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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Game Play: D&D Tiny Adventures (Facebook)

It's almost like someone went back to my complaint about Facebook gaming and like, well, read it. Dungeons & Dragons: Tiny Adventures does not force you to hit up all your friends in order to level up - in fact they don't even embarrass themselves with one of those "click here to spam your entire address book" kind of screens.

Instead, the game offers up a simple interface, chock full of the lovely kind of artwork fans of D&D would expect, which allows you to push an adventurer off into danger and see what happens. You're control is minimal, which harkens back to the door games of old, but there's enough interaction with inventory management along with the well-written adventure events to make it interesting. As the events are time delayed, the game provides for an excellent periodic distraction throughout the day.

The social aspect allows you to help out friend's adventurers in need. Sadly, the real adventurer in need here is the game itself. The biggest problem the game has is that it doesn't always work. The server is about as reliable as an ex-girlfriend for about half the day and recently the team had to fall back to an earlier database.

Stability aside, it would be nice to see some more customization down the road. But largely, it would just be nice to be able to play the game.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

For Sunday: The Front Fell Off

And yes, this is satire.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Game Play Quickies: Big Willy, The Force Unleashed Demo, Zak & Wiki and Tenchu

Generally when you're sick, if you aren't watching Robin Hood - you're playing games.

Destroy All Humans: Big Willy Unleashed (Wii)
I haven't been this wildly disappointed in a title in some time. The Girl and I are more or less fans of the series and probably would have been in line to play another one "just because" and while in general this game suffers from concepts which feel cut and pasted from the other titles - that's not the real crime here.

The real crime is that for the Wii this game was released half-cooked. The textures are simply inexcusable - sub PlayStation 2 for certain ... they'll make you wonder where your N64 controller is hiding. The HUD, and this might be some kind of odd HDTV conversion, looks miserable. There are weird additions to gameplay like hitting floating orbs to mind control which seem tacked on to appease someone who thought it would make for "good Wii play".

It's just bad, and in an cheap and ugly way.

The Force Unleashed Demo (PS3)
I think I had been warned about this in a preview - the problem with The Force Unleashed is that you'll run around slaughtering people left and right and the suddenly, jarringly, run into some boss or miniboss which gives you an absurd amount of difficulty. Even on hard I mowed down every bipedal foe in the demo except for the AT walker at the end. Which, damn you Kratos, seems to require beating up to a specific point and then engaging in some "follow the button" minigame to kill. If there was a game mechanic I wish people would think twice about using - this would be one of them.

Don't get me wrong - I'm either buying or renting this game. This is largely, though, because the Star Wars games end up being such better experiences than the movies (as the apparently wildly disappointing Clone Wars can prove). Basically if you want a good Star Wars movie these days, buy a game or call Genndy Tartakovsky.

Zak And Wiki (Wii)
Love it. Looove it. Wish I had unwrapped it when I got it so many moons ago. There's not much to say about the title since most everyone else has mooned excitedly about it - but it's an adventure title which harkens back to the good things about King's Quest with very little of the bad. Completely brilliant.

Tenchu: Wrath Of Heaven (PS2)
Remember when I bemoaned the lack of PS2 compatibility in the new PS3 models? This is the reason why. Tenchu still looks pretty decent upscaled and aside from some lingering camera issues still delivers the goods when it comes to sneaking around like a ninja, jumping on victims from above and doing very sinister animations on them.

TV Watch: Robin Hood, Season One

Being sick really kinda sucks. Sure, you get to do all of the things you normally would love to have an excuse to do - eat ice cream for dinner, shuffle around in pajamas, laze around on the couch and generally moan when someone asks you to do something responsible (this, unfortunately, turned into a kind of moaning recursive loop since The Girl was at least equally sick at the same time). You get to catch up on all sorts of video games and movies - but at the same time you feel like you're just waiting to feel better.

Basically trying to relax and have fun actually turns into a chore. It's evil.

So let me preface that my view of Robin Hood, BBC's recent television show about the classic, might be a bit colored by the above facts. That's not to say we didn't enjoy the show - and in fact devouring the entire 13 episode first season was a pretty decent chore while we shuffled about moaning like zombies.

Basically the show boils down to a very British version of Xena. The plots aren't terribly complicated, there's a bit of touch and go when it comes to history, and most of the plot points involve fight scenes involve fight scenes. It's not nearly as cheesy as the old Raimi shows, mind you, at least not usually - and by the end of the first season you see the some shadow of depth forming. The show tries admirably to flesh out Robin as a war veteran, hero of the people and lovesick puppy. When it works, it works well and when it doesn't - well, he's generally doing something tricky with a bow so you don't really care.

If anything sells the show, though, it's the Sheriff. The basic theme of the character is "someone evil who really enjoys his job" and it is played out for every ounce. Most of the other characters are moderately two dimensional, but still enjoyable and the while the show doesn't fall into the "he's good with knives" formula of story telling too much - we certainly hope the second season finds more plot motifs than "break into Nottingham Castle and get something out".

Recommended in that beach read kind of way. = fun with floating body parts

EA sent word along about the Dead Space related online puzzle / story (I won't quite call it an ARG, but you can see the similarity), to "tell two equally tragic four chapter stories" using interactive 3D elements and what appears to be some pretty decent voice acting as well. Props to "the hub" as they call it, which would be those floating body parts which will unlock the stories as they are released.

Sadly these are the kind of things I wish I had more time to toy around with - but generally don't. Worth a poke if you've got some free time, though. If I get a chance to actually get a feel for the stories, I'll post some more.

Monday, August 25, 2008

For Sunday: First Ever Tech Support