new challenger

I make games. I also play them. I talk about both activities here.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Games I'm Playing Right Now - Part 3

The ongoing series returns! I was trying to hold off on one of these until I finished the giant stack of games I have in front of me, but I realized that it might take a while to do so. So instead, I'll give you a rundown of what I've gotten to so far.

Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (Xbox 360)
This game almost proves my photorealism argument without me having to lift a finger. So you've got this pretty damn good looking game space, complete with lots of next-gen buzzword technologies like HDR, and then you've got this annoyingly garish HUD system to help you figure out what the fuck is actually going on in the game. It's almost comically difficult to discern what a crucial game aspect is and what's not.

I don’t mean to be overly harsh, but I feel like a lot of reviews have been overly kind, perhaps blinded by the HDR-laden glare that paints every horizon. The game does do some cool things. For instance, I like the wobble on the camera in 3rd person mode when you run - It reminds me of the chasing bad guys through the backyard look of the television show COPS. I also like how world objects react when they take fire. Cars shake and rattle when shot and explosions are both graphically and audibly satisfying. Once you get the hang of manipulating troops/vehicles/spy planes the control system is pretty handy as well. And then, of course, there are those pretty graphics.

So far GRAW has left me pretty “meh.” Hopefully that changes, because I really do want to like it.

Super Princess Peach (Nintendo DS)
I haven’t been in awe of Nintendo since 1996. That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed a great many of their products, because I have. I love the Mario Kart series. I got suckered into Nintendogs, as did a couple million other people. But I haven’t been humbled by Nintendo’s ability to create a product that is simply impossible for any other developer to make in essentially my entire adult life. I don’t know if that speaks more about me as a person than Nintendo as a company, but it is how I feel.

So yes, I’m enjoying Super Princess Peach. I’m enjoying it quite a bit, actually. It’s gorgeous, it’s well-thought out in terms of puzzles, and the Princess feels really good to control. It does what I think all good platform/puzzle games should do – it makes me feel smart for figuring stuff out. I had to force myself to stop playing it last night, I became so fixated. But it doesn’t put the fear in me like I want it to. I guess I’ll look to another game to fulfill that need.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance (PS2)
You read that correctly – I’m playing MGS2, not MGS3. I’m playing it for the 3rd time, although in my previous attempts I had never made it off the damn boat, which is the first level (I have done so now, thankfully). Having played MGS1 and not been terribly impressed, and having played MGS3 and finding it be one of my favorite games of this generation, I didn’t know what to think of the middle child of the Solid series. I now find it to be a combination of both good and bad.

It plays like a mix of MGS1 and MGS3, which makes sense. The controls and game rules feel like a stepping stone, and while functional, I feel myself yearning for MGS3’s sophistication. The game is also terribly codec-heavy so far, more so than I remember MGS3 being. One thing that strikes me as odd is that after playing the game for an hour or so as Snake, and being offered little if any instruction on how to play the game (which I didn’t need anyway), you’re immediately thrown into several tutorial-like objectives with Raiden. It really feels like Konami meant to ship the game without any Snake at all, and they threw in the first bit as a last-minute addition. I haven’t gotten far enough into the game to explore its more esoteric elements, but I’m eager to – there’s something about how ferociously debated the game is that I find compelling. For the record, I have no problem playing as Raiden at all. Maybe if I had the unexpected shock that so many people had of not knowing beforehand it would be different. Maybe if I hadn’t watched Metal Gear Saga Vol. 1 immediately before playing MGS2, in which Hideo Kojima explains that Raiden was an attempt to attract a segment of players who had no interest in Snake as a character, I would mind more. But hell, functionally Raiden is superior to Snake, and from that perspective I prefer him.

And so it goes. I picked up some other games this past week – Pursuit Force, Black, and Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams to be specific, but I haven’t played any of them to a level where I feel comfortable talking about them. I’m actually pretty enthralled with the three games I talk about above, and I feel no rush to move on just yet.

Thanks for reading.


  • At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I look forward to your view on Pursuit Force. The mechanic they used was very... interesting.

    I'm also interseted in the new Syphon Filter game for the PSP. Go buy it! :p


  • At 10:44 AM, Blogger omar kendall said…

    Thanks to your suggestion, I went out and picked up "the new Syphon Filter game." I actually played it this morning. I'll have a roundup of my thoughts on it, Pursuit Force, and a few other games in my next GIPRN post - which promises to contain nothing but PSP games!


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