Sunday, April 1, 2007

Vacations over, gaming recap time.

I go back to work tomorrow to start on the next project. I am actually pretty excited, quite a lot of work has been done already by some of the Santa Monica team towards getting our PS3 technology in place. When I get back in tomorrow there should be PS3 devkits everywhere and lots of excited / apprehensive artists and designers starting to get used to working on the new console.

I spent my break doing some driving, some snowboarding and lots of house remodelling. But I also got some time to play a few games. Like a lot of people on the GOW team, I play a lot of games. Some of it is 'research', but most of it is just an alternative to watching TV.

Here is a little list with some random comments about what I played in the last few weeks. I know Cory got into trouble for daring to not like the Wii, so FYI, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one, and this is mine.

  • Flow - Pretty, relaxing, Kind of short but makes a great screen saver even if you aren't actually playing it. Motion controller isn't really doing it for me. Gave me some ideas about how to set ours up to make it less painful though.
  • Lost Planet - Gorgeous engine, I think their technology is better than Gears. However, the art style is not as commercial. Bad cutscenes as well, they look great but the writing and dialog is poop. Enjoyable game, I should really get around to playing the multiplayer a bit. Capcom's tech is about the best of any released game I have seen on next gen so far, they are on a bit of a roll. Dead Rising was my favorite game last year.
  • Zelda: Twilight Princess on the Wii - Yeah, this just isn't doing it for me. I played Ocarina of Time when it came out originally and I liked it a lot. This just doesn't really move things along much. The Wii Controller combat just feels bolted on. I keep going back to this for an hour or so to see if I can find what I am missing that everyone else digs so much. Not having any luck with that so far. I am in the same camp as Cory at the moment, Wii just isn't doing it for me yet .. only takes one game though.
  • Worms on Live Arcade - Damn this is still a great little 2d game. I played this to death when it came out on the PC way back when. My girlfriend and I had a few games of this again and its still just as much fun. Its nice to have this on arcade, its the kind of game I will keep playing every now and then in a dull moment.
  • Crackdown - This is a great first title from Realtime Worlds. Its really cool jumping from building to building. You feel just like a super hero. Its a bit of a one trick pony though. I did finish it, but there was stunningly little variation in the mission designs. The vehicles were kind of useless. I got the impression that the next game they do on this engine will be really stunning. Its got all the hallmarks of a well judged first step in a plan for world domination. I can really appreciate games and teams who don't bite off more than they can chew and lay a good foundation for future work. This feels like one of those times. I will be buying there next game for sure.
  • Viva Pinata - Meh .... got this one for free from a buddy. It just wasn't for me. Lets just leave it at that.
  • Call of Duty 3 - Got this one from a friend as well. I really thought I was done with World War 2 shooters. I wouldn't have bought it, though did play COD2. However, it was surprisingly good. I did get a chuckle out of there button press mini-game things. They reminded me of a certain game ... can't think what. No idea if they did get inspired by GOW ... its not like we are the only ones doing it .. but it was pretty funny anyway. It ran at a very decent frame rate, looked like it was actually hitting 60 in parts. Some of the battles with tonnes of your fellow troops alongside you were really well handled. Mo-cap was good, I especially liked the riding in the truck scene. The Mo-cap in that bit was very very well done, really convincing. We don't use much Mo-cap in GOW so its valuable to see it done right.
  • Castlevania SOTN - I must be some kind of heathen, cos' I really can't see what all the fuss is about this game either. I played it for a couple of hours but I couldn't even get past the first boss. We have a couple of fans of this on the GOW team so I asked them if I was missing something. They just kind of shrugged their shoulders and told me to level up further before fighting him. I haven't been back to it though.
  • Rainbow 6 Vegas - This is another game genre that I wasn't sure about playing again. I played GRAW when the Xbox 360 first came out. It was kind of OK .. not really my cup of tea. This kind of fell into the same camp. The cover mechanic is really well done in this. In some ways its better implemented than it was in Gears. I do really think thats the way ahead for FPS shooters. Its so much easier to do character development and the like. I decide to try an play it in 'Realistic' mode which was probably a mistake. It got pretty damn frustrating at times. The Vegas settings were nice, lots of bloom and blown out lighting. The rest of it was pretty pedestrian. The ending pissed me off, if you thought the cliffhanger ending in GOW2 was annoying, try playing this game. Overall, this genre is just way to formulaic for me now I think. It would be good if they spiced things up a bit with some better bosses or a bit more variation in the level design on enemies.
  • Jetpac on Live Arcade - More retro 2d. Cool, colorful and arcadey fun for only $5. You can't go wrong. It gets really hard really fast though. Wow, I am having trouble getting to level 30 ... what the hell is level 128 going to be like. This will probably be another game I will keep pecking away at over the next few months. Gotta love the small games on Live Arcade. Can't wait for more stuff to appear on there and the Playstation store as well.
  • Earth Defense Force 2017 - this is the gem of my holiday break game playing. I had absolutely no expectations for it. In fact I hadn't even heard of it until I saw Phil, one of the other GOW programmers, playing it on Live. I asked him what it was and he was kind enough to lend it to me. Its like a cross between Ant Attack on the ZX Spectrum from 20 odd years ago and a Godzilla Movie, but done in a Crackdown style environment. Tonnes of different weapons, skyscraper sized enemies. The production values are a little low rent, but the destructable city is very cool. The fact that you get a rocket launcher to destroy the city, right from the start of the game, was a good decision as well. It also has some fantastically cheesy dialog from the horde of soldiers who accompany you. ' Go back to space where you belong'. It has good sense of scale as well, taking down some of the really big ships is pretty satisfying. Its never going to be a mass seller, but I would thoroughly recommend it for some cheesy fun. Its broken up into nice 5-20 min levels as well, so its easy to play in small doses. Nice game.

I still have a couple of things on my pile to play as well, Motorstorm is one of them. Haven't played a racing game in a while, so that should be fun.

Anyway, thats quite enough gaming fanboy crap for one blogpost.

19 comments:

FreakyZoid said...

I'm surprised you like CoD3, given that you didn't like a few other games on that list because they're so done to death - and very surprised by your frame-rate comment. Certainly on the version I played the framerate was terribly inconsistant, often dropping very low.

LordOfTheStrings said...

I'll admit it, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess starts out slow as shit. You start out by running around town herding goats, recovering baby carriages and the like. However, once you start your actual adventure, it gets really great; it has some of the best dungeons I've seen in any Zelda game.

That's a whole lot of games you're working with there. Aside from my little brother's Wii, I don't "own" any next-gen systems, so I'm pretty much out of the loop.

JC Barnett said...

Always dangerous taking game comments at face value. It's fairly obvious that you like certain things and dislike others. I, for example, love Castlevania to death, and I think it's a crying shame not everybody in the whole world feels that way, but hey ho. What can you do?

Aside: A Japanese colleague demoed GoW2 on his import (!!) PS2 the other day. We were all agog and amazed and terribly excited. Great stuff; it's got the "Japanese colleagues' stamp of approval", if that means anything to you.

Tim Moss said...

Hey JC, nice of you to pop by. Glad your colleagues liked it. Theres still some debate what we are gonna do about a Jap release. Its a bit too violent for Sony it would seem, same problem as last time.

Sad to see your not gonna update so much any more, maybe the mood will take you on a less frequent but more relaxed basis.

Jo and I can't wait to get back to Tokyo again. We need to share some more beer and food ;-P

JC Barnett said...

Too violent for Sony? Pifflecock and bumfluff! It'd be a shame if it wasn't released here. Tastes are changing and most colleagues here squeeled with delight at seeing the game in the office. The style is very western but who knows, it could sell pretty well...maybe....hopefully.

Next time you're in Tokyo drop me a line! I'll be on time to meet up this time. Promise!

Anonymous said...

Tim,
Do you have any updates whether you're working on GoW3 or different title from which you get to know the hardware before committing yourself to GoW3?

Thanks,

Rob. said...

Dude.

Viva Pinata.
Im badass at that game. I actually like it a lot. Id like it more ifyou didnt have to do the minigame every damn time you ned a new worm to feed to something.

PS. Surprise.

Wesley said...

I played Twilight Princess on the GCN but have heard good things about both versions. I agree with lord it does start out slow and for older gamers you just want to jump into the thick of things. Maybe an option to skip the opening tutorial would be better for some.

Loved the small reviews on this post and I personally loved GoW2 and enjoy reading Cory's and your blog please keep up the good work!

Jesper said...

I agree completely about Twilight Princess. I mean come on; didn't Nintendo think we'd notice the completely fubar control system? I love the Wii, but there are seriously NO real games for it. Not one, perhaps Paper Mario will be the first but the bottom line is Nintendo is just doing the same thing again. In house games, no third party, a weak lineup. Bet you a dollar PS3 will brake it before the end of 2008?

By the way, GoW 2 is simply an amazing game.

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