April 30, 2008

GTA IV initial impressions

I only played for about an hour yesterday.  Here are some quick impressions on my very limited time with it:
- This game has the coolest opening credits I have ever seen for a video game.  Great job Rockstar.
- I read in all the reviews how likable your character Nikko is.  I was skeptical going in, but they were right.  In my short time with the game I already like him.
- The graphics are impressive in their scope and scale.  If you scrutinize individual elements, they are eclipsed by other games, but taking into account what the game is pulling off, Rockstar did a fine job in this regard.
- So far I am loving Euphoria's implementation.  I've barely had a chance to really see what it can fully do though.  I'm so early in the game I have not even found a gun yet (to see the rag doll effects).  But just walking around, climbing fences, and running up and down stairs produces some great animation.
- As has been mentioned in reviews, driving takes some getting used to.  I find it impossible to make a turn on a street corner without using the emergency brake.  If you try to make the turn without it, you'll just slam into whatever is in front of it.  It could be the cars I have been using so far (no sports cars for me yet), but still, kinda iffy.
- One of the first things I did was watch a tv show.  Kind of like in "The Darkness" you can watch tv, now you can as well in GTA.  But unlike The Darkness which had actual video of old movies/shows, the GTA programs were created just for GTA, using the game engine.  I was expecting to immediately stop watching and play the actual game, but I found myself laughing like a complete idiot at the show that was airing.  It was genuinely funny.  I was watching some talk show with two male hosts.  The set was the inside of a Men's Bathroom.  I don't want to ruin it for everyone, but one of the hosts had me in stitches!
- I did run into one problem with Euphoria.  It might be too sensitive.  At the very beginning of the game, as I walked out of my apartment, I see a hotdog vendor across the street.  I get a message saying I can buy hotdogs to replenish my health.  Even though my health was full I wanted to buy a hotdog, so I walk up the vendor, accidentally brush up against his stand, and knock some things over.  Apparently this pisses him off and now he does not want to sell me a hotdog.  So I walk away (annoyed at the fact that I barely touched his cart and he took that as a sign of war) and notice a few guys standing around in a circle talking.  Their conversation sounded interesting so I attempt to get a little closer.  Again, I accidentally brush up against one of them and he gets very upset and decides he wants to fist fight me.  Great.  Here I am, trying to just take in the sights and act as a model citizen (I really was trying to keep a low profile) and I've upset a hotdog vendor and I am now in a fist fight with some random guy.  At this point I don't even know what I am doing control-wise but I manage to get a few good punches in.  All of a sudden, somebody from off screen starts shooting at me and I get killed!!  What the?!  Wow, not a good start to my first time stepping outside my apartment.
- I had another weird thing occur.  I decided to do a bit of exploring on foot around my apartment (technically it is my cousin's apartment).  I find a back alley and some stairs that lead to a walkway above one of the main bridges.  So I start walking down the walkway.  There are a few people up here walking as well.  No big deal.  All of a sudden, I have 6 stars on my police wanted meter.  I have helicopters above shining spotlights on me and the cops start shooting!!!  What did I do?!  I begin to run for my life!  I make it back to the apartment and the entire police force is after me.  I do not know what I did to warrant such a high level of police activity.  I know that the other lslands are off limits at the beginning of the game (some sort of terrorist alert) but there was nothing blocking that walkway on the bridge to indicate it was off limits.  There was no officer standing by turning people away, no sign, nada.  If the 6 stars were a result of me being somewhere I shouldn't have been, then Rockstar definitely overlooked the fact that someone might wander up to that walkway on foot because they put nothing to deter pedestrians from getting up there.
So far I have tried to play the game as legit as possible, putting myself in Nikko's shoes as a newly arrived immigrant and I've tried to keep a low profile.  My reward?  Getting into a fist fight in the street and shot (probably by the hotdog vendor I pissed off) and having the entire Liberty City police force after me for walking on a bridge.  Weird.  lol.
Anyway, about an hour of playtime is barely scratching the surface of this game.  I'll chime in with more impressions when I spend actual time with it.

April 29, 2008

MGS Online Beta impressions

Well after all the problems, delays and extremely lengthy
downloads/updates, I managed to play the MGS Online Beta. For about 30
minutes. After which I turned it off and played CoD4 for a few hours.

I won't say the Beta is bad. But Metal Gear's controls have been
pretty clunky for a while now. They do not lend themselves fast paced
action. I'm sure this game will find its niche and many are probably
having a grand time with it. I'll pass. Even if it was included for
free with MGS IV I don't think I would be playing it, much less picking
it up as a stand alone game.

Like I said, many might like it. I might be trying to play it in a way
it is not meant to be played, but when it comes to multiplayer, right
now it is CoD4 for me. Maybe GTA will give me a nice change of pace.
We'll see.

Where's Jack?

Given that today is GTA IV's release, how long before Jack Thompson begins his latest "look at me!" media campaign?  Let me count it down.  5, 4, 3, 2 . . .

April 28, 2008

GTA IV tomorrow (tonight?)

I'm contemplating if I should go stand in line outside Gamestop for the GTA midnight release.
Why does this always happen to me?  I was perfectly content with pre-ordering the game and picking it up after work tomorrow.  Now on the eve of its release, I'm getting that itch and standing in line at 11pm is sounding like the way to go.  It probably didn't help that I watched the IGN Video Review this morning.  It got a 10.  It was also the first gameplay footage I have seen of the game.  Funny, I did not realize until today that I had yet to see actual gameplay.  And it looked great!
Oh well, I have 14 hours to figure out what I want to do . . .

April 21, 2008

Gaming update

Quick gaming post.

I pre-ordered GTA IV (360) and Metal Gear Solid IV. Got a key for the MGS beta.

My God, anything online related on the PS3 is complete garbage!!! PS3 updates take forever to download and then you have to "install" them. Well, the MGS beta needs to download, then install, then it has an update available that takes FOREVER! After that you need both a Game ID and a Konami ID. Getting the Konami ID was a huge pain because their website was getting hit with alot of traffic. Then after all that . . . the Beta gets delayed. Nice!

No wonder if a game is available on both the 360 and PS3 I don't hesitate to pick up the 360 version. The whole interface is so user-friendly.

April 10, 2008

The Darkness Impressions (360)

Just as I was hoping, I found The Darkness for a discounted price ($29.99) and I decided to pick it up, since I always had my eye on it throughout its development and I am a huge fan of Starbreeze's previous effort, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay.
I've played it for the past few days and so far I am having a great time!  I find it a shame that the game did not get more press when it was released, because it is right up my alley.  The game has some down time where you are left to do a bit of exploring and speak to characters, plenty of ways to dispose of your enemies, and it does a great job of making you feel like a bad-ass character possessed by an evil demon entity.  In fact, my biggest compliant so far is that I wish enemies would react even more to the fact that you have glowing eyes and two snake-like shadow tentacles emitting from your shoulder blades which go around devouring the hearts of their dead comrades.  I would have loved to have seen more "real-time" reactions like the ones your see in the cutscene where your powers manifest for the first time (enemies fleeing in terror, dropping their guns and running, etc.).  Granted, the game already gets kinda easy once you acquire all your Darkness powers, so having enemies terrified and not wanting to fight you would have been too much, but the fact that they don't seem to mind much bothers me.  That being said, it still is a great feeling walking into a room, taking out the lights with a giant demon tentacle and then impaling enemies with that same tentacle as if they were nothing but a minor nuisance.
Some general observations:
- The graphics are solid, with great textures and lighting.
- Character models are adequate but suffer from poor lip-syncing.
- The voice acting is pretty solid.
- The storytelling is great.  I actually feel the hatred towards my enemies that my character is supposed to feel.
- Controls take some getting used to.  Not as silky smooth as Halo of CoD4.  If you've played Riddick (or Fear) you know what to expect.  A lot of head-bobbing, etc.
- The game is definitely for adults.  Very dark, gritty and violent.  Fits the tone of the story  perfectly though.
- Just like Riddick, the game goes to a 3rd person perspective when climbing ladders, etc.  I think this is pointless and feel that staying in 1st person all the time is much more effective.
- Playing with the lights off and headphones is fantastic!  =)
That's it for now.  Might do a final write-up when I beat it.

April 09, 2008

The Show update

MLB The Show is gorgeous.  As I mentioned, the jump in graphical quality from last year's version is pretty significant.  And it is never more apparent than in day games.  Day games look just phenomenal and look significantly better than night games.  I wish I could play every game during the day.
The "sunlight" during these games is spot on and it raises the "wow" factor by more than a few notches.
Graphics in night games: 7.5
Graphics in day games: 10

April 07, 2008

Rock Band Guitar

Since I have been doing 95% of my Rock Band gaming on the drums, I just now realized that my guitar controller is broken.  It does not register any up-strumming.  Only down.  And even that one is questionable.  So, I am awaiting another big box from EA.  Hopefully this is the last one.