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Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2007-09-10 04:45:48
Metal Gear Solid 4 is purported to be the final in the series and already bears the burden of being labeled as "System Savior" for the PlayStation 3. Metal Gear Solid's hardcore fans are a legion of rabid zealots who will rally to defend the smallest of perceived slights. I myself have been a fan of the gameplay, but the series has a tendency to get absolutely nonsensical, both in terms of the plot, and elements like the boss characters in today's comic strip. The fight against The Pain (that bee guy) was actually terrific, but stuff like that prevents you from thinking too hard if you want to still enjoy it. And the overwrought cutscenes rival Jerry Bruckheimer productions in terms of bloatedness.
Check out the robot chick from this trailer.
If you love this trailer, I bet you also thought Revenge of the Sith was the best Star Wars film.
Despite my elitist criticisms about horrible expository storytelling, MGS4 gameplay looks like it'll deliver. The evolutionary new hook is that Snake is now infiltrating an active battle zone, with all the chaos that entails, as opposed to sneaking around a secured environ. I'll be glad I have my PS3 when MGS4 ships.
Over the weekend, I've messed around with downloadable products from the PlayStation Network. It's nowhere near as slick as Xbox Live, but hey, it's free. (I'll have my promised review of the PS3 hardware and firmware on Friday.) Expect more in-depth versions when Direman Press relaunches, but for now, here are mini-reviews of the titles I've enjoyed.
Calling All Cars! is terrific fun, if you have human opponents. Each player controls a police car, and the goal is to snag the criminal and deliver him back to prison. There are numerous ways to do so, with the more difficult methods yielding more points. Naturally, you don't want your opponents to score, and the chaos of collisions and weapons while fighting over the right to return the criminal is sheer manic joy. It sports a terrific cartoony style, and is perfect as a pick up and play party game in addition to working well online. I dock it a grade however, for its limited scope - Calling All Cars! only has 4 maps and the weapons catalog could've been more robust as well.
Calling All Cars! - Rank B
flOw is an amazing screen saver. You can check out the underlying gameplay here. It's as much a "game" as those blank canvases with a little red rectangle or green triangle in the corner are "art". flOw is quite an experience in high definition, feels more intriguing with the PS3's motion sensing controls, and you should check it out if you want something to zone out and relax to. flOw is definitely mesmerizing, but lacks any real substance.
flOw - Rank C
Super Stardust HD is awesome! It's another dual stick shooter (move with one stick, shoot with the other) in the tradition of Robotron, and if you like simple, exciting arcade games, you simply must download this. For you Xbox 360 owners, it's better than Geometry Wars. Yeah, let that sink in. You (spaceship) move around the surface of a sphere (planet) busting up asteroids and aliens. In addition to the requisite dual stick action and bombs, you have three upgradeable weapons that function in a paper/rock/scissor manner against your various targets, as well as a rechargeable boost mechanic for additional offense or getting out of scrapes. The visuals and audio, especially the kickin' soundtrack, are sweeeet.
Super Stardust HD - Rank A
Warhawk is great, but feels about $10 overpriced. It feels like a PC game, and essentially plays like a terrific, fast Battlefield mod. Warhawk is an online only game, wherein you play a soldier engaged in the most essential goal of military history: Capture the Flag. (There are other modes like Deathmatch, but CTF servers seem to utterly dominate the list.) You can fight on foot, hop into armored vehicles, or dogfight in the titular Warhawks. Everything is well balanced, the controls are slick, and the games run without a hitch - I have yet to experience lag of any significance. Sony's decision to devote innumerable PS3s as dedicated servers has certainly paid off.
I want to dock Warhawk a grade for being derivative, but it plays so well and so fun, that I can't justify doing so. I also want to dock Warhawk for not providing a network as slick as Xbox Live, but that's Sony's fault, not the game's. The main problem is that few people use headsets, and the few that do run into technical issues with voice quality. Warhawk requires good communication and teamwork to really shine. If you like this genre, and are willing to put time into it, it doesn't appear too difficult to find a good clan to roll with.
Warhawk - Rank A
Now Playing - Working with the good folks of Squishy Comics to publish their materials.
Contact me if you are an artist or writer interested in web based publishing. Respecting creator rights and ownership is one of Direman Press' basic tenets.
David Vargas: (dave-deleteme[at]-deleteme-squishycomics [dot] com) 2007-09-11 16:58:26
Dave Reviews BioShock!? Oh Noes!
I finished up BioShock a few days ago. That was a mistake. Since his own 360 is currently stuck in limbo, Dee has requested that I provide you with a review of the game.
I'd like to start off by saying that this game provided me with the most fun I've had in a long time with a single player game. While the game itself is at it's core a decent shooter, the feeling of imersion that the visuals, sounds, and events in the game provide really worked to draw me into the city of Rapture. I felt that it was I skulking about dark, dank corners, holding my shotgun close as I watch a Big Daddy lumber by. Very few games have managed to get that sort of feeling out of me.
If you have a decent sound system, or just a pair of ear buds, you're going to wonder if that metaling groaning is just the steel structures around you straining under the immense pressures of the deep... or a Big Daddy armed with a drill with your name on it. Visually speaking, the character models are actually no where near as polished as, say, the characters in Gears, but watching how they interact with themselves, the world around them, and you, you won't even think twice about their Pixar-like appearance.
The controls in BioShock are surprisingly well done. Using the left trigger and bumper for your powers really meshed well with the traditional right is the gun set up. I never once found myself hesitating to use a power/gun combo due to shoddy controls. Really well done.
The gameplay is very open to player creativity. Most encounters in this game give you plenty of opportunities to choose between brains, brawn, or skill. Say I'm in a room, trapped because just outside there are several baddies waiting for me to exit so they can tear into me. Well, If I look down next to me I'd notice that there's an oil slick leading outside to some barrels for exploding goodness. Or I could try to use one of my powers to trick some turrets outside into blasting my opponents. OR, I can just run out and shotgun everything to hell if I'm feeling brave enough. Sometimes, though, you're forced to make due with limited supplies, your brains, and a healthy dose of will to live. Taking out a Big Daddy with nothing more than a half used up shotgun and only a few broken statues for cover was quite a rush.
If I have to say anything "bad" about this game, it has to be the final fight. Without giving away any spoilers, just know that the end fight was somewhat easy compared to what you go through the rest of the game. But even this isn't enough to really hurt this game.
Using Dee's system for rating a game, I would be inclined to give this game an "A rank", it's a very well done blend of shooter and survival-horror with a healthy dose of freedom to explore and try out different things to achieve the same goal. Tthe design of the game, the story behind the world, and the emotional draw that one gets while playing as well as the very fact that the game's world is a city built on the ideals of Objectivism, torn down from within by man's own greed and paranoia, THAT is what convinces me to give this game an S Rank.
BioShock- S Rank
Buy it. You'll love it.
360 tag: Late Customer
Now Playing: Forza 2; Gears of War