Sunday, September 26, 2010

Now Playing - "Reload this!"

Now that I am two weeks into my uni course I'm starting to get an idea of how the timetable will be and what we will be doing throughout this semester at least. I'm enjoying it so far, even though it does look quite hard in places. Geometrical Optics is going to have some tricky physics type questions I think. Anyway I've had some free time but not a huge amount of time for games really, although I do have a long weekend just now (I've got Thursday-Monday off because of a Bank Holiday or something) and I've been playing some games during the last week or so. I've got some impressions on some relatively recent releases actually.

I played some of the Halo: Reach (360) multiplayer on Saturday and today when my friends brought it over. Took ages to initially set up as I hadn't configured my Xbox's online settings (I just got it back from being repaired.) but once we got it set up we played a bit of the multiplayer online. At first, I wasn't too impressed as there are a lot of things different to Halo 3 (and ODST I guess, but its closer to that than 3.) The main things putting me off were the health system similar to ODST, getting used to the new weapons and their slightly different gameplay and the armour abilities being rather annoying at times. Although, they all seem to have their strengths when used right. So they are kind of balanced from what I can tell after a few hours of playing and watching my friends use them. 

The weapons feel much more tactile I guess (don't know if that is the right word), it actually feels like you are firing the weapon, with recoil and sound effects of really good quality. The sniper rifle was initially pretty strange for me, as the targeting reticule expands vastly after firing. So the recoil from the first shot basically stops you from getting another easy shot in straight succession-the result from what I can tell so far is that it is slightly harder to kill with it. But I got used to it pretty quickly, actually getting MVP on like the 2nd Team Snipers game I played. No-scopes ftw! They've also tweaked the meleeing to make that less abusable. I found myself shooting until the enemy's shields were down enough, meleeing and getting surprised how many times they would still be alive afterwards. So the shoot the shields down+melee combo from 3 seems to be a bit less easy to pull off. (Which is good) BR is also fairly different, it still has a scope but it fires less bullets with each shot it seems. Its called DMR now, dunno what that stands for... Still seems like a very strong weapon. Pistol seems to be going back to the Halo 1 & 2 days as well, its very fast and good at mid-long range. ODST had a similarly strong pistol..and I just hope they haven't made too many broken weapons. 

What else...the veto system is gone from online. Now you vote on one from a selection of maps/games. The major flaw being the fact that if you are playing with more than 1 player on the xbox, all your votes go to the same selection. Terrible. Bring back the veto system. Along with the server issues, that is one thing that definitely needs to be adressed in the next patch or update.

Anyway, despite all those minor things, I got used to the game and had some fun with my friends on it. I'm kinda tempted to pick it up at some point..but there are so many games that are in that same boat...and in fact so many games I have and still have to start. 

I've put in a fair chunk of time to Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep (PSP) now and have been enjoying it for the most part. I'm 13 or so hours into Terra's story and liking the characters. Terra seems to have a bit more depth than say Roxas or Sora, at least so far. Its got some fairly cheesy dialogue, but then again, it is a Disney-Square Enix franchise, and its been pretentious and cheesy since the early days. If you didn't get a substantial helping of cheese you would probably feel ripped off in some way. 

I'll start with some things that annoy me about it. Firstly, it seems a bit more bland than KH and KHII. I liked in the PS2 games how the worlds were slightly longer stages, you had cameo appearances from main characters from the disney films in question and the enemies and bosses had a distinctive feel related to the world depending on what Disney world you were in. For example, the Heartless and Nobodies in Agrabah actually fit in with the world. In Birth By Sleep, they basically reuse a lot of the same Unversed enemies. They don't seem to have a different appearance in each world. So it does feel a bit bland, short and boring at times. Its also missing the characters joining your party I think. They were one great thing about the KH games, as well as the party's appearance changing in each world. (Halloween Town designs for Sora etc were some of my favourites.) 

Secondly, it really stretches the PSP to its limits in some areas, where you get some slowdown occurring. This might be a good thing as it shows they've really pushed the boat out, but for me it is a negative, as they could have accounted for this. When you get the option to choose between 16bit and 32 bit in the config menu and 16 bit is the default, that is an indicator that perhaps a different engine, or textures or whatever should have been used. I'm no games designer but something seems wrong there..just slightly though. I've not had too much slowdown on my current settings.

I don't like that there doesn't seem to be that many cameos from Disney characters though. I'm fairly far through Terra's story and really haven't seen anything of Mickey and anyone else. They added a distinctive flavour to KH and KHII, adding a lot to the feel of the worlds and the story. I think there should have been more cutscenes, not just ones focussing on Terra and his flashbacks. I guess I am less than a 3rd through the game though, so we shall see how it goes.

What else? Well, I am enjoying the game..which is a good thing. =p I'm liking that they've tried not too overcomplicate things with all this nonsense about nobodies, organisation XIII, Heartless, different worlds, experiments, masked guys. As good as Kingdom Hearts II was, it was bloody confusing. I dunno, I'm guessing they will start throwing some plot twists in there towards the end game of BBS, but so far I'm not hugely impressed with the story, but at least it is easy to understand. Xehanort is one of the most stereotypical 'Disney' villains I've seen...I could tell from a mile off that he was a bad guy. I'm still interested to see what is going to happen with him, the others and Terra. Must play more.

I would say that I like the Kingdom Hearts games, but I don't know if I would call myself a fanatic... Urgh...I don't want to start flame wars or anything. I just wanted to get across my initial feelings on Birth By Sleep. Even though I've highlighted some of it's shortcomings, I still think its a good game so far. I'm having a blast playing it so far.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey (DS) I've been putting an hour or two into this here and there, and slowly getting through the second sector, codenamed Bootes. I'm enjoying it so far, its got a distinctive SMT vibe going on, with some gameplay aspects from other games in the series. Some are quite dated, like the negotiation system which frustrates me greatly at times. I don't like that you can only have 10 or so Demons at the same time as well..I'm terrible at deciding on which to fuse and which to keep...but I'll get used to that, 10 is more than enough really. I really don't like when your demons level up and want to learn new moves. Its the same as in Nocturne I think, the old move will be replaced, not always with an improved one. You can't tell what move is going to be learnt, but then again you can just stop them from learning the new move to start with..It seems clunky and unneccessary(I can never spell that word.) So I'm around 10 or so hours in and think I'm getting near the end of the Bootes sector. I found a sidequest I want to do though; it involves escorting some of the decoy squad back through the dungeon, and fighting a rather nasty boss. When I last played it got a cheap Mudo (instant death) spell on my main character giving me a game over after I had hacked away at it for a good 5-10 minutes. So I've not played it since then..apparantely that is a SMT recurring theme across many of the games, instant deaths...

I will go back to it some time soon, as I'm enjoying what I've seen so far. I'm just catching up to around the same play time in Kingdom Hearts (although I've put in more time to BBS than SJ now, probably to do with the pacing.)

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