Archives for October 2009

God of War III Will Be Epic. Yeah. Epic.

I’ve posted some video before of the GoW remakes that are coming next month. However, the demo for the third game is starting to make the rounds. Destructoid has played and recorded the entire 20 minute demo for your pleasure. I cannot believe I sat through this. The ending was stellar.

Weekend Gaming

Another weekend is here and there is plenty of gaming to be done. What’s in your queue for the weekend?

I had hoped Gamefly would have shipped Forza 3 in time for the weekend, but it’s not looking promising. So it will be Borderlands and Torchlight for me. Maybe a few Batman Arkham Asylum challenges or a few missions in Mass Effect. Little bit of this, little bit of that. Spice of life and what not.

What about you?

In my digital hands

torchlight

Based on Nat’s mention and Bill Harris’ diaries I picked up Torchlight sight-unseen. I also woke up this morning about two hours earlier than I normally do when nature called and I seriously considered foregoing those two hours of sleep to play Torchlight. I chose sleep this morning, but I don’t know how long I’ll be able to hold out.

Dark Void – Rocketeer anyone?

darkvoid

I haven’t heard much about Dark Void to be honest with you. I know what it looks like, another 3rd person shooter with a gimmick(the jetpack). When I saw this walkthrough of aerial combat while surfing the gametrailers.com page my interest in the game went up a little bit. The video didn’t show too much in terms of gameplay but, what it did show I liked! The animation is fluid and makes me think that I’m watching a cutscene at some points. It also reminded me of an awesome movie I saw as a kid in 1991, “The Rocketeer”. Not sure how many of you have seen this epic masterpiece, but the trailer of the film will give you a little insight into what the movie was like. Movies have come a long way.

I loved that outfit and the jetpack though, so this game gets bonus points already for reminding me of the rocketeer. Finally I can play a game that has the same feeling that the movie gave me except this time around I’ll be doing the flying.

A posted comment on the aerial walkthrough’s video:
CaptainCalvin
Posted 1-8-2009 3:46pm [quote] It’s as if some brilliant scientist blended iron man, gears of war, and mass effect into one delicious milkshake! and then turned it into a game!!!

oh man, i can’t wait to see how this turns out![quote]

That sounds about right to me.

Having great animation isn’t going to make a game great by itself though, which makes me interested in seeing how the story is played out. The story so far from what I can gather is that you are Will and you crash land a plane in a jungle at the far corner of the globe somewhere and end up in the “Void”. This is an alternate dimension where the “Watchers” an alien race that look like robots want to take over the Earth, and the “Survivors” humans who are stuck in the void that want to get back home to Earth. The interesting part to the story is that Nikola Tesla was somehow transported into the void through one of his experiments and is there now trying to reverse-engineer the aliens advanced technology to use against them. Hence, the jetpack.

Sounds like a decent setup for a sci-fi action game to me. The release date was pushed back to January 12, 2010 for the PC and PS3.
(If the game turns out to be good my fingers crossed for a 360 version to follow shortly thereafter)

In My Hands

In my hands:

Forza Motorsport 3 box art (PAL) - I couldn't find a decent US NTSC version anywhere

Borderlands First Impressions

I’m not good with first impressions because I usually play games too long for a good “first impression” but not near long enough for a review. I want to write about the experience, but I’m usually well past the point where I know if I love or hate a game when I’m ready to talk about it.

The other issue with Borderlands, aside from the fact I am not supposed to have this game, is that I am finding it impossible not to compare it to Far Cry 2 or Sacred 2. The similarity to Far Cry 2 being the overland travel and open-world shooter concepts. Sacred 2 is merely the most recent serious offering into the “RPG-Lite” dungeon crawl loot droppings of Diablo fame.

(Author’s Note: “As for not supposed to have”, I have an annual birthday moratorium where I am not supposed to buy any games, movies, or books. The reason why is unknown seeing as how no one ever buys me games, movies, or books despite that being all that is on my wish list.)

I am so far not encouraged in the ways that Borderlands resembles Far Cry 2. The problems of Far Cry 2 were all about poor execution of potentially good ideas, adding minutia to solid gameplay mechanics, and essentially making sure that anything that could be fun had some element of tedium. I think this was supposed to add tension, but it added frustration and monotony. Shortly after reading the article I just linked to I gave Far Cry 2 another go. After driving for nearly an hour to get to an objective I got out to do an assault. I literally panned 360 degrees to make sure no one was about to ambush me, then as I moved forward I heard that tell-tale engine roar and was run over by a truck that literally spawned out of nowhere! Half my play session for the night ruined by an incredibly poor design. I got rid of the game after that incident.

Borderlands is far more forgiving even if you get killed. Enemies tend to be far less random and it’s usually easy to tell where they are coming from. Maps are sprawling but oddly well contained. I still feel the lack of quick travel is a hindrance. This is the biggest resemblance to Far Cry 2, and the long map load times are going to become a problem compounded by a lack of quick travel. I think quick travel may be unlocked later as there is a “bunny” icon on one of the interface screens that is disabled. Why not have it unlocked from the start is beyond me. I have to slog through the same enemies but at least the respawning is a lot less aggressive and there is some reward for doing it. One of the big issues with Far Cry 2 is that killing random enemies was rarely a reward. Getting a new gun in poor repair or a downgraded vehicle was not an incentive to engage in random encounters.

On to Sacred 2, I think it is safe to say that I am not in agreement with the Buttonmashing official review. This is not a slight to the other writers, in fact it’s a strength of the site, but I found Sacred 2 entirely too boring. Most of it was a feeling of disconnectedness; the game offered too little information and yet had way too much going on. I could never really tell if my actions or decisions were having a discernable impact. There was very little strategy, or maybe there was but the game imparted so little information that it was difficult to tell. My biggest gripe, though maybe not the reason I put the game down, was that loot drops felt way too similar. Improvements were often incremental, there was very little change. Why use that sword instead of this sword? For one, the game was not great in how it communicated to the player as it was, but when you did parse the details it often felt like very little reward was being given. Instead I was hauling a lot of junk that I ended up selling most of the time.

Here, so far, I feel like Borderlands has improved. They have asked me to make tough choices, but they give you the information they need. Furthermore, the weapons are more than their stats. The stats may say “Weapon Zoom 2.0” but you can test that for yourself. A zoom through a scope may be easier to aim then down iron sights for example. There is a lot of repetition of models, which shouldn’t be surprising and isn’t. There is a lot of junk, but thanks for making it clear that it’s junk! I don’t like how stingy the game is with inventory though. I can only store 12 items at the start? No long term storage? For a game that is all about loot, the inability to keep anything long-term is a huge letdown. Again, maybe this is unlocked later, but why?

Borderlands is not a perfect game, but I will say that it is the game I wanted with Sacred 2 even though one is a first-person shooter and the other is an isometric dungeon crawl. The presentation is simply fantastic in Borderlands, not just the art style but how it does every little thing. I love the graphics on the vending machines, the way that the red chests fold out and present your findings, and even the few characters you interact with. There is some creeping doubts about how it is similar in all the wrong ways to Far Cry 2, and I can only hope that as I continue Borderlands will not fall into the same traps.

My one regret is that I went with the PS3 version of the game, and that’s going to limit my multi-player options. I haven’t been doing much multi-player these days, but I like keeping my options open. As soon as I hit that “installing” screen I remembered why I typically buy for the 360. Fortunately, it too less than 5 minutes to install. I will say that PS3 games do actually look better than their 360 counterparts, but will anyone be able to tell the difference with cel-shaded art?

Twenty Four Hours?

I turned on my Wii for the first time in forever today. I messed around with the Nintendo Channel and learned that the Wii has been keeping track of all the gaming I’ve done on that console! Wii Fit is my most played game (47 hours) and The Twilight Princess is the runner up (24 hours). How did I pour that much time into Zelda and then just quit playing?

Weekend Gaming!

Man, it’s the weekend again! Where did the week go? Who cares?

This weekend should probably be all about Borderlands, but I am still sitting on a copy of Fight Night Round 4 from Gamefly, so I should probably at least make a token attempt at playing it before I send it back to. There’s something about boxing that instantly relieves a little stress, so I may play that to let off some steam (but I’m not really stressing at the moment, so who knows.)

Speaking of Gamefly, I also picked up a copy of Halo Wars on a whim during their most recent sale. I got it for a song, so I’m in no rush to play it, but if Borderlands gets boring (pshaw, as if) then I’ll give HW a try.

What’s on your gaming agenda this weekend?

Zune Marketplace on 360

Last night, in the middle of a mission in Borderlands, I got booted off of LIVE for an update. I saved my progress and applied the update.

Like most people who got into the preview program, I started playing with the new updates immediately after the update applied itself some 20 minutes later. Unlike most people, who probably went to Facebook or Last.fm first, I went directly to the Zune Marketplace to see how well the transition went.

Zune on PC video history

When I installed the Zune 4.0 software on the day it launched in September, one of the first things I noticed was that all of the videos I had downloaded on the 360 appeared in my download history. This made me happy, as I never understood why the Zune and Xbox 360 had two different video marketplaces. Although I couldn’t access any of those videos from the Zune software, I figured I would be able to when the 360 update went live. As the screenshot above shows, many of them still come up as unavailable. It is likely this will change once the update goes live to all 360s.

Zune on 360 video library

A week or so ago I downloaded the first episode of Battlestar Galactica, 33, from the Zune Marketplace. After applying last night’s update, I checked out my video library on the 360’s newly Zune-branded video marketplace and was pleased to find that episode sitting there, ready to play.

Caprica Six and Baltar talking on my Xbox 360

It only took a few seconds of buffering before I saw Caprica Six and Baltar talking to each other in 1080p. That was quite a step up for me, as I had seen the entire series in standard definition. The video transitions from a somewhat pixilated SD picture to a smooth HD picture quickly. I found the quality to be better than Netflix’s HD videos, which is surprising considering how long it takes an HD Netflix video to start compared to the Zune’s HD videos.

Caprica Six and Baltar talking on my Zune HD Caprica Six and Baltar talking on my PC

To demonstrate that Microsoft’s claim of “Buy video once, play it on HDTV, PC or ZUNE HD” is accurate, in the screenshots above you will see the same TV show running on my Zune HD and on my PC.

As a user of both the 360 and Zune, I am very happy to see how well the video portion of my Zune account is synced up with my 360. I would like to see Microsoft bring the Zune Pass service and some aspects of the Zune Social to the 360 as well.

In (apparently) everbody’s hands

In (apparently) everbody’s hands:

borderlands_boxart