Thursday, February 25, 2010

Between Reviews, Darwinia+, and The Top 24 SUCK.  

Games: First up tonight, a funny little video about the BioShock 2 launch from my friend Chris Vandergaag over at The Side Mission. There are a few pretty good chuckles in there, so peep it if you have a chance.

Also, for those of you who can't get enough of my rambling, me and my nasally voice can be caught talking about ‘the grind’ in video games on the most recent installment (Episode 36) of the Big Red Potion podcast. I mentioned it earlier, but it's now ready to go and you can check it out.

In other news, I'm still between official reviews right now so I've got a little time to play things just for the enjoyment of it. It's kind of a treat. As a big fan of Indigo Prophecy, I plan to hit Heavy Rain along with the rest of the free world as soon as my copy arrives, but in the meantime I’m not committing to anything too involved or lengthy.

On the same topic, if you read the last entry, you'd see that I started Dead Space: Extraction on the Wii. I finished that up yesterday, and overall enjoyed it quite a bit. The graphics were very respectable (wait for it…) FOR THE WII and many of the locations were instantly recognizable from the first game. I really got the feeling of being in the same world despite the shift in genre and console. I was also honestly shocked at how much voice acting there was, and how it felt deeper than the average rail-shooter. I liked the things it added to the genre-- actually having a real story, primarily among them. (It was MUCH better than Dead Space proper.)

As a neat bonus, the disc also included the six-issue Dead Space comic book series that came out a while ago, redone in digital comic format. Having played through both games in the Dead Space series, I would recommend new players to take on Extraction first. It does a much better job of giving the player a mental context within which to work, and sets the stage beautifully for the overlong, tedious action of its big brother.

(Incidentally, I'm strongly tempted to write a review for it, but I need to keep reminding myself that I'm not on the clock…)

Having wrapped that, I felt like I was long past due to get back to the download side of things after having spent so much time with big-budget releases lately. Checking out the action on XBLA, it was a tossup between PB Winterbottom and Darwinia+… Although I liked the art style and tone of Winterbottom, the demo suggested to me that I would be in for annoyance or aggravation after getting past the first few levels. Something about setting up all those clones and timing things right struck me as something that would likely be more trouble than it was worth, so I veered the other way and put my MS points towards Darwinia+ instead. After getting through the first three levels, I haven't regretted the choice.

Although Darwinia has been out for PC for something like five years or so, I've never had any experience with it, nor heard anyone talk about it except for brief mentions in passing. With that timeline in mind, it gives a little context towards the game itself and the straightforward nature of its action.

Strongly reminiscent of Tron in many ways, the game takes place inside a virtual reality world populated by little green stick figures called (surprise!) Darwinians. They are under attack by nasty red virus programs which take the shape of different sorts of creatures that need to be killed with extreme prejudice. Each level (so far, anyway) starts off with the player guiding a group of commando programs into the landscape, shooting and grenading enemies into pixels. After clearing out each area, helper programs will gather up resources and convert them into new Darwinians that need to be herded towards an exit or other specified area.

The play itself seems quite straightforward so far as I've already said, but I think the strong point of this title is certainly its aesthetic and design. Things are constructed from neon light and obvious polygon surfaces, and all the characters are wonderfully blocky and simple-- and I do mean that in a positive way. It's actually fairly relaxing to cruise through the environment and blast these phishing and spambot programs, taking in the surreal sights at the same time. Honestly, I almost expect a lightcycle to come blazing onto the screen with a glowing trail behind it, or to see a huge Recognizer float in and smash something.

My last bit of game talk for the night has to do with a recently-released 360 title called Deadly Premonition. I don't know much about it, but there have been a few videos circulating the web which are both incredibly bad and incredibly brilliant at the same time.

Although I have yet to actually lay hands on it, I have a sneaking suspicion that it may be headed towards cult status. Apparently copies are somewhat hard to find due to the complete lack of advertising and mindshare. Its $20 budget price point probably didn't encourage retailers to order many copies, either. It may be good or it may be a waste of time, but what I've seen so far has me very intrigued. This might be one of those games that you want to track down just to say that you own it.

Idol: This week was the first week of real performances on the American Idol stage after all of the freak-show auditions and the grueling ordeal of Hollywood week. Now that the wheat has been separated from the chaff and America has gotten its first look at the top twenty-four, my gut feeling is… WOW, where the hell is all the talent?

not here
The girls didn't bring much to the stage, and the boys brought even less. Several of the performances on both sides were staggeringly awful, and even the front-runner favorites failed to deliver quality performances. I thought last year's Idol was chock-full of talent, featuring several performers who I thought could very realistically win the competition. This year, I'm not getting that same sense. Although I've got my eye on a few performers like Andrew Garcia, Lilly Scott, Didi Benami, and Katelyn Epperly (lose the hooker rags, darlin'...) most of the field so far appears to be stunningly unprepared for the spotlight.

Between the stiff presences, unbelievably bad song choices and the general lack of straight-up vocal ability, I'm afraid that this season might be something of a wash before it even gets started. Hopefully that's not the case. The pressure to perform and the new environment is understandably going to be fairly overwhelming for the average person, so my fingers are crossed that in the next few weeks these hopefuls will come into their own and start to blossom. If not, well, I've got lots of stuff saved up on my DVR.

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2 comments: to “ Between Reviews, Darwinia+, and The Top 24 SUCK.


    Brad, def. interested in your thoughts on Heavy Rain.. i'm playing through it right now. My initial impression was to be annoyed because shaking my six-axis to make a playstation HOME-like dude drink virtual orange juice isn't worth 60 bucks.. but then I got into it. Not the orange juice, the rest of the game.

    I think it helps a lot and helps you enjoy it if, going in, you're not expecting a 'game' but rather, a movie that you interact with, something that plays itself while you stay alert, trying not to miss the quicktime event button-presses. Modifying expectations (not lowering, just modifying) really seems to be key, for enjoying this one. And it's definitely different.


    Started Heavy Rain tonight, but having tons of technical problems... a couple audio skips and two separate hardware freezes, and this is AFTER the update.

    Feeling a little frustrated right now at the frequent breaking of immersion and issues that shouldn't be happening, but I'll try again tomorrow.