It certainly seems like I won’t be writing any reflections on non-mainstream titles for the rest of the year. Lack of time, I suppose, and there are a lot of major releases that you don’t want to miss out on. I’m not even going to try being original here, I’ll even copy the general idea of the review from Zero Punctuation.

So I’ll get the important things out of the way first, Bioshock is most likely one of the best – if not the best – single-player game for the 360 and there’s no reason whatsoever not to get it. It is also, not surprisingly, overhyped.

I never played either of the System Shock games so I’m not qualified to make a comparison between spiritual predecessors, my reasons for thinking Bioshock is overhyped are strictly based in the gameplay world. Bioshock does presentation – and by extension, atmosphere – incredibly well both aesthetically and technically, and the gameplay is good enough to not destroy that. The problem for me is that the gameplay is hardly perfect. The Death system feels silly at times, I found myself struggling with the controls on several occasions, some parts felt really unbalanced, the “hacking”-puzzles were kinda poorly designed and not properly implemented (since it created unsolvable puzzles sometimes) and the internal economy felt a little skewed since I had to leave ammo and money on the ground because I carried to much for the better part of the game.

That is not to say that any of these issues is severe and more than a minor annoyance every now and then. Many other games have similar issues, but that’s just the thing. The actual gameplay in Bioshock doesn’t feel particulary interesting or original, it’s good but not spectacular. It just seems that a lot of reviewers (at least the early-adopting online reviewers) are directly translating “great atmosphere = great gameplay”, which to me is a major step back because that would make the ultimate game a movie.

Posted on Nov 12/07 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »

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Metroid Prime 3

Metroid Prime 3

… Metroid Prime was released in Europe two months after the American release date, and after that Nintendo didn’t print enough disks and I didn’t get it until a week after the european launch date. Even so, this weekend was Metroid weekend and when games like Metroid come around, it’s easy to stay optimistic.

Prime 3 borrows some from its predecessors, but remarkably also some from Metroid Fusion (missions and dialogue) as well as Hunters (planets and rival hunters). It also expands on these ideas with more characters and voice-acting, something that wasn’t possible on the GBA or DS, I’m a little bit torn as to whether I like this or not. On the one hand, remaking the first Metroid Prime wouldn’t really have satisfied anyone anymore and they could certainly have gone in worse directions – On the other, the game feels very chopped up when you have to move by starship between locations, even if there’s no real gameplay difference to go by elevator some of the open-world-feeling gets lost. Also, while the first two Metroid Prime games had a atmospheric, desolate feel to them since the only story you could access had to be siphoned from run-down terminals you came by, Corruption is a lot more direct and features a somewhat more complex story. Problem is, the good people of Retro Studios aren’t used to telling that kind of story and it’s painfully obvious at times.

Gameplay-wise, it is mostly an improvement. Metroid Prime 3 is the first single-player game developed exclusively for Wii that I’ve played, and unlike the previous two you actually have to be careful when you ‘re aiming. The controls are by far good enough to make this enjoyable, though, and as a nice trade-in all weapon upgrades now stack (like in Super Metroid) and the zelda-ish puzzles where you had to swap weapons to counter bosses with constantly changing weak points have completely disappeared in favor of more traditional, solid battles. Like any Wii game it has some gimmick moves forcing you to shake the controllers in different ways but these are pretty limited and feel intuitive enough to not be a hindrance.

Oh, and the environments are probably the best ones yet, and not only because some of them are populated with living people that help you out. All in all, Metroid Prime 3 is different from the first two, moreso than Echoes was different from the original, but the roots are all there so I would be surprised if someone who liked the first two didn’t like the third.

Posted on Nov 05/07 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »

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Penny Arcade said what we are all thinking…


… Well, perhaps not what all of us are thinking but at least what I am. Then again, I’m just being jealous – why do Rockstar keep getting all the negative media? we did bad stuff too! The Darkness is about a contract killer that devours the hearts of policemen! And not just men, but (in what is probably a first for videogames), policewomen! And (spoiler) you blow up a church as a vital part of the story!

You would think that they would at least have the common decency to issue a public statement condemning the horrific violence, but I guess moral crusaders have a PR agenda as well and anything that doesn’t say “Rockstar” is harder to sell. Ah, well, there’s always next year.

Posted on Nov 02/07 by Saint and filed under Gaming culture, Moral panic | No Comments »