Monthly Archives: August 2011

Deus Ex: Human Revolution thoughts (spoiler-ish)

I finished up Deus Ex: Human Revolution tonight, so I’ll be sending it back to GameFly to assure I can get Resistance 3 and Starfox next week. I’m not sure how much I can add to the consensus: it’s a good, if slightly uneven experience. Think Fallout meets Blade Runner.

The boss fights are every bit as bad as you’ve heard, and they felt more like luck than anything. The hacking mini-game is inventive, but once you upgrade your hacking you breeze through most of it without a sweat and kind of break the challenge of it. I know it’s possible to go through fully stealth and only kill bosses, but after trying that for the first stage and growing increasingly frustrated, I started capping dudes. Combat isn’t the game’s strong point, but it’s much more accessible than stealth.

(Keep in mind, here, that I’m pretty bad at most stealth games, so the problem may be entirely on my end.)

So in the final stage, you basically deal with zombies. Not literally zombies, but the zombie enemy arch-type. They run at you full speed in groups and use melee attacks. Zombies. I would feel bad about taking out dozens of civilians, but by this point my version of Jensen was kind of accustomed to shooting his way through whatever happened to be in the path of his goal. I had crossed some moral boundaries with him a while ago, so it kind of fit the character to mow down a bunch of random people in service of his objective.

Also, at risk of repeating what everyone observed, Jensen’s voice is absolutely ridiculous. I’m not going to insult the voice actor, because you never know if it was him or the direction or whatever, but it was truly laughable. Maybe if they established that the attack burned his vocal chords or something? I don’t know. It was silly.

Continuing to plug away at the Indie games, I tried out Speedrunner HD. Meh. I’m not a speed-run type of guy. I like to get through games more than play them over and over to shave milliseconds from my time. I downloaded Train Frontier Express, and I’ll be sharing thoughts on that, The Baconing, and Madden 12 sometime in the near future.

This seems like a good mix of Ambassador games, and I had forgotten that they’re due this Thursday. As a Zelda fan, it’s probably a mark of shame that I’ve never finished Zelda 2, so this seems like as good a time as any to give it a shot.

You hear that? That’s a tidal wave of games coming, son.

  • Breaking: Notch says same things about Steam that EA has been saying, suddenly everyone sees EA’s point.
  • I do remember enjoying RollerCoaster Tycoon as a kid. Strangely, I was also terrified of actual roller coasters at the time.

God Save the (Burger) King

Apparently Burger King retired “The King” character, focusing more on ads that stress the freshness and quality of their food. Call me kooky, but this seems like a losing proposition. You’re never going to convince America that Burger King is good quality food. That’s not why we go there. We go there because junk tastes good sometimes.

Meanwhile, the King is one of the best bits of odd-vertising in the last decade. His debut (waiting in someone’s bed and then awkwardly handing them a breakfast sandwich) was a perfect bit of subversive humor. I’ve heard people call it creepy. Which is the entire point.

Irene rolled through here, so there are some fallen branches around, but mainly it was just some rain and high winds.

Apparently dating a seemingly nice dude turns into a pulp-horror nightmare when he reveals his geeky pursuits. Maybe there’s more to this story, but as written she comes off like a bitch created in a lab out of parts from deceased bitches. She’s trying to be funny, but the tone is all off. And talk about interning at the wrong place — why would you go to Gizmodo if you find nerds so inherently creepy? I mean, have you ever actually read Gizmodo, honey? Here’s a piece the user interface for Windows 8. Srsly.

  • I had a line in this Epic Mickey 2 story about Mickey and Oswald apparently resolving their differences, but it got cut out. I guess a Disney plot having a happy ending is a spoiler? Alright.
  • Well, that money I was planning on spending on Halo Anniversary is now going towards Professor Layton. This time of year, I have to prioritize chronologically.
  • I’m not a huge Aliens fan, but WayForward is enough to get me to try just about anything.
  • Wait, somebody announced a Wii game?

Storm’s a-comin’, Ani. Better get inside.

Apparently we get hurricanes in Maryland now? People come here for mild temperatures and low probability of natural disasters, and Mother Nature is totally punking us this week.

At least they’ve postponed the baseball game I got my dad tickets to. The downside? They only postponed it a day. You can still apparently exchange the tickets, though, so I’ll have to check how long that window will be open.

Doom & Destiny is pretty great, and I actually bought it. It was made with the standard RPG Maker software, and that shows, but it’s got a real sense of meta-cleverness to the writing, and a few interesting hooks on the old RPG formula. My favorite might be that you pick a party leader, which gives passive bonuses based on field position. It’s taking that old “back/front” formation mechanic from Final Fantasy and iterating on it in a way that FF never did.

Speaking of RPGs and Indie developers, hells yes. Zeboyd is one of my favorite developers on the Indie channel, and I wondered why he wasn’t in on the Summer Uprising when he basically spearheaded the Winter Uprising that spawned it. If he was putting those projects aside to work on PA:3 I say more power to him.

Crimson Alliance has a smart pricing model that more games should imitate. Not that it matters for me; I picked up all the Summer of Arcade titles so I’m getting it for free anyway. Wait a minute–I picked up Fruit Ninja to get an effective $5 discount on this game, which would happen anyway if I had picked a class. Foiled again!

  • Right price, and an easy way to undercut Diablo 3 before it comes out. Well played, Torchlight.
  • Know what we need? More versions of Street Fighter IV.

Finally, a Star Wars post-edit I can get behind

Those who know the deep inner-recesses of my mind know that the part of my brain responsible for nostalgia is occupied about 40% by Star Wars, the largest of any nostalgia sectors. Watching Lucas edit and re-edit the films over the years didn’t used to bother me, but it’s slowly gotten on my nerves, to the point that the Emperor just straight-up spoils the twist in Empire Strikes Back a good 40 minutes before it happens. I know this isn’t a twist anymore, and it’s so ingrained in pop culture that no one would ever be surprised, but come on. Leave that stuff in tact.

On top of that, Lucas really prefers these updated versions, and had to be pressed to release the originals. So while I’d love to snag the Blu-rays this holiday season, I can’t help the creeping feeling that we’ll get the “standard” unchanged editions a year or so afterwards and I’ll be kicking myself. But honestly, it wouldn’t be hard to include both sets of scenes on the Blu-ray discs. There’s plenty of room.

All this is to say that I’ve finally heard about a change I can support. Because let’s all be honest: Yoda’s representation in Episode I was absolutely god awful. It was a green, raspy Ms. Piggy with the eyes of a starved hobo who just found a can of baked beans. So I fully support this:

 

Now if we can just convince him to edit out and/or murder Jar Jar.

Today’s Indie game is Doom & Destiny, probably the one I’m most anticipating since I’ve really enjoyed retro-RPG throwbacks on the Indie channel like Breath of Death VII, Cthulu Saves the World, and Epic Dungeon. I haven’t gotten a chance to watch it yet, thanks to marathoning my way through Dexter S5. But I’ll be digging in shortly.

Speaking of Epic Dungeon, there’s a new version out called Cursed Loot for the same price (a buck). If you didn’t play Epic Dungeon and you enjoy rogue-likes, pick it up. It’s the same game with one new class and some new abilities, so it pretty much renders the other one irrelevant.

  • And thus, the great war between GameStop and Square Enix came to a close. I kind of understand GameStop’s response; putting a competitor’s coupon into a product is sort of a Trojan Horse move. But they should’ve pulled the stock with Square’s blessing in the first place, instead of opening the copies to remove the coupons. It would’ve been a PR disaster, but less so.
  • Say what you will about selling our games back to us as downloadables, but it’s nice when companies release cheap, easily accessible versions of old rarities.
  • Oh David Jaffe, you so crazy.
  • I’m definitely curious about Quantum Conundrum, but people already seem pretty cynical about whether it will be as witty as Portal. Let’s set reasonable expectations, guys. Valve has a great writing staff, and an interesting and unique puzzle game design justifies itself with or without a snarky, overbearing computer.

Deus Ex first impressions

I received Deus Ex: Human Revolution from Gamefly today and played an hour or two, through the first mission. I haven’t quite got a handle on the stealth, and I think I may make my next mission use lethal force so I don’t have a weak one-shot tranquilizer.

It’s a bit like Alpha Protocol, with a healthy dose of Blade Runner and more time to cook.

I tried out TEC 3001 tonight, and it’s a pretty responsive free-running type of game. Almost like a third-person Mirror’s Edge from behind the back, so speed-runners should have a fun time with it.

  • I love how most of the responses to Kanye West at COD XP are people saying they’re less likely to attend. Nothing against his music, but he’s a pretty divisive figure.
  • It’s a shame that Insomniac might step away from Resistance, but they need to chase other birds and Overstrike looks great. Here’s hoping R3 lets them go out on a high note.
  • I was always a bit curious about Little King’s Story, and this news bit reminded me. Back on the Amazon Wish List it goes.

So that’s what an earthquake feels like…

It feels like the air conditioner coming on, really hard, for about twice as long. I’ve been reading about west-coasters having a good chuckle at our reactions, which is fair enough I suppose. Still, I challenge anyone to experience a natural phenomenon for the first time in their lives, outside its usual area for the first time in over a century, and not want to talk about it a bit. It’s an experience, guys. When you get a blizzard we’ll let you chatter about it till your heart’s content.

It didn’t take long for the Summer Uprising to go out of sync. I’m not sure what happened, but Battle High didn’t go live today as far as I can tell, and Cute Things Dying Violently did. Maybe the two switched off? At any rate, CTDV might be a cute/gruesome premise on the whole, but I just have trouble getting into the right-stick slingshot control method.

I tried out SF3 a bit tonight, and that is one tight fighting game. I’m not good enough at fighting games in general to delude myself into thinking I’ll ever master it, but I know enough to know polish when I see it. It’s no wonder it’s still so highly regarded on the tourney circuit.

  • The comments in this PS Home story say it all.
  • Sonic 4: Ep1 wasn’t bad, but with such a long time between episodes they may just want to drop it. The game got a so-so reception, it’s not as if people are waiting on more with baited breath.
  • I have to say, this is actually a somewhat reasonable argument. I think it’d be nice to have both features included and let developers pick, but they made an executive decision. That was probably more for the OLED screen than anything, though, to be honest.

Now Playing: Toy Soldiers Cold War, FFs, and Indies

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “Now Playing” post, so with Deus Ex, Madden, the the PSN Play stuff all hitting in the near future, I thought it was a good time to check in.

Toy Soldiers: Cold War – I finished up the main campaign a few days ago, which you could probably burn through in a short weekend if you wanted to. Still, it’s hard to say the game doesn’t have legs. There are a lot of challenges and extra modes that I’m feeling compelled to at least try out. I do sort of wish there was a second soviet campaign, though, similar to the second campaign in the original. Unless I missed it somehow? At any rate, it’s better than the first in almost every way, so definitely worth a pick-up.

Final Fantasy 6 and 12 – For some reason I got nostalgic for these recently, and FF6 is cementing itself as a better game. I’ve just felt more compelled to keep picking up and playing it. In FF12, I’m barely past the opening moments. I know it picks up once Tidus meets the full cast, but I’m just not drawn to do that quite yet.

XBL Indies – I blogged a weekly report about the Summer of Arcade games, and I’m planning to blog a weekly report about the PSN Play games, so it’s only fair to give a daily mention to XBL Summer Uprising Indies. At least, that’s my intent. The first launched today, and it is shockingly good-looking for an Indie game. It reminded me a bit of Odin Sphere, and those of you who played that know what a compliment that is. Unfortunately, the combat doesn’t feel very tight, but maybe I’m just missing some layer of nuance. Demos are hard to get that sort of thing across.

In the now watching category, I’m using Netflix to catch up with Dexter, and trying to get into It’s Always Sunny. I love the show, but for some reason never made recording it a priority. I intend to change that this season, while recording older episodes on Comedy Central.

  • Just Dance Kids 2 looks amazing.
  • Interview stories are hard. You don’t want to lift another site’s work wholesale, but you want to touch on the interesting bits. This interview with John Carmack from Gamasutra initially resulted in a story that was probably twice as long, and even that was me finding the bits I thought were interesting. My editor (wisely) had me cut it down to size.
  • It’s kind of amazing how much this DS homebrew game looks like Minecraft. The illusion falls apart a bit when you see a bunch of screens, but that one we used is just a straight-up screen upscaled with hard edges.
  • I watched this Serious Sam trailer to make sure there was nothing in it that would require us to age-gate it, and holy crap that game looks insane.
  • These latest comments from Blizzard on the online connectivity requirement for Diablo 3 are pretty much exactly like the last comments — just a little more blunt. Maybe it’s time to just lay low for a while, wait for it to blow over. Right now it always seems to get people riled up, but do you ever hear anyone bitching about the game being too colorful anymore? Internet rage tends to have a short attention span.

Counter-weight

It’s a Friday night and I’m not in the mood for a super-long blog post. I’ll just say that tonight after watching the Ravens game (we pulled ahead in the 4th after 3 pretty poor quarters), I watched My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Yes, seriously. I kept hearing about this “Brony” phenomenon and thought I should investigate. And thirty minutes of ultra-girly cartoon seems like an appropriate balancing influence to three hours of football.

And honestly? It was kind of funny. I doubt I’ll watch it regularly, but it was a lot more subversive than I expected it to be.

Kind of a slow day for news! Friday + end of Gamescom = boring.

  • Hard to imagine how even Valve will get this to work. As the comments point out, Portal co-op is one thing. Competitive shooter play? That’s a lot tougher to balance.
  • Opinions seem very split on this Battlefield 3 in-game server browser issue. Some people hate the idea of not having a browser, other people say they’ve tried it in beta and think it works alright. I don’t have much of an opinion. I did find it a little odd, though, that the story sprung up from Kertz answering random people’s questions over Twitter, but when I sent him a tweet identifying myself as a member of the media and asking for clarification, he directed me to EA PR. You can answer questions from random people, but when an actual media member wants to get the facts straight for a report to disseminate information you can’t answer? Should I just not identify myself as a media member? I know this is probably a policy issue, but it seems a little silly.

Final Fantasy nostalgia

I recently picked up FF6/FF3 again on Virtual Console, but now I may be playing through two older FFs at once. I was digging through my closet for trade-ins yesterday, to gather a bit of extra funds for the upcoming autumn assault of video games. I offloaded a few games I’ll never play again, but in the process found Final Fantasy X. I sort of got in the mood to play it again, so I pulled it from the “library.”

FFX is probably my favorite of the 3D-era Final Fantasies, so I’m looking forward to diving in a bit. Of course, I may get burned out between two at once, or they may just fall by the wayside as new games start to hit. I’ll see. But in the meantime, I’ll be playing two of the best RPGs from one of the most highly-regarded RPG series, so it’s hard to complain.

  • These three games are hitting so close to the PSN Play dates, it’s a wonder Sony didn’t make them part of the promotion. Payday kind of is, since it’s the freebie, but they easily could’ve swapped out Rochard or Sideway for something like Street Fighter 3. (I’m sure SF3 will be great, but it’s essentially a port.)
  • I have distinct memories of Elevator Action being kind of stiff and frustrating. For the retro-sequel, I have to wonder how much they’ll retain that feel to honor its memory, and how much they’ll change to make it better. Also, is there a lot of love for Elevator Action? Really?
  • This new Rock of Ages trailer is pretty great.
  • I don’t honestly think the online DRM thing is a big deal, but I’m not one of those people who would play a game where I don’t have an internet connection anyway. However, given all the kerfuffle kicked up in the past about this sort of thing, you’d think Ubisoft would be careful with their promises. Lesson learned?

Toy Soldiers: Cold War first impressions

It’s Toy Soldiers, which I reviewed, with some more fleshed out modes and Rambo. There is nothing wrong with this.

  • A price drop and minor hardware configuration seemed like a logical next step for the Wii as we prepare for the Wii U, which is why it was so bizarre to hear back from our Nintendo contact that this was Europe-only. I know the differences are minor, but you’d really think Nintendo would be doing whatever they can to squeeze the rest of the sales out of the Wii right now.
  • There’s no way on earth that any corporate lawyer worth his salt would let an actual case be solved by a Quake 3 match. But it’s endlessly amusing that Notch actually suggested it.
  • After some pretty blunt words from EA, it’s kind of funny that Valve’s response is to wheel out their teddy bear of a boss. Gabe strikes me as a affable guy, and his comments here came off as really humble. Possibly just to make EA’s somewhat aggressive and catty comments look worse by comparison. But yeah, he’s right, EA is apparently trying something else thinking it will work better than having games on Steam. Personally, I doubt that keeping Valve’s cut will make more than the difference, but they can try it if they want to.