Weekend in Review

Pat came to town last weekend and we took a break from our regularly scheduled God Hand and Shining Force 3 to play a bunch of games we had but had yet to really play. Our backlog is daunting so spending 30 hours skipping from disc to disc felt productive, even if we only finished two titles.

Superman 64
Superman 64 is a landmark game by French developer Titus. No other Superman title has focused primarily on flying through hoops while Lex Luthor laughs. Widely regarded as unplayable, we began our weekend here with high hopes.

Pat: Over the past several months, Jay and I have been stockpiling a collection of the worst games ever made (guess how many Sega CD games we have) and of course this would have to be among them. →  Double your reading, double your fun.

Building a Mystery… I mean a City Builder

Growing up, I was a huge fan of Legos. Loved the damn things–I think I spent time after grade school every day building Legos and watching old Batman reruns (POW!). Now that I’m an adult, it’s not really appropriate for me to build Legos, but it is OK for me to play video games. This is probably why I gravitate towards city building games: I like the act of creation, and seeing the fruits of my labor, even if not a damn street in the city goes in a straight line because I am a creature of impulse.

While recently lamenting the lack of new city builders (triggered by playing Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 and associated expansions yet again), I decided to dig around for some of the “golden oldie” city builders. →  One must imagine video games happy.

Looking Back at BioShock

The release date for BioShock 2 is around the corner; the game is already available for preorder in some places. So I’m going to take this moment to look back at the first game. BioShock one was kind of a big deal when it came out, and it still is; not a lot of games make it to the high 90s on Metacritic. Michael Abbot of brainygamer.com calls it “one of the defining games of its generation.” Calling three years ago a different generation is odd, but given the speed that the videogame culture moves, it’s not unreasonable. For better or for worse the statement is hard to dispute. BioShock left a lasting impression. Journalists for non-game oriented publishers even cite it as an example of how games can be an expressive art form. →  Mrs. Article, you’re trying to seduce me.

Review – Eve Online Dominion

Being primarily an MMO gamer for the past decade, I am continually amazed at my ability to be angry when developers release an untested pile of crap and demand you pay for it–which of course a gamer will. However, much as an old faithful geyser, my naiveté and then resulting hatred spring eternal. The latest source of my ire is none other than my mistress Eve’s latest expansion: Dominion.

Eve has continued to capture my attention for a variety of reasons. It remains an incomparable sandbox of player driven activity, a unique novelty amongst the “theme park” style that dominates MMOs today. The fact that it is a single server, one giant, interrelated universe also adds to its charm. And finally, the fact that their expansion packs, as a result of the other two reasons, are always free works to developer’s CCP’s favor. →  Four out of five dentists recommend reading more.

Armored Princess Review: Part I

I’ve been playing King’s Bounty: Armored Princess for almost sixteen hours now. For lots of games that would mean I’m approaching the ending, or perhaps I even surpassed the ending and cycled back to the beginning for another playthrough. Such is not the case with this game, I’ve only traveled to two and a half islands out of… I’m not sure. But judging by my incomplete map I’ve only covered a small percentage of the world. This is my primary motivation for taking a break and writing a partial review. It makes no sense to me if I wait another week or month to complete the entire game and then write a review summarizing all of the dozens of hours, at least those that I can recollect. Is it unfair to judge a game I have not yet finished? →  It’s dangerous to read alone, take this.

Resist the Temptation

I just recently finished Resistance: Retribution on PSP. I’m not sure how I feel about it.  On one hand, I played through its campaign in three straight nights of gaming, which means it was least somewhat addictive.  On the other hand, I was so thoroughly finished with it by the end that I sent it back to Gamefly without exploring any of the extra content.  The entire experience can be summed up in this kind of love/hate duality.  For example, I admire how well developer Sony Bend managed to capture the scope and style of the setting on a more limited piece of hardware.  On the other hand, I couldn’t stand how many assets from their Syphon Filter PSP games were reused.  It isn’t just the control scheme they took — sounds effects, character animations, and even large chunks of the in game menus were reused in Retribution.  →  Game. James Game.

Blood N’ Guts

This week, Sega announced that they plan to make few Mature Wii games.  Capcom followed with a similar statement (which they had to clarify with simple PR speak).  Some folks seem to be in a frenzy over the news, so let us slow down and parse it a bit.

Yes, their decision is a bit puzzling at first glance.  They claim that some of their M rated games, like Madworld and House of the Dead: Overkill, sold as well as they expected, yet the failure of games like EA’s Dead Space: Extraction scares them.  Why be scared of someone else’s failure when your own product is doing “well enough” by your own standards? Because while small companies like Atlus build their business model around games that can keep them afloat with modest sales, Sega is (or pretends to be) a bigger entity that wants and needs bigger numbers.  →  Keep it warm.

Demon’s Souls is the GOTY

It is no secret any more that many of us at videolamer are huge fans of Demon’s Souls.  Those of us who have played it would easily consider it one of the best games of the year, if not the best game on the PS3.  But our tastes in gaming do not always line up with the mainstream press, so we could only wonder how well the game would fare in the end of the year awards.  Surely it would win a few “Best RPG” or “Best PS3 game” trophies, but did it stand a chance at becoming the overall Game of the Year?  Apparently so.

According to an Atlus newsletter email, Demon’s Souls won gamecritics.com’s GOTY, as well as Gamespot’s.  In addition, it won three other awards from Gamespot, and nominated for two more.  →  Readout 3: Takedown

Changing Game Cases

When the Playstation 2 was released, gaming saw an unexpected, but seemingly logical shift in packaging.  CD jewel cases were replaced with the taller, sturdier cases used for DVD videos.  Considering the PS2 used DVDs, this made a lot of sense, and everyone appreciated having a case that wouldn’t break apart so easily.  It also helped video games look like a much more legitimate entertainment option.  A Playstation 1 game would sit indiscriminately amongst your CDs.  A PS2 game, on the other hand, would stand nicely on your movie shelf.  This line of thought was somewhat damaged by the tacky green colors of Xbox cases, but you get the point.  Not since the days of the Genesis had games been so easy to keep and collect without resorting to extraordinary means of preservation. →  Guitar Hero III: Legends of Read