Friday, August 3, 2007

Small pink bundle of fun

Time has flown by the last couple of months. After my initial burst of enthusiasm for blogging real life got in the way. Or to be more exact, a small pink bundle of fun got in the way!

My son was born on May 24th ... and all that crap that people with no kids laugh at about it totally changing your life turns out to be completely true. I have gone from having trouble getting up at 8:30am to go to work, to managing 4am feedings with relative ease.

I have been working at Sony for a long time now, 8.5 years. All that crunching on GOW for the last 5 years or so meant I had a lot of holiday saved up. So I was lucky enough to take 6 weeks or so off to spend with my S.O. and our new son. Its the longest time I have had away from working, or even thinking about work in a very long time. It was really nice. I have developed the art of playing video games while he sleeps on me. It does pretty much rule out playing Wii games or anything that actually uses the Sixaxis. I bet no designers considered that scenario when designing control mechanics!

Heres a quick list of games I played over the last couple of months:-


Tomb Raider Legend - Excellent update. I always though Tomb Raider was rather overrated, with the exception of the first one. I know that Toby Guard was a consultant on this one so I have no idea if that is what helped .... obviously it takes way more than one person to make a great game. They introduced lot of nice little button mechanics to make moving around faster. Some nice puzzles. The combat still sucks balls, but it was an enjoyable game.

Guitar Hero II - These guys hit the motherlode and its made them deservedly rich. I never was really interested in being in a band or anything like that when I was a kid. But this game just makes me laugh when I play it. Really pretty awesome. As soon as it moves to 5 buttons though, I am screwed. I would appear to have no real dexterity!

Motor Storm - Kind of pretty racer, nice physics on the crashes ... for the first few times.... then I was just mashing the button wanting it to be over. The load times are excruciating though, I have a thing about long loads. They pretty much stopped me going back after a couple of hours of playing it.

Splinter Cell: DA - I got a free copy of this from a buddy, Meh .... its Splinter Cell. Nothing to see ... here move along...

Catan - Used to play this as a board game with friends. Its a good conversion of the game. But the AI, even on hard, was laughably easy to beat. I tried to play on Live but the whole thing was completely flaky and you were usually playing against AI within 5 mins since everyone had been dropped.... Not a great experience.

Command and Conquer 3 - I never played a RTS on console before since up to now the screen resolutions were really not up to it and this is the kind of game that really needs a mouse. It took me a while to get used to the control scheme and it certainly never was as good as on a PC, but overall I did think this was pretty good. The graphics and gameplay were well up to par, but it saddens me that EA probably paid all those trendy TV show stars a fair amount of money to do a really lame acting job for the cut-scenes.

Pacman CE
- I would never have guessed that you could update Pacman and while keeping it essentially the same game, make me get totally hooked on it for a week. Very nice update, really as good as everyone says. I think I will get my son to play this ina a couple of years.

Xevious - I bought this in a fit of nostalgia ... and I should have just left it as a memory. Once I had bought it I remembered that I stopped playing it as soon as Xenon came out shortly later...

The Darkness - I am really getting pretty tired of FPS games .. but this managed to bring some cool story telling devices and cool visuals. Given my distaste for loading screens, I thought hiding them behind little character monologues was an effective way to go. Some of the models and dialogue were pretty good, but the lip-sync was horrible. I really like the stealth tentacle mode and it was pretty fun to pin people from 30 feet away.

Super Stardust HD - A really good PSN shooter. A modern day asteroids. Its the best shooter I have played since Geometry Wars with the same .... Must beat my friends highscores..... thing that GW had going for it.

Overlord - Nice game, sort of Dungeon Keeper meets Pikmin. I read some mixed reviews but I thinks its one of the more original games thats been out on 360. I am really enjoying it. The Gremlins things have really amusing personality.


On the God of War front, various people from the team including me are keeping an eye on the PSP game, doing our best to ensure its in the spirit of the games we have made at Santa Monica. The PSP version is being handled by Ready at Dawn and I had the chance to play the demo this week, the same one you could register for a while back. We always spent a lot of time making sure our PS2 demos were gonna hook you in and the RAD team has certainly done a fantastic job of staying true to that. I really couldn't believe some of the stuff they are making that little PSP do. They nailed the controls now, it felt like GOW, looked like it .... awesome. I was so happy to see it.

Alright, nuff crap, I will try and not wait 3 months for the next post.