Monday, July 30, 2007

Hi All!

Sorry I haven't been able to post lately, I've been consumed trying to keep up with school, moving, and maintaining a blog about my life as a game designer (Adventures in Game Design, the link is over on the right as well).

I hope you are all doing well, playing many more games than I have been lately. I think I've played the games I got for my birthday for roughly 6 hours (my birthday was well over a week ago, FYI). I'll try to post whenever I get the chance to play a game or read something cool about industry goings on. Later!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Blue Dragon? Meh.

Well, E3 Lite is underway, and we are beginning to be bombarded with trailers and (somewhat surprisingly) demos. Blue Dragon so happens to be one of these aforementioned demos. Blue Dragon also happens to be high on the watch list of yours truly, so I was eager to give the demo a go. Would the demo pump me up and get me all riled up over the impending release next month?

Actually, not so much. Honestly, I was a little under-whelmed by the demo. Maybe it's because you are over-level in the demo to give you a glimpse of more skills, but I was literally plowing through the run of the mill enemies. The mini-bosses were a little bit more challenging, but only because they get to attack so often (generally every other action was the boss's action). This disparity in difficulty was somewhat frustrating, since it made to area bosses seem almost impossible by comparison. I suppose this could be the desired effect, but I'm uncertain.

The thing that really drove me nuts was the "slowdown." I put that in quotes because I don't think it has anything to do with the framerate; I think they may have just gone nuts with the slo-mo effect. They've gone so crazy with it, it was a detrimental effect on the game: the battles feel like they lag. Believe me, it's not a pleasant effect.

To be honest, before I played the demo, this game was number two on my 360 wish list: behind Lost Odyssey and Mass Effect. However, with the mediocre nature of the Blue Dragon demo, and factoring in how much I enjoyed the Eternal Sonata demo, I am now officially more excited about Eternal Sonata, since I'm sure you are interested.

And since I brought up Mass Effect and Lost Odyssey, if you haven't taken a gander at the E3 trailers released today, I'd recommend it. I had a major nerdgasm hearing Keith David in Mass Effect. Is there anything that he does not make awesome with his presence? I think not. Also, I could probably make an entire post solely on the Lost Odyssey trailer, but I'll leave it at this: wow. How awesome is this storyline: an immortal soldier with no memory of any of his past exploits must search for clues of his past to stop the planet from being poisoned. Genius!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Uberpost

I was debating whether or not to break this up into two normal-sized posts, or to throw it all together as one massive uberpost. I've chosen to go with the latter. Lucky you!

is very good. The story is strongly (repeat, very strongly) influenced by Harry Potter. For example, the headmaster's name is Gammel Dore. Yeah, they're really subtle. The premise is that you area new student in a magical academy, and in your first five days all hell breaks loose. At the end of the 5th day you're zapped back through time to your first night. Fortunately, when you restart, you'll still have all your grimoires and you'll remember how to use them.

I'm a big fan of the sorcery tree. I tend to get pretty excited about the ability to control massive dragons who will obey my every command. Well, they'll obey every command as long as all my commands are "attack." That works though, since that's the only command I can give 'em. I'm also a big fan of Grimalkin, and not just because they're cats who walk around and cast magic. Actually, no. That is why I'm a big fan. Mana burn is my favorite spell in the game, by a very wide margin. When a spell can evoke a one-shot kill on half of the units in the game, and can be cast three times in a row without recharging, it's worth researching.

On the other hand, Glamour sucks. It's not really surprising, since it's called Glamour for God's sake! Fairy's are a waste on mana in pretty much any level past the tutorials, and Unicorns are definitely the weakest of the 150-cost units. Their strongest unit can't even attack without building bullets!

I could go on and on about this, and that's because I'm enjoying the game so much. It seems to be pretty short, so I'm trying to savor it. I limit myself to a couple of battles per day at most. If you feel an itch to play a PS2 RTS sometime, give GrimGrimoire a look-see.

Guitar Hero II
Man, was I late to this party or what? I like to think that I'm "fashionably late." I finally decided to pick up Guitar Hero II for the 360 last weekend, and I'm not as terrible as I thought I'd be. In fact, I managed to finish Career mode on Medium. Go me! However, looking at the song lists for the first two games and Rocks the 80's, and looking ahead at the announced lists for Part III, and Rock Band, I see some glaring omissions from the track lists. I am so adamant about his, in fact, that I've decided to make an impromptu Top Ten List.

Actually, it's not a "Top Ten List," since this isn't ranked. We'll just call it:

Ten Artists/Songs that Should be in Guitar Hero III/Rock Band:

1. Van Halen "Hot for Teacher" - Come on guys! You've had three attempts to put this in a game, and you've failed. Don't disappoint me again.

2. Mudvayne "Dig" - I'd settle for almost any Mudvayne song, but could you imagine "Dig" in Rock Band? I've got dibs on not doing the vocals.

3. Metallica "Call of Ktulu" - I know that Activision is trying to get Metallica tracks on GH III, and I know that they love throwing in the all-instrumental tracks. Here's hoping this ends up in there.

4. Megadeth "Killing is My Business..." - We know there's not a problem with getting license to use Megadeth's songs in these games, so why not use one of the songs that put them on the map?

5. Killswitch Engage "Daylight Dies" - I will pray for any KSE song in Rock Band. Pretty please!?

6. Chuck Berry "Johnny B. Goode" - This song seriously isn't in either of the first two GH games? Really? Wow.

7. Queen "Bohemian Rhapsody" - Can you say "Rock Band?" Yes? Good.

8. The Doobie Brothers "China Grove" - I'm running out of things to say about these songs.

9. Pantera "Walk" - Is there a more memorable riff in the history of heavy metal?

10. CKY "Sniped" - I just listed "Sniped" to put something there. Any CKY song would be great.

11. BONUS - Hawthorne Heights "Ohio is For Lovers" - Just so we can see if emo kids can play Guitar Hero and cut themselves simultaneously.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Red Ring

Oh, Microsoft, responsibility is important and you've stepped up. I won't even begin to argue that makes everything okay, but it certainly is an improvement. What they really need to do is set up an exchange policy with a retailer. It isn't ideal, but if for a month they had a presence at a number of stores around the country, letting people get a new or refurbished replacement for free, then they'd get some real good press. It'll never happen, but that'd please all the people annoyed right now and send a nice message to the gaming press that they actually want to please gamers, not just beat Sony.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

GBA Swan Songs?

Maybe Sidious is right and maybe I just ignored the GBA in favor of my PSP or consoles, but last year Atlus released a bunch of extremely good games for the little handheld. A card based strategy RPG? Check. (Yggdra Union) A strategy RPG space opera with giant fighting anime robots? Check. (Super Robot Taisen 2) A quirky, fun, action RPG? Check. (Summon Night: Swordcraft Story 2) I mean come on!

I have had the good fortune to play Yggdra Union for about 10 hours now (having only picked it up about 3 days ago) and it is just a fantastic take on the strategy RPG genre, with an interesting story (so far) to boot. I also picked up Super Robot Taisen 2 and have ordered its predecessor as I have been informed it is basically necessary to understand the storyline, but, as always: Anime robots? Count me in.

At $20 a pop these are great values, and I would even go so far to say just outright better than some of the newer console releases. If you've still got a GBA sitting around or have moved on to the unholy, demon-forged DS, definitely take a look at these titles, they are well worth it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

From the "Dog Bites Man" Files

If there was any doubt that this generation of the console wars is going a bit differently then those of the past, check this out:
Nintendo briefly zipped past Sony in market capitalisation on Monday to become one of Japan's ten most valuable companies as it elbows the PlayStation maker out of its decade-long dominance of the game industry.
Now, lest all of the Playstation 3 haters jump on and declare victory for their motion-sensing miracle, it appears that the market decided that something just wasn't quite right with that picture.
Nintendo joined global household names such as Toyota, Honda and Canon on the top-ten list before its shares erased earlier gains and ended the day lower. (Emphasis Added)
Me: Obviously I still think its too early to declare a winner for this generation, but there is no doubt that Sony is reeling. I mean, for god's sake, the company makes TV's and computers in addition to their "toys" and yet is getting it handed to them by the home of the plumber and the green-clad elf. Still, lets hold on for a bit before we declare mighty Sony down for the count.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Oh, snap!

I was perusing Next-gen's preview of Haze, when I happened upon this quote:

And Yescombe sees it as a responsibility for the gaming industry to deal with more mature, and even realistic, subject matter: “It’s about what’s happening in the world today – it’s ludicrous, and how can you make something that doesn’t reflect that? Well, you could bury your head in the sand and make Halo 3, but the fact of the matter is there are more important things at stake.” As well as this bigger picture, your own mortality, obedience and control are explored, and to Yescombe it’s clear that the demands made by games are necessarily changing, “because while Halo is brilliant, you’re a teenager – the next gen is about becoming more mature: in Haze you become an adult.”

Damn! I mean...damn! In your face Bungie! Free Radical just served your ass!

What has Society come to?

The game Society looks like it could be a winner. Of course it won't be a winner for at least one more year, but I can accept that. Some of the screens really have an ambiance to them, the way Resident Evil 4 did, but without the creepy factor.

The news on the game is short, but after the weird turn the new SimCity is taking, going more arcardey on us, Society may be a truly welcome addition. Not that it is trying to be SimCity in any way, maybe more Civilization, but with that whole MMO thing added on. The idea of a game taking a full year to play sounds both impressive, daunting, and wholly addicting. I Nicorrette can come out with a patch for that, cause I'm still going to have bill to pay after this game comes out. (and hopefully a job to lose...)