Thursday, February 23, 2012

Game Diary - The Vita.

No news today!  Unless you count Google Glasses - which sound nice and sci-fi, but I've decided to only start caring about it when it's actually a thing that's happened. This works out just fine, as things have been a little nuts for me, lately.  The Vita - and attempting to cover it in any reasonable sense (which I haven't really managed) - has taken up nearly all of my home time, and the rest of my days are dominated by this Full Time Job thing that refuses to be anything but a necessity.

For me, the story of owning the Vita began this past Christmas, when I asked my family and loved ones for nothing but HMV gift cards with the aim of putting said cards towards said Vita.  Prior to this request, I went down to my local HMV and verified with the manager, Cory, that he would, in fact, be getting the Vita in stock and he would, precisely, have it on launch day.

Turns out, Cory lied to me - though I'm sure he didn't know that at the time.  Not only is HMV not carrying the Vita or any of its games, HMV is not going to carry video game products of any kind from now on.

Well, fuck.

In early 2011 I went into my local HMV and asked to speak to a manager.  This was my first chat with Cory.  I explained to him that I was sick and fucking tired of EB Games (GameStop in Canada) screwing me on my preorders, and discussed his store's preordering policy.  Duly satisfied, I hooked myself up with an HMV rewards card and I spent - no joke - over three thousand, nine hundred dollars in HMV last year.

That landed me with 390,000 Pure Points.  At 475,000 points you could get a $100 HMV gift card.

No, they're not exactly breaking the bank with their rewards thingie - and given that I could no longer preorder my video games through them, I could be assured I would not be spending a further thousand dollars at HMV this year and not hitting the 475,000 point mark.

Anyway, after learning that they would no longer be selling video games at all, I went in this past week and turned what remained of my Christmas gift cards into PSN funbucks.  Today, I went down to EB Games and traded in the sealed copy of Little Deviants from the First Edition Bundle towards a $20 PSN card, and then I went to another HMV to cash in my 380,000 for a $50 and $10 HMV gift card, which were promptly turned into $50 and $20 PSN cards.

Did you know you can't have over a hundred and fifty dollars in your PSN wallet?  I found that out the other day.

So, yeah.  I have a lot of cash sitting on my PSN account right now - but on the bright side, it gave me the financial balls required to purchase a game I've long been curious about.

I've always wanted to try Plants Vs. Zombies, but the PS3 version never interested me - and given that I need to get rid of money in my PSN account just to redeem my surplus of PSN cards, I took the plunge.  It just never seemed like the type of game I would want to play on my TV - and the Vita seems like an ideal platform for it.

I still haven't given it a spin - but it's there.  It's nice to have it there - and it brings my total Vita games to five.  I've decided I can't play it, yet, because I already have a semi-casual-type game on the Vita which I'm like, eighty per cent done and I really want to finish it and get another review out.

Escape Plan continues to be a largely pleasing experience, but after having played Golden Abyss, I find that's what I'd rather be playing.  Escape Plan isn't the type of game one zips through and reviews - it's a light little nosh of a tittle.  Something to nibble on for five minutes here and three minutes there - but given that I'm within striking distance of completion, I find myself playing that instead of the games I want to.

For example, Shinobido 2. You know how long it's been since I played a dedicated stealth title, and not an action title with bits of stealth in it?  It's been almost 21 months - Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker in mid-2010.

Prior to that, it was arguably Siren: Blood Curse or Metal Gear Solid 4.  No, Assassin's Creed doesn't count.

Thank goodness Hitman: Absolution is on its way.

The point being, there hasn't been nearly enough of my favorite genre on the current gen - and Shinobido 2 satisfies, thus far, on that fundamental kill-the-hell-out-of-guys-who-don't-know-you're-there level.  Many reviews have pointed out that it's "like Tenchu" - heck, so did I, yesterday - but it's important to note that that's a double-edged sword.

The Tenchu games have always had middling presentation and a tenuous grasp on technology, at best.  Shinobido 2 is not graphically (or even mechanically) impressive.  It's a bit like a Way of the Samurai game in that its setting and core conceit count for a lot, allowing one to accept its sub-par graphics and touchy controls.

I haven't spent enough time with it to be certain, but it's worth noting that Tenchu games always felt too touchy as well, until you mastered them - and then you realized they weren't so much touchy as incredibly precise.

I'm hoping Shinobido 2 turns out similarly excellent on such a basic level - but I'm not prepared to pass any kind of judgment at this early level.  I'll say this:

It's a stealth game, and I love good stealth games.

A friend came up at work, today, and told me a friend had suggested to him that Golden Abyss was, in fact, shitty.  I've made my position on the title abundantly clear, but that's not to say it doesn't have sticking points.  As I was playing through its opening sequence again on hard mode the other day, it occurred to me that I should, perhaps, do up a "Five Things Wrong With Uncharted: Golden Abyss" post, the same way I did with Uncharted 2.

Of course, I don't have time to, so I probably won't.

Anyway, Kris tells me his friend says Golden Abyss is shitty, and I probably looked at him like he just told me chocolate is not, in fact, delicious.

"Your friend hasn't played past the opening, has he?" I asked.

"He hasn't played it, he's just talking about a review he read."

I rolled my eyes, which, honestly, I feel kinda' bad about.  I still have to worry about the whole "Elitist Gamer" thing. Gotta' work on that - but I'm quite certain of my opinion on Golden Abyss.  It starts off mediocre and quickly becomes everything I want from an Uncharted title, and more.

* * *

So that's where I'm at, dear reader.  Well, that and still needing to catch up on a sleep deficit - so I'm gonna' go stretch out and see if I can figure out how to get past the 'Bodyguard' level on Escape Plan.  It's not what I want to play, but it's what I need to play.

I'll getcha' a review as soon as I can - and then it's on to Shinobido 2... or maybe Rayman: Origins - I'm not sure yet.

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