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Friday, June 12, 2009

Zero Punctuation Reviews InFamous

So posting has been slow this week, in due largely to a long week at work. So in lieu of more posts about Wii-nis envy, here's Yahtzee:

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Game Play: Sacred 2 (PS3)

I've already posted about Sacred 2's bizarre coop setup (bizarre being a friendly term there), but since we got past that weirdness, we've been able to jump into the game with more earnest.

Let's deal with some of the bad first. Framerates drop. Bugs crop up here and there - we had one instance where our characters stopped responding to our control and nobody could take any damage. The Girl resurrected once somewhere she couldn't move, until she was knocked aside by a giant squid. When working correctly, the game's rules are a bit arcane and sometimes even when it is working - it almost feels like it isn't. We've been playing it on and off for a few days now and I think we're finally getting a hang of the statistics, what some of the items do, managing the characters, etc.

So this is not a pick up and play kind of game. You have to put in some time just to get the hang of it. While still using a very much a Diablo-style format, the game employs some pretty serious mechanics to it.

The good is that once you get the hang of it, Ancaria is a huge and well realized world. Few games in this genre, especially for the console, allow you to roam so freely about, picking up side missions and honestly just exploring. The non-linear aspect is a huge bonus, compared to the specific chapter flow of most games of this ilk. There is a decent amount of diversity that we've seen so far, although at some point you wonder what in T-Energy made the rats just so darn mean. Still, you get the impression you are adventuring across a vast landscape, not just fulfilling task A which will be followed by task B.

Truth is, now that we're in the thick of it, this is honestly one of the better two player hack and slash RPG's we've had on the console. The game shines when you head down a hill and meet an army of monsters and get engaged in brief but somewhat epic battles. In fact, the game is better at throwing ten or more creatures at you than it is at boss fights so far.

I have an armload of fixes and tweaks I'd like to see in a patch at some point, but the game is definitely recommended for fans of the genre - with the caveat that it takes a little bit of time and frustration to enjoy.

For Sunday: Scotty Got An Office Job (The Cliffhanger!)

This is the latest in a long running series. Excellent, if not a bit tragic - but bonus points for the use of the word bung:

Monday, June 08, 2009

Michael Pachter Claims Wii-nis Envy For Sony ( and something less insulting for Microsoft )

Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan, clearly not a Cathode devoted reader:

“Sony and Microsoft each fired cannon shots across Nintendo’s bow, with Microsoft’s Project Natal and Sony’s Motion Controller (based on the Eye Toy). We view Microsoft’s proposed offering as intended to provide a user-friendly interface for Xbox Live dashboard access, and view Sony’s offering as Wii-nis envy. We do not expect either to displace Nintendo’s Wii from its leadership position,” he said.
-- Analyst: Rival Motion Control Tech Won't Break Wii Dominance

Pachter's been doing this a while, and has also said that Sony could see a price cut in April, that this is the final generation of consoles and the Wii should lower prices to "be strong again".

(Note: this is why I try not to predict much of anything)

So penis jokes aside, I'm not entirely sure what he's smoking. OK, yeah - Sony is clearly coming up with a solution akin to the Wii's motion controls. I'm missing the bit of the analysis where that equates to being doomed. Because other portions of the PlayStation 3 which have emulated other console features, like the PlayStation Network, have been miserable failures.

No, wait. The opposite is true. In fact, if anything Sony has showed that it is almost better off emulating other companies (PSN) than trying to come up with new ideas (Home). Not to mention that this is the game Microsoft perfected like over a decade ago.

Speaking of Microsoft - while Pachter's comment on Sony might invoke a 'duh', the Microsoft bit is a 'huh'. Microsoft has made of point of getting Natal games in front of the press. Microsoft has shipped development kits to every one of their partners. Does that sound a bit odd for a dashboard upgrade? Not to mention a pretty cost ineffective way to solve a non-problem?

I'm hoping Pachter's being quoted out of context or something. Because while being quoted with the word "Wii-nis" by your name probably does something for traffic, but I was under the impression that an analysis made use of facts.

Movie Watch: Terminator Salvation

I'm going to through in some spoilers here because, well golly, as I've said before some things just deserved to be spoiled.

Terminator: Salvation starts off pretty strong. One of the early action sequences is actually a pretty impressive showing of cinematography and directing. A lot of the premise elements make it seem like the movie is trying to build into something more than just an action movie - something almost like a Philip K. Dick novel in places.

And then, about half way through, the entire movie gives up completely on all of the above and turns into a vapid Hollywood blockbuster before turning the corner to being blind, stupid and annoying.

I'll try to be vague, but let's just say that about the time John Connor decides to napalm an entire forest - it's about time to bail. It doesn't entirely make sense, and just serves to set up another (this time much more banal) action scene and worse - opens the plot to numerous blunders of the movie's progressive downfall.

For one thing - it begins to baffle the viewer as to why John Connor, who should have more advanced knowledge of Skynet, Terminators and hacking phones for free service (though that last bit is probably of little use anymore) acts like such a dimwitted grunt for most of the movie. Gone is the intelligence that we've seen in previous movies, in its place is a role that feels like a boilerplate from every other action movie. Bale's strategy through all of this is to give us his angry puppy dog look through most of the movie.

When the movie reaches its "twist", the wheels have officially come off the bus. There's the right way to do a twist - which is the careful seeding of hints and foreshadowing, and there's the Terminator: Salvation method which is to just wait until you need a nifty plot moment, make up a bunch of crap and hope the audience is still impressed with all that napalm blowing up.

As the movie moves into Skynet Central, you might think to yourself: "this can't get any worse". Surely all these computer interfaces designed for humans in a machine world gone made is bad enough. Or maybe that in a city full of human killing machines, the incredibly powerful AI decides to send a lone robot to kill off its most wanted prize. Or maybe the revelation that all terminators are, in fact, just walking nuclear bombs. Or the "salvation through electrocution" scene.

I won't spoil the ending - but I will warn you. Yes. Yes, it gets worse.

It's a horrible movie. Highly, highly not recommended. Seriously, Terminator 3 was much better if only because it knew it was just a stupid action film from the beginning.