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. 


Greg said...

Nas. My gaming potential has changed in the last week!

I've never been a pc (or mac) gamer and I've never owned a Mac. Things have changed.

My gf and I were badly in need of a new computer and after spending a little time in our local Apple store playing with the Macbooks, we decided to go fairly big and purchase a 15" Macbook Pro with 4 GB ram. It was a lot of money considering you can probably get the same thing in the pc format for 1/2 the price but I think we were both ready for a new OS with user friendly applications.

So, now I've got myself a pretty decent gaming laptop, certainly more capable than any computer I've ever owned relative to the current tech. In addition, two days after we bought the macbook pro, Apple launched a promotional deal where students/educators can get a free ipod touch when they purchase a computer. We asked Apple if we could get in on it and they said no problem since we were within the 14-day return period.

We picked it up today and it is a pretty slick little machine. Pretty much looks like the iphone to me sans the phone capabilities.

Now I am tempted to pick up WOW for the mac and get in on some of these igames you've been blogging about. I am also interested in learning how vid capture my console gaming to play around with the video editing program. It looks like I will need to spend at least $100 extra just to get the equipment to do it. This is more than I would like to spend but I don't see a cheaper alternative.

On the 360, I have been taking my time with Fable II. I've still got my eye out for platinum hits priced GTAIV and Deadspace.

I have spent a little time with Punch-Out Wii, which is a really nice update. It's not that often that a worthwhile game comes out for the Wii. The one bad thing about this title is that it really hasn't added much to the NES/SNES versions. There's a few new fighters and a title defense mode that mixes things up.

On the PS3, inFamous is looking like a definite must have.

By the way, you should check out Sacred 2: Fallen Angel on the consoles. It is being received really well as a dungeon hack/slash with a massive world.

Count Elmdor said...

Hey, congrats on your new purchases!

Mac gaming is pretty limited, but there's a lot of gameplay to be had just between Blizzard's titles. Some people dual-boot their Macs into Windows for gaming, but that means buying a copy of Windows.

But yeah, the iPhone/touch is great. There are a crapload of games already available for it, and more coming all the time. They're not super hardcore or anything, but a lot of them are pretty fun here and there. Search around and you can find a few sites dedicated to iphone/touch games.

Sacred 2 does look cool, but if I pick up anything new anytime soon, it'll be Red Faction: Guerilla. That demo totally sold me.

What do think of MS's E3 announcements? Personally, I can't wait to learn more about the new Metal Gear game and Crackdown 2, not to mention the Halos.

Greg said...

Honestly, I'm worried about what the future will hold for the core gamers. Project Natal is really interesting in terms of the technology but I can see it stealing valuable developer talent from the kinds of games that traditional video gamers enjoy the most. They are taking aim at Nintendo with a clear intention to cash in on the casual gaming market. Xbox has definitely one-upped the big N and now unforunately, I suspect we need to brace ourselves for the biggest wave of shovel-ware yet.

On the plus side, the fact that Natal will work with all existing 360's suggests that Microsoft may be planning to extend the life-cycle of this generation of hardware a bit.

As for the games:

I am a little surprised to see Epic coming up with a retro-looking side-scroller but it could be cool.

Alan Wake: Nice looking atmospheric horror/suspense type game. This one definitely has me interested.

Halos: Looked like top notch production quality but very uninspired. I'm not all that excited but I'm sure I'll be hitting the Halo crack pipe like the rest of the 360 owners. If nothing else, there should be a worthwhile online experience.

MGS Raiden: I thought it was interesting to hear the semi-enthusiastic response of the audience when it was revealed that the next game will have to do with Raiden. I really know nothing of the series except that a lot of MGS fans have a strong distaste for that character. I am looking forward to it though since Kojima makes a great product.

FFXIII: Not sure if I should go with the PS3 version here.

Crackdown 2: Never played the first and haven't really been drawn to this series.

I am curious to see what the PS3 has to offer. I wonder if their approach will be to go for the casual market or stay focused on the core.

Count Elmdor said...

Raiden wasn't liked very much after his debut in MGS2, but MGS4 pretty much totally redeemed him and made the character pretty cool in many people's eyes. MGS is probably the ultimate series when it comes to lore. It's to the point now where if you haven't played all the rest, you're not likely to get much out of any one, with MGS3 (a prequel) excepted.

And Crackdown rules, man. It's under $15 a lot of places now. You should definitely check it out. One of the most purely fun games I've played this whole generation.

FFXIII does nothing for me, really. It seems to take after 8 and 10 the most, which are probably my least favorite games of the series. I wish it was more like 12.

Greg said...

FFXIV announced for 2010 release!!!

More thoughts on E3:

I was initially impressed with Sony's motion controller because it appeared to be very precise. Then I saw Nintendo's conference which would lead one to believe they basically achieved the same level of control by adding an adapter to the Wii-mote.

I don't know how you feel but I am not all that excited about motion controls for most games. There are some exceptions but most of the really interesting games will be better with conventional control schemes.

Count Elmdor said...

I'm there for FF XIV. At least for a few months to try it out.

Motion controls don't do much at all for me, either. Maybe the right game just hasn't come along yet, but for the moment I'm ok with ignoring them for the most part and continuing with the conventional input methods.

That said, I'm looking forward to Metroid Prime Trilogy, because aside from being a wicked deal, Prime 1 and 2 are being updated with widescreen and Prime 3's motion control, which most people agree was really good.

I feel like this E3 has been just packed to the gills with awesome games that I want to play, across pretty much all systems, too.