It’s nearly Xmas time, and I’ve just realised that this year, for what seems like the first time in ages, there will be no Nintendo games on my Xmas list. I was really pro-Wii in 2006 - with Wii Sports and Wii Play, Nintendo seemed poised on the cusp of something quite wonderful and revolutionary for gaming. It all felt so fresh again. Twilight Princess was a good game, even though its use of the Wii controller was fairly limited.
I haven’t been able to get Journey’s ‘Any Way You Want It’ out of my head for 2 days now. That’s one of the more nefarious results of picking up Rock Band 2 this week. It’s had to fight tooth and nail with Left 4 Dead for play time, especially since it’s another primarily co-op game (and the other major one, Gears 2, has already been relegated to the Xmas list), but we’ve squeezed a few hours in so far.
I just saw that Valve are doing some fun merchandise for Left 4 Dead now. The ‘movie posters’ are nice if you’re still in that phase where you like to stick posters on the wall (I’m not), but the T-Shirts are of pretty universal appeal. Francis seems to be pretty well represented here, or particularly his predeliction for saying how much he hates everything all the time (hospitals, airport terminals, woods, vans, you name it), so I’m guessing he’s turning into a fan favourite.
So, my back has been getting slowly better over the last month since my hospitalisation experience; I occasionally have a small relapse, like just after I picked up my new guitar - you wouldn’t think that shifting a small practice amp would be a big deal, but I certainly felt it for the next few days - but overall steady improvement. Part of my rehab is to take more regular gentle exercise, and to mix up my routine a bit so I’m not hunched at the desk in ‘work posture’ for such long periods of time, which means, among other things, daily walks of a few miles, daily guitar practice and plenty more gaming time (hence more game-related posts on this blog).
Short answer: I really like the new dash for the 360. The old ‘blades’ system was efficient (excluding Marketplace, which got hugely unwieldy due to the amount of content) but about as attractive as the back-end of a donkey, and pretty confusing for a newcomer. The new, clearly coverflow-inspired aproach is infinitely more attractive and welcoming. Navigation is in essence the same as the XMB on the PS3, only transposed - i.
I’ve said for a while that I don’t think individual game review scores are particularly useful, on account of the fact that an individual’s taste varies. It’s always important to read the detail of a review rather than to take the score on face value, where (hopefully) a decent reviewer will explain the reasoning behind the aspects he/she did and did not like, so you can judge how much they apply to you.
I finally got chance to play Left 4 Dead co-op with my wife rather than single player with all AI teammates, and it’s an entirely different experience. I’d heard this of course, but even so I found it surprising just how much difference it makes. Having a real person yelling for help as they get jumped by a hunter after hanging back behind the others, running scared from a marauding tank together, or frantically trying to help a team-mate up so you can get back up into a defensive choke point before the wall of dead flesh that’s charging down the abandoned subway track crashes over you, it’s simply enormous fun.
I read today that it’s estimated 90% of people playing the full PC version of World Of Goo have a pirated copy (note: the authors 2Dboy chose not to include any copy protection). Edit: For those being pedantic about this figure, here’s how it was estimated; but arguing the exact number is chronically missing the point. You see, this is why PC gamers can’t have nice things anymore. It’s why desperate publishers reach for horrible, broken DRM measures to try to stamp out piracy, universally failing of course and often upsetting the small minority of paying customers they have left into the bargain.
Serious games are big these days. Whether it’s training firefighters, soldiers, plant operators or surgeons, the benefits of a simulated environment in which people can hone their real-world skills is widely recognised. Now, with the impending release of Left 4 Dead, we have the necessary training environment to prepare ourselves for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You’ll be thanking those foresighted chaps at Valve in due time, mark my words. I just picked up the demo today - on PC, because if there’s one thing that’s going to increase the likelihood of the recently dead opening your skull and spreading your grey matter on water biscuits, it’s being limited to a fixed turning speed.
Based on the demo, Mirror’s Edge is one of those games that I really want to love, but in the end just end up respecting from a discrete distance. As a milestone in the game industry’s development, it’s a great game. The visuals are refreshing, and the premise of a first-person game where the aim is not to have to shoot people is a welcome change. Technically, the impression of embodying a character who leaps and jumps and rebounds from every feasible urban surface is well realised, to the extent that when you’re hanging from a ledge and want to look around, you can see yourself let go with one hand in order to do so.