Dead in My Tracks

 



 
Dear God above, has there been a more frustrating game in the past five years than Dead Rising?  I mean besides Mega Mans 9 & 10.  Those were intentionally meant to brutalize you.  Although I guess Dead Rising was too.  And they are both from Capcom.  Hmm...

Oh right, I was talking about being frustrated by Dead Rising.  I didn't own a 360 back when it first came out, so I missed it back when it was a big deal.  When all the talk about the sequel started, I thought I should go try the original.  I knew there were some quirks involving the save system, but I figured I could put up with it if the game was good.  So I bought a Greatest Hits copy last year and gave it a go.  I played it for about an hour, up till the first boss fight with Carlito.  I got murdered.  I went back to try it again.  Got murdered again.  And this wasn't a quick death, either.  I worked on that boss fight for like twenty minutes, struggling with the crappy gun controls in an attempt to hit the guy before I went down in a heap again.  I didn't play the game again for six months (rough estimate).

 Serioulsy, screw these guys.
Now before you send me your strategies for getting past Carlito, you should know that I've now conquered that little problem.  I tried the game again last weekend, and somehow I utterly owned that jerk.  I just got up on the platform and emptied bullets into his face until he ran away (he looked remarkably unscathed, too.  I would think he'd look more like Officer Murphy before they turned him into Robocop).  And what do you know?  Things get harder.  Now while the zombies are an issue due to their ridiculous numbers, I'm willing to put up with that.  I expect that.  Having to cut a path through an overwhelming number of zombies is what this game is all about.  What I didn't expect was to keep getting gunned down by some stupid convicts with a jeep mounted machine gun.  These guys are the worst.  The literal worst.  They make it nearly impossible to rescue survivors, especially if you have to carry or support them.

And that's another thing!  If there are multiple survivors that I'm leading around, shouldn't one of them be able to carry the lame one?  I mean, I'm the guy with the broadsword that can chop the zombies into piles of goo.  I'm the one they all shriek at for help when they try to fistfight the zombie horde.  Some of them will actually have the brains to pick up a weapon, but my God are they inept even when they do that.  I had to fight off a psychotic, fire breathing clown who was dual wielding chainsaws.  Couldn't I have just played along with his psychosis in order to get him to help me thin out the horde?  No, I have to kill him so I can get two whiny and useless Japanese tourists through the food court.  I doesn't matter if I get them past the food court, though.  The jerks in the jeep will kill them no matter what.  God, I hate those guys.

Look, I know I'm late to the party.  I'm sure these complaints have been thrown around numerous times over the last three or four years.  But I'm just now encountering this nonsense, and it's really ticking me off.  And here's the worst part:  I still want to play the game.  A reasonable human being would just turn off the console and say, "Nah, son.  I don't need that kind of grief."  But apparently I have some inner masochist in me (my desire to try Demon's Souls should have alerted me to that), because I still want to jump back in at some point.  But not for a while.  I need to cool off for a couple weeks.  Maybe I'll have some revelatory breakthrough like last time that let me blaze through Carlito.  I can only hope so, for my sanity's sake. 
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Fatality!

From Ed Boon:

“This game really is a response to what players have been demanding: mature presentation, reinvented 2D fighting mechanic and the best, most gruesome fatalities ever!”


  Is that really going to drive sales?  I remember MK back in the day being the game that was outrageous.  You'd look at the arcade machine, see a dude get his head ripped off (with the spine still attached), and say to your friend, "Dude!  That was sick!  Awesome!"  It was one of the first games to depict that kind of over-the-top violence, at least in a mainstream capacity.  Nowadays, extreme violence is not that out of the ordinary.  You have Kratos ripping guys in half with his bare hands (and that's one of his tamer moves).  You have the Bloody Mess Perk in the Fallout games.  You've got ridiculous ways of impaling dudes in Wii games like MadWorld.  The "most gruesome fatalities ever!" in the new MK game doesn't seem like that strong of a selling point these days. 
 
Still, nostalgia is definitely the rule of the day right now.  And Street Fighter 4 has shown that you can capture the nostalgic feel while still making the gameplay seem fresh.  It's a tricky balance to achieve, but I think that Ed Boon's quote was likely an attempt to say, "Yeah, we're going to try to do that."  They want people to look at it and say, "Hey!  Mortal Kombat!  I remember when that was awesome!"  And then they want them to pick it up and say, "Hey!  This is actually pretty cool still!"  But with all the sub-par to downright crappy MK games they were churning out for a while there, I wonder if Mortal Kombat still has the power to do that?  Or is this a way to appease the remnants of the Mortal Kombat fan base, who were upset at the T-rating for MK vs. DC?  Are they just conceding to them, since they're the only ones who are still willing to buy a Mortal Kombat game?  I don't know.  But hey, at least that concept movie trailer was pretty cool, right?  They should make that movie.  I'd watch it.
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Trying to Forget

There's a phrase I've been hearing every now and then over the past few years that really bothers me.  When I hear it, it's being used as a criticism of a game, and it just kind of hits a bad chord with me.  That phrase is "It made me feel like I was playing a video game".   You might hear different variations like, "it never made me forget I was playing a game," or "it would do things that reminded me I was playing a game," etc.  Whenever I hear this kind of statement, it makes me clench my jaw, and I can feel a slight nerd rage build up.  I just want to shout, "Of course it feels like a game!  You are playing a video game for crying out loud!" 
 
Now I'm not harping on the criticism itself.  I get the idea behind it, and it can be a valid point.  There can be elements in a game that can break the "immersion", if you will forgive the cliche.  The way the HUD is designed, the way the controls work, and/or the way the in-game tutorials are designed are just some of the moments that can spark this comment.  Sometimes I'll agree with the commenter's point and sometimes I won't.  The idea behind the comment isn't what I have a problem with.  It's the comment itself. 
 
Describing something as "gamey" or calling out something because it made someone remember they were playing a video game just irks me.  It makes me think that this person wants a scenario where they're playing a game, look down at their hands to see the controller, and they experience a moment of utter confusion.  "What the...why am I holding this?  When did I...Oh yeaaaaaaaah.  I'm playing a game."  I can't imagine that the real issue here is that someone doesn't want to remember that they're playing a video game.  I like video games and want to play them.  I believe that the people making these comments do to, considering that they are usually game journalists.  Complaining that you can't forget you are playing a game makes no sense to me.  Is the problem that the interface is too obtrusive?  Or intrusive?  Are there rendering problems that mess with the cut scenes, or is there an issue with pop-in textures?  Call out the specific complaint.  Saying it feels like a game doesn't help me understand in the issue with the game; It just irritates me.  Of course, some people will go on to describe what part of the game bothered them and made them feel this way.  In that case, I feel like the 'game' comment is just there for the sake of being snarky.  And hey, I make snarky comments all the time, so I'm not going to call someone out for doing that.  It's just that this one in particular grates on me and seems out of place.  
 
Am I the only who gets bothered when this statement gets made?  Or even notices went it gets made?  

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This Blog Post Is Brought To You By...

I hear the discussion every now and then.  Well, OK, I actually hear someone talk about hearing the discussion.  That person is usually Jeff Gerstmann, and the discussion is about in-game advertising.  When I hear Jeff talk about it (on the Bombcast.  I'm not trying to claim he and I are tight buds or anything), he mentions that apparently there are people who are offended whenever they see some form of in-game ad.  Since I've never really waded into the debate or looked it up, I can't say I really know all the arguments about why.  Maybe that's why I don't really understand why some people think in-game ads are such a big deal. 
 
Two recent games really stick out in my mind regarding this topic: Splinter Cell Conviction and Alan Wake.  During a few of the Bombcasts, I've heard the crew laugh about and deride the Dr. Pepper ads in Splinter Cell, which I guess is just a big wall texture or something.  Honestly, I've never seen this ad.  And I've played Conviction.  I've played a lot of Conviction.  And yet somehow I missed these ads.  I have no idea what the Dr. Pepper ads look like in Splinter Cell Conviction.  So I guess the ad failed in my case.  Or maybe it worked TOO well.  Maybe it just blended into the game world like a normal ad in the real world would.  And like one of those ads, I just ignored it.  Either way, can you complain about an ad that can somehow go unnoticed? 
 
The ads in Alan Wake are a bit more obvious, at least to me.  When Alan first picks up a flashlight, you see Energizer written down the side.  And supposedly you keep picking up Energizer batteries during the game.  But those battery packs are so small, I honestly couldn't tell if they were branded or not.  The only time I ever recall seeing the Energizer brand was in the moment I described above.  It's not like Alan runs around proclaiming, "God Bless the Energizer Bunny!  I'd be doomed without the ability to harness the power of lithium!"  Then there are the Verizon ads.  Late in the game, there is a large billboard out by the street that is pretty much just the Verizon logo.  You know what?  I didn't care.  There are billboards out there in the world, and some of them are for Verizon.  Seeing something like that in this game didn't ruin the atmosphere for me.  It seemed feasible.   
 
OK, so there is apparently an actual TV ad for Verizon in the game as well.  I say apparently, because I never found it when I played through the game.  I just saw it for the first time today on YouTube.  And you get an achievement for watching the ad.  That's pretty lame.  But as I said before, I never saw this ad when I played the game.  You aren't forced to watch it.  The game doesn't halt and play the ad, keeping you from moving forward until you acknowledge that you can indeed hear him now.  So I can't really complain about this ad.  Tycho of Penny Arcade fame discusses this stuff in his newspost for a comic on this topic, and I basically agree with his point of view.  The TV ad is annoying, but I don't think it really has an impact on the game.
 
I guess I just don't really get what's so offensive about in-game ads.  Again, it's not like they're TV commercials, where the action is brought to a screeching halt while you watch the Sham-Wow guy hock his wares.  Alan Wake's TV ad may come close, but I maintain that since you don't have to watch it, it doesn't count.  I think product placement sometimes makes a game feel more grounded in reality.  Seeing a Coke machine instead of a "Cola" machine, or seeing someone use a branded phone just makes it seem like the game relates to our world just a little bit more.  Sure, if this stuff shows up in a game like Mass Effect, that's kind of reaching.  And it would be really offensive if it was in a fantasy world, like in Star Wars or a Mario game.  But I haven't come across a situation yet in a game where I come across an ad or product placement, twisted my face, and said, "Oh come on!"  What is it about ads and product placement that bothers some people?  Is it the belief that corporations are evil, soulless machines that produce nothing but death and decay?  Guess what?  If you bought a big budget game, you have supported at least one of those corporations with that purchase.  If you refuse to buy those kinds of games and only get indie titles?  Well why are you complaining?!  You've already dealt with the situation.  And if you pirated the game?  Well, without getting into the debate about the morality of piracy, do you really think you have the right to complain about the content of a game you didn't have to pay any money for?  The only thing it cost you was bandwidth.  Heck, you're probably stealing that too.
 
Of course, there are games made by companies that are purely ads within themselves.  Remember those Burger King games they made for the Xbox?  I would say those are offensive not because they were ads in game form, but because they're pretty bad games.  Plus, I don't think they really cost anything.  Weren't they packed in with a value meal or something as a promotional item?  Maybe they were a couple of bucks.  I don't remember.  Then there was Darkened Skye, the infamous game about Skittles.  You know what?  I actually kind of liked that game.  I never got very far, and yeah, the controls weren't all that great, but I actually found it to be kind of entertaining.  Maybe that makes me a bad person.  And I have to mention Chex Quest.  It was a game about a character who was a piece of Chex who went around fighting aliens, and it was built using the Doom engine.  Come on, that sounds kind of awesome, doesn't it?  And it was actually fun to play, again because it used the Doom engine.  Plus it was free.  OK, so you had to buy the cereal, but I'm not going to complain about having a bowl of Chex to eat while I'm playing a Doom clone.  Heck, make some Chex Mix with it.   My point is that a game built around a product isn't necessarily a horrible thing.  It's only bad if the game is bad and you had to pay some extra cash for it.  Which most people have the good sense not to do.
 
So yeah, I'm OK with ads and product placement in video games.  I'm not saying I'd be OK with it in any form and any situation. I've already mentioned some scenarios where I think this stuff would be unwelcome.  If I saw stuff like that in my games (or like this comic), I'd join those who raise their voices against the advertising machine.  But right now, I don't see the problem.  Video games are pretty expensive to make.  I don't mind letting the game developers cover those costs in the form of the occasional product placement.  If I have to use an Energizer flashlight in order to experience a game like Alan Wake , I don't think that's such a bad deal.  

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Bury My Heart In New Austin

I'm sitting in front of my computer at work, but I'm not really there.  My mind is out wandering the wilderness of New Austin.  I'm waiting to get back out there and explore the vast expanse.  Maybe I'll go track down some treasure.  Maybe I'll go find that snake oil merchant that's gone missing.  Maybe I'll go help out Miss MacFarlane on the ranch.  Or maybe I'll go check out that movie house to see a silent film.  There's nothing but freedom of choice out there for me.  Me and my horse.  My warhorse, which was day one DLC, that I guess is supposed to be better than any other horse.  So I won't go buying any other horses, I guess.  Look, what I'm trying to say is that Red Dead Redemption is awesome. 
 
I wasn't sure how Redemption was going to turn out when it was in development.  I never played Red Dead Revolver, so I didn't have any fond or bitter memories to form any expectations.  The trailers looked promising, but when has a Rockstar trailer not looked promising?  It wasn't until the reviews started coming out being almost unanimously glowing that I decided I needed to own it.  And when I was able to start wandering around an authentic looking ranch community while the fiddle heavy soundtrack played, I knew the game had me hooked.  It's the atmosphere that nails it for me.  There's a wide open expanse with only pockets of humanity within it, and it's teeming with wildlife.  The voice acting is terrific, with the dialogue sounding authentic for the period.  Or at least I assume.  I wasn't around back then, so I'm not exactly an expert.  The treasure maps are purposefully limited, forcing you to have to pay attention to your surroundings if you actually want to get your hands on some treasure.  And I am way too addicted to playing poker in the game.  I may have a problem.  Basically, it feels like the developers really wanted to nail down the feel of being a part of the Old West.   I could see myself getting lost in this world for quite some time.
 
My biggest concern is also one of the game's greatest strengths: it's a lot like GTA IV.  That's awesome, because that engine allowed you to explore a huge place with a lot of people in it, and do a large variety of things.  And I loved GTA IV.  Up until I got about 2/3 of the way through it.  That's when the little issues I had with the game blew up into huge flaws.  If you died during a mission, you were screwed.  Yeah, a text message would pop up letting you jump right back into the mission, but it was the beginning of the mission.  The very beginning.  Which meant you had to drive ALL THE WAY BACK to where the mission actually started.  And when you died at the end of a mission because you just couldn't ditch the cops, well that was frustrating beyond belief.  I remember playing the freighter mission near the end of the game, and dying real close to the end.  That was a long mission, and dying at that point made me clench my jaw and fists as a reflex.  I had to turn off the XBox because I just couldn't bear the thought of doing that all over again right then.  And there were just other minor rough spots with some of the controls and the cover system that just nagged enough to become real annoyances late in the game.  It really kind of soured me on the GTA IV experience as a whole, enough so that I grimaced each time it won a Game of the Year award (even though it probably deserved them).     
 
I'm hoping some of those annoyances are addressed in Red Dead Redemption.  I'm still early on and haven't died yet, but I'm guessing my time will come.  Let's hope they've got some better checkpoint system in place.  I'm really enjoying the game, and want to keep enjoying it without technical issues getting in the way.  I want to experience John Marston's story and see what it has to tell.  And I hope that I love the game as much at the end of it as I do here at the start.  

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Nitpicking

Maybe I'm just getting older and have less time on my hands, or maybe I'm changing with the mood of the culture, but I'm finding I'm having difficulty sticking with one game at a time.  There's more than a couple times I've been playing a game and thought, "Come on, just end it all ready!"  I suppose this is a testament to the stories in these games, though, since I'm willing to keep playing through the game to see how it ends.  Or maybe I just want to finally finish the game so I don't feel like I've wasted the time I've invested.  Regardless of the reason, I have managed to get through a couple games recently.  They are all solid games (with one major exception), but I can't help but notice some things in all of them, including the length.  So bear with me as I get down to picking some nits with the games I've been playing.

First up is Dead Space.  I liked this game, though I found I got tired of the gameplay about 3/4's of the way through.  The shooting was solid, but it felt like the same thing each time, no matter the variety of enemies I faced.  Of course, I also didn't buy too many different weapons, and stuck with the pistol, flamethrower, pulse gun, and sawblades.  So maybe I'm to blame for the repetition.  But I still think I was a couple hours too long.  I'm kind of curious how Isaac was the only one who managed to handle these creatures.  I mean, we have trained soldiers who are no match for the horrific monsters, but an engineer is able to mow down countless hordes of them?  That kind of stuck out to me, but not enough to ruin the atmosphere.  And the atmosphere is terrific, I have to say.  The way the plot and tension build, I was convinced Isaac was going to die at the end (I won't spoil it by saying if he does or not).  The ending confused me, though.  I'm talking about the very last part.  If you've beaten it, you probably know what I'm referring to.  That happens and then the credits roll.  It was a true WTF moment for me.

Another game that overstayed its welcome was Condemned: Criminal Origins.  I've only had my 360 for about a year now, so I missed this one when it came out.  I had to go hunt down a used copy, and the only reason I did that was so I could play the sequel.  I have a hang up about needing to know the continuity in stories.  In a pinch, Wikipedia will work, but if I can go through the original then I prefer to go that way.  I liked Condemned, but it was way too easy to get frustrated by the combat and incredibly dark enemies.  And yes, I know that was intentionally designed that way.  I was very ready for that game to be over before I beat it.  Well beat it I did, and went on to Condemned 2: Bloodshot.  In fact, I pretty much started it immediately after finishing the first.  That had advantages and disadvantages.  It became very clear what a huge leap the sequel made in graphical quality.  It looked beautiful after Criminal Origins.  It also really confused me with the combat.  They didn't change it that much, but it was enough to throw me off when the enemies attacked faster and the blocking was a little different.  Eventually I got into the rythym and found myself enjoying the game much more than the first (for whatever reason).  Unfortunately, my save file seems to have been corrupted and now it wants to take me all the way back to the start.  So maybe someday I'll finish Bloodshot, but right now, I just can't make myself go back through the last seven hours of that game so soon.

I can't really complain about the length of Prince of Persia, since it's not that long.  But I still found it pretty repetitive.  The reviews all pretty much nail it.  The game is beautiful, and the dialouge between the Prince and Elika was brilliant.  But you pretty much just do the same stuff over the course of the whole game, and it doesn't take much skill to beat the game.  Occasionally the bosses will give you a challenge, but it's not much.  The gameplay just seemed to be missing something the last couple games had, and I don't know what it was. 

Oh, but one game I have plenty to gripe about is Mirror's Edge.  Oh wow, did they screw this one up.  I really wanted to like this game.  I really, really wanted to like it.  In fact, I convinced myself I DID like it at one point.  I read Ryan's review and thought he was probably being too hard on the game, and that I could look past any faults and enjoy the free-running action.  Boy was I wrong.  His review is spot on, let me tell you.  There are good moments in Mirror's Edge, but they get dragged down by everything that's wrong with the game.  There are times you'll swear you pulled off a move right only to have Faith jump around like an idiot and plummet to her death.  The characters are unlikeable, the story is dumb and forgetable, and the e-Surance cutscenes are...well they're not THAT bad.  But the worst part is the combat.  Oh God, the combat.  Why...WHY...did they insist on having you fight in this game?!  It's just stupid!!  Faith is supposed to be a Runner.  I take that to mean she runs.  Not fight off tacital SWAT teams with kung fu.  I played through a lot of the game without firing a gun, partly for the acheivement and partly because shooting cops didn't make sense to me.  What if these guys are just following orders, trying to live out their lives and then go home to their families?  Yeah, they're working for a shady government, but who am I to judge?  I didn't feel heroic putting a bullet to their heads.  But I eventually found it impossible to continue if I didn't kill some dudes.  It felt wrong.  And the combat is broken regardless of how you play.  Every time that douchebag Merc told me to get ready for a fight, I felt like chucking my controller through the TV.  Oh, and Merc is a douchebag.  This is a spoiler, but when his character died, I actually chuckled and cracked a smile.  That's how much I hated that guy.  He actually chews you out for not knowing where you're supposed to go.  How about giving me a hint or something, instead of yelling at me to move my ass, you useless piece of crap!  For some reason I was determined to beat the game, so I kept at it and nearly did, but eventually I just reached a point where I had to throw up my hands and call it quits.  I think I'll be a better person for it.

So that's pretty much it.  I did beat World at War, but there's not much to say.  It's a Call of Duty game.  It's good.  It's not COD4.  Overall, I've had to accept that growing up and becoming an adult is changing the way I play and think about games.  I don't have the time I did before to power through Final Fantasy (or any other RPG).  I have more income to spend on games and less time, so I've got games piling up to play and no time to beat them.  So the movement I see in our culutre in regards to gaming makes sense to me.  I want more quality in my game and less quantity.  COD4 had one of the best single player stories ever, and I didn't feel ripped off about it being incredibly short.  I want to get through Fallout 3, or Fable 2 (or even FFXII...) but I can't seem to get a few hours into them before I feel like playing something else.  I know there are these incredible gaming experiences out there, and I don't always feel like I can devote a whole month of my time to one game at a time.  I hope developers are taking note of this with their consumers, because if we get more experiences like COD4, I think many of us will be more satisfied with our games as a whole.  We'll feel like we got our moneys worth, got closure by beating the game, and still have time to have a life somehow.  But I'm sure even if that happens, we'll find ways to nitpick.  I mean, we're gamers.  It's what we do best.

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Life After Addiction

I seem to be living off of downloadable games.  Geometry Wars 2, Braid, Bionic Commando Rearmed, and Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People have been occupying the vast majority of my time, with brief stints of Hotel Dusk wedged in during bathroom breaks.  Although I've beaten that now (again), so I guess I have to find something else to do while on my porcelain cruises.  But I'm sure no one cares about my time in the bathroom, so I'll cut that out right now. 

But all those things seem like dust right now.  I'm finding it hard to pump myself up to play these games.  The reason?  I beat Peggle.  I don't mean the adventure mode.  That thing went down like a day after I got the game.  I'm not talking about Challenge mode either.  That took me a while, but that went down earlier this year.  I mean I BEAT Peggle.  There's nothing left to accomplish.  I cleared every level and got the extreme master trophy.  Now I'm sitting here wondering what to do next.  Peggle had been my fallback game, and I was determined to conquer it.  Now that I have...well, it's like the Joker said in The Dark Knight: "I'm like a dog chasing cars.  If I caught one, I wouldn't know what to do with it!"  Well, I caught that car.  I'm playing those games listed above, but I'm just playing.  I don't feel compelled.  Maybe now I can catch up on my reading?

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Siren = Progress?!

I love the idea of digital distribution, if only because it's one less reason to get off my bloated behind and venture into the wild outdoors.  My transformation into a crazed shut-in is almost complete!  So when Siren: Blood Curse was released as a downloadable title on the PS3, I was all for it.  I used to cower in the corner while cradling a shotgun at the thought of horror games like Siren or Silent Hill, but now for some reason I can't get enough of them.  I tried the demo, thought it was an interesting, and bought the game.  I downloaded the first episode, which took over an hour, installed it, and got to play for maybe five minutes before the episode was over.  Okay, so it's just a prelude.  No problem.  The rest will be meatier, I'm sure.

I decided I would download the rest of the game so I wouldn't relive the hour-download-equals-five-minute-gameplay disappointment again.  I started that download Saturday night.  It is now Monday morning and IT'S STILL FREAKING DOWNLOADING!!  I haven't even installed the game yet!  It's only on episode 8!  Now, I didn't do any downloading on Sunday, but still!  It's taken three hours to get TWO of the episodes!  TWO!!  There are twelve of these things!  Yes, I should have expected this for a game that must be around twelve gigabytes.  It's just that we hail the idea of digital distribution as the great future that retail is holding back.  Yet if this game was in stores (which it will be soon), it would take maybe fifteen minutes for me to go pick it up and and play in my system.  OK, barring the likely mandatory install the game will have, but still!  That would take at most an hour.  This download is taking almost half a day!  Digital distribution may be the future, but it will be a while before it's actually practical for console owners.  At least there's Geometry Wars 2 to keep me busy until then (which only took like a minute to download and play).

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The Nintendo DS: Or how to survive and thrive while housesitting

Man, there's some cool stuff out on consoles right now.  I'm dying to go try the demo for Siren: Blood Curse, or go nab Geometry Wars 2.  Unfortunately, I'm house sitting right now and am nowhere near my consoles to go buy and play any of that.  Thank God for the DS.  You know, there's a lot of talk right now about how Nintendo has abandoned its fanbase to go fish the bountiful waters of the mainstream market.  And yeah, they have in a way.  I'm not going to argue against an obvious fact.  The latest talk is about there aren't any good "hardcore" games on the radar for the Wii right now.  But just turn your head towards the DS, and you'll find plenty on offer to satisfy your tastes.  Unless your tastes involve high-def graphics, in which case, you probably stopping giving a damn about Nintendo a long time ago. 

So I've had my attention occupied lately by three games.  The first is Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2: Grimoire of the Rift.  I haven't gotten too deep into it yet, but yeah, it's an FF Tactics game.  Cool look, deep gameplay, and I'll probably want to claw out the designers eyes at some point when I get wiped out by some fluffy bunny.  I paused playing that to get into Final Fantasy IV.  This has been one of my most anticipated games of the year, even in the midst of a year with GTA IV, MGS4 (man, a lot of fours this year!), and Fallout 3.  Not that I was wanting it more than those games, it was just up there with them.  It hasn't disappointed.  Beautiful graphics (for the DS) and voice acting compliment the storyline, and there's still the challenging difficulty that forces you to go grind in order to survive.  I might finally beat this game!

It might take a while, though, because I put THAT game on hold to replay Hotel Dusk: Room 215.  Holy cow, do I still love this game.  It was one of my favorite games last year, and it still stands strong a second time through.  I really wish there were more games like this for the DS, and way, way less of that Bratz crap that clutters up the Target display case.  I think Hotel Dusk was poorly marketed, because I could see a concept like this going huge.  Look at the popularity of mystery novels.  And remember how big a deal Myst was back in the day?  So why not market this game (or a line of game) as interactive mystery stories for the DS?  Am I the only one who thinks this could be a big deal?  I mean, even my mom owns a DS!  She frikken' loves mystery stories!  Anyways, Hotel Dusk still rules, and so do the two Final Fantasy games so far released this year.  I may be away from the 360 and PS3 for a couple weeks, but I sure haven't suffered any withdrawals.

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Jimmy's Gaming Journal

Jimmy's Gaming Journal - 7/23/08

So I decided to start a journal about the games I'm playing.  I don't know if anyone will ever read it, but it might be fun to update every now and then.  I started The Bourne Conspiracy yesterday, and I almost quit yesterday too.  The first mission just pissed me off.  The designers thought it would be cool to have you go through the mission where Jason ends up losing his memory, but they just take a piss all over the whole premise of Jason Bourne in the process.  In The Bourne Identity, Jason learns that he was supposed to be a silent assassin, one that makes hits without anyone knowing he did it.  In the movie, he was supposed to kill Wambosi in a way that made it look like only one of Wambosi's own men could have pulled the trigger.  No one was supposed to know Bourne was ever there.  In the game, the bad guys know he's there from the start.  You fight other assassins, Wambosi's army, blow up a fuel station, and then fake your death in the water so Wambosi's men think you're dead.  However, not five minutes later, you get in a huge gunfight on the boat with men screaming, "It's the assassin from the docks!"  So what was the point of that whole fake death thing?!  Just utter stupidity.  That whole mission didn't make me feel like I was a part of the story at all.

The gameplay is decent, though repetitive and frustrating at times.  There seems to be too much emphasis on the shooting gameplay, which again seems odd in a game about Jason Bourne.  But the emphasis here is on when he was an assassin, so that doesn't matter too much.  In the end, it's not a bad game, but not really a good game either.  I'll probably play it a little longer, but I wonder if I'll finish it or just move on to something better.

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