I’ve established a tradition on this blog of reviewing games that came out several months ago, thus cementing the absolute irrelevance of my commentary to the majority of the intertubes for whom content goes out of date in about a day. It’s kind of the opposite of a magazine that’s delivered by ninjas every 3 hours to ensure cutting-edge coverage. Thing is, unless a game is truly awful I like to try to finish it (or at least finish with it, which is not always the same thing) before deciding my opinion of it, and these things take time.
Watching the ebbs and flows of the game industry is simultaneously inspiring and outright depressing. As is usual for this stage in a console generation, we’re at the ‘consolidation point’ (pun unintentional) - where the tech is pretty well understood, even if it is starting to look a bit dated compared to even a modest PC (how much hassle AA is on this console generation is a case in point), but that at least developers can crank out content in a more efficient fashion.
I’m far from being a gamerscwh0re who mines every game for every last Achievment, but nevertheless they’re fun to get. I like the ones that encourage you to do something memorable rather than the rather less imaginative “complete game on difficulty X” or “scour the world to find all of item X”. Having picked up a number of games for Christmas I’ve had something of a boost recently, but last night while playing Assassin’s Creed II (which is a vast improvement on the original which had great atmosphere and free running mechanics but was riddled with tedious repetition and hence I never finished it) I completely accidentally landed on precisely 10,000 gamer points at the end of the night:
I hope everyone had a good Christmas, I certainly did. I received a number of new games, which was good (will blog about them individually at a later juncture), but I also encountered something I haven’t done before - Evil Red DVD Tag Syndrome. For those who, like me, haven’t encountered these before, some shops in the last couple of years have been adding red theft-prevention strips to some DVD cases.
I really enjoyed the original Professor Layton, and was glad to get the sequel (Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box - for some cultural reason ‘Diabolical Box’ on the web site, I assume internationally some people haven’t heard of Pandora’s Box) from a friend as an early Christmas present. So far it seems like more of the same “puzzles embedded in slightly hokey but nonetheless enjoyable story, set in a whimsical Victorian era”, which is precisely what fans of the original (which includes me) wanted.
I’m a fan of Tim Schafer. Quite apart from the fact that his Wikipedia page shows him lovingly holding a jar of Marmite (good man), he’s been a writer/designer/coder on some of the funniest, quirkiest games in history: Monkey Island 1 & 2, Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango and Psychonauts. How can you not love this guy? It’s a terrible tragedy that Psychonauts didn’t sell better - sure its platforming was a little ropey at times and the game was padded out in places with uninspiring sections, but buried within this game were some of the most original, funny and bizarre ideas ever to grace the medium.
I’ve been branching out with my hobbies particularly in the last year or so, mostly because my back problems now prevent me from spending every waking hour hunched over a PC, coding. In a way that’s a shame - I lament the sudden drop-off in coding time and hence productivity - but it’s also good to broaden my horizons a bit. I’m 36 now after all, and spent the vast majority of my spare time in the last 8 years on Ogre, so maybe I deserve a break 😉 After all, I get to work on Ogre a bit as part of my day job now anyway, if not as much as I’d like.
I’ve basically ignored Bayonetta for the last 12 months, because it never struck me as something I’d be interested in - I was never that impressed by Devil May Cry and similar games which to me just felt like random button mashers, and Bayonetta seemed to be relying far too much on how much leg and cleavage its main protagonist could show in any given screenshot. I’d pretty much written it off as a cycnical attempt to recycle old ideas but to tap into the frustrated teenage male demographic with guns, kung-fu, the occult, blood and cleavage - clearly a winning formula in that market.
I have to hand it to the guys at the Clan of the Gray Wolf, who are doing a 1,000 song Rock Band marathon for the charity Childs Play, all streamed live on the Internet. Presumably this is linked with the fact that Rock Band itself recently crested the 2009 target of having 1000 in-game tracks - and a month earlier than their deadline. . At the time of writing they’re 46 hours in which given that they’ve tackled 615 songs so far, represents not quite two thirds of the way.
My wife & I loved playing Left 4 Dead. Sure it only had 4 campaigns and became repetitive after a while (but we still logged 30+ hours on it), but there was just no other game like it. Not only was it the best co-op experience I’d ever had, defly encouraging real co-operative play (rather than just feeling like you happen to be in the same game at the same time) without it ever feeling forced, but it was also without doubt the best zombie apocalypse simulator ever.