June 29, 2009

Weekend notes

- Are you kidding me?  Billy Mays now suddenly goes down as well?  What is going on?  Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays . . . if you are even slightly famous I suggest you visit the emergency room asap for a thorough check-up.  You never know when you'll just fall over dead.
- Good run by the USA soccer team.  First we upset Spain, then we go up 2-0 on Brazil.  It was fun while it lasted.  On a separate note, every time I put the game on I had to mute the tv.  What is up with that non-stop, annoying, giant bee-swarm sound that was constantly in the background?  How can they stand it?
- Marlins got swept by the Rays.  Damn.  We were doing great going into this series.  1 game out of first place.  Over .500 for the first time since like April.  Oh well.
- Now that I've finished inFAMOUS, I haven't been doing much gaming.  I started a new game to play as an evil character, but I haven't devoted much time to my 2nd play through.  I haven't played the DS in a bit either.  Looks like I am going back to my gaming rut.  Should I be looking for a new hobby?
- The only game I still play with any consistency is CoD4.  2 years after release, I still think it is the best multiplayer game on Xbox Live.
However, since I don't play the game as much as I used to (I'll play once or twice a week, for only an hour or so) my skills are not as sharp as they once were.  Add to that the fact that the only people still playing this game are the hardcore fans, and the competition is very tough.  I'll still have a great match here and there and it is not like I finish last on my team or anything, but I used to consistantly be one of the best players stats-wise after every game and that is no longer the case.  Since I can get very competitive when it comes to multiplayer games (I hate losing), this has made my last few sessions very frustrating.  I can't help but get upset everytime I get killed and the fact that it happens more now than it used to does not help.
I need to meditate before playing and find my inner peace, because I've been belting out plenty of f-bombs lately  (luckily, my mic has been off).

June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson, R.I.P.

The world lost one of its greatest entertainers yesterday.  A rare talent that doesn't come around to often.
His life and image might have been tarnished a bit in recent years, with law suits and his eccentric behavior/actions, but there is no doubt that Michael Jackson was an icon and contributed greatly to music.
You will be missed Michael.
Michael Jackson, 1958 - 2009

June 23, 2009

inFAMOUS impressions . . .

Wow, I haven't posted in a while.

Well, I did pick up inFAMOUS (the week before last actually). Some thoughts after completing the game:

- Overall, I really enjoyed it. Mostly because controlling your character is a lot of fun. He can climb virtually any surface and can fall huge distances and not take damage. Once you unlock the ability to glide across power cables, quickly covering ground by scampering on roof tops and grinding on cables is pretty exhilarating.

- The controls are also extremely tight. You can unlock a large number of powers and they are all easy to pull off. The game also features a sort of auto-lock for determining where you are trying to jump. This greatly assists you when trying to land on tight spaces, such as power lines. It works very well for the most part and the only time it becomes a hindrance is when you just want to descend quickly, since the game thinks you are falling and makes your character latch on to the nearest object. That can get a bit annoying.

- Visually the game is alright, but it won't make your jaw drop. As is the case with all open-world game, sacrifices in detail are made to render the large open environment. I never thought the game was ugly by any means, but I can't say I had one single "wow" moment graphically in my entire experience with it (I had like 14 of those my first 20 minutes with Dead Space for example). Cole (your character) animates well for the most part, but while climbing up surfaces his movements seem a bit too quick and erratic. They probably did that on purpose to keep the pace fast, but compared to Altair's ultra realistic climbing animations (from Assassin's Creed), Cole's come off as just a bit weird.

- The structure of the game is similar to many open world games, like the Spider-Man games. You can traverse the city however you want and there are certain points on your map that unlock story missions. Then there are usually civilians you can get side-missions from. Many of the story missions are fun and interesting, yet a lot of the side missions are pretty repetitive. But, since controlling Cole and dishing out punishment is so much fun, you don't notice as much.

- I'm a big fan of games that make you feel powerful and untouchable. inFAMOUS does that well. For the most part. See, Cole's powers are very impressive. Once you unlock them all you have a huge arsenal at your disposal, including raining down lighting from the skies (my favorite power). Yet for some reason, towards the end of the game, I didn't feel quite as powerful as I would have liked since enemies can take quite the beating before being defeated. Now, this might be attributed to two factors. First, the game automatically switched my difficulty to "hard" at the beginning of the game, I guess based on how I completed the first mission (pretty cool feature actually). Second, since I played as a "good" character (the game offers paths like KotoR, which determine which powers you unlock), I'm thinking my attacks weren't as lethal as they would have been as an evil character, since the good powers lean more towards restraining enemies rather than killing them. So, towards the end of the game my default lighting attack seemed to take about 15 shots to down one enemy!!! Granted, you should not play this game by just shooting everyone with your default attack, the best part is stringing together combos with all of your other devastating powers, but that was just an example.

- Overall, the game was just fun. I actually want to go back and play through it again as an evil character, so that says something about how enjoyable it is. I wouldn't mind a sequel too.

June 04, 2009


I've been surprised at all the positive reviews InFamous has received.  Not because I have anything against the game, I have just been indifferent to it since I first heard about it.  Nothing about it attracted my attention.
As I've mentioned, I haven't been doing much gaming outside of the DS at the moment.  This means I haven't really been checking the 360 Marketplace or PS Store.  Which is why I didn't even know that there was an InFamous demo available.  I gave it a try the other day.
I'll be damned.  The game is a lot of fun!
I must admit, I was VERY impressed with the demo.  The controls feel great.  Navigating the environment is fun.  Can it be that I might end up picking this game up?  Probably.  I am off all of next week, so this game is looking very intriguing.

June 03, 2009

Old School Mario

I mentioned in an earlier post that I picked up Super Mario Advance: Super Mario Bros. 2, SMA 2: Super Mario World, and SMA 3: Yoshi's Island for the DS (they are actually GBA titles).  In between sessions of Professor Layton and the Curious Village, I've been spending some time with them.
Before I start with impressions though, there is one thing I want to point out.  Since these are actually GBA titles that I am playing on a DS Lite, I've come across a slight annoyance with the controls.  The GBA only had two face buttons, B and A.  The layout of those had the B button slightly lower than the A button, but not by much.  Mario games require constant use of the B button in conjunction with the A button.  The standard practice is to hold down the B button with your thumb and when you need to jump with A, you just adjust your thumb slightly so that you press down on A without having to release B.
The DS however has four face buttons.  B, A, Y, X, just like the SNES Pad.  Unlike the GBA, the DS has the B button much lower than the A button.  As a result, trying to hold down B with your thumb and then adjusting to press A is downright painful at first, and just plain annoying after you get used to it.
"New Super Mario Bros." on the DS remedies this by just swapping B with Y, and A with B.  This works like a charm.  Of course, when these GBA titles were created, there was no DS on the horizon, so there is no option to configure the controls, and even if there was, the cartridges wouldn't know of any X or Y button.  So, controlling these games takes some adjustment and it is just not as comfortable as it could be.  Anyway, now that I got that of my chest, on to the games . . .
Super Mario Bros. 2
This is the black sheep of Mario games.  Technically it is not even a true Mario title, hence why it stands out as being so different from every other game in the series.  I have a really soft spot for this game though.  As a kid growing up, I was limited to getting only two games a year.  One for my birthday and another for Christmas.  That's it.  I had to rent or borrow all the other games I played.  This was one of the titles I actually owned and I played it to death.  And I loved it.
This is an enhanced version, with improved graphics and remixed sound.  I've played through a few of the worlds and the nostalgia is great.  I have been frustrated with the controls however.  And not the problem I mentioned above.  I am missing jumps, and constantly falling off vines/chains/ladders while climbing.  Not sure if it is the DS d-pad, but I am having few issues.
Experiencing the game now as an adult, I can see some of the complaints people have with the game.  I am still having a good time, but it doesn't really have that Mario feel to it.  I mean, you jump on an enemy and he doesn't die, you just ride on his head?!
Super Mario World
Ah, Super Mario World.  My favorite 2D Mario title.  I was obsessed with this title on the SNES.  I loved its look, the Mode-7 effects, the vibrant colorful graphics, the great score.  The gameplay was perfect as well, with the series' trademark pinpoint controls and feel.  This was also Yoshi's first appearance.  The game also had a crazy amount of levels and many, many secrets.  Any level marked with red on the world map had two different ways to beat it and finding these alternate exits resulted in secret pathways and additional levels.
This port is spot on.  This is the tile which I have been spending most of my time with so far.  I just can't put it down.  Since this was a SNES games, it also utilizes a few extra buttons (first time a Mario game used more than 2).  Mario could do an alternate jump which causes him to spin like a top.  This is used to destroy certain blocks below you, or dispose of certain enemies.  Again, since this is a GBA title, this action is performed by pressing the R trigger.  The original game performed this move by pressing the X button, and while the DS does have an X button, once again, you cannot configure the controls.  Shame.
Yoshi's Island
I never played the original on the SNES, even though there are many that considerate it 2D platforming at its absolute best.  I haven't really played this title much yet, since I want to really give it my attention and don't plan on starting it until I am done with the other two Mario games.  I did pop it in just to make sure it works (bought it used) and played a few levels and really enjoyed it.  Can't wait to finally experience this game.
Ok, This post ended up a lot longer than I anticipated.  I'm in nostalgia heaven with my DS.  I also have Zelda: A Link to the Past waiting for me and I can't wait for that one, since I never completed the game as a kid.

June 02, 2009


E3 is in full swing this week.  I haven't been able to follow much of the action yet.  A few notes though:
- Modern Warfare 2 looks sweet!!  I have total faith in Infinity Ward
- The Beatles Rock Band game trailer was phenomenal.  Simply phenomenal.  It might be one of the coolest trailers I have seen for a game.  The trailer's art style and polish was simply breathtaking.  Granted, it did not show the actual game itself, and that usually goes against everything I believe in with game trailers, but lets be honest, we don't need to see gameplay video of another music rhythm game.  Nothing exciting about those.
- I read a bit about this "Project Natal".  Sound impressive from a technical standpoint, I just can't imagine it being too engaging in the long run, nor see its immediate game applications.  We'll see how this goes.
- Haven't seen any of the Halo: ODST footage.  Interested to see if it looks/plays differently than the regular Halo games.  Seems a new Halo project was announced for next year also.  Halo: Reach?  A prequel covering the the Fall of Reach?  Could be very interesting.  Halo has always been a great co-op game, but with a Fall of Reach title they could really add co-op to the storyline, since there will be more than one Spartan around at that time.
- Saw some quick footage of Epic's upcoming 2D arcade game.  The visuals looks amazing for an Arcade title.
- Alan Wake is back and it looks like Alone in the Dark and Silent Hill.  Why has this game been delayed so much?
- It was leaked before E3, but I'm psyched for The Secret of Monkey Island's upcoming Arcade release.  I've never played the Monkey Island games but I always wanted to.
- Guitar Hero 5.  Meh.
- Just caught a glimpse of the Nintendo conference.  Mario Galaxy 2 was announced.  The big news?  Team Ninja working on a 3rd-Person Metroid action game?!  WTF?!  Seriously?  Pretty damn sweet!
- Nothing too surprising out of the Sony Press conference.  Seems like everyone is getting into the whole motion-control thing.  I hope it is used properly to change the way we experience games and not just as a gimmick to cash in on the Wii's success.
I've only been able to skim the E3 info so far.  I have seen very few videos myself.  Hope to give further thoughts after I digest everything later this week.