Tagged: action

More pre-Order goodies from Atlus for Hammerin’ Hero

I was excited about the PSP’s Carpenter Story just from the looks of it, but the full import game was a reminder of why IREM has stuck with shooters all these years. The gameplay is clever but oh-so-stiff and really frustrating, but I’m willing to give the upcoming U.S. version (dubbed Hammerin’ Hero) a chance. I’m not, however, willing to give GameStop any more of my money so I won’t be pre-ordering the game and will miss out on Atlus’ latest “Spoils”, a set of two mini figures of the game’s hero and heroine.

You, Mr. Obsessive Collector, should head to your closest GameStop store or to their website and plunk down some cash as supplies of these figures are limited and there’s a good long wait before the game’s April 7th release date.

Afro Samurai Demo on Xbox Live

Just a quick heads up that there’s a 400+ MB demo up on Xbox Live of Afro Samurai right now. Most of you probably missed it while frantically grabbing your virtual copy of The Lost and Damned. Me, I just now saw it while waiting for Katy to pop some popcorn for a few games of Lips.

Now Playing: Saints Row 2

Saints Row 1 was an ubiquitous GTA clone. It copied the formula of GTA3, but it expanded on it. Why not let players save any time they want? Done. Why not give players a free-aim targeting system? Done. Why not put a GPS system into the game that gives real-time driving routes to locations? Done. Saints Row fixed a lot of things that most people didn’t even realize were broken in the GTA games. It was more than an imitation of GTA, it was GTA with upgrades.

I was hoping that Rockstar would steal liberally from Saints Row and put a lot of Volition’s innovations into GTAIV. My hope was that each game would up the ante, and that would lead each developer to steal from the other and improve the final product with each release. That did seem to happen, as GTAIV featured quite a lot of features that were in Saints Row, plus it went the extra mile and made Saints Row seem as antiquated as Saints Row made San Andreas feel. So did Saints Row 2 up the ante yet again?

Not really. Saints Row 2 feels like an expansion of the first game more than anything. Volition decided to stick with what worked and not change the formula much. For the most part the game is fine, but it feels like a step backwards after having played GTAIV. One major difference is that Saints Row 2 has nowhere near the production value of GTAIV. Glitches happen frequently (save early and save often!). I’ve gotten into a car before with no way of getting back out, and I’ve had the game completely lock up my Xbox (all on just day one with the game).  Cars that are right in front of you will just vanish sometimes. The graphics aren’t anything to write home about either for that matter. The game feels very rough around the edges.

It’s not a bad game though, despite how I make it seem. It’s kind of a shame that it’s so similar to the GTA franchise. On its own, it’s a great game, especially compared to the PS2 era GTA games. Compared to GTAIV, though, it feels a bit like a relic. When on foot, there’s no way to take cover, other than just hitting the button to duck and hoping you won’t get hit. When driving, the cars can all stop on a dime or take 90 degree corners as though there’s no momentum. It takes some getting used to.

Saints Row 2 isn’t without merit. Where GTAIV focused on realism, Saints Row 2 relishes in being over the top. It can be cathartic to do a mission where you have unlimited rockets and only one goal: cause as much damage as possible. Dying is virtually without penalty, as you won’t lose any weapons or ammo you’ve acquired. Any cars you own will always reappear in your garage if they are blown up or abandoned. Your health will always regenerate on its own (as long as you’re not currently taking damage). In short, you can be as reckless and immoral as you want and not have to worry about consequences. Even if you fail during missions, you’ll often respawn from a checkpoint (rather than being forced to restart the mission you’re on).

The point of Saints Row 2 is clear: don’t worry, be happy. It’s almost too easy for being that way, but it doesn’t really matter. While you might feel guilty hitting a pedestrian in GTAIV, you don’t really feel bad for killing people in this game. It’s insane, unrealistic, and as crazy as can be.  For anyone who is in the mood for the crazier antics of sandbox games of days gone by, Saints Row 2 does a good job of emulating the feel-good vibe of that era.

Done Playing: Fracture Demo (Xbox 360)

For all its terrain deformation and “cutting edge” technology, Fracture immediately reminds me of the old Xbox game, Pariah. If you don’t remember that first-person shooter it’s probably because you got it confused with every other sci-fi FPS from the early 2000’s. The problem with both games is that they try to pack in every popular action game cliche and wind up being completely unmemorable for it. Let’s do the Fracture game design checklist:

  • Emo sci-fi commando: Check!
  • Shiny metal body armor with regenerative shields: Check!
  • Two-weapons-at-a-time combat: Check!
  • Shaky over-the-shoulder perspective: Check!
  • Genetically enhanced enemy soliders: Check!

Seriously, the list just keeps going. Where Pariah was an uninspired Halo clone, Fracture is an uninspired Gears of War clone. Yes, it has mildly interesting terrain deformation that would’ve been mind-blowing in 2005 but even in the demo it boils down to guns and grenades. The only difference here is that the explosions deform the terrain, but the results are the same as any other game: exploded enemies.

I was more intrigued by the setting which sees you traipsing through Alcatraz — wait for it — in the far-flung future where the San Francisco bay is dried up and the Golden Gate Bridge spans over a forest! But the story built around this retro-future landscape quickly finds its way back to the narrow and well-trodden path of sci-fi action cliche. A disillusioned good guy has rebelled against the other good guys and is now fighting a guerrilla war with his genetically modified super soldiers.

It’s so uninteresting that I can’t even see myself renting it; I could barely finish the demo. Sorry LucasArts, I’ll save my cash for that mysterious new Indiana Jones game (or another Maniac Mansion).

Done Playing: Dino Run (online)

Web gaming or Flash gaming or Independent gaming, whatever you wanna call it, is something I’ve never kept up with. With my hands being the way they are I really can’t play anything that use the keyboard and even back in the early days of Newgrounds I only got into one or two offerings. Thanks to GlovePIE, though, I can easily connect and remap the Wii Remote (wirelessly even) for any keyboard commands I want. It’s not my ideal controller as it still bugs my hands after a while but it’s quick and easy and a helluva lot less painful than WASDin’ my way through a game.

Dino Run is a great example. Using the keyboard was almost instantly painful as you’re pretty much constantly holding down the run-to-the-right key in order to escape the shockwave from that big meteor that allegedly wiped out the dinosaurs. Using only a few buttons the Wii Remote is perfectly suited for the game.

While running from a wall of flaming death is really all the game is about (and an exhilarating experience) the developers at PixelJam built in a simple stat-upgrading system and even a few Achievements Milestones. By collecting eggs and bones that are scattered all over the stages you’ll be able to increase your speed, acceleration, jumping, and strength skills as well as unlock a series of bonus features and content. The charmingly retro and brightly colored pixel worlds also go a long ways towards giving the game a lot of character.

And it’s a good thing the game has charm because you’ll be replaying the same six stages over and over. It’s impossible to grab every egg and gobble up every critter in any one stage as each one has several paths to discover. If you want to max out your skills you’ll have to keep coming back.

Dino Run is surprisingly robust for a web game. You’ll be hooked for at least a few days, there’s always more stuff to unlock and the game even has an online multiplayer race mode for up to four players. Donate a little cash to the developers and you’ll unlock a ton of hats and colors for your little dino (see my current comment avatar). Give it a shot. With no installation or cost and only a flash-enabled browser required there’s no reason not to hop on over to the Dino Run homepage and start playing (with or without Wii Remote).