Monday, May 4, 2009

Some Things To Write About

I took a burnout break from WoW this past week from about Wednesday until Sunday night when boredom finally got the better of me. Consequently, I actually have some other games to thought-spew about! Just to get WoW out of the way, though, I'm almost to level 47, still mucking around Stranglethorn, and my skinning skill is already almost at 300! Incredible how fast that levels.

After scraping away a year or more's worth of dust, I found my copy of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney in my DS game drawer and finally gave it a whirl. I played through the first case trial all in one go, and kind of got a feel for how the game works. It's not really like anything else I've played before, but seems pretty enjoyable. As of now, I'm into the second trial case, about to begin the actual court proceedings.

Chronologically, the next thing I played was some Galactrix, followed by several hours of Far Cry 2. Nothing much to say about PQ: G, other than that it remains pretty fun, and good for wasting time. Playing FC2, though, is a really unique experience. I completed a couple of sabotage type missions with one of my npc buddies and then did a couple of convoy ambush missions for the arms dealers in the countryside to open up more guns to buy for myself. I also did some diamond hunting and guard post scouting and safe house unlocking.

One incident that was totally awesome was approaching a checkpoint from the side just as a roving death squad was motoring through town. As they drove away I manned a gun emplacement and shot at them to get their attention, and as they turned around to come back I got off of my turret and ran across the road to some cover, and fired some shots at them with my automatic rifle as they drove into the little clump of buildings. Then, just as they came alongside the wall I was hiding behind, I pulled out my flamethrower and smoked both the driver and the guy manning the gun mount, and the jeep crashed and exploded and set the whole area ablaze. It was one of those Kodak moments you wish all your friends could have been there to see. I love the fire in this game. I read that during playtesting they had to tone the fire down because people could throw a molotov and set the whole country alight and kill the Jackal (main bad guy and target in the game) from miles away. How cool is that?

I tried out a bunch of demos this weekend, as well. The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, Bionic Commando multiplayer, and Red Faction: Guerilla.

Riddick has gotten huge amounts of acclaim, or rather, Butcher Bay has. Dark Athena has gotten less. This demo was from the latter. It seemed ok. The graphics were better than I had been led to believe (save Riddick's own model, which still looks last-gen). It was a lot harder than I was expecting, too. The demo was on the normal difficulty level, but I must have died at least 20 times just in the 15 minute or so demo section. I think I went into it expecting typical FPS type gameplay, but there seemed to be a lot heavier emphasis on stealth tactics that I didn't quite pick up totally in this short bit of game. I don't feel super compelled to pick up the game, but if I ever find it for $20 or something I may give it a go for Butcher Bay alone.

Bionic Commando, sadly, felt kind of janky. I didn't care for how the swing/jump was implemented (seemed like it required too many presses of the A button), and I really didn't like how the gun targeting and shooting felt. Your reticle is freaking huge, and you don't really have any indication of where exactly in there you're hitting. It seemed like maybe the game was registering a hit as long as the target was anywhere inside that huge reticle, which would make sense, since you'd likely need a large degree of aim-assist to shoot anything while swinging around wildly, but there just needs to be better feedback as to whether you're actually hitting the guy you're aiming for. It felt like I was shooting buckshot at something a football field away. The multiplayer character models suck, too. And 2 out of the 3 games I played, I was the pink guy, out of 8 possible colors. That's just not cool.

Red Faction: Guerilla was pretty exciting as a demo, though. It gave off Crackdown vibes in the way the character and camera are controlled, and the destructability of practically every object in the environment could potentially blow the doors of open-world mission-based gameplay. I liked the sledgehammer for breaking stuff, and the sticky remote-detonated mines are awesome. I'll be keeping an eye on this one in the future.


Greg said...

Hey Nas. I got a buddy who just started WOW. He's really loving it and is trying to get me to start. I'm not that interested now but honestly, I probably would have been playing if it came out on consoles.

Square did such an impressive job with FFXI that I'm really skeptical any other MMORPG would be able to match its depth and complexity. As frustrating as it was for me, that is really what draws me to these types of games.

If they ever release a follow-up to FFXI, I'll be there. For now I'm going to try to catch up on my console backlog; an impossible task unless I change my buying habits.

Speaking of which, I picked up Fable 2 for $30 from bestbuy last week. My gf has been playing compulsively ever since and just completed the main story-line yesterday. I watched her play a bit and enjoyed it. There isn't much challenge to the game but it still looks interesting because of the moral choices you can make and how they impact your character's development.

I also nabbed Quantum of Solace (CE) and the Bourne Conspiracy for the 360 for $10 each from bestbuy a few weeks ago. I will buy any marginal game for $10. I even bought Viking: Battle for Asgard (or whatever it is) from for $10, also on the 360.

I've played a bit of the 007 game and am pleasantly surprised. Definitely worth $10 but I wouldn't pay much more than that unless you are planning to spend a lot of time with it on Live for the multiplayer.

Count Elmdor said...

hey hey! Good to hear from you.

It's funny, just tonight Necovia and I were chatting about WoW (he's playing, too, different servers, though), and how there's no way we could ever go back to FFXI now.

The games are totally different, and you know I LOVED me some FFXI, but what really clinches it is how soloable, accessible, and user-friendly WoW is overall. If I'm going to play one of these persistent world, persistent character MMO games, it absolutely has to be something I can do in my limited (these days) playing time.

That said, the way I play WoW and the way I used to play FFXI could not be more different. I'll jump into WoW for 2-3 hours at a time and go off on my own and get some quests and then go do them, and over a week or so (playing mostly on the weekends), I'll work through a zone's worth of content and move on to another zone in the same level range or one in the next level range up.

99.99% of my time in game is spent playing solo, and it just works. I can do pretty much any quest where there are mobs up to about my level+1, and there's no crazy downtime, no harsh penalty for death, no worries. If I die, I'm out a couple of minutes for the corpse run and the equivalent of a chocobo rental in gold for equipment repair costs.

Anyway, I don't mean to evangelize the game or anything, and I certainly miss FFXI (mostly you guys in the LS), but I couldn't go back if I wanted to.

There are a few things I would bring over into WoW if I could, and chief among them are music, cutscenes (WoW has practically zero, which kind of kills my caring about why I need to collect X widgets), and the hand-designed feel that every zone in FFXI had.

The zones in WoW are huge, but they're also lacking in personality. They feel more like a copy/pasted tileset sometimes, big empty spaces, where in FFXI a lot of places felt really really well designed.

But by the way, SE is planning another MMO, so far codenamed Avalon, IIRC, and I'll definitely be paying attention to it to see if they've learned anything from FFXI and the success of WoW and other things like EVE Online and all those crazy free Korean model MMOs that are springing up.

Take it easy!