Games: In case you missed it on Twitter, here's a link to my recently-posted Alan Wake review for Xbox 360. It's certainly not a terrible title, but it is repetitive and fairly underwhelming -- doubly so for a game that's been in development for more than five years. I give credit to the developers for some beautiful environments and a combat style that's sensible and engaging, but it's weak in most other areas. I also have to say that for a game that's been so heavily touted for its story, I found the plot to be poorly-structured and unsatisfying.
(A side note to you preemptive Alan Wake fanboys who’ve been posting negative remarks on the review: At least have the decency to wait until the game hits retail before tearing my evaluation down. If you’ve got a reason to disagree with me, I'd love to hear it. Present your case. Tell me your rationale. I'm honestly interested. However, you really don't have a thing to say until you've actually played the game, you "every other site gave it a 9" tossers.)
In other games news, I've been spending a bit of time with Retro (mini) on PSP. It's a new take on the old formula where players pilot a ship of some sort through obstacles and caves while struggling against gravity. I think the first game of its type ever played was Solar Jetman way back on the NES, and this isn't much different. However, although it's not reinventing the wheel, it's got a clean presentation and it handles well. If you've got an itch for this sort of thing, I think it will be pretty well scratched.
Also just finished off the Blue Toad Murder Files series on PSN with the wife. My review of the first three (of six) chapters is right here. Although it's lean on gameplay, a few of the puzzles are bogus, and the story isn’t as tight as it could be, I admit that I had a soft spot for the dialogue and characters. Some of that stuff just completely cracks me up. The butcher? Pure gold. If the game was a little more robust in terms of how many puzzles were offered and had the multiplayer tweaked, I would have no problem recommending it to others. As it stands, it's fairly flawed, though there's a lot to like if you dig kooky cut scenes.
One final bit on games, I was quite lucky this week and won a copy of Monster Hunter Tri from GameZone in one of their contests.
Though I'm totally in love with the concept of hunting giant monsters, my experience with the original PS2 Monster Hunter was quite negative and I couldn't possibly conceive of any way the follow-up PSP version could have possibly been worth my time. Even so, I still think the concept is golden and reviews of Tri have been very favorable. I'm really hoping that Capcom has tweaked the formula enough to finally deliver the goods. At this point, I wasn't convinced enough to put my own money down on it, but I will most definitely put a free copy through its paces.
Writing: Although it's taken me a little bit longer than expected, I'm glad to say that the end of the second novel I've been working on is in sight. I finished the last chapter yesterday, and all that's left is to write the epilogue. Of course, this is just the end of the first draft and the text will certainly need some polishing up, but it's a great feeling to get to the end of a project like this and realize how much actually got accomplished.
More details to come once my co-author and I get a few more things nailed down, but you'll definitely be hearing more on this topic soon.