So, after a good night’s sleep and most of the day to do as I wished, I have to say that my outlook on life was a hell of a lot more positive today than it was yesterday. It’s not like all my problems magically disappeared and there are certainly still some issues to be resolved here and there, but it was nice to be able to put everything aside for a little while and just have a really nice day. Cliché perhaps, but still true.
Games: I just finished Raw Danger! on PS2 a few minutes ago… as I said earlier, it started out being a real struggle mostly for technical reasons, and that remained true all the way to the end. In terms of production, it was extremely rough and the budget for the game must have been practically zero. I’m still totally in love with the concept of surviving a natural disaster as the basis for gameplay, but the execution here was just too severely hampered to ever be totally enjoyable.
Besides the fact that it played like ten kinds of rough, the overall story needed work. Unlike its predecessor Disaster Report, Raw Danger’s story had a series of different characters and the game rotated between them. It’s not a bad idea really, but some were less compelling than others, and the game’s overall plot line about a man-made city flooding didn’t really mesh well with some of the dramatic aspects. It was a damned good try and I would really, really, really, really love to see the same sort of thing done with better tech and a bigger budget-- I’m absolutely convinced that the core concept here is pure gold. As it stands, Disaster Report was the better game and I’d still recommend it to gamers who are looking to try something pretty far off the beaten path.
Raw Danger! is Not Recommended.
On DS, I’m trudging my way through Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir. From Big Fish Games, a new attempt to capture some of the “casual” market that hasn’t been tapped on handhelds yet. I wasn’t at all familiar with the game, although evidently it’s something of a hit on PC. Not exactly sure why, though… the game is basically a “find the hidden object” sort of thing like you might see in a doctor’s office copy of Highlights magazine, or on the comics page of a newspaper.
It’s not a bad title really, it just lacks creativity. To be frank, it’s kind of fun to search a scene full of visual noise and try to find objects like a baseball bat, a compass, a shark, and so on that are hidden in plain sight. The problem is that it drags on for way too long, and there’s not nearly enough variety. Some of the same scenes are repeated several times, and towards the end of the game the developers have you doing the same sort of tasks over and over and over again. The concept is good, it just lacks polish and energy… when I was at PAX, I saw a rival title that was almost exactly like this called Cate West: the Vanishing Files from Destineer. I didn’t spend a ton of time with it, but it did look a little more interesting than MillionHeir, though that could be because the rep was doing a great job of selling it.
Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir is Not Recommended.
Not sure what I’m moving on to next, but it’ll probably be either Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty or the new Mega Man 9. Anyone with impressions on either, drop me a line or leave a comment.
TV: With everything on my plate I find it really hard to sit down and just watch TV sometimes. It just feels like a waste of time when I could be working on a new book or story, finishing a game, or writing a review, and I rarely ever watch TV for more than an hour, unless it’s a feature film. That said, I have been putting in a little more catch time with the wife and catching up with a few of the shows that I do enjoy.
>Dexter: I’m really a big fan of this show, and I think the writers have done a great job with it. In fact, I think it’s one of those extremely rare examples where the TV show/feature film is actually better than the source material (a novel) that spawned it. Jeff Lindsay’s book was good, but I felt that the first installment didn’t really do enough with the character. The second book didn’t do it for me either, so I’m glad that Showtime has taken the concept and run with it in a direction that I feel really capitalizes on its potential. I’m only on the fourth episode of season two, but I’m loving it so far.
>The Office: I hardly think I even need to bring this up, as it seems like anybody who’s even go the faintest sense of humor has already been watching the show for years. The recent season opener was pretty hilarious, and just reminds me that they’ve got what are probably the best comedy writers in combination with the best comedy cast on TV right now. (And Jim’s proposal to Pam… totally romantic! What can I say, I’m a softie.)
>My Name is Earl: I’m totally amazed at some of the things the writers on this show get away with, and I’m always impressed at how snarky and clever it is while seeming to be so chipper and dumbly aw-shucks positive all the time. Earl’s ex-wife Joy and the maid/stripper Catalina are both starting to grate on me a bit, but the rest of the cast is aces. Randy’s series of impressions in the season opener was hilarious.
Besides all that stuff, I got some pretty good final revisions work done on SIFT too, so I really can't feel too guilty. Like I said, it was a good day.