Oct 11, 2009

Video Game Reviews @ The Temple

MGS4: If I started writing this at various points I might have a different opinion. But I’ve just watched three effing years of cutscenes to end this game, and jesus christ that did not put me in a mood to be generous.  In fact, i started typing this as the credits ran, AND NOW THERE’S A NOTHER FUCKING CUT SCENE. It’s really pretty ridiculous, people said 1.5 hrs of cut scenes, I’m not sure that’s enough, it might be more. It’s really just overbearing, and in general completely unnecessary.  There are some cool ones, raiden kicking ass, the big confrontation in the middle. And occasionally they manage to be emotional, but very rarely. Mostly when people are upset the acting is bad and the scenes are completely horrible. There are some quieter moments of emotion, focusing on snake (not otacon and his horrible voice actor) that work. The story isn’t bad, it’s kind of a typical huge conspiracy gotta stop the man MGS story, but it’s not bad.  It’s very much anti war, anti corporation, kind of anti capitalism. Some themes about freedom, etc, not bad, just not really new. There’s just so much bullshit filler than I end up hating even the good parts. To be clear, I loved MGS 1 & 2, just like everyone else (well, not everyone loved 2). The first obviously introduced a whole new genre of gaming, and MGS2 iterated on this in a great way (I always liked raiden). MGS3 was pretty forgettable, it tried to be creative with the camo thing, but meh. This game does very little to evolve the genre. There’s a couple clever gameplay moments, but nothing earth shattering. It’s still fun to play, MGS is fun to play and pretty unique in its style still, so I had a good time. But man, these cut scenes are driving me crazy. The graphics aren’t really that great. It’s the best MGS graphics so far of course, but they aren’t wonderful. Character models are decent, but kind of skeletal at times.  Things are too shiny, hair and fabric doesn’t move. Well, hair does move, but only specific parts of hair in specific ways, not realistically. Some things are bad, like shadows with jagged edges and models with bright lines on the edge, very weird for a high production game. There’s a really weird level of perviness in this game, as there has been in the past. It focuses and allows you to focus on tits and ass waaaaay too much. It literally introduced one character via only her cleavage for 20 full seconds before showing her face. I understand that as a boy, and even as an adult, I’m going to look at the pretty girls in games. Christ, I remember pausing Chun Li during her spinning kick to get a look at her digital goods! But there’s something about the game allowing and even encouraging you to ogle the computer generated bits that is really creepy and offputting, not to mention morally pretty fucked up. The cut scene finally ended, I’m watching more credits dreading another scene. The game isn’t bad, when you are playing it it’s good. It’s not great, it’s not amazing, it’s not new, but it’s good. But then you add in all the bullshit and you have a kind of bad game.  If you don’t have my disease where you have to watch everything, you can skip the cut scenes and be a much happier human. Sadly, I can’t make myself do that, so here I am grumbling. Most of the music is fine, though I hate the main theme, supposed to be haunting, but it’s just annoying. The product placement in the movie is obnoxious, Otacon uses solely macs, apparently, and snake carries an ipod. Otacon using a macbook pro (or air?) to hack into the greatest AI that ever lived is patently ridiculous and unnecessary. There’s a strong reminiscing element to the movie, it looks back on the previous 3 games a lot and references them constantly. This was actually pretty cool, though I don’t remember the lore enough to know some of the references, most are big enough events that I remember them even after 10 years. The shadow moses level in particular is really cool because of this.  See, when I think on that stuff (now that the credits, and the last audio-only cutscene, are over and the PS3 is off), I think I did like the game, because the game play, as reused as it is, is still very enjoyable. The end gameplay sequence getting to the last part was actually really cool and dramatic, even though it was barely gameplay. The last fight was super simplified, but somehow very effective for me. But man, the cut scenes could have been half as long without even changing any content, they could have said things ONLY ONCE, for example. Then you remove the unnecessary content and you are down to 25%, remove the bad jokes, the meta self referential humor (though I guess you can keep that, it’s kind of a tradition), and the perviness, and you have a svelte 10% of solid story and a good game to go with it. PS I did try the online thing. You know perfectly well that I don’t like playing console games online. This was made worse that it took 7 minutes for the automatching thing to find enough people for a deathmatch.  I assume this is due to a horrible underpopulation, not bad software, either way, I finally got in, it was fine, I did ok all things considered, then my connection gave out. Game over, it goes on the shelf now.

Penumbra: Overture, Black Plague, & Requiem – So these three games form an episodic trilogy of sorts, though I’m sure there could be more if they want to.  It is basically an FPS adventure game.  Though the games are slightly different from each other, they are mostly puzzle solving.  The first game had some actioney threats, but you couldn’t realistically fight them with weapons effectively.  UNLESS you kinda cheated and threw boxes at things, which is what I did.  So rather than sneak around like they intended, I just killed things.  So in the second game they made the threats invincible, so you HAD to sneak or run, which was very tense and uncomfortable, especially because the sneak mechanic wasn’t great.  The third game they did away with threats and it was pure puzzle.  The games are pretty good, they are simple, linear, confined in scope, but interesting in story.  The voice acting is pretty decent, best in the first game probably, the puzzles are good.  Most are pretty simple, two times I got stuck and had to cheat because I didn’t have the patience to figure it out.  That’s something that changed in my old age, if I spend an hour on something, I’m not spending more, and I’m not forsaking the rest of the game due to my crappiness.  As it turned out, one sticking point I was being stupid and should have spent 5 more minutes, the other I never would have got, so I felt justified in my wussiness.  Anyway, the games are good I think, especially when you get all 3 for like $10 on steam.

Plants vs. Zombies – Heh, pretty fun game.  It’s kind of a desktop tower defense, but very linear.  You have 5 rows of lawn that you are defending from invading zombies.  You place sunflowers to generate sunpower with which you place various plants that fight and defend against the oncoming hoard.  There’s a good deal of variety of plants and zombies, and things that counter each other.  There’s some switching with levels (water, fog, night, roof).  It’s pretty basic, but it is fun.  There’s a few minigames too that are entertaining.  I’m not quite all the way through it, I haven’t been able to beat the last batch of extra hard levels (at least I assume it’s the last batch, unless they open up yet more).  It’s nothing life changing, but it’s a cute game that’s definitely a fun popcap distraction.

King’s Bounty: The Legend – Well jesus I’ve been playing this game for a long time.  Not sure how long, but months for sure.  It’s just that kind of game that you keep playing.  Which isn’t to say it’s the best game ever, it’s just that kind of game.  It’s basically Heroes of Might & Magic, you have a dude (only a dude, no chicks allowed) running around a map getting into fights like an RPG.  But when a fight starts, it breaks down into a gridded map, and you have an army of units and the bad guy has an army and they fight.  You recruit units in the world – soldiers, mages, dwarves, elves, creatures, undead, etc.  You have magic and abilities that help your troops.  Then you go on missions and save the world, etc etc.  At first I was freaking loving this game.  It was so fun and there were so many options and creatures and stuff it was really cool.  The game never stops being cool in this way, it’s just cool in exactly this way for a long god damn time.  I’m not sure how many hours I put into it, but it was a lot.  With all the spells and creatures and quests, it’s just got that RPG collectable addictiveness.  But by 2/3 into the game, I was really bored.  The story was boring, and though I was getting new creatures and spells, I was pretty much done.  I kept going because I have a disease, and I finally finished it and it’s a relief.  It’s a really fun game, I just might advise you pretend that the first 2 or 3 areas are the whole game and go your separate ways content.

Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition – So I was kind of excited to play this.  I played the two original (I think?) MI games, and i played the semi-recent (2000s) sequel.  Of course the former is when I was a little teenager and they were just the greatest things in the world.  Remember very little about them, ‘cept the awesomeness.  Lucasarts is going through a bit of a retro renaissance, it appears, and first up was a rerelease of MI, but with new graphics.  Coolest thing ever, you can at any moment flip between old timey original graphics and new fancy graphics, which is super neat. The question is does an old classic that was fun and funny hold up 20 years later? The answer is…. kinda.  The first 1/4 of the game I was having fun, there were chuckles, if not laughs.  I wondered before I played if i would cheat to get through it, I have this feeling that younger me was either smarter or had more patience.  I was doing fine in this game until I accidently discovered press ‘h’ for hint.  I lasted a while longer without using it, but eventually there were 4 or 5 times where I didn’t have the patience to figure it out when the answer was one button press away. I honestly wish it was harder to cheat, though that’s just a pathetic comment on my willpower. It’s the problem w/ these games, it’s fun to play, it’s not fun to try to combine every item with every other item or part of the world to make it work. I never got more than 4 screens into Grim Fandango because I was completely confused, and it’s supposed to be great! So the answer is the game is fun, for $5 (steam deal for talk like a pirate day, telltale is giving away the first episode of the newly released sequels too), it was certainly worth it for the nostalgic trip and to see what they did with it.  It’s still fun, it’s silly and quirky, and it has the hand waving salesman, so that’s pretty much worth 5 bucks.

Tales of Monkey Island: Episode 1 – As mentioned, telltale released this for free on talk like a pirate day, and i got it. Wasn’t really sure if I’d be into the new monkey island games, remakes are rarely good, the one a few years ago wasn’t really. This game was…. alright.  It’s charming, I guess, it’s cute.  The game play is kind of simplified from the original in that any given clickable object can only be clicked, not looked at, grabbed, pushed, talked to, etc, the game just does what you should do. I managed to get through the whole thing cheating once, which given my cranky 30 year old level of patience is pretty decent. It didn’t seem outrageously hard, the one thing I missed wasn’t hard. A couple other things had me stuck but I stumbled into the answer. The game is kind of funny, like I say it’s cute, but it’s not hilarious. I suppose the original wasn’t hilarious, playing it again. I can’t think of any game that’s really been hilarious, except portal. Some games have been funny, but nothing that I think of as a comedy or anything. I don’t think I’ll be buying the subsequent chapters of this. Maybe when they are all out and steam has some cheap deal for them. But for 35 bucks, I definitely didn’t get that much enjoyment, sorry.

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