The "manual" business of this generation of consoles has been all over the place from Microsoft's early full-color Perfect Dark Zero to the modern four-page "fold" preferred by execrable Activision. However Electronic Arts has reached a new low with Alice: Madness Returns by including a four-page fold that itself is not a manual but a list of legal bullshit and a pointer to the manual being on disc. EA had previously descended to Activision's level of buyer-snubbing with black-and-white folds while Nintendo and Sony continue with fat full-color pack-ins, but it was never this bad. How many cents did this save you, you cheap bastards? Even 2K's release of Duke Nukem Forever has a full-color, albeit short, "manual" included.
clubside's forum posts
As I get ready for the delivery of this week's new games (Duke Nukem Forever and Alice: Madness Returns) I feel compelled to comment on a trend, no matter how minor, with last week's releases, inFamous 2 and Red Faction: Armageddon. What is in that trend? Well, both games have been fun and have a decent to great level of polish, but that's not it. No, what they share is a prologue built around the main character's failure. That's right, both these games start you off as essentially the one to blame for the predicament you will be tasked with solving. If you want to avoid all spoilers related to the plots of both these games please skip this post, though both opening scenes are fairly well documented in trailers and reviews at this point.
Not every modern console game has a full tutorial level, but many do. Some games just open with the story and prompt you through the basics, slowly weening you of the hand-holding as the level continues. Personally I find the full tutorial level a benefit just from an immersion standpoint, but it's a position difficult to defend. But let's put that aside and talk about game opening failure. Does is change our expectations of story or gameplay? Does it even matter whether it is a psychologically sound method of immersion?
In inFamous 2 you receive a quick montage of the ending of the first title and the setup for your new adventure. This is shortly interrupted by the actual appearance of The Beast, your endgame antagonist. Rather than escaping immediately to the new game's setting, you race to fight your foe and are guided through the basics of movement, ranged combat and special abilities. While there is a certain element to the setup that shows your power, you are wholly ineffectual and it doesn't help that many of the prompts are displayed at times where you can't actually pull them off (yes, I'm holding R1, fat lot of good it's doing while I'm being thrown through the air). At the end, which doesn't actually conclude the chapter as you segue immediately to the new environment sans cut-scene, you witness the locale of the first game utterly destroyed and are alerted that in some way the powers you expected to have given the opening as well as the conclusion of the first title have changed.
Things play out a bit differently in Red Faction: Armageddon as the prologue is self-contained. After the obligatory background about the history of the Red Faction universe and Mars you are thrown into the line of fire. As you are taught the basics of movement and combat as well as a number of abilities you traverse a few locales and fight real fights in what appears to be the beginning of the game. This is, however, just a setup as near the end the antagonist appears in an unrecognizable form and in a manner where you don't have the opportunity to stop them, all leading to the destruction of the colony that was the setting for the earlier entries to the series. While certainly not all your fault, a heavy emphasis on personal blame is placed on your character through narration, implying that your failure in this opening act has lead to all the bad things to come and undermined any success you may have achieved playing the earlier titles.
Both of these opening are immersive, and in Red Faction's case a lot of fun, but how do they set you up psychologically to play the rest of the game? In the case of inFamous 2 things are simpler, you just didn't have the power necessary to defeat the major villain, that'[s your quest in this sequel. Red Faction isn't so kind, making your actions in the prologue wholly worthless because of the outcome. Sure, now you have "something to prove", but reaching this setup required burdening you with the thought that future encounters might be as equally out of your control.
Two other games really came to mind when playing these last week: The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. In the former the prologue turns out to be a dream sequence which I found wholly satisfying both as part of the story and as an introduction to the gameplay, setting you up for a diverse set of tools to come even if many weren't at your disposal as the game proper begins. The latter features you in control of Darth Vader at the peak of his powers giving you a taste for what you will have after your protagonist completes his evolution. It was a very satisfying tutorial that didn't burden your own character as you began the game.
In the end the opening bits of last week's games in no way will dampen my desire to continue to play, but I find it interesting to think what the designers were thinking when deciding to start you off in a virtual hole as opposed to a sense of the power to come.
Sorry, I thought this would be about the general failure of this generation of consoles, not actual hardware failure. While I've had no RRoD, I have had two 360's with drive failures, and three PS3s with the same. Yup, on the reliability front things have been sad, but nowhere near as sad as the general experience, games and costs associated with all the consoles. The truly sad thing is I see no change in the future, the $60 price point will continue to hamper the general public's testing of new titles and competitive matchmaking multiplayer will continue to stifle the community and fun allowed by room-based general joining.
Honestly I don't know how you make a decent demo of an open-world game. You either give away too much (and the file sizes are huge) or you give some glimpse that is more likely to turn people off than excited about the full game.
Since I refuse to play demos I'm curious if anyone out there has ever seen a decent demo of an open-world game?
This is what I get for not loading every game up as I buy them. I got a platformer itch this weekend and finally broke out my Little Big Planet 2 Collector's Edition but of course can't unlock all the goodies with the store down. *waaah* Guess that means more Sly Cooper Collection instead... damn save points *grumble*
How'd you lose your save? I've upgraded mine three (maybe four) times over the years to larger sizes (already down to 70GB on the 250GB) using the copy cable and never had any issues.
As for the game, if you gave me a day and time I'd love to check it out, I think I was bummed by the lack of traditional crash mode and didn't give the game much of a chance. My only real problem is my environment: working at home, surrounded by gadgets, unless I get an email or set an alarm it always appears I'm logged into Xbox Live but it's doubtful I'm on the TV input. If you're interested hit me with a PM!
Interesting procedure for a review, I wouldn't expect any game to draw me in entirely within the first ten minutes. Will you update the reviews if you continue playing the game?Thanks for that, I meant to include it in the post. Yes, I want to write some longer reviews. Expressing my admiration for GTA San Andreas or Butcher Bay will take a lot longer than these and as I'm a bit rusty I guess I'm also using this format to ease back into writing (which I used to do on a weekly basis for underground magazines I published at the three colleges I got kicked out of). If I had been doing this back when I first played Dante's Inferno I would have definitely gone back an expanded to a full review which would also have changed my opinion of the thing.
The only racing game I really loved was Crash 'N Burn mainly because of the online with bots racing in opposite directions. That was hilarious. And probably some destruction derby type games, like the earlier Burnouts. I guess there's a tedium to driving I don't get with other repetive gaming ( hacking and slashing, beat 'em ups, shooters). Trivia, however, I just can't deal with when the same gathering of people is better served by stream-of-consciousness insults. That I can enjoy for hours.
One way to implement the feature without strain on the site's bandwidth or the database would be to choose providers (YouTube, Vimeo) to link relevant videos. I am in the process of doing wiki edits to Intellivision and original Xbox games and would love to associate reviews/quick looks with them.
No, I don't mean I'll spend ten minutes writing the review or it'll take you that long to wade through one. Nope, my new 10-Minute Reviews are designed for other gamers like myself, who either don't have the time or the wont to play games that aren't going to be fun in the long-haul.
I've been a videogame collector since 1980. Yes, even as a penniless child I made sure to squeeze as many cartridges as my parents would bear out of my first system, the Intellivision. I must have had forty or so cartridges by the end. I had even delayed my entry into the home console market after playing a friends Atari VCS and reading the few gaming magazines of the day, know what Mattel had on the horizon. Once my habit was solely funded by myself I was a little pickier, and this was during my Amiga phase when I worked retail and had access to most games through the store or, ahem, other methods, particularly because of the amount of European-developed games for Commodore's brilliant but doomed box. I bought dozens of games for the SNES, Genesis, PS1 and N64 as the new generations rolled in, but as their libraries dwarfed the Intellivision's I wasn't in the same league of completeness.
I stepped things up a notch last generation with the Xbox. While I certainly bought and played my share of PS2 titles, and my favorites were all on that platform ( God of War, Ratchet & Clank series) except for Psychonauts (released later of course, but designed initially for release by Microsoft before they cut it loose), I loved the hard disk and crisp visuals Microsoft's first foray into console gaming provided, and the later released Xbox Live functionality sealed the deal. I went on to buy over 500 games, all of them new, and I played each one at least once to record details for a site I was developing as well as peace of mind (or delusion) I was getting my money's worth. Of course I wasn't, but such is the realm of the videogame hoarder. You can see most of my games in my Collection list, though with no way to sort and filter you'll have to take my word for it.
I'm doing the same thing with this generation, once again with Microsoft's Xbox 360, and I'm well over 800 games. I told myself this time I owed each game at least ten minutes, or until the first save point, whichever was longer. That way my wretched gaming skills might stumble into an Achievement and I could more successfully tell myself I got my money's worth (except for that horrendous Final Fantasy XI, forgot to cancel the subscription for a year). I haven't always been successful, many XBLA games are just too excruciating to hit ten minutes, but I've tried. And now I'm going to use this place as an outlet for my experiences.
It's not just time that leads me to this series, as with most things in life I'm quick to form opinions, and ten minutes in a game is quite generous as opposed to a TV show or movie. Often with a game it only takes a minute or two (my love for Heavy Weapon was cemented in seconds). Sometimes it's less as I loathe sports, strategy, racing and quiz genres but must feed my collecting habit with them for psychotic completeness. I will avoid reviewing games where the genre alone would grant no stars from me and focus on games that I thought, or hoped, would make me want to play them more. So given ten minutes I'll let you know whether I hoped to play some more, and run down major points that lead me to that decision. Hopefully this will be of some use to the game-buying public if not just my sanity.
I have posted the first review in this series, The First Templar, and will get a few more up before posting one for the game I planned to do first, Heavy Rain, as that game's fanbase will not be appreciative and I'm not ready for the "you just don't get it" vitriol today.
Don't know if anyone here can offer an answer but figured I'd try before annoying a mod with a PM:
The game Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, which I own from the Xbox Live Arcade, does not list the 360, or Xbox Live Marketplace, as a platform. However Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting lists Xbox. When I go to the achievements page the proper game (the Turbo version) is pulled with the SNES box shot, and if I click the game link from the achievements page it takes me to that one. Since I own every XBLA release I did a quick check and Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting is not available for the 360, only the Turbo-named version. Rather than blindly editing the page and potentially getting rejected I figured I'd ask if there was some rationale behind associating the non-Turbo version with the Xbox rather than the Turbo version?
I know you fighting game fans out there can get pretty anal over minor (?) version differences so maybe there's a reason a version not released is marked and one that has been released is not.