Once upon a time I made a blog about video games. And this is what's left of it (mostly tweets).

1 April 2008

Iron Man

I’m not sure why, but when the first gameplay videos were released a few months back I had the impression it might be an okay game, against all odds. Well, now that’s solved — I predict it’s gonna be the usual crappy movie game.

The Diablo Loot Piñata

That’s the first April Fools post that got a chuckle out of me this year — mainly because of the concept illustrations. (It’s a shame I’m reopening Regarde Le Clown on an April first, and I’ve got almost nothing to post there because nothing’s funny.)

The Mystery Behind PlayStation 3’s Sometimes Mandatory Installations (As Far As We Know)

By nature, the outer and inner parts of a disc move at different speeds while a disc is spinning, regardless of format (CD, DVD, Blu-ray, HD-DVD, etc.). While DVD drives can read data at those differing speeds, Blu-ray reads at one speed. [So the spin speed has to change as the laser moves across the disc.]

That’s certainly not news, but I never knew (or didn’t remember) exactly why Blu-ray is slower than DVD for console games.

I have a hard time finding information on the web, but it looks like, ironically enough, that might be the reason why Blu-Ray has a higher capacity than HD-DVD — meaning that, if Sony had used HD-DVD in the PlayStation 3, game developers would have an easier time with the drive’s seeking speed. (But then, the PS3 wouldn’t have had HD-DVD either, since the only reason it has a blue-laser drive is precisely that Sony wanted to force Blu-ray onto the market.)

2 April

Army of Two (360 demo)

Unfortunately, I’m not testing it because the demo is coop-only — no artificial intelligence included, even though the demo doesn’t seem to be about the strictly-multiplayer aspect of the game — and I’m not interested in the random-hookup functionality it offers.

That’s a weird way to sell a game; I know coop is important to modern shooters, but are you really reaching enough of a market if you’re prominently describing your game as a coop affair?

3 April

Tom Clancy’s HAWX

Here’s the first test of the “Tom Clancy” moniker’s power, now that Ubisoft just bought it out: can it sell a new Ace Combat game on the western market?

The trailer clearly has nothing to do with gameplay, but I’m curious to find out whether the still picture (which is pretty nice and doesn’t come from the video) is in-engine — and, if it is, I also want to see what it looks like when you get closer to the ground. As for the game itself, 4-player coop and 16-player competitive online sound good, but… well, I’m not too good with planes. I’m still waiting for someone to think of making a good, fun chopper game again.

6 April

Quake 3 Arena on iPod touch

I’m not sure how convenient the tilt controls can be for an FPS on the long run, but it works surprisingly well in that demonstration. The PSP is so dead.

Battlefield Bad Company

The graphics are what you can expect from a 2008 FPS, and I have no idea how the gameplay of a Battlefield can differ from a Call of Duty, but the environment destructibility looks interesting — provided a house deigns to collapse when you knock enough walls down, which I’m not sure it does (or the video would show it, wouldn’t it?).

Saints Row 2

Three absolutely unbearably annoying videos, but they’re informative: contrary to what the previous screenshots suggested, Saints Row 2 isn’t particularly less ugly than the first game.

7 April

Orlando Bloom lands lead in Prince of Persia movie?

Unlike the other news bit of the day (“Microsoft prepares to launch pixel-perfect wiimote clone by year’s end”), I don’t assume this one is a late April’s Fool. Oh, that’s gonna end well.

 

P.S. Okay, forget about Orlando [via] — if the rumor had lasted a couple more days, I’d have assumed it was intentional buzz to prepare the audience to accept anyone as soon as it’s not him.

So chances are I was also wrong about the xboxmote. But lifting the design straight from Nintendo’s seems so clueless, so… Sony.

8 April

Portal’s GlaDOS As Bondage Slave

I know, it sound stupid when you read about it, but seeing the screenshot and drawing next to each other is troubling. I can’t be bothered to launch the game and check how it looks from other angles (especially because I don’t think you can access the boss fight straight from the chapter menu, which is stupid).

Oh, by the way, it’s a spoiler: I left the thumbnail because I’m pretty sure it’s too small to understand if you haven’t played the game yet, but you may not want to click the link if you haven’t played Portal. And you definitely want to play Portal if you haven’t played Portal.

 

P.S. The real face of GlaDOS.

EA clarifies Rock Band pricing

Filed under “I’m posting this because it’s news, but I’m fully expecting an upcoming denial”: whereas the Rock Band pack was launched at $170, the European release on May 23rd (ah, it wasn’t available yet?) would be priced at 170 € for the same instruments without a game, so you’d have to add the usual 70 € for the DVD (as an Xbox 360 exclusive for a couple of months).

It’s not so much the price difference I have trouble believing (even though it’s borderline extortion considering the current exchange rates), but the idea of selling the guitar + drums + mic kit without a game, which would benefit strictly nobody. Except Electronic Arts, that is. But why would EA Europe now be even cheaper than the mothership? Because they know Rock Band is a success, and they think they can do whatever they want with it? Because Europe is the only territory where the PS3 started having decent sales before its price dropped, so we’ve got to be dumb enough to pay twice as much as in the US? Well, remember the analogy goes both ways: we’re also favoring the PS3 over the 360 just because we’re used to the PlayStation brand, even though it’s a less compelling gaming experience.

9 April

Vader to be playable in Force Unleashed

I thought it was a joke until I read the details: this is the most clever iteration ever of the good old cliché where you give the player full-on powers for the first level, only to strip them and give them back one by one over the course of the game — you’ll be playing as Hayden Christensen only so long as to pick up your new apprentice.

Prospective sales figures must have gained 25% the instant they made that decision; you can easily imagine the TV commercials that will play over and over when the game is released. And the disappointment of die-hard Star Wars fan who’ll find out too late that they’re not keeping the black costume for long.

11 April

Preview : Ninja Gaiden II (360)

Beaucoup de joueurs intéressés par Ninja Gaiden II auront joué au premier — et ceux-là ne seront pas déçus, puisque le deuxième est plus beau, gère mieux la caméra et propose de l’avis général un gameplay tout aussi évolué. Mais, en ce qui me concerne, je n’ai jamais eu de Xbox, et le seul jeu avec lequel je puisse comparer est God of War (qui n’est pas exactement la même chose, évidemment, mais pas hyper différent non plus), donc je ne pourrai donner l’avis que d’un nouveau-venu.

Le nom de Ninja Gaiden est reconnu pour la qualité des combats, et maintenant je sais pourquoi : c’est difficile, le button-mashing à l’aveuglette est clairement pénalisé, et on est du coup d’autant plus satisfait d’arriver au bout d’une heure à ne pas se faire tuer par les ennemis les plus basiques. Mais il faudra plus de temps que ça pour vraiment maîtriser les combats, et les deux fois où je suis arrivé sur un boss de fin de niveau j’ai fini par abandonner la console à des mains plus expertes (qui n’y sont pas mieux arrivées que moi, et ont finir par relancer le jeu du début, ce qui ne m’a pas peu fait plaisir). En bref, et de manière totalement subjective : c’est rare qu’un gameplay soit à la fois difficile et suffisamment précis pour que j’aie immédiatement envie d’appronfondir plutôt que d’abandonner ; comme l’ont dit beaucoup d’autres articles sur Ninja Gaiden, il s’agit d’un jeu où on ne meurt pas par manque de chance ou à cause de l’imprécision des contrôles, mais parce qu’on a besoin de s’entraîner plus pour progresser.

Quand je dis qu’on ne meurt pas à cause des imprécisions du jeu, c’est quand même un peu un miracle : la caméra semi-automatique est souvent plus que frustrante (je n’ose imaginer ce que ça devait être dans le premier, si celle-ci est une amélioration) et il n’est pas rare de devoir combattre à l’aveugle — parce qu’il n’est pas envisageable de lâcher les boutons pour orienter la caméra avec le stick droit quand on est au milieu d’une mêlée de zombies ninjas mutants ou je ne sais quoi. (C’est qu’ici on n’est pas dans Assassin’s Creed, quand plusieurs ennemis vous entourent ils ne tirent pas à la courte-paille pour savoir qui va attaquer.) God of War règle le problème en fixant la caméra dans le décor, ce qui libère le stick droit pour faire quelque chose de plus constructif ; Ninja Gaiden II compense avec une forme d’auto-lock sur les ennemis qui fait qu’on se retrouve régulièrement à attaquer l’ennemi de gauche alors qu’on pousse le stick à droite. Certes, ça fonctionne, mais je préfère quand même largement la solution God of War. (On ne sait jamais, la caméra sera peut-être encore un peu débuggée d’ici la sortie, mais je ne m’attends pas à ce que les problèmes disparaissent complètement.)

Passons aux généralités. Les graphismes sont corrects, mais sans plus — curieusement, ils sont très photogéniques en screenshots, mais ça va tellement vite qu’à l’écran on ne remarque plus que les décors propres et vides ; c’est assez joli, mais ça donne plutôt l’impression d’un jeu old-gen porté en haute-définition qu’une vraie création next-gen. Le son, je n’étais pas en situation propice à juger (et comme je n’ai pas de 5.1 chez moi je ne le serai jamais vraiment, de toute façon). La disposition des contrôles au pad, sans problème (ce serait juste plus pratique de mettre le mini-menu d’utilisation des objets et sorts sur une des gâchettes libres). L’histoire, aucune idée. Les armes, je n’ai pas joué assez longtemps pour dire. Juste une mention spéciale aux checkpoints… manuels, et parfois à moitié cachés — putain de jeu à l’ancienne de développeur japonais.

Ninja Gaiden II n’est pas parfait, et ne sera pas jeu de l’année (de toute façon, le trophée est déjà gravé au nom de GTA IV) ; mais il n’y aura pas de God of War (next-gen) en 2008 et je n’ai pas aimé Devil May Cry, donc dans sa catégorie il devrait plutôt bien se tenir. C’est que le plus important reste toujours le gameplay, la satisfaction qu’on éprouve à manier l’épée, le bâton, les shuriken et tout le reste, à démembrer des ennemis et à faire gicler le sang (mais alors beaucoup, beaucoup de sang). Et, à ce niveau, Ninja Gaiden II assure. J’ai hâte de l’avoir dans ma console, même s’il promet dans les 30 heures de jeu en difficulté normale pour un joueur moyen (dont la moitié, sans doute, à chercher les points faibles des boss — et, pour ça, il y a Google) et que je ne pense pas être capable de tenir la longueur. Je gère mal la frustration.

En attendant, si je vois un Ninja Gaiden, premier du nom, à cinq ou dix euros dans un magasin, il y a des chances que je ne résiste pas. (D’après le site de Microsoft, il tourne sur Xbox 360.)

 

12 April

Mortal Online

First time I ever hear about it (a skill-based PvP MMO with no levels, apparently; more information on the website), but it’s definitely pretty — thanks to the Unreal Engine.

I’d be weary of an MMO with a stupid name developed by an unknown, inexperienced Swedish studio, but they’re more than a year away from release and they evidently have very nice assets already, so they may just be serious.

Resistance 2

A teaser that doesn’t show much, but does confirm that Insomniac learnt its lessons from the first episode and has decided to produce more enticing visuals this time.

13 April

16 April

Tresling: Tetris + Arm Wrestling

A positively brilliant idea that could have many derived applications: a two-player Tetris game where both players’ movements are controlled by their arms — so I guess it must be collaborative at times (when objectives converge), and fiercely competitive for the rest of the game.

Looking at the video, though, it seems that in most cases you end up with a stronger player having almost full control of the field. But that still warrants some further testing.

Metal Gear Online to require a konami.net registration

Now, granted, the connection between you Xbox Live account and game websites isn’t quite perfect (so far I think only the websites for Microsoft games have been able to access your Live account) but, come on… that’s really pushing the limits of what the PS3’s lack of real online community implies, and abusing the integrated web browser.

As far as I know, even Valve didn’t interface the Orange Box for consoles with Steam, even though they’re the game publisher with most reason and incentive to do it. I wonder how GTA4 and the Rockstar Social Club will work, though; for all I know they’re going to have to do the same, even on the Xbox, if they don’t get direct access to Live accounts. (Although that was the whole point of Microsoft’s good old “Passport” thing, wasn’t it? Logging in with your ID on third-party sites?)

17 April

Zero Punctuation: Condemned 2

I may or may not refrain from posting Yahtzee’s video every week (in fact, I can’t remember whether I did or didn’t post last week’s) because it would be rather repetitive (not that it stops several video game blogs, and it probably shouldn’t) and because it’s pretty much impossible to follow for, well, many of my French readers (since the series owes its title to the voiceover’s speed, and to being in English), but this week’s is particularly good.

100% increase in European monthly sales for the Xbox 360

Not to sound too partisan, but I’m glad the 360 may manage not to completely lose the fight after all. Let’s just not forget to thank, not only the price drop, but also the influence of Beware The Frog.

I’ve personally sold at least one Xbox. In Switzerland. That counts as “Europe,” right?

Lego Batman

First gameplay video and, uh… well, it’s exactly what you’d expect, a Lego game but dark and super boring (I don’t know who edited the trailer, but I can’t believe how poorly it’s selling the game).

I had to check videos from the Star Wars games, though, to confirm that the characters’ limbs did not bend during gameplay (or maybe they did, but only a little, I’m not sure). But then, they did bend during cutscenes, so let’s go for consistency. And you could argue that the Batman universe is more about smooth, elegant moves than Star Wars — but wasn’t it part of the fun of Lego Star Wars to see the minifigs hopping around?

18 April

Universe at War (360 demo)

The demo confirms what reviewers have written: this works pretty much as well as an RTS on console can (the only gripe I have, really, is that the menu items’ captions take several seconds to appear, so if you haven’t memorized what each icon does yet — and they’re all small and look very much the same — you’re going to waste a lot of time finding the commands you’re looking for). The controls are convenient, the graphics are fine, and yet what the demo really wants me to do is get a Windows setup so I can play RTS games with a mouse.

Still, for lack of a full game (too bad Sega’s PR agency has apparently not been satisfied with my very incomplete and belated The Club non-review) and lack of a real PC, I can still myself spending a bit of time replaying the two missions the demo offers.

If you’re on my friends list, feel free to train a bit so we can try the online mode.

Condemned 2 (360 demo)

Funny, this looks much prettier (well, “pretty” isn’t quite the right word, obviously, considering the setting) in person than in the videos I downloaded. Also, I made it through five minutes and I’m never launching this demo again.

Not only are the graphics pretty good, but the controls contribute to immersion (lack of HUD, disconcertingly fast — but not twitchy — and fish-eyed camera), and I’m never walking through the street right down the corner from my building where a bunch of homeless guys have set up residence under an archway.

I do wonder how anyone can find the nerve to play the whole game, and I’m not even usually that scared of horror movies.

Iron Man (360 demo)

Yeah… well, actually, it’s not a horrible game — the character is shiny and he flies, and you get used to the controls even though they’re absurd, so it may be a worthy purchase (well, no, more like a rental) for people who’ve always dreamed of being Iron Man. But, as a game in and of itself, there’s pretty much nothing interesting about it: it feels just like it looked like it would, i.e. sterile and repetitive.

23 April

Wakfu

They took the time to make a pretty trailer; it’s worth a link. So here’s the sequel to Dofus, which, if I understand the developers’ blog correctly, won’t use Flash but a real software client — which is good, considering how well-animated it looks on the video, the Flash plugin would have toasted my computer.

25 April

MGS4: Cemetary

So I guess it’s kinda important for some people, or something. And spoilery, too (but in Japanese, thankfully — although the typical MGS geek / Kojima fan probably ought to speak a little Japanese for extra brownie points).

27 April

GTA IV

Today was the day when the embargo was lifted for websites and blogs, and… well, it looks like the game delivers. A lot. As in, I’m definitely going to have to buy it if I don’t get it for free, and in any case I better do some work in advance to pay for the next few months of rent, because I won’t be able to do much else than play once I get it.

“Which Version Of GTA IV Should You Buy?”

In short: the PS3 has better loading times (courtesy of the compulsory hard drive install that isn’t an option at all on the 360) but the Xbox has the upcoming exclusive downloads, and Live for multiplayer, so it’s likely the better choice.

But I suspect the 360 version might have only one language on the DVD, like other asset-intensive games like Halo 3 and Mass Effect before it, and the PS3 Blu-ray might have all languages, and that may very well change the tides for foreign territories. I’m really not in a hurry to be forced to find out how good the French voice acting is.

28 April

Prototype

Are you sure you want to introduce the first gameplay videos on the day before GTA IV is released? I mean… really?

Well, so be it, then. It’s Crackdown with a little more powers, and less stylized graphics — which isn’t necessarily a good thing, because it emphasizes the artificiality and imperfection of the character’s animation, and the sterility of a very polygonal New York, which are all made worse by a rather poor camera choice. The developer interview shows a little footage from the Hulk: Ultimate Destruction game and, yeah, it’s just that, with nicer graphics and some gimmicky pseudo-infiltration, and how is anyone expected to care about that this week?

30 April

“GTA IV may be most expensive game ever made”

Although he wasn’t sure on the exact figures, [Grand Theft Auto IV producer Leslie Benzies] told the Times Online that, over the three and a half years the game was in development, the 1000-plus people working on it probably cost Rockstar around $100 million.

And I’m not nearly surprised.

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