Wow, I haven't written a new blog here in ages. I know that now thanks to the Giant Bomb quest system! Not much has really changed, though, aside from the games that I've been playing.
Currently, I'm wading through Just Cause 2 at a snail's pace, trying my damnedest to clear every area I come across. My goal is to take at least the beginning area in the North-East corner and then actually start playing the story missions. I'm not sure if the story missions are the point of Just Cause 2, though, so I've been avoiding them as if I were doing the right thing. After dumping 20+ hours into it, I know one thing is for sure: every game needs a grappling hook.
Played through the God of War series around the time that God of War 3 came out. At one point I really could've cared less about the God of War series, but the recent entry really blew me away as far as complete and utter chaos goes. After losing track of how many gods I had killed once the credits rolled, I decided to dust off my PSP and throw in Chains of Olympus which was very fun if not incredibly short. Currently going through God of War 2, but stopping at some very frustrating moments.
Speaking of frustrating moments, I'm 7 hours into Final Fantasy XIII and managed to throw my controller, which rarely happens. That being said, I've shelved it until further notice.
It seems like there's not enough time to blog in between playing all of these games, not that I would blog very much as it is. The crunch started a couple of weeks ago, but I'm feeling the weight already. I don't think we're swarmed with as many amazing games as we were last year, but there are still a great deal of GREAT games that I need to sift through. I still haven't managed to complete Dead Space, although I've taken Tanuki's advice and started to pump up the sound when it's dark. I haven't turned on my 5.1 in a while, but I'm glad I broke it in (again) with Dead Space. What an amazing game that is.
Saint's Row 2 is excellent and Ryan's review couldn't say it better in that there's a lot of ridiculousness to go through. I never for one second took anything that happened in that game seriously. I managed to complete the main story, but there is still a bunch of stuff to do and many, many points to get.
I've dug my claws into Fable 2 this week, however, and I've yet to be able to retract them. I've got a sealed copy of Far Cry 2 staring at me, but I can't seem to tear myself away from Fable, even after completing it. There's still so many things to do (aside from playing through it twice) and plenty more points to grab. I never really got into the first game, but Fable 2 grabbed me from the start. Highly recommended. I'd write more in depth, but I really should pick up my controller again.
Next week is LittleBigPlanet and Fallout 3. Then November hits. Updates to come.
Ben Kuchera of Ars Technica fame took a moment to explain to us how scary EA's upcoming epic Dead Space is. Here's part of what he had to say. "Do yourself a favor when you get the game: make the room as dark as possible. Turn the sound system up. Allow yourself to be swept away in it. So far Dead Space has been a great experience, just for the horror."
This begs the question that I so commonly ask myself, "Why do I play scary video games when I don't like to be scared?" Frankly, I don't like watching anything scary. I'll only watch scary movies if I can mute the sound every so often. For some reason, I love scary video games. I enjoyed the latest Silent Hill and I remember forcing myself (literally forcing myself) to play through Fatal Frame 2. Dead Space interests me to no end, since I'm a huge fan of the atmosphere the game presents.
I still don't know why. Are the mythos in these games really enough to make anyone sit through them all the way? I remember playing the first Resident Evil and being scared to death, but I was still interested in what the Umbrella Corporation and Wesker were up to, horrible dialog be damned. I've played all but two Silent Hill games and I'm already looking forward to the next fog-smothered city. I still find myself jumping and creeping myself out.
My point is that as per Mister Kuchera's request, I can't find myself turning the lights off and turning on my surround sound in order to enjoy myself. If anything, I'll be doing the opposite of those things. Does this mean I can't "fully" enjoy games like Dead Space? I'm really not sure. Maybe I'll try it through the first chapter, but after that I'm going right back to holding the remote control between my clenched knees.
So I've dumped several hours into the new Silent Hill game so far. I'd say I'm about a bit more than half way through the game. Probably a lot more than half, actually. I enjoy the new combat, but I'm really not very good at the regular Press-Dodge-At-The-Right-Time-Then-Counter mechanics. I can't fault the game for my over-indulgence in healing items. I'm just not good. Strangely enough, however, I excel at fumbling around with an inexperienced dude waving around a steel pipe like he's trying to break open a pinata. There's something about the poor combat mechanics in the original Silent Hill games that made them oddly alluring. It's not to say that the combat in Homecoming isn't welcome. I think it is, but it's only one of the few things that make this game feel like the little cousin of Silent Hill games.
The scares are out of a slasher rather than the deep, psychological thrills in Silent Hill 2 and 3. Every now and then something will jump out with an orchestral crash to make sure that you know you're supposed to be playing a "horror" game. The art is your standard Silent Hill fare. They seem to have created and reintroduced several enemies in order for the game to feel more Silent Hill-ish. When we're revisiting "Bogeyman", however, we're delving deep into the realm of fan service. Sure, Pyramid Head is awesome. But he's only so much awesome. Can't we move on and try something scarier than a dude with a two-hundred pound machete and an IKEA coffee table on his head?
So far, I'm enjoying Homecoming, but time will tell once I reach the end. It seems to have similar themes and locations as your standard Silent Hill, but it doesn't -feel- like Silent Hill. It may as well be broken into levels and stages. This is the Silent Hill you can safely air on public broadcasting. This is the Silent Hill that you order if you can't handle the "FIRE" sauce at Taco Bell. It's good, but the spirit of the franchise may have very well been swept under the western rug.
I haven't written a full review since my days at Nintendojo. Maybe I'll do some other reviews later.
LEGO Batman: The Video Game
3 Stars out of Five
"I enjoyed my time with LEGO Batman, but the formula of LEGO games is quickly beginning to show its age, just as it did with LEGO Indy. It's an alright game for as much as you can squeeze out of it, so if you enjoyed the past LEGO games, I can recommend giving this one your time. I will certainly play another LEGO game, if only in the hopes that they address the inexcusable problems the franchise has been having."
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames
3 Stars out of Five
"The most frustrating thing about Mercenaries 2 is that it isn't finished. This is a game that could have been amazing, but ends up flat and lifeless. It's fun enough to run through once or twice with a friend and gather up all those easy achievements. Although, come to think of it, even those are bugged. While unfinished, Mercs 2 is fun for what it's worth, but isn't necessarily worth your money with the holiday rush quickly approaching. This game is okay, at best."
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Rather than picking up the flawed Brothers in Arms: Hells Highway, I decided to pick up yet another LEGO game. I enjoyed LEGO Star Wars for its own merits, but never really got back into it. The same with LEGO Indy, although I didn't manage to get much farther into it after playing through the story mode with a friend. LEGO Batman is the first title that I've taken the time to sit through and grind out, if not just for the rather easy achievements. This last LEGO game left me with the thought of an end to LEGO games. I'm fairly certain I'm done. I wouldn't mind going back to Star Wars and Indy to grind them out. Hell, I might even pick up the Complete Saga that I passed on a while ago.
The charm has grown a little tired over my time with LEGO Batman, ranging from short chuckles to rolling eyes. It's not a bad game and it has a few problems. The main issue is that LEGO games just seem to have a template. LEGO is the new Dynasty Warriors. It's the same thing, only with different environments. LEGO Batman is alright. After destroying all the achievements, I probably won't be inclined to pick it up again. If I ever want more LEGO action, I'll go back to the next. There's nothing really on my mind that would make me immediately play another LEGO game. Maybe the obvious choice of LEGO Superman where LEGO Superman fights LEGO Lex Luthor and gets shanked by a LEGO Kryptonite dagger before lifting a LEGO Krypton Island and stalking his LEGO son. That thought disturbs me on many levels. Perhaps a LEGO Batman 2 with more second-rate villains. A LEGO Matrix game would of course be ideal and equally disturbing, but seeing as how the films are rated R, I'll never see my LEGO dream.
I went back to Infinite Undiscovery and I really don't want to play any more of that damn game. Too many problems. I would rather play Too Human again. Maybe not Mercs.
I decided not to wait to read reviews before picking up my copy of Too Human. After such a long development cycle... Oh, sorry, apparently it wasn't that long. After such a sordid development cycle, I had to have a copy of the game in my library, quality be damned. After playing through the first area, Hall of Heroes, I was still on the fence about the game. I liked it. I liked what I played. I liked killing wave after wave of the same creatures over and over again. I liked managing my inventory and equipping new pieces of armor and weapons every five minutes. After killing GRNDL-1, going to Aesir and choosing to be Cybernetic over Human, and watching more cut scenes that "develop" the story, I came to the inevitable conclusion. Too Human isn't good. But I liked it.
This isn't the same thing as watching a terrible movie and enjoying it because it's so terrible. Too Human isn't a terrible game, it just has too many flaws that push it to the edge of mediocrity. It suffers from what Alone in the Dark suffered from. There's too many ideas and not enough execution. Even in a four year development cycle, I'm surprised that Too Human shows such little polish and sports some heavy flaws like the frame rate and poorly animated features.
Too Human can't seem to do anything right. The combat system tries to be so totally Xtreme but only manages to be mildly badass. The environments are incredible, but only incredibly repetative. The creature design is derivative. Even the loot system suffers some flaws. It's not that there's too much loot, but there's just... so much loot! You'll find yourself upgrading anything and everything very quickly. And that damned 30-second death animation... Patch that thing and let me skip it. Please. Don't give me that crap about background loading, because I managed to not see the valkyrie come down to get me twice. No problems there. In fact, you can't skip any of the cut scenes, even if you play through the campaign a second, third, or forth time.
Even with all of its problems, though, Too Human is fun. Surprisingly fun. That's what matters, right? Well... I suppose. With 730 points and plenty more achievements to grind out, I'm sure I'll throw some more hours into it this week. With so many RPGs coming out, I doubt I'll find myself stepping into Baldur's boots after he hits 50.
I'm sure this question has been asked before, but if the trilogy does happen to be released, what's the second one going to be called? Too Human 2? Add in a second playable character and call it Too Human Too? How about 2 Human 2 Furious? Too Human: Tokyo Drift. Two Human. How many of you think the odds of a Too Human remake are better than a sequel?
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Soulcalibur IV was dropped into my lap, so I decided to give it a round or two. Not ready to write a full review just yet, but here are my impressions thus far.
Soulcalibur has become the layman's fighting game. Granted, I'm not that huge into the genre. I stopped back when Mortal Kombat went 3D. I'll still dig into the big franchise hits like the upcoming Street Fighter IV and Mortal Kombat vs. DC. When it comes to Soulcalibur, however, it seems that now the game is all about customizing your character to infinite detail and throwing them online to fight with other folks' creations. I'm not one for online gaming, much less online fighters. The whole concept of customization has been blown. The whole point of character selection is about the play mechanics' ability to be as balanced as possible. Not only is Soulcalibur IV as far from balanced as possible, but it's also incredibly simple.
I'm glad that Giant Bomb is up and jogging around after following the development process. I'm glad to see everything is coming together pretty nicely and I can get my hands on some of the neat stuff that's going on. I don't see myself adding very much aside from this blog, reviews and maybe a game/franchise/character page here and there.
Aside from reviews, I'm more of a person who will play with all the stuff that people create for me. Much like Boom Blox or Blast Works on the Wii, I don't see myself creating new levels so much as playing with the levels that my friends make for me to play with. I don't think this will be too much the case here, but I look forward to how everything compiles together after the beta. Anyway, enough about hellos. Let's talk games or something.
How happy am I that there weren't any games developed based on The Dark Knight? So happy. I reviewed Batman Begins for the Nintendo GameCube which had way too many faults but was still one of the best Batman games available. I'm amazed that whomever owns the rights to the Batman movie license at the moment (probably EA?) didn't take advantage to saturate us with tie-ins that would never do such an amazing film justice. The last good Batman I reviewed was Batman Vengeance or perhaps Batman Rise of Sin Tzu. Those really don't count. Anyone remember Batman: Dark Tomorrow? *sigh* Surprise. The Dark Knight is the first Batman film to NOT have a video game tie-in.
Also in development, my DS has been misplaced. I purchased a copy of Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift, came home, and spent two hours looking for my DS. Final Fantasy IV is released this week and I'm losing my damn mind. I'll either cave and buy a Cobalt/Black DS so I can play FFIV or I'll find my Crimson/Black DS before Tuesday. Not sure which will come first at this moment. I'll finally NEED a PSP with the upcoming release of Star Ocean.
Also remaining this month is Soul Calibur IV and Spectral Force 3, Atlus' next crazy Strategy RPG. I can't say very much about SoulCalibur IV (or is it Soulcalibur?) aside from the fact that they've sex'd up the ladies to a ridiculous degree. Thankfully, July and August are the calm before the storm. I'll need every penny to shuffle through all of the offerings this year. More on that later.
E3 was good. Not great, but good. Plenty of information on titles that I've seen before and solidified my purchase decision on several games. I was not incredibly impressed by anything during the show, as I think anything that could blow my mind won't be released this year. There's nothing left to say about how disappointing Nintendo's press conference was. Frankly, I enjoyed Sony's conference more than Nintendo's. Even when they were talking about the PS2. You know, last generation.