First Impressions Galore

Yes, this is a video game blog and yes, we do play games. Honest! Here are a few I’ve played in the last few weeks.

Unreal Tournament 3

This was my first game from GameFly. I’ve never been an Unreal guy but I gave UT3 a try nonetheless. It wasn’t a bad game, I just don’t think it was for me. I gave the single-player campaign a try, but it turned out to be a series of multiplayer matches, only against bots. There was an over-arching story going on there, but I couldn’t follow it. Having Ice T narrate didn’t help things.

I gave the online play a try, but it was total mayhem. The games we played (I tried multiplayer with my bro-in-law) were just total chaos. It simply wasn’t fun. Jumping into other games resulted similarly. If I’m going to play an FPS online, I’ve already invested enough time in Halo 3. I sent UT3 back a couple days after it showed up.

Space Invaders Extreme

After reading Nat’s review, I had to give it a try. This game is a blast. The re-imagining of Space Invaders was done perfect. The sound and music was great, very reminiscent of Meteos. I love the way the rhythm was worked into the mechanics of shooting. Very slick stuff. I definitely give S.I.E. the thumbs up.

Top Spin 3

Top Spin 3 is hard. I haven’t played a tennis game since Mario Tennis on the Gamecube, which isn’t a fair comparison. TS3 is no Mario Tennis. It’s complex, its moves and controls are deep and the gameplay is over my head. Nevertheless, it looks great and plays fun.

I still wish I had some Mario-like powerups (I’d like to shoot a tennis ball through a cannon, Donkey Kong style) but it wouldn’t feel right. I should have a review of TS3 up soon.

So that’s what I was playing. Now that I beat GTA IV, I feel like a big weight has been lifted and I can get back to playing games scatter-shot like I did before.

Metal Gear Solid 4 First Impress…er, Digressions

It has a top-notch presentaiton and the audio and visuals are outstanding. I’m not too deep into the story, but I hear it gets convoluted really fast.

I’ve put about 45 minutes into this game.

I’ve pressed a controller button about ten times.

If this is the future of next generation gaming, count me out. I’m sure that this may change the deeper I get into the game, but for cryin’ out loud, let me play! I don’t know what the (seemingly) recent trend is to put 20-30 minute intros into a game before there is even any real gameplay, but it’s driving me nuts. Here are some recent games I’ve played: Okami, 20 minutes; about every Mario game since the Gamecube, 20 minutes, Eternal Sonata, 15 minutes; Final Fantasy Crisis Core, 10 minutes; and Metal Gear Solid 4, a whopping 40+ minutes.

Yes, some of the fluff can be skipped, but some of it cannot be. I guess that’s why I’m drawn to games such as Space Invaders Extreme and Galaga (a remake coming soon…another trend—but one I like). Give me the pew pews.

In looking back on the games I’ve enjoyed the most in the last year, they have been those that are either short on story or they use the gaming experience to tell the story. Bioshock is an excellent example of a game that uses itself to advance the storyline and Half-Life 2 is another example (somewhat). Assassin’s Creed with it’s forced cutscenes is not.

There were a lot of moments in the opening scenes of Metal Gear Solid 4 that I could have played, but I guess it was not to be. Apparently, this is the style of play that gamers want—at least in this instance for PS3 owners, who are coming close to pushing this title to over 1 million sold in the U.S.

Yes, the game is epic. I’ll give it that. The whole “press one button to play” mentality just reminds me of the people in the movie Wall-E. Of course, this trend might be going the other way if a game like Mega Man 9 (possible old-school difficult) proves to sell well.

Hopefully, we’ll have both. Some can pay $60+ for their glorified movie viewer, and some can pay $10+ for their buttonmashing pew pews.

In my Hands (literally)…

A bunch of first impressions forthcoming.

[2 Minute Review] Space Invaders Extreme (PSP)

Can a thirty year old game that uses old gameplay be updated for the sound bite generation?

The fine folks at Taito (now a Square Enix company) have taken a classic formula—and made it extreme—with a few surprises.

DO: Uh, it’s Space Invaders. Invaders have come from space in tight formations and your ship moves left and right and pew! pews! the enemy.

TYPE: Classic arcade (from the late 1970s). In this day it’s called casual.

PLATFORM: PSP (reviewed here) and DS

PRICE: $19.99

MEAT: Quite possibly, Space Invaders was the first videogame I ever played. I could not pass up nostalgia. Taito has taken the old formula and improved it quite a bit—while keeping that same, familiar 30-year-old play. What’s new? Shooting different colored invaders in chains can net you bonus weapons. (The laser is a nice touch.) The catch is that the bonus weapons have a time limit. However, you can “lock” them in place by holding down a shoulder button. Your ship then fires its normal bullets. Let go of the lock and it’s back to the bonus weapon. The game has various levels and some challenging bosses. Yes, bosses.

PERKS: refreshing update to old gameplay; trippy, Lumines-like visuals and music; strategic bosses; bonus weapons; bonus levels; ability to shoot the invaders missiles; DS version has wi-fi play and rankings

SCREAMS: to be on Xbox Live like Pacman C.E.; to have online leaderboards; Uh…PSP online play? WTH? It’s not that complex.

VERDICT: Buy. Own it on PSP for shiny visuals or the DS for bragging rights. Young gamers should give it a try.