Monday, November 30, 2009

The push to playing online

There's no doubt about it - playing online has become big this year. If not this year, in the past two months. Uncharted 2, Modern Warfare 2, Demon Souls, and Borderlands (which I have borrowed from a friend) have all become extremely popular in their own right, and it's all thanks to their online properties.

Maybe it's just me and the friends I've been with, but when all these titles came out on their release date, I've observed an increase in friends not only talking about the game, but when they will play online with each other, myself included. I think after Uncharted 2, I felt more connected online than I have with any other game that offered as such.

Sure, I'm not the typical Halo or Gears of War online player, and that's not because I don't have the console for it - I just earnestly didn't feel like I would offer much to the online community, let alone feel good about not doing well. And I never was into World of Warcraft either, which, in the long run, was probably for the best. And I'm sure these games handled online just as well as these titles. So what changed?

I think the ideal that good online multiplayer can only exist on Halo titles is wearing thin. Or maybe the concept of only playing deathmatch online where everyone is against everyone else is boring. I mean, no one wants to play online only to find time and time again that they just suck.

Nowadays, there's much more variety now into online capabilities, as Demon's Souls demonstrates with their unique way to communicate our past failed attempts to other online plyaers randomly. Or in Borderlands, where the seemingly-limitless gun stats produces countless hours of playtime to find the best weapon for the job. Maybe the opportunities to become great online has finally exceeded the need to have the highest ranking.

Either that, or I just have more friends that want to play online games with me.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Gobble-Gobble Day

Just want to wish all gamers a Happy Thanksgiving on this festive holiday! And rest up for the deals that will start Black Friday morning!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Zero Punctuation review: Modern Warfare 2

Alright, Yahtzee. I respect you as a "tough-as-nails" reviewer, but when you gush about Modern Warfare 2's co-op multiplayer mode and not even acknowledge multiplayer in general for Uncharted 2, I smell shenanigans.

I mean, if you're gonna rib a game for all its poor traits, at least be thorough about it. Sure, you may not finish games, but the least you could have done is went through all the modes in the menu.

I enjoy your video game reviews and the snarky wit you apply each week to them, but without professionalism...well, then they're just rants.

Witness Yahtzee's NSFW love-fest for the game below.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Zero Punctuation review: Dragon Age: Origins

Y'know what's really been bugging me? Games with colons in the title. Really makes my post titles a bit redundant. Anyways, this week's Zero Punctuation review takes a (sword) stab at Dragon Age: Origins, a game that everyone I've talked to say it's "omg the best RPG ever." Which is better than hearing Modern Warfare 2 fans screaming "GOTY" at the top of their lungs, but that's another rant for another day.

I'm sure all the people that enjoy Dragon Age: Origins are the same people that enjoy Fable. Or Fable 2. Or World of Warcraft. I'm just not a fan of these games, so I probably won't enjoy the game myself. But if you enjoy these types of RPG, you should give Dragon Age: Origins a shot. It's got the "omg" stamp of approval - how can you refuse?

The video below has the NSFW stamp of approval itself. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Super Mario Bros. Wii makes a surprise appearance

New Super Mario Bros. Wii didn't make a lasting impression on me during E3, despite the fun I had playing with the voice of Mario, Charles Martinet. I've always thought that the game was strictly multiplayer, and that there was no way to play the game by yourself. Boy, was I wrong.

Not only is the game a new Mario Bros. game, but it's a nice throwback to the classic layout of the original Super Mario Bros. (complete with fireworks), map screen styles and bonus games from Super Mario Bros. 3, and the use of Yoshi from Super Mario World. Toss in a few new powerups along with the challenge of New Super Mario Bros. on the DS, and you have a marvelous Mario montage.

After doing a 100% complete on New Super Mario Bros. on the DS after many hours, I'm expecting an even harder challenge on the Wii. And hopefully my wife will be my player 2.

Lego Rock Band is a little of column A, a little of column B...

Legos and Ray Parker Jr. Those are the only reasons I could think of that possessed me to take an interest in Lego Rock Band. Legos were my main childhood toy, giving me the ability to create whatever I wanted - a car, a police station, a miniature model of the treehouse with secret entrance that my parents never built for me. And Ray Parker Jr. wrote the song for one of my favorite movies, Ghostbusters.

Okay, so my E3 impressions left me with a better impression than I thought. The one thing that made a lasting impression was the challenge mode, which made playing the song more like a music video than a concert. Through the power of rock, you can destroy a building apart lego piece by lego piece.

At the very least, you have to give Harmonix props for putting all new songs that aren't in any previous versions of Rock Band. And, if you really dislike the Lego setting (and are too lazy to switch discs), you can fork over another $10 to export the songs to Rock Band 2.

Well, if the challenges are half as entertaining as the building demolition one, then my childhood's gonna have a grand ol' time playing this game.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Critter Crunch...finished!

Puzzle games are a dime a dozen, but good puzzle games are a rare breed. In my video game life, I've probably played Tetris, Tetris Attack (Panel de Pon in Japan), and Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo the most, and not in that particular order. So, when Critter Crunch completely consumes my attention at hours on end, you know something's right.

Since checking the game out at E3, Critter Crunch gameplay showed a lot of potential and promise as a good puzzle game. The concept follows a simple food-chain system where you feed smaller critters to larger critters. Feed them enough, and they pop and unleash their jeweled innards to consume. Also, there's only 3 different-sized critters, so there's no confusion about what consumes what.

The game also includes your standard fare of powerups and special critters which make the game an even bigger challenge. I only wished that all of them were revealed earlier on, instead of distributing them evenly across the adventure mode.

When you tire of adventure mode, there's also puzzle, challenge, and survival mode to test your skills. All three modes live up to their name, especially challenge mode. However, the randomly-generated starting screen can be often times unforgivably difficult, making challenges much harder than they usually are, and making adventure mode progression a luck-of-the-draw restarting game.

Multiplayer is also fun to play whether in co-op or versus, but if you haven't progressed through adventure mode, some of the later items will be brand new to you. And even if you have seen all the new items, there's nothing in it telling you about the multiplayer-only items that appear during the matches. Like the one powerup that makes your opponent feel like he took a cocktail of drugs and is tripping balls. Nothing like a whole lotta "wtf" to get you cursing.

Despite puking your contents into your son's mouth for bonus points, Critter Crunch is nowhere near the craziness of my favorite puzzle games. It's a good challenge, but it's more a frustrating challenge than an "I think I can do better" challenge. But it has a spot in my list of games to kill away 5 minutes. Or 5 hours.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Little Big Planet (PSP) Game Jam Session winners

To promote Sony's upcoming Little Big Planet release on the PSP November 17th, Sony Computer Entertainment America and the Acadamy of Art University School of Game Design organized a 24-hour Game Jam Session where groups of game design students designed Little Big Planet levels within 24 hours.

Last night's event at Roe Restaurant in San Francisco revealed the day-long level creations to guests and judges. Pushing past the learning curve of the level creation tools and the 24-hour time restriction, the students managed to construct large and enjoyable levels centered around popular Bay Area icons such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Koit Tower.

Overall, every level in the contest was very well constructed and thought out. One of my favorites was the Golden Gate level, with its creepy electrified taxis that try to slowly run you over. It was quite as lengthy as the actual Golden Gate Bridge, and perhaps almost as unforgiving, but it was a great challenge. Eric, one of the members of Team Golden Gate, told me that in retrospect the difficulty was perhaps a bit too high. But the level displayed a good use of level depth that Little Big Planet's known for.

In the end, however, it was Team Cable Car (Doanna, Desiree, and Nathan, pictured above from left to right) that wowed the judges with their cable-car racing level, littered with many familiar San Francisco sights as your cable car whizzed on by. One decoration I particularly liked was the clever abstract design of the Fisherman's Wharf sign, using a flame graphic from one of the stickers as the basis for the crab claws. For being the contest winners, they each received a PSPGo, a copy of Little Big Planet for the PSP, and their level available for download when the game launches. As for all the other teams, everyone else also received an early copy of the game as a consolation prize.

After seeing all the wonderful San-Francisco-themed levels created in such a short time span, I'm inspired to go back to my copy of Little Big Planet on the PS3 and revisit many of my abandoned level creations, including the one level I completed. After all, as the students displayed that night, Little Big Planet's only limit is your imagination.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (crushing mode)...finished!

This is an odd feeling. Finishing games is one thing, but to go back to them and complete it all over again on the hardest setting is something I would've never considered years ago. So why the change? Well, games that are actually fun more than once around the block. Such was the case with Batman: Arkham Asylum, and such is the case today with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

If this keeps up, I might have to make a new stamp just for completing games on the hardest difficulty.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Zero Punctuation review: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

This week, Yahtzee reviews Uncharted 2: Among Thieves for the PS3. While I normally reserve my own opinions to myself and sit back and enjoy the wit from his angry rants, I feel like Yahtzee didn't give the game enough chance, let alone leaving out multiplayer altogether.

Actually, the one thing that sticks to me (pun intended) is his claim that your character clings to any wall it encounters. You need to press a button to hide behind a wall, so it's not like some auto-cling. But I agree, it's not quite so clean when you want to leave the wall to attack, to move, or just run away.

But the really sad thing? Having people completely base their purchases from Zero Punctuation. Listen, despite all the attacks he does to the games he reviews, it's still all his opinions, albeit very witty and genitalia-filled. Personally, I watch them as a sort of relief to the typical video-game review, away from all the constant "game of the year omg must buy" articles and "perfect 10s."

That being said, this video is clearly NSFW, so please enjoy. And remember, this is just entertainment.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Zero Punctuation review: Washington D.C.

This week's "Lazy Wednesday" is brought to you by...Washington D.C.? Looks like our buddy Yahtzee is in-between events, so he's doing a little sightseeing around the area. And, more likely, just not around his computer to do a proper game review. So here's something outside the norm.

Does that make the video any less NSFW? Hardly...enjoy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Video Game Horror: Dead Space and Resident Evil 4

Yes, it's past Halloween, but my post about playing two horror games will finally be up. Bear in mind that I played the games last week, but was just too busy to write them up, so here you go.

Dead Space (PS3)

There have been only two times I played this game before last week, and the first time I ran like a bitch shooting at anything that breathed. This time, however, I decided to take things a little slower. It didn't help my nerves any better, though. I mean, this game was meant to warp your senses and was all about setting the atmosphere to an uncomfortable level of horror. If you believe that a monster is breathing on your neck to your immediate right, chances are you're dead right. Well, at the least dead.

I would say that the majority of gameplay is just cowering your character in fear most of the time. Areas that are just a mere room become an acre of slow careful treading through dark crevices. Monster encounters become a counting task of ammo conservation as you become increasingly frugal at dispensing damage. Fearing death becomes an involuntary uber objective from the start.

Dead Space is still a game that gets me clutching at my heart and makes me second-think my peripheral vision. Will have to continue this game in the future with some extra clean underwear.

Resident Evil 4 (Wii)

Playing Resident Evil 4 after pissing my pants in Dead Space, the game came off a little light. Putting aside graphical differences, the initial setting puts me outdoors, in a village, in the evening with a light fog around the area. Okay, eerie setting...but still nothing like the darkness of space in a nearly-empty spaceship.

And the first enemy encounter was just a person my character mistaken to be a regular human, only to put it down after it came after me with a weapon. Not quite suspenseful, but it's to be expected for a Resident Evil game.

In fact, I ran through the first part just as I would in Dead Space, but there was no nail-biting "oh shit" moments. Just a normal town with less-than-normal residents brandishing weapons and wishing harm upon my being in afternoon daylight. In trying to focus on the story, I conserved my ammo for a while, then wasted it on the chainsaw guy as he took my head off. I was actually more annoyed than frightened at that point, as if the game flipped me off for even trying to play the game.

The controls are, however, nice and responsive. The game still had the awkward movement control system, so I found it hard to turn on corners, even with the added 180-degree flip.

In the end, the game went right back into the box. I think half the reason for that was that the game just pissed me off in a bad way, and the other half because it's a Resident Evil title.