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

1 June 2008

Resident Evil 5

The video is finally available in HD, and I’m still not convinced — but then I’ve never been too attracted to a Resident Evil anyway.

The explosions look impressive, though.

3 June

Dark Void

Coming out of nowhere, and probably going back to its namesake void; Capcom has an unsurmountable problem with artistic direction, and unlike the Bionic Commando grapplehook I don’t think the jetpack gimmick will save this one. We’re not in the next-generation’s infancy, when Dead Rising or Lost Planet could become classics despite their limitations.

Commando 3

The Team Fortress 2 style works well in twin-stick shoot’em-ups, it seems. Would almost make me want to buy it, even though I’m utterly incompetent at those games.

Bionic Commando

Nothing much new to show (except that you seem to unexplicably abandon the rasta look for Halo-like armors in multiplayer), but I still want to play it a lot.

Ninja Gaiden 2 (360 demo)

The demo is available on Xbox Live (though not in America), and it confirms my previous opinion: very cool, fun game, with great combat — and the camera may even have improved since I played it.

6 June

Civilization Revolution (360 demo)

The developers know they’re fighting an uphill battle convincing gamers that a console-based Civilization can be worth anything, so they released what appeared to be a pretty big demo — at least so far as I can tell, having given up after about half an hour.

The thing is, that kind of games isn’t my cup of tea at all, and I grow bored pretty quickly; still, I’d say the gameplay and interface are pretty good. Like reviewers said, you’re not going to find the same depth as on a PC version, but someone who cares about that kind of stuff should very easily be able to spend long days in front of their TV. The question being, of course, why would they want to? Is there anyone really who’ll be interested in Civilization but won’t already own and play the PC version?

And why do they have to speak simlish?

Battlefield Bad Company (360 demo)

The demo confirms my lack of interest for the game; although the introductory cutscene is surprisingly okay, everything else (except the technical aspects, which seem fine) is annoying: the tutorial, the banter, and, most importantly, gamepad controls. Braking with the left bumper? Switching equipments to heal yourself? I’ll pass, thanks. (That’s slightly subjective, considering that those kinds of “realistic” shooters have never interested me at all. Call of Duty 4 is the only one that feels cinematographic enough to tempt me.)

12 June

Dark Sector (360 demo)

I had the lowest expectations you can imagine, and that worked out well: as derivative as it is, the gameplay is rather competent and I wouldn’t mind, in theory, spending a few hours on this game (not that I would want to pay for it).

The uninspired design does have consequences on gameplay, though — I spent half an hour trying to work out the demo’s final boss by myself but ended up having to open a walkthrough, and found out that it was the simplest process, which I had missed because it doesn’t make that much sense, there are too many red herrings and, most annoyingly, the quicktime events only trigger when you approach the boss from the front — ah, and you have no indication whether you’re actually hurting it, either. In short, it was a well-made, intense boss battle once you were sure what you were supposed to do, but getting there was quite annoying.

 

Kung-Fu Panda (360 demo)

As far as action games based on animated kids movies go, I guess you could do much worse. The graphics are fine, and the gameplay isn’t too bad either.

Enemy Territory Quake Wars (360 demo)

Well, since I’m rating the week’s demos, I shouldn’t really leave that one out — but all I’ve got to say is that it’s not my kind of game at all. I like my first-person shooters to be more brain-dead linear (and, if possible, I like them to be third-person, too) and I particularly hate any game that’s geared toward cooperative online play, because I don’t want to cooperate with the bunch of morons out there. So this one leaves me cold; looks like it plays fine, and the graphics are alright, and that’s it.

15 June

Xbox 360 Avatars Leaked?

If this is the real thing, it’s not very inspiring. Nice how customizable the costumes are, though.

16 June

Resistance 2

So, gameplay videos are here, and… well, they don’t look nearly as cool as the screenshots did, do they? The first video, with the Grims, is pretty cool and intense (as unoriginal as it is to cram zombies into every single first-person shooter ever made), but the environments still look dull and the gameplay seems off — which doesn’t make that much sense, even if this is a “work in progress,” considering that it’s a sequel.

17 June

Spore Creature Creator

The long-awaited demo, designed for you to waste all your time building creatures that you won’t be able to use for months, is finally available and… that’s all I have to say about it, because the Mac version isn’t compatible with my iMac (it’s Intel-only) or my Mac mini (the video card isn’t good enough). Damn.

Niko Bellic “Untooned”

I’m not sure about the eyes.

23 June

Man’s Wii Fit experiment comes to an end, 15 pounds shed

Why the hell did I buy a fucking elliptical bike?

24 June

Call of Duty 5

I’ve read that World at War used the same engine as Call of Duty 4, but it’s hard to believe: the fourth game’s videos were always sexy and impressive, whereas this one is a great step back.

It’s making it harder to believe that Call of Duty 3, by the same developer, was a semi-failure only because they didn’t have time to polish it; with one more year, and a proven engine, they’re not doing something too exciting either, it seems.

Even though it’s obviously too early to have a definitive opinion, this video does confirm my instincts: this idea of alternating a same franchise between two separate development studios, so that you get a game each year, is completely stupid.

Dead Space

First video in a series of trailers with a voiceover explaining the gameplay, as is customary these days, “Strategic Dismemberment” confirms two things: Dead Space is very promising, and there’s absolutely no way I’m ever gonna play this alone, and/or less than six hours before bedtime.

I wonder whether the creatures’ movements and reactions when they’re dismembered are procedural, or entirely defined by animators; if it’s the latter, the illusion looks perfect. Brr.

26 June

“When Spore Wiimote Monsters Attack”

Okay, I suppose it’s kinda cool, but this screenshot also helped me define my problem with Spore: I know it’s not supposed to be the highly immersive kind of a game, but still it’s not Tetris; and how involved will you be in your gameplay when your creature’s planet starts getting populated with jumping wiimotes and xbox controllers and dildos, either created by you or automatically downloaded from the internet?

Most of the fun in The Sims, or Sim City or whatever, comes from the fact that it’s a depiction of a realistic universe (where you can trap a human in a windowless box until it craps itself then dies of starvation); in Spore there’s never going to be the same quality — the same ability to relate at all with the organisms displayed on screen.

Blizzard Authenticator

Blizzard takes a page from the book of Paypal — that other site where dummies get their possessions stolen because they have an easy password — and launches its own magical keyring to give out digital codes (press a button, a six-digit code is displayed and you need to type it in addition to your login and password when you want to play). I didn’t like the idea when Paypal launched it, and I still think it’s an admission of failure. The problem is, that’s not really a failure you can do anything about, and you’ll never quite manage to educate users about not setting an easy password, and not giving it to anyone (and not running trojans on Windows, either).

Now, the choice is yours: do you want to pay six euros for your magical keyring, and have to type a stupid code every time you’re going to play, in exchange for the knowledge that, as long as the Authenticator is optional (and it can’t really become compulsory anytime in the foreseeable future), 99.9% of the hackers will prefer to attack non-authenticatored subscribers rather than try and break the code? (That’s how security works, and, yes, it’s sad.)

27 June

Transfer Xbox Live licenses from a console to another

Amazing miracle: it’s only taken them three years, but Microsoft finally has a solution to its DRM problem that happened when you changed your console or hard drive (and, in particular, when support changed it for you after a red ring of death) and caused the Xbox Live games you’d bought before not to work on the new console unless you were logged in on Live under the very account who bought each game (in case you’ve only got one account on your console like I do, you may not know that under normal conditions any user of the console can play downloaded games and movies, and that it’s also supposed to work without an internet connection).

Three years, then, to add an option on xbox.com that lets you gather all your licenses (movies, games, etc., except for movie rentals) and download them to your new console; the miraculous part, though, is that, according to the FAQ, technical support is supposed to automatically perform that operation when they send you a new console (without affecting your once-a-year limit that only applies to voluntary uses when you buy a new console — I’d have gone with six months, but one year isn’t unreasonable). And, on that point, I’m waiting to see how it goes, because I’d be surprised if the process wasn’t completely buggy for the first six months.

Lego Indiana Jones (360 demo)

Okay, it’s highly subjective and I can’t find specific facts to justify my impression, but the demo just confirmed that, for me, Indiana Jones is much less fun, interesting, and funny, than the Lego Star Wars games. The developers have lost something (or been rushed).

28 June

Jumpgate Evolution begins beta signup

This post’s first paragraph suddenly made me realize why space combat is the ideal MMO settings (maybe it was already obvious to everyone, and maybe Eve Online masterfully leverages this, but I don’t care what everyone thinks, and Eve Online’s most major success is that it isn’t operated by a huge publisher that would close the servers down because it doesn’t have millions of subscribers).

The nice thing about space — everywhere except the Battlestar Galactica universe — is that you expect ships to have heat- or laser- or whatever-guided weapons that only require you to point to a target and click “fire,” and you also expect your targets to have shields that will deflect your blows more or less effectively. That is, space combat is the one place where life and death are solely governed by stats, just like any RPG fighting system. Unlike the worlds of orcs or barbarians.

 

I could insert here a rant about how I don’t believe that shields “deflate” like they do in Star Trek, with percentages of efficiency being chipped away one after another with each blow — in my opinion, a shield is powerful enough to protect the ship, or it isn’t; but if the first missile doesn’t traverse it, sending a million more identical to the first one shouldn’t change a thing — but the point here is not theoretical exactitude but common expectations. I’m annoyed when a sci-fi show has a computer voice counting down damage to the shields, but I wouldn’t really mind it in a game; it’s much better, at any rate, than seeing arbitrary numbers float on top of the boar you’re bashing in a traditional RPG.

Diablo III

Is anyone else worried about Blizzard? They’ve been working on Diablo III for four years, and it’s still “far too early in development” to have a release date; it’s just about the same with Starcraft II. In both cases, gameplay refinements and minor graphics upgrades to franchises that haven’t been touched for more than half a dozen years. No reinvention, no innovation, just touch-ups.

When Valve spends years polishing their games, what they release tends to push the boundaries of the medium; what the hell is Blizzard pushing when they update game genres that everybody else deserted because there are more interesting things to do with a computer? I’m not saying those games aren’t going to be successful, just wondering where the hell they’re not going with this.

Hey, that reminds me of all the Indiana Jones 4 reviews: too much time has passed since the last installment for the audience to care about a sequel that follows the previous episode’s formula to the letter.

 

30 June

Rock Band 2 in September

My first reaction, when I saw the news outline, was to think that Harmonix was going to follow the Guitar Hero footsteps and disappoint all their fans by milking them for all they’ve got. Yet, when you read on, you realize that they’re actually going to fulfill their promise of a more respectful business model — and it’s actually more of a 1.5 version than a real Rock Band 2 (which is a good thing).

On the software side, version 2 fixes the game’s flaws, of course, but it remains 100% compatible with downloadable tracks, and that works both ways — songs you bought for version 1 will work in Rock Band 2, and tracks released for version 2 will also work for players who didn’t upgrade the game (can Activision imagine that?). And, as for hardware, the instruments are supposed to be more realistic, reliable and silent, but you’ll be able to buy version 2 while keeping those you already own; the only thing missing now is an offer to take your old instruments back for a rebate (because I don’t expect they’ll get great value on the second-hand marketplace, if the new ones are so much better).

It’s really hard to believe there’s an Electronic Arts logo on this package.

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