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Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Loot Reviews

Brief rundown of what the Wii got for Xmas:

Geometry Wars
Played it for about it an hour. It's a solid port of the PC game, I can't really speak for the 360 version of course. The "galaxy" mechanic is solid enough to provide the kind of variation required for an actual purchase, but this title isn't going to win your heart or anything. It's an old school arcade shooter, it's fun and it has multiplayer modes (though not online).

Short version: If you have friends over every now and then, this is probably a solid afternoon time waster or something to leave on during a party. The lack of online is a bit of a shame - but not a dealbreaker.

Metroid Prime: Corruption
I've spent most of my time on Metroid. I think I'm like 10% through already. It has a beautiful frustration curve to it ... once you think you're fed up with a location you just start exploring some more and generally find your workaround. Exploration, as is proper with the Metroid franchise, is the key here. Corruption has a different style to it than nearly any other shooter outside of it's own predecessors. There's not a lot of over the top action ... instead the game swims in the environment. If other shooters steal anything, they should steal the scanning mechanic ... the closest I can think of right now is BioShock's photography schtick.

Simply put - it's one of the best shooters ever made. It has the foibles of the Metroid design - exploration and well, re-exploration - which might not be for everyone. But Metroid: Corruption kinda reminds me of when everyone was playing Doom and some people kept raving about Marathon. Except now everyone is playing Marathon's spiritual offspring Halo and some people keep raving about Metroid.

Super Mario Galaxy
The Girl and I whipped this out for a couple hours to give it a whirl, so I can't say I have anything extensive to say about it. I'll just say that it feels like the proper successor to the Super Mario 64 mantle. The planets/gravity mechanics give it enough of a twist that you don't feel like you're playing yesterday's game, the co-op mechanic is solid enough to make it worthwhile to coax someone else to help out and the graphics are just simply wonderful. In two hours, the title felt like one of those must-haves for the system.

Phantasy Star Online
The Gamecube edition offers up better graphics and a new split screen mode ... something I can't get if I just jack my Dreamcast into my PC monitor. Plus the edition The Brother found has the extra quests for the single player mode (and both episodes). So lots of content here. The only stumbling block for us was that the split screen "multimode" is hard to jump right into. You can't play the quests, so there's no safety net for new players. We tried a bit, The Girl's hunter died and was left with no weapons or money.

Still, not a hard thing to workaround - we'll just buff up characters in single mode and then meet back up in multimode. And I'm amazed as to how well this gameplay holds up. PSO set such a solid standard for an action RPG that it still makes me think of the Phantasy Star Universe for the PS2 and cry. Well, maybe not cry, but certainly shake my head. Here's a Gamecube game with tight mechanics, hours and hours of content and a split-screen offline mode, and there was a PS2 game I had in the tray for less than an hour.

PSO still rocks the kazbah. The Girl was saying I should walk the dog tonight so that she could catch up to my level 7. Oh yeah, level 7 in just one night. I still got it...

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