Saturday, August 15, 2009

Shadow Complex Coming This Wednesday, August 19th

Get excited! Shadow Complex is gracing XBLA with its presence this Wednesday, August 19, 2009.

I am now one hundred percent excited for the game and I am reading the novel, in preparation, that the game is based upon: Empire by Orson Scott Card.

The hype train definitely caught me because everyone is talking about this game and how they cannot wait. I had been mildly interested when it was originally announced but I had let it slip into the back of my mind until recently when review outlets started getting the review code for the game.

I have never been into the Metroid style of gameplay, which is Shadow Complex's style of gameplay, but I have noticed myself falling into new games because the story just seems too compelling to just let it slip past.

Here is the E3 trailer so that you may peruse it once again. Can-not-wait.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Retro Review: The Secret of Monkey Island SE

I am often saddened that my friends - in my formative years - were not as geeky or nerdy as I was. It may have been that I did not have a wide group of geeks to get new ideas for games to play or it may just be that the internet was not what it is today. The end result was that I missed out on a lot of older games that I am now finding myself enjoying.

"Look behind you, a three headed monkey!"

Not going to fall for that? Well then, this review is all I have: 

The Secret of Monkey Island SE comes with both the HD revamped graphics (that makes it a Special Edition) and the classic edition. For purposes of this review and my personal enjoyment I decided to play the classic edition before indulging myself in the new graphical style. I wanted to experience what I did not have the chance to all the way back in 1990.

The game starts on Melee Island with Guybrush Threepwood looking to become a pirate. The beginning of the game starts when Guybrush arrives at a village on Melee Island, somewhere in the Carribean.

The game is witty, clever and is often hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occassion. They do not make games like this anymore but with any luck the success of this and the new Tales of Monkey Island series the adventure game genre might be revitalized. The "point and click" controls transfer over well to the controller as they did with Sam and Max Save The World. There are times where the player has to "click" back and forth numerous times where the controls can become cumbersome but other than that playing the game with a game controller is a breeze. If you have not played the game before you will know what I am talking about when it gets to the mug o' grog and the storekeeper's safe parts.

One of the best parts of the game is that I do not think the nostalgia factor is lost on me. The game was made for someone my age, probably by guys who were my age at the time (mid 20s). I do not think I could have appreciated this game at the ripe age of five. I do have a nostalgia for the graphical style which is really nothing more than a few pixels heaped together. There are close-ups of the characters at certain points and one can tell that this took up the primary portion of the game's memory.

The story is simple, unbelievable, short and sweet. It is the exact story that one should expect from this game. In less words, the story was great.

Where the game succeeded in story the game lacked in challenging puzzles. The answers to puzzles were often common sense or just involved clever word use. The game still makes one feel rewarded for having solved the puzzle at hand if only barely so.

Because there are definitive answers to everything the second run through of the game was considerably less exciting than the first but I did switch to the new graphical style so that it would still feel fresh.

The controls for the SE version of the game are only okay and they feel more cumbersome than the classic version's controls. The D-Pad is used as a hot key for quickly selecting actions (ex. pick up, give, etc.) and while this works, it does not necessarily work well. The 360 controller's mushy pad is most likely at fault here but it still put a damper on the gameplay when I had to push my finger to the upper right of the D-Pad several times before I could select the "use" action.

The achievements also add to the replayability but once again, if you know what they are (they are all secret achievements (get it?)), you will probably only be playing through the game twice. I managed to mop up all of the gamerscore on three playthroughs but I would still say that I only spent 10 hours with the game.

Having just finished the game I can see that the jokes far outlive the short amount of time that you will spend with the game so if that adds value for you then this is your game.

At the end of the day the game is worth its ten dollar asking price (but never pay more than 20 dollars for a game) because it made me feel richer for the experience. Game's do not often make jokes at their own expense and when they do these days it might turn out to be something like Matt Hazard.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Game Diary: August 11, 2009 - Monkey Island SE Edition

At the beginning of last week I still found myself playing a lot of Battlefield: Bad Company but as the week progressed I found that I wanted to play something more story driven for a change. I am fully aware that I could have played the story portion of BC but I was looking for something fresh. I found something fresh in a revamped game from 1990... go figure.

At this realization I decided to pick up The Secret of Monkey Island SE on Xbox Live Arcade. I had a ball playing it all week and at some point I decided that I was going to get all 200 gamerscore.

Mission Accomplished!

The achievements were clever but not hard and even speed running through the game was easy because once you are aware of the puzzle solutions the game becomes that much easier to beat.

I also had the pleasure of discovering that Orson Scott Card wrote the insults in MI. This was a funny little happenstance because I have every intention of making the next book I read Empire, the book that Shadow Complex is loosely based on.

I do not want to say too much about MI though because that would spoil the review that I have been hacking away at for a few too many days.

I did just want to point out that I had little to no interest in Shadow Complex and now I am counting the days until next Wednesday when the game is released.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday MUpdate: Thanks for listening, chiiiiiiiiiiiillllllldren!

My life is in boxes at the moment, and because of this I don't really play too much. It takes too much effort on my part to sit and dig through a box for XBOX games, and I just don't every really feel up for doing that. This weekend, however, I took my 360 with me down on a trip to Jersey so I could download the Batman demo and decided to dig out a couple of games. Despite bringing 4 games, only 1 of them ever entered the console, and this is where it now resides: Fallout 3.

But more on that later. First - the Batman demo! That's right, Batman: Arkham Asylum is now available in a 15 minute demo version on your XBOX 360! Or PS3 I guess. Whichever you have. Either way, you now have access to the exact same demo on display at E3. This was my main curiousity: is this going to be the same level from E3? Yeah, it is, and with that all of my previous comments pretty much stay the same: the voice acting is phenomenal, the gameplay is fun but it feels like it would be repetitive. In playing the Batman demo in my own time (without a line behind me or crowd of people watching), I feel like I had a bit more time to sit and enjoy the gameplay, and I've gotta say, it is pretty fun. However, I still feel like all in all, the game is just rental fun. I can't imagine myself wanting to play this game more than once, and the combat is still pretty easy. Sure, it's fun to swoop over someone and kick them in the head, but let's be honest - there are a lot of games you can do this in (such as my hotly anticipated Assassin's Creed 2). In fact, I would go so far as to say the only thing that makes this game special is that it's Batman. The free flowing combat is still by far and large the highlight, though. It's a much more polished version of what Too Human tried to do, and I enjoy it. It can occasionally be annoying when I want to punch the guy on the left and Batman punches the guy on the right, but with all the complaints I make this is hardly one I apply any significance to. Hell, I'm more upset by character designs than I am by that, so it's clearly small potatoes. So Batman is fun to play, sure, but I still can't imagine paying $60 for it. That's just me, though, and I know for a fact other writers here feel differently, so take my thoughts as you will.

Then we decided to play Fallout 3 to pass the time for a little bit, and boy, when I get back into this game, I get back into it hardcore. In fact, I really wish I were at home still plugging away at my adventures in the wasteland. I downloaded the two new expansions (Mothership Zeta and Point Lookout) and finally finished my adventures in the Pitt (which involved a Thunderdome style match with a chainsaw, which was AWESOME). I'm amazed that, even now, I still think Fallout 3 is one of the best games I've played. I always look at it and feel overwhelmed due to the epic scope of the game, and I think that this intimidating nature of the game is what keeps a lot of people from going back. I mean, the original clock in time I had for the game was 56 and a half hours. Do I really want to commit another 56 and a half, probably more, hours to a game like this? After playing it again this weekend, I can definitely say yes. I am absolutely fine with devoting my life to this game again. It's just so damn fun, and now that I'm playing through with an evil character the story seems fresh as I blow up Megaton and kill some doctor who is just trying to create a cure. Of course, I'm making the game much harder for myself right now because even though I have special armor that can practically deflect bullets (thanks to the expansions!), I choose to wear a broken leather uniform that makes me look like Mad Max and run aroudn with no stimpaks. I'M JUST THAT HARDCORE. Plus I have Nerd Rage.

All in all, Fallout 3 is still definitely one of the most entertaining game experiences I've ever had. With all of the new expansions, I'd go so far as to include this game on my Best of '09 list, right at the top. It's just such a damn great game. Everything about it. The atmosphere is wonderful, the ambience is magnificent, and the gameplay still holds even after all of the time I've already devoted into the gameplay. Right now I'm doing one of the main story missions (the Galaxy News Radio mission), but as soon as I finish I plan to investigate the mysterious Alien Homing Beacon sounds my Pip-Boy has been picking up. I'll let you all know what happens.