Continuing in my exploration of Playstation 3 games, I completed Infamous in around 20 or so hours. This open-world game was more to my liking than the two Uncharted games I've played. Still, it didn't take long for some fatigue to set in as the third-person shooting combat and platforming diminished in novelty. While the mechanics are solid enough, there is a lack of silliness in the game (aside from the entertaining homing function of the missile-esque Megawatt Hammer) that I desire from open-world games. Compared to the grappling hook antics of Just Cause 2 and the ridiculous powers of Prototype, Infamous is a bit drab. Adding to this, the platforming has frustrated me at some points when the character fails to grab an important beam or ledge and I don't understand why he failed.
The game looks and sounds well enough though the frame rate suffers from slow down. The game locked-up on me twice. The story was fine until it reached's stupid conclusion. I have Infamous 2 so I hope to see Sucker Punch improve.
In one of the rare instances where I pre-ordered a game, I got to play Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon as soon as it came out. The experience was shorter than I expected - I completed 100% of the game in 7 hr 56 min.- but it was great. The '80s action movie trappings and tropes struck a nostalgic chord with me and the fourth wall jokes were tolerable. The game moves so fast that I didn't feel the need to drive a jeep all that often. The openness of the combat is what I desire out of a first-person shooter, and it was always fun mixing up how I secured a garrison. I was afraid that the game wouldn't run well on my PC, but instead the game ran smoothly and looked great.
There are already rumblings of a sequel to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. I look forward to more.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves took me a little longer to beat than its predecessor. I estimate a good 8-9 hours to go through the game's 25 chapters. The game is very pretty; it is impressive how the crazy action set-pieces are all in real-time. The sound, music, and voice work are quite good too.
As much as I enjoy looking at and listening to the game, I didn't enjoy playing it very much. The three cores of Uncharted 2 are platforming, puzzles, and combat. The puzzles are simple and few in number, and the platforming needs little precision or thought. The majority of the time spent in Uncharted 2 is in its combat, and the combat can be awful and frustrating. The weapons have enough spread to make first-shots imprecise, the enemies are resilient, the enemy count is high, and some enemy types are a pain to deal with. By the end of the game, Drake has to kill two dozen soldiers wielding pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, magnum pistols, rocket launchers, grenade launchers, riot shields, and ballistic armor in every enemy encounter. With the somewhat low health Drake has, the third-person shooting in Uncharted 2 becomes a maddening slog. And then the game introduces a new enemy that is highly evasive and extremely resilient.
The copy of Uncharted 2 I have reads "Game of the Year Edition" on it so I played the game with such expectations. Perhaps it was a different time in 2009, but I'm finding it hard to comprehend that so many people had little or no issues with the combat. Since Uncharted 2 is regarded as the best in the series, I dread what I will think of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception when I get around to playing it.
I got Iron Brigade (PC) a few months ago in a great packaged deal. It has taken me 16 hours to achieve total victory, but it is actually 26 hours due to losing a save. This game delivered exactly what I wanted: fun shooting and tower defending with a light mech lab element. While I ran in to a stuttering frame rate, it wasn't too severe to greatly diminish the joy I had in shooting Tubes and stopping the Broadcast.
I have recently acquired a PlayStation 3 and it came bundled with a bunch of games. The system is the newest revision with the sliding, top-loading disc drive. It looks and feels cheap, but it looks nice and runs quietly.
The first bundled game I played to completion was Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. This game was released all the way back in 2007 and its age is apparent. The game has a mix of cover-based shooting, light environmental puzzles, and simple platforming. It handles this mix with competency, but never with greatness. As the game dragged on in the 7-8 hours it took to complete, I was relieved to see it end. Of course, the game had to throw in a QTE finale to disgust me before the credits rolled.
The game looks and sounds nice enough. There are some rough aspects to the graphics, but I chalk that up to age. It's educational to play a game this old (and it hasn't even been that long) to gain a perspective on how games have changed. With all the great buzz, I'm eager to play Uncharted 2 and see how Naughty Dog improves on the first game.
Microsoft was having a big Xbox Live sale on Xbox Live Arcade games and Games on Demand. Halo: Reach was on sale for $9.99, so I purchased and downloaded it. It has been a while since I've played Halo 3 and I was always curious about the story of Halo: Reach. After around 8 hours, my curiosity was satisfied and Reach has been remembered.
The combat of Halo has always been an interesting and engaging puzzle and Reach reminds me of how much fun it is. Granted, I grew tired of it as the campaign neared its end but it is still a unique and enjoyable style among first-person shooters. The Halo style of combat is the same as it ever was even when paired with the somber tale Reach tells. I was hoping that the more dramatic moments of Reach's story would touch me more than they did but instead they came off as standard fare. That's fine, but I would've liked something more.
Halo: Reach looks and sounds great. While not a technical marvel, the art direction makes the fall of Reach beautiful. The musical score carries the tone of desperation, mortality, and hope that befits the story.
With Halo: Reach done, I am happily full of Halo for a good while. I do want to play the stories of Halo 3: ODST and Halo 4 eventually, but I am in no rush. In the meanwhile, Reach will be remembered.
Early in December last year (2012), I bought a shiny and blue Nintendo 3DS XL with a digital copy of Mario Kart 7. It has been a long time since I've owned a Nintendo handheld - my last one being a(n original) Game Boy Advance - so I was excited to have a new Nintendo portable system. However, I noticed a blemish on the top screen of my 3DS XL. There was a patch of off-bright pixels near the center of the top screen that becomes apparent during still moments or bright scenes. I thought it was nothing at first, but as the weeks passed by it became clear that there was a distracting defect on the top screen of my 3DS.
So I called Nintendo customer service around late January 2013 and set up a repair order. I sent my new 3DS XL off to repaired. It should come back with a fixed screen, right? Sadly, that was not the case. The repair only replaced the screen cover, but the defect is deep within the display itself. After much contemplation, I called Nintendo customer service again to see if I can get the defective top screen replaced. Thankfully, the warranty still applied to this case and this second repair won't cost me anything. The second repair replaced the top screen and my blemish-free 3DS XL came back to me in early March 2013.
It was disappointing to have the beginning of my 3DS XL ownership be marked with defects and repair orders. Hardware defects are a part of complex electronics and it was unlucky of me to pick the unit with an issue. Still, my experience with getting the 3DS XL repaired was an easy one, even with the ineffectual first repair. Also, my system was eventually repaired to my satisfaction which is what matters most in the end. I look forward to enjoying my 3DS games in the future!
I always get excited when a weird Japanese game gets a PC port. Sega's Binary Domain nails the "weird" and "Japanese" parts and is a fun game as well. It took me around 11 hours to see the story to the end and I was surprised at how much I cared for the story of a third-person shooter. Not only are there a good twist here and there, but the characters are endearing enough to be likable and memorable. The story is helped by the game's conversation system that lets you reply to your squad's questions and comments. The extra dialogue goes a long way for an action game's story.
The gun play of the game could have stood to be tightened. The cover and aiming are competent but never reach higher. Thankfully, the robot enemies are wonderful and explode spectacularly when hit with assault rifle fire. Also, the boss fights in the game are pretty spectacular. While some bosses can take too many bullets and have a lot of attacks that knock down the player, I can't hate on them when they let me see a spider robot hopping on its last leg.
Japan has stumbled with its person-shooter games of the past, so it is nice to see Sega's Binary Domain get things mostly right. While it is unlikely that there will ever be a sequel or successor, I would certainly love one.
I waited for the patch that never came so I raced on without it. In spite of severe performance issues on my desktop PC, I beat the #1 most wanted racer in Criterion Game's Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012, PC) in just shy of 21 hours. The game is good racing fun, though it doesn't have the much of the silliness of Burnout: Paradise.
It is an extreme disappointment that the game does not work properly on my PC even after patches that were supposed to address frame rate issues. During a race, the game would stutter horribly or out right freeze before sending my car straight in to a wall. The frustrating part is that the game can run fine in certain areas or under certain circumstances. I don't know if it's a problem on my end or somewhere else. What I do know is that Burnout: Paradise (PC) performs wonderfully and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (PC) plays fine, so it is sad that Most Wanted performs so poorly.
Recently, Criterion Games has shown off the Need for Speed: Most Wanted U for the Nintendo Wii U and that version of the game looks very good. Perhaps I will pick up that version for cheap when I get a Wii U a year or a few years from now.
Farewell THQ and thank you for Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (PC). I acquired the game through the ridiculous THQ Mega Pack offered by Amazon. After 8 hours of playing as the Ultramarine Captain Titus, I foil the machinations of chaos on a forge world. I come to the Warhammer 40,000 for over-the-top ridiculousness and Space Marine delivered. Taking each on their own, the shooting and melee elements are competent, but the atmosphere and personality of the Warhammer 40,000 universe put a grin on my face every time I fire the bolt gun at an ork or slam a hammer in to a chaos space marine.
It's a shame that the environments you fight in are subdued when compared to the lively characters and action. There is some wonderful and crazy architecture at times, but it is mostly dreary. While I enjoy the banter of the orks, sound samples are repeated frequently enough to be annoying. Lastly, the final encounter is a disappointing set of enemy waves culminating in a quick timing event.
I do hope Relic is able to make a follow up to Space Marine under the wings of Sega. Action games are better with when they have personality, and the personality Warhammer 40,000 brings is one I adore.