Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Top Five Games 2008

In no particular order.

1. Fallout 3 (All systems)


I don't think it beats ES: Oblivion, but it's certainly left a deep impression on me. But it's a really good RPG with a lot of content, interesting questlines and a lot of interesting locations to explore within the game.




2. Final Fantasy Tactics A2 (NDS)

Without a doubt, this was the best portable tactics game for me. With such a variety of classes and skills to play around with, beautiful maps and a good challenge (minus the annoying old law system of the previous), this is a tactics game I would keep going back to as long as the NDS exists.


3. Spore (PC)

The unique thing about this game is not that it is trying to teach anyone evolution or science, it is that you can create your own creature and direct what it will look like, how it will behave and its fate. It's fun to watch them grow and change. You can look at this game in many ways -- it is a creature design tool, it can be be a strategy game, it can be a game where you just want to make a most adorable creature, or a most destructive pet. Just don't take it seriously.

And that DRM the publishers insist on putting in, an unfortunate bitter bit in an otherwise good candy basket.

4. Condemned 2 (Xbox 360/PS3)

A really violent beat-em-up. If we have Streets of Rage today, it should be played like this. This horror survival adventure had some memorable moments, for me it was the bear chase and that ride on the barge that can induce sea-sickness in your living room.



5. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (All systems)

There's very few FPS games based on modern day scenarios and this makes this a unique gaming experience. I've said it before here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

What it is about us

From Kotaku: Singapore Recruiters Not Avoiding WoW Players

A story last week recalled an incident involving job recruiters purposely avoiding World of Warcraft players due to their potential negligence. This is not a problem in Singapore, however, as GMP Group — a recruiting firm — has reportedly not had any clients turn down WoW playing candidates.

Annie Yap, chief executive officer, said that while they're aware gaming addiction can be a problem, Singaporeans are generally "more pragmatic in thinking and attitude" and won't allow gaming to interfere with their work.


Thoughts

1. We do know that if we don't have job, we're not going to able to afford playing WoW or whatever game we like all weekend. If you are kid, you know from constant nagging, from just about everyone, that you can't have a good life here if you don't work towards a future with a good paying job. It pretty much sums things up to say there's nothin' we hate more than not matching up to our peers and/or not having enough money. Speaking in general, of course.

2. I think the Singaporean Employer doesn't know enough about MMORPGs to be panicky about their potential effects. Besides, due to long working hours or long school days (due to reasons and attitudes above), gaming addiction is not such a big problem here, perhaps not yet anyway.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Because I can't believe my eyes...


Is that really Steven Irwin on the cover or just someone who looks like him?


With all due respect, it seems to be a little weird to have a picture of a deceased person for a new game's box.

Also out for the PC.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf

The Witcher for consoles. Coming Fall 2009.

Rune Factory 2 (continuing play)



The game starts off easy with totally unlocked tool features, then you progress on with the pleasantness of getting your character to fall in love, get married, have a kid and then the game progress to have you play as the child of the initial character. This is when all the tools become the awful unupgraded ('rusty' or 'old') states. I have to say, that at least the story makes enough sense to have the player accept this.

In all previous harvest moon games and the previous Rune Factory, the farm tools always start off as lousy, then you have to have them upgraded. (Upgraded tools like the watercan, can water up to nine squares on a full charge, or the upgraded hammer can be used to destroy larger boulders on the crop fields that can't be removed by an un-upgraded one.)

This is an unexpected turn. Not that it makes the game very different the past ones, but it is an interesting change. Miles better than the disasterous Island of Happiness.

Ref:
Rune Factory 2 initial impression

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Call of Duty 4 - Why it is great (post-play)


For many of us, one of the main reasons why we game is to experience what most of us most likely won't or can't experience in real life. And to experience these unique situations, from the safety of one's living room couch.

There's very few games in the market that can deliver the kind of experiences that COD4 has.

In this game, I have had a taste of what it's like to be a sniper, to feel how slow time is when you are hiding prone in the grass while enemies walk by mere millimeters from landing a boot on you and finding you there; to experience a little of what it's like to take off from enemy ground in a helicopter, relieved that help came just in time before one is nearly overwhelmed, to spot the enemy and radio for fire from the sky.

I know it's nothing like the real thing, it's more like a hero fantasy of the real thing. It's still very exciting.

COD4's superb graphics, realistic environments and the excellent and exciting storyline made this game a real joy to play. The controls are really intuitive, the AI teammates are competent and the enemies are realistically careful to a certain extent and properly brutal. It's hard to put down and every new chapter and map amazes.

I hope they make another modern warfare shooter soon.


Update 04/12/2008: Looks like they will.

The Jasper Xbox360: question mark.

When I read this article, it sounds to me like they aren't sure whether or not they have fixed the problem of the "red ring of death".

VentureBeat reporter and renowned Microsoft digger Dean Takahashi has said that the new 'Jasper' version of Xbox 360 hardware could do away with the Red Ring of Death forever.

Jasper introduces a 65nm version of the graphics chip among other tweaks. "With the new design, Microsoft has a chance to rise above the problems associated with the Red Ring of Death," Takahashi wrote, then hedging: "We'll see if the systems prove reliable."

"The graphics chip will likely consume less power than previous versions, allowing it to fit snugly into its motherboard socket. That should lead to fewer system failures due to the graphics chips coming loose."

- source: Eurogamer.

Rune Factory 2 (DS)



Initial impressions:

- Lots of improvement on the controls.

- I like how you can see how much water you've got left in your watercan and in charging up the water can, you can see the effect of the charge up and how many squares you can water. The farming aspect seems easier. But starting items at stores seem more expensive.

- There's now a "quest bulletin board" in the game, where the player can take on requests and do some missions to earn items, gold and friendship points.

- Some of the characters in town are actually interesting and not the generic plastic "nice country town folk" types.

- You start out with a fully furnished house with a shelf and a fridge for storing items.

- Dungeons are no longer restricted to being caves. They are open from the start although certain paths within these adventure areas are only unlocked after some stages of the game.

- Holidays are all on "weekends" and never fall on weekdays anymore, it seems.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

DSi Features (IGN Youtube)




It looks like a beta.

- The camera is for taking face photos.

- It seems like a bad idea to remove the GBA slot when some DS games like Guitar Hero uses that slot for the peripheral.

- Manipulating music seems like fun, but really, can't play MP3s? Hm... Still an SD card slot might mean that the DSI takes homebrew? Don't know.


I wouldn't be surprised if half a year or a year from now, a second and improved version comes along.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Call of Duty World at War Collector's Edition


Seems to be only available for PC and Xbox360 versions. (Not sure about it for the PS3)

Includes:

- Day 1 Edge (a machine gun FG-42 to be available for play immediately)
- Double Experience (multiplayer feature of some sort)
- canteen (not intended for drinking) (that's what is stated by the makers, not me.)
- metal tin (a storage container for games I think).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Far Cry 2 gameplay video

Impressive looking game.

The video is not mine. It's from here.

Fallout 3


Finished the main quest line at 18 hrs 19mins. Now it's time to start some new characters to play the side quests. I did take up side quests in my first playthrough, but I hadn't work at it to finish them.

My thoughts now that I've really played through the game:

Good

1. I like the way this game dispenses experience points. EXP should be task-based and you should be able to assign points the way you want when you level up. It's so much better than Oblivion or Morrowind's system of autoleveling skills that you use.

2. The environment is really immersive and believable. It's great how objects fit into the environment so well that they don't jump out at you when you walk into a room. Secret entrances are really secret, they are not so obvious and not marked on your screen compass. (Oblivion's wonderful compass in which caves show up before you even see them is a real surprise spoiler, I'm glad they didn't implement that in this game.)

The compass points you in the general direction, the world map suggests a route but not always the best one. I find myself having to make choices on how to get through a landscape. Sometimes you think you might be taking a short cut but you might stumble into a camp of supermutants or a dead end. That just adds to the sense of exploration.

3. No scaling up of creature levels as you level. It doesn't feel like they have levels. But there are different levels of threat for each encounter type. The more remote and the further you explore, the more likely you will encounter the more dangerous types of raiders or mutants, or creatures. That's the way it should be, imho.


Not so great

1. Once or twice, the game does try to force you to do things a certain way by restricting where you can go. It really doesn't make sense that you can't get through a certain door, or lock pick or access a terminal just because your stats aren't high enough. Or because you don't have a key. If I have a gun and the lock looks like it can be shot through, I should be able to do it. But oh well, you don't have key, so you can't get through this rundown shed door. o_0

2. Graphical glitches and weirdness. It's funny when some characters don't walk but glide around like they are wearing roller blades. Textures sometimes vanish when one enters a certain area.

3. Characters and NPCs say lines that are clearly from the other game. "You honor us with your presence." Not a big deal, but I just don't expect Fallout world people to say things like that.



Things to do next:

- Create an evil character to play a slaver or a raider-type scoundrel.
- Thoroughly explore every inch of the Fallout 3 map.
- I've gotta find that dog.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Is the PSP game release list that pathetic?

Compare this PSP list with DS list, for US and Europe releases.

I'm just wondering what is going on here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mechanic Master DS


Mechanic Master is a gem of a puzzle title.

Basically, you are being shown something like a technical machine diagram of sorts. There are "aliens" placed around that you have to destroy or remove from the given puzzle layout. You given some objects that you can place, or the ability to draw lines and portals. After you're done placing your objects or drawing in your solution, you can press the play button and see if you did it right.

There's quite a wide array of objects to play with. There's no fixed solution to a problem. Sometimes, just by experimenting, you can come up with a solution without using all the objects given to you. There's no time limit and it's really interesting. One can get so into it trying to find solutions to each puzzle.

I'm not crazy about the "drawing" puzzles though, but I really love the puzzles like the one shown in the pic above.

It doesn't win on graphics or sound, or even story, but it's one of those games that can make you miss your bus-stop.

By the way, it also comes with an editor so you can design your own mechanical teasers to share with your friends.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Call of Duty: World at War DS

The handheld version is rated "T" for teens.


Call of Duty: World at War

Another hit. And gamers are broke from the sheer amount of great games this past couple of weeks as it is...

Watch this trailer of COD: World at War which demonstrates the destructive action you can experience.



Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fallout 3 first impressions after a few hours of play

The world of fallout 3 is huge. The environment is well designed and makes you believe that you are playing in a post-nuclear landscape. It is really dreary and full of ruin.

There are lots of locations to discover and explore. The character models however, appearance and animation-wise, leaves much to be desired. (Luckily, you never have to look at your own 'face', unless you play him or her in 3rd and you probably won't.) As with Bethesda Soft's Elder Scrolls series, character customization decisions are important to your game and you have lots of options - stats, weapons and skills specializations and perks.

It is a harsh world with very dangerous enemies. It is a challenging game right from the start. It takes a while to get use to the gun combat, and it is pretty good. The VATS system (which is basically for more precise aiming) is pretty good, however it is limited by your action points.

There's lot of things to do. Expect to be swamped in many optional quests within a few hours (like I am right now). I love how one of my first optional quests seem mundane at first and then develops into a really interesting side story.

Update: There aren't that many side quests as compared to the Elder Scroll games, but the side quests are now designed in such a way that accomplishing one goal leads to another. A side quest is not just a simple do-it-and-done thing in this game but an actually well-crafted adventure made of several related quests, one leading to another.

Note:
It's going to take a while before one can come to a real conclusion on whether the game is as good as the hype. I have to admit, I was so looking forward to playing this game and now that it is here, I'm really happy and excited about exploring this new Fallout.

Brothers-In-Arms: Hell's Highway

Here's the clip on the realism of BIA: Hell's Highway.

I have to say, impressive looking environments.

(Warning: video contains animated violence and gore from the game.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saints Row 2

I'm finding this game more fun than Grand Thief Auto series. (The two are very similar as many reviews and previews have mentioned.) I kinda gave up on GTA after Vice City. I didn't even get GTAIV because I knew I would be awful with that game. I just don't have the patience for those story missions.

Saints Row 2 doesn't match up to a lot of games in terms of graphics. It actually looks like a PS2 game. I'm reminded of Vice City but who cares, this is more fun and less serious (less hardcore if you like). It's very arcade like and easy to just pick and play anytime, which is what I like as well.

The other thing to like is that there are lots of options for customizing your character's appearance, style and even his "crib" can be upgraded with nicer decor and furniture. Once you start making more money, you can buy better looking clothes and maybe even a nicer crib in nicer neighborhood.

More Sim City 4

Here's a new city I started just today.


Look at the grounds of that house in middle!


Somebody got murdered.


My statue.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Finally found a copy of SimCity 4

...for the Mac. It's coupled with Rush Hour.

I just love watching all those zones get filled up with buildings and activity. It's a really beautiful game.



Growing a city is pretty easy, it's managing the money that is a real pain.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

LittleBigPlanet


What terrifyingly expensive overlook!

Sony has confirmed that it is delaying the release of LittleBigPlanet and recalling the game from retailers worldwide because it has identified "two expressions that can be found in the Qu'ran" in one of the background songs.

The publisher has told Eurogamer that this means every copy of the game currently with retail in the world will be recalled and replaced, and retailers have started notifying customers of the hold-up.

"During the review process prior to the release of LittleBigPlanet, it has been brought to our attention that one of the background music tracks licensed from a record label for use in the game contains two expressions that can be found in the Qur'an," Sony said in a short statement.

Source: Eurogamer

Game will be out next week. I don't know if I want to get it. My PS3 is not connected to network, kinda makes this game (which is about mainly about being creative and making levels for sharing) a waste of money if I don't intent to connect.

Too many games up for play:

- Saint's Row 2

- Brother in Arms 3

- Fallout 3 (coming the week after)

- Dead Space


And I'm not finished with most of the games I have at the moment yet!



Sunday, October 12, 2008

More of my Spore Buildings

More fun with the builder.






































Saturday, October 11, 2008

Diablo III : Wizard Class revealed

The spell effects look awesome. I'm getting goosebumps just watching this.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Nintendo DSi Region Lock

Yep.
Source: GameAxis
Let me clarify this in a few points, because point forms are easy on the eyes:

- Yes, you can run American DS games like Diner Dash on your new Japanese Nintendo DSi
- No, you cannot run an American DSi game on your new Japanese Nintendo DSi
- No, you cannot run Doki Doki Majo Shinpan 3: Snapshot Lecher Edition (a possible game for the DSi) on your American Nintendo DSi
- No, you cannot run a downloaded Rhythm Tengoku (probably from the soon-to-come GBA download service) onto your American Nintendo DSi
- No, you cannot run future emulators and ROMs you don't own using your newly-acquired 4GB SD card on your new Nintendo DSi. Technically, you can, but that's just criminal and many shades of wrong
Annoying since one is used to not having to care about regions when buying games for the NDS. I think they should have made it like the PSP games, where games are region free and media like movies and music are region locked.

Tokyo Game Show 2008 - 9-12 October

A list of some of the games to be showcased at this year's Tokyo Game Show:

By Square-Enix:


PS3
Final Fantasy XIII, 2009 Release, Trailer
Final Fantasy Versus XIII, TBA, Trailer
Kingdom Hearts III, TBA, Announcement

PSP
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep 2009 Release, Trailer, Demo
Kingdom Hearts Coded, Winter 2008, Trailer
Final Fantasy Agito XIII, TBA, Trailer
DISSIDIA Final Fantasy, 12/18/08, Trailer, Demo
The 3rd Birthday, TBA, Trailer (Yes, this IS the Parasite Eve game)

Xbox 360
The Last Remnant, 11/20/08, Undecided
Star Ocean 4, Spring 2009, Undecided

Nintendo Wii
Chocobo and the Magic Picture Book Winter 2008, Trailer, Demo
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, TBA

Nintendo DS
Chrono Trigger, 11/27/08, Trailer
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Winter 2008, Trailer, Demo
Valkyrie Profile, 10/30/08, Trailer, Demo
Dragon Quest IX, 2008 Release, Trailer
Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon DS+, 10/30/08, Trailer, Demo


Sony:

PS3
Guitar Hero: Legends of Rock
FIFA 09 World Class Soccer
Street Fighter IV
Resident Evil 5
Lumines Super Nova
Metal Gear Online
Way of the Samurai 3
Sonic World Adventure
SOCOM: Confrontation
PlayStation Home
Mainichi Issho
MotorStorm 2
LittleBigPlanet
Resistance 2
WWE 2009 SmackDown vs RAW
Gundam Musou 2
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm

PSP
Sengoku BASARA: Battle Heroes
Shin Sangoku Musou: MULTI RAID
Musou OROCHI: Maou Sairin
KINGDOM HEARTS Birth by Sleep
DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY
Clank & Ratchet: Maru Hi Mission Ignition!
Sarugetchu Pipo-Saru Senki
Patapon 2 Donchaka
BLEACH ~Soul Carnival~
Mainichi Issho Portable
Yuusha no Kuse ni Namaikida or2
LocoRoco 2
THE iDOLM@STER SP
Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam vs. Gundam
Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology 2


And many more. The more complete list here.

Age of Empires: Mythologies DS

Why didn't they just call it Age of Mythology? Has the same three factions and pretty much the same cover design.


Monday, October 6, 2008

My Spore Buildings

I didn't care much for the civ and space modes in Spore, but the creator is really fun to play around with and just build cool stuff. Here's two that I made during the weekend.












The first is an entertainments building, the second one is a residential building (which is inspired by the buildings in the estate where I'm living in.)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I want!

Populous DS -- there is such a thing. Looks like a European release at the moment.

Gaming Age has a review.



I must ask my local store if they are getting this!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Official Nintendo announcement out: DSi

There is a new DS afterall.

Improvements and addition are as follows:

1. Bigger Screens
2. Camera
3. SD Memory Card Slot
4. Browser + DSi Shop
5. Audio Enhancements

(taken from blog article at GameAxis.)

Also, the GBA slot will be gone in this new model.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New DS by the end of the year?

Reports surface that a new ds will be available in Japan by the end of the year. It will come with new features like camera function, music playback and improved wireless functions.

Pretty quick of them to have out a new DS when DS lite came out not so long ago. [Update] Or so I thought. Apparently it's just speculation and rumor, because Nintendo has denied the reports.


[And if there is a new one coming up within the next year or so,]Of course one doesn't need it to have it the day it gets released. The new functions don't seem that attractive to me. I don't really care for cameras or wireless functions, although mp3 functions will be nice. If the ds has a camera, I probably won't be able to take it work anymore (security blahblahblah).

Just like PSP slim, the loading times of the games don't bother me that much, so I don't find the need to get the slim yet. And there are rumors of a new PSP in the making as well. Of course, I would like to have it if I have too much money (or if it's a prize in a lucky draw).

I will find irresistible if it came with an in-build FM tuner. I'm wish for one on the next psp.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Last King of Africa DS

Trailer for another upcoming adventure game:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Spore Videos



Above - Just a video clip on tribe life.

Fun stuff. I've advanced my creatures from Tribe to Civilization stage. I have to say that I don't quite like the Civ stage, and I probably won't like the Space age. I really just want to play with the creatures.



Depressing.

I guess you reap what you sow.


Spore's latest patch is out. But as it seems, the patch requires a patch before it will work properly. Sigh. Do we see now why I gave up on computer games?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Spore getting sued over SecuROM

If the case gets through, good riddance to EA.

Now, two weeks after the illegal response to Spore began, EA faces a new, legal challenge to its DRM policy. This week, a class action suit was filed in the North District of California Court by the law firm KamberEdelson on behalf of one Melissa Thomas and all other Spore purchasers. According to the filing, which was made available by Courthousenews.com, the suit contends that EA violated the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act and Unfair Competition Law by not informing consumers installing Spore will also install SecurROM.

"Although consumers are told the game uses access control and copy protection technology, consumers are not told that this technology is actually an entirely separate, stand-alone program which will download, install, and operate on their computer," read the complaint. "Once installed, it becomes a permanent part of the consumer's software portfolio. Even if the consumer uninstalls Spore, and entirely deletes it from their computer, SecurROM remains a fixture on their computer unless and until the consumer completely wipes their hard drive through reformatting or replacement of the drive."

The suit accuses EA of "intentionally" hiding the fact Spore uses SecurROM, which it alleges is "secretly installed to the command and control center of the computer (Ring 0, or the Kernel) and [is] surreptitiously operated, overseeing function and operation of the computer, and preventing the computer from operating under certain circumstances and/or disrupting hardware operations." The suit also claims the SecurROM takes over a portion of the PC's processing resources "to transmit information back to EA."



Full article at Gamespot.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Some Spore pics

Cell stage captures:









Saturday, September 20, 2008

EA's response to DRM on Spore

Taken from Kotaku

Two weeks ago EA launched SPORE – one of the most innovative games in the history of our industry. We’re extremely pleased with the reception SPORE has received from critics and consumers but we’re disappointed by the misunderstanding surrounding the use of DRM software and the limitation on the number of machines that are authorized to play a single a copy of the game.

We felt that limiting the number of machine authorizations to three wouldn’t be a problem.

· We assumed that consumers understand piracy is a huge problem – and that if games that take 1-4 years to develop are effectively stolen the day they launch, developers and publishers will simply stop investing in PC games.
· We have found that 75 percent of our consumers install and play any particular game on only one machine and less than 1 percent every try to play on more than three different machines.
· We assured consumers that if special circumstances warranted more than three machines, they could contact our customer service team and request additional authorizations.

But we’ve received complaints from a lot of customers who we recognize and respect. And while it’s easy to discount the noise from those who only want to post or transfer thousands of copies of the game on the Internet, I believe we need to adapt our policy to accommodate our legitimate consumers.

Going forward, we will amend the DRM policy on Spore to:

· Expand the number of eligible machines from three to five.
· Continue to offer channels to request additional activations where warranted.
· Expedite our development of a system that will allow consumers to de-authorize machines and move authorizations to new machines. When this system goes online, it will effectively give players direct control to manage their authorizations between an unlimited number of machines.

We’re willing to evolve our policy to accommodate our consumers. But we’re hoping that everyone understands that DRM policy is essential to the economic structure we use to fund our games and as well as to the rights of people who create them. Without the ability to protect our work from piracy, developers across the entire game industry will eventually stop investing time and money in PC titles.



From what I've heard, despite the DRM on Spore, the game was available illegally a little before launch. If that was the case, DRM is not effective and therefore, an unnecessary annoyance to legit gamers.

Afrika

I did see this game in the stores here. But like the review at Eurogamer says, the game is only available in Japanese. They get all the cool stuff.

(Image taken from Eurogamer)

Afrika reviewed at Eurogamer.

It's a simulation of sorts. What do you do? You get to play a wild life photographer. The game is about taking assignments involving stalking animals with a camera to get the best shots.

And it would seem that Sony has no plans of making an English language version.

My first Spore creature









Something called a Talmintha. (Yeah I know it's awful looking. :P)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Spore Galactic Edition

Galactic edition package includes:

1. The game DVD
2. Making of Spore DVD
3. 90+ page manual
4. Spore Art Book
5. Poster

Love the whole package.

This post is also a test on my new iMac. Blogspot doesn't really like Safari, so it looks like I'll be using Firefox for most of my browsing.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Silent Hill: Origins (PSP)


This game is proof that horror games on a small screen can be scary too. Last night after playing this game, I had a nightmare of sorts with creepy shadowy creatures that stumbled about in dirty abandoned rooms. Freaky.

The graphics are excellent, rather dark but adjustable so that you can play it well enough in a lit room. Of course, if you want to get the best scares, play this game in the dark with headphones on. The musical score is just great with its metallic sounds, low growling sounds and mad-whispering type effects.

I don't think there's any other title of this sort (horror-survival) for the PSP. I wish they would make more of type of games. Fatal Frame might make a good portable horror.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Culdcept DS

Japanese trailer for Culdcept DS. Culdcept is a boardgame/card game hybrid with a fantasy setting. Hopefully, there will be an English version released eventually.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I got Spore


I bought the galactic edition which includes a Making-of DVD, the Spore art book and a free Spore T-shirt.

Of course now, I have to wait for my iMac to arrive before I can play it.

I just put in an order for an iMac 24-inch this evening. I'm such an apple newbie that I checked out the various components like I was trying to buy a PC. I'm surprised at how easy (to the point I feel a little uneasy) it is to just order for one.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Who is the Gamer’s Candidate?

There's this article on Edge about US presidential candidates' views on the subject of videogames.

It's not much. And that's expected since there are many and much more pressing issues in US than the subject of videogame regulation.

Disappointed


I really expected Harvest Moon DS: Island of Happiness to at least be as good as Rune Factory, and zones better than Harvest Moon DS:Cute.

It's not and I'm disappointed. Why:

1. The controls are atrocious.

It's very nice to want to make full use of the NDS' touchscreen functionality but to make this an exclusively touchscreen-control game is just a bad idea when doing stuff in this game would be so much easier using the d-pad and buttons. That's an opinion. Still, one would think they would have given players an option between touchscreen and d-pad controls.

So now, you use the stylus to move around and point to stuff to pick up or select things, while the d-pad and buttons are use-tool/item buttons.

You can get used to it enough to play competently of course. But it doesn't change my opinion that it is unintuitive, imprecise and often a real pain.

2. You still can't walk over crops.

I'm really shocked. Rune Factory fixed this, so that you can grow perfect 3-by-3 plots instead of the 8-plot. (For those of you who have never played, it's because the basic water can/could only water one square in front of your character.)

So I still have to plant the crops like this in this new Harvest Moon:

XXX
XX
XXX

instead of like this:

XXX
XXX
XXX

It's unbelievable.

3. Why can't I build the farm anyway I want now?

In Harvest Moon DS (the original and the later "Cute" version), you can choose where to place your chicken coop, your cow/sheep barn etc. Now you can't. They've designated the area at the far top of your farmland for those. Ugh.

The graphics and art are really bland compared to Rune Factory. It's sad. (I don't care that it's 3-D or 3D-ish now, it's plain and boring.) Even RF aside, the first Harvest Moon DS looks better than this one imo.

What's good about it.

1. I like the idea of populating an island and increasing its visitors via my farm's success. It's satisfying to see your island come from being deserted to one with more people, occupied houses and improved appearance.

2. You don't have to water the plants every day now. Each crop type have different water and sunshine needs. Too much watering can cause some crops to wilt, the same as not having watered the crops enough. So say if it rains heavily the previous day, you don't have to water the next day. This is more realistic and interesting.



Last note, this game has made me appreciate Rune Factory's art and control scheme.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Call of Duty: World at War Trailer



Awesome expected.


*****


Also check out:

Fallout 3 gameplay footage at YouTube. I've only linked to the first of five gameplay footages available.

The art and animation is Elder Scroll-ish, even the voice work is familiar. I've always found Elder Scroll: Oblivion's characters a bit stiff and awkward at times, but I like Bethesda's ability to make huge free worlds to explore. The environment looks incredible. Can't shake of the feeling that it just doesn't feel like a "new" game.

Free copy of C&C Red Alert to celebrate 13th birthday

If you go to www.redalert3.com on Sunday, you can download your very own copy of the original Red Alert, absolutely free.

Obviously, this is part of a promo for Red Alert 3 and if you pre-order RE3 from the site you can get a free copy of Red Alert 2, plus some extra RE3 goodies including desktop wallpapers (featuring Atkinson, McCarthy, Hu, et al) an series retrospective and an exclusive multiplayer map.

The free-for-all starts at 12:00 AM Pacific Time

Source: Kotaku.com


On a side note, you can also view all of C&C Red Alert game movies and cut scenes at this site.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Eternal Poison (PS2)



Eternal Poison might be the one to have me firing up my PS2 again. (My PS3 is the 40GB model and thus is not backwards-compatible.) The artwork is what catches my eye; quite dark and gothic like.

The website is showing the gamebox with two discs -- one's the game disc and the other is a bonus soundtrack CD. "Five stories in one" and "capturing and collect demons" There's not much info about the gameplay or battle system but the purchase page states that it is a strategy rpg.

Friday, August 22, 2008

DS games to look out for


Master of Monster Lair
(DS)
(Gamespot hands-on article)

The game's concept is somewhat like PSP's Dungeon Maker. You design dungeons to attract monsters, so you can beat them up and loot them, that with a quirky story to go along.

It's either going to be fun and addictive, or a terribly boring chore.


Time Hollow (DS)
(Gamespot page)

Can't ever get enough of adventure games.



Tornado (DS)
(Gamespot preview)

It just sounds like insanely fun game.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Coming soon: PSP-3000

PSP3000 Hardware upgrades:

- a less reflective LCD screen (see difference in the pic below taken from GameAxis post, the top unit is the present one, the bottom unit is the new psp.)

- internal microphone included


Links:

GameAxis: Next Gen PSP Unveiled - Sort Of
Gaming Bits: New Sony PSP-3000 Announced

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Mercury Games Zen Series for NDS

Mercury Games

The Zen Series games for the Nintendo DS are, as the website states in the footnote on one of its pages:

About The Zen Series
The Zen series of games have been developed for the busy, modern urbanite to aid relaxation. This series of lifestyle games do not contain any violence or competitive elements. Zen games are co –published by Mercury Games and Ertain. Experience the spirit of Zen.


I just picked up the Matchstick Puzzle title for S$29 this week.










Check out the other interesting titles that are available at their website:

Aquarium by DS
Fantasy Aquarium
Paint by DS
Paint by DS - Military Vehicles

I saw the Aquarium titles at the store where I got the Matchstick but not the Paint by DS titles, which I think is interesting.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Overlord gets more "evil"

So there's gonna be an Overlord II.

That's just great news because I love the first one. I was playing it on the 360 (before it decided to die) and now I'm playing it again but now it's the version Overlord Raising Hell on the PS3 (basically Overlord + Expansion). Once again, one can play a malevolent overlord in a rather open world.


About Overlord: Raising Hell


The Overlord can swing his weapon, cast a number of support and offensive spells but he's basically weak by himself. Minion control is very important to this game. And it shows that the team that made this game had put in proper thought into the control scheme.

Playing an evil Overlord is fun, and the controls for the console versions made it easy to get into the fun of being an evil leader leading a horde. (I have not played the PC version so I have comments about that.) It's so intuitive that you can run your Overlord around and control your horde of minions at the same time.

The minions do not require micromanagement, since they smash just about anything around them or gets in their way. They'll pick up and equip stuff they can use, they will pick potions and gold and bring them to you. And they won't attack non-hostiles unless you tell them to. (Except sheep and bugs which they will kill to yield life essences for minion population growth). If they die, it's only because you have been careless.

As there are four different types of minions (melee brown minions, red fireball-throwing minions, green poison resistant sneaky minions, blue healer type minions) , you need to switch to controlling specific groups from time to time to overcome obstacles. And sometimes you only need one minion go pick up something. Or you want the red minions to stay at a good spot for hurling fireballs down on your enemies while your brown minions close in to attack. It's all very easy to execute and in real time too.

The game pokes fun at fantasy game and story stereotypes, so nothing is taken seriously. You still have a choice to be benevolent at times, so the game isn't forcing you to play all evil all the time. It's an adventure with puzzle and tactical elements, and a little bit of RPG.


Link:

Mix reviews seen on Gamerankings.com's Overlord: Raising Hell page.

The game some people at the workplace are excited about


Spore

The sheer number of possibilities that can come from experimenting in this game is what's causing all the excitement. The screenshots, videos and the wonderful Creature Creator that was released earlier just fuels the hype among a few of us gamer types. It smells of Game of the Year for the PC / MAC.

It might just push me to get a new pc or mac sooner. I can't decide yet. But I'm reluctant to get a pc because of all the nasty stories about Vista. The thing is I probably would want a pc because of Diablo III. Decisions...decisions....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Save The World With Your Fingers

Metal Gear Solid 4: Save The World With Your Fingers
A cool video found on YouTube.





It includes an ad for Metal Gear Acid Mobile at the end.

What kind of gamer are you?

[Eurogamer] Industry analyst Sean Dromgoole has identified a range of gaming "types" as part of an attempt to explain who plays what games - and why.

....

GameVision regularly surveys 40,000 people across Europe, don't you know; he's not just making it up. So - are you a dabbling pack wolf with snacker tendencies, or a reformed hardcore scrapper who's now a loyalist lone ranger? And will you be updating your Facebook status accordingly?

Link to entire article.


Just to list a few:

- Dabblers/Marginals - people who bought two or less games in past two months and play for less than an hour a day

- Loyalist - buys not too many games but take a long time playing them (and most like actually finish them).

- Magpie - buys a lot of games but (I guess) a plays a little of each and might abandon them.

- Pack wolves - online cooperative players

- Lone Rangers - players who prefer solo gaming experiences. (eg Elder Scrolls, Final Fantasy)

- Snackers - people who like pick-up-and-play games. (eg Minigames collections, BrainAge)

- Lifers - people who like sim games. (eg Sims and Animal Crossing)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Gaming Memories: Populous


Populous released in 1990, was the first video game I bought for my Sega Genesis console which I bought with my first month's salary at my first job.

Back in those days, there wasn't any internet (or at least it was a rarity for one to access to it in my part of the world). And gaming mags were costly imports wrapped up tightly in plastic in bookstores where the sales people watch kids like hawks.

I guess I selected the game because it seemed rather interesting to play a god. I didn't know exactly what it was about other than what was said at the back of the box. It was a god game with an interesting looking cover. Castles on fire, the ground breaking up, little people helplessly walking upon the dangerous terrain.


The game starts you off with a Settler. The moment he finds flat land, he builds a hut. (You are the one doing the land flattening). It was kinda fun to neaten up the place: flattening hills, raising land to cover water, making rocks disappear by sinking them right into water. Soon the settler's hut becomes a house, with enough land the house becomes a rocky house, then a fort, and to end, a large castle. If you reduce the castle by removing a piece of land nearby, another settler pops out and repeats the process. The representations were minimal but effective.


Your AI opponent is doing the same thing with his settlers on the other side of the map. The objective of the game is populate the world with your own and utterly destroy the other population. (A goal that might be shocking in its implications to some today if you think about it. But of course, people didn't think much about videogames then as they do today.)

You are given a repertoire of godly powers, which are powered by manna earned from having a population of "worshippers". Your population worships you, thus supplying you with "manna". The powers include being able to set off natural disasters like earthquake, volcano and floods. Earthquake was just disruptive at best, but several activations of "Volcano" can really destroy the land your enemy's people walk on. Flood can wipe out anything on ground level.

What you do to others, the AI controlled enemy deity can also do to you. So you work at quickly flattening the land, so your worshipers can make settlements and grow in numbers. You can assign a leader who can lead a crusade or make people follow him to wherever you want. You can control your people's stance.

The final battle aptly called "Armageddon" causes all the houses and castles to vanish and causes all the people to gather around their leaders, and then two peoples will march towards each other and fight to the death. It was always about population. So, if you had overwhelming numbers, you will always win.

Although the strategy was pretty much the same for every map, it was a lot of fun to play back then.

Populous had a few sequels later on which didn't seem to do very well. But the game probably inspired such games as Settlers and Age of Empires. Civilization plays close to Populous at the start, but is a much more sophisticated game minus the god-powers. Such games in this genre have become more complex and now requires players to employ various strategies and tactics to win.


Link:
Populous page at MobyGames

Friday, August 8, 2008

Mass Effect for the DS?

[Eurogamer.com] Bioware is also considering putting Dragon Age and Jade Empire on the DS.

That sounds great of course. However, I am expecting a downgrade in the looks-department. No doubt DS versions of these games will probably suffer more than just a 'looks' downgrade. Most gamers are highly doubtful the DS card can take that much data from these rpg epics.

Developers might do well to rethink the way the game is played as well as its presentation, otherwise they'll all turn out to be more plastic for the junk pile.

Legendary

Looks cool.

FPS with mythical monsters. Comes out September 30th, so it says now.

Games that click

What I like:

1. Customizable characters
2. Real time action
3. Variety in levels and encounters.
4. Roleplaying game
5. Bosses you don't have to grind to beat.
6. Save-anywhere function.
7. Loot

Finest examples: Diablo and Elder Scrolls.


What I dislike:

1. Sneaking
2. Platform jumps
3. Combo Button Mashers
4. Random encounters
5. Linear level design
6. "Beat this boss to advance"

Examples: Super Mario Bros. and the early FF games.


Update: Response article at Culture Kills

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Woman pays a whopping S$2600 for PSP

This is what happens when you shop for gadgets without doing your research first.

A lady was trying to buy a PSP for daughter. She walked into a store at Lucky Plaza and took to interest a black PSP. The storekeep told her that he had to install some software on it in order for the PSP to be able to run games. (In reality, he had installed a hacked firmware, which is what is used to play homebrews and other "ahem" wares. The bill came to about $3500 which shocked her, then she was told that she had to pay since the stuff had already been installed. She manage to haggle the price down to S$2600.

So, she went home and realised that she had paid far too much. She returned to the store the next day, but the store refused to give in but they finally agreed to cut off $1600 from the bill. So she still paid $1000 for the PSP. In most places, the PSP costs anywhere between S$280-$340, so in essence she is still paying too much.

Original report with all the details can be found here.


Prime example of customer naiveness, if not foolishness imho. As a friend puts it, she could have bought a 360, a PS3 and Wii with S$2600.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Siren: New Translation Blood Curse

Another horror-survival adventure added to my collection. (Not that I have that big a collection since I've only just began to get into this genre.)

Video from GameTrailers.com
.

And video from E3 found on YouTube.

Frustration


Ninja Gaiden Sigma (PS3) - I guess the first time I cleared the first 'boss' really was beginner's luck because it seems that I can't repeat the task. In fact, I really suck at this game now. Even those low level brown ninjas bother me. I do not have "thumb stamina" and can't seem to be jamming the buttons fast enough, and after a while it does hurt. I think I will resist from buying such games in the future.

Tracking about on the net, I found similar experiences by other people. Although, they can called different things like text messaging injury, blackberry thumb or for we gamers, videogame thumb. It's basically all under the term "repetitive stress injury".

The signs of aging. Sigh...



Patapon (PSP) - I'm not going to try a level for more than three times in a row. The Patapons are so darn cute though.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Square Enix launches new series of games.

New games from Square Enix. (Kotaku.com)

The company announced today that it was launching the "Pure Dreams" brand in Japan. "Pure Dreams" will focus on character branded games and the brand's first two titles are a good indication of things to come: Snoopy DS: Let's Go Meet Snoopy and His Friends and Pingu Waku Waku Carnival, both for the Nintendo DS. The games will be out this fall in Japan.


There hasn't been a snoopy game since the Game&Watch era, iirc.

Diablo not "dark" enough



Diablo III looks too bright and colorful, cries some fans.

Some gamers are just this sort, they will never be happy. We will soon be hearing how the first Diablo is the best or that the second one is better than this new one.