Sunday, July 19, 2009

New Years Resolution Update- Play More Games

My New Years Resolution was to play more games, with the purpose of learning something from them. Be it successes, or failures, I wanted to put on my critical analysis cap for each. I have tried to complete all of them, though there are a couple that I have gotten about 75% through and stopped, for one reason or another.

Here are those games played since January 1st as well as some thoughts and lessons learned from each. Don't expect new, ground breaking thoughts for any of these, as its been months in some cases since I've played them. I just want a chance to jot down some lasting impressions.

Prince of Persia
The art style and animation are what drew me into this game and ultimately kept me playing. I viewed it like a rollercoaster, just strap in and enjoy the ride. My biggest disappointment was the ending. I loved what I thought they were trying to do, but just thought the execution fell short. Until I played the DLC, and realized what I thought the ending was all about was not it at all. So for me, the DLC ruined the intent as well, as I saw it. But the way the two characters move around each other in the world is reason enough for me to come back to this game.

Mirror's Edge
I wish the movement around the world in this was as forgiving as Prince of Persia's. Sure, I could "go anywhere" but often times the jump would be just off a little and I would plummet to my death. BUT, once I figured out the run, man, was it fun. When it was firing on all cylinders, it was a blast. And again, the art style and world kept me playing even through the low points.

This is one I didn't finish all the way. The best way I heard this described is that it is a Tony Hawk style game but with murder. You have an environment to run around as you wish, trying to get the best trick/chain of death. It is B-Movie all the way and doesn't take itself seriously at all. While leading up to the release I thought for sure the art style would give me a headache, it played out quite well indeed. The devs took some artistic and content chances, and for that, I am always on board.

Street Fighter IV
Try as I might, I love playing as Ryu and Sagat. Yes, I know, that makes me a noob, but whatever. The art style is again gorgeous (notice a trend in the games I've been playing?) and of all the games on this list, this is the one I still go back to when I get a free moment.

Little Big Planet
This game inspires me so much creatively. Seriously, it is just the most random, quaint experience I'd had in a good long while. You can't help but smile when you play it. And with each new costume pack or map pack, I get pulled back in. For me, this is the game I will still be playing in 10 years. I want to make a game as wonderfully silly as this some day.

Valkyria Chronicles
I love this game

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
After seeing it being worked on day in and day out, my views are anything but objective. I think the nerd passion everyone had for the character is apparent, and the violence is bloody fun. It definitely started to drag for me in parts though (golem style enemies, alaklye lake, and gambit level). The Marvel games that Raven has made were a big factor on why I wanted to work there and this just shows why. It is a big giant murderous love letter to Wolverine fans and I can't think of any better way to wash the terrible taste of the movie out of your mouth.

Metal Gear Solid 4
I am not a fan of the MGS series. I tried 1, and couldn't get into it. I tried 2, and again, just didn't care for it. Splinter Cell seemed to be what I was looking for as far as stealth games. BUT, I gave it one last go as 4 would either cement my dislike for the series, or make a new fan out of me. I booted it up, and for the next 4 days, I was hooked. And then I put it down for a day and haven't felt the urge to go back and finish it. So I'm obviously not a giant fanboy of the series now, but I don't hate it either. Their cinemas are amazing though. They move so fluidly and their interaction with the world and objects is flawless. Seriously, I don't know how they got that many cinemas done. Just, a technical marvel. And Raiden rocks my face so hard. His action scenes have inspired me to try and animate epic every time possible.

Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction
This is probably my biggest disappointment. Well, this or the next game. Both of these games had been built up so much for me as the pinnacle of gaming animation that I couldn't help but be let down. Yes, the animation is cartoony in this, and the designs are pretty sweet. But every action is just soooo snappy, that it just stopped being anything interesting to me. And Ratchet's eye shapes really bothered me. It was a solid game, and it was fun enough I guess, but I got done and was thinking, "That's it?!" I'm hoping the next one takes what was built here and really polishes it, and balances out the quick snappy actions with some slower, more subtle ones.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Really, this goes with the above. It felt like a tech demo with a really fun story. From everything I can tell, what I was expecting out of their layered in game animations and facial animation will be realized with the sequel. And hopefully the combat is balanced more, as that was easily my least favorite part of the game. Manveer just recently posted on this, and I agree with a lot of it. I think our experiences are the same because our play styles were the same throughout. Run into room, hit trigger, run back to door and pick people off. Every time we tried to stay in the room or charge enemies we got killed. So when we got to the monsters, the play style was completely different. I kinda liked the franticness and anxiety it gave me, but I can agree with his points. But I know others that played most of the game charging at people and using a lot of melee, in which case the change of play styles wouldn't be so jarring. I am really looking forward to the sequel though.

Turtles in Time: Reshelled
I geeked out when I was first playing this. Hard. And then it just seemed to deviate from the SNES version, which is what I had played so much in my youth. Yes, I know it is based on the arcade version, but not throwing foot soldiers at the screen to beat shredder just made me weep a little. Of course, I hated the silhouette of the characters as they flew at the screen, so its probably for the best I wasn't forced to look at it.

I didn't finish this. And I can say now I probably won't. Let me get a few caveats out of the way. First, I am not a fan of open world games. They don't feel alive to me, and they often feel repetitive. BUT, I did love Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, which is what this really is, just with their own character. Maybe because of that my expectations were too high. Well that, and the fact they had an extra year to polish than originally intended. The result? I just couldn't get into this game. The character is not one I sympathized with, the city is just another NYC recreation, and the motivation to do anything lost on me. It just felt like a murder simulator, not a game of revenge or redemption. There was no reason not to kill civilians or to just kill infected. Yes, you are a powerful mofo, but I already had that feeling when playing Hulk. There just wasn't anything new here. BUT, the one thing they did nail was moving around the city. If it is a game where I can go anywhere, I want to have fun getting there. And in this game, it is fun to just fly and dash around. This was my biggest beef when playing the inFamous demo. Just wasn't fun to move around. But ultimately, I think this will be my last open world super powered game. I think for now, they have done everything they set out to do with Spider-man 2 and Hulk:Ultimate Destruction.

Fat Princess
This is the current addiction for everyone at work. And for good reason. It is fun, funny, adorable, layered, and damn addictive. Seriously, this might be my favorite PSN/XBLA/WiiWare game of the year. Online or offline I just have so much fun playing it.

And here is where I shut up, and let you tell me what you think of it. I spent most of the last year working on this and am excited as hell for everyone to play it. I have my thoughts on it for sure, and at some point might do a post mortem on here, but for the time being, I want to hear everyone else's thoughts.

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