Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Some more complaining . . .

I really dislike the new Xbox Dashboard.  Instead of streamlining things it seems to have made everything more difficult to find.  Looks like it was designed with Kinect in mind and  is not very intuitive in my opinion.


For example, after the update I downloaded a few game videos from the Game Marketplace (after I managed to find them in the new interface).  So I try to watch these new videos and when I head over to my "Zune Video" section nothing happens.  It tries to launch the video player for a split second and it just stops.  I never get any kind of error message.  No prompts. It just refuses to let me access any game videos I may have saved.  I check under my memory settings to make sure I have videos and sure enough I have about 5 saved which I seem to be unable to access.  Frustrating.  I give up, thinking it may be a bug and will be patched and feeling too lazy to look for a fix online.


About a week later I try again (I want to see those damn videos) but the same thing keeps happening.  The Zune video player refuses to launch.  I am locked out of being able to watch the videos that are saved on my HDD!  After much trial and error I end up clicking on the "Zune Marketplace", a place I never go to.  I am immediately told that I need to download the Zune Video App.  Umm, ok?  I download the player and voila, I can now launch my Video player.


Now, why in the world do you not get this message when you try to launch the player in the first place?  Why do I have to go to the stupid Zune Market place to trigger this?  That is just ridiculously stupid!


Bring back the original Dashboard with Blades!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Starhawk Beta . . .

I played a match of the Starhawk Beta the other night.  I had no idea what was going on.  I had no idea what the controls were.  I had no idea what the objectives were.  And I was not having much fun as a result.


Prior to launching the match I did try to prepare myself.  I looked in the options menu for a controller configuration screen.  Didn't find one.


I looked for a section describing the play mechanics or goal of a match.  Didn't find one.


C'mon folks! I don't find it much fun to play a game blind, learning the controls by trial and error, and figuring out what I should be doing by dying over and over and eventually figuring it out.  Why can't you include a very simple "How to play" and "controls" screen?  That would make the experience so much more enjoyable.


Ok, rant over.


Note, if the game does have this buried in the menu system, then I retract all my comments.  But I really didn't find anything.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Gaming update

I've been all over the place the last week or so with my gaming habits.


I haven't gone back to Uncharted 3.  After the exhilarating plane sequence I have kinda lost interest again.  Some of the battle sequences in that game are extremely frustrating.  A combination of a sudden difficulty spike combined with the iffy controls resulting in many deaths and replays.  I think I am towards the end so I hope to finish it this weekend.  And when I start wishing to just be done with a game so that I can move on to something else, I know it is ultimately a disappointment.  Shame.  Still looking forward to The Last of Us though.


I've starting playing Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath.  It was released on PSN a few weeks back, all HD-afied, and I never played the original even though I've heard great things.  So far the game is enjoyable and runs at a smooth 60fps.  Gameplay is fun and different, but definitely showing its age.  I am only about 2 hours in though.


I have also somehow started playing Black-ops again.  It had been a while.  I still got it though, as I have been playing great without missing a beat.  I am surprised by how many people are still playing this.


Still also dabbling in Skyrim every now and then.  I'll play in one or two hour chunks periodically.  Entertaining, but it leaves me wanting more.


I haven't played Rayman: Origins in over a month.  Not sure why, I love that game and want to finish it.


I haven't started Bastion yet because I really want to give that game a fair shot (really enjoyed the demo) but I have been in such a weird, jaded mood with games lately I get the feeling I won't enjoy it if I start now.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Alright, fine . . .

This does not negate my previous post, but last night I was playing some more Uncharted 3 and I experienced two sequences that I found exhilarating (something I hadn't felt with this game until this point).  The escape from the tanker was great (started iffy to me).  But the following sequence involving a plane might be my favorite gaming moment of 2011 (even though I experienced it in 2012 . . .????).  I was practically laughing out loud because I could not believe what was happening.  Amazing.  Intense.  Brilliant on a technical level.  But more importantly, the first time I had ever experienced that.  Bravo for that sequence Naughty Dog.  I really hope more await before the game's end.  Maybe overall I'll come away with positive feelings on this one yet . . .


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Uncharted 3 impressions

Uh-oh . . .


Something is wrong.  I am supposed to be having a great time with Uncharted 3.  But I am not.  Well, not completely anyway.


It seems to be a fine game.  It looks so good on a technical level it is stupid.  Just stupid.  Naughty Dog are technical wizards. The voice acting, like all prior games in the series, is excellent.  The interaction between characters has a natural flow that no other game can match.  It follows the same formula as the previous games too, both of which I loved.  But I am not enjoying this third installment much.


This happens to me from time to time.  I get jaded.  I get tired of the same old thing.  The very thing I used to love prior.  Maybe it is a normal progression.  Something is initially impressive.  It is the first time you are doing it.  Seems fresh, exciting.  So the stakes are raised, the excitement level increases.  But you reach a point when you become desensitized to it all.  The explosions and set pieces are bigger, but it is a road you have already traveled.  You know what the outcome is.  The veil is raised.


Wow, I am rambling at this point.


Uncharted 3, more so than the other games, feels very controlled.  In the sense that I feel like almost everything is scripted to the point where my input matters little.  Almost as if I am playing a modern version of Dragons Slayer.  I find all the platforming sections excessively boring, because it no longer feels exciting.  Or fun.  You are just going through the motions.  All the environments conveniently have ledges and railings for you to grab on to.  All your jumps are basically pre-planned and the animation seems canned.  Pre-determined.  Precision is not required.  You just press in the general direction and hit jump, no worries, Nate will get there.


Things then get predictable.  It is a sure bet that eventually a ledge will break off or a section will begin to collapse.  It is supposed to be exciting.  To give a sense of danger to what you are doing.  Except it is all canned.  There is no need to panic.  You are not falling to your death.  Just keep pressing that jump button at a steady pace and all will work itself out.  The excitement is just not there for me anymore.


The predictability continues with the story.  As has been the case practically every time, you make your way through a level trying to acquire an object.  You get said object.  You escape the area and are greeted by the game's antagonist who was waiting for you and takes the item away.  Rinse, repeat.  I am only halfway through the game and I think this has happened four or five freaking times already!


Like I said, I am jaded.  Uncharted does what it does very well.  I guess what it does just doesn't excite me anymore.  Shame.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Gaming update

The other day I attempted to finish the single-player campaign of Battlefield 3.  I didn't want to add another title to my huge list of unfinished games.  Plus it is supposed to be short.




I am not saying it is not short.  It may be.  I am saying I couldn't finish it because I was finding the entire experience to be a dreadful bore.  Maybe I should have tried to finish MW3 instead.


Something about this game's single-player experience rubs me the wrong way.  At a glance it doesn't appear to be much different than any of the CoD games.  Fairly linear, action packed, and mindless fun right?  I was even enjoying it during my first session.  But BF3 just isn't . . . well, fun or exciting.  It looks nice.  The sound is amazing.  The set pieces seem to be good enough.  But I am bored out of my mind playing it.  It feels more controlled and scripted than any of the CoD games.  I found myself playing it simply hoping I would somehow reach the end, not because I was having fun.  Once that dawned on me I turned it off and I may not play it again.  At least not the single player.




Still sinking hours into Skyrim.  Yet I hate playing Skyrim.  Not that it isn't fun mind you.  Unlike BF3, Skyrim is actually fun.  But I feel like I am wasting my life playing it.  I start playing for a bit and when I glance up at the clock I've spent my entire evening sitting on my couch and I have barely advanced the story.  I can see this repeating for the next two months.  That may be a positive to some (you sure get your money's worth), but I can't shake the feeling that I could be doing other things.  Or playing other games which I would be able to complete after a few sessions and feel like I at least accomplished something.


I don't mean to knock the game for this, since really, that was Bethesda's goal for this game.  I am simply saying that this formula may not be for me.  Skyrim is a fine game.  Pretty buggy and it contains what I consider to be many design flaws and shortcomings, but any game that can make time fly by that fast has to be doing something right?  I see myself playing this damn game until August of next year.  And never finishing it.  I really should finish one of these damn Elder Scrolls games . . .




Alright, I am about to make my above argument about wasting your life not accomplishing anything completely moot, but I continue to sink endless hours of my life into Dark Souls.  I am now on my third run through the game on NG++.  Funny how perception works.  I find spending 4 hours playing Skirym a waste, when in those 4 hours I probably completed about 6 or 7 quests, found endless loot and gold, and experienced many unexpected encounters.  And yet I cherish my time with Dark Souls, a game in which you can actually spend 4 hours replaying the same section over and over and not really advancing the "story" at all because of a difficult boss or tough area.  Yet as crazy as it sounds, I find those 4 hours of Dark Souls much more satisfying than the 4 hours of Skyrim.  I may have to deeply analyze what it is about this Souls' series that just speaks to me as much as they do.  But I freakin love 'em!




So I finally started playing Uncharted 3 last night.  Finished about 8 chapters or so.  My thoughts so far are . . . well, they are confused.  It starts off on a different note from the other games.  It does some things with the narrative early on which is pretty cool and unexpected.  Sorry, trying not to spoil anything here.  The game is absolutely beautiful of course.  A technical marvel.  Yet I am finding it more scripted than prior titles.  Naughty Dog is going for major cinematic feel here and as a result the player seems to get less and less control in favor of cool camera angles and set pieces.  You still have some influence over these scenes, but it is all arbitrary and it makes me feel less in control than if they would have gone with just a straight up cut-scene instead.  I dunno, I am still collecting my thoughts on this one.  Maybe I am experiencing Uncharted fatigue after 2 titles.


I also still have Bastion waiting for me.  Definitely will start it after I am done with Uncharted.