Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I just finished up Killzone tonight, so now I'm ready for KZ2 when it comes out, and more importantly, my plate is pretty clean for the imminent arrival of my new PC.  

Final verdict--I liked the game, but didn't love it.  I'm glad I played it, though.  I can't really think of any other FPS I've played on PS2.  The story was pretty cool, I guess.  On par with a summer popcorn flick.  I'm excited to see where it goes in the sequel, as the Helghast are pretty cool as an adversary.  I just hope they aren't so AI-deficient in KZ2.

The other night I downloaded the Resident Evil 5 demo on my 360.  I went into it with low expectations, and I wasn't disappointed.  Capcom, and the Resident Evil series in particular, aren't known for drastically changing games up from iteration to iteration.  RE4 was a remarkable exception, and it's extensive overhaul of the by-then stale RE formula was in large part responsible for that.  RE5 is Capcom lapsing back into their old ways, the same ones that have given us 50+ games in the Mega Man arch-series and 15 or more under the umbrella of Street Fighter.  Entire polygon models are recycled from a 5-year-old  game, and the GUI looks like something they slapped together in Crayon Physics.  

I'm sure people will eat it up, what with the online co-op and all, but it just seems sloppy, and stands out as another instance of Japanese developers having pretty much lost the plot over the last few years and the switch to HD.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Holding Pattern

This week has been much the same as the last.  Highlights being finally finishing Metroid Fusion and playing Gears of War co-op through acts 2 and 3 on Saturday night.

It was nice in Metroid to finally accrue all of Samus' lost power-ups and be able to face down the SA-X for once.  Most of the game you're avoiding or running in terror from it.  I almost had to call foul on the game, though, for pulling the old Metroid escape sequence but spiking it with a final boss battle.  I almost didn't make it through in terms of either life or time.  I'm done with this one.  It was cool to see where the overarching plot went, but by all reports Metroid: Zero Mission is the better GBA outing in the series, and I've got that in the queue waiting for a likely time.

I played some more Burnout Paradise this week, too.  That's a great game.  It's got a bunch of those qualities that keep you coming back to a game, like short, attainable goals, a sense of progression from unlocking more cars and beating more events, and a great online mode.  The sense of speed in the game is also excellent.  I crash a lot.

I put maybe 4 hours into Killzone this week, too.  I'm up to the beginning of the 8th mission, of 11.  I have a few gripes forming: a) checkpoints in this game are few and far between,  b) enemy grenades seem way too unfairly deadly, c) the Helghast are beyond stupid AI-wise (and need more lines of spoken dialogue, or at least the frequency with which they spout their limited lexicon dialed back a bit).  Otherwise, it's cool.  The level design is kind of sparse, but I'd chalk that up to it being a hardware limitation, since the art-direction is pretty spot-on.  Also, some of the dialogue is a bit overwrought--it's standard action-flick fare.  Again, the limitations of the PS2 are the albatross around this game's neck.  I'm excited to see how the sequel turns out when it's released in a month or so.  The weapons and sense of being there and atmosphere are already pretty great.

I had a few minutes to kill tonight and so I played some Hexic.  My brain just does not work the way that game wants it to.  I got my best score to date, nonetheless.  I think I made two of the star-flower things.  If I understood the victory conditions correctly, I would need at least 18, arranged in the proper manner, to make 3 black pearls, and then get those arranged together, to win.  I hope Puzzle Quest Galactrix is released soon...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Progress Report 01/19/2009

I got some good time in with an assortment of games this past week. Variety is always nice. I've been jumping into Metroid Fusion for 30 minutes to an hour at a time every couple of days. It's good, but not totally engaging me the way Super Metroid or Symphony of the Night have in the past. That's probably no fault of the game's, though; in an era of gigantic open world, open-ended gaming, it just seems kind of quaint. I do enjoy it, just in a more connoisseur-ial fashion. I appreciate it.

Finishing Gears of War 2 left me wanting more, and coincidentally there's a Gears 1 achievement I want to unlock so that I can unlock the final playable character model in Gears 2 multiplayer, so I popped the first game into my system this week and started off a playthrough on Hardcore difficulty. I finished Act 1 so far, and hopefully someone will jump in with me for some buddy action!

I've been extremely impressed by the post-release DLC support (entirely free to this point) that Burnout Paradise has received over the last year, and all the raving (and my desire for something new to play before/after watching a DVD without having to toss a disc in) finally convinced me to pick it up from the PSN store. I've never played another Burnout before, but it sorta reminds me of a mix of Ridge Racer and GTA's driving engine. It's a free-roaming city street racing game, but you have no goals you have to meet, or anything you really have to do in order to progress, except just have fun.

What's really cool is the (almost) seamless online integration. I can just hit right on the d-pad a couple of times and all of the sudden I'm online and there are a bunch of other players around the city doing things, cooperatively or competitively. I'm in the same city, on the same street as before, only now there are real people driving (a few) of the other cars on the road. I got into a game the other night where a couple of the 8 people had headsets (I don't, on PSN), and they were able to give directions and coordinate with the rest of us to meet up in certain areas and do things to complete some multiplayer challenges. It's good, mindless fun, not something with a million cars and parts you really have to worry over or races you have to practice a whole lot at, like a lot of other racing games.

When I was logging onto the PSN store to get that, I noticed a new PSOne Castlevania up on the store that I'd never played before, and it was only $6, so I impulse bought Castlevania: Chronicles. Turns out this is a port of an old Japanese PC adaptation of the original NES Castlevania. I knew about the game since it came out in 2001, but I'd thought it was just a PSX update of the NES Castlevania. The difference, essentially, is a bunch of extra levels and some tunes that weren't in the NES game. Win-win. Tough game--luckily you can save at the beginning of each level. The graphical fidelity is somewhere between 8- and 16- bit--adequate.

Lastly, I played through missions 2 and 3 in Killzone last night, since Netflix streaming on the 360 was being difficult. As I've said before, it's a classic example of a developer trying to outdo their platform. It's like how Crytek future-proofed Crysis by making it for 2010 machines in 2007. Except Killzone's case is a little dumb when you consider the fact that PS2's aren't upgradeable. Apart from the frame rate, and brain-dead enemies, I think it's a pretty good game. The graphics are pretty impressive at times for a PS2 game, and the weapons are cool. I also like how you can choose to control any of the people in your squad. I played for a bit as the assassin woman, and I just added a new guy with a minigun. More will be written about this one later.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Dawn Of A New Era

I just ordered my new gaming PC, a Dell Studio XPS, featuring the new Core i7 CPU from Intel, 6 GB DDR3 RAM, Radeon 4850 512 MB GPU, and 640 GB (2x 320) HDD in a RAID 0 configuration. Grand total of about $1650, with the 22'' widescreen monitor and everything. I think that should be sufficient.

I can't wait to get the thing and get on Steam and lose myself in a sea of FPS. I'm already planning to get the Half-Life series, Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (or maybe Clear Sky), Far Cry 2, Mirror's Edge, Fallout 3, and Mass Effect. I already have the big Blizzard games and Dead Space. And Warhammer , but I think WoW is enough as far as MMOs go...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Light Week

I didn't play much at all this past week. I put about an hour into Killzone, a couple into Metroid Fusion, and about the same into WoW. I was getting over jet lag part of the time, and the rest of the time making good on my fitness resolution, watching movies and shows on Netflix, and watching the fallout from the EGM closure/massive 1UP layoffs online. EGM used to be so awesome back when I was in high school. You know what else was true of that time? We didn't have the Internet in practically every home in the world where anyone cares about gaming.

If I had to name the one big thing I did, it would be (in WoW) to have finished up all of quests in my level range in the Stonetalon Mountains zone. Next I need to finish up the Ashenvale stuff, and try to catch up on instances, too. I got my dire wolf mount, also, which is cool.

At the top of my list of priorities for completion right now is probably Metroid Fusion, because it'll probably be the quickest and easiest to get through, but also because I've been playing it off and on for god knows how long, and I really need to finish it to be caught up on the (real) Metroid series. They really need to come out with that rumored Metroid Dread for the DS.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My 2008 GOTY

Every site/podcast out there chooses theirs, so I thought I should, too. I'm going to limit this to 2008 games that I actually played in 2008, as opposed to older games I played in 2008 or 2008 games I haven't played yet. You have to draw the line somewhere.

I don't think I ever named a game for 2007, though, so here's that one first: BioShock. Honorable Mention goes to Halo 3.

Without further ado, my game of the year 2008 is: Metal Gear Solid 4. It was completely awesome, and as good a cap to the series and wish fulfillment as could be hoped for. Who could forget Metal Gear on Metal Gear battle, or Snake's agonizing crawl through that microwave tunnel? Unbelievable, I loved it. Pretty good control scheme, even!

Honorable Mention goes to Gears of War 2.

I didn't actually play that many 2008 games in 2008...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

WoW Update & Thoughts

It's about all I've been playing while out of town. I've got my Warrior up to 28 now, and I've been exploring a couple of new zones and doing a bunch of quests. My gear is crap, and while that doesn't matter so much since 99% of the time I'm soloing, it means that I kind of suck in groups, and I get my ass handed to me in PvP. The latter could just be that I'm a noob at dueling and ganking, but regardless, I'm looking to correct this.

My WoW gaming, while taking up a lot of time, has been remarkably casual. I've barely done any forum-browsing or database searching in my off-game time. Reading a strategy guide on the plane and around my parents' place is really about it so far; something that is very much in stark contrast to the way I played and obsessed over FFXI. This is probably at least partly due to the fact that so far WoW is primarily a solo experience. I almost never even talk to another player, let alone be required to spend hours LFG just to go grind out some XP. I've kind of felt that this is a double-edged sword, though. What keeps people from getting all the way to the level cap and being totally ignorant of how groups work, or of how to behave in one? FFXI players, for the most part, are damn well trained by the mid to late game.

Just something I was pondering.

2008 Year-End Recap & Thoughts

In 2008, I finished 26 games:

Gears of War 2
Oblivion (Main)
Oblivion (Fighter's Guild)
Oblivion (Mage's Guild)
Oblivion (Thieves' Guild)
Assassin's Creed
Diablo II
New Super Mario Bros.
Mega Man X
Bionic Commando Re-Armed
Shadow of the Colossus
Etrian Odyssey
Puzzle Quest
Jeanne D'Arc
Rez HD
Ninja Gaiden Black
RE4: Separate Ways

This is a substantial increase from the 2007 total of 15:

Final Fantasy XI (got 3rd 75, all desired gear, quit)
Final Fantasy XII
Gears of War
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Halo 2
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time
Prince of Persia Classic
Dragon Quest VIII
Halo 3 (Heroic & Legendary)
Rock Band
Resident Evil 4

However, the backlog is still epic, and there is much play left to do. I'm off to a decent start in 2009, though, having finally finished up Diablo II: Lord of Destruction on the first day of the year. My starting to play WoW could affect my overall gaming progress in two ways: it could halt backlog-thinning progress by consuming a large chunk of my playtime, but on the other hand, it could also slow backlog accumulation by consuming a large chunk of my attention, causing me to only go out and buy big releases or games I'm dying to play. This remains to be seen.

I bought a staggering amount of games in 2008, and resold a fair number of them. Many of these were never even opened, though often enough I turned a profit on them, so buying them wasn't all for naught. My goal for the year was to by the end, have a list of completed games at least as long as my pile of shame, and through the magic of "game beaten OR game sold = game removed from pile," I am happy to say that I've been able to do that ( least until I re-populate the Pile of Shame to account for games bought in 2008 and still not played). For 2009, I'd like to have a list of completed games at least as long as games bought. A lofty goal, to be sure. I'm already up by one, though!

An interesting bit of trivia is that the first game I finished in 2008 was actually expanded content of one I finished in 2007, Separate Ways, the Ada Wong standalone adventure from Resident Evil 4. The trend continues with the first thing I finshed in 2009 being Lord of Destruction, Diablo II's expansion and fifth act.

Now that I've finished up the Diablo series to this point, I'm going to shelve it in favor of more WoW, of course, but also Starcraft. It's high time I educate myself on how to play an RTS at least kind of well. This will be concurrent with making progress on other fronts, as well. I have an embarrassing amount of unplayed DS and PS2 games, and not a few games on the 360/PS3/Wii that I want to play. So, I had a blast in 2008, and here's to a rather enjoyable 2009!