Monday, May 31, 2010

New Scott Pilgrim trailer.


Today was a very slow news day.

How slow was it?

Here's some stills of what we're told is the E3 trailer for Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

That's how slow it was.

Also, Mario Galaxy 2 was the #1 rated video game of all time for a few days, but now it's fallen to #6 with a measly metascore of 98 - and I wonder if the PSP 2 will make an appearance at E3? Nintendo's already announced their successor to the DS, so it makes sense.

It also makes sense for a new one to come out a few months after I finally caved and bought one.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Life is good.

I'm feeling rather satisfied with reality, at the moment. A great table of pleasures lay before me, and the company of family and friends.

It's a nice feelin'. Going on precedence, tomorrow will cure me of this affliction, but it's quite pleasant, for the time being.

PS3 Media Server.

There is, apparently, some super-easy method of connecting your PC's media library to your PS3 through Windows Media Player. My older and younger brothers both love this ability, but I just never got around to looking into it.

Today we had a family dinner, and my older brother tried to show me how easy it was. Unfortunately, he is running Windows XP, with an older version of Windows Media Player, and the interface of Media Player 12 was a sticking point for him. I checked out some tutorials online for how to set it up through WMP, but no avail.

Then I came across this video on YouTube, in which a kind fella provides an option or two for media streaming. Being plagued by poverty, I naturally went for the free choice.

The Free Choice - PS3 Media Server, which is available here - is easy as pie and works great. I just installed it, told it which folders I wanted my PS3 to access, and bam - success. Didn't even have to fiddle with my firewall or antivirus program.

Essentially it's just removing a step or two from the old method of using media on my PS3 - using a USB drive as a transfer device - but this is just infinitely more efficient.

If you're looking for a solution to media streaming from your PC to PS3, I highly recommend PS3 Media Server.

The worst, and the best.

I still can't stop playing Red Dead Redemption. No doubt, at some point, I will reach a place where I feel there is nothing engaging left to seek out. Until then, however, I find I'm still bumping into new random events (!) and having a ball with my own self-created side diversions.

I have resolved to complete level 10 of all the challenges, so I'm currently in the business of hunting wild boar. Things were going fairly well until the most foul and feral of killers showed up. Of course, I'm talking about cougars.

Learn to fear that ravenous maw and pink tank top.

I've also found myself very satisfied with the downloadable soundtrack that was made available on pre-ordered copies of the game. If you aren't familiar with this track by Jose Gonzalez, I suggest you get acquainted.

If you are so inclined, it can be purchase here.

Duck Hunt: Behind the scenes.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

One more thing about Red Dead Redemption.

If you don't want to read the full review, here's the short version:

I can't stop playing it. I've got like ten other games I need to get to, and I can't stop playing a game I've run through two and a half times in the past week.

a tired dev sounds off on Alpha Protocol's painful development.

Rumor. Don't take this as God's honest, 'cause it's totally unsubstantiated.

In the comments section of the Joystiq review for Alpha Protocol, a commenter identifying themselves as 'a tired dev' said this:
"I worked on this game (a fact of which I am not proud). I'm not here to defend it; I agree with all these reviews.

First, a comment for the guy at Cheesecake Factory - Most devs eat in the office most days, if they do go out they tend to grab something at the food court and head back. I know the execs take long lunches, but they often use them for informal meetings as well. Most of the programmers and designers very rarely ate outside the office during the time I was on this project.

There was a ton of work put into this game. The problem is that is was a ton of undirected work, or work on things that were just stupid. The Executive Producer for the game, Chris Parker (also an owner of the company), seemed to think he was the world's greatest designer ever, and created all these absolutely shitty systems and wouldn't listen to any of the real designers or devs about things that just didn't work. And you can't exactly argue with one of the owners of the company when he doesn't want to listen. He basically took over the game and dictated exactly how everything would work (or not work, as the case may be). The other producers realized this early on and just gave up, leaving Parker to micromanage all the designers and programmers directly.

Sega also was a factor, because they kept changing the design requirements (yes they had heavy influence there), which never gave the producers and designers time to actually decide on one set of features to make and polish. The blame is still mostly Obsidian's because the execution was absolutely terrible, and it was obvious 2 years ago that this game should have been scrapped. Instead, though, they focused on adding still more features and never fixed the ones they already had. That is a recipe for tons of bugs and no polish... as is obvious.

This game was just an absolute failure of production, and it's no wonder that so many of the developers left the company, even after the 40% staff layoffs. I am still happy about some of Obsidian's other current projects, New Vegas included, because they are going pretty well. Their big unannounced project is looking great and is already much better than AP ever was, and that may end up being the game that everyone was looking for with AP.

Sega should have canceled AP instead of Aliens..."
Is it real? Who knows! But the description of the development is awful specific, and holds true to the business circumstances surround Alpha Protocol.

REVIEW - Red Dead Redemption.

Little Touch No.84:
Notice how the light cuts between his torso and arm?

There's something discourteous about what Rockstar does. They're like Henry Rearden - it's almost unfair to have to compete against them. Other developers have tried for years to match the astounding milestones Rockstar has placed in the field of open-world games, and - while a few great and many good games have surfaced - none can really compare to the masterworks put forth by this developer and its seemingly limitless development budgets. Rockstar just shows up every few years, drops another phenomenal game, and shrugs "this is how it's done."

Well, Red Dead Redemption is here, and this is, indeed, how it's done. It may be the best open-world game to date.

That comes down to taste, though, and how much you'll enjoy Redemption hinges on what degree of romantic, adventurous spirit its Wild West setting inspires.

Everything in the game is bent towards the same end: realizing the unconscious expectations the audience has of a Western. "Western" as rendered by cinema, of course - the indefinite definition of that world which exists in the mind of anyone who's enjoyed the more violent, sultry West of the Spaghetti Western style.

The game is absolutely packed with visual, auditory and narrative nods to the genre, from the incredible use of light to the occasional punctuating cry of the Wilhelm scream. The "stranger" side quests - tiny stories unto themselves - exist solely to paint the world in richer colors, reinforcing the brutal conditions, terrible tragedies, shady characters and foolish hope of frontier life.

The game is a buffet of the style.

This carries over into the action. Every weapon in the game - although the stats of individual firearms vary greatly - feels lethal, and effective. Unlike any other action title I could name, two bullets to the chest will often kill a man, and the result is gunplay that feels much more meaningful than we're used to.

The sense of sporting heavy calibers is reinforced by the masterful animation (with Euphoria as the icing on top). Headshot victims drop well enough, but it really shines when the blast from a shotgun throws a feller from his horse, or a careful bullet to the ankle causes a cowpoke to take a tumble, or a rifle shell clips through the eye of a deer on the run and the creature takes a sprawling faceplant before you run up to skin it.

Speaking of wildlife, there are at least thirty-five different species to discover, and each sports unique AI that lends further credence to the world you find yourself exploring. Wolves, for example, will boldly attack in a pack of four to six animals - until you wound or kill one or two of them - and the rest of the pack will scatter, looking for easier game.

Cougars, on the other hand, are vicious, intelligent ambushers which one learns to fear. The game lets you know trouble is coming when the great cat sounds off with its growling scream, and the next thing you know your horse crumples beneath you, fatally wounded by an animal that has already scampered back into the underbrush - better get your shotgun ready, because after it puts a little distance between you, it will come back for a second strike.

It's not all kill-or-be-killed with the fauna, of course. Birds scatter at the report of a gun, deer spring across the desert, and rabbits try to keep out of sight. For a world with so much open, almost desolate space, Redemption is utterly teeming with life, which serves to further immerse the player in its world.

The day/night cycle - which is the standard, at this point - is dramatically painted by weather and light effects. When a flash of lightning suddenly illuminates the world as far as the eye can see, it's remarkable, and Red Dead Redemption has the most gorgeous sunrises and sunsets I've ever seen in a video game - open-world or not.

The final addition of life to the box are random world events.

While trotting your horse through the empty expanse between a town and a bounty target at the far end of the map, you may be set upon by folks begging for help - or looking for trouble. A man's friend is about to be lynched, and he needs your help. A drunk is assaulting a lady of the night, and she needs your help. A fellow is stranded out in the wilderness, and it looks like he needs your help - until he yanks you from your horse, climbs into the saddle and gallops away. (Just whistle, and your loyal steed will buck him off and return to you.)

How you react to these encounters feels more compelling than any other similar title I can name, for reasons I can't. Chasing down a horse thief, defending a lady, saving a life feels more noble - and dastardly deeds give rise to legitimate feelings of guilt. It's pretty remarkable.

You've likely noticed the term "the world" at least a half-dozen times thus far - I keep coming back to that, I suppose, because if there is one single thing that Redemption does better than any other open-world action game, it is the successful rendering of a believable, inviting reality.

Unlike the spoofy urban familiarity of Grand Theft Auto or the (somewhat sterile) historical rendering of Assassin's Creed, Red Dead Redemption is incredibly immersive. The animation, art direction, gameplay, action and population - all excellent in their own right - are merely parts that serve the whole: a new standard for the open-world game.

The game's campaign is a teensy bit better than a Grand Theft Auto narrative. Strangely, this is both a blessing and a curse.

The male characters you meet are all psychotic idiots or just jerks - only three are exceptions to that rule - but the women of the world are uniformly strong, endearing characters. This is a step up from Liberty City, where the player's experience with the various characters and their stories was pretty emotionally limited, but the tradeoff is that I want to see more of Bonnie McFarlane and Louisa - and I'm pretty disappointed that their narrative threads are left dangling in the wind.

The exact same thing happens in Grand Theft Auto IV, but in Redemption it matters, because this time I care.

Fortunately, the over-arching story of former outlaw John Marston is more than compelling enough to see through to the end. It would have been more in keeping with the classic western style if Marston were a bit less of a talker (and a bit quicker to sniff out an obvious double-cross on the horizon), but he's likable and capable enough to root for, and the road he travels is much more involving than any other similar title that comes to mind.

Red Dead Redemption
succeeds on nearly all levels. Graphically, technically, artistically, in terms of immersion, in terms of gameplay, it is exceptional.

It's easy to slip into, like a comfortable jacket, and ride off into the wide open world to seek adventure - and when adventure finds the player, the intuitive controls and natural feel to the gameplay allows one to effortlessly translate intention to action. Perhaps most impressive is that, after investing at least fifty hours into the title, I am not yet bored of it.

Hours upon hours can (and will) be lost, just by whistling for your horse and heading into the sunset.

-perfectly delivers on the expectation of a Western
-tight, fun gameplay that doesn't get old
-excellent graphics, art direction, sound direction, animation, music and voice work
-more than a few compelling characters and stories
-tons of enjoyable side-activities and quests
-the most immersive, successful open world I've ever experienced
-your horse comes when you whistle
-the Wilhelm scream

-the narrative occasionally leaves a loose end or two
-I wish the mountainous region of the game was bigger

I cannot recommend Red Dead Redemption highly enough.

Friday, May 28, 2010

It's a new record!

I was so busy blogging I didn't notice that I'd surpassed my previous record for posts in a single month - 79 in September of last year.

Hooray for me! I deserve vanilla ice cream with bits of Oreo cookie mixed in.

By the way: I don't suggest buying the ice cream pictured above. It does indeed have lots & lots of Oreo pieces, but the vanilla ice cream is a bit... what's the word... "jello-ey" in its texture - like they put too much seaweed in the mix.

Still, ice cream beggars can't be ice cream choosers.

Yay! Looks like Limbo's multiplatform.

The greatest source of any jealousy I may harbor towards 360 owners are often exclusive XBLA titles. Games like Shadow Complex and the upcoming Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet look wonderful, and it pains me not to play 'em. Luckily the gorgeous, etherial, black-and-grayscale puzzle-platformer Limbo looks to be getting a multiplatform release.

Or, at least, that's what the ESRB seems to think - and they're responsible for more than their fare share of industry leaks.

This would be a day-one.

I just saved seventy dollars.

And I didn't even have to switch to Geico.

The general embargo on Alpha Protocol reviews lifted today, and the news ain't good. Now a Metacritic of 70 ain't terribad (based on other reviews I've seen, that number will go down in the coming week) - some of my favorite games have metascores around that mark - but the uniform complaints among reviewers certainly remove the game from anything but the Maybe Buy Down The Road When It's Reeeeal Cheap list.

Word is the writing is above-par, the voice work is above-par, and it's got some great ideas, but when it comes to actually heading into a mission and playing the game, all the fun just goes poof.

Almost a relief, this. I didn't really want to want another game, right now.

BlazBlue: Continuum Shift dated for North America.

Hey Matt, this one's for you.

Due to arrive on North American shores July 27th, the sequel to last year's surprise cult-hit fighter features rebalanced gameplay, alterations (additions and removals) to each fighter's arsenal and three new playable characters, bringing the roster to 15.

BlazBlue is one of those games I've always really wanted to like, but just never had the time to try. If this year is anything like the last, that unfortunate position may remain.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

No more Mark Hamill Joker?

You may recall, when Mark Hamill wrapped up twelve seasons of the Warner Bros Batman animated series, he said he would never do the Joker again. He wanted to leave the character where it was, and go out on a high note.

Then he reprised the role in the fantastic Batman: Arkham Asylum - which he did not expect to want.
"When they said, 'We want you to come back [to the role of The Joker] and do Arkham,' I said the same; 'I left on a high note, I don't think we could ever top that.' But they said, 'We got Paul Dini,' who was my favourite ever Joker writer, 'and Kevin Conroy,' who I love. This was a real reunion and a very pleasant experience. So of course I relented, but I had no idea it would have the impact it did."
After Arkham Asylum, Hamill said he would never portray the Joker again. Well, now there's Arkham Asylum 2, and - naturally - he didn't think it would be as good, so he didn't want to do it.
"Of course they translated [my hesitance] to me holding out for a bigger salary," he laughs. "But I said, 'No.' I never looked at it like, 'Boy, I'm going to make a truckload of money.' I really did want it to be good."

So what changed his mind? "I got on the phone with Rocksteady and they really reassured me and told me what they were going to do with the sequel. But I'm sworn to secrecy!"
And now he's saying, you guessed it,
"This will be my last, there's no question about that. But it's the last hurrah."
(1) Oh bullshit.
(2) I sure hope he's wrong, at least.

No portrayal of Joker cuts through my cynicism and immediately allows me to accept the character like Hamill's does. His Joker is the definitive version. Not Cesar Romero, not Jack Nicholson, not even Heath Ledger's legendary performance can stake a claim to the Joker that is - to me - the real Joker.

The Joker I instantly believe. So, I hope he's wrong. And, going on precedence, he is.

Wonderful Demon's Souls interview.

There's a four-page interview with Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director of Demon's Souls, over at Eurogamer. If, like me, you have an understanding of how phenomenal that game is, you'll find some wonderful insight into the reasoning behind everything from the game's art direction to gameplay and multiplayer.


Mixed reviews for Alpha Protocol.

I stumbled upon some early reviews for Alpha Protocol today. Well, one actual review and one announcement that GamesMaster magazine gave it 84%.

The actual review I found isn't nearly as kind. I think they gave it a 5/10, but it could also be an S. Which doesn't make any sense.

Either way, that review at really rips the game a new one, trashing everything from the dialogue and voice work to the combat and degree of choice in gameplay.

When so few early reviews slip out, it's generally a bad thing - reviewers are only allowed to break embargoes for reviews that really hype a game - but going over that Bit-Tech review, I found myself wondering how much time the reviewer actually spent with the title.

Either way, it has tempered my hype level for the game. Which works out, since I'm a bit financially weakened, at the moment - what with the Wii and the new Slim and all. Thankfully, I have more than enough games to keep me occupied while I wait for the final word on Alpha Protocol.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The first sixteen minutes of Alpha Protocol.

Resolve to not care... weakening...

I just like the stealth takedowns. I can't help it.

Hm. That dude had some real trouble with the hacking. Didn't seem that troublesome to me.

Potentially incredi-awesome.

This is a rumor. This is an unsubstantiated, unconfirmed rumor. The best kind of rumor - the sort we really, really want to believe.

TheSixthAxis is saying that Ico and Shadow of the Colossus will be getting the God of War Collections treatment - an HD re-release on PS3 - due out in Q1 of 2011.

Well, that would be incredible. And awesome.

It would be incredi-awesome.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Enslaved dev diary.

Really interesting video, this. It certainly hypes me more for Enslaved than the teaser trailer ever did.

It also explains how Andy Serkis got involved with Ninja Theory - mystery solved!

Review time! Just kidding!

I've effectively played through Red Dead Redemption 1.7 times, but I feel like there's a deeper understanding to be achieved before I sound off on it. So, I'm going to start up a new save and cross my fingers that the Deadly Assassin outfit side quest isn't bugged. Third time's the charm, right?

Plus, I really need to do a playthrough as a bad guy.

Insomniac: new IP coming, will be multiplatform.

If there is one piece of gaming news today (or this week) it is Insomniac games announcing a new publishing partnership with Electronic Arts.

It's a one-off deal. One game on the PS3 and 360 - Electronic Arts Partners will publish and Insomniac will retain all rights to the IP. Of course, if the arrangement bears fruit (see: millions of dollars), we'll have an awesome new Insomniac franchise to enjoy. If not, we get at least one awesome new Insomniac game that doesn't have Ratchet or Resistance in the title.

What does this mean for Sony gamers who want more Ratchet & Resistance? Not much, supposedly.

Ted Price, CEO of Insomniac said in a blog post today that
"Our relationship with Sony Computer Entertainment is still very strong, and continues as we develop additional projects exclusively for PlayStation 3..."
Additional exclusive projects, to me, suggests we should see at least one more Ratchet & Clank title. After all, "exclusive project" would suggest Resistance 3 - expected this fall - but "projects" has more promise.

So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I haven't played a new Ratchet & Clank game for the last time.

This is a good thing, despite what more religious Sony zealots would believe. If the official line from Insomniac is true, the only real news today is that there is a new IP on its way (developed in the original California studio).


Specifically, Elika cosplay from Prince of Persia 2008.

Very accurate.

Monday, May 24, 2010

New New Vegas screens. (Okay, scans.)

The Strip looks pretty sparse - though pleasantly colorful, compared to the Capital Wasteland. Still, it's nice to know our hero can gamble away their hard-earned caps, or play rope-a-dope with a super mutant.

Reach gets a release (date).

Sept 14, 2010 has suddenly become an important date for the gaming industry. Now, all the other publishers will know when not to release their games.

Too good-looking?

I wouldn't give a crap about the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm games if they weren't so damn gorgeous. Could someone please give us a Samurai Champloo game that looks like this?

It'd be nice if it was as fun to play, too.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

MOVIE - The Wolfman.

It's good. In many ways it's better than we had any right to expect - particularly the cast - but the somewhat fumbly plot marred my full enjoyment of the film, towards the end.

The cast is the main reason to want to see the movie. You've got Anthony Hopkins (who feels pretty wasted on the material he chews through here), Emily Blunt (who doesn't get enough work), Benicio Del Toro (who is awesome) and Hugo Weaving (who is, also, awesome). They're all excellent (see: awesome), and for the first two-thirds of the movie they all exist in a foggy moral gray area where each character feels reasonably three-dimensional.

It's during that first two-thirds where The Wolfman is perhaps even a great movie. A return to the shocking, unsettling, atmospheric horror stories of yore that actually concerned themselves with telling stories. Lovely stuff! Combined with restrained use of special effects and a level of blood splatter most mainstream movies no longer attempt, for most of this show I was comfortably anticipating a Blu-ray purchase, somewhere down the line.

Unfortunately, the heavily-telegraphed plot twist of the third act kind of derails the whole thing, and it stops being this wonderful character-driven movie that just happens to exist within the monster movie genre, instead becoming just another monster movie, complete with the predictable final confrontation, predictable final release and requisite predictable groundwork laid for a sequel. Worse yet, the three central characters seem to shed any degree of depth they possessed prior, and become two-dimensional archetypes as the film tumbles towards its conclusion.


Still, I feel I'm not prepared to fully condemn it quite yet. It will require a second visit.

* * *

Speaking of second visits, I'm shocked - shocked - at how quickly I've been able to blitz through the story of Red Dead Redemption. I'm nearly back to where I was when I lost my save.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

This is not happening. This is not happening.

I think I'm still in denial about losing all my saves.

I'm trying to see the silver lining, though. Given that I'd played 80% of the way through 3D Dot Game Heroes and at least 75% of the way through Red Dead Redemption before I lost the saves, that means I'll get to (have to) spend almost twice as much time with each title before I write the reviews - a much broader scope of experience.

Repeat playthroughs often give the most accurate data, when it comes to the objective quality of a title. So that's nice.


Am not looking forward to replaying 3DDGH. Maybe that's the review, right there.

Oh God, no.

In my attempt to swap the 250GB HD from the Slim into my 60GB, using a third PS3, I somehow managed to erase all of my save data from both the systems.

Every. Single. One. That's... that's a lot of gaming.

Whelp, no time like the present to get started on the rebuilding.

Oh, the reviews for Red Dead Redemption and 3D Dot Game Heroes will take suitably longer to complete, at this point.

What really burns is the RPG saves. Oblivion, Valkyria Chronicles, Demon's Souls, Eternal Sonata, Resonance of Fate and Fallout 3. God damnit.

Who's an idiot?

This guy.

Y'know those Hitler spoof videos?

I've heard about 'em for months now, but never stopped to watch one. It's not a comfortable position to be in - finding some common ground with him.

'Cause let's face is: slim is sexy.

I phoned around my city yesterday, looking for a PS3 Slim. The fam is out of town for the rest of the week, and I wanted to surprise them with a Blu-ray player for the big new HDTV in the living room.

Turns out Best Buy, EB, Future Shop and PnP Games (a fabulous small local store) didn't have any bundles in, and some didn't even have the 250GB model (waiting for the new 40nm SKU, to arrive next month). Finally, Wal-Mart (ugh) had 250GB bundles for the standard price, with Batman: Arkham Asylum and inFamous thrown in.

I already have those games, and if inFamous hadn't been a (ugh) Greatest Hits copy, I probably would have kept it as a double, but thanks to its fugly red packaging I hauled both games off to PnP to trade 'em towards a copy of Valkyria Chronicles.

Yes, I know.

(1) It's worth having a second copy.
(2) I already own every PS3 game I would want to own. 'Cept maybe Bad Company 2 or Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm - but I know what I'm willing to pay for those, and it ain't sixty bucks.
(3) Mark my words, in ten years a sealed copy of Valkyria Chronicles will be worth a mint.

* * *

My plan was to pull out the Slim's hard drive, swap it into my trusty (if very loud, these days) 60GB and use the Slim in the living room.

I spent probably twelve hours swapping hard drives and marveling at how long two minutes can take (the transfer liked to stick at around the 96% point) before I finally decided I was sick of the high whine of my 60GB's fan, and would simply switch to the Slim for my gaming purposes.

Now I need to find a way to play my PS2 games.

I'm thinking a PS2. And no, Darryn, I'm not buying yours. I just don't want a silver PS2.

PS3 shortages due to demand?

That's what's being reported. Apparently so many people want Playstation 3s, retailers can't keep the darn things in stock! It's as if the consoles have wings, they fly off shelves with such - yeah, I'm done.

It's not due to some mad surge in demand - it's due to the new SKU they're putting out. A PS3 Slim with a new, more efficient (and cheaper) 40-nm graphics chip. Just like they did prior to the arrival of the Slim, they stopped shipping the older consoles to retailers to clear shelf space for the new units.

Most retailers in my area (Canuckistan) say the new SKUs will arrive in early June.

Nobody likes a tease, Insomniac.

But teasing is precisely what they're doing, with this tweet:
"Just had a weekly show and tell. Lots of cool stuff going into one of our games right now. Very exciting to see new stuff come online!"
"One of our games" - I like the sound of that. I've no doubt the core studio is hard at work on Resistance 3, but what's their new studio in North Carolina up to? That's what we want to know!

Naturally, they aren't telling. The Insomniac Facebook page provides further injury to my self-respect:

"I could tell you all - but that would ruin the surprise. Stay tuned!"
You bastard! Just tell us what it is, already!

Why do I care so much? I shouldn't care this much. I barely care about the return of the (hopefully, one day) mighty Killzone franchise, but whatever Insomniac might be cooking up next? That's interesting.

Killzone 3 announced.

The latest issue of Gamepro magazine has the exclusive reveal of Killzone 3. Let us consider, gentlemen (and ladies) - how much should we care?

A reasonable amount, I think. It won't be a day-one purchase for yours truly (probably), but Killzone excels in many areas most military-themed FPSs don't. Call of Duty, Halo and Bad Company are all extremely fast-paced, almost-arcadey shooters. Killzone 2 tried to beat a new path, with (what I imagine to be) a realistic sense of weight in the gunplay and movement. It also stood apart with its incredibly oppressive atmosphere.

That said, for pure Fun Factor, it's no Halo. It's not even close to Halo.

Why compare the two, if they're so different?

Because you know Sony wants Killzone to be their Halo. They want an exclusive, hardcore-slash-mainstream first person shooter experience to take a slice of Microsoft's market share - but Killzone intentionally (and successfully) tries so hard to be different, it's unlikely it will tap into the same massive popularity of Call of Duty and Bungie's flagship franchise.

It quite consciously tries not to be the same game everyone else is buying. To me, that's a good thing, but commercially? Not so much.

If Killzone 3 is as good as 2, it's definitely an experience worth having - whether or not it's an experience worth buying depends entirely on how tired you are of the standard twitchy shooter.

Killzone 3 will sport new snowy environments, new weapons and a machine-gun-sporting jetpack. Which doesn't sound uncool. It will also support 3D, which I can't wait to not support.

[update] Rumor: Sounds like it will also feature fully destructible environments. Which should be awesome and gorgeous, with Guerrilla's engine pushing it. [/update]

Hey Chance, where's my content?

I've no excuse for only the single, insubstantial posts over the last two days. Unless you count the flu, which you shouldn't. Let's get back on track, shall we?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Say my name.

This is one of those games I really want to be good, but I'm not prepared to commit to it with a preorder.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

BioShock's original pitch.

I'm tired and sicker than I thought I was.

Check out the original pitch Irrational Games put together for BioShock, and marvel at how different the final product became.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Three things...

(...about Red Dead Redemption.)

1. The PS3 version runs at 640p, and is upscaled to 720. The 360 version also sports sharper textures, so yeah - go with that version if you have the option.

That said, I had no idea the PS3 version is sub-HD, the game is absolutely gorgeous either way - it has zero impact on gameplay - though comparison screenshots do tell the tale. Speaking of comparisons,

2. Wonder what links Red Dead Revolver with Redemption? The scars on the protagonist's faces, obviously. Check out John Marston's disfiguring marks, compared to Red's. Consociated.

3. It brings out the kid in me. I can't remember the last time I played a game that seized upon my imagination so deftly.

Remember the marathon gaming sessions you rocked as a kid? Time disappears and you just want to endlessly wallow in the game's devices? It's all you think about. You find yourself dreaming about the game.

Excuse me, I have... um... something to do.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh God, yes!

So far, it's as good as they say it is. Let me give one example.

I was trotting my horse (a gorgeous, golden-yellow stallion I had to lasso from the wild and break in before it would permit me to ride it), though a scrubby desert, thick with cactus and sagebrush, when a panicky man called to me.

[random encounter spoiler] His friend, who had done no wrong, was being lynched - would I help?

Of course I would. My John Marston is an unerringly noble fellow (on this playthrough), so together we raced our mounts across the land until we came to the Hanging Tree.

The man's hands were bound behind his back, a noose around his neck, a horse beneath his rump. As we approached, the bad guys took notice and opened fire. Naturally, this spooked his horse and it bolted. He dangled for a half-second, but I didn't even think twice about what to do: I shot the rope.

The game didn't tell me to shoot the rope. Maybe it did and I didn't notice, I was so caught up in the proceedings - but I shot the rope, severed it, killed the bad guys and received a boost to my Honor stat. [/random encounter spoiler]

It is... incredibly accomplished in delivering precisely what the player unconsciously expects of a Wild West adventure.

Okay, two examples:

Earlier today I was hunting deer. I lined up a careful headshot and took it. The deer crumpled, and a dozen terrified birds erupted from the oak trees behind it, black against the orange haze of the setting sun.

It's wonderful. This is one of those games that defines triple-A.

Ummmm No.

So I got this email today.

This is more than a teensy bit suspect to me, perhaps just because they claim to be "seeking out high quality websites and blogs." Let's face it - were that really the case, they wouldn't be emailing me.

It goes on to say they want me to select one of their fine products to give away on my blog, or, alternatively, I could review their products! Lucky me, right?

I did a little Googling and only found this thing mentioned on two other blogs - a lady in her late twenties with a blog on crocheting, and a mother with a blog about her life in general. They both jumped at the opportunity, but only the crochet lady used tags. According to her blog she actually was able to give away a tiny sewing machine - so it's possible this whole thing may be on the level.

And... sure I'm a bit of a gaming whore - I'll expound on the virtues of This Game and That Game in the firm hope that it will inspire a reader to hand over money to a store of some variety with the aim of playing the game, and discovering what I've discovered - but I'm not doing free advertising, here.

Okay, maybe it could qualify as advertising. It is content about a commercial product - but more than that, it's my opinions. Editorials.

* * *

That said, if you are reading this and you work for Sony Computer Entertainment, Nintendo, Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Take-Two, Bethesda or (my heart skips a beat!) Atlus, please tell me you want to advertise your stuff on my site and I'd love to take you up on that.

Monday, May 17, 2010

First Alpha Protocol review is very positive.

First reviews often are, so let's take it with a grain of salt and bide our time. Here's the reported translation of what Spanish game mag Playmania had to say.
  • Graphics -> 80 - The exteriors are not so bad but the models and their animations are far from perfect.
  • Sound -> 90 - Appropriate soundtrack.
  • Diversity -> 89 - Even though it's the same game, there are many possibilities when it comes to customizing your character and deciding how to play.
  • Duration -> 90 - The replayability factor is really high. You can play Alpha Protocol a lot of times without experiencing the same adventure.
  • Overall -> 88 - A spy role playing game that succeeds in blending action with stealth and gives players a high degree of freedom in choosing how they want to proceed.