Sunday, June 13, 2010

Up and Rolling Again  

Misc: It's been a long time since the last update. I didn't anticipate being out of action for so long, but whenever an office gets moved, things inevitably get thrown out of whack and it takes longer than expected to get rolling again.

My last workspace was pretty small and not really optimal for the stuff I needed to get done every day. Without much choice in the matter, I had to make do. However, the impact on my productivity was pretty apparent and I really wasn't happy about it.

My new office (only partially set up at the writing of this blog) is much more comfortable, more spacious, and will be a much better fit. It's always a pain in the ass to relocate and reestablish a routine, but in this particular case it is absolutely worth it. I’m not one of those people who can write anywhere, anytime, so now that I've got this new spot for myself, I'm definitely looking forward to more consistent, regular content being turned out.


Writing: Not much to reveal at this point, but I am happy to say that edits and revisions are happening on the two texts I've been working on over the last year or so. It's going quickly and smoothly so far (knock on wood) and at the risk of being an enormous Pollyanna, I don't anticipate many problems with the chapters left to go. More info as it comes.


Games: I completed Monster Hunter Tri’s offline story mode since the last blog update, clocking in somewhere in the neighborhood of sixty-five hours or so. It was a much larger undertaking than I had originally anticipated, and I have to admit that I'm a little shocked that the grand total ended up being so high. Despite all of its problems (and there are many) it kept me interested and engaged all the way through (when I wasn't being intensely frustrated) and that's more than I can say for a lot of other games who shoot for the same sort of completion time.

I certainly don't think it was necessary to put all that time into the game or even to finish the off-line mode before writing the review, but in this particular case I really felt like I wanted to do that. Primarily, the game has an intensely rabid fan base (of whom, I suppose, I'm now part) and I really wanted to be able to say that I had done my due diligence before publishing my official opinion. Besides actually finishing the off-line, I have spent several hours in the online cooperative mode and it really does add to the experience overall. I can count on one hand the number of times that an online mode appealed to me enough to come back to it more than once or twice, so the fact that it's so enjoyable is a real feather in Capcom’s cap.

Look for the review soon.


In other games news, I started Alpha Protocol a few days ago and I would estimate I'm about halfway through.

Although I can't say that I had high hopes for the title, it was one that I really hoped would succeed. I think there is certainly room for the espionage genre to grow, and the RPG elements married to it in this particular title seemed like a great match.

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably already know what I think of it, but so far the experience has been wildly uneven. The main character is forgettable and utterly lacks any kind of star power, but the dialogue portions are fairly well done and interesting, and the game does a great job of playing up the research/intelligence angle that goes hand-in-hand with spying. It may sound odd, but my favorite part of the game so far is reading and answering e-mails, and reading some of the supporting text documents.

When it comes to gameplay, Alpha Protocol is a giant mess. There's so much wrong with it I really can't get into detail here, but I'll just say that pretty much everything that can go wrong does go wrong. I do not enjoy the action portions even a bit, and I can't get through a single session without thinking of a dozen ways that the game could have been improved.

A review is in progress, but this is one of those titles that I really have to force myself to come back to... the formal write-up might be a while.


Capcom announced recently that Dead Rising 2’s system of using skills by reading particular books would return, this time replaced by magazines. One of the magazines mentioned in a press release was the venerable, I-just-read-it-for-the-articles Playboy.

No mention was made of which skills this magazine would impart, but only that it would be some sort of "special" upgrade.

Special, indeed…


Atlus recently announced part of their upcoming 2010 lineup. The titles will include (but may not be limited to):

Trine 2

Rock of Ages

Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City

Knights in the Nightmare (PSP)

Although I don't have very much information at this point, I'm definitely glad to hear that there's going to be a sequel to Trine. Although some of the physics were a bit wonky there, it was a quality title and one that I certainly would like to see more of. I don't know a thing about Rock, and hearing about a Knights port does nothing for me.

Although I know the game has some fans out there, I have to be perfectly honest in saying that I felt like the game was one of those that people celebrate because it's so strange and bizarre in spite of the fact that it's just not any damn fun to play. I tried getting into it on DS and no matter how much time I put in, it never stopped feeling like a giant, abortive clusterfudge.

Finally, I am somewhat excited about Etrian III. The first two games are some of the most unforgiving and difficult I've ever completed, but I do have great respect for them and regardless of their difficulty, they are quality titles. That said, I will admit hesitance to jump into a third one… taking on one of the Etrian games is a serious commitment, and one not be entered into lightly.


The GameCritics Podcast would normally be recording this weekend, but we've postponed in order to produce a show focusing on this year's E3.

We've got some things in the works, but we would love to hear from you -- What games are you most excited about? Which ones were you most surprised by? Which ones would you like us to talk about on the show? Apart from games, what topics are you focused on? 3D? Motion?

Drop us a line and let us know, and if we use your submission we will give you a shout-out on the show.

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2 comments: to “ Up and Rolling Again


    I am very disappointed I can't experience Monster Hunter Tri. Not only does it look fun, but you fanboys make it look even more fun. Alas, console exclusivity strikes again. I may rant on that later.

    As for what you said on AP, I think that's universally what I've been reading from People Whose Opinions I Trust. The emails and in-game writing is fucking awesome, I've read so much (people always share it with me), but I'll probably pass on the rest. The voice acting seems really bizarrely 1990's oriented, too; I was watching some clips earlier trying to figure out if I'd pick it up or not. I'm thinking maybe when it drops a lot further in price I'll pick it up.


    Hey Ashelia, thanks for the comment.

    To be honest, I'm a little surprised that they went Wii on this one, but you've got other options. There are several MH iterations available on PSP as we speak, but although they have much more content than Tri, they all have pretty wretched controls. It's like Capcom didn't realize that the PSP has no good way to maneuver a camera, and they absolutely did not compensate for that. I am kind of messing around with Freedom Unite as we speak, but I have doubts as to whether it will be playable, or at least, playable at the standard I expect. These monsters are tough enough, I don't need to battle the camera at the same time.

    That aside, I keep hearing that Capcom is bringing MH Frontier to 360, which would be a pretty fantastic idea, really. Great avenue for DLC, powerful hardware, the controller has a second stick which can maneuver the camera, and Live is a perfect network to host the multiplayer sessions.

    Hopefully this rumor will pan out and if it does, I really hope that Capcom will pull out all the stops and give the game the updates and tweaks that I feel it really needs. Like, bad.

    As for AP, I would totally recommend it if you can snag it used for twenty dollars or so. Well, okay, maybe more like fifteen… there are definitely parts to appreciate about it, but my God, it's so rocky and uneven. Obsidian must have been in really dire straits to release it like this. Either that, or they just didn't care anymore. Anyway, it's not complete failure, but paying anything more than bargain bin rates for it would be a mistake.