Tagged: Shawn10

Achieving: Pre-chieving in the Crackdown 2 Demo

As far as I’m concerned this is genius stuff! The 30-minute timed demo of Crackdown 2 not only gives you a huge chunk of Pacific City to mess around with, it also lets you pre-achieve 10 feats of skill (and luck!) that will carry over to the full game when you load it up come early July. What I realized as I contemplated how I’d manage to ‘kill an enemy with a mounted machine gun while upside-down‘ was that these are all the kinds of Achievements I usually give up on in a game like Crackdown. It’s the very specific tasks that I usually put off until I finish a game but by then another new game has come out and I’ve moved on without thinking twice about how to ‘juggle a vehicle three times in the air in co-op mode‘.

It is kinda sleazy and no one knows yet how it’s going to work — are these 10 individual Achievements in the full game or do they add up to a single ‘demo’ unlock for 100 points? Can you still get these in the full game? Do they just pop up as soon as the game loads? — but I can’t deny that it worked on me. The time constraint put a new spin on an open world game, forcing me to focus on one thing at a time instead of running from whim to whim and it definitely kept me coming back again and again.

Done Playing: Trine (PC)

Continue reading or just watch the game’s intro level. Sums it all up!

With Trine 2 having just been announced at E3 it seems the time has come to finally write something about my hours spent with the original. After playing the PC demo on my friend’s super rig, wishing I could play it on my own, waiting impatiently for the PlayStation 3 version, slightly upgrading my computer’s video card and stumbling into a sale on Steam, I finally had the game all to myself. But for all the anticipation it wound up being a game I’d play for an hour here and there and then put down for weeks. Maybe I didn’t want the magic to end or maybe I’m just not so keen on sitting in front of my PC monitor and mouse/keyboarding my way through a game anymore.

Don’t let my lack of firey commitment fool you, though. Trine is a gorgeous game, one that pushes beyond my meager GeForce 9500 GT and one that pulls off the same kind of fantastical whimsy of an adventure like Fable. It’s something in the audio to be sure. That narrator makes me wish I were English and that he were my grandfather so he could read me bedtime stories the way he does Trine’s poetic prose. Long after the next level has finished loading he’ll be going on about how your characters are in for a surprise or how the magical world used to be a serene wonderland. The characters play off of each other pretty well, too, but there’s some definite Eastern European voice talent at work here. Above all, though, it’s the music that makes Trine special. Despite the endless stream of skeletons and the detailed worlds the music almost always stays playful with horns and strings setting the tone more than accompanying the action.

Trine isn’t just mood setting music and glorious visuals, it’s a physics puzzle/platformer — the kind of stuff that’s right up my alley. The setup is that there’s a magical crystal that three very different people with very different abilities lay their grubby hands on at the exact same time. The Wizard, Thief and Knight are sucked into the crystal and only one at a time can come out to play. The Wizard can levitate objects and conjure up simple boxes and planks, the thief has the ranged bow and can grapple onto wooden surfaces to swing around, and the Knight is the muscle to push objects and deal with firey traps.

And that’s all there is to it. The triptych trio set out to put an end to a dark force bringing skeletons back from the grave and filling the world with booby traps and physics puzzles. You’ll typically encounter a new area, see what you can interact with or where you can climb to, conjure some objects or push some stuff around, fight a dozen skeletons on your way out and repeat. That’s quite the boiled down description but I assure you it’s fun and, just like Portal, you’ll soon be scratching your head for a solution and then laughing at how you managed to conquer the last impasse.

If simply passing through each stage isn’t challenging enough there are a ton of hidden Experience potions that are usually easy to spot but fiendishly hard to reach. You don’t need them to progress as skeletons are literally bursting with Experience but to find all the hidden treasures (which are ability augmenting trinkets) you’ll need the bonus powers and beefed up magic reserves that they unlock. Plus, they’re just as head-scratchingly fun to collect as puzzling through the story so stop moving forward and start screwing around!

Mischief! That’s the defining characteristic of Trine. From that playful music to the numbskull skeletons that you mess with by dropping objects onto, to the bouncy, springy physics that invite you to play around. Trine is medieval mischief, a fun little game that does its thing in a splendid looking fantasy world that I can’t wait to get back to either by playing the new DLC or the sequel.

April Showers Bring… a Season of Demos through Summer!

Hey, let’s keep this movin’! Here’s some scattershot impressions of demos and trials I played from April up through just this past week! I may yet follow this up with a little iPad game roundup, but no promises. Let’s go!

Way of the Samurai 3 (Xbox 360)
I was working my way through Deadly Premonition when Katy started this game on the other Xbox. Listening in and peeking on her progress it didn’t look promising, especially as I was already enduring an unrepentantly Japanese game of my own. So I was surprised at how much fun I was having when I finally started a game of my own: groveling to apologize for bumping into a superior, running bizarre errands for townsfolk, flipping my sword to blunt-beat half-naked fools. I’m all for Japanese developers rediscovering themselves in this age of Western-led gaming but there’s still a time and place for their classic style and inexplicable Japanese-y-ness. If games like Way of the Samurai 3 ever go extinct I’ll be a sad, sad gamer. I really want to get back to this one day.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)
I was excited to finally dive into this game with Katy but after about an hour she’d resigned her Wii Remote and I was overwhelmed with this feeling of deja vu. As much as I begged for a new 2D Mario game my appetite is apparently still satiated from New Super Mario Bros. on the DS. I unceremoniously packed it up after about 90 minutes and shipped it back. I’m also sick of the Wii’s terrible visuals and tacked-on shake-shake-shake gimmicks. That probably didn’t help its cause either.

Ninety-Nine Nights II (Xbox 360)
Koei’s asian-persuasion brawlers have made me appreciate the finer points of big battlefields filled with stupid A.I. sword fodder but I’ve always wanted it to be a little flashier. The illogically acronym’d N3II fills that combo meal order nicely with more button commands than Dynasty Warriors, slicker visuals and big monsters. I couldn’t really figure out how to beat the big beastie in the demo but I enjoyed impaling a guy on my stupid-sized sword and swinging it at his compadres until everyone exploded in a fog of blood. That said, I probably won’t ever play this game until the industry crashes again and I have several years to work through all the other, better, games I never played.

Skate 3 (Xbox 360)
Wow, I thought Skate was the skateboarding series that looked good! This demo managed to make me care even less about Skate than I did before and it broke my heart a little when I hit a jump and remarked “I only go that high?”. I’m a Tony Hawk guy at heart and if I’m gonna skate around in a game I’d like it to be as fantastical as possible a la ESPN Extreme Games, Tony Hawk, Go!Go! Hypergrind or Yanya Caballista. Also, Jason Lee, what are you doing in this game!?

You really put THIS in your game on purpose?

Planet Minigolf (PlayStation Network)
Be it in reality or digital form, there’s just something I find soothing, nostalgic, and fun about navigating kitschy courses and it has me on a perpetual hunt for the next great minigolf game. This one is of the 3D persuasion and incorporates just about every play style you’ve seen in golf games of the past. The default scheme uses the right analog stick to control power of both the back and forward swing. It is not intuitive but I stuck with it and found it both reliable and challenging. The demo lets you play a handful of courses which all look fantastic and even mess with a few power-ups and trick shots. You can also decorate a single character with some unlocked accessories but my best efforts didn’t look much better than an avatar from PlayStation Home. The rest of the five-member cast is a little off-putting with a small asian child, a borderline offensive black muscle guy and the overly oversexed, epic-breasted cheerleader teen. It’s a cringe-inducing crew and it kind of ruined the game for me. I’d have preferred a bland phantom putter to this immature and unnecessary eye rot. Still, it seems a fun game of minigolf, offers loads of leaderboard challenges and even has a course editor on top of its built-in 144 holes. Definitely holding out for a sale though.

LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 (Xbox 360)
My excitement for Traveller’s Tales’ LEGO games lasted exactly one-and-a-half releases. By midway through LEGO Star Wars II I was burned out on excessive deaths and restarts and all the bajillion shiny, OCD-inducing collectibles. Studs, golden pieces, hidden characters, interchangeable parts; it just got too overwhelming and more than a little boring which makes this the first time I’ve played a LEGO game since 2007. That’s a good thing, too, because even after so much time it’s obvious the devs haven’t changed the formula and only found new ways to cram in even more meta-obsession collecting. I do appreciate the adaptive two-player split screen and remembering all the little Harry Potter details from the books that the overbearing movies trampled all over. I’m sure we’ll be playing through this one shortly after it’s release but I may have topped off my LEGO tank from this sampling alone.

Flirtatious Gaming Adventures through April

Ok, this one’s going back to the beginning of the year and it’s going down shotgun style right now!! Pump~Blat~Pump! Part One: Go!

Fret Nice (PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade)
Sort of like LocoRoco meets Vib Ribbon? Run side-scrolling style and defeat enemies with rhythmical chain attacks that your character (or you with a guitar controller) unleash with perfectly-timed button presses. Like Vib Ribbon, the iconography you rely on to know which buttons to press isn’t very intuitive, here corresponding to their number of eyes, antenna and limbs. Awkward and kind of frustrating, I like the LocoRoco-ish art style and the oddly customizable player characters but it’ll require a hefty price cut to get me to buy.

Darwinia+ (Xbox Live Arcade)
For as indescribably perplexing as everyone made it out to be, I found this game to play like Pikmin only sometimes you can directly attack enemies and most of the time they ambush you and spawn out of nowhere to ruin your best laid plans. Clever or just cheap? It’s pretty at the least, trippy and full of demoscene love but I quickly deleted it from my 360.

Castlevania the Adventure ReBirth (WiiWare)
I actually bought this one but it’s such a short and feature-free game that it might as well have been a trial! Classic 8-bit Castlevania gameplay (and graphics) guaranteed a challenge that I wasn’t all that crazy about but was prepared for thanks to some pre-purchase coverage. Apparently it’s loosely based on a Game Boy Castlevania title but has been augmented to be almost unidentifiable. There’s a couple neat ideas that would warrant a second playthrough like access to alternate routes but I couldn’t get past the health-sucking maze of death with enough energy to reach Dracula, let alone finish. Retired within a week.

Lazy Raiders (Xbox Live Arcade)
I’m a sucker for games that let you use your Xbox Avatar, mostly because I’ve spent real money dressing up my virtual Shawn and any time I can use him in a game I feel a wee bit more justified. Lazy Raiders lets you flip and slide your pretend persona around a series of 3D mazes, not unlike a marble in a wooden puzzle box. The game looks fantastic since it’s locked in a 2D view with nice details and lush lighting. The physics feel nice too as you rotate the world and even flip it around like a coin to access a dark alternate version of each stage to find collectible treasures. I was pretty close to buying it but decided to wait for a sale at which time I still didn’t bit but, dammit, I wish I had right now!

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP)
I would just like to reiterate for the umpteenth time: the PSP does not have enough buttons or a comfortable enough layout for a serious 3D action game, especially a Metal Gear Solid title. I had my fingers wrapped up like a pretzel just trying to pop out from cover and I couldn’t even pull off the final CQC maneuver they showed me in the tutorial. It looks gorgeous and I really want to experience it but this is the absolute last place I’d ever want to play a game that focuses on the patient study of plodding soldier patrol paths. Please, Kojima-san, port this to XBLA or PSN ASAP, KTHX!

Final Fight Double Impact (PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade)
“HE HE HE, Mister Haggar!” There’s no denying my love for Final Fight and this version — with for-real Achievements and separate in-game stat tracking rewards — is probably as much love as the brawler is ever going to get. It looks flawless, includes silly visual tricks to emulate the arcade machine and it even comes with the equally-loved Black Tiger on the flipside of the great user interface. You’d really think I would’ve bought it but I was still invested in Deadly Premonition at the time.

Part Deux brings us up to The Now and it’s coming tomorrow and then I think I’ll be caught up!

K.K. Slider trumps Gaga, Falcom isn’t as invasive as I thought

With at least seven huge, RPG-sized soundtracks totaling over 300 tracks in my collection I was surprised to see the Falcom Sound Team so far down the list on my top played artists list at Last.fm. It sure seems like every other song is something from an Y’s game but I guess there’s a lot more stuff slumped under “Nintendo” and “Capcom Sound Team”. Also, I hope that after I’m dead and gone people will find my profile and wonder what the hell is up with this guy.