Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Land of Stubbs the Zombie

Three recent and farily unrelated events conspired to really mess things up in this dimension. They were the DVD release of the "Land of the Dead" movie, the upcoming release of the "Land of the Dead" video game, and the recent release of a game called "Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse". How are all these related by anything but rotting flesh? By the fact that the existence of the third caused the creation of the second (which was mandated by the creation of the first) to suck like a Hoover on overload. Let me explain....

I recently saw "Land of the Dead" and must say I rather enjoyed it. Not as classic as "Night" or "Dawn", but much more enjoyable than "Day". Around the same time I tried a demo of "Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler's Green", your typical game-from-movie tie-in. Aside from being a fairly crappy FPS, I couldn't get over the basic problem that any game that is supposed to be in the "Night/Dawn/Day/Land of the Dead" world has to exist under the fundamental rule that one bite will turn you into a zombie! The FPS game's fundamental rule is you take damage from 100% (or more) down to 0% until you are dead. I'm sorry, but you can't fit these two rules into the same game.

Where I think the developer's missed the target is in forgetting who the "star" of the movie was. It wasn't the easily infected warm blooded humes, it was the crafty thinking head zombie (credited as Big Daddy btw). A game where you play this central character, this Martin Luther King Jr for the recently deceased and animated, would make for some unique gameplay. In the movie alone, he solved problems, armed his followers, and dispatched (or converted) those that oppressed his, uh, people.

However, as (bad) luck would have it, it was around this same time that the "Stubbs" game was planned for release. Being that the game was touted for months ahead of time, it was widely known that one of the primary goals of the game was to build you own army of zombies by eating the brains of the living. Having two games release at nearly the same time that had the player be a zombie just would not have flown at the corporate level.

So, in the end, we are stuck with a mediocre FPS movie-tie-in and a good (but very short) action game. I wonder how sales of "Land of the Dead: Big Daddy" are doing in that other dimension.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Neverwinter ever again?

Just got the December 2005 issue of PC Gamer yesterday (yeah, I don't know why they print them like that either), and the cover story was about Neverwinter Nights 2. Being a veteran of many a D&D battle as part of an awesome trio, fighting our way through Baldur's Gate I & II, Icewind Dale I & II, their expansions, and then NWN, any news about the next installment had me doing something I almost never do - actually read an article in a magazine. :P Unfortunately, I think they got the name of the game wrong. If what I read doesn't change drastically, it should be called "Fable Nights". Here is a quote that sums up my dissapointment:

"Because Obsidian (the game's developer) is focusing so completely on Neverwinter Nights 2's story-driven single-player experience, multiplayer was brought up almost as an afterthought."

Yup, the main thrust of NWN2 will be a single-player adventure, complete with character growth and NPC's for hire. The article goes on to say that there will be a multi-player mode, but it will be based around the DM style - no mention of the non-DM style of play.

While I appreciate that the rich history of adventure gaming was built on single-player games, I can't help but think the legacy of Black Isle's games is fading faster than the popularity of Zip drives.