Archives for March 2010

April Releases

It’s that time again, time for the long list of monthly releases. April is anemic. Splinter Cell and Monster Hunter Tri and… Let’s Garden? Not much to get excited about this month.

Xbox 360 banner

Week of April 5
Borderlands Double Game Add-On Pack: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned / Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot

Week of April 12
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction– Normally I’d call this a Day One Purchase but with my new Gamefly Day One Rental (and then purchase) Trick. I cannot wait for this game.

Week of April 19
Sherlock Holmes Vs. Jack the Ripper

Week of April 26
NIER– This game win this month’s worst name and best boxart. I have no idea what this game is, but I’m intrigued.
Super Street Fighter IV
Record of Agarest War Limited Edition– I haven’t heard of this one, either, but it’s at least a discrete way to get that mouse pad.
2010 FIFA World Cup
Dead to Rights Retribution

Wii banner

Week of April 12
Pirates Plundarrr
Attack of The Movies 3D
Flip’s Twisted World

Week of April 19
Monster Hunter Tri– I don’t know a whole about this game besides the fact that Monster Hunter is big in Japan. Here’s another game I’m interested in (that I’ll probably never play)

Week of April 26
Let’s Play Garden– Let’s not
2010 FIFA World Cup

Nintendo DS banner

Week of April 5
Montessori Music

Week of April 12
Sea Park Tycoon

Week of April 19
Casual Mania– Isn’t that an oxymoron?
Dementium II– Strong runner up for boxart of the month.
Beat City

Week of April 26
Let’s Play Garden

PC banner

Week of April 5
Margrave Manor 2 The Lost Ship
Borderlands Game Add-On Pack The Zombie Island of Dr. Nex and mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot

Week of April 12
Pure Hidden
Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City
Mystery P.I.: Lost in LA

Week of April 19
3D Hunting 2010 MBX

Week of April 26
Jumpgate Evolution
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction

PS3 banner

Week of April 12
Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City

Week of April 26
Dead to Rights Retribution
Super Street Fighter IV
2010 FIFA World Cup
NIER

PSP banner

Week of April 12
Blood Bowl

Week of April 26
2010 FIFA World Cup

What are you picking up?

(Note: As always, all Amazon.com links have our affiliate code embedded in them. If you purchase something through our link, we get a little commission. It’s appreciated.)

Mirror’s Edge on the Go

We kind of had a little bit of a love/hate relationship with the console version of Mirror’s Edge. Some arguments made online is that the game would have been better in third person. It looks like the game has been shrunk down, put in third person, and married with Canabalt for your iPod/iPhone.

It’s not out yet, but my guess is soon.

Feedburner sometimes does not play nice with video. If you don’t see it in your reader, come home.

Demigod for $5? Come Here.

I just received a 75% off coupon code for Stardock’s Demigod. It’s easily worth that even if you don’t play it online. I only have one code, so it’s first come first serve. Nah, it’s good for as many people who want it. Apparently, whoever refers the most buyers gets a prize. Respond in the comments.

Has Wii Sword Play Arrived? [Red Steel 2 Impressions]

I picked up Red Steel 2 yesterday on a lark. I had intended to wait until mid-summer to acquire it. Weakness set in. Here are some initial impressions:

  • This is a “feel good” game. You’ll understand when you execute finishing moves with your katana.
  • Calibration and finding a control scheme that is right for you is a pain. I had to move my sensor bar below the TV, adjust the sensitivity, and experiment with how I hold the wiimote and nunchuck. you don’t really hold it like a sword–at least for me being a lefty.
  • Speaking of nunchuck, what a pain.  Ours tends to disconnect with a little bit of motion. This game encourages you to use full arm motions. Get ready to get used to the connecting wire reaching it’s full length when you swing.
  • No left handed support? Thanks, Ubisoft. I guess reversing the animations and code for the motion controls is just too much for approximately 10% of the world. I enjoy being discriminated. (Of course, this happens in a LOT of Wii and DS games anymore.)
  • Once you get it all figured out and are comfortable with a control scheme, this game really gels. The motions of the swordplay is precise and at least feels accurate–at least there’s more movement options than just swing. Oh, and this game wants you to really swing. For me, standing is not an option.
  • The gunplay/swordplay works really well.
  • The Borderlands-like cel-shaded graphics are a hoot.
  • Sound and music fits perfectly.
  • The bad guy’s lines and voice work is over the top. Think the old Lucasarts game, Outlaws. It’s funny and not annoying–yet.
  • Maybe one of the most intense openings and cutscenes that have appeared in a videogame in a long time.
  • The Asian samurai/western outlaw setting works well. I want to know more about this universe.
  • Some of the initial boss fights are a blast. Inventive.

Is the game worth $50? I cannot say for sure right now. Nitpicking aside, I’m certainly having fun with it. If you don’t have a MotionPlus controller and would like one but not want Wii Sports Resort, you may want to pick this up in the bundle.

Conquered: Bioshock 2

I finished Bioshock 2 late last week and overall I’d give it a thumbs up (with a more detailed review forthcoming). A few bullet points:

  • I loved the little details they added to the weapons after upgrading them in the first game and they packed a bunch of good ones in the sequel. The Steam Punk theme was strong once again
  • Exploration played an obviously huge role in the first game. Exploration in the sequel was fun but a little of the sheen had worn off. The new areas of Rapture were still interesting and slimy.
  • We were given two views of Rapture at its zenith. Both times were excellent. I wish more time was given to Rapture when it was actually rapturous.
  • This will be expanded upon in a future post, but some of the weapons were very satisfying. Playing as a Big Daddy was also equally satisfying. There were times when I didn’t feel as powerful as the Big Daddies seemed in the first game, but overall there was a weight and heft to your actions and it felt good.
  • I don’t feel like playing it again. It was a good game, but I’m ready to move on. That doesn’t usually happen to me with games. There usually isn’t as definitive of an ending for me with games. Even after playing the multiplayer for a while, I felt like I had accomplished everything I wanted to do with the game. I think that’s a good thing.

Uncanny!

As I was playing Heavy Rain, there was something about the character of Scott Shelby that really stuck out to me—something I experienced that was traumatic. Kotaku found it via 1up, and now I can sleep at nights. Sam Douglas also played a very small part in the movie Derailed (The shocking scene traumatized me. You know if you’ve seen it.)

If you are using a reader and wondering what I’m talking about, you need to visit the site for the video. Sigh.

A letter to my kids about videogames

I have regular discussions about videogames with my kids, but I also have a lot of parents who are less game savvy ask me about what I do and don’t let my kids play. I think the most common question I get is “Why?” In other words, why is one game ok and another is not? Why do I sometimes follow the ESRB recommendations and other times do not. The short answer is that I am using the greatest power any parent possesses. Discretion. However, if I had to sit down and give a lecture to my kids about playing videogames it would go something like this.


Look guys, you see Dad playing videogames a lot. It is one of my favorite pastimes. I play videogames pretty much any chance I get and I play them with you guys on a regular basis. Obviously I think videogames are fun and I know you guys do to. I think we just need to come to an understanding about a few things so we can continue to enjoy them in this house.

First, let’s always remember the word game in videogame. Games can get serious. In professional sports multi-million dollar careers can be made or broken over a game. In this house though, we use the term “game” in the more traditional sense. We play games for fun. If a game is leading to hurt feelings, frustration, or anger, then it’s probably something you don’t need to be playing. Yes, even I can get frustrated at a game. You know what though, there is a point where I’ll give up on a game and simply get rid of it. Games are for fun and if a game is not providing entertainment we don’t want it in this house. Also, Mom says we’re too mean during Rock Band. I know we all want to five star every song and we hate it when someone flubs their part. We need to be more constructive though. Yes, I still entirely approve of you two playing Super Smash Bros. rather than actually beating on each other. When the whining starts the game goes off though.

Second, I know some of your cousins get to play games like Modern Warfare 2 or Gears of War. I want to say I respect that I trust you guys enough that I don’t have to put those games up and you’ve shown a lot of maturity. More maturity than some kids your age that are allowed to play games like that. I know you guys get exposed to worse language at school and I’ve watched some pretty intense PG-13 movies with you. I think there is a difference between spectating and participating though. When we play games, we’re a participant. We choose to shoot that bad guy, we choose to race down city streets with reckless abandon. Our willingness to make choices when there are no real consequences does say something about us as people. I want you guys to grow up some more before you’re put in a position to make serious choices without consequences. Just because games are for fun doesn’t mean they can’t be thought provoking. I want to make sure you guys have the proper knowledge to fully understand and appreciate what you’re doing.

While we’re talking about content, I want you to know that the answer to your question “When will I be old enough to play game such-and-such” may well be never. Look, guys, your Dad has held jobs that are best done by rough and occasionally unruly men. You guys know I’m no saint and I’ll never pretend that I was or will be. That said, I want all of us to be good, strong, moral men. To that end there are certain games that I do not play because they contain some very negative content that doesn’t reinforce the type of person I want to be, and certainly not the kind of person I want you to be. Reckless escapism is acceptable in small doses. We’re doing a good job in this house so far. Let’s just remember that we want to be the good guys in the real world. You can role-play as a Sith Lord in Knights of the Old Republic if you want. I think you may have fun but find it’s less fulfilling than you might have guessed. What I really want though is that when your adults and the choice is all yours that you will still ask the question, “Do I want to be exposed to that?” before you see that movie, read that book, or play that game.

Third, we need to always remember that games are just games and that just because we can do something in a game doesn’t mean we should try it in real life. The real world has consequences that we ignore at our peril. You’re my kids and we have a long family history of doing stupid and illegal things in our teenage years. I shudder to think what I’m facing in just a few years time. I just want you to remember that before you go off and do the same stupid stuff that I, your grandfather, and great-grandfather did that you will face Hell’s Wrath if I ever have to come get you out of jail. So be certain that if you try to pass the buck like some of these kids and say you got the idea from a game it will not do anything to lessen your punishment. I’m hoping about talking to you guys about this early and with my own experiences working at a jail you realize there is plenty of fun to be had in your teenage years without involving law enforcement officials. You know right and wrong and you know where the right places to learn it are. Movies, videogames, books, or music will not be your moral compass.

I hate to talk so seriously about something that is for entertainment. I’m only having this discussion because other people have taken this topic way too seriously already. I want you guys to understand appropriateness about everything. Videogames fit in a very particular place in our lives. They are for entertainment, they are for fun, and they can and often do stimulate your minds. Enjoy them, but don’t take it too far or ever forget their proper place in your life.

Halo:Reach

I just wanted to see what those of you out there think about Halo:Reach. I just read some info regarding the Arena and the matchmaking/social aspect of the game. I also watched the multiplayer trailer again, saw this awesome concept art, and I have to tell you, I am starting to get even more interested. Anyone else?

You say potato…

So I’m working on a post in which the concept of the “melee attack” will be part of, and it got to thinking what the right way to say the word “melee” was. Me, I normally say “may-lay“. I’ve also heard “mee-lay” and “mee-lee” (but never “may-lee“).

So I’m wondering: which camp are you in? Which was is the right way?

I’m also wondering: what are you playing this weekend?

How Weak I’ve Become

Whenever I intend on buying an XBLA game, I always download the demo first, no matter how sure I am that I will love the title. This is to avoid contributing to the many “I think this game was going to be like this, but it was like that!” posts that I see on gaming-related forums. No matter how sure I am of a game’s quality, I always try the demo first.

Except for Perfect Dark.

I’m not sure what possessed me to skip that step. It isn’t like I have to redownload the game after trying the demo. Buying the full version of an XBLA game from the demo is pretty easy and quick to do.

Luckily, Perfect Dark is just as great as it was when I played in on my N64 all those years ago. I haven’t finished it yet, so I won’t be writing a review right now, but I wanted to mention how much more difficult this game is when compared to modern FPS games. I don’t mean in terms of the AI, but in how little guidance the game gives you.

While walking through the Carrington Institute (the hub area that missions are launched from), I couldn’t figure out how to actually begin a mission. None of the terminals were lit up or had a floating button above it or any sort of indication of what to do with them, so I assumed I couldn’t interact with them. That isn’t the case at all; most of them can be used in some way. I just had to hit the A button. In the years since I have played Perfect Dark, I had forgotten about that.

I was off on my first mission. After infiltrating dataDyne’s tower, I saw a light switch on the wall. “Hmm… what happens if I hit A on it?” I hit the button, and the lights went out. I pulled down on the left analog, moving away from the wall. All of a sudden, I was lost. There was no way to get back to the switch, forcing me to restart the mission.

During the three missions that take place in the tower, I learned the following:

  • Joanna’s health will not regenerate.
  • There are no maps to guide me.
  • There are no checkpoints, so when I die, I start the mission all over again.
  • The game will not auto-select items for me; if I need the Data Uplink to hack into a computer, and I don’t think to use it, then I will be stuck until I figure it out.
  • As mentioned before, anything I can interact with will not be called out in any special way, forcing me to figure it out on my own.

The more I play this game, the more I realize that modern FPSes (and games in general) have all these crutches in them that I have come to rely on, and I am a “softer” gamer as a result. I plan on playing through Perfect Dark a few times. I hope to finish it on Perfect Agent difficultly; a feat I was never able to accomplish in the N64 version. Perhaps this game will toughen me up a bit.

On a related note, the auto-aim feature is insane. Most FPSes will nudge the reticle a little to line up your shot. This game jerks the reticule halfway across the screen to make sure you hit your target. While it is a little much, it makes me feel like a secret agent when I one-shot a room full of dataDyne agents. I don’t recall the original doing anything like this.