Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Force Unleashed Review

Hardly the most recent game to come out but the one that I have had the chance to complete; a review for is Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.

After finishing TFU, a few goodies and costumes aside, I was left feeling satisfied (there it is right there, go buy the game). I've completed both the light and the dark side endings and either way the story is the best Star Wars video game story that I have encountered since Knights of the Old Republic. It was satisfying possibly in a way that only a Star Wars fan might understand.

The most thrilling parts were the story driven cut scenes and the overall length of the campaign. The campaign progressed nicely and I was never bored (frustrated possibly but bored, no). The cut scenes were breath taking and I felt like I was watching what should have been another Star Wars movie. The only thing I could have asked for were missions (levels) that looked exactly like these stunningly rendered cut scenes.

Most of these missions were ultimately satisfying all with boss fights at their ends. The only thing bad about the boss fights were that as soon as you figured out how to beat them, they were no longer a challenge. But until you were to figure out these magic formulas to beat these bosses most of the fights were long and obnoxiously difficult. After the long and arduous battle to ‘beat’ the boss the boss fights would end in a series of quick button presses (quick time events) and though most people might not find these as satisfying as some other method, I ultimately enjoyed them a great deal (though I am sure they do not hold up after more than one play through).

The only other real complaint I had with the game was the camera angles that the game sometimes forced one to use (again most often in boss fights). On an often enough occasion I found myself dead because of an obnoxious camera that forced me to stay in an area while someone was stabbing me in the back.

On quite the opposite side of all of these complaints this game does the best ever job of making you feel like a truly (and pardon my language here but it is the only way to describe it) bad ass Jedi. The only part where I felt like less than myself is when I had to face off against bubble shield wielding flamethrower guys (trust me, in retrospect, it is a funny thought). My only hope in those moments was the possibility of a huge rock that I could force throw at the guy with the hope that he would, at the most, fall over long enough for me to get up to him with my lightsaber. Okay really, enough with what annoyed me.

Another fantastic aspect of this game was that the levels were beautifully designed and I loved Starkiller. I have never seen such a beautifully rendered Star Wars game and as a whole it did the best job at making me feel like a Jedi or a Sith.

After seeing both endings there was no real reason for me to continue aside from some extra achievement grabbing and though I could not suggest a way to make this game more repayable (that is why I am not the designer of this game) that is a sad fact because as big of a Star Wars fan that I am I could not merit purchasing this game (yes, I know I said to go buy it earlier). If I want the extra gamerscore that I did not nab on the first rental, I'll just rent it again. This games lasting value is something akin to Assassin's Creed. So as a final note (and in closing) I thought that this was a fantastic addition to the Star Wars canon and despite the games flaws it still shines through as a memorable gaming experience.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

360 Experience = Better Than Everyone Else?

At the time of this posting I only own one of the three major consoles and though I would have liked to pick up the PS3 or the Wii at some point finances have gotten in the way. At some point I am sure I will have the PS3 - probably to play Heavy Rain - but I honestly wonder if I should even bother (I did manage to hold out through all of the LittleBigPlanet hype). The only good thing that I hear about these systems are the rare good games that come out and only if they are working to begin with (again LittleBigPlanet).

This generality that has me avoiding buying a new console is all of the complaints that I hear about PS3 and Wii's interfaces. For example, I did not know, until today, that the patches for PS3 games take a long enough time that you can go make a sandwich but something I did know is that they release a system update for the console every couple of months or so. These updates to the console are not quick and they are, of course, required to play online. To myself it just sounds like a lot of annoyances that could probably be streamlined. For the games they could put more fixes in a less frequent patching process and for the system updates they could do the same thing.

Perhaps Sony could take a page out of Microsoft's book and hype up their new features but thinking about it now they did that for the in game XMB and well... is anyone still talking about how great of a feature that is to have. Instead everyone is always complaining about the next problem (whatever it may be). This could be a testament to how many issues that the PS3 is not addressing correctly or it could be the Internet complaining about everything all of the time, as they like to do from time to time.

Seeing as the Wii has far more wrong with it than just its interface (though it is hard to update the interface if you do not have enough free space) alone it becomes hard to complain about any one thing. For example, the Wii Speak peripheral could seemingly allow you to chat with friends while playing any game but as far as I am aware one can only use it in the Wii Speak channel or in Animal Crossing. While I am not surprised, you could see how this would make sense to have in games that encourage folks to play together. For myself, at this point, I would like to just borrow someones Wii for a month or so and just play all the few games that I would like to play.

In the end, I like the community that comes along with my Xbox and I know it is not going anywhere so I have nothing to worry about if I ever do pick up one of these other consoles.