Finished with Mass Effect 2 (until the new DLC) and having finally closed the white clamshell on Deadly Creatures, I find myself kind of between games right now. Well, games that I’m still actively interested in. Sadly, the backlog grows. Lately I’ve been slumming the free trials and demos out there, several of which I’ll briefly report on any moment now… … … ohp! Sorry, spaced out there for a second.
Darksiders (Xbox 360)
My interest in this Heavy Metal-inspired, “Zelda the way you wish it would’ve evolved” action/adventure game has been stoked for months now as the podcasters I listen to have slowly gotten around to finishing it or are diving into it for the first time. Sure enough, it has that Zelda vibe, right down to the ‘object of interest’ jingle and the lock-on letterbox effect. The gameplay is a lot more open to interpretation than you’re used to from Link but even in the demo I wound up doing the same moves (via odd analog stick + bumper + face button combos) until I got bored and turned it off. I like the style, especially the way everything looks like Mortal Kombat II where the Outworld dimension has half-melted into our own. I also like the character design and animations but actually playing it bored me back to the Dashboard to play…
Just Cause 2 (Xbox 360)
This would turn out to be about the 5th time I’ve played through this demo, each time finding something new to fiddle with. So I guess you could say I like it, but at the same time there’s something not entirely exciting about it. Rico is slow, it doesn’t take much to push his health into the red, and without Mercenaries-style airstrikes the crazy action winds up feeling tame. I can kill guys endlessly and whittle down the “health” of a big structure but I don’t really want to waste three clips of ammo on a big radar dish when it seems like I should be able to call in a surface penetrating bomb to clear the area. Maybe I’m missing some important aspect from the full game about destroying the bad guys and sparing the civilian world but from what I’ve played I’m still on the fence about a full-priced purchase.
I will say that the demo gives you an immense amount of stuff to do and at least a few ways to go about doing it which is impressive for a 30-minute recess in a new sandbox. Also, like Red Faction Guerrilla’s demo, it teases you with a map that shows how gargantuan the world really is and if I hear that the full game offers an array of upgrades and escalating incendiary madness to match that scale, I’m very likely to bite.
Yakuza 3 or: Shenmue 3 (PlayStation 3)
I’m sure I’d have already made that lame joke had I played either of the first two Yakuza games, but I didn’t, so there it is. Even just this brief sample of the game fully reminds me of Shenmue, which may be a great thing to you but it makes me want to smash a Dreamcast. You’re some slick looking guy who is simultaneously a master street fighter and a seasoned karaoke pro who comes back home to find that his Yakuza has been Yakuza’d by some rival Yakuzians. A presumably epic journey ensues to un-Yakuza Tokyo and re-Yakuza it under your supreme vision. I’m just assuming that’s what happens because I skipped all the dialog like there was a high score involved for getting through it as fast as possible!
This game is full of talking and every now and then you fight people, be it a chance encounter with some playful punks out on the streets or a story-driving rival kingpin showdown. The gameplay here is pretty sweet; there are loads of combos and grabs, Super attacks that chain together WWE-style wrestling moves, and even items to pick up and hit people with. If the ratio of talking:fighting were skewed towards fisticuffs I’d be all about this game, proclaiming that this is what a new Streets of Rage or Final Fight should be. But even being all Japanese with its crazy culture, crowded streets, and awkward characters (which I do love) I just couldn’t stick with this demo. Yes, the 140-character tweets and snarky blogs of the internet have ruined me. I have no patience for endless text boxes anymore and — oh what’s that!!?
Oh, it’s just Audiosurf. I actually own this one but haven’t fired it up in years. I got an e-mail the other day that someone finally played the same obscure song I played and beat my score (which isn’t hard). I also got an Xbox controller for PC and thought maybe the game would be more fun that way; it’s not. I still hate the game and I still hate myself for hating it. I’d rather play Beats on the PSP or Vib Ribbon because, to me, they turn my music into a game better than Audiosurf does. That’s just me.
Ok, that’ll do it for this installment of Demo Theatre. As you were.