December 30, 2008

Prince of Persia impressions . . .

I played the game for just over three hours last night.  I was having a good time, but for some reason I got the feeling I have already experienced all the game has to offer.  I hope I am wrong.  Some impressions:
- I don't like the Prince.  I don't like his character.  He's a bit too cocky.  Seems out of place.  Why can't we just have a regular, believable character for the lead?
- Graphically, the game is pretty, but I am not as impressed as I thought I would be.  The Prince's animations are great, the colors vibrant and the cell shaded graphics look very nice, but overall, I have not been floored by the visuals.
- It appears that the entire game consists of entering a corrupted area, working your way up a predetermined path, fight a mini-boss (sometimes more than once throughout the level) then reach the highest point where you "cure" the level, then traverse it again collecting light orbs.  Rinse, repeat.
- My biggest problem with the game is that while traversing the levels can be entertaining and it certainly looks amazing with all the crazy acrobatic moves you are pulling off, ultimately, it does not feel like you are really pulling everything off yourself.  Once you start stringing moves together, even though your character is doing a lot of pretty amazing stuff, all you are doing is occasionally pressing a button, you don't even have to really press a direction on the analog stick.  So the sense of accomplishment is not really as great as it should be, since it at times feel more like a quick-time event or interactive cinematic than you actually pulling off these moves.
- Combat is also very cinematic, requiring timed button presses resulting is elaborate moves.  Combat is also different from previous PoP games.  You only encounter an enemy (read: only one at a time) at pre-determined spots.  This is the only time the Prince uses his sword, as the attack button does not work during the platforming sections.
- You cannot die in the game.  This is both good and bad.  It is good because it greatly cuts down on frustration and loading screens.  If you miss a jump, your partner chick (sorry, in 3 hours of playing I didn't pick up her name.  Something with an "E".  Elika?  Elina?) uses her powers to grab your hand and lift you back up.  If you get swallowed by the black ooze surrounding the levels, again, she reaches in and rescues you.  Same with combat.  Sure, it makes the game a lot easier than it should be, but I think I'll take the lack of frustration over the lack difficulty.
I enjoyed my time with the game last night, but the Prince of Persia series has lost a lot of its magic since the first PS2 release.  They have tried to tinker with the formula too much, changing the Prince for the worse, getting a bit too elaborate with the storylines, too fantastical with the environments.  I hope the next PoP game goes back to basics.  Set it in the real world.  With nice but believable landscapes.  Have a believable Prince as a lead.  Someone a bit more down to earth.  Add some flaws in his execution of moves too.  He doesn't have to be super human.  Make him believable, like Nathan Drake in Uncharted.
Again, this is all based on 3 hours of playtime.  Will update accordingly as I advance through the game.

December 29, 2008

Holiday weekend notes . . .

Well, the Miami Dolphins gave me a great Christmas present by defeating the Jets, winning the AFC East, and advancing to the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
Wow, what a season!  We went from 1-15 a year ago, to hosting a playoff game this coming Sunday.  That is just crazy.  I don't think it is the bias in me talking, but Tony Sparano should be coach-of-the-year.  And while we're at it, Chad Pennington for MVP!!!  Sure, plenty of other QBs put up better numbers, but you can make an argument that no other player was more valuable to the success of their team than Chad was to the Dolphins.  Thank you Brett Favre for not retiring!!!
On the gaming front, I played through Uncharted: Drake's Fortune again.  After seeing the trailer for the sequel and reading Game Informer's preview, I got the urge to give it another spin.  Great game.
I also played some Far Cry 2 and CoD4.
Far Cry 2 is great in small doses.  During long sessions I tend to get tired of all the traveling and roadblock skirmishes.  But in smaller chunks it is lots of fun.
Playing CoD4 was humiliating.  I am extremely rusty.  During the beta and when the game first came out, I was consistently one of the top players on my team, sometimes of the entire match.  I was totally stinking it up this weekend.  In my best match I had about 10 kills with 3 deaths.  Most of the time I wouldn't make it to double digit kills and had as many deaths as kills (or worse).  I really enjoy this game and want to get back into top form, but I fear I just don't play it enough to keep up with all these players that spend all their time with it.
Last, I just received Prince of Persia, which I had ordered from Amazon last week for $39.  Can't beat that.  It is the collector's edition too.  Will try it tonight.

December 10, 2008


Sorry for the lack of posts the last two weeks, I haven't done too much gaming.  (Wait a minute, who the hell am I apologizing to?  Gabe?  Nobody reads this thing!)
I might have overdosed on games in October/November, because I haven't even had the urge to play much lately.  And believe me, it is not from lack of games.  I have barely touched CoD:World at War, I still have plenty of Little Big Planet left, I haven't tried the Time Trials in Mirror's Edge, I am only about 25% done with Far Cry 2, I've only played and finished one "movie" of Left 4 Dead, I have many, many songs left to unlock in Rock Band 2 and I haven't dedicated any time to Horde mode in GoW2.  Throw in the titles from earlier this year that I have yet to finish, and the ones I have yet to purchase (Fable II, Fallout 3, Prince of Persia) and I could be gaming 5 hours a day for 2 months and have plenty to do.  But like I said, I haven't been feeling it.
That's not to say I haven't done any gaming though.  I did finish Mirror's Edge (great experience overall), and I have been playing Half-Life 2 Episodes 1 & 2.
Why Half-Life 2 with all these current games I have on my plate?  Well, because of the NXE's ability to install games onto your HDD.  I went against my better judgment and purchased the 120gig HDD.  Yes, it is overpriced.  Severely.  But the possibility of lowering load times, reducing system noise, and best of all, extending the life of your console by giving the dvd-drive a much needed break, was too much for me to pass up.  So far, I don't regret the purchase.  The 360 is MUCH quieter running games off the HDD.  As far as load times, that is the reason I ended up playing The Orange Box again.
I had read that The Orange Box was one of the games that benefitted the most from installation.  Loads times were cut practically in half.  So, I tried it out, realized I never finished Episode 1 and never even started Episode 2, and next thing you know, I am playing HL2 again and greatly enjoying the game.
I've played very little of CoD: World at War, but it is kinda annoying me.  Technically, the game impresses (that CoD4 engine is fantastic after all), but I can't help shake the feeling that Treyarch really decided to ride the wave of success that CoD4 created.  The game borrows heavily from its predecessor.
The multiplayer is basically CoD4 set in WWII.  But from what I am seeing, so is the single-player.  I am currently by a level that seems to just blatantly rip off one of CoD4's best levels.  It is a stealth based level in which you must use a sniper rifle and follow the lead of your older, wiser, sniper commander.
Are you kidding me?  Seriously?
I am trying to enjoy the game and so far I have experience a few thrilling moments, but I can't shake the feeling that Treyarch mailed this one in and is just riding Infinity Ward's coat tails.
On Monday I played some Rock Band 2 for the first time in over a month.  I was excited.  I set-up my drums, put on my headphones and turned off the lights.  3 songs in I break my bass pedal!  What the fuck!  This is the 3rd time this happens to me!  I can't imagine that my foot is so powerful that I go through these things as if I am stepping on a saltine cracker.  I don't even play with shoes on!  I don't know what is going on.  I cant imagine this thing will be covered under warranty anymore.  Great.
Anyway, that is my update.  The only game I am looking forward to right now is Killzone 2.  The game is looking spectacular.  I have plenty of games to keep me busy until then, if I snap out of this funk.