5. January, 2010

A lot has been said about this game (official website, 9.2 on IGN). I’ve played the demo and I liked it but the handling was a bit overwhelming in the demo, so I didn’t buy it right away. Now, it’s out in the platinums series and I must admit, the game is better than the demo. The handling is pretty good except when you try to rain death and pain on your enemies from the corner of a building: The corner is in the way too often. While it’s smart of the enemies to clump in your dead angle, in the real world, I’d just extend my arm over the edge and deal some blind damage.

But the other things work well. Cole jumps well, clings to edges, pipes and cables as if he was Spiderman. A 100m sheer drop is met with a tumble and Cole is on his feet again. Walking electric cables is fun and it’s great fun when you learn to glide them. Especially since they charge you up so you can really dish out. When you get to protect a box with medicine, the best place is on the cables above the area where you hail wrath and worse on the mortals below.

With time, you’ll learn several ways to deal damage which, used in strategic ways, will make the game a piece of cake. Taking enemies down will get you positive points, killing them (especially when they are already down) gives you negative score. Helping people gives you positive score, hurting them reduces your score. Just as in real life, your score doesn’t stop at 0 but can go bad. Really bad. Bad as in people running away from your shadow, gathering in mobs and throwing stones at you. Or they can become your fans, hurl stones at your enemies when they attack you and ask to you spend the night with them (an offer which you can’t accept).

Just like in Black and White, you decide to become a superhero or a supervillain. If you go the good route, your powers will be more controlled. If you go evil, mass destruction is your toy.

On top of that, we have a nice, complex background story which keeps things together. The side missions aren’t too thrilling but it’s a lot of fun to jump off and on buildings, scale walls, sheds, cars, train tracks. The enemies don’t just stand there but try to take cover, they disperse when you jump them from above like an angry thunder cloud. There are various parties involved, each trying to sell their own version of the truth. It’s moving when a group of policemen salute you after helping to arrest a gang member who killed one of them. To gain control over the city, the gangs turned off the power and your vision becomes blurred when you have to go into such an area.

Recommendation: Buy.

R&C Future: A Crack In Time

16. November, 2009

Ah, I like those long game titles. Anyone remembering Leisure Suite Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards? I have a feeling that a title says something about a game. If they care about the title, they care about the game.

Anyway, it’s jump, run and shooting time. Shooting with anything you can imagine and sometimes with things that you couldn’t imagine before. There’s a burp gun, a rocket launcher called “Negotiator”, a robot sidekick called Mr. Zurkon (always complaining that it can’t shoot at the innocent). I like its remarks. “Mr. Zurkon doesn’t need no pesky nanotec to survive, Mr. Zurkon lives from fear.”

Game levels are as colorful and nice as ever. Especially the Great Clock looks awesome with it’s red and gold and reflections. Ratchet finally has some fur on his ears. The levels are also pretty short, there are tons of mini-games, you can go hunt for Zoni’s to upgrade your ship, or Gold Bolts or upgrades for your weapons. Old time fans of the series will find all the good stuff again, like weapons that get better as you use them, pixel precise jumping sequences, there is an arena, and funny comments by the ton. Game play is fluent. I wished more game companies would take care of my time like Insomniac does: While the game installs on the HD, you get to see a long into movie which sets the scene. Two thumbs up for that.

The new stuff is that you can actually fly around space a bit, shoot asteroids for fun (and some bolts), play the main story or idle in some side levels. There are levels for the die hard jump’n’run people and shooter levels. And when I say “die hard”, I mean it. I’m not that bad at R&C but I’ve had to use the skip option once. Some of Clank’s jump sequences in the Big Clock are insanely hard. I must’ve died a hundred times in there. The logic puzzles are usually more simple on the “jump” side but it takes some brainpower to run yourself four times through a level, timing the switching of buttons just right to get all your copied through. And in time. Luckily, you can skip a puzzle. 95% for that one. For 100%, there should have been a way to revisit a puzzle to try it again.

All in all, they kept the great stuff and added a couple of nice, new features. The individual levels are short but plenty, so you can save often or take a break, and won’t have to start all over again.

Recommendation: Buy.

Goodbye Fallout 3

11. November, 2009

I made a mistake. A big mistake. I admit it. I shouldn’t have. I still did. I bought the game officially in a store. Sorry. Won’t happen again. Bethesda is now on my “Don’t Buy” list and Sony is close.

What happened. A year ago, I bought Fallout 3 in a shop. It’s a German uncut version. I’d actually preferred the cut version; the splatter effect is probably some nice piece of FX code but blood doesn’t give me much. Can’t have that. I’m in Switzerland and I can’t do as I please. On top of that, it seems my shop sold me the Austrian version. It’s German, too, but different. Somehow. I don’t know. I’m just a stupid gamer. The main difference is that when I buy the addons in Sony’s PSN, then I get something that doesn’t work with my game. Because I must have the Swiss version. Since I’m in Switzerland. And I bought the game in Switzerland. And I have a Swiss PSN account. I think. I don’t know. I’m just a stupid gamer.

So what happens is that I have an illegal copy of the game. Illegal as in “if you’re in Switzerland”. Why Bethesda decided to produce three German versions? I don’t know. I’m just a stupid gamer. I don’t need to know such things. Why were the DLCs available for months for Xbox but not for PS3? I don’t know. Why did everyone say that the DLCs would never come to the PS3? I don’t know. Maybe it was because Bethesda knew what would happen. Or maybe Sony treats them like their customers. I don’t know.

The net result is that I have a game which I can’t upgrade (at least not without illegally creating an Austrian account on PSN). I probably can’t buy the GOTY Editition without loosing my save games. I don’t know for sure. I’m not sure I care anymore. My blood pressure raises when I only see the game box. I buy games to relax, not to heap more problems on my plate. I don’t care who is responsible for this crap. I don’t understand why it’s more cheap for Sony to put some text in the game description (“Don’t buy this unless you have BLES-00399”) instead of checking the list of installed games. It’s also sad that Switzerland doesn’t have any laws to protect customers who buy over the Internet. Sony can put anything in the rules of the PSN and I can only weep. I can’t even sell or ebay things I buy on PSN.

Makes me wonder what happens should I ever have to move back to Germany. Will I have to buy all my games again? Or will Sony be nice and allow me to keep my Swiss PSN account even though I’ll lose my Swiss credit card? Maybe they’ll expect me to live close to the border, so I can still buy games. Or carry the PS3 over, hook it up to PSN via my mobile phone, so I can update the games I bought.

Some more frustration: Fallout 3 has left about 600 save games on my harddisk. It would take me approx. 24 hours to delete them (it’s a process that involves pressing eight buttons in the correct sequence).

Or how about this: I bought a Sony LCD TV because the PS3 can talk to my media server. I was naively assuming that the TV would work just like the console. Well, it doesn’t. I can watch photos and videos on my PS3 but not directly on the TV.

Well done. For some reason, Xbox and Wii sell better than the PS3. I wonder why. The PS3 looks so much better!

Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3)

24. August, 2009

Even for the many definitions of fun. For example, there is a new game “Batman: Arkham Asylum”. I was really hesitant to download the demo. And then, I was hesitant to install it. Why? Because the trailer gave me the impression “another super hero beat ’em up”.

Okay, the in game cut scenes look great. Clothes have texture and the outline of the characters doesn’t reveal the 17-poly mesh. During the demo, it quickly becomes evident that a lot of resources went into the combat scenes where Batman does move pretty smart. You select a general direction and the type of attack and the Bat will do some serious damage. It feels like you actually control someone who spent years training martial arts, not some stuffed puppet. Using the grappling hook works like charm, even without much aiming. It’s enough to be close one of the gargoyles and it’ll work like a charm. Well … gargoyles in the building? Anyway.

That changes when you start walking around the compound. Here, the stuffed puppet is back. You can run which makes things better but the walk cycle looks really unbelievable. Did you know that Batman can’t jump? Maybe it’s because of the heavy belt? Or the muscles are all part of the suit’s armor? No climbing either. If you don’t have something where your grappling hook can attach to, you can’t even climb on a chair.

But what I was most afraid of: “The world’s greatest detective.” Remember? After taking the first round of inmates down, I almost gave up on the game. Only it does get better. There is something called “detective mode” which highlights interesting features around you (like enemies, things you can use your grappling hook on, etc). So after the short scene with Victor, the game turns into something that resembles Metal Gear Solid. Not bad. While you can try to take down everyone with a gun, you probably shouldn’t. Just as in reality, when you beat up one out of five people, four will start shooting you in the back.

There is still hope.

Good Games for the PS3

11. October, 2008

I’ve recently upgraded to a PlayStation 3. I kept my old PS2, though, since the new PS3 can’t emulate the PS2. I wonder why that is … maybe it’s because Sony is still selling so many PS2’s? Ah, rumors 🙂 Easy to create and hard to kill.

So what good games are there? Here is my list:

  • Burnout Paradise City
  • PixelJunk Eden
  • Ratchet & Clank – Tools of Destruction
  • Flow

Burnout Paradise City

Mindless street racing with a high adrenaline level. Ideal to waste a couple of minutes or an hour. Great graphics, no blood, no violence (it’s more like auto scooter) and nice ideas like smashing ads or the super jumps. If you don’t like some events (haven’t managed to win a single race, yet. I excel at kicking other cars off the street), you can simply ignore them and still complete enough of the game to have fun.

PixelJunk Eden

A definitive feel of Tarzan or Spiderman when you want to relax a bit. Simple, fitting graphics, no violence, no agression. All that and at the price it’s a steal.

Ratchet & Clank – Tools of Destruction

My favorite jump’n’run. Lots of insane weapons, Ratchet’s ears look great on the PS3, the story has more depth than usual; not sure I like the depressive realization at the end, though. Judge for yourself.


Like Eden, it’s a brand new kind of game. One of a kind. I play that when I want to come down from all the stress in my life. Go get it!

Bad games

I’ve got a couple of other games. First, we have the Orange Box with Half Life 2, two of the extra episodes, Portal and Team Fortress. I liked the puzzles in Portal. That games was much too short. I didn’t like Half Life 2 much and I hate the episodes. The story was great, the levels gigantic and intelligent. You could almost always find a way around without getting killed. But the handling … Freeman feels like a block of wood when you move him through the levels: You’ll get stuck all the time at hand rails and stuff like that. Sometimes, he’ll be able to jump on something, sometimes not. Sometimes, he’ll stay on top of a barrel, sometimes not. This sucks. And then those stupid zombie levels. Yeah, I’m stuck in the elevator scene in the first episode. Got killed five times in the dark and now, the games goes where it belongs: The trash.

Resistance – Fall of Man. I like the other games by Insomniac and I like this one, too. It’s just too violent for my taste. I like shooting pixels or push empty cars off the street or zoom down a highway at break-neck speed. I don’t like shooting at people. I finished the game but it left me asking: Is that all? Running around, shooting people, blow up stuff? Is that the result of many years of game evolution? Better graphics?

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Oh well. Okay, the levels look great. When you scale the wall of the castle, there is a sense of vertigo. It’s breath taking. The jeep escape is a lot of fun. Smart story (mostly). The game character moves smart. You press a button and he takes cover. He’s smart, not a dead puppet like Freeman. He moves as if he was real. Again the violence cooled me off quickly. Too much killing, not enough puzzles.