February 26, 2009

Killzone 2 tomorrow (tonight?)

I received the call from Gamestop that I can pick up Killzone 2 tonight at midnight. I am thinking about it. I don't work tomorrow, so it would be perfect actually.

Very tempting . . .

February 23, 2009

Weekend notes . . .

- Now that I have my 360 back, I played some CoD4 this weekend.  I jumped right in and was playing very well.  In my first 4 or 5 matches on Sunday I was doing great.  I even went 22-6 in one match, my best game in a while.  Then all of a sudden, I started stinking.  I went back to back matches with only 3 kills and then 5 kills.  It is funny how quickly you can go from 20+ kills to barely even making a dent.  lol. 
- I foresee me leaving a lot of games half done.  All the games I was playing prior to my 360 dying (Fallout 3, Prince of Persia, Far Cry 2) will be put on hold come this Friday, since I really don't think I'll be playing anything besides Killzone 2 for a while.  FEAR 2 will also be put on hold.  I don't think I have ever owned so many games that I have yet to finish.  What is wrong with me?
- I started a new file on Dead Space on the game's hardest difficulty.  Man, I just love this game!!!  I am still constantly impressed by the level of polish this title has.
- Saw the Oscars last night.  I wish Mickey would have won best actor, but it looks like Sean deserved it just as much.  I am happy Danny Boyle won best director.
- Jack Black's bit about how he makes money by making an animated movie with Dreamworks and then bets all his money on Pixar come Oscar time was freakin' HILARIOUS!!!!  Love that guy!

February 17, 2009


For those PS3 owners that want to try something completely different, give Flower a try.  From the same folks that brought us the simple yet elegant flOw, a relaxing game with no real goal nor end, Flower takes that concept to the next level.
Flower is not really a game.  At least, not in the normal sense of the word.  You cannot lose in Flower.  There is no score.  No lives.  No time limit.  There is no real "story", but there are certainly themes and ideas.  You play the entire game by pressing just one button (and tilting the controller).  Yet even with all that, it is one of the most unique gaming experiences I've had in a while.  The game is beautiful.  Both visually and spiritually (Ok, yes, I just made myself sick by writing that).  Some may find the game boring.  Or pretentious.  But there is no doubt that it is a great escape.  After a long day in the office and a long drive home in traffic, Flower could be seen as therapy.  The visuals and music are fantastic and guiding Flower pedals with the wind is suprisingly engaging, thanks to perfect six-axis controls.
Flower definitely is not for everyone.  It is a very short game.  But it is quite an experience.  I recommend it.


I started watching Dexter a few weeks ago.  I am completely hooked.  The show is phenomenal!  Excellent writing and a great cast!  I've now seen the first 2 seasons and am out of luck because season 3 is not out on dvd yet (been watching the series from Netflix).
I even bought the 1st season on Bluray this weekend because I enjoyed it so much.  If you haven't seen this show yet, I highly recommend it.

February 12, 2009

Killzone 2 Demo

After much anticipation we finally got a taste of Killzone 2, thanks to the demo that was released last week for Gamestop pre-order customers or those with a European PSN account.  My impressions:
- You know, after so much hype and anticipation, watching videos and screenshots, when the demo finally started I was a bit disappointed with the visuals.  They seemed a little drab, muted colors, and generally grey and non-vibrant.  Now, that was during my first playthrough.  I have now played the demo over 10 times and let me say this: The visuals are AMAZING!  Seriously, it is funny how much hype and anticipation can affect your judgement (I was disappointed with The Fellowship of the Ring the first time I saw it since I was looking forward to it so much.  Since that first viewing it is my favorite of the trilogy and I absolutely love it).
- I found the controls very strange during my first couple of sessions.  They react slower than I am used to (CoD, Halo) and I just didn't feel very comfortable.  Like any other game though, after a while it all began to click and I can now breeze through the demo, taking cover, getting headshots, and loving every minute of it.
- The demo is too short!!!  What a tease!  Just when you are getting into it the screen goes to black and it is over.  I wish the demo had multiplayer.
The wait for 2/27 just got a lot longer.

February 07, 2009

RTS on Consoles Halo Wars

Halo Wars demo is finally here. I have to say I was skeptical about any RTS endeavor being successful on any console. Ensemble studios have proven it can be done!!! Ensemble known for their very popular Age of Empires RTS has created a great RTS experience set in the Halo universe. Starting up the demo the first thing you notice is the very Haloesqe graphics opening screen. The high quality production value really shines in this demo. The biggest hurdle for any RTS on a console is the control scheme, with no keyboard and mouse this has been a challenge. Ensemble has made very intuitive control. A tutorial is provided but I find most people will gain a quick grasp of the controls even without ever using the tutorial. The speed at which you can move your units, create them, issues orders is done in a very streamlined way to never be a hinderance to game play. The graphics look amazing, and every sound effect from the Halo universe has been transfered to this game, you can close your eyes and hear the distinct sound of the warthog and the convenent troop screams and taunts. The cut scenes are a sight to behold, I actually wish they would make a CG animation series of halo after watching the cut scenes. The key to any demo is to make people purchase their game. Well I am sold. I hope this game is successful to ensure the future of this new RTS franchise and future RTS's on consoles.

February 04, 2009

RE5 ( long rant coming . . .)

I was finally able to play the Resident Evil 5 demo.  Since my 360 is dead (I should really ship that off to Microsoft already) I had to wait for the PSN release.
Going into this demo I already had very mixed feelings on Resident Evil 5.  The very first teaser trailer looked fantastic, with amazing visuals.  Once we started seeing gameplay footage, graphically it still looked great, but there was something VERY familiar about it all.  The environments and characters were far more detailed, but the gameplay and animations looked straight out of Resident Evil 4.  Don't get me wrong, RE4 was an amazing game for its time, but a simple graphics upgrade wasn't going to do it for me.
After playing through the demo's two sections, I'm not sold on the game.  I really think Capcom is playing it a little too safe.  Given the huge success and critical acclaim of the previous title, it looks like they decided to change very little, add a second character for some co-op elements, and keep the rest of the game unchanged.
But what is wrong with that you ask?  Many series' are defined by their core gameplay, with sequels simply improving some aspects or adding new wrinkles here and there.  But in the case of Resident Evil - a series which excelled early on for defining a genre and pretty pre-rendered backgrounds, not necessarily for its fantastic gameplay - refusing to adapt with the times just holds it back.  I'm going to be perfectly blunt here.  The controls for the entire Resident Evil series suck.  Plain and simple.  It wasn't as big an issue in the first few games, given that those titles use a fixed perspective in which the camera angles would constantly change without warning, so a traditional control scheme would not have work.  That was fine.  But when the series moved away from pre-rendered backgrounds into full 3D worlds, the controls refused to acknowledge that change.  Simple additions which would remove the handcuffs from the player, such as strafing and moving while firing, still were out reach for the games' protagonists.
This really began to be a problem (for me at least) with Resident Evil 4.  I'm playing a special government agent.  Probably a good one since I am tasked to find the president's daughter all by myself.  Yet I cannot side-step around a corner?  Really?  I can't take a few steps back while firing on an advancing enemy, or at the very least advance with my weapon drawn?!  I let it slide in RE4, since the game was developed for the Gamecube and that controller did not sport the traditional "dual analog" stick design of the PS2 or Xbox.  Sure, you had the yellow stick which could have substituted, but I let it be.  It didn't help that RE4 was far more action/combat oriented than any RE before it and the cumbersome controls only seemed to make you feel handicapped, instead of giving you the freedom to do what you wanted.
So after playing the RE5 demo, I am disappointed to see that yet again, you are handicapped by the controls.  I will give them props for finally adding the ability to strafe, that one addition automatically improves the entire game by 50%.  In fact, I'd say that strafing is more important than being able to shoot while moving, so again, thank you Capcom for adding this even though it is not very "RE-like" to do so.  Now, c'mon guys, why can you still not shoot while walking?
I really hate it when people argue that the controls are the way they are because this is a "survival horror" game, not an action game.  That the controls add to making the game scary.  Really?  The controls are the way they are because when the series was created, there was no such thing as dual analog sticks.  It was physically impossible to allow the player to move in "3D" and aim freely and walk at the same time.  But we no longer have that physical restriction, so the reason Capcom has decided to keep it the same way all these years is either for nostalgia or because they like defining this series with really crappy, archaic, limiting controls.  The second argument is just as ridiculous.  You mean the game needs to rely on bad controls to create a tense environment?  If so, then the developers are not doing their jobs correctly.  A game should be scary because of the in game atmosphere, the situation you are in, and the dangers you are facing, not because the controls are so sluggish you know you can't defend yourself properly.  I found Dead Space plenty scary and atmospheric and that game's controls were just about perfect.
I see Resident Evil as a series that had a lot of success despite of core gameplay/control flaws.  It did other things so well, that those flaws were easy to overlook.  But it seems to me that Capcom is refusing to correct those flaws now, even though it would be simple to do so.  Shame.  Because I do not believe that adding the ability to walk and shoot as "breaking" what RE is.  The Metal Gear series is another which I felt was in this same situation, yet Konami adapted and improved the game greatly with its latest release.  By MGS: Snake Eater, the series' gameplay and controls were feeling downright prehistoric.  A terrible, unnecessary overhead camera made sneaking around harder than it needed to be.  The aiming system required you to hold down about four buttons to shoot.  It was terrible, flawed, and well past its prime.  For MGS 4, Konami completely overhauled the controls, took full advantage of today's controllers, and the game played beautifully, all the while still feeling like Metal Gear.  Take note Capcom, that's how its done.
Anyway, this is along whiny post just to say that I was not too impressed with RE5.  While playing the demo I couldn't shake the feeling that I had already played this game back when it was called RE4.  It is definitely not a purchase for me, at least not until it drops in price.  That's fine, I'll be playing Killzone 2 either way.