Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gaming update

On the gaming front. I've been alternating between, MW2, Assassin's Creed II and The God of War Collection.
Man, I love these GoW games.  I just finished playing through the first one yesterday (looks great in HD) and will be starting part 2 soon.  I played through each one multiple times on the PS2, but I am having just as good a time playing them again.  I'm especially excited about seeing part 2 in HD, because it was by far the most impressive looking PS2 game I ever played.  I wish Sony would release a collection of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus like this.
I also got to download the GoW III demo.  I had already seen this demo first hand at PAX this year, but never go to play it (there was a loooong line).  The visuals for the demo are fantastic, and you can really see the jump in quality after trying the demo on the heels of playing through the original game.  The GoW series has always done a great job of showing scale and making the player feel very, very small next to some awesomely large vistas and sights, and I cannot wait to see what's in store for this new game, now that the developer has the PS3's capabilities to work with.
Assassin's Creed II is still amazing, although my playing sessions are a lot shorter now.  That weekend when I got sucked in I was playing for huge chunks of time, but I can not play for about an hour or so and move on to something else.
In non-game related news, after having the final two discs of Battlestar Galactica in my possession for about 3 months (seriously), I finally finished the season and returned the discs to Netflix.
Holy Crap how could it have taken me so long!!!!  What a way to end the season!  I can't wait until I get season 2!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Assassin's Creed II impressions . . .

I enjoyed the original Assassin's Creed.  It was a severely flawed game, but the core engine and game mechanics were refreshing and new.  I always had the impression that the developer spent so much time getting the building blocks in place that they just didn't have time to iron out the actual gameplay and story.  So you had a nice playground to play in, but there weren't too many interesting things to do.
Hopefully the sequel remedies that right?  Afterall, the groundwork is already done.
I was reluctant to pick up ACII.  It would be cutting into my MW2 time.  But I caved and got it on release day.
Much like with Gears of War 2, I hated it the second I started playing.  The entire first hour or so is dreadfully boring and uneventful.  I didn't even think the game looked impressive graphically.  It was bland and lifeless and I stopped playing wondering how Ubisoft could drop the ball on a game with such promise.
The game certainly takes a while to get going.  You don't even get a weapon until about 2 hours in (I spent some time exploring and finding treasure chests, so your results may vary).  You also start out as a carefree young man, not involved in anyway in the entire Assassins vs. Templars war that is going on behind the scenes.  Your first few tasks are mundane and seemingly unimportant; delivering some letters for your dad, beating up a cheating boyfriend for your sister, walking with your mom to pick up a package.
But all this exposition and "bonding" with your family serves a purpose.  One that the first game could have definitely used.  When the "shit hits the fan", and you are forced into this world of conspiracy, Assassins, and Templars, it is very personal and you really do want revenge.  I barely knew why I was taking guys out in the first game.  Sure there was a reason, but it was mostly because I was told to do so.  The targets meant nothing to me on a personal level.  Now, in ACII, every assassination is all the more sweet because I am much more invested in the reasons for them.
Once the game gets going, it it can be overwhelming.  There are so many different things to do.  You have your main story missions, sure, but there are countless side missions.  Beat-up events and races.  Viewpoints to reach.  Hidden chests to loot.  Feathers to collect (and even these are tied to the story).  There are Assassin's Tombs to find and clear (these are a blast).  There's the "truth" to seek out by finding hidden glyphs on the sides of selected buildings and solving their puzzles (which are unique and intriguing).  There are codex pages to locate and add to your collection so that you may reveal to bigger puzzle.  There are pick-pocketers and theives to chase down.  And then there's a a whole economic system at play.  Weapons and armor to purchase.  Different outfits and larger pouches to increase your capacity for things such as medicine.  You can upgrade your uncle's Estate, by repairing the worn and torn town to increase its appeal and bring in business, thus increasing your own wealth (money collected by the town is deposited into a chest in your villa that you can collect).
This game is riduculously large.
So far, about 5 - 6 hours in, I am still learning countless new moves or acquiring new techniques and weapons.  I still haven't seen (or even unlocked) all that the game has to offer.
Once you invest some time into it, the rewards far out weight the slow the start.  I went in expecting a better experience than the original and yet I ended up getting a lot more.  ACII is huge, and deep, and a hell of a good time.  Looks like it will be keeping me busy for quite some time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday Notes

- Assassin's Creed 2 comes out today.  I'm not as excited about it as I was the first game.  I might still pick it up since I will be at Best Buy getting Star Trek on bluray, but the anticipation is not there.
While on the subject of AC2, what is up with all these review embargos on big name games lately?  MW2 had a review embargo right up to its release and it looks like the same is true for AC2.  Typically a review embargo means that the developer knows the game is crap and they don't want early reviews up, but I know that's the not the case with these games (at least I hope it is not with AC2).
Reviews don't really affect my purchasing decision, but I just like reading them.  I'm curious to see if they addressed the repetitive mission structure of the first game.  Hope it all feels more organic.
- Been playing MW2 multiplayer (of course) and while I absolutely love it, that love is usually reserved for when I have a decent ping to the game.  This happened all the time in CoD4 too.  Your performance is greatly determined by your current connection to the host.  If I have four little green bars, I am golden.  What I see on the Kill Cam is what I experience during live action and I typically do very well.  If however, I have 3 green bars (I never go below 3), then things get ugly.  I then typically play terrible and the Kill Cam shows something very different from what I saw.  It is all a latency issue, but it can be very frustrating.
In games with 3 green bars, I'll typically finish with a 1 to 1 kill/death ratio.  If that!  In games with four bars, I'm usually 3 to 1 in that department.  That is a HUGE difference.
I hate that my enjoyment of the game depends so much on this.  I hope it is something that Infinity Ward can at least improve in a patch, since I know it can't go away for good.
I don't have a problem with playing poorly, as long as the reason I am sucking is because of my own doing, and not because I have a disadvantage because of latency.  When I have 4 bars and get killed, I know it was my fault, or the other player just beat me.  When I have 3 bars and get killed, something just feels off.  The Kill Cam confirms that both I and the player that killed me did not see the same thing.  It is frustrating.  And annoying.  And at times enough to make me turn the game off in anger.
But when the game is clicking, and the connection does not interfere, there is no better multiplayer game on consoles.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Modern Warfare 2 impressions

With my mysterious internet issues resolved, I've put in some quality
time into MW2 over the last two days. I've dabbled in the
single-player, Special Ops, and of course, multi-player. Impressions.

Solo Campaign:

- Think I am about 75% done with the solo campaign. I'm playing it on
Regular difficulty. I usually do Hardened my first play-through and
then knock out Veteran afterward. But not this time. I went with
Regular for two reasons.

First, some sections on Hardened (not to mention Veteran) have proven
to be quite difficult in previous games (CoD2, CoD4) and they have led
to some frustration. This has lead to the stalling of the progression
and flow of the game, since you end up getting stuck in one particular
section or sections for a while. I didn't want to go through that this
time. At least not my first time through the game. I just wanted to
experience the story straight through and just enjoy the ride. The
agony of Hardened and Veteran can come later.

Second, I wanted to get through the story campaign as fast as possible.
For two reasons. I want to devote my full attention to multi-player.
And two, I don't want any sections or surprises spoiled for me. I
already had the airport level spoiled, so it did not have the kind of
impact it would have had if I would have gone in not knowing anything
about it. CoD4 had PLENTY of amazing moments, so I don't want to have
any of those potential moments spoiled for me.

- So far, I am enjoying the single-player, but I have not been blown
away like I was with CoD4. I really felt like Infinity Ward hit it out
of the park with the original Modern Warfare. It was one of the best
single-player FPS experiences I've had. It was intense, fun, and I
actually cared about the story.

I didn't enjoy WaW because I felt it leeched off MW too much and I'm
experiencing some of that same deja vu here. IW seems to be a victim of
its own success. Granted, if any game should be allowed to feel similar
to MW, it should be Infinity Ward's follow-up. I'm just not being as
blown away from all the set-pieces, because CoD4 already took me on this
roller-coaster ride before. Sure, this coaster has bigger drops, but
I'm a roller-coaster veteran by now.

And I should clarify, my dislike of WaW was the fact that I felt like
Treyach just blatantly rode on MW's coat-tails and didn't bother trying
to make WaW have an identity on its own. Obviously I am not feeling
that with MW2, since IW can copy off itself all it wants.

- Speaking of roller-coasters, it sometimes feels like MW2 is stuck on
giant drops. The game's pace is just relentess. CoD games are
notorious for total chaos, but maybe the formula is wearing thin, or I'm
looking for a change-up every now and then, because I could do with a
few more quiet sections. Some levels do ask for a stealthier approach,
but you know it's only a matter of time before that level explodes into
a giant firefight with hundreds of opponents. Ok, this is just an odd
"complaint" on my part. What will this game be if not one giant
fire-fight? That's what this franchise is built on. To its credit, the
game does try to mix it up. The airport level is unlike anything seen
before. There are some stealthy infiltration missions. I'm just being
pissy because I'm upset I haven't been as impressed with the solo game
as I was with CoD4.

- I'll stop commenting on this now until I actually finish it. I might
just be completely blown away by the end.

- Last note, going back to my first point of not wanting to have the
game's high points spoiled for me, I wish Infinity Ward would have keep
the fact that you will be doing fighting on America soil a secret. It
would have been difficult to keep it under wraps, since it looks like a
good chunk of the game takes place here in the US, but it would have
been a great revelation while playing it for the first time.


- I've played (and 3 starred) all of the Alpha and Bravo Special-Ops
missions. I love this mode. It is a total blast to play with a friend.
That is all.


I've written plenty on CoD4 multiplayer. Not too much more to add,
other than this game keeps all that was good and adds too it. It is too
soon to tell whether everything will work and it will stay completely
balanced, but it looks good so far.

IW does a great job of rewarding players constantly. It seems like you
are always unlocking something, or at least getting bonus points in-game
for doing something. I also like that they changed up the scoring
system a bit. Instead of getting 10 points for a kill in team
deathmatch, you now get 100. It is basically the same, instead of
needing 750 points to win, you need 7500, but seeing a +100 pop up is a
lot more rewarding than seing a +10.

I've leveled up to level 27 so far, so there are still PLENTY of guns,
perks and attachments for me to unlock and check out. Pretty sure I'll
be giving further impressions later.

But so far, multiplayer is just what I expected. The Modern Warfare
online formula is fantastic and MW2 just adds more toys, levels, and
perks to play with.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I mean, OF COURSE there was a problem . . .

Modern Warfare 2. A game I have been looking forward to for over a year
now. Last night was the night. Midnight release. I was ready.
Everything was planned. My buddy OneShotOneKilla (my trusty CoD4
team-death match accomplice) was also getting the game at midnight. We
were going to game for a bit, maybe get a few matches under our belt,
before calling it a night and resting for a long torturous day at work
the following day in which all we'd be doing was wishing we were home

Leading up to midnight I was honing my skills playing matches of CoD4.
I was playing very well in fact. At 11:30pm I decide to make my current
match my last one. Not just for the moment, as I was heading off to get
in line at Best Buy, but really, my last match of CoD4 ever. After all,
I was about to pick up Modern Warfare 2. I end up going 30-4, my best
performance in a really long time. I was riding high. What a way to
end my CoD4 run.

I change my Xbox Live status to "Away", grab my pre-order receipt and I
am out the door. I live 1 block from Best Buy so I'm in line by
11:45pm, with about 40 people in front of me. Midnight comes, the lines
moves fairly fast, and I am back at my apartment and sitting on my couch
just past 12:15am.

"Lets do this Marines . . ."

The game begins to load . . . can't wait . . . huh, I get the "Signed
out of Xbox Live" notification. Maybe there is a day 1 update I think.

Nope, the game continues to load as normal and I get to the main menu.
Strange. Let me just hit the guide button here and connect to Xbox Live

"Cannot connect to Xbox Live"


I select to test the connection. Sure enough, my Xbox cannot connect
to the internet. I go to my computer and launch Safari. Or "attempt"
to I should say. Nada.

Are you fucking kidding me?

I restart my router. Nothing. Restart the modem. Nothing. Restart
both. Fucking nothing!!!

At this point I am convinced that someone is playing a cruel joke on
me. I have not had internet problems for months. Basically since
switching to Comcast almost a YEAR ago! I had been playing CoD4 for
about an hour just before heading out to Best Buy. Everything was
peaches. How the HELL, could my internet just stop working all of a
sudden, the one fracking time I really want it to work?!?! I really am
in disbelief and my blood is boiling.

I just start the single-player campaign. Normally this is what I do to
begin with. I love single-player. I am one of those gamers who does
not want to single-player experience to die. Even though I participated
in the CoD4 multiplayer Beta, and absolutely loved it, when the actual
game came out I devoted most of my time to single player initially. But
not with MW2. I was really, really looking forward to some
team-deathmatch this night. More so than the campaign. Sure, I was
going to get to the single-player eventually, probably today even, but
last night was all about multiplayer. So after starting the solo
campaign and playing through the first 3 missions, I just had to turn it
off. I wasn't enjoying it. And not because it wasn't good. Because I
could tell that it was, but my heart was not into it. I was still
flabbergasted, that my internet was down, now, of all times.

After a whole night's rest, I was still upset when I woke up today.
First thing I did was to check my internet connection. Of course, it
was working just fine. Why wouldn't it fucking be?! It is not like I
was going to be able to play the game! I had to go to work!! Argh!!!!

Anyway, that is my rant. As seems to be the norm, I cannot anticipate
anything too much because it never goes as planned. I am just cursed
that way, I should learn to accept it. Hopefully my internet will be
working when I get home. If not, I'm sure my neighbors down the block
will hear my scream.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Revenge is sweet . . .

I beat Demon's Souls last night.  After that painful defeat at the hands of the final boss, I regrouped, came back, and took him out.  And just for kicks I took out his pet Blue Dragon that was guarding the outside of his castle burning everything in sight.  Take that you bastard!  Ha!
Man, what a great game.  After completion I immediately started playing again.  The game lets you start over, keeping all your stats, souls and equipment from your first run through (you lose the main quest items, such as keys, etc.).  It isn't a walk in the park the second time though, since all enemies are now more powerful.
I highly recommend this game to those of you with patience, who enjoy a really well designed game that likes to think outside the box and tries things that go against the norm.
So far this game is neck and neck with Batman: Arkham Asylum for Game of the Year.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Weekend gaming notes

Played some co-op Uncharted 2 with Gabe on Saturday.  It was fun.  Harder than I thought too.  Enemies attack you from all sides and it can get pretty hectic.  Man, I hate those annoying "assassin" enemies which grab you in a choke hold and you are defenseless unless your buddy rescues you.  It seems kinda cheap that you can't melee those guys before they grab you.  If they grab you from behind, that's fine, but if they are charging at you from the front I should be able to attack them with melee attacks without them automatically choking me.  Boo.
I also fought the final Boss in Demon's Souls yesterday.  Pretty sure it is the final boss at least.  I was doing great, picking at him when I saw an opening and just taking my time with the battle.  I had about 45,000 souls collected too and definitely didn't want to lose them.  I take him down to about 15% energy and then made one mstake.  I didn't properly dodge one of his attacks.  And of all attacks, it was the one I should have made sure to dodge.  He grabs me, sucks away one of my soul levels, then impales me with his sword, killing me instantly.
I had full energy too.  Well, as full as my energy could have been in Phantom form wearing the Cling Ring.  One attack.  That's it.  And the fight was over.  I had spent 15 minutes in combat, chipping away at his health, yet he ended it in 5 seconds.
Fucking brutal!!
Then, to add insult to injury, I get killed as I was making my way back to him (damn Blue Dragon), so I lost ALL 45,000 souls.  Yeah, safe to say I turned the game off after that.
But hey, the Dolphins beat the Jets yesterday, sweeping the season series, so it was hard to get me in too bad a mood last night.
Only one more week for MW2!!!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The year for the PS3?

I just realized that my three favorite games so far this year have all been on the PS3.  Batman: Arkham Asylum, Uncharted 2 and Demon's Souls.  Hell, you can even throw inFAMOUS and MLB: The Show in there.  And Killzone?  Sure it wasn't the best game ever, but it was fun.
Fine, Batman is not exclusive, but still, all the others are.  I've actually spent a ton of time gaming on the PS3 this year and its been fantastic.
Of course, all that PS3 gaming ends on 11/10/09 (and really that's only because I'm going with the 360 version of MW2 for obvious reasons)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Seriously . . . wow . . .

Even though Demon's Souls is still taking up 75% of my gaming time, the other 25% has been going to Uncharted 2.  Sorry Operation Flashpoint, you're way in the back burner for now.
I've actually advanced quite a bit in Uncharted 2 and am towards the end of the game (as far as I can tell anyway).  I have lots of impressions to give, but this post is just for the game's visuals, because I do feel they deserve special mention.
Seriously, WTF?!  How is it that my PS3 hasn't melted trying to churn out these visuals?  This is hands down the best looking video game I have ever seen.  Half of my playing time is me just staring at the screen in awe, jaw open, drool dripping down my chin.
The game is extremely vibrant and colorful.  Its lighting engine is simply fantastic.  Probably the most realistic sunlight I have seen in a game.  The textures and detail are unbelievable too.  Every corner of the game world looks as if the designers planned for that section to be the center of attention, yet it could be an area you might spent less than 10 seconds in or skip altogether.  The geometry, physics, lighting, textures, animation, this game it the total visual package.
Someone give Naughty Dog a medal for technical achievement.  No seriously.
There's a section in the game where Drake is taking a leisurely stroll through a village.  This section has no enemies.  You can't sprint.  You just walk around and take in the scenery.  And it has been one of my favorite moments in the game.  The detail in the village, the vibrant sunlight, the beautiful colors, the mountains in the background, the villagers going about their day, kids playing, men working, seriously, it was a work of art.
I'll post actual impressions on the game when I finish it.  So far, it has been a really exciting ride, although it is not perfect.  But well worth the price of admission.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Demon's Souls

Uncharted 2 is great.  It is a lot of fun, looks absolutely gorgeous, and the production values are through the roof.  But for the last 3 nights, I haven't been going to bed at 2am because of Uncharted.  No, that is all Demon's Souls' fault.
This game is like crack.  It has excellent design all around and it is because of those off-kilter design choices that I think the game excels.  These days, some of those choices might seem terrible, but without them this game wouldn't be nearly as good.
The game seems to do all it can to make you hate it.  It is hard.  A lot harder than what gamers are used to today.  No save anywhere feature, no check points, no "retrys", no pause option (damn you), if you die fighting a level's boss you start all the way at the beginning of the level and all the enemies respawn.  Oh yeah, if you were in human form when you died you now start in "phantom" form and your hit points are reduced by half.  You also lose all the souls you had collected upon death.  And souls are the game's most precious commodity.  They serves as the game's currency and also as experience points which you use to level up your character.  So losing maybe an hour's worth of soul collecting (you get souls from every defeated enemy) can be down right aggravating.  You do get to keep all the items you found though.  And all is not lost, for if you brave the dangers ahead and fight your way through the level again and make it back to the spot where you died, you will find your blood stain along with all your souls waiting for you.  However, if you die again before reclaiming those souls, they disappear and are gone forever.
Doesn't all that sound like fun?  No of course not.  But it is.  It is.
Because of the harsh penalties associated with death, you actually fear it.  You have to think about every action you do and every enemy you decide to engage in combat, because even the most common enemy can kill you if you are not concentrated on the battle, or you underestimate its skill (or overestimate yours).  That is pretty refreshing in this day and age, when dying in a game is more of an annoyance with no real consequence.  In Demon's Souls, it is unbelievably tense when you are trying to make it back to the spot where you died to reclaim your souls.  You know that if you die again, you will lose them all.  I've retreated and planned attacks on even the most low level enemies because the thought of dying and forever losing those souls is not an option.
The game has a fair amount of depth as well.  Weapons and armor can be upgraded by combining different shards of ore you find in the land.  Combat is also beyond a simple button mashing affair.  In fact, button mashing will get you killed in seconds.  A good defense is the key to fighting, as often blocking or dodging attacks and then counter-attacking is the much safer route.  Players cannot just sit back and block however, as absorbing blows depletes your stamina bar (as does attacking or sprinting), so combat is a tactical mix of blocking, attacking, and keeping an eye on your stamina.  It all comes together beautifully.  You can equip two weapons per hand and switch between all of them freely, and since certain enemies are weaker against certain types of weapons, there's a great amount of strategy involved in combat.  I have yet to learn my first magic spell, so I can't comment on that aspect of combat.
On a technical level, the game is very solid.  Character models look good and animate smoothly.  Enemy models can look downright impressive, including massive bosses or demons.  It is always impressive to emerge from a castle and see two giant dragons perched on the hillside a few hundred yards away.  The game is very dark and you'll spend a lot of time in dimly lit dungeons and hallways.  It adds greatly to the mood, even if it won't make your jaw drop with visual splendor.  I haven't encountered too many "wow" moments in the visual department, but nothing has taken me out of my experience because of shoddy visuals either.  Everything just comes together in a perfect package and I'm so absorbed while walking down these dark and dangerous corridors that I am not even thinking about the graphics.  And that is the sign of a game doing its job.
At this point I cannot recommend Demon's Souls enough, although I must say it is definitely not for everyone.  But it is absolutely up my alley.  As difficult as it can be, it is really up to the player how hard the experience is.  If you go in treating this like a hack n slash, or God of War, you will pay a steep price.  This game is not about fast paced combat, chaining together massive combos.  It is about using caution, studying your environment and enemies, and advancing every so slowly towards your goal.  I've been using this mindset for a while now and I have reduced my deaths by a significant margin.  For those that dedicate time to this title and play it the way it was meant to be played, a deeply satifying experience awaits.  Its a game that gives you a true sense of accomplishment for finishing - or even just surviving - its many challenges.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Uncharted 2 quick impressions

I picked up Uncharted 2 yesterday.  Played for about 2 - 3 hours.  Some quick impressions:
- Graphically, the game is utterly ridiculous.  I may have only seen a fraction of the full game at this point, but I am already giving it the "Best Looking Console Game of All Time" award.  The snow looks insane.  Drake's animation is uncanny.  Especially in the opening tutorial section.  I love games that have "wow" moments.  And this game has plenty of those.
- One thing I felt the original Uncharted did better than any other game, was make it feel like a fun, summer, adventure movie.  The cinematics and voice acting were fantastic.  And the dialog was playful and sharp.  Well, the sequel continues that and improves on it on all accounts.  I'm going to make another bold statement, Uncharted has the best voice acting of any videogame I've ever played.  The characters speak and interact very naturally.  The dialog is witty and genuinely funny.  The cinematics are fantastically "acted", with excellent motion-capture from the actual voice actors.  All elements come together to create a fantastic cinematic and immersing experience.  Great job Naughty Dog.
- Gameplay is typical Uncharted, with additional stealth elements thrown in.  At least, that's what I've experienced so far.  The levels and environments are huge, but there is a predefined path through them.  The platforming elements look cool, but you feel a bit disconnected from them.  Drake will be doing all kinds of crazy jumps, climbs, shimmys, etc., but all you'll be doing is pressing X as needed and holding a direction on the analog stick.  It all feels a little automatic, but so did the first game and traversing the environments is still fun.  Combat can get intense.  I haven't come across many puzzle elements yet.  Will post further gameplay impressions once I delve deeper into the campaign.
Overall though, the just screams quality and attention to detail.  This is definitely the game Sony can use to showcase what the PS3 can do.  Because technically, it is phenominal.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I want to pause!!!

In a perplexing design decision, there is no way to pause Demon's Souls.  Pressing the start button brings up your game menu, but the action continues in the background.
That is odd.
It keeps things tense and realistic in the heat of battle.  And it is not too much of an issue because of how the game is designed.  If you are in an area where there are no enemies, you don't really need to worry about getting attacked, since enemies don't just wander around the levels (as far as I can tell), they stick to their general locations.  So, if you need to go to the restroom, as long as you've cleared the room of enemies, feel free to leave your character standing there and go.
However, there are times when you just need to pause the game.  If you are in battle or fighting a boss, and the phone rings, or someone knocks on your door, or whatever the reason, you should be able to pause the action.
I am assuming the lack of pausing is to prevent "cheating".  In this game there is no "retry" option.  If you die, you lose all your souls and you respawn at the beginning of the level.  If you can make it back to your point of death you can reclaim your souls, no real harm done.  BUT, if you die a second time before getting your souls back, you lose them forever.  That is tough.  And harsh.  And one reason why this game is so brilliant and fun.  You really do fear death, because you cannot avoid it.  If you die, the game saves, and you respawn.  No multiple save files that you can upload from 5 minutes before.  It really makes you pay for your actions.  If you see a far off enemy that looks tough, you really have to think long and hard about going to try and fight him.  Because if it kills you, you cannot just load to just before the fight and decide not to engage him.
If you could pause the action, players would be able to pause the game just before they died if they were in a bad spot and things were looking grim, press the PS button, exit the game to the XMB, and they could avoid dying and possibly losing all the souls they had.  So, I see why the developer removed the pause option.
But still, like I said, for players that want to play the game legitimately (like me), sometimes I just want to pause the damn game!
They could have done something like with Animal Crossing.  If you just abruptly exit Animal Crossing, the game knows this and when you load it up the next time, you get a warning.  Keep doing it and you get penalized.  Sure, that sucks if you have a lot of power outages, but I'm just thinking out loud here.  I want a pause button!!!
Anyway, small gripe to a brilliant game.

Monday, October 12, 2009

We suck

Man, Gabe and I are terrible bloggers.  We create a whole new blog to commemorate our trip to PAX, we promise "from the floor" coverage, impressions, photos . . . and here we are, over a month after PAX, and nothing.  Just one initial post promising all those things.
We definitely suck.
In our defense, we've both been extremely busy lately.  I've been super swamped at work.  I've also started going back to the gym, so by the time I get home, take a shower, cook, eat, I then have a choice between getting on the computer and typing or getting some game time in.  I've been choosing the latter.  So while I haven't been blogging, I have lots of material to blog about, since I haven't stopped playing.
Here's what I've been playing:
CoD4 - Of course.  Getting ready for MW2.
Madden 2010 - Best Madden this generation, but still flawed and broken.
Batman Arkham Asylum (PS3) - Simply fantastic!  A top candidate for GOTY.  I'm upset I haven't been able to post impressions, because I had an absolute blast with it and it might just be the best licensed game I have ever played.  Hands down the best comic book game ever created.
Halo: ODST - I really enjoyed the single-player campaign.  Similar, yet different, from previous Halo games.  I haven't been able to try Firefight mode since it does not support match-making, only private games with friends.  Overall, fun game, but I think Microsoft did the fans wrong by being greedy and releasing this game at full price.  This should be no more than $39.99.
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (360) - This is a game for fans of the original Ghost Recon games.  Not the GRAW games, but the original ones that were far more tactical and slower paced.  It goes for realism and the result is a game that is not for everyone.  No running and gunning here.  So far I've only played a handful of missions and I am enjoying it.  I like the slower pace and the open environments, and traversing the terrain to your objectives is fun for me, even though you are basically just hiking many kilometers with not much going on.  Team-mate A.I. is a little flaky so far.  Wish I had three friends to play this with, since that will remove that frustration with the game.
Demon's Souls - Just started playing this yesterday.  Oh wow.  I think I am hooked.  As all the reviews have said, the game is hard.  Brutally hard.  But not in a cheap way.  After just 2 hours it is one of my favorite games this year.  And it looks like it will only get better as I progress.  Another candidate for GOTY.
So that's what I've been playing.  Since at this point a detailed PAX post will be moot, I'll probably just post all of the pictures I took and give my overall impressions of the show.
Oh and speaking of GOTY candidates, Uncharted 2 comes out tomorrow.  Wow, Demon's Souls and Uncharted will be fighting for my attention (sorry Operation Flashpoint, you might be taking a back seat for a while).

Saturday, September 5, 2009

PAX 09

Well, Gabe and I attended the first day of PAX yesterday. If I had to use one word to describe our day it would be this: Exhausting!

Wow. Who would have thought that spending an entire day watching and playing video games could take so much out of you.

Impresions and pictures will be coming in the next few days as we stil have today to go and alot more gaming to do.

I will say this. When we first got there and finally made it into the main Exhibition Hall with all the game companies' booths, it was extremely ovewhelming. Lights and sounds coming from all directions, you want to see it all and take it all in at the same time and you end up not knowing where to go or what to do. Gabe and I looked like deers in headlights when we arrived and it took us a few ous to snap out of it.

But man, what an experience! We were dead when we go to our hotel last night, but I can't wait to get back out there to that Exhibition Hall today.