Feb 27, 2010

Video Game Reviews @ The Temple

Uncharted 2: Fuck me what a good game. I wasn’t sure, going in, I had heard so much good, it had to have been overhyped. And for a little while I thought, hey, this is a pretty good game, but what’s the big deal? Then I realized it was 3 in the morning. I know that’s not a lot to 18 year old me, it may not even be a lot to a random friend of mine. But for old ass me, playing for 4.5 hours like it was nothing is shocking. And I could barely drag myself away even then. Each of the subsequent 3 or 4 times I played until I beat it I almost didn’t want to play unless I could guarantee 3 hours of time, because I knew I wouldn’t want to stop. It helps that the game never stops, there is no loading, no waiting, no down time, even the cut scenes are so immaculately placed and integrated into the action you feel like you are playing all the way through. The game is so often described as a movie, or as cinematic, it sounds cliche, but it really is true. The game is just structured so amazingly well, it’s so exciting and interesting and fun and funny. There are a few scenes in this game, I’m thinking the train, the truck caravan, and especially the tank scene that are just so fucking cool. The tank scene was just flawless, the excitement of constantly running away, but things keep happening, but you always know how to keep it going. That is so amazingly hard to pull off, this should be a cut scene, or a movie scene, you should not be able to play that! It’s so fantastic! The mechanics of the game are good, not amazing, but they don’t get in the way, and that’s really all that matters in a game like this. The shooting is better than before, as is the cover, and the climbing. The acting is, of course, without equal. Batman was pretty amazing, I’ll see what Assassin’s Creed 2 has to offer next. But this is the best in game acting ever, period. Drake is as likable as ever, and the game is really funny. The character models are actually slightly disappointing, in parts. Drake looks amazing, he must have 3 times the polygons as anyone else. The men, in general, look pretty good. Chloe looks kinda shitty, though. Her facial proportions are wrong, and her eyes are creepy doll land. Elena is better, but something is still slightly wrong. The rest of the game is gorgeous, with a surprising variety of scenery for a game like this. The game went pretty quick, but it didn’t overstay its welcome, which is good given its relatively limited game mechanics. They added in some new enemies, but they are just beefier, really. There are interesting “boss” events, but its still mostly shooting. Overall the game is just so damn fantastic, it’s so good you almost don’t give it credit for how good it is. It is so smooth and enjoyable you don’t take time to sit back and appreciate it until it’s over. Update: I’ve played this freaking game 3 times now! I even beat it on “crushing”! Christ, what happened to me? First I get all the riddler things and stealth trophies in batman (the fighting trophies were plainly beyond me), now I’m getting all the uncharted trophies (except all the treasures, fuck them) and I’m even up to level 15 on the online thing! Playing through a couple more times does tend to point out all the flaws, though. The charm is largely gone, and the awe. It’s still fun gameplay, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it, but the little irks are a bit more substantial. Nothing big, but sometimes I roll and instead I jump off a cliff. Or I dodge and instead I hug an exposed wall at the perfect firing distance. And the matchmaking system is kinda stupid, how the hell is level 3 me with 10 level 30 – 50 other people, and 1 level 20 guy, matchmaking? So the learning curve was a bit steep, but I caught on. Now I can at least hold my own, though the level 50s still do unnatural things to me routinely. Hey, look at me, reviewing the online aspect of a game! Crazy!

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Last game of the christmas present trilogy! I have LBP too, but that will take me longer to get to due to a preference for cooperation. This game was pretty damn good as well. Granted, I really liked the first game. Everyone’s problems with it were 100% valid, but it was worth it to me. Boring, repetitive, limiting, but fuck you got to jump off of buildings and stab dudes in the throat! This game is more of that, but the wrinkles have been largely smoothed out. The story is much better, rather than just kill guy 1, 2, 3 … 7, there’s an actual plot, reasons to kill this guy or that. Granted, it boils down to exactly the same gameplay. Climb buildings, jump around, hide in bushes, jump out, stabby stabby. But its framed in a way that makes doing those over and over again much more tolerable for everyone, I think. The game is assembled very well, the architecture and art and history is just such an awesome touch. I’ve never seen so many damn nerds so excited about renaissance history when it didn’t involve huge turkey legs, the ded bob show, and chicks with their titties poppin’ out. Playing the game next to someone who has actually seen these things was super cool, it gave it such a feeling of validity. And it’s the first time I’ve had more than an idle desire to see any parts of italy besides rome. The meta-story, outside of the history, is still kind of dumb, but I guess it’s cool. At the end it suddenly has an urgency and a real danger, and I am pretty interested to know what comes in the next game. I’ll forget it all in a month, and certainly in a year or two when 3 comes out, but still, credit to them. Voice acting is pretty good, facial animation is decent (what’s with chicks? both this and uncharted have the most effed up looking lead female characters). All in all, a very fun game. I made an effort to get all the glyphs, treasures, and vantages. But fuck the statues, and double fuck the feathers, I have definitely not got that kind of patience. Best part of the game though, a character actually said this: “It’s a me, Mario!” Hahaha, fucking awesome.

Batman: Arkham Asylum – This was a pretty fun game. I had heard it was like, the most amazing game evar. It’s not quite that. It is a gorgeous looking game, certainly. The models are all fantastic. The action is very fun, but I don’t really think it’s that deep. As far as I can tell, you got yer attack, yer stun, yer counter, yer ranged, and sort of finishing moves. Jump kick if you count that. That’s not really that big a variety. There’s not even more than one form of attack, so there’s no combos. But, it is fun to do. And to beat these crazy challenge modes you have to be good at combining that few number of things. The animations are probably the star. Those few # of combos can produces a number of different attacking animations, especially the finishing moves. It’s all super cool and makes you feel like batman. The tools you get (zelda style) are cool and feel super batman-ey. And the manner in which you accumulate them is remarkably sensible for a game like this. The voice acting is all really good too. Overall, the game didn’t blow me away. I didn’t have any of those moments that make a game truly amazing. But it’s not really an insult, it’s only a very good game. Small update – this is one of the few games in the history of ever I made any effort to get collectables in. Tracking down the Riddler’s things is both fun and easy enough to hold my attention. It’s not stupid easy, but once you get the maps its not impossible, but you still have to search. That’s thumbs up. I looked at the trophy list, I’m not good enough to get all of them, because I can’t fight well enough to string together uber combos in the challenge modes. But 70% is probably higher than I’ve gotten in a game in years!

Jade Empire – God dammit. Is the PC gaming industry determined to drive me away? First I have controller issues with PoP, frame rate issues with all the games, and now I get bug-stuck 1/3 of the way through this. Granted, I wasn’t having the best time, but what the hell. I am just stuck, I can’t progress in the game cuz some stupid guy gets stuck on the stupid ground. Forever! As to the game. It’s a bioware RPG, except with a crappy combat system. It would probably be a bit better with a controller and a good frame rate, but not much, it’s just structured clumsily. I don’t really like it. The story is a chinese setting, which I should be in to. I love the dynasty warrior stuff so much, this isn’t that far away. But it didn’t catch me, I’m not all that interested in the water dragon or the lotus assassins. It’s too bad. I don’t feel like bioware should have to making fucking scifi games till the end of time. I should love they did something different here! It’s not elves and dwarves, and it’s not robots and lasers. That is so great, in principle. But in practice I was skipping through the dialogue as quickly as I could click my little mouse. So, I’m not crying that I can’t finish the game, just kinda pissed.  [some time passes] Okay okay, I came back. The bug wasn’t game ending. I, ridiculously, had to flee an area and never return so that I didn’t trigger the game ending bug. Fortunately I never had to go back for the main story. I continued to play, having largely the same experience. Another game ending bug, you can only do a quest one way, not the other, or you will stare, forevermore, at a closed door. Then some stuttery problems. I thought my computer was having a hard time of the game, but turning down resolution didn’t help. It literally made the game impossible in the little flier sections (they were basically any random vertically scrolling plane shooting arcade game, a fairly useless addition) because the frame rate dropped to such a low speed that my gun only fired once a second. After a remarkably long time (days) it finally occurred to me to reset, and that fixed it. The game wraps up very quickly. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 are about as long as any one of the first four. Which was fine as I was getting kind of sick of it. My opinions are the same as before, I ought to like this game more, but it didn’t register with me. I didn’t care about my companions stories, the only reason I did side quests was the semi-completionist in me, but even that fell away by the end of the game. It’s an okay game, but it just didn’t quite work for me.

Osmosis – Interesting little indie game here. I played the demo once and decided it wasn’t worth much time. But then Steam had it for $2, and jeez, almost anything is worth 2 bucks. It’s kind of like Katamari Damacy, but you are a bubble, and you shoot around absorbing smaller bubbles. Moving sacrifices some of your volume, so you have to be smart. Larger things absorb you and you die, of course. Other mechanics are thrown in – gravity, repelling bubbles, etc. It’s actually a really fun game. It can be damn frustrating, especially the gravity levels, but it’s pretty fun.

Quantz – Random puzzle game, barely worth the $2 it cost. You have a 3D structure and colored balls on it. Balls drop from the sky and you rotate the structure to make it match colors and make the balls all disappear. I’ve only played a few worlds (7 stages each), and it’s alright. It’s not really that innovative, just a different form of the same function, but it’s alright.

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