So, I was assigned to review Wild West Guns (WiiWare) for CCC, and though I had as much fun with it as I could, it was certainly disappointing. For what it sets out to do -- which is basically be a modern Duck Hunt clone -- it does a bang-up job. But with the plethora of amazingly complex and intereting gaming ideas available in the world of gaming today, Wild West Guns is archaic in the extreme.
The game is put out there by Gameloft, who have already done a few other WiiWare titles, perhaps most notably, Block Breaker Deluxe. They've also developed games like Brothers In Arms for the DS, which aside from some graphical glitching and the lack of online multiplayer, was a pretty good game. Wild West Guns is pretty to look at and it is mildy amusing for a short time, but $10?!
Man, I paid $10 for LostWinds upon the launch of the WiiWare platform, and though the game was short, the gameplay was truly "epic." LostWinds has so many fun and innovative ideas crammed into it, and to be able to keep the game forever at the cost of $10 was an amazing bargain to me.
Anyway, if you're contemplating buying this game, don't, especially if you already own WiiPlay. The Duck Hunt shooting gallery in WiiPlay is almost on par with Wild West Guns, and I just hate to see anyone spend $10 on this game...unless you either really love these types of simplistic shooters or are a huge western fan. Again, it's not terrible for what it sets out to be, but it's a very, very played experience.
Man, the summer drought will be more than quenched -- at least on DS -- when September arrives. I just wanted to ramble about a few of the games I'm looking forward to and am curious about...
First on the list:
Looks to be a great little companion to the PC game and one I've been watching intently. I'm still not exactly sure what to expect with it, though. A bit of Animal Crossing perhaps? Maybe a bit of Sims? The gameplay video I've seen thus far shows some of the various creatures doing what seems to be some mating rituals. Either way, I love customization, and it was perhaps my favorite aspect of March of the Minis (DS), so I'm sure I'll love noodling with Spore Creatures.
Kinda Tower Defense meets Warcraft? Love it! This game also seems to offer a bit of customization, and the gameplay just looks like frantic fun. My wife, especially, is looking forward to this game. The developers (who also made Drawn to Life) seem to be a creative bunch.
Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise
And for me, the big daddy for the month.... Both my youngest son and I wished for a 360 when we first saw the console Viva Pinata game -- it just looked so cool. This DS version is actually supposed to (according to Rare reps) cram in even more stuff to do than the first console game offered. The game also looks fantastic, to boot. I expect to lose many hours of my life to this game...Calgon!
Other games I want during the month of September:
Dragon Quest IV, Dinosaur King (for my youngest son), Rune Factory 2, Sonic Chronicles, Kirby Super Star Ultra, and Tornado.
Games I'm curious about coming out around the same time:
Broken Sword, Rain Drops, The Force Unleashed, Disgaea DS, LEGO Batman, and Zubo
Lot `o' interesting DS games next month. Man, in the first year I bought my DS I complained about the lack of choice when it came to quality titles available on the system. Now, it's a matter of time and money to play all the games coming out. Can't complain about that, and as far as Nintendo goes, DS is one of the few areas of gaming they've satisfied me.
I'm going to premise this blog post by saying, if you're a Nintendo fanboy, please try to refrain from simply lashing out and replying with something that is mere rhetoric. Anyway...moving on.
I wasn't sure just what we'd be required to pay for Wii MotionPlus; the thing's pretty little, regardless of whatever technology is inside it. However, I'm listening to IGN's most recent Tech Fetish podcast, and they're saying we can expect a $25 price tag per unit. Wow!
Wii remote = $40, nunchuk attachment = $20, MotionPlus = $25 = one god damned expensive controller!
Eighty five dollars for a controller!? You've got to be **** me! The boys on IGN were also speculating that Nintendo will push the MotionPlus to be a requirement for most new games, so eventually we'll be required to have the attachment (or maybe even buy entirely new controllers, should Nintendo decide to nix sales of the original altogether in preference of selling an entirely new controller with the MotionPlus tech built-in) in order to play new games on the Wii.
Now, I'm no fanboy of either MS or Sony; I have always made the Nintendo systems my first purchase during whatever generation they've come out on, and then later bought the other systems when they either came down in price or the next generation arrived and those systems became dirt cheap. But I'm pretty sure this will be the last generation where I walk down that road.
Next time around I think it will be reverse for me, where I'll wait for the generation to be pretty much over before buying a Nintendo home console, if I buy one at all. I don't mind paying top price for merchandise, so long as I get what I pay for. But this bait and switch stuff -- cleverly disguised as add-ons -- leaves more than a bad taste in my mouth. It leaves me very insulted and feeling like I've been scammed by a snake-oil salesman. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...I don't intend on letting that happen.
I know it's only video-game entertainment, but we're a modest family and we pay a lot for this entertainment. After a hard-day's work, when we want to kick back and unwind, we should be able to enjoy what we paid for, not be required to wait for the next-best thing because what we bought ended up not being the product that was advertised. Disgruntled? You're damn right!
Nintendo has been advertising lobster at McDonald's prices, but the reality is just the opposite. We've gotten very little and, in the end, paid much more -- and will continue to pay more -- than we had expected.
So, I bought...take a deep breath before saying it: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronlices: My Life as a King. I bought the game for my wife when it first hit WiiWare, thinking it was something she would really dig. She played it for about an hour but then never touched it again. She claims she enjoyed it but wasn't in the mood for it.
I actually moved the game over to my SD card the other day (which took 10 minutes for it to copy over) to make room for Metal Slug (great game). But I had been hoping to tinker with the game, myself. Yesterday I was bored, so I moved it back over (after having to delete the Nintendo Channel to make room for it) and started my own slot.
About four hours later....
It's a great little game. Pretty simple, so far, but also pretty addictive. There are enough customizable, RPG elements to get a fix in that sense, but it's definitely a city builder and a fun one, at that. But Square Enix's signature sty1e makes this game a lot more enjoyable for someone like myself who doesn't necessarily get into the more dry experience of something like Sim City or the like. There's a story here, and as is customary of SE, the pacing and cinematic approach are really tight and entertaining.
I'm jonesing to play more, but my son's playing MySims right now. But I'll definitely be fooling with this one for a while. For $15, it's another of the better deals on Wii, I think.
All right. E3's over -- thank God -- and I'm going to put it behind me now. One thing, though, I'm looking forward to that did come out of the event is Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. Honestly, I'm not a fan of the GTA series. I've tinkered with a game here and there, but never could force myself to sit down and play through much of one. I enjoy my share of mature games, even uber violent ones, but role-playing as a thug has never appealed to me all that much. That said, when it comes to playing games on my DS, I'm a bit more daring. This is mainly due to the fact that there's usually less of a commitment of my time that is demanded from portable gaming.
So, the speculation has begun. Is Chinatown Wars going to be a 3D or 2D game, or a combination of both (which would be my preference). I think there are many opportunities for the game, should the publisher allocate the necessary resources to the development team. The first Tony Hawk game, I think, is a great example of what can be done in terms of making a workable city on the DS. Yeah, it was pretty small and not nearly as detailed as a console game, but for the DS, it worked. I also think cel-shaded, somewhat cartoony graphics would be a really great way to go with this game on this system. Going for a photo-realistic look, ala MPH or Dementium, I think would really limit them in terms of what they could get away with visually. The hardware has obvious limitations, but if they work to the DS' strengths, I think they can really make it a great-looking game.
Gameplay-wise? All we know right now is Chinatown Wars is supposed to offer the same free-roaming, open-world gameplay of its console brethren. That will, I'm sure, have to be abbreviated to some extent (probably to a great extent). My two-cents worth? If they don't approach the game with the notion that it has to be enough like a console GTA game, but rather concentrate on making the few aspects they are able to implement good, the game should turn out great. Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, to me, is perhaps the paragon for making the most with the little you've got. Everything from the graphics to the gameplay is awesome! But it's a much abbreviated version of NG on the Xbox.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to Chinatown Wars. Not sure what to expect, but I'll hope for the best. If it's due out later this year, hopefully we won't have to wait too long for screens and other media.
At Nintendo's press event here the other day, we saw at least one new face: Cammie Dunaway, executive vice president of sales and marketing. Looks like Game Trailers had a chance to catch up with her after the event, and she had some interesting things to say....
Actually, she had nothing interesting to say, and she seemed to be struggling desperately to come up with suitable responses for some basic questions that easily put Nintendo on the defensive. As mentioned in a previous post, I was already disappointed by Nintendo's showing this year. However, this interview -- which I now wish I hadn't watched -- left me feeling worse.
Or PNPED if you're in for acronyms. Anyway, I watched the press event this morning, and it was an enjoyable presentation. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and the Nintendo big wigs gave a polished performance. But...
They gave us nothing, really. Animal Crossing: City Folk looks like such a tiny step ahead for the franchise. No news or even hints of any top-tier stuff on the horizon for Wii. And most disappointing of all, for me, was the utter refusal to acknowledge the Wii's storage issues -- no mention of a solution -- nothing.
Doesn't seem I'm the only one left sour, though. Every forum and blog I visit seems to share in my sentiments. Even MotionPlus is a bittersweet pill. Sure, it looks great, and I have hopes it will redefine gaming...again. I say "again" because, well, this was the type of motion control Nintendo originally promised us with the Wii, and now we have to pay extra for it as an add-on.
Nintendo, you're a whore. A very high-priced, very attractive whore, but a whore nonetheless. You're good at pleasing me, but I just don't feel like you love me. You did it for the money.
Yeah, I didn't feel like the blog title needed any other explanation. It's that time of year. If you're reading this blog, you're probably about as revved as I am for next week. Seeings how my family's main gaming will be done on Nintendo platforms for a while, I am, understandably, most interested in what Nintendo is going to show us this year.
Top of the list? Wii storage solution. If they ignore us at E3 on this issue, I'm going to be one pissed off, geeky dad. I downloaded Toki Tori (which is a great game, by the way) last weekend, and that maxxed us out. I now have 48 blocks left on my system. If they're wanting me to continue to shop online and buy their products, they had better come up with something. I'm not "cleaning out my fridge" every time I want a new game; I don't clean out my regular fridge that freakin' often!
Next up, and the only game I really care about this year, is Animal Crossing for the Wii. We know it's coming, but after seeing how Nintendo has dropped the ball in other areas, we don't know if they're going to disappoint us or show us the money with this game. My wife and I were totally hooked on Animal Crossing: Wild World when we first got our DSes, and the new Wii version is something we really look forward to. So, hopefully, Nintendo gets it right.
Anyhoo, I'm excited for next week. Looks like I'll be doing a little bit of game previewing for **** Code Central during the festivities. I hope everyone has a good time perusing the wares.
I really just wanted to check the game out, but I wasn't particularly interested in another SRPG on the DS. That said, I haven't been able to put this game down; it is so loveable.
First of all, for a 2D game, it's very, very detailed. I loves me some polygons, and I've bought DS games I knew to be mediocre simply because they were 3D (yeah, sad to be sure). But Square Enix sure did a lovely job with A2, and there are some great special effects, as well.
However, what makes this game so damn addictive is the way the Job system has been implemented (that and the fact A2 is such a polished production). Let me explain....
You go to an area's pub and pick up a quest. Now, go do the quest (a battle). Next, you take the loot you've acquired from the monsters you've defeated -- as well as the loot from completing the quest -- you take that back to an area's shop. Then, you scroll through their Bazaar list to see what item selections you can create new items from, based on the loot you've attained. There are a slew of items you can help create, which in turn, will allow the shop owner(s) to sell new items. The myriad of items offer abilities for different jobs, depending on the item, itself. Of course, in order to take on new jobs, you'll have to first learn a requisite number of skills from other jobs.
So, you're constantly wanting to take on new quests to acquire new loot to make new items to learn new skills to unlock new jobs. Along the way, the story unfolds, and though it's not Shakespeare, Square Enix really knows how to spit & polish their presentation. Just a damn-addictive game. I did a reader review if anyone cares to check it out.
So, I'm bingeing on Tenchu: Fatal Shadows -- I suppose I do that with most games I really enjoy -- but it's just got such an addictive quality about it. The game's separated into chapters -- 12 in all -- and though it's not terribly difficult to get through most of them, it is quite a challenge to get the highest rank (either Grand Master for Ayame, or Assassin for Rin) in each, and therein lies the real allure of the game.
The game's also kind of sexy, kind of silly and definitely instant gratification...well, perhaps not instant, since one false move can mean your death. But there's a lot of satisfaction in making your way through an entire chapter, executing flawless stealth kills, not getting spotted, and seeing your scores flash up at the end. Good stuff!
(Rin bottom left, Ayame right.)
Anyway, I reviewed the game, for what that's worth, along with Jade Empire, which I finally managed to complete a few days ago. Though I loved Jade Empire, it was so deep and rich, I was hankering for something a little less serious -- enter Fatal Shadows. I foresee getting plenty of mileage out of both games, but Fatal Shadows is definitely one of those great pick-up-and-play games. The characters, too -- though the story isn't Shakespeare -- are loveable, and it's fun being in their sandals for a while.
In a previous blog post, I mentioned that Jools Watsham of developer Renegade Kid had started a vlog on Youtube, intended to discuss his ongoing experience with the game-development process. He has also opened up his video to comments, and I asked about whose idea it was to implement the save system in Dementium. Watsham was kind enough to reply with this statement:
"The save system on Dementium was my idea, an idea that was flawed. Fortunately we were able to address this for the European and Japanese releases of Dementium by adding save checkpoints during the chapters. Moon will also feature frequent checkpoints."
It's a pleasure to know we'll be seeing something a little more practical with Moon (also for DS). Renegade Kid has gotten a lot of people's attention due to their interest in making mature games for DS -- a rarity on the handheld -- so I know many of us wish them well.
So, my copy of Tenchu: Fatal Shadows came in the mail yesterday, and I was playing it all day. A really fun game, but also frustrating. It's not an easy game, I'll say that much. If you die anytime during a mission, it's back to square one; there are no checkpoints, no saves mid-mission. Some enemies are easily slain by merely watching their patrol habit and then sneaking up on them and stealth killing them. Other enemies, however, have a large visual range on you, with no place for you to take cover along the way upon them. Of course, if you alert one enemy, chances are they'll alert others; being sandwiched between three of these guys isn't what Tenchu is all about, and death is often inevitable.
That said, it's still a really enjoyable game thus far. The atmosphere is wonderful -- it feels like feudal-era Japan. The game is also total camp, and there's just no way it wasn't intentional. The game will really crack you up at times when it tries to be serious. Each chapter opens with a preview, like an episode of a weekly TV show, ala the A-Team or Knight Rider. Imagine that with ninja, and you'll get the humor.
The graphics are kind of a mixed bag. The characters look good, though Ayame, I think, looks a bit more detailed than Rin (pictured above). The enemies look pretty good, too, but some of the environments look very N64-ish. That said, some of the leaves on trees look next-gen. It's a weird mix, but overall, the game looks good. Mainly, though, the sty1e is right on the mark; everything looks very authentic -- at least how we Westerners might think of feudal Japan.
As for the gameplay, it's pretty darn deep, and it takes time to get a handle on everything. Probably your main focus (no pun intended) is manipulating the camera system. It's kind of a double-camera system, in that you can move the camera with the right analog stick, but you can also move it other ways by holding the L1 button and moving the left analog stick. You'll find yourself constantly tinkering with it while sidled up to a wall. Though it takes a bit of finesse and getting used to, it works well, and controlling the camera is a big part of the gameplay.
Also, I'd like to say that the AI doesn't come off as dumb as so many folks like to claim. Sure, the AI does pretty much the same patrols, and no, they never look up. But honestly, Snake Eater was no different. And to say that the AI just goes back into its patrol as if nothing happened (after spotting you) isn't realisitic -- again, the same thing with Snake Eater, it just took longer for the AI in Snake Eater to relax. I'm glad I don't have to sit there for a full two minutes; what could possibly be more enjoyable about that?
In any case, the AI, once it does spot you, will alert others, it will chase you down, it will fight viciously; groups of enemies won't stand back and take turns -- they will rape you -- and if they do lose sight of you, they'll slowly patrol their way back to their original position, or even change their patrol position depending on the situation. No, the AI isn't completely realisitic, but it's a game, a game with an arcade approach, and for the most part, I don't see much difference in the AI behavior in Fatal Shadows than I do in MGS Snake Eater. I'm not trying to suggest that one of these games is better or worse than the other; I'm just saying...
Anyway, I'm a little more than halfway through Fatal Shadows right now. Some other things to note so far: the items-selection screen can be confusing -- scrolling through items can make no sense the way they have it set up. Also, though I think the AI is just fine in its behavior for this type of game, I've seen a couple of enemies get hung up on some environmental objects. Though that can be pretty funny to watch, it's not helpful. No matter, I'm really digging the game. It's most definitely not a game for everyone -- that much I can tell already -- but if you're into ninjas, this is a real hoot.
Not sure how many of you know about this yet, or even know who Renegade Kid is, but their lead designer, Jools Watsham, started a vlog on Youtube sometime back in late April. I just discovered it myself, having searched recent Nintendo-related videos on Youtube. Evidently, he recently released another addition to his vlog series.
For those unfamiliar, Renegade Kid developed the first-person, survival-horror adventure, Dementium, on DS. They are also currently working on Moon for DS, as well as an untitled Wii game. Though I wasn't satisfied with the finished product of Dementium, I still think the game had a lot of great stuff going on in it. It's also really cool to see a professional developer share his thoughts publicly, and Watsham has a lot of interesting things to say about game development in general.
You can check out his vlog here: http://joolswatsham.com/
I haven't yet completed Jade Empire, mainly because my kids are now home for the summer, and I can only play late at night. That said, I'm feeling the urge for something else to counterpoint the more deep experience of Jade Empire. After doing more digging (like I oft do when I'm bored), I zeroed in on Tenchu: Fatal Shadows.
For those unfamiliar, the Tenchu series is stealth action, Tenchu actually being the first of its kind to techincally make it to market. But Tenchu is perhaps not quite on par with Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell (the other biggies of this genre) in terms of stealth sophistication. There are no fancy radars, telescopics or other such devices, and the camera system seems to adhere more to that of traditional action-adventure games -- one of the main selling points for me.
Fatal Shadows was, in fact, one of the worst-received games in the franchise, but after careful investigation, it's also the one I covet most. There's a vibe to this game that harkens back to 70s Japanese martial-arts flicks that I just cannot resist. The gameplay, too, is seemingly more straight-forward than MGS. I put in about 10-12 hours with Snake Eater, and though it wasn't a terribly difficult game, it was difficult for me to get into, mainly because of the restricted camera system. I appreciate what it is the game is attempting to do, and for the most part, I believe it's a success (which obviously doesn't need to be confirmed by me), but MGS just isn't my cup of tea. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy the idea of sneaking around, waiting for just the right moment to pounce on one's prey.
I played and actually enjoyed Tenchu: Dark Secret, one of the lowest-rated games on DS. It's a very bare-bones game, and it's not very pretty; the gameplay is very repetitive, and overall, I think FromSoftware (the developer of the game and owner of the Tenchu franchise rights) could have done a much better job. But I appreciate its simplicity, and found Dark Secret to be an enjoyable guilty pleasure. I think Fatal Shadows can offer me more of that simple, ninja enjoyment. I'm not interested in the game so much for its challenge (though Ninja Gaiden Black was great fun), but more for the experience of playing ninja. I guess it's not a game for everyone, as the reviews seem to reflect. But for those folks who get into campy kung fu movies and / or get a kick out of skulking around for the simple pleasure of 86ing dudes from the shadows, Fatal Shadows says "win" to me.
So, my last couple of blog posts have been in regards to the great adventure that is Jade Empire (Xbox version). I'm really, really loving this game, and when I can't play it, I'm thinking about it. But it's not perfect. I've been experiencing a couple of things in particular that, though they don't put any real hamper on the experience, are worth mentioning. One is the frame rate. Several times during various battles, I've experience substantial slowdown. One time it took about a full four to five seconds before my character actually began to respond to my commands. This isn't totally unexpected, considering the level of detail in the graphics combined with the amount of things going on onscreen. I'm not sure how this could have been fixed, but it's not something you want to get stuck on in the heat of battle. That said, it's not a terribly common occurrence.
Another thing I've had to contend with, also during battles, is having the camera end up in inconvenient places. This issue occurs more often than the problems with slowdown, but after you've played Ninja Gaiden, you're somewhat immune to it. But when you do find yourself in a position where you're unable to see your character, you will need to maneuver things quickly, lest you end up pummeled by the enemy.
These are really the only issues I have with the game thus far, and though they are unfortunate, they haven't in the least spoiled my experience of this excellent RPG adventure. I bought my used Xbox for the express purpose of playing Ninja Gaiden Black, but Jade Empire has really made the purchase of this retro system so worthwhile.
Man, I'm really enjoying this experience. I can't remember ever playing an RPG video game that didn't require at least some level grinding. I'm about 12 hours in now, and so far, there's been zero level grinding. In fact, the fighting has been somewhat sparse, though just enough to be very entertaining. But Jade Empire is still very much an RPG, perhaps moreso than many other games touting the label.
I have to admit, I was initially bowled over by the immaculate production of Jade Empire. Though the Xbox was the powerhouse of last generation, it had its limitations. But boy, Bioware sure did an amazing job in maximizing the hardware for everything it was worth. But what has me so impressed by the game now is just how deep the character development is. Whereas most RPGs -- even the ones with great stories -- have you trudge through battle after battle in order to level up before throwing you a bone in the form of a nice, juicy story bit, Jade Empire is one seemless adventure. In other games, you'll talk to NPCs in hopes they will shed a little light on a main plot element you're currently working on. In Jade Empire, almost every NPC will attempt to involve you in his or her little world...which by the way, is often intertwined with the bigger picture. But you'll never feel like you're on a fetch quest for no good reason. You actually feel as if you're doing some good (or bad) for the characters you encounter.
IGN rated this game a 9.9. I remember seeing that score and reading the review sometime back and thinking, how? I'm starting to see.... Yes, many things are streamlined; there are no potions, no armor, and the leveling-up system is somewhat simple. But everything that counts -- the character building, story, amazing adventure elements, and deep and meaningful character development -- those things are all in place and strong as they can be. But not all critics saw eye to eye on this game, and since I'm still somewhat early on in the adventure, I'll reserve a final judgment. However, that brings up another issue. I'm at what seems to be about the midway point of the second chapter (of which there are seven chapters, from my understanding), and yet I've managed to put in over 12 hours of play with this game. Most every review has stated Jade Empire's a 20-hour adventure at most, so perhaps I'm either going really slow, or the game is going to super accelerate pretty soon. My hunch, though, is that most folks didn't take full advantage of what Jade Empire has to offer. No matter how you slice it, it's not an action game; perhaps many critics went into the game expecting such, but it is very much a true RPG, sans the fat and fillers. There's nothing but meat and potatoes, and boy, are they served with savory seasonings. I wish I were playing right now (but my kids are awake -- and yes, it's rated M).
Those of you who know me and check out my blog are probably thinking by now, this guy plays too many games. Yeah, that's true, but I don't really have many other pastimes, as of late. I got a couple of other, older Xbox games -- Morrowind and Jade Empire. I tried out Morrowind first, but I'm not really pursuing it currently. After trying both games, Jade Empire immediately captured my attention, and it's really a great one to catch up on.
It's an action-RPG by Bioware, and it's quite a stellar production, so far. As most folks familiar with the works of Bioware know, dialogue allows for various choices to be made by the player, and in this game it's quite meaningful. Like Fable, KotOR and other games with similar character-molding systems, Jade Empire allows the player to pursue a moral path of his / her choosing. On my first playthrough, I'm opting for the path called the Open Palm, which is essentially the path of nobility. You can choose between one of six characters (the one I chose is pictured above on the right -- Wu the Lotus Flower), and each has certain natural abilities, as well as romantic options, which become available later on in the game, from what I understand. In the beginning of the game, you can, however, choose to beef up certain aspects of your character, so which character you choose isn't all that much of a concern, just more of a preferencial element.
The combat is completely real-time, ala Tales of Symphonia / Abyss, and though simple, it's very entertaining. I won't go into detail about the various martial / magic-art sty1es in the game (since there's been so much already written about those aspects of Jade Empire), but so far, there seems to be ample room for players to make combat very interesting and fun.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of Jade Empire, though, is its production. For one, it's a beautiful game to look at, but every single bit of dialogue has voice work, and not dead, boring acting, either. The voice acting is very good in this game, and it does a ton to really immerse you in the world of Jade Empire.
I'm only about six hours in thus far, but there's already quite a bit to do; lots of NPCs to interact with, along with various sidequests NPCs can involve you in. Moving about from one place to the other can be quite linear (though I'm not one to complain about that), but once you reach a particular town or area, there's a lot to survey and do.
I'll definitely be playing Jade Empire to its completion, and likely playing again thereafter. So, if you're interested in a full-review sort of thing, it shouldn't be long.
Thanks for checkin' out the blog.
Yes! I'm excited, yes. Because finally my Wii has a reason to live. Sure, Galaxy was great, as is Brawl, but neither game does much to distinguish itself as an actual Wii game. Along comes LostWinds, a launch title for WiiWare, and let me tell you...it is a shining example of what Wii is all about. And all for $10.
I've only played for a little over an hour, and I anticipate it's a very short adventure, but the game looks better then most, if not all, other Wii games, and it's gameplay is just so wonderfully Wii.
You control a team of characters -- Toku, a boy samurai, and Enril, a wind spirit. Wind, of course, being the focus. Like a Zelda game, Enril will gain new abilities as you progress through the game, and controlling her, along with Toku, is a breath of fresh air. You'll need to use various wind powers to manipulate the environment around you, and LostWinds' puzzle-platforming heavy approach makes for some incredibly creative gameplay.
If you've got a Wii and access to online, you need to buy this game. Period.
So, as I mentioned in a previous post, my wife picked me up the first Halo the other day. I think I'm pretty close to the end of the story mode -- I'm supposed to backtrack (yet again) to a shuttle, after finding that the captain has been enveloped by The Flood. I must say, though, I'm having trouble bringing myself to completing this game. The controls are great, the in-game graphics are great, the weapons are great...but OMG, Halo is perhaps the worst offender of backtracking in gaming history. Not only that, much of the gameplay is monotonous. There are some really great moments, ones that break up the repetition, but most of the game is made up of shooting the same enemies down halls that look exactly the same. How this game won GOTY on so many sites is beyond me. It's a well-polished machine, there's no denying that, but the overall experience is mired in mind-numbing monotony.
Granted, I haven't had the pleasure of the multiplayer experience, and it's my guess that it's therein that lies the true value of Halo. But so far as the single-player experience goes, I ain't too impressed.
So, I'm not necessarily done with Ninja Gaiden Black (NGB) -- even played it last night -- but I've acquired a couple of other older Xbox titles, which are now keeping me busy. The first is the original Halo, which my wife got me used from our local Blockbuster. It's okay. The controls, though they take a bit of getting used to, work well, and the options are well thought out. But the levels and action can get a bit repetitive. Also, man, this is definitely a first-generation Xbox game. The graphics in cutscenes and close up in the game are pretty archaic-looking. The story is interesting, though, but I haven't finished the single-player game yet, so no final judgments.
The other game, which I'm really getting into, is Fable (not The Lost Chapters). The graphics initially also threw me for a bit of a loop, with somewhat muddy textures, jaggy character models that move very jerky, and a pretty frammy frame rate. But the game itself really grows on you, and after just a few hours I'm enjoying the heck out of it. I'm now actually somewhat far into the game (I think), playing for about 12 or so hours. I'd have to say, though, that it is, to me, more of a medieval sims game with RPG elements than it is a true RPG. There is plenty of RPG character building, as well as adventure, but there's more sim-like character building, and those aspects are much more interesting than the main quests. Plus, though the graphics didn't impress me at first, the devil is definitely in the details with this game. Watching the sun rise on a beach, where the sea foam refracts the sunlight, is pretty breath-taking, especially when it's all in real-time. Pretty damn impressive.
No matter, I've finished NGB three times in Normal mode, and am on the 13th chapter of Hard mode. But the second Alma battle (for those who've played the game) is kicking my arse, so I'm ready to take a bit of a break. Wonderful investment, amazing game, but I don't want to burn out on it. Fable seems like a great next game to catch up on, and I am really diggin' it.