Thursday, May 28, 2009


I took a trip this past week for Memorial Day weekend, so I did a lot of gaming on the go and with friends.

Before leaving, though, I played Far Cry 2 for another evening, at one point infiltrating a marina mercenary base and blowing up their fuel supply for one of my buddies.  I think I'm going to parcel this game out over several months or years like I have Oblivion and likely will Fallout 3, as well.  Speaking of Oblivion, I'm planning to pop that in just this evening after writing up this post and having dinner.

Arriving at some friends' house for a barbecue, the outdoor munching and conversation shifted indoors as the sun went down and the mosquitoes came out.  In a gathering full of moderate to hardcore gamers, it's no wonder Left 4 Dead on the 360 on my friend's 47" TV was a big hit.  My friend's wife (he prefers to watch) and I played through the No Mercy campaign right up to the end, and she (Louis) and I (Bill) were the only two to make it onto the helicopter to escape.  The game plays very well on the 360, but the limit of 2-player only for splitscreen kind of sucks for what is meant to be a 4-player experience.

Everything else I played over the past week has been portable.  I worked a little further into the fourth trial (Miles Edgeworth as the defendant) in the first Ace Attorney game on a couple of plane rides, and started Galaxy On Fire on my iPhone, and played completely through Underworlds, also on said device.  There's no denying the iPhone as a powerful platform for gaming at this point.

Galaxy On Fire is a fully 3D mission-based space flight game, a la Colony Wars, albeit suitably simplified for the platform.  I have to go against my usual stance here and recommend tilt controls over the digital analog (not an oxymoron) stick.  Touch-sensitive Dpads/sticks just do not work very well for me at all.  I can sort of hack it in iDracula just by sliding around in a circle, but here it's too imprecise and you end up obscuring too much of the screen.  Thankfully, the tilt controls work pretty well in GOF, and you can enable autofire on your ship's cannons just by double-tapping the fire button.  The game features a familar mission progression and seems to later enable free roaming in the galaxy and all the cargo trading you'd expect in a space game.  I'm looking forward to playing more.  This was a pretty awesome value for $3.

I believe I have written on this blog that I would be all over a Diablo-alike for the iPhone, and true to my word, I was all over Underworlds for a couple of days, playing right through it (about 3 hours) and starting another run immediately thereafter.  It's basically Diablo shoehorned onto the iPhone.  It's definitely not as polished or eminently replayable as Diablo, and it kind of runs like shit, but there is enough there to make for a pretty addictive mobile dungeon hack.  I'll outline a list of wishes for the next update or sequel:

  • It needs to run better, with less stuttering in the frame rate.
  • Touch controls need to be more sensitive and precise.
  • There needs to be more than one real character class (the melee-centric warrior).
  • Gear changes should be reflected on the character model, ideally.
  • The level cap (10) needs to be done away with to encourage replays on higher difficulty settings.
  • There needs to be a better shopkeeper interface for choosing which loot to buy/sell.
  • There was music, but I barely noticed it.

I fear this reads like I hated the game, but that's really not the case at all.  I really enjoyed it, and have spent more time with it than any other iPhone game with the possible exception of Galcon.  Underworlds is a really solid foundation for an excellent Diablo clone, and for $1, it's practically an obligatory purchase. 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

All Quiet On The Digital Front

There has not been much at all to report over the past week.  

I played some WoW, getting up to level 52 on my warrior, and starting to move into the last couple of tiers of zones in the "old world."  I want to explore every zone here before I venture into Outland and other Burning Crusade content.  I should probably work on hitting 60 and getting my epic mount to speed that process along.

I've spent a few more hours exploring and merc'ing around war-torn Africa in Far Cry 2.  This is a game that is beautiful in it's simplicity.  It's an open-world mission-based FPS, like a cross between Oblivion, GTA, and some shooter.  Most of the missions are of a pretty similar cutout, but roving around taking guys out and looking for hidden diamonds just doesn't seem to get old.

I finished the adventure mode of Peggle Deluxe this week, and started into Peggle Nights.  Great games, as everyone knows.  I also finished the third trial in the first Phoenix Wright, and got started on the fourth.  I'm saving this for my trip to Arkansas, along with some iPhone games and demos I picked up, too.  I've got a bunch of old games and systems there, too, though.  Maybe I'll hit up the retro while I'm home.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


It's been a pretty light week in terms of gaming. That's probably because I cranked through the final 10 episodes of Battlestar Galactica and then went to see Star Trek on top of that.

I finished up the second trial in the first Phoenix Wright game, and I'm into the second investigation phase of the third trial, Turnabout Samurai. I didn't think I'd like this game as much as I do, but it's got a lot of character.

I got some more into Far Cry 2 one night, doing another weapon convoy mission and an assassination, as well as roaming around the countryside unlocking more safehouses and causing a ruckus. My next mission is another buddy mission for Quarbani Singh. Still loving it.

And of course, I spent a lot of time playing WoW, mostly running around The Hinterlands knocking out quests and earning a lot more gold now that I've given up blacksmithing and have gotten my skinning up and running. I finally decided (at level 49, lol) to see what glyphs are all about, and picked up a few of them to make a few of my abilities more useful. I also jumped into a Warsong Gulch match last night, which is a CTF scenario, whereas Arathi Basin is more of a control point game. It was pretty fun. PvP is a whole other game than PvE, and battle tactics are drastically different. Thankfully, my spec is actually probably better suited to PvP, though it is more than effective enough at PvE, obviously. I focus on demobilization and burst damage, because one way or another, PvP fights tend to end quickly.

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.