Friday, June 19, 2009

Watching or playing, Ghostbusters the video game is cool

There were plenty of copies of Ghostbusters when I walked into Blockbuster. I was just returning Prototype when I remembered that Jonathan reminded me that this game was coming out. In it's early development I didn't care too much, but when it began taking shape with the help of Dan Akyroyd, Bill Murray, and the other who were apart of the Ghostbusters movies and it would essentially be Ghostbusters III, I immedietely knew it was only a question of how good this game would be.
You play as the nameless rookie who's joined the Ghostbusters team. The only reason they've hired you in the first place is to have a guniea pig to test out Egon's new experimental (and potentially explosive) gear. From then on, we have the perfect way to convey the game as the movie, Ghostbusters III, while still partaking in the story like Ghostbusters the video game. A new ghostly menace rears it's ugly head into New York City, starting with some familiar ghosts like Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, working it's way up into the culmination of a new enemy worthy of Gozer's fame.

The Good
  • The story is top notch, the writing is like watching the original Ghostbusters, and the humor is exactly as you'd expect coming from Dan Akyroyd and Harold Ramis. I rented this as a game, but it's more like enjoying Ghostbusters III with you sharing an integral part of the story.
  • On that note, everything retains their look and feel from the movies. The ghosts are hilarious caricatures of their human lives, the Stay Puft Man is still hilariously large, and the cast still whip out quotes like a blockbuster movie.
  • This game can also be genuinely creepy on your first play through. This game is not a horror game, but walking down a dark hallway as the surroundings begin to reflect the sinister nature of the specter I'm tracking down, with her figure darting in and out in the distance. Ghostbusters was always more of a comedy/action movie to me, but this game has it's creepy moments too.
  • Everything is destructible. Nearly everything can be blasted by your trusted proton stream or slime blaster and everything has a certain weight of physics. It feels so natural for this to be in place since the Ghostbusters were always accused of wanton destruction of public property, so just letting her rip for the saking of being a public nuisance if hilarious.
The Bad
  • It feels like a bunch of things important to a game took a smal backseat ride to the narrative. They don't ruin the game entirely, but they're certainly annoying to the game overall.
  • The game is a third person perspective "shooter". I put quotations on it because when I think of shooters, I think of squeezing off some bullets into a target and putting them down while I move on. It's different here though. You're not shooting a gun, but essentially a laser, and the the laser wears down the ghost's health until you can capture them. In a normal shooter, you put your crosshairs over and shoot. In here, you need to hold the crosshairs over the target and blast it with the proton stream, but it doesn't necessarily phase the ghost. It's kind of annoying as the ghost darts around the room while you try to hold your beam over them to weaken them.
  • You'll sometimes get lost in the maps, even though they're usually linear, but you don't have a map to help getyour bearings.
Now it's certainly not the perfect game, but but as a sequel to Ghostbusters II, it's absolutely satisfying. The story might feel a little like a linear game story, but the voice acting and writing of the original Ghostbusters crew really puts the shine on this game.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Snagged the last rental of Prototype

I managed to grab the last rental copy of Prototype for the 360 today. I just left my house to drop off some part timing applications at a local clothing boutique and shipped my bow at the UPS store when I decided to check Blockbuster on the off chance they weren't relevant anymore and had some copies of Prototype for rent. It's at the opposite side of town from the UPS store, so I had quite a trek, but in the end I became the last person to rent Prototype.

Initial impressions?

The Good
  • There is no moral ambiguity here. This is like a return to Hulk: Ultimate Destruction from the Xbox era. You play as someone powerful in an open city environment. Get destroy'in however you want.
  • Awesome sense of motion. When I spotted this game a year ago, I saw Ultimate Destruction coming back, but also the speed and wonderment of parkour from games like Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and Mirror's Edge. When Alex Mercer wants to get someplace, he gets their in style.
  • It has a surprising sense of stealth gameplay. You can literally steal someone's skin and move around without wrecking shit up if you want to apply a more subtle approach. Sure, as a sandbox action game, the results will be the same: destruction everywhere, but you can either go in plowing through everyone or disguise yourself as a soldier and walk right up to your mark so you can eat him in one sudden swoop.
  • Great way it narrarates itself. You get a taste of how hell descends over New York in the beginning, but after your little taste of power, you play the actual game proper as a flashback, the moment you wake up as an infected powerhouse. As you unravel the mystery of the infection and yourself, you consume key figures in the story and experience their memories, which are then put into a web of knowledge called the Web of Intrigue.

The Bad
  • Wildly rambunctious control sometimes. I want to jump up some buildings, but sometimes the geometrical design of some skyscrapers make scaling them wild and imprecise. The same goes for targetting enemies as you pretty much lock on some random enemy and hope you get the target you want as your flick the right stick.
  • Sudden jumps in difficulty. The first time you meet the Hunters, it will be a maddening experience. Enemies that aren't clearly cannon fodder will more then tear through your HP like tissue paper. Get ready for some trial and error as you figure out what power or weapon will be best as you run like a little bitch from their attacks.
This is one wild game that I'm probably not even a fourth through yet. Time will only tell if all this mad destruction is genuine fun or only skin deep.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Offensive engineering: a thankless but rewarding job

For many veteran players, the engineer is inherently easier to play on defense. Simple set up a dispenser, build a sentry, and upgrade both, and you have a very difficult line to break. It's not unbreakable, but it can make stall the enemy as they build an ubercharge or get a competent demoman or spy. But for, I find defensive engineering boring. Whenever I play engineer, I love playing offense.

It's certainly more difficult. Engis aren't meant to take much punishment, so putting them closer to the frontlines is bound to get you killed. But offensive engineering is very rewarding when it works. You'll know you're responsible for keeping teleporters up to supply the frontline with fresh combatants and reduce the travel time for the slower characters. Injured players can fall back on your trusty dispenser t reload and heal. And of course the sentry is there to protect everything, though offensive sentry gunning is a different part altogether.

Build your blu SG in surprising nooks and corners and use the ambush tactic to weaken the enemy defense as your team mates catch up. Playing an offensive engi is fun especially when you work on SG placement because it essentially makes you two fighters in one. Your enemy has to make a choice: kill you or kill the SG. Either choice ends in their death most of the time.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Do I need a reason now?

My wiimote has broken...

After maybe half a year of regular use, my wiimote faced idleness as my interest in the Wii faded. Now one day when I decide to give Brawl another go, I discover that the 3rd party rechargeable battery in my wiimote has overheated my 'mote. Now my Wii will really be idle for awhile.

Question is, while my mind is actually thinking of the Wii for once, I'm seeing Nintendo's E3 and E3 is supposed to get me excited about something. I'm still as doubtful as ever about it, seeing as I only have Mario Galaxy 2 and a Metroid game helmed by Team Ninja. Not shabby, but not something I was hoping for from E3. Muramasa is still coming, but by the time it's released, I might have sold my Wii. The 360 is just catering to my tastes better, so Nintendo, consider one more fan lost.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tricking out Team Fortress 2

I've been spending a lot of time on Team Fortress 2 since the Sniper vs. Spy update landed and after weeks of playing, I've gotten around to even reskinning several things in my game. Nothing too extravagant, but just little things to make the experience more subtle.

Heatshielding shotgun
This might be a bit much, but since I like playing support engi and battle engi sometimes, I thought skinning my shotgun would be a good idea since I'll really be spending a lot of time with it. Nothing's more rewarding then luring a scout back with your shotgun only for him to get riddled by my sentry.

The Backstabber's knife
The spy is a gentleman first, assassin second, scoundrel third, and a prick fourth. His default butterfly knife seems a bit too plain and out of character for a person of his caliber. When I think butterfly knife, I don't think pinstripe suit. This skin makes the butterfly knife look like the gentleman's sophisticated butterfly knife. The gold band in the middle really sells it.

Four-slot grenade launcher
This is a necessity, not an option to me. The grenade launcher shoots 4 grenades, and yet the model has six slots. This stems from the beta having six slots but reducing it to four when the retail version launched for balancing reasons. There's really no excuse for Valve to simply leave a six-slot grenade launcher shooting four. INEXCUSABLE!

Western revolver
With the Ambassador out, using either the revolver or the unlockable is a big toss up in terms of ability. However, in terms of sexiness, the Ambassador wins hands down. That's why the western styled revolver puts some style into your by-the-book revolver. The Ambassador isn't the only gun that can do engravings!

Whack-on monkey wrench
Short but sweet: monkey wrenches always need to be red. They just look cooler that.

Orange illuminated builder/destroy PDA
Now that this skin is up, I forget what the original PDAs looked like. The big thing is that this skin taught me how to remove the obtrusive option overlay that tells you which number is which building. After you spend an hour playing engi, you instantly memorize how the buttons go (1. sentry, 2. dispenser, 3. & 4. teleporter entrance and exit respectively). These PDAs are skinned so that you cna have a reminder whenever you need it, but with the building hud down, I can actually see trouble heading at me while trying to build. Also, it lights up under low light conditions!

Golden Lady Ambassador
Let's face it; just like the incorrect six-slot grenade launcher, the Ambassador suffers some serious visual problems. There's no hole for the bullets to shoot through, the skin reflects incorrectly sometimes, and the texture of the gun overall is kind of crappy. The Golden Lady remedies those problems and highlights the most important feature of the Ambassador: a gold engraving of the Scout's mom off the beautiful silver finish.

skins courtesy of the fpsbanana community.