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Friday, August 05, 2005

About Snowblind and Dark Legacy

There's basically two games on my PS2 right now - Project: Snowblind and Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, both from the dumpster diving mentioned earlier.

First, I gotta say again that Snowblind is much harder than I ever expected it to be, and that's a good thing. It's actually challenging in a very tight way. It's not just a swarm of enemies, but it's a combination of semi-realistic damage and lots of cover. No, it doesn't feel like Rainbow Six, but it doesn't entirely feel like Quake either. It nestles in better than I'd say it's pedigree of Deus Ex games managed - and that's saying a lot. The plot is pretty cliche and the cutscenes have something to be desired (more on that later), but the levels are well done and detailed and gloss over some of those parts. Yesterday I hacked a military bot and went on a rampage and it occured to me that Crystal Dynamics probably did a better job of simplifying the augs than Ion Storm did (but still sadly removing the whole concept of owning the character).

Then there is Gauntlet. Thanks goes to Hieronymus for the warning. He's not inaccurate, of course, it's about as mindless as coop gets without removing the requirement to push the analog stick around. That is, if they would just get it down to one button, then I think their core gameplay goals would have been achieved. However, one thing I love about The Girl is that she adores mindless destruction and hence we've been playing it plenty. And to be honest, we don't have a wealth of coop options at hand right now, having played through everything in Baldur's Gate, Norrath and the Three Kingdoms for now.

However, it's easy to poke at these early PS2 games and point out the low poly models , non-existent AI, blocky maps and repetitive gameplay. I've done a lot of writer workshops and know from experience that it's always easy to kick the little guy. But it's a lot harder to try and pull out what they do right. For instance, while the maps are blocky - they aren't poorly designed and do actually provide some challenges in trying to unlock every gate and area. Sure, most of that can be solved simply by running around and shooting randomly, but it's something. The designs are also nicely varied ... we just hit the Sky Tower complete with it's balloon and winged platforms - not the normal fantasy fair. And there is something to that old "kill many, many things" strategy of gameplay that served the original well and echoes faithfully into games like Dynasty Warriors.

I guess I'm saying that there's a great game in there, this just feels like an early tech demo of it. Sadly, the new Gauntlet game seems to be awash in problems - having now lost both of it's star designers and facing various delays. Myself, I would have prettied up the graphics, made the characters far more customizable, add in a Diablo style magic item system, installed a decent magic combo framework and introduced random dungeons.

But that's just me.

1 comment:

Winkyboy said...

One comment about: "However, one thing I love about The Girl is that she adores mindless destruction and hence we've been playing it plenty"

That comment is: *jealous*

(my wife says she'll throw the laptop out the window... sigh)