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

13 August 2008

Multiwinia

I don’t know how interesting it is to play (don’t know anything about Darwinia either, actually), but I definitely like the art style. Of course — I’m a Tron-raised geek.

Star Trek Online

Hmm. Obviously, it’s a noteworthy event that the very first video showing the upcoming Star Trek MMO is available, but there isn’t that much to see. But then, I’m not a Star Trek fan, so maybe that’s why I’m not particularly excited.

No idea how it’s played, of course, but more importantly I don’t find the graphics very attractive — whether on the human scale (where MMOs are always trying to be accessible to low-end PCs anyway, so you don’t expect much graphical prowess) or for space fights, where it’s not so much a question of power but simply art style. There’s something wrong, and it doesn’t feel like a space scene at all; more like toys, actually — which maybe a deliberate homage to ST:TOS, but in any case I don’t think that’s a good choice if you want to attract a wide audience.

18 August

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Seems like this game enjoys its hype rollercoaster. It started rather poorly with the pretty pointless tech demos and the storm trooper aerial ballet, but somehow the later news and gameplay videos had managed to turn things around. And here goes GameTrailers publishing a bunch of videos that take several points off the game’s cool factor.

First linked, an utterly abominable cutscene: the images are ugly, the voices aren’t right (the sound-alike seems to lose Vader’s voice in the middle of his sentences), and the character faces are just awful (which is a shame when they’ve been capturing the actor’s entire performances, unchanged). Second, an excerpt from a gameplay video in six short parts (if GameTrailers starts cutting their videos in pieces every time they’ve got an exclusivity, I’m gonna have to start linking to DailyMotion or something in protest) that shows a level we’d already seen, but in the hands of a regular player this time. And where it goes wrong is that I don’t feel like I’m watching a Star Wars game at all, but just some random, mediocre God of War clone.

I feel like I’ve already written about this, but didn’t come up with anything in a quick search through the archives: I’ve gotten used to the idea that, in almost all games, gunfire slowly chips away at your lifebar instead of doing any kind of real damage, but that just doesn’t work for me in the Star Wars universe. You don’t take a hit from a laser pistol without a scratch, and I’d like to remind you that a lightsaber is supposed to cut through any material like butter. This time it’s not Soul Calibur, and now that you’ve got all this fancy game engine technology it would be nice to use it for something more than just non-scripted deformation of blast doors… when AT-ST walkers resist everything but quick-time events.

Nevermind that you can’t properly chop up storm troopers — I didn’t expect LucasArts to release a mature game. There’s just one detail that bugs me, one tiny thing I can’t let go of: that moron Apprentice should deflect every laser blast with his lightsaber — it should be automatic, whenever the player isn’t doing something else. Just so that it would like those movies, you know? What’s the name? Oh, right: Star Wars.

20 August

Sony announces its own ChatPad

Just like Microsoft felt the need not to put the two sticks across from each other when they designed the Xbox pad (I’ve gotten used to it, but I’ll always cringe at the lack of symmetry), Sony has decided to place the keyboard on top of the pad rather than on the bottom. Because typing with your thumbs sounded too easy; now it looks like you’ll have to let go of one hand and let your fingertips flutter on the keys.

More interesting, according to Crave the keyboard “features a mode that converts the entire surface into a touch pad,” like a laptop. I doubt the surface is magical, so I suppose the keyboard simply interprets the fingers’ movement from key to key (which implies that the keys have to be small enough, but also soft and mushy enough, for it work — which aren’t really great qualities for a keyboard, even a miniature one), but it’s still a very interesting idea. And a limited gadget that won’t ever be used for much, but that’s another matter.

Of course, this is about Sony, and I’ve also eaten way too much tonight, so I’m in a foul mood and maybe not completely objective. But I guess I’m just disappointed that, once again, they’ve followed Microsoft’s footsteps one year later with what looks like an inferior proposition.

GTA IV PC Details

He began by promising much improved visuals, saying they’ll be “polished well beyond what they were on the 360 and PS3.” […]

The visuals do indeed look more polished — lighting is more realistic and there’s a much higher level of detail on both characters and environments.

Just the thought of this makes me want a Crysis-grade PC so bad.

 

New features will include a replay editor. Whenever you’re playing the previous 30 seconds of gameplay will be recorded, so at any time you can stop and watch what you just did. You can also edit footage — chop it up, add filters, switch camera angles and so on.

There will also be a montage editor that lets you link together multiple 30-second clips. You’ll be able to share the movies you make via the internet and the Rockstar Social Club.

If it worked during online play, that would make GTA IV the Ultimate Machinima Application. But I’m not so sure it will, if it only records a 30-second buffer — multiplayer mode is unlikely to let you pause the game to rewind or save the video.

Damn. That would be such a horribly missed opportunity.

21 August

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (360 demo)

Okay, scratch what I wrote about how the Apprentice didn’t deflect pistol shots in the video — that was just a case of the player not using the block button (which is understandable, as blocking prevents you from moving, and the animation is a little silly anyway, with the character just twisting his saber like a cheerleader’s baton).

Still, I’m not impressed by the demo. I’m sure I’d get used to the controls if I played more, but I feel that Psi-Ops had the telekinesis controls down pat, and Force Unleashed is a step back (it uses the two sticks in a way that isn’t intuitive, and prevents you from moving while using your power), and it looks nearly impossible to accurately pick your target. As a bonus, the final AT-ST quick-time event is broken: you’re busy lightsabering the boss away, and suddenly you get a red cross in the middle of the screen instructing you that the QTE sequence had begun and you didn’t press the right button. Plus a final, more subjective gripe: I don’t like the idea of a jedi with such a rapidly depleting (and refilling) Force gauge. I know why the developers felt they needed it, but I don’t feel like that’s how it should work for jedis.

Bottomline is, it didn’t feel particularly fun, and the cutscenes look and sound too wrong for me to play the game for the story.

Midnight Club: Los Angeles

You can’t really judge a racing game from videos, but this still underwhelms me. I used to have high hopes for this game, because I have so much fun driving in GTA IV, but in this second gameplay/engine video the physics still look like they feel wrong. Still waiting to play a demo, but with no impatience at all.

Heavy Rain

They finally release a video, and… uh, is that it? The character animations aren’t very impressive, the faces aren’t so perfect (the shot of the heroine talking into her tape recorder is very weird), and it’s a little bit abusive calling this “gameplay footage” when there’s just a bit of QTE in the middle. Not a big surprise, rather a confirmation that it’s been way overhyped.

WoW: Wrath of the Lich King

Once again, a Blizzard CG trailer I can’t not link. I don’t know how they do it, or why there are so few CG studios as good as them.

23 August

EyePet

When I heard about a new EyeToy-based (yes, I know it’s supposed to be called “PlayStation Eye” or something now) virtual pet game where you could draw toys, I just assumed it would be the same kind of crap that’s bundled with the camera itself; well, it’s not.

Not that it’s going to be a fantastic game, or a system seller, but it looks really well made, the creature is a puzzling mixture of ugly and endearingly cute, and I could totally see someone buying a PS3 and a nice flat-screen to place in the entrance of their fancy loft as a cuddly conversation piece.

(Although you have to be cautious with videos of a game that’s going to be released in more than a year yet looks finished already — but there’s nothing in the video that looks too implausible, and I guess what they’ll need time perfecting is the system’s reaction to bad lighting and cluttered tables.)

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