By ahoodedfigure 3 Comments
If you ever want to be a pariah, try not only admitting that you like Dynasty Warriors, but that you're playing one of its derivatives (Samurai Warriors 3) on the Wii.
I played a lot of SW3 last night after buying it in a bargain bin, and for the most part I'm pleased. The changes to the game's basic formula tend to be favorable; some of the gambling element is lost now that you get experience and items even if you fail the mission, but the difficulty level for Hard seems to be ramped up anyway so I'm not complaining. The basic combat stuff is the same, with a branching tree of combination attacks where you can just spam the attack button like an idiot, or use combinations using alternate attacks to knock guys to the ground, send them flying, or other stuff. Characters feel well differentiated, you can carry healing items with you, and I have to say it's a bit exciting to leave the Romance of the Three Kingdoms behind for a little while and delve into an alternate set of historical fiction, even if the names are a lot harder for me to remember. The Wii controls are not the best; no motion controls here, but expecting me to hit the 2 button as the pause is a bit cruel. Thankfully there is full control reconfiguration, but I'm not sure what would be best... other than just getting a classic controller and be done with it. The problem really is that the buttons are spread out, but all useful. I think I have an idea what I could do to make it a bit nicer, I intend to report back once I've played more of the game. Overall the mechanics are much cooler, with an item modding system and much more individualized power sets. Looking forward to playing this more once my thumbs don't ache :)
The only other game I've played on the Wii so far is Boom Blox. Once I got the motion sensor aligned properly (took me a while) the game played well enough. Dragging blocks makes me feel palsied, and shooting water doesn't quite make sense how it actually works out, but throwing objects feels good. The game feels a bit limited at times; I wouldn't mind a bit more sandboxy approach to the puzzles, but maybe they diversify later? I'm a bit disturbed by the cute character death when you miss a shot and hit someone in the crowd, but it's also kind of funny. Not sure what that says about me.
Other than that, most of my gaming time, other than a bit of game design, has been taken up with Star Wars: The Old Republic. I was given an extended free trial, and now that I have been given some extended free time by the same group of people I'm able to try it out.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Until I hit level 25, there is generally a good experience with any class, with plenty of Bioware style dialog choices without the looping conversations. You're pressed to talk, then if you don't escape out of the conversation before it ends, your choices are permanent. I like that; keeps things moving, keeps scooping up every last detail not really an option unless you want to pick every option in the tree to see how it plays out. The consequences themselves seem not to have heavy impact on the game, and because you're playing in a persistent world it seems to live on without you even if you do something that supposedly has in-story impact. That's OK in theory, but the heavy emphasis on single-player doesn't seem to match up very well with this.
There are four total classes, but eight stories since each faction has a separate story for their flavor of class. I've played both the Trooper and Bounty Hunter to level 25 and they feel entirely different, thankfully. Every class story in itself is fairly rewarding, though individual moral choices sometimes feel a bit arbitrary and your reward for light side or dark side points, while thankfully not knitted to faction, still feel like you're grinding bonus points and companion affinity. The main storylines tend to be fun, as are some of the side quests (like the extended bits about Revan or the fate of Taris) but then there are a lot of things you do to keep your character's power level up that can at times drag you down. In order to play optimally you need to keep your equipment up to date, sell off your trash, keep your crew crafting new things, pay for training for new skills and upgrades (which get transcendentally more expensive in the mid-20s), and try not to do too many things out of order to prevent some content from not giving you enough experience.
Being a non-linear player I've done some stuff that seems to have screwed up the leveling system a bit by going straight to the hardest place in the game and just running around leveling through exploration experience and finding hidden holocron cubes, though this a big deal so much as it is slightly annoying, in that the content intended for the levels I bypassed now doesn't reward very well at all. Playing with friends is fun, and helps mitigate some of this problem, especially if you tackle tougher areas, the variety of equipment graphics, environments, and character styles is phenomenal, the shooter minigame is diverting when not played too much, and the stories themselves are rewarding to greater or lesser degrees and are the main draw for the game. Whether or not you can weather some distractions to get through the main storyline of any of the eight classes will depend solely on your tastes.
I will say, for all the annoyances, that there are a few moments that I feel like "This Is Star Wars," moreso than any other SW video game I've played, and moreso than pretty much anything but episodes IV, V, and sorta VI. I think part of that comes from the diversity of the images you see... after all, Star Wars has always been about spectacle. Spending an hour or two on Dromund Kaas, or tromping through the massive wastelands in Tatooine sure feel like a love letter to Old Star Wars better than in-universe canon gobbledygook ever did. If even one element above sounds interesting you can try out the free trials they have and see how it feels. If you wind up paying for a month, with some diligence you might be able to get through a single class story, or maybe several if you're good at this sort of game, though results will obviously vary. I thinka lot of people have been doing exactly that, playing through a class then dropping it, which doesn't sound so great when you're trying to keep a massive project afloat, but does suggest that some sliver of this really is a sequel to KotOR, even if it's twisted to fit an MMO mold.
I'll give a more detailed synopsis of my experiences later, if anyone's interested.