Monday, October 16, 2006

"Whatcha been playin?"

I've actually gotten some new game play in this week. What a shocker!

In my previous post, I talked about the new Star Trek Encounters game I was going to try. At $14.99 I can't say I was too optimistic but the screenshots made it look really good. Plus who wouldn't want to pilot around a Star Trek spaceship blasting at Borg, Klingons, etc. I wrote up a quicky review on Gamespot (which I will add to this blog at some point) and I'll summarize the experience here. Basically I was impressed with this little title. It had the feel of a budget game but unlike many budget games it didn't suck. It was ambitious of them to configure a 3D space combat game on the PS2 controller and they used every button available. You "fly" with the left stick, aim your weapons with the right, balance your power reserves with the D pad, switch weapons with the symbol buttons, fire with the right shoulder buttons, and move up and down in space with the left shoulder buttons. The result is awkward at first, but I got used to it (slowly). Graphics look very cool and the ships are right out of the TV series (including one called Star Trek: Sentinel?). Audio is nice - good effects sounds and even some narration by William Shatner (odd they didn't hype him on the cover art). On the downside, the game forces you to play through each episode sequentially, unlocking the next only if you succeed. And you can't save part way through a mission. The missions are broken down into short objectives, but with 7 or so per mission (felt like more) it would be nice to be able to save without getting to the end. At least if you die you only have to restart from the objective. I have a feeling that I'll have some problems getting very far in this one, but I'll try.

One game I'm quickly feeling will be a major time-sink is Club House Games for the DS. Just your basic card/board/pub games but you can play wireless with other players. Being a very old PC internet gamer, this shouldn't be any great shakes to me, but the fact of having a system in the palm of my hand that is playing backgammon with someone in Germany still amazes me. And the games themselves are really good. I've played bowling (yes, bowling) on it as well as mahjong and I think I would have been happy with this collection even without the WiFi.

I've just started playing a little bit of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team (whew!). From the reviews I've seen, this is a fairly old game model that was used and then the Pokemon franchise was dropped on top of it. The good news is it is new to me. :) Cute so far, but haven't done much more than the introduction. (My DS is getting alot of use these days.)

Also been keeping up the FFXI-ing. Our merry band of misfits has gotten up to level 59 in our main jobs thanks to some VT bats in King R's Tomb. We also scored 2 more Astral rings (yes!) in some very close BCNM 20 battles. One is getting sold and the other is Morbo's. He's so happy he'd cry if he wasn't such a tough Galka-boy.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Unbiased review coming and pre-order goodies

In a sure to be interesting experiment, I'm going to try a game tonight that I haven't read a review for - and it could be a real turkey (oh well, so much for unbiased lol).

The game in question is "Star Trek Encounters". All I've seen so far (and from what I can tell pretty much all of what everyone else has seen) is some rather good looking (dare I say stunning) screenshots of various Star Trek ships in (gorgeous) space. This is billed as a ship to ship shooter using vessels from the whole lineage of Trek. Not something that's really been tried before, but something that all of us who grew up with models of the ships have dreamed about. (I actually had a paper minatures game calle Starfleet Battles that this reminds me of.) Most of the other ST games have been adventure or academy/ship sims that seemed to put more emphasis on getting series stars than having good gameplay. The only shooter aspect of a Star Trek game I can remember was the ridiculous dogfight type portion of the very early 25th anniversary game. I'm hoping it won't be like that.

Now, I haven't seen any reviews for STE and I bought it today at Best Buy for the low (low, low) price of $14.99. And that's only $5 off it's MSRP. So, how can a game that has such wonderful visuals be so cheap? Most cheap games tend to be really crap. But, as I haven't been tainted by any of the game site reviews out there, I can approach my experience without any preconceptions...except that cheap games are usually crappy lol. Seriously, I'm all for this game being a winner and a bargain.

While at BB, I also did my second pre-order in as many days. Why, you ask? Have I lost my budget conscious mind? No, I just want the extras. For Destroy All Humans 2, I got the demo disk, and today I got the Gutair Hero II t-shirt for $5.00. No big deal if I don't get the game - I'll take a game shirt for 5 bucks. As for DAH2, I'll just get my deposit back after the game comes out.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Guitar Hero

I own Guitar Hero, but admit I haven't really gotten into it yet (well, it's still in the original box, for almost a year old now). But I do need to get something off my chest.

I've tried it a couple of times in the store demos (Fry's has it setup in a cable tie shut PS2) and to be honest I feel a little silly playing it. Now, I'll probably get fried for this by some sector of the readers out there, but here it is:

To all the people out there who think Guitar Hero is dumb, just remember - any video game consists of you holding a controller and pressing buttons in response to some graphics on a TV screen. Does GH teach you to play a guitar? No, but Call of Duty 2 doesn't teach you how to fight a house to house battle with a submachine gun either.

One thing is certain - GH is a very big deal in the gaming world. And by big deal, I mean a game that is as unique and enviable as major games like Tetris, Pokemon, and Doom. We all know what happens to games like this...they get the shit copied out of them. How did I come to this conclusion? Well, it's pretty obvious by all the press it's getting, but the clincher was one day when I saw a line of people waiting to play the game at Fry's. I can't remember the last time I saw any game that half a dozen teenagers waited to play (and in a neat orderly line too!)