Spider-Man PS4

16. September, 2018
Spider-Man is currently one of the best and worst games for the PS4. Visually, it’s stunning. Swinging through the city is amazing. Different city parts are replicated in great detail, people are going to work, hailing taxis, using the tube. Missions are varied and complex. You get the collect air samples, detox areas, fight infections of animals, help the police with crime and tech problems. Well done, Insomniac. But. The fights. I’m playing on “friendly” (the easiest game mode) and I die about every 30 seconds in a fight. Enemies surround me and dead. I mash all the buttons but after some minutes of pure frustration, I abort the mission because I clearly can’t do it. No, I’m not talking about the boss fights, I’m talking about the usual street brawls. Apparently Spidey has tons of moves but he stumbles around like a drunk cat, collecting all the bullets, always getting stuck somewhere, L2+R2 rarely finds a target and if it does, they just shot me down from a distance. In Batman games, you could hide in a corner and collect your wits, not so here. I hit an enemy while someone else bludgeons my head with an iron while two or three colleagues use their machine guns on me and I die in a nice exploding cloud of a rocket. While I try to wrestle a gun from an enemy, his 20 friends clobber me dead. I stay in a place for more than 2 seconds, dead. Another problem with the button combos: They don’t work and you have no clue why not. The game displays the combo to press and … nothing happens. You press the evade button during a fight, nothing happens. You press L1+R1 to pick up something to throw, you get interrupted. Or nothing happens. I’ve played a lot of Insomniac games in the past. Ratchet & Clank. Resistance. I can finish most of them. I finished Andromeda. Many Batman games. That’s why I think it’s not me, it’s the game. On top of that, it creates this fake urgency – you can complete most missions at your leisure, no matter how panicked the voices are. So. If you like to be frustrated, if you love to learn 50 button combinations just to advance to the next level, the game is for you. For everyone else, wait for the play-through on Youtube.

Like SciFi and a good laugh?

14. January, 2011

Get both.


Pratchett: Unseen Academicals

9. August, 2010

Just finished the book. One of the amazing things about Pratchett is that he keeps getting better. Other authors eventually level out but Terry keeps on trying new things. This time it’s football and, how a friend of mine once said, a “dramödie” (from drama and Kömodie – comedy) revolving around Mr. Nutt. So like in “Nation”, the story has some depth and not only laughs. Well done.

Recommendation: Buy.


Avatar

28. April, 2010

I just shut down my PS3 after watching Avatar (Blue Ray disk). Technically, the film is great. The plants, nature, everything looks just amazing. As had been said before, the story is pretty obvious and I was disappointed that there were no surprises at all (except for Pandora’s wildlife).

For example, they should have switched bodies before the attack. When the madman crashes the container, the vaults should have been empty.

The next thing I was hoping for was a surprise attack against the base while all the air support is elsewhere, using some kind of trick to avoid the satellites.

The only reason that I can think of for such a shallow script is that the director didn’t want to drag any attention from the fantastic nature shots. The flight scenes are grand, the surroundings look incredible detailed and believable. If there is an animal, it’s not just some puppet; it moves, it flows, it breathes. This guy found much better words than I:

… about 30 minutes in to the film, you realize that the marketing has undersold the movie. In an era when every great moment of a film makes its way to a trailer, Avatar surprised me with an endless amount of unparalleled optical overload.

Recommendation: Must see. Twice.


Glasshouse

8. April, 2010

I just finished reading Glasshouse by Charles Stross.

The book was advertised as the next great thing and it was a nice read. Charles definitely did think a lot of things through like what you will be able to do when you can manipulate matter to the atomic level. As in “manipulate the mind.” We know drugs can change how your brain works but how about you can modify each and every molecule of your brain?

In these terms, the book is a good read. People can backup themselves and if you get killed, you can suddenly find yourself in an odd situation because you don’t knew what happened just that something must have gone wrong. As we software specialists say: Backup early and often.

Overall, I like the book and the presented ideas. Some things don’t seem to make sense but eventually, all puzzles are resolved (with the exception why Robin suddenly wakes up elsewhere; my guess is that he got killed after signing the contract but I’d have expected a message from the people running the experiment in this case which explains the situation to poor Robin).

There is just one glaring bug: The bad guys left a really powerful device in a place where the protagonist has pretty much unlimited, unsupervised access. I understand that high level surveillance wasn’t allowed by the rules of the game at this place but a simple switch which sends a signal “trapdoor is open” would have been more than enough. Of course, the story wouldn’t have worked anymore. Oh well. If you can ignore this, you’re in for some fresh SciFi ideas.

Also, Charles likes deus-ex-machina, so you’ll have several situations where the heroes are in a deadly trap and suddenly, you learn that they did plan for this situation and they get away. Acceptable once or twice but not that often.

Recommendation: Consider to 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.


Management Is The Art of Choosing What Not To Do

23. July, 2008

From Rands in Repose: “… management is the art of choosing what not to do …”

If you want to know more about management told in a way an engineer can understand, consider Rands’ book “Managing Humans“.