8
The demo was awesome and everything about this game looks top notch. Here is the problem, it’s a shooter. A genre I already have a ton of quality games to play. If I had to pick, I am more excited about Section 8 than Halo 3: ODST to be honest. However, this game will have to drop to $50 before I buy it. Not a Day One purchase.

September 9th
The Beatles: Rock Band
While I enjoy the Beatles, I’m not a fan. Harmonix always does a great job with these games and I have no doubt that this will be an awesome game and well worth the money. However, with Guitar Hero 5 already pre-ordered, this will have to wait until early next year. Why next year? Wait till November 3rd and I’ll tell you. A game I’m willing to pay full price for, but the timing of its release is terrible for me.

September 15th
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
A criticism I’ve always agreed with is that to enjoy these games you have to accept that Spider-man hits as hard as the Hulk as far as the game is concerned. If they can go more into making the heroes feel unique rather than variations on the same template I may become very interested. Otherwise it looks like a fancier Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Although it might take awhile, I may be willing to pay upwards of $40, but it’s solidly on my radar.

September 22nd
Halo 3: ODST
It’s Halo and thus it has to be on my radar by law. Halo Wars received an exemption because it was not a shooter. Bungie makes solid games, though the series was starting to feel derivative of itself with the last installment. Not a day one purchase, but like Section 8 I’d be willing to pay $50 for it. Unlike Section 8 and Halo 3, I see myself soldily avoiding multi-player. Despite Bungie’s best efforts they’ve made the multi-player experience too painful while the Call of Duty series has done well to reward people just for participating.

October 6th
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
I have to have one dark horse on my radar, a game that just looks too unlikely to be a win. I played the original Operation Flashpoint on the PC years ago and enjoyed the battles that were more open and allowed me to experience emergent gameplay before anyone knew what that meant. Unfortunately, the game was riddled with poor balance, a difficulty curve that resembled a brick wall, and terrible vehicle controls. I suspect this game will find itself adrift amongst all the other games being released, many of which aren’t even on this list since these are only games on my personal radar. This is a title that will likely drop in price rapidly, and my cheapness frugal spending will allow me to pick it up at a bargain.

Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes
I have to get this, the kids demand it. They’re more excited about this than Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. Republic Heroes does look like it might be fun in an arcade-like way. Will likely wait until November when we hit “Birthday Season”.

October 20th
Borderlands
I have very mixed feelings about this game. The art and concept seem great, but the idea of combining RPG elements with a shooter is not exactly as new and fresh as they try to sell it. Actually, it seems less “role-play” and more “Diablo” but with an apocalyptic background and first-person perspective. Might be great or it might tank horribly. I’m interested but this is a game that I’ll wait until the post release buzz hits.

October 27th
Alpha Protocol
A definite day one purchase, but more for the setting than anything else. Sadly, there are just no contemporary role-playing games out there. While I love the concept of a role-playing game with a superspy setting, what really sells Alpha Protocol is that it doesn’t tread the familiar ground of fantasy, sci-fi, or apocalypse. I’m hoping the game is a huge success just so it might inspire other games to explore a more modern setting.

November 3rd
Lego Rock Band
I’m afraid this one is going to be overshadowed by Beatles: Rock Band. On one hand, I’m seriously wondering if the music rhythm genre is not already at critical mass. On the other hand, it desperately needs something more kid friendly. There are just too many songs on any of these games that make me wince. Not only that, but I see a real gap forming in the demographics these games cater to. There is a definite need to cater to a somewhat younger audience. Since my primary group for Rock Band is my kids anyway, this might be a natural for our house.

November 10th
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
I have mixed feelings about this. Infinity Ward makes some of the best games in the business and their multiplayer implementation for Call of Duty 4 actually made it fun to show up and play. However, I’m still not keen on spending $60 for a shooter. At some point it will go on sale or just drop in price and I’ll get it for $50. I’m sure it will still have plenty of players.

Defense Grid on XBLA? YES!

Iíve harped about this before, and itís one of the few games released earlier this year that I continue to play. Defense Grid is coming out on XBLA next week for $10. This is a must-buy.

Weekend of Gaming

Man, it sure got here in a hurry. Not that I’m complaining. I’m waiting to travel home (my flight is most likely going to be delayed — LaGuardia is the place where flights go to die) so I can only dream about gaming right now. But when I finally do get home, I’m planning on picking up Shadow Complex and giving that a play-through. I’ve also got a couple games coming from Gamefly, but they probably won’t get here until next week.

So I have a decision to make. I recently finished Fallout 3, so I could pick up one of the DLC packs (probably Broken Steel) or I can go back to Mass Effect, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. I’m planning on starting over with a fresh new character and playing it start to finish. Any suggestions?

I also will be playing some NCAA 10 as a primer for the upcoming football season.

What will you be playing?

Cheap Game of the Week – Iron Man

ironman1

Overview: The videogame adaptation of one of the best comic book movies ever made.

Pricing: This one is scattered but I think $15 is a good median, typically used. Can be found for $20 new.

Rip-Off Warning: Very little danger here. $20 across most console platforms is pretty standard.

Platform: DS, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, PSP, XBox 360 (Reviewed), Wii, Windows

Is it worth it?: Let’s get a giant disclaimer out of the way. Iron Man is one of my favorite superheroes. The very concept of using technology as the basis for superpowers instead of magic, radiation, genetic mutation, or “scientific” accidents was different and creates a whole new wrinkle in the debate over what makes a hero. Is Iron Man a person or a gestalt entity that you can become by possessing the armor? Is it Tony Stark himself a hero at heart even without the armor? These issues were barely brushed up against in the movie and the game doesn’t acknowledge them at all. Despite the film being heralded as one of the greatest comic book movies of all time, similar care was not taken with the game.

The Hulkbuster throwing a tank, naturally.

The Hulkbuster throwing a tank, naturally.

This is a shame because there is a ton of potential for Iron Man in a video game context, but the game doesn’t seem to know what to do with the character. One suggestion made to me was to treat Iron Man like a “jet fighter that can walk”, and this is a fair analogy but it doesn’t work well. Iron Man is not a plane even though he often controls like one. Your three basic modes are fly, hover, and walk, there is no in between. You can strafe targets on the ground but trying to engage them at slower speeds is nearly impossible. In fact, most problems are solved by merely hovering in place and using repulsors until the target explodes.

Combat should be more satisfying than this, but it’s difficult to enjoy because even if you accept the jet fighter conceit in flight, the controls are just too imprecise to be useful in making Iron Man a tiny dogfighter. He is too vulnerable running on the ground and it also feels silly when he has boot jets.

The missions themselves are repetitive and the difficulty curve is all over the place and often hampered more by the poor controls than intentional design. For instance, a base defense mission is nigh impossible even on the easiest difficulty because of the shoddy controls but the final boss is easily defeated using the same hover in place and blast away tactic used throughout the game. Granted, you might have to fly away and let yourself repair for a bit.

The one highlight of the game is the ability to unlock other Iron Man armors, with the XBox 360 version having the “Silver Centurion” (A personal favorite) and the Playstation 3 version having the Iron Man Armor from “The Ultimates”. Various other suits like the “Classic” or Hulkbuster can also be unlocked.

Allow me to geek out for a moment. This would be the Iron Man "Silver Centurion" Armor

Allow me to geek out for a moment. This would be the Iron Man "Silver Centurion" Armor

Final Judgement: Unless you are just a die-hard Iron Man fan I would PASS on this game. It is another typical hasty movie cash-in that completely squanders its potential.