Personal gaming journal #1

Wow, I’ve had such a busy week this week with work, friends, and chores it almost seems impossible to get some free time to play any of my favorite games.

When I was able to sneak a little time here and there, I look back and am surprised that I broke out some of my older games that I never finished.  Sometimes it’s true that “everything old is new again”, and it was refreshing not to be tempted so bad to purchase yet another game when I have plenty of solid hitters that had been collecting dust.

First up, Metal Gear Acid 2, for my PSP.  It really was shocking that when I booted it up, I noticed my last save game file was just over a year old.  Wow.  A whole year since I played it last, but after a few practice rounds, I jumped right back in and on my way to moving the story along.  Complete turn based, strategy card game I forgot how much I enjoyed.

Over at XBox Live Arcade I downloaded two demo’s: Too Human (see earlier post this week on my thoughts) and Go Go Break Steady (music rythym game set in a break dance world).  It’s animations were cute and its beats kinda cool, but after playing the demo for a while I won’t be unlocking the full game.  I also noticed there has been an expansion released for Puzzle Quest.  I’ll end up getting that later as I still have a way to go on the original, not to mention my wife is already addicted to the core game without getting the expansion.

Back over at my Nintendo Wii, I’ve been unlucky in getting my hands on a Wii Fit.  I have a good line on where to get one….a store of the beaten path that a coworker told me about where he walked in earlier this week and got their last one without even trying.  Anyway they told me to call back Monday, so perhaps if I am extremely lucky I’ll have one soon and hopefully trim my figure a bit. (Note to self: I should play both boxing and tennis this weekend as my cardio exercise).

I also broke out Battalion Wars 2 and I really like that game.  I finished about 30% of the game so far, and even on the easy levels, I can’t seem to get past a ‘C’ grade right on the missions right now.  My technique is always great, usually 100% or just under….it’s the speed that hampers me.  I can clear a level in five minutes, but apprantley, they would like to see me do it under four which can be a little tough for me.  It reminds me of a real time and vamped up version of Advance Wars.  It’s been quite a while since I played this last as well, clearly more than six months, and again I’m really looking forward to playing it this weekend.

Same for WoW.  My alliance Pally is now lvl 66, and I’d like to play a good dungeon this weekend and maybe level up to 67 in preparation for Lich King expansion.  I also played about an hour last Sunday my lvl 46 undead Warlock in Hinterlands.  I like that zone.  One zone I am bored to tears with though is Astranaar.  I have my lvl 30 Shaman and lvl 29 Priest stuck there now, grinding away for money to buy some better item so I can move beyond this infernal place.

Lastly my best news of the week is bittersweet.  I finally completed my first pass through of Mass Effect yesterday which is pretty monumental for me….to complete a single play through…and I loved every minute of the game.  The last boss battle was much easier than I thought it was going to be, but the ending left me a little jaded.  What?  I can’t go back and tie up the few loose ends?  Ahh man….  Plus I was so close to lvl 50 and the associated achievement unlock.  I was literally under 200 XP away from lvl 50 and I also never got the ‘Paramour’ achievement either in which I feel a little cheated on.  Overall a great game, though I’m a little dissapointed with the lack of DLC support that was promised for it.  One ‘episode’ is a far cry on what was promised.  Now, I may have to replay again on the next diffiuclty level and work on my sniper and shotgun achievements as well since I got assault rifle and pistol completed.


Games: Too Human Demo

Baldur Dash?

Baldur Dash?

I’ve been waiting for this game for quite some time, ever since I saw early snippets revealed on X-Play.  Those folks over at G4 seem to be quite riled up about it as well, either that or they’re taking some kinda of kickback or bribe from those over at Silicon Knights for how much coverage this game has gotten prior too its release.

Leasing upto last weeks E3, there even seemed to be more than average coverage of Too Human, and during E3 itself, Silicon Knights revealed a demo would be available for download on XBox Live on July 14.

I waited until yesterday to download it, all 1GB+ of it.  Prior to that I had read on multiple forums that people were finding the control schema a bit awkward and counter-intuitive, but before I make any judgements myself, I had to give it a shot myself.

What I found was a beautifully rendered game with cutscenes and all.  Despite only being able to play one class of character, the Champion, out of the five that will be in the final release, it gave me a good taste on what to expect.

While realizing it was only a demo, there wasn’t too much explanation on the very detailed equipment controls and offerings.  Apparently there will be quite a bit of customization with salvage, loot, and blueprint options.  There’s also a skill tree that was a little vague on understanding until you start adding point and begin to level up.  Once you play for a bit, it begins to make sense.

Unfortunately, while there is a pause option there is no save option in the demo.  So I tried my best to play what I could in the 75 minutes allotted to me as ‘free’ time.  I was able to take my Champion from lvl 1 to lvl 5, and only began to slightly overwhelmed once I hit this point in the demo.

The cutscenes are indeed beautiful and have a great spin on the techno-Norse mythology alluded to in interviews and previews.  They can be a little awkwardly placed at times dividing the present action into a sudden past-tense reveal then back into the action.  The first time this happened, I was wondering what the heck happened.  Was the level over?  Was the demo over?  Did I do something?  No to all of the above as once the scene was over, I was back in action where I had left off.  Slightly odd.

The animations are smooth, fluid, and very pretty.  The detail in lighting really sets the mood in the level I played and the environment lent to the idea that the place was big.  Really big.

Okay, so about the controls:  I can sort of understand the complaints that I’ve read on various boards, and even I’m surprised that Silicon Knights went with this control layout.  For people that have played plenty of FPS games (Halo, CoD4, etc.), the controls are gonna take time to get used to.  I think it will just take time to re-adjust, but certain actions just don’t seem intuitive to the way our hands and fingers have been trained.  Granted, I only just played once, but even after 75 minutes, I still found myself fumbling on what was the melee action versus which was the projectile action.  But again, that’s just being re-trained.  The most difficult and awkward mechanic was the camera controls and how you move.  The camera seems to be independent at times on where you are facing.  This can be easily corrected by hitting the left bumper button, but in the heat of battle where enemies are swarming from all directions the re centering of the camera to get your bearings can be a buzz-kill.  So can the auto-lock feature as well.  There were times I was locked onto a missile firing foe, just so my Champion then locked onto the projectile instead of my initial target thus throwing off my strategy.

Will I get this game?  Probably.  Hopefully Silicon Knights have heard some of the complaints and choose to address them (though this late in the mix, they probably won’t).  It has a lot of potential from a beautifully rendered game and excellent story telling so far to RPG and Hack/Slash fast action elements.  Not sure if it’s the next GoW though, and if the controls are still funny, I may feel more comfortable if it was at a $49.99 price point.