Monday, February 22, 2010

Dead Space: Extraction, 8 Bit Horse, and Pawn Stars  

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Games: Finished up Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes (DS). The formal review is HERE if you haven't seen it already. Nothing else to say except that if you have a DS and you don't own a copy of this, you're completely missing out. Completed my review for Shiren the Wanderer (Wii) as well. That'll be up soon.
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In other games news, I was pretty tempted to jump back into Final Fantasy XII and log a few more hours towards completion, but I've got things to review coming up and I don't want to have to stop after a day or two.
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Instead, I'm opting for something a little shorter… currently on hand, I have Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (PS2) and Dead Space: Extraction (Wii). I haven't started SH:SM yet, but I'm a few levels into Extraction and I have to say that the praise people were giving it seems warranted.
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For those that don't know, it's an on-rails shooter that acts as a prequel to the original Dead Space. Considering that the first game was a high-gloss Survival (Action) Horror game, I have to say that the decision to create a prequel in a completely different genre on a completely different system is a little puzzling, but the quality is certainly there.
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This time around, there's much greater emphasis on the characters and storytelling than there ever was in Dead Space, and it's appreciated. I'm no fan of the silent protagonist approach, and I think most people would agree that the story was one of the source material's weakest aspects.
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Although the player doesn't control much of what happens on screen besides the shooting, Extraction does a great job of capturing a "survivors trying to escape" feel. Part of it is the surprising amount of really-decent dialogue that occurs, and another element is that the developers really put a lot of effort into designing the levels and how the player's character (via first-person viewpoint) actually feels as though he is present in the environment along with the rest of the cast. It's a very conscientious approach, and more rail shooters should copy it.
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A quick shout-out to new site, 8Bit Horse. Although they're just getting started, it looks great and has some sweet coverage of all things 2D, both past and present. (Future, too!) Click over there, read the Karnov coverage (nostalgia GET!!) and tell them I sent you.
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In the last bit of game news tonight, I was invited to participate in taping another episode of the Big Red Potion podcast. The topic was ‘grinding’ in games, and without trying to sound like I'm tooting my own horn, I felt like the discussion that occurred was a really interesting, quality one. Many thanks to Sinan Kubba (@Shoinan) and Joe DeLia (@SlamVanderhuge) for having me on, and it was a pleasure to co-guest with Jared Newman (@ThePimpOfSound). It's not up yet, but I'll post a link when it's available for listening.
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TV: I don’t watch a lot of TV, but every once in a while I'll feel my inner potato emerging and indulge it. Although I'm still following my core programs (Burn Notice, White Collar, Sanctuary, The Office, Community, The Soup, everything on Food Network, and so on…) a new one that the wife and I stumbled across is Pawn Stars.
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Starring three generations of a gruff family that own an (apparently) wildly successful pawn shop, each episode is not only entertaining but educational at the same time. A wide variety of people come into the store with truly bizarre items like an iron key that’s also a gun, a metal spoon crafted by Paul Revere, or a saddle that allegedly cupped Kevin Costner’s buttocks in Dances with Wolves.
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While haggling, the proprietors dispense a bunch of factoids and interesting historical knowledge about each item. If something comes up that they don't know much about, they call on a varied roster of experts who show up to opine. Although it doesn't sound like the most riveting television, the crotchety characters are fairly amusing and the kind of merchandise that comes into their store is truly astonishing. I was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, so if you’ve got a few minutes sometime, give it a whirl.
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