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As a pretty hardcore gamer I'll give almost anything a whirl, but there are definitely genres which have never quite clicked for me. These include flight simulators, racing simulation (as opposed to arcade sty1e racers which I love) and bizarrely Wii boxing. Above all though, rhythm games have always flummoxed me. Given my passion for rock music Guitar Hero is obviously a hugely enticing prospect, but paying £70 for the privilege of sucking seems excessive. Fortunately Zavvi celebrated the hideously overpriced release of Rock Band by dropping the price of Guitar Hero III to just £45 for the bank holiday weekend. For those counting, that means you could buy three wireless guitars for the same price as Rock Band.
"Really?" asked Kirsten with a quizzically raised eyebrow, before proceeding to play for about three times longer than I that night. The easy mode is definitely a cop-out but is well designed enough that many songs are still empowering to play through. Mostly, though, you realise how many notes you are not playing and dread the higher settings. I'm already rocking through medium now, with a couple of 5-star performances under my belt. It's worth mentioning I find the "boss battles" in GH3 a bit odd. The idea of me beating Tom Morello or Slash in a guitar duel seems wrong on so many levels. I doubt that I'll ever master expert (five buttons is probably a bit much for my poor four fingers!) but it's been fun realising I can enjoy this stuff without excelling. Now I need to go find a copy of Guitar Hero II…
(this post was replicated from my website)
Now that it seems to have reached a resolution I thought I'd weigh in on the Bad Company DLC furore with a slightly less emotional response than certain others. For those unaware of the background, Bad Company was to have around 20 unlockable weapons, half of which could be unlocked in-game, the rest of which could only be purchased either through a limited edition gold release or via Xbox Live.
Aside from imbalancing the game itself, people were more worried about the dangerous precedent it set. These are clearly part of the original game, not some expanded content, so why were they expected to pay more? Polarised views arose with at one extreme Sarcastic Gamer going totally over-the-top in promoting a boycott of Bad Company (now apparently vindicated by its success), while more rational posts tended to be attempts to justify EA's decision to charge that largely missed the point.
Attempts to rationalise it centred around this being a trade-off for the rising cost of development, while comparisons arose with games in the Far Eastern market that rely heavily on DLC for revenue while giving the basic game away for free (largely in an effort to curb the effect of piracy). Let's be clear: this was no brave new attempt at an alternative finance model - this was a full priced game with the DLC cost on top.
EA simply wanted two bites at the cherry and the uproar arose because this is the clearest example yet of content intentionally being held back for DLC. People were not unwilling to pay for the game, nor were many entirely averse to DLC - the complaint is effectively being asked to pay twice: once to finance development of the game by purchasing it (at full price) and again to buy content already created in that process.
Perhaps more interesting is that the hugely negative reaction was enough to change EA's mind. DICE released an official announcement that they were removing the original concept and all weapons would be unlockable within the game. Perhaps the Kane & Lynch fiasco has warned publishers that such a community reaction can have serious negative financial implications. For the gaming industry, the days where there was no such thing as bad publicity have swiftly vanished.
I really enjoyed Ninja Gaiden (Black - having missed it first time around) on the original Xbox, being impressed by its unforgivingly brutal difficulty despite some frustrating amounts of backtracking. As a result I have long been awaiting a proper sequel (i.e. not just the same game with an arbitrary colour or Greek letter tacked onto the end!), watching Ninja Gaiden 2's progress with considerable interest.
As a result the wonderful Devil May Cry 4 very nearly passed me by. Fortunately seeing it for a ridiculously low £19.96 @ Amazon convinced me to pick it up. It shares many of the same characteristics with fluid action and highly impressive graphics. The art styIe in particular has won me over. While Ninja Gaiden seems to be taking a rather dreary, stereotypically "next-gen" approach, DMC4 appears far more vibrant. It is true that it shares washed out colours in some of its architecture but the colourful highlights and vibrant outdoor areas really bring the scenery to life.
I worry now that by comparison Ninja Gaiden 2 may underwhelm. I still expect better gameplay and a more nuanced combat system with suitably insane action, but I get the impression the overall experience will simply be less fun. It is quite possible that they have been holding back the better level design to show off nearer to release. A demo is due next month that will hopefully allay my fears, because otherwise I can't see myself needing another combat-heavy action game so soon if visually it's just not arresting - I'll probably end up leaving it alone and catching up again sometime next year. The danger is that it'll be Black all over again, with people only playing on its second release...
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