February 24, 2006

Game Demos

You know, game companies should really work on releasing demos for their games. All of them. It's one of the best way to make gamers interested in a game they might otherwise overlook. I've personally purchased many games because I've enjoyed their demos so much. Off the top of my head I can think of three (there are many more) I would have never given a second thought too, yet after playing the demo I went out and purchased them.

Hotshots Golf (the original for PS1)
First, I had never bought - or ever even considered - buying a golf video game before this demo. To be honest, I didn't even understand the game of golf and all those "birdies", "eagles" and "tee shots" meant nothing to me. I had no idea how someone with a score of - 4 could beat someone with a score of 5. It just didn't make sense. Then this demo comes along - with deformed cutesy anime characters and offering you the first 9 holes of a course - and I was hooked. Outside its cartoony exterior lies a pretty deep, realistic golf engine. Its simple interface had me playing in minutes and after I was done playing the demo (like 50 times) not only did I run out and buy the game, but now I enjoy the sport of golf. I can actually watch it on t.v. and not fall asleep. I've also purchased many other golf games since, but it all started with Hotshots.

Psi-ops (X-Box)
I had read of Psi-ops in countless magazines and internet sites, but the game never caught my attention. Then I played the demo and I was blown away. I must have messed around in the training room for hours, using my powers of telekinesis to manipulate the environment and toss enemies around, soaking up the fantastic havok physics. It was endless fun!!! When the actual game was released I was pleased to see that the visuals were improved and man was the game gory!!! Head explosions and blood baths ensued, much to my delight. The game's use of psionic powers (especially telekinesis) separated the game from the usual action-fare. Unfortunately, I didn't feel the game lived up to its full potential. Poor level design, especially in the later levels, kept the game from truly excelling. Still, lifting a soldier in the air with your mind and tossing his across the room like a ragdoll and watching him realistically (and painfully) crash against the wall and lifelessly slump down never gets old! Gruesome and satisfying all in one. Man, I sound like a psycho. I really hope a sequel is made for next-gen consoles. There is plenty of potential for this series.

Fight Night Round 3 (Xbox 360)
Much like golf, I had never purchased a boxing videogame. I was a big fan of Mike Tyson's Punch-out on the NES, but I never owned it. I never played the Knockout Kings/Fight Night series, even though they had received great accolades in the past. And while I do enjoy watching boxing on t.v., playing a videogame version of the sport never caught my attention. I then downloaded the FNR3 demo available in the Market Place and I played it ad nauseam. It only consisted of four rounds with the same two boxers (Hopkins and Jones Jr.), but I would play it at last once a day for about a month. The end result? I purchased Fight Night Round 3 on Wednesday, something I would have never done if not for the demo.

So release those demos guys!! (I'm talking to you Ubisoft!!! I want my GRAW demo already!!!)

February 07, 2006

Where the games at?

Wow, talk about a post-launch drought. If you're a 360 gamer, I hope you're having fun with your launch day games, because aside from DoA4, we've had zilch to hold us over.

I have three games that I am eagerly anticipating. The first one is surprising, even to myself.

Fight Night Round 3. I still play the demo almost daily. I really like this game. The graphics are probably the most impressive I have seen to date and it just "feels" right. I'm just now getting used to the total control punching mechanic using the right analog stick (I used to use the buttons to punch) and it just adds another level to the game. The full game, complete with career-mode, should be a treat.

GR:AW. Sure, there's still a part of me that is upset that the original footage shown was just a target video even though they tried to pass it off as gameplay, but this game has really come a long way. It still does not look quite as good as that "target video", but it is pretty damn close, with the only real drawback being the amazing animation in the original footage. This game will be an absolute blast on LIVE.

Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. A next gen RPG like no other. This game has the potential to offer over 100 hours of gameplay. That is just sick. The graphics are fantastic, the physics system is realistic and the freedom to do what you want is unsurpassed. As long as the game ships fairly bug free, it should be quite the experience.

Now, I did not add Gears of War to this list because, well, that damn game has been hibernating for months now. C'mon guys, what' the hold up?! Show off some gameplay movies or something!!!