July 31, 2007

Heavenly Sword

There was a new PS3 update and a Heavenly Sword demo released last week (I was in Portland). With the update you now have the option of using a wallpaper. A welcome feature.

The Heavenly Sword demo is pretty cool . . . but unbelievably short. The Sigma and Gran Turismo demos were pretty substantial, and with this demo weighing in at 900mb+, I had high hopes of some decent Heavenly Sword gameplay ahead of me. Instead, the demo was over in 10 minutes. It was a fun 10 minutes, but I felt cheated. Even in demo terms it was short. What gives Sony?

After the demo and watching the "Making Of" video available in the PS Store, I am really looking forward to this game. The fighting mechanics are fresh and different and appears to be pretty deep. We'll see. I am not exactly thrilled to have another game I want on the horizon. What do the next few months look like at this point?

Halo 3
Call of Duty 4
Mass Effect
Half-Life 2
Assassin's Creed

I now have to throw Heavenly Sword in there? Great. And I didn't even include all the other games I'm on the ropes about.

July 30, 2007


I just got back from a trip to Portland. I got to hang out with Powerpuff. We hadn't seen each other in about 6 years. It was a great time. Thanks for all the hopitality. The Northwest is beautiful . . . and about a night and day difference from South Florida (well, they are on opposite ends of the country, duh!). I'll post a few pics up on the blog when I have a moment.

July 18, 2007

All_Pro 2K8

I picked up All-Pro 2K8 for the 360 last night. I can give limited impressions at the moment since I only played a couple of games last night and spent a little bit of time in practice mode (since I lost my first game 24-7).

Right now, the thing that jumps out the most about the game is the animation and the POTENTIAL for it to offer a very realistic, sim-like football experience. I say potential, because it is impossible to tell from my extremely limited playtime.

The biggest negative for me right now, aside from the immediate thought of it not looking like a "true" next game visually, is that you can ONLY play this game with teams you create. I believe you can create a total of 8 teams. But even if you go to Quick Play, you can only control teams you yourself have created. You can make your opponent any team in the game (from whatever default teams have been generated by the CPU, with random legends in them), but you cannot choose to play as them. I find this very odd and needlessly restrictive. If I just want to jump into a quick game with two randomly created teams to just have a change of pace from my created team, I can't do that. Again, I do not know why, but it has the potential to get annoying down the line. If my friend comes over to play the game, we can only play against each other with the teams I have created and if I only have one, he will need to create one before we can play. That is pretty weak.

Some quick impressions:

- Player faces for legends are hit and miss. Jerry Rice looks great. Shannon Sharpe does as well. Dan Marino sort of looks like himself . . . sometimes. Player models are a bit lean, but I'll take lean over too muscular or fat.

- Stadiums also seem to be hit and miss. It appears that the developers definitely spent extra time on some more than others. My created team are the Miami Sharks, and the Sharks default stadium (the one that goes with the Shark theme) looks decent, with a big shark model in the end-zone and a water fall, but it does not look anywhere near as polished as say, the Firebird's stadium, which looks really, really good. I've only really seen these two for now, but the difference in quality, detail and atmosphere was immediately noticeable.

- My initial reaction when I started my first game was that it did not look as great as I hoped. That might be also attributed to the fact that I played my first game in my Sharks home stadium, if I would have played in the Firebird one I would have been far more impressed initially. Once I got the game started I still was not sure what to think. After playing Madden for 3 years and being away from the 2K series, everything was just so different. Player models looked weird at first, the gameplay felt foreign (yet distantly familiar) and I did not feel comfortable with the controls (I kept trying to play like Madden, using the right-trigger for speed burst, etc.). By the 2nd half of the game, I began to adapt and the experience started coming together and was very enjoyable. I never felt completely comfortable the entire game (didn't know how to do hot routes, offensive or defensive adjustments, and I had a tough time reading the defense), but that will all come with time.

- I do not like "Field Pass", which periodically shows you "on the field" cut-scenes of your players and you can hear them talking. I do not like the player voices (especially when Dan Marino speaks, since I know what Dan sounds like and this generic voice does nothing but kill the illusion of Dan being on my team, since it sounds nothing like him). I think I am going to turn player voices down to zero in the options screen.

- I saw many awesome animations. QB animations are just fantastic. Their dropback and follow through looks great. Depending on how far they are throwing you get different wind-ups. Marino even drops back and while scanning his receivers, he taps the ball with his left hand. And he has a quick release!! Awesome to see. I tried throwing on the run with Marino and he threw up a duck! That was great as well. Some of the best animations are of the WR's running their routes. No game has shown WRs running their routes as realistic as this game. They plant their foot to make cuts, shift their momentum and it looks fantastic!! Running animations are also great. In 2K5 players ran too upright and it looked odd. 2K8's running animations are probably the best I have seen.

- Sidelines are very busy with players, referees, coaches, cheerleaders, stadium staff and media. Looks great from a distance. Up close, a lot of those media personnel and stadium staff look absolutely awful. That's to be expected since normally you do not really see them up close, but during a coaches challenge last night they showed the referee in the review booth and close to the booth was a media person and he looked worse than a PS1 games. I am serious. They should not have used than angle because it looked really, really bad. Referees in general look a little odd in cutscenes and come off a bit robotic. I like that they are on the field though and can get involved in the play.

- Gang tackles are back and make a huge difference in the game. Seeing them put a smile to my face, after 3 years of single-man tackles in Madden.

- The game plays similar to 2K5, but a lot more solid. In 2K5 I used to play as a DE on defense because I felt like I did not have much control over my linebacker (what I usually like to play on D). In 2K8 I can definitely see myself playing as a LB again. Controls are solid. Running game is great, with fantastic o-line/d-line interaction. RB's "get skinny" to fit through small holes and defensive players engaged in blocks can reach out and try to bring a runner down.

- I saw many animations recycled from 2K5. There are still PLENTY of completely new animations, but everytime I would see an old one I would wish that this game was running on a completely new engine, instead of a tweaked 2K5 engine. Those old animations still look great, but I guess I just wanted to see ALL new animations. Too much to ask for, I know. I'm just getting greedy.

- The half-time show and post-game show is back and is very similar to 2K5's only without the ESPN presentation and the "virtual" Chris Berman. I still love watching highlights of the game I am playing.

- One of my biggest problem with the game is the commentary. Dan and Peter from 2K5 are back. They were pretty good in that game (mostly because I had never heard them before, since 2K5 was my first 2K football game). But now, I really do not like their commentary. They do not sound "real". They sound like actors, and unfortunately, that is what they are. They try to be funny, but it does not sound like real football commentary. It does not help that I have been playing MLB: The Show on the PS3 and that game's commentary is just light years ahead of all other sports games. Oh well, they are still better than Madden's crappy radio announcer. I know Dan and Peter have MANY fans, so I'm going to hear it from them . . . sorry. :\

That's what I have for now. I've only played a couple of games and spent some time in practice mode. I can't wait to sink my teeth into this one, since my enjoyment of the game goes up the more I play it.

July 16, 2007

More E3

A few more thoughts on the games I saw at E3.

- Sony's Little Big Planet is going to be amazing. If the PS3's installed base was larger, this game would/should be a monumental hit. I personally cannot wait. Its design is fantastic and its concept can change gaming. So far word of mouth is that it is extremely intuitive and insanely fun. That is a good combination.

- The new Ratchet and Clank game for the PS3 has some of the most impressive visuals I have seen on the system yet. It follows the series' traditional art style, but holy crap does it look great!!!! Gameplay-wise though, it looks to be identical to previous entries in the series. We'll see how that goes. The Ratchet games are great platforming fun, but with the next gen entry I was hoping for more than just a graphical upgrade, even if that upgrade is phenomenal.

- After watching the developer walkthrough of Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway I am excited about the game again. Early on this was one of my most anticipated next gen releases. The game seemed to have disappeared from the radar and the quick footage I had seen lately wasn't as impressive as I remembered. Plus, thanks to CoD 3 I was completely done with WWII. After watching the demo it is clear this game is extremely different from your other WWII games and it reminded me of why I enjoy this series so much. The destructible environments look to add a whole new dimension to the game and I look forward to commanding my squad once more. Now lets see if this game ever comes out!

- Crysis looks absolutely amazing! Watching the developer demo, I was constantly floored. The game world is huge and completely open. The foliage and plant life does not only look great, but is also fully destructible (as are the buildings). The game now has wildlife and they all look and animate extremely realistically. Chickens, crabs, small quail-like birds, fish, they all look simply amazing. I wish I had a PC powerful enough to run this game even half decent, but as it is, my set-up can't even generate one of the game's excellently modeled chickens.

- My biggest surprise of the show has got to be the new Turok game. For a series that has been synonymous with "crap-on-a-stick" for many years now, this game has come out of left field. The game is running very, very smooth, the graphics are extremely polished, and the game looks to combine some great stealth elements to your normal everyday FPS. Plus, the game has dinosaurs!!! Ok fine, it can't be a Turok game without dinosaurs, but these dinos look to add a whole new dimension to the gameplay, as they won't be only after your hide, but they will just as quickly attack your enemies. The video I saw ended with a T-Rex appearing (a herd of herbivores running away from him) and your character getting attacked. The T-Rex was huge and beautifully modeled and animated. Very impressive. The game is scheduled to come out next February. It looks like this might be a great title to fill in the post Christmas drought.


I spent a good part of my morning/early afternoon yesterday downloading videos (the later half of my day I spent in the theater watching Ratatouille and Transformers). The Marketplace was running about as fast as a dial-up connection, not making the experience much fun, but Gametrailers had some great HD content up. Some impressions on what I have seen so far, in no particular order.

- I missed the Microsoft Press Conference because I was in the Police concert (the concert was great by the way). I was disappointed that Microsoft didn't really have any surprises or announcements. No rumored price drop, nada. But they did have a lot of great games.

- Call of Duty 4. The live demonstration was amazing. I have yet to see a HD version of the video, but even with the low quality one I saw, the footage was fantastic. This game definitely has that "next-gen" feel down. All of a sudden, it is one of my most anticipated games.

- Halo 3 - The video montage they showed, which had the first real taste of the single-player campaign, failed to really impress me. I have no doubt that the game will be amazing, with some fantastic set-pieces, great A.I., and the best multiplayer available, but the video did very little for me.

- Assassin's Creed - Going into E3 this was one of my most anticipated titles. After the live presentation, I am a little concerned though. The game looked far, far rougher than it did last year. How is that possible? It was glitchy and nowhere near as polished as the last live demonstration shown. The interaction with the crowd looked very rough, with poor collision detection and the entire demo just lacked polish. The city looked fantastic and seeing your character climb up buildings looked phenomenal, but the game still has some way to go. I hope they are able to pull this one off, because I have high hopes. I didn't like the voice acting and cinematics in the demo very much either, or the fact that your character speaks (I did not want him to speak in this game for some reason).

- Mass Effect - This game continues to impress. Story looks strong, fantastic voice acting, and the graphics are gorgeous.

- Nintendo - Man, the Nintendo Press conference was boring as f*ck! Blah-blah-blah, we're still sold out, blah-blah-blah, we've expanded the market, blah-blah-blah, we rock. The biggest announcements were the Wii Zapper, a release date for Smash Brothers, and Wii Fitness (which is not even a game per say). Gotta hand it them though, they really are expanding the market and to this day I still cannot walk into a store and buy a Wii, but nothing they showed really got me excited.

- Resident Evil 5 - The trailer shown (which is supposedly in real-time) was fantastic! The graphics were simply amazing and the game looks extremely creepy and disturbing. Can't wait.

- Metal Gear Solid 4 - Again, this game's cinematic quality and direction has no equal. The real-time trailer was phenomenal. That being said, I want to see gameplay already. I have no doubt that this game's cinematics will be the best ever. The MGS series has proven that in the past. I want to see if the gameplay has evolved accordingly, because while Snake Eater was a great game and I thoroughly enjoyed it, the play mechanics felt very dated. This game better show a revolution of the series' traditional control set-up and gameplay.

- Rock Band/Guitar Hero III - I'm throwing both of these in together because they are cut from the same cloth. Both these games will always fail to impress by just watching videos of them. You need to grab those instrument controllers and jam. That being said, I am soooo looking forward to Rock Band and playing drums!!! Plus, Rock Band announced that they are going to be offering a music service, releasing new songs EVERY WEEK! Not only that, but they will be offering entire albums to download. Entire freakin' albums!

- Army of Two - I saw a low quality gameplay video and the game has potential, especially with all the co-op opportunities, but I was not blown away.

- Gears of War PC - The game looks identical to the 360 version (from what I could tell) and apparently it was being played with a 360 controller, because you could see the button icons on the screen like the console game. The game is supposed to have a bout 5 new chapters, including a battle with a Brumak (giant Locust with rockets attached to its back). They showed part of that battle. I am really hoping that they release those new chapters as a download on the Marketplace, because I would love to try them out.

- Killzone 2 - I was actually pretty impressed with the real-time trailer. I know you weren't, but looking at it closely, it is a pretty damn gorgeous game. I heard there was a live presentation and I have not seen that. I will try to download a HD version of that tonight. Granted, it does not look as good as the CG trailer, but in reality, I did not think they were going to be able to match the trailer. Hell, Motorstorm didn't come close to matching its trailer, but it is still a pretty good looking game.

Like I mentioned, I went to the movies to see Ratatouille and Transformers, so there is a lot of stuff that I missed that I will have to watch tonight. Both movies were good by the way, will have reviews on those soon. Ratatouille was by far better. The animation was simply sick. Sick. Pixar animators are geniuses.


After my extensive playtime with Ninja Gaiden (on Xbox and now PS3) and the countless praise I have given the game, let me explore the other side of the coin. A few things that annoy me and hope they address in the "true" sequel:

- I don't like that the way you climb up stairs is to press a button at the base of the stairs and then you lose control of your character while he automatically climbs up. In a game that gives you such precise control (able to interrupt basically any move in combat if you press block), this comes across as annoying. Since the "use" button is also your main attack button, accidentally climbing up stars can be a pain. Also, there are a few sections in which you get attacked by bats (or these new spirit light . . . things) while climbing stairs and there is nothing you can do but take the damage, since you can't jump off or defend yourself. That is bad design right there.

- I like being able to run up and across walls (ala Prince of Persia), but in Ninja Gaiden, you do not need to press any buttons to activate the move. You just jump towards the wall at the appropriate angle. That is cool and works great 85% of the time. Other times however, because of the camera angle, you might be trying to do one thing, but instead you run up a wall or begin to run across one, and that can be bad if you are trying to navigate one of the platforming sections in the game where precise jumping is necessary. Running up a wall makes Ryu do a backflip off the wall when he reaches his peak and that can send you falling down a great distance if you were standing on a small elevated platform/edge. It can get frustrating.

- Speaking of jumping, I would like to have a little more control in jumping. I don't want to be able to change direction mid-air, but the jumping controls can be a bit difficult when having to jump from platform to platform.

- No more of those small flying mechanical sentry things that shoot laser beams. The beams are unblockable and they are extremely frustrating.

- I believe this was addressed in Sigma, but please, no more enemy spawns where save points are.

- Why is there no option to quit to the main menu in this game? It's been like that since the first one on the Xbox. You cannot change game settings from within the game, yet you cannot quit to the main menu without resetting the game. What gives?

Ok, that's all I have. The game rocks. :)

July 15, 2007

Currently playing

I am going through one of those periods where I think I have too many games to play. I hate that. I like devoting myself to one game. Ideally, two games, with one of them being a sports title (since those are easy to jump in and out of and break up the monotony of playing other types of games).

It started off that way. Playing DiRT and MLB: The Show 07. As always, I mix in some Guitar Hero II here and there. After great word of mouth and reviews, I picked up Super StarDust HD from the PS Store. A friend let me borrow Prince of Persia 3 (whatever it is called) for the PS2 (playing it on the PS3). I'm also periodically playing Rainbow Six: Vegas single-player again. And last but not least, I picked up Ninja Gaiden Sigma for the PS3.


DiRT - My previous post with impressions was actually written over a week ago. In the last week I have been playing very little of DiRT. As I started getting more and more into The Show, DiRT started taking a back seat.

The Show - I created myself as a closing pitcher and began my career. The game is a lot of fun. Graphically, it does not have the snazzy look of 2K7, but it does have a very clean, sharp look. The animations are great and the commentary is, without a doubt, the best of any sports game I have played.

Playing through career mode is a lot of fun. It is especially fun to be a closer because you come into games late, in save situations, sometimes with runners already on base, and you have to try to save the day. Plus, since you only pitch one inning on average, you can play through multiple seasons in a fraction of the time it would take for other positions.

I just started my 3rd year and I finally made the Marlins' roster (I was working my way up through the minors). The game still has some flaws which I will talk about in a later post, but it is a lot of fun.

Guitar Hero II - I haven't played in a while, but all it takes is for me to hear one of the game's songs on the radio and I'm right back in.

Super Stardust HD - Plays like Colony Wars a bit, mixed with Asteroids. Haven't devoted much time to it, but looks like it could be addictive.

Prince of Persia 3 - Didn't even want to play this one, but I was at my friends house and he had it and I mentioned that I enjoyed the first 2 games (well, the second was only okay) and he just told me to take it. I'm not sure I even want to play through this. I popped it in and the graphics were pretty ugly. At least God of War 2 still managed to impress me visually.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma - Yes, playing through Ninja Gaiden for the like 5th time now. But I can't help it, the game is fantastic!!! The Sigma demo (which I wrote about HERE) convinced me that I needed to play through this action masterpiece one more time.

So far, so good. The game is still as much fun as it ever was. Graphically it looks very nice, although you can tell this game is based on old technology. Some of the textures are still very last-gen looking and a lot of the geometry is still strictly out of the Xbox version. But the game moves at a blistering 60fps and is super sleek.

The new Rachel segments (I've only played two) seem to be an interesting diversion. Her combat mechanics are very different from Ryu's, so it is a nice change of pace. I don't like her running animation though, I think it looks a bit silly.

I'm playing through the game at the default difficulty. I'm now thinking I should have bumped it up (was a harder option even possible in the beginning?), because I am breezing through the game. Sigma seems to be a lot easier than Black was, with more save points and more shops to purchase items. I have not come across a difficult section yet. Of course, I have not battled against Alma yet (that bitch!).

GoW 2

Going through my notes and there are a few posts I wrote up and never added to the blog, to their timeline is way off. This is one of them . . .

I finally beat God of War 2 this past weekend. Aside from one grueling section towards the end in which you need to fight about 6 waves of tough enemies with no save points in-between, the game was a blast.

Best looking game of the PS2's life span. Great story as well. And a blast to play.

The game ends on a cliff hanger, so we now have to wait for part 3 for a conclusion to Kratos' story. And what a cliffhanger it was. The third entry should start off with quite a bang.

July 04, 2007

DiRT impressions

So, I've been playing DiRT for about a week now. The presentation of this game is absolutely top notch! Fantastic menu system and interface. The racing is also a lot of fun. A nice balance between sim and arcade. Maybe leaning a tad more towards arcade. It is insanely fun to be barreling down a narrow dirt road at insane speeds while listening to your co-pilot's instructions of the upcoming turns. Those calls are life savers!

The game looks fantastic too. Good one to pop in to show off your HD set to your friends.

What has impressed me the most though is the physics and interactivity with the environment. Most of my experience with racing games has come from the Gran Turismo series. And one thing those games have nothing of, is interaction with the terrain. Your cars are indestructible and a small fence acts like a 10 foot think concrete barrier. The first time I took a turn a little too fast in DiRT and the rear of my car power slid too far off the track and I hit those little orange plastic fences
they put up and actually saw the fences give way and get torn up as I sped away, it was like a whole new word. Gran Turismo 4 had those little fences too in their rally courses. Hitting them caused your car to come to a complete stop. Nice.

Get too close to any of the various plant life on the road side and it too gives way and reacts to your car. Pretty awesome when you are careering down the road at 100+ mph, take a small jump and land a bit too close to the side of the road and you just scrape a few branches. Talk about tense.

So far I am battling through Career-mode, which is a giant pyramid of different events. This will take a while.

Graphically, as a total package, the game wows. Great lighting, great textures, great courses, and great car models. All the cars come with a fully rendered interiors, so fans of cockpit views are in for a treat. I found the game very playable from this view as well, something I couldn't say for PGR3. If you begin to dissect individual aspects of the visuals, you notice that other games do certain things better. The
car models are better in other games, the textures are better in other games, etc. But bring them all together, and this is one of the most impressive racers I have seen.