Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'm Not Dead!

I've just been busy - firstly finishing up another hectic summer in QA. Then, in September, I was promoted to Associate Producer in THQ's Kids and Family group. I plan to start posting regularly soon!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fun Friday: ESRB Makes Things Sound Even More Awesome

I love Scribblenauts. I love this descriptor from the ESRB even more.


Platform: Nintendo DS

Rating: Everyone 10+

Content descriptors: Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief

Rating summary: This is a puzzle game in which players navigate a series of traps, puzzles, and enemies to collect stars scattered throughout the colorful levels. Players have the ability to summon different objects by writing/typing in the word (e.g., bike, spaceship, lion) and watching it come to life. If multiple words are entered in a sequence, different whimsical scenarios can be triggered: a bicycle can be used to jump over a baby; a bulldozer can clear away a shark; and cabbage can be fed to dinosaurs. Players can elect to summon "cartoony" versions of bats, bombs, guns, and flamethrowers. These types of items can be used to destroy objects or even other summoned items (e.g., a club can be used to hit an animal; steak can be attached to a baby to attract lions; rockets can be lobbed at a man). These triggered animations are minimally depicted and are usually accompanied by popping, musical sound effects; bright, star-shaped flashes; or small puffs of smoke. If players wish to, they may type in the word vomit, which causes a beige-colored lump to appear on the screen.
Via Kotaku and the ESRB.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Morning After

Well, I guess it's actually the night of the last day, but you understand where I'm going, right? This is my second time going to E3 and I think I'm detecting a pattern in how I feel about the whole thing. I think I like the "idea" of Es rather than the actual thing. The idea is that there is giant spectacle, with thumping music and booth babes. It's Christmas in June for gamers, as we get our hands on all the products that make us giddy before they're released. Then we actually get there and there are lines to play demos or to get a small piece of plastic. (Stupid Spirit Tracks stylus!) And end of it our feet hurt and you're left thinking, "That's it?" You lament all the things you didn't get to play with and what you may have missed out on. It's kind of like actual Christmas, isn't.

That being said, I can't wait for next year!

In the end, I did have a lot of fun. It's always great hanging out with a bunch of people you know in the industry and meeting new people. Speaking of meeting people; there were two people of note that I met. Firstly, I met Jeremiah Slaczka, lead designer at 5th Cell who is responsible for titles such as Drawn To Life, Lock's Quest and Scribblenauts. Secondly, I ran the man himself, Reggie Fils-Amie, president of Nintendo of America.

But the important thing is what I thought about the games I actually got my hands. Disappointingly, most of the games I was interested in were only being shown behind closed doors; Assassin's Creed 2, Bioshock 2, Mass Effect 2, Modern Warfare 2 and DJ Hero. I did, however get my hands on some other stuff.

I played two games that used the Wii Motion Plus, and, sadly, I think it's a useless piece of plastic and circuitry. Both Red Steel 2 and Wii Sports Resort (sword dueling game) disappointed. Neither seemed to offer the precision that they suggested they would. In both, I still felt as though I was just wildly flailing my arms. They both also try to sense that how hard the player swings the Wii Remote in order to replicate a harder in hit in game but it just led to a sore shoulder.

Tony Hawk Ride was a mixed bag. I enjoyed the skateboard controller while street skating even if I think it will take time to get used to but Vert was a pain. Pulling off grabs really forces the player to squat down, something I noticed was very hard for most gamers. I think the real reason behind the peripheral is Activision seeing how far gamers will go beyond playing a toy guitar to embarrass themselves.

I enjoyed my time with Scibblenauts, Overlord 2 and even the Aragorn Wii game at the Warner Brothers booth. The new Super Mario Bros. Wii was fun but I wish there was some cooperation elements to contrast with the competitive aspect of the game. Both God of War 3 and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks were solid successors to their previous entries. And while the train bits of Spirit Tracks was not very fun, at least I wouldn't have to pick up a $500 dollar system to play it.

From oer peoples' shoulders I saw Brutal Legend, Prototype, Arkham Asylum, Conviction and Halo: ODST. All of these impressed visually but I will wait patiently for demos on Live before making any purchase decisions.

And so, I guess the count down to next year has already begun. In fact there have already been an announcement for what will be announced next year. I can't wait!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Forget the MMO, Just Make This A Movie

Admittedly, there are two things that I am not: a PC gamer nor a MMO player. Therefore, I may not be that excited for The Old Republic MMO. Regardless, Bioware returned the Star Wars franchise to its roots with Knights of the Old Republic on the Xbox. Now they plan to release an MMO in the same universe. Sounds cool and this trailer is all kinds of awesome, but we all know, game play will be nothing like this. So, I am suggesting to Bioware that they scrap all of this MMO nonsense, turn this story into a feature film trilogy and rake in the box office sales. It may not make as much money as a WoW but at least give yourself a chance to make back all of the money you are pouring into a potentially volatile market!

E3 2009

I'll be at E3 tomorrow and Wednesday. I'll mostly be wandering around but I might be found at the THQ booth as well. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the following:
  • Mass Effect 2
  • DJ Hero
  • Bioshock 2
  • Assassin's Creed 2
  • The Saboteur
  • Muramasa
  • Brutal Legend
  • God of War 3
  • Whatever Nintendo/Sony announce tomorrow morning
See you there!

Grand Theft April (And A Bit of May)

Life hasn't been all work as I did find some time to finally get back into GTAIV. It may have been a year late, but better late than never. Rockstar excelled at creating another living, breathing world to play in (even if the pedestrian banter did become a bit repetitive). Liberty City steals the show in its depth, breadth and diversity. I thoroughly enjoyed the story even when it seemed to meander into no mans land, drifting from away from the heart of the story, but the climax brought it all back around to a satisfying and shocking end.

Obviously, there are issues that persist from earlier entries in the series, namely combat. At this point, the developers should just rip off gun play from someone who does it right, like Epic's Gears of War style. And hand to hand needs to be overhauled completely. Button mashing never works and trying to finesse it was to sloppy as well. It was also a shame to see that the music stations didn't play as prominently as before. I can still remember most of GTAIII original music, Vice City's 80's sound track and San Andreas's gangsta rap, but Liberty City's music was largely forgettable and too eclectic.

After spending enough time to 100% complete the game (yes, I even took the time to kill every damn pigeon), I can easily say that I enjoyed every minute of it barring the frustration from some of the more difficult achievements.

I spent some time with GTA: Chinatown Wars as well. Unfortunately, not too many people bought the game, but it was well worth every cent. The smaller screens obviously shrink the viewing area, making driving and shooting somewhat difficult, but the developers made up for this by making cars more durable and a robust lock on scheme. Also, I have seen few games that put the Touch Screen to such fantastic use. From making and throwing Molotov cocktails to car jacking to keeping someone alive with shock paddles to guiding a parade dragon, the game continued to surprise me with new ways to use the Touch Screen. And because the circumstances vary widely and rarely overlap, the actions don't become repetitive or boring. Also, about the drug dealing aspect of the game, while controversial, there is something to be said about the basic supply and demand economics that it can teach.

I have yet to be disappointed by any of the Grand Theft Auto games since the jump to 3D, even the hand held versions. I have no doubt that Rockstar will continue to push boundaries and provide immensely entertaining games for years to come.

It's Been A While

I spent the better part of my free time in May playing a 400 square foot game of Tetris as seen above. After laying about 1500 bricks, my masterpiece was complete and I had a (mostly) level, paver patio in my back yard. I think it came out quite nice and it was finished just in time for my son's first birthday. Wow, I can't believe how time flies!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fun Friday: Cultural Differences Edition

The Japanese have some bizarre games but this one is right up there with the best of them. It's not likely that this WiiWare title will make to us in the United States but it's a shame that we don't really get a chance to experience this stuff. It's too bad that even as we move to digital distribution we won't likely to get access to the many game that aren't necessarily intended for us as an audience. One can only hope that one of the buig three see some benefit in opening the gates to worldwide distribution of niche and culturally diverse games.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Fun Friday: More Good Than Evil Edition

Kotaku has unveiled what may or may not be possible game footage from the upcoming sequel to Beyond Good and Evil. I'm guessing that it is not real-time, in-game footage but pre-rendered concept material at the very least. A lot of comparisons have been made to Mirror's Edge, which I can see, but that is probably because that title is lot more fresh in the gaming community's mind. But i think a better comparison would be to Ubisoft's own IP, Asssassin's Creed, as you can clearly see the character brushing NPC's aside and climbing in a similar manner to Altair.

Either way, it looks awesome and I would play this game in a heart beat. Hopefully, they'll release the original game in Xbox originals soon, as I have criminally never played it.