Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Take My Hand

Since last writing here, I righted a longstanding wrong in my gaming experience. Back in 2001, I bought Ico just as it came out, but for whatever reason I never got around to finishing it. I'm not even certain how far into it I got, but if I stopped where I think I did, I was only 30 minutes or from the end.

I started Ico this Saturday, and after three or four sessions, finished it tonight with a time of about 6 hours into it. What a beautiful game. The castle the game is set in is remarkably consistent and well realized. If you see a big building, you can go into it, and just about any feature you see in the game, you will traverse at one point or another. Every time you "zone" onto a new screen, you are right where you ought to be; there are no awkward transitions between one area and the next. It feels like a real environment you could actually walk around in. It's gorgeous, too, and solemn and majestic.

The only things that slightly break the illusion are elaborate puzzles and constructions in each area, but what can you do? Ico is just about the perfect environment navigation puzzle game. I can't really think of one better. I appreciate the lesser focus on combat in Ico as compared with Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. Maybe I should try the newest Prince of Persia game sometime.

I wonder at the connections between Shadow of the Colossus and Ico. SotC is apparently a prequel to the latter, and seems to show the origin of the horned boy phenomenon. Both games share an evil, black, misty antagonist, and of course both games share a similar architecture. Maybe The Last Guardian will elaborate some, in its way, on this mysterious world.

Elsewise, I probably put 10 hours into Red Faction: Guerilla over the last week. It's a blast. I've done a crapload of Guerilla Actions to this point, and am working on liberating Badlands and Oasis. The weapons in this game are awesome, especially the Nano Rifle, which shoots a bullet of something like anti-matter that just disintegrates a big chunk of whatever it hits. It's great for say, taking out struts and buttresses of a big bridge over a wide chasm as an armed convoy rolls across it.

I still have yet to try Red Faction's multiplayer, but the single player is doing more than enough to keep me entertained for the time being. This is easily the most purely fun game I've played since Crackdown.

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