12Dec 07I have cancelled my subscription to Gamespot of 4 years to protest the firing of Jeff Gerstmann over his panning of Kane and Lynch, due to advertiser pressure. I urge anyone who cherishes advertiser/content separation and journalistic integrity to do the same.
Portal. Bundled with the outrageously reasonably priced Orange Box from Valve, this game has gone wildly viral on all of the Internets, for good reason. Think of all the games that have been released this year, and then know that Portal is the most original of them all. It is fairly short, but it is a stunning game. Brilliant in execution, with a really great sense of humour that sees you through right to the spectacular ending.
In a word, this game has character. So go get it.
Best Buy is the worst. Super Mario Galaxy is the second game I've pre-ordered from them, where when the release date rolled around, suddenly the pre-ordered is back ordered.
How is this possible? I pre-ordered the game in July, and now it's out of stock? I'm just going out on a limb here, but isn't the purpose of a pre-order to order the game ahead of time so the company knows how many to purchase? How the hell can a pre-order be back ordered?
Twice bitten, once now never, ever ordering anything from Best Buy online again.
I'm having a lot of fun with Mario Party 8 for the Wii. There's a metric buttload of mini-games, the majority of which are very clever and a lot of fun to play. The boards are well-designed, with quite a lot of strategery involved and plenty of room for back-stabbing opponents. There are a lot of cool tradeable extras involved too, although the extra mini-games like bowling and moped racing have been a bit of snore so far.
It's best with human players, but I find the game plays surprisingly well in single-player, with the A.I. doing fairly well for itself.
A great addition to the Wii library!
20Jan 07Having got a taste of how golfing would work on the Wii with the woefully limited golf game that is included with Wii Sports, I was thirsting for more.
Well, Super Swing Golf certainly ups the ante, with a full-featured golf game that comes wrapped in a hilariously Japanesey komono. It had plenty of courses, use of a full range of clubs, lots of different shot types and a literal metric tonne of options, upgrades, equipment, ect ect ect.
The golf game mechanics are great, and I myself love the over-the-top anime style, although YMMV. But, prior to the upcoming release of the Tiger Woods PGA golf game for the Wii, this is the only game in town.
27Nov 06Trauma Center: Second Opinion was a wonderful pick-up when I got the Wii. There was Zelda and Rayman and all that available, but, like the console, I wanted something different.
TC is certainly that. It is a series of limited animation, anime style cut scenes with operations scattered throughout. The plotline is your typical anime ridiculousness, but still fun to watch as your protagonist, young Dr. Stiles, progresses through his career. And the operation sequences have a nice difficulty progression, allowing you to get command of the controls and the arsenal of surgical tools at your disposal.
It's a fun, different game that will have you slicing and diceing like a pro in no time.
21Nov 06It was a literal stroke of genius for Nintendo to include this game with the Wii. It's a total system-seller, and perfectly shows off just what's so different and new and great about the console.
It's truly amazing how well-defined the motion sensing is: for instance, in Tennis if you stand right and aim at the part of the court you want to hit the ball (large wide-screen TV helps here) and follow through, you'll be much more sucessful at putting the ball where you want it than if you just sit on the couch, making desultory flicks of your wrist. Longer strokes result in soft lobs, while strong down-cutting strokes put the ball down sharply on the court.
So far, everything has gone just right with the Wii. It's a sight for sore eyes.
20Nov 06Picked up my Wii early Sunday morning. I was 230th out of 300 units available at the Best Buy near me. In contrast to the chaotic madness of the PS3 launch, things went pretty smoothly until some BB blockhead herded us to the wrong entrance. Then, at 8am when they opened, they told us we'd be going in the front entrance so of course we charged the doors and all semblence of numerical order went south.
Got it though, and I gotta say the Wii is a blast. The controls are nicely responsive, and everything about the console seems cleverly designed, elegant, and a lot of fun. It's worth the price for the bundled Wii Sports along, it's a hoot alone or, even better, four friends.
This is the first console I've been interested in purchasing for 25 years, and I'm Wiily loving it!
18Oct 06It's true that I was a computer gamer long before, but Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon, released in 1990, certainly helped cement my love for everything gaming can provide on that platform. This kind of description is bandied about a lot these days, but it was truly one of those games there you sit down at the computer after dinner, and litterally the next thing you know dawn is breaking through the window and you're practicing your sick voice to call in to work to beg off.
I've only had a couple of hours on Sid's remake of his classic, but I'm loving everything I see. Streamlined is a word PC gamers these days equate to "dumbing down", but Sid Meier has a great knack for weeding out the chaff of his previous classics, and keeping the fun up front. Railroads! is no exception, where the annoyances of track laying have been done away with, keeping focus more on the strategy of railroad building instead of tiresome minutae. There's been some negative feedback that the maps you play in have been reduced in size, but honestly: back in 1990 I had lots of free time to build a railway empire across 2/3 of the US. These days such marathon game sessions invite a rolling pin across the base of the skull.
The end result is a great update, much in the mold of his remake of Pirates!. Alll aboooooaa... no, I won't say it!
12Oct 06Microsoft's Flight Simulator X continues the series' long, august tradition of pushing the envolope of PC hardware. Even though I recently upgraded my rig to take on this bad boy, there still needs to be a lot of tweaking done to get things to a reasonable frame rate, expecially when flying low over heavily populated areas.
The good new is, as per usual the massive fan community for FS is busy riding to the rescue with a large number of undocumented lines in the .ini that make a huge difference. My advice is to fly over to the two big fan websites and peruse their forums, your FPS will love you.
And fly the vidcard friendly skies.
23Feb 05Downloaded the SWAT4 sp demo this morning, not enough time before work to play it, though.
I seriously feel like booking off work early to go home and get some time on it. Probably not a good idea, though, since I've recently been taking off work early to see the chiropractor. Stupid neck!
Can't wait for this game. Can't wait!
27Jan 05Oh no! I started up Morrowind again!
Some games come and go, some are considered classics and are a lot of fun to play, but do they become obsessions?
Morrowind does. Expecially with the hundreds of user-created mods out there, everything from improving the graphics to creating entire new sections of the game to play. There is just never a loss of things to do, and the permutations of characters you can have are nothing short of dazzling.
Maybe Oblivion comes out this year.
6Jan 05The funniest thing just happened in T3. I broke into a house, just a random B&E mind you, I was actually on my way to the mission in the clock tower and decided to take a side excursion. So I'm wandering through the rooms and find a note alerting me that the owner of the house had ripped off some guys, and in his fear of reprisal had hidden his share of the gems in the square under that nasty looking gargoyle. Great, I thought, I'll have to relieve him of his burden sometime.
So I make my way back downstairs and lo and behold, there the owner of the house was being accosted by the guys he had lifted the gems from. After some threats thrown around, a fight breaks out, which has passers-by screaming bloody murder which alerts some nearby guards. Some how I become embroiled in this conflict, and for the next 10 minutes I'm running around the place trying to avoid the gang while my speakers echo with the screams of people being killed in the melee, with more innocents getting caught up in things and more hapless guards wading into the mess. I lay low for awhile out on the ledge of the house, and then sneak back downstairs. Littering the ground floor are numerous bodies of gang members, innocent victims laid down with valuables, and many, many recently slain guards. It made for a great , impromptu bit of chaos in the game, mostly generated on the fly.
And only 1/4 of the victims were mine, for a change.
4Jan 05Well, I'm back into Thief III. I played for awhile when I picked it up last year, and was very much enjoying myself. Then, of course, more games come down the pike and ones before get waylaid.
T3 is great, I love the feel of it, and the bump-mapped graphics are great even though the character animations are a little stiff. The game drips atmosphere, main protagonist Garrett is in fine form, and the story quite compelling. Only one thing really niggles me, that being the rather claustrophobic level design. Previous Thief games had sprawling levels deliberately designed to have you crawling about in a completely thief-like manner. This new version usually doesn't provide much more than a quick jaunt around a few rooms and hallways before you're loading new sections. This really reduces the former spread-out feeling of a real City to that of a smallish neighbourhood, which definitely detracts from the fun.
But all told, the new abilities granted to Garrett, along with the wonderfully dark atmosphere of the game, has it stealing my time away from me and keeps me coming back for more.
12Nov 04Update #1 for RCT3 has fixed some of the problems with the retail release, but has introduced a few new ones of it's own and not addressed some ot the originals. Peeps now move around your park correctly and will queue for rides, but now there's a problem with staff becoming inexplicably "lost" if they leave their patrol route for any reason. This is a major problem for mechanics, who often get called off thier route to fix broken rides. The workaround for this is to not assign them routes and let them wander, although this is not efficient and increases the amount of breakdowns for rides. Other issues also remain, such as random CTDs and staff becoming quickly disgruntled and quitting en mass.
Hopefully Atari gets another update out the door quick, this game is rapidly becoming the best game you can never play.
2Nov 04This just in: Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 Blows.
And it's a shame too, because there really is a fantastic, dramatic improvement to the RCT formula here. With a quick, solid patch, you'd have GOTY material.
But as it stands now, it's nigh unplayable. The graphics? Great. The item selection? Great. The interface? Great. The play mechanics? Totally bunged. The peep (the little people who both populate and maintain your parks) A.I. is completely broke, making it impossible to build and run a successful park. Peeps will stay on the main paths and hardly populate any branches you make off them. They bunch up there and ignore the rest or your park. Ride queues will fill up when you build them, but soon they break and no one will enter unless you keep rebuilding the queue or exit and reload the game. And workers assignment areas will disappear if you pause or reload the game.
So, in a nutshell, wait for the patch, which designer David Braben has announced will be released this Wednesday. Then we'll see how much of this buggy mess can be salvaged.
3Oct 04Evil Genius is your typical Elixir game. It starts off a bit slow, even a bit impenetrable at times, but soon blossoms into an incredibly deep, fun and straightforward game. It's pretty interesting, it's not often that the actual design of a game becomes apparent as you play, that what the creators were thinking as they put it together becomes clear to the gamer. You definitely can't fault the game for style, it has that in spades. And I have to say, Evil Genius has some of the best PC game music I've ever heard. All of the tunes play off the various Bond themes and incidental music you hear from that movie series, with their own tilted, exaggerated slant on it. Great stuff, and a very fun game that greatly rewards the time taken to understand what it's doing.