Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bad Pork, Good Trailers  

Random bits, engage.

Food: Went to a local eatery called the Hi-Life, located just down the street. It's got a pretty good rep and seems to have positioned itself as something of a hipster place with upscale grub. The wife and I went there with some friends for brunch last year and had a pretty positive experience, so we thought we'd try it at lunch today.


We started with the green salad, followed by the pulled pork sandwich accompanied with fries and “pickled green beans". The salad was almost $5 and amounted to nothing more than a small plate of butter lettuce with maybe three small shreds of red cabbage and a few greasy croutons.

The sandwich plate was even worse. The filling was comprised mostly of a large dollop of sauce, with maybe five or six extremely fatty chunks of pork -- not even enough meat to cover the entire bun. The fries were cooked too long, they were cut too thin, and tasted incredibly greasy. The sort of nasty fries that come out of the fryer limp and soggy. And as for the green beans? There were exactly three very small beans on the plate. It was such a small amount, I wouldn't have even listed them as an accompaniment.

We took one small bite of the sandwich and ate a couple fries before deciding to get up and find lunch elsewhere. It was that bad. We might be back for brunch again someday far in the future, but I'd rather eat lunch anywhere else than there.

Games: It was a good day on Live today. The absolute high point was the trailer for Bionic Commando: Rearmed, and it was looking like The Hotness.

I'm a big fan of BC from the NES days, and Rearmed looks to be a remake of that gem with completely updated graphics and retooled gameplay. It also appears to have a 2P co-op mode, and if you purchase the full version it unlocks a “classic” skin for the forthcoming big-budget 3D Bionic Commando. All I can say is ‘hallelujah’… the character model shown for the next-gen version is ugly as sin.

Also released today were a pair of new trailers for Viking: Battle for Asgard, from the Creative Assembly. These are the same folks who were behind last-gen's Spartan: Total Warrior, and if you weren’t one of the twelve people who played that title, you missed out. I had such a great time with Spartan that I'm probably becoming more excited than is reasonable for Viking, but I have a good feeling about this one. The developers really knew what they were doing last time, so my fingers are crossed that they can repeat.

Speaking of trailers, a new one was released for Alone in the Dark. There's been a lot of talk about the upcoming entry in this long-running series, and how it's a complete revamp that allegedly takes place entirely in New York's Central Park. The trailer showed some impressive environmental interaction and physics, but not a lot of gameplay. Based on what was shown, I got the feeling that it was perhaps more an experiment in simulating real-world environments and physics than what will turn out to be a satisfying gameplay experience, but I could be wrong. My eye is on this one, but from what I've seen and read, I'd say it's only about a 50-50 shot that it will score. (And now that I've said that, it will be the breakout hit of 2008.)

Last and not exactly least, Live Arcade received Triggerheart Exelica. I'm not sure if this is an old-school game or a new game that’s trying to look old-school (sorry, I'm half-asleep and I've got to get up in five hours... screw research), but my immediate impression was that it needed a lot of work in the graphics and presentation department. It didn't look at all optimized to run on the 360’s hardware, and I was little surprised that it was ready to be downloaded looking so rough. Graphics aside, it seems like it will be a fairly enjoyable vertical shooter with the interesting hook of being able to grab enemies and swing them around in sort of a shield/club motion. Being a shooter fan, I'll most likely get the full version once I whittle away some of the more pressing games in queue.

Writing: Got some good work on BIE done today. Since the books were envisioned as a trilogy from the start, it was a little hard to resist launching straight into things from the get-go but I think I've found a good middle ground between recapping for readers who will be coming late and those who will already be familiar with past events. Now that that part is taken care of, I'm looking forward to getting into the meat of the events I've got planned…

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