26 juil. 2010

Limbo (360) ★★★★

Let’s get this out of the way: Limbo is a terrific artistic achievement and, like Braid a year ago wow two years ago time flies, you absolutely ought to buy it, both for the exceptional experience and to reward the developers’ talent and originality.

It’s just that you couldn’t be blamed for not finishing the game. (But then I didn’t finish Braid either.)

 

The first third, or half, of the game, is an absolute masterpiece. The atmosphere is just fantastic — visuals, sounds, the universe, everything fits, and the controls are perfectly tight (and devilishly simple). I’m not sure I’ve ever been as scared playing a game before (well, I don’t play the Resident Evil games et al. because I don’t like them — but this is a simple monochrome 2D platformer, so it’s not really making it easy for itself to immerse and freak the player out). The first part has one of the most unnerving enemies I’ve ever encountered; the second part has the best non-speaking secondary characters; then… it all kinda goes to shit.

Some people don’t seem to mind that the puzzles become punishingly complicated, and maybe I’m a lazy casual gamer at heart, but what’s inarguable is that the environments become unoriginal, boring, pointless, and it definitely feels like they’ve been padding the game a lot to justify the price.

Limbo would be much better — it would probably be perfect, in fact — if it was half as long and $5 cheaper. But, as it stands, it’s still a must-buy; you can just use an online guide to power through to the end (that’s what I did and I have no regrets). Or you could stop playing, but you’ll want to see the end. Even though it’s short and, uh, doesn’t show much of anything. (That’s just a warning, not a spoiler.)

 

Demo: Kane & Lynch 2 (360) ★★★

The first game had two problems: outdated graphics and muddy controls. I really like what they’ve done to the sequel’s visuals (you’re basically looking at the game through a cheap camcorder, or poorly encoded news clips on YouTube, or something like that, the point isn’t clear but it works, although I’m not sure how annoying that gets after a while), but instead of fixing the poor controls they’ve worked around them in a pretty cheap and lousy way: tuning auto-aim to the max.

The default (at least in normal difficulty) is GTA IV-level aim assist, which is probably fine for the more casual audience (can the casual audience really be that interested in a game like Kane & Lynch?) but ridiculous in a game whose sole point is shooting enemies; worse, even if you turn auto-aim off, it’s still there — just weaker. And for me to notice auto-aim in a shooter, it’s got to be really conspicuous.

(Unlike, say, Halo — where I’ve never perceived aim assist but I’ve heard often enough that it’s there — the game doesn’t actually help you much at actually following a target while you, or it, is moving; it just snaps violently to the nearest target when you squeeze the aiming trigger, then leaves you on your own. Not that it would be very usable either if you could really turn aim assist, though, because aiming doesn’t zoom the view at all.)

It’s a pity that they’re wasting such nice visual and atmospheric effort with poor controls. On the other hand, that game seems to be much, much better than you could ever have expected of a sequel to the first Kane & Lynch, so it’s not really all negative.

 

23 juil.

"Mass Effect 2 Enters The Lair Of The Shadow Broker"

That's a story-based DLC I'm gonna have to buy, unlike the others.

 

21 juil.

Bought Limbo for 360. The question isn't whether I'll have nightmares tonight, but if I'll ever manage to fall asleep again at all.

 

20 juil.

Kinect officially priced at $150

Meanwhile, the hard-drive-less new Xbox is gonna be $200. One is a supercomputer; the other is two webcams on a motorized stick. One is sold at a loss, or at cost, subsidized by games sales; the other… well, it would sell games, too, if it weren’t so damn expensive, wouldn’t it?

I can’t believe there’s a valid engineering or manufacturing reason for this price point (most of the cost of Kinect has to be software, and with software you do make it up in volume), so this can’t be anything but a total failure of marketing and strategy — someone evidently believes they’ll never sell enough units to recoup the development costs, and priced the peripheral in accordance… with their self-fulfilling prophecy.

In other words, an eminently Microsoftian strategy.

 

17 juil.

16 juil.

14 juil.

Okay, scratch that: two-player Fruit Ninja on iPad is pretty fun.

 

I don't think Fruit Ninja HD brings enough updates to be worth that price if you've already bought the iPhone version.

 

12 juil.

Yay! They have fixed the We Rule servers, I can get my farms neatly aligned again.

 

9 juil.

“Osmos for iPad: An Evolutionary Step In iPad Gaming”

I intended to be working this afternoon, but it’s gonna be very hard. This game is gorgeous and addictive — and quickly gets pretty difficult, but in a good way.

 

8 juil.

Oops. No wonder I didn't get a notification from We Rule and lost precious crops, I had turned them off when I first launched the game.

 

7 juil.

Sniff, the few people I know on We Rule have very crappy cities that they haven't played with for more than two minutes.

 

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