Shameless Whoring: The fine folk over at Big Red Potion recently had me on as a guest, and the recording is now available for download if you're interested in that sort of thing. The topic was “Guilty Pleasures” and starred Jeffrey Matulef (@MrDurandPierre), Michael Abbott (@BrainyGamer) and myself, and was hosted by the ever-charming Sinan Kubba (@Shoinan). Give it a listen if you've got the time, won't you?
Games: So, E3’s in full swing. It's been a pretty busy week so far and I haven't had time to watch the full press conferences given by the big three, but I hardly feel like I need to. With as much information coming down the twitter feed, I'm already perilously close to overload. I'm not going to comment too much since we are going to be recording a podcast this weekend focusing solely on the convention, but I did want to call out one thing: PlayStation Plus.
Although I'm not on the floor and I don't have all the details at the moment, the thing that stuck out about that for me was the idea that a player can have access to certain pieces of content only while actively subscribing to the service. Of course, a lot is going to ride on the specifics of the plan and which content is at stake, but I couldn't help but feel a small chill run down my spine. The thought of moving to an electronic-only state where gamers don't actually own anything is one of my personal nightmares, and PSPlus seems like one step closer to that sad state of affairs. Some people may disagree with me, but the idea of effectively renting something with little or no control over that purchase isn't something that appeals to me in the least.
PlayStation Plus aside, there haven't been a lot of huge surprises so far. Everyone's essentially looking at the same games and predictably gushing over the 3DS, with very little chatter about smaller titles happening. I expect that to change tomorrow and the next day. At least, I hope it does. Everyone has known about the "big" games on display for quite some time, but I always enjoyed E3 more for the sheer number of games on display, and the chance to get a peek at things that don't get nearly the same amount of press. Smaller titles need love too, people!
The new “Overlord” DLC for Mass Effect 2 was released today, and I just finished it a few minutes ago. I'm in the middle of the review so I'm not going to spill a lot, but I will say that it's the best add-on for BioWare’s juggernaut so far.
Featuring a good mix of combat, vehicle action and dialogue, it comes close to replicating the sort of holistic, connected experience that I enjoyed so much with the first Mass Effect. The ending sequences were especially memorable, getting Comander Shepard back to the kind of qualities that I appreciate most about RPGs. That's all I'll say for now, but look for an expanded review soon.
Disgaea Infinite hit the PSP over the last day or two. I know very little about it except that it's some sort of graphic adventure featuring lots of dialogue and time travel.
Considering that my favorite parts of the Disgaea games have always been the characters and dialogue (no, not the extended grinding) this pretty much sounds like the perfect Disgaea experience to me. Gonna try to check this out soon.
I know I've become a total boor about this whole Monster Hunter thing, but I was reading some reviews of the PSP titles earlier today, and one of the articles I read really served to highlight the different reactions that people have to the gameplay it offers. Found it kind of interesting, honestly.
In this particular article, the reviewer (not gonna name names here) stated that the title he was reviewing at that time was his first experience with Monster Hunter, and he found it incredibly obtuse and frustrating. That's understandable, really. The game does a poor job in general of walking newcomers in, so I don't blame the guy for feeling a bit brutalized. That said, I do think that players with a good head on their shoulders should be able to figure things out before too long. Some of the finer details certainly require an FAQ, but things like when to dodge or when to run should be fairly obvious after a few deaths.
In any event, the reviewer went on to say that he was stuck for over four hours on a first-tier mission – the easiest group of missions in the game. Very curious about this, I actually went and got a copy of the version he was talking about and played to the section that had stymied him to the point that he had nearly tossed his PSP out of a window.
Arriving at that particular mission, I was a little bit apprehensive. Was it really that hard? Was I about to have my ass handed to me? I shouldn't have worried. From start to finish, the mission took me about eight minutes and was completed without a defeat, or even significant damage taken.
I chuckled about it for a little while afterward, but I don't bring this up as a way of saying that my 5ki11z are so l33t or that the reviewer was bad at games; I see it more as a sign that the game itself failed to properly introduce its mechanics to someone that could have potentially become a new fan. Rather than working to ensure that someone understood and enjoyed the game (and who would likely purchase future installments) the result was a player who was angry and frustrated, and who walked away from the game after having seen less than 1% of it.
Making hardcore games is all well and good, but there's really no benefit to shutting people out before they get a chance to appreciate the work that went into making it.