Monday, March 31, 2008

Geometry Wars Galaxies: ζ clear

That took quite some time.  There was one big sticking point - a level, shaped like an eight-pointed star, where the only enemies were the light blue rhombi and the dark blue nuclei, both of which dash towards the ship at differing speeds.  You get one life and no smart bombs.  The enemies appear equally spaced around the ship, so it's not easy to get them all before they arrive.  I got to bronze quite a few times, but silver was out of reach.

To start with, I tried using the bait drone, to attract the enemies away from me.  I'm only half way through levelling that drone up though, and it was rubbish - attracting enemies around one time in four, and being useless the rest of the time.  I tried moving, or finding somewhere to hide, but it was useless.

In the end I found a way to use the turret drone.  I sheltered against the side wall of one of the side star sections, and aimed to the point of the star every time I cleared a wave - so as to destroy the enemy there at its first appearance.  Often the turret would take out the rest of the wave, but if not I just had to quickly aim the other way to do so.  After a while enemies stopped appearing actually in the star point, so I moved right to the end and cleaned up from there.  Just after I got silver, however, enemies reappeared at the end of the point - but I've got silver now, and that's all that matters.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Halo 3: pretty pictures

While having breakfast this morning I was playing around with the theatre mode in Halo 3. I've used it before, as you'll have seen from my "behind you" screenshot. What I didn't appreciate was that it actually saves films of all your single-player games as well.

So, a couple of highlights from the last week or so ...

There was a room full of Covenant grunts, jackals and a gold brute. The first couple of times I went in, I managed to kill most of the jackals and grunts, but the brute killed me in the meantime. I managed to find an invisibility pickup, turned it on, ran into the middle of the room and stuck a plasma grenade to the brute; then ran back and watched the explosion before finishing the survivors.

This is what happens when the Flood panics you. I was carrying a brute shot, and suddenly was jumped on by a couple of Flood. Even watching through the replay it made me jump! I fired at the first one, standing next to me, using whatever weapon I had equipped. Oops. Luckily it didn't quite kill me. The remaining Flood did though.

This is from a multiplayer game a week or so ago. That's me in the red. I've just killed the blue person, who was jumping towards me. Unfortunately, that firey blob to his right is a fire grenade which he threw just before dying. Two seconds later I was dead too; killed from beyond the grave.

Halo 3: completed!

Hmm, that wasn't that long really ...

Maybe I played more before than I thought, or maybe it was just the solid three-hour session on Saturday, but that seemed a lot shorter than Halo 2. From where I was, I went and found Cortana in the infected ship, and escaped; fought my way into the control room on the half-complete Halo, killed the Spark with four shots from the big laser thing, activated the Halo and ran away. Then I found a warthog and thought I'd have a repeat of the timed sequence from the first game - but it wasn't timed, which made it more fun. The big explosions around me kept me going, though, and the track falling away in front made some parts tricky. But I hit the ramp at the end, jumped into the ship, and ... credits roll.

I'll enjoy playing this through in co-operative.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Halo 3: such a convoluted story

The original plan was to play through Halo 3 for the first time in co-op, alongside Kieron and John, fighting our way through the Covenant and the Flood together. And then I read that you actually can only play missions you've unlocked ... and if none of us have unlocked them, that could be a problem.

Last night I was on the exercise bike for three hours as part of my marathon training, so I progressed with the story. I'd played a bit before, working towards stopping the prophet Truth from activating the weapon stored on Earth (though for some reason I've not written about that, it seems), and I carried on fighting on Earth. We stopped the weapon being activated, but a massive portal opened up, and Cortana sent a message on a Flood-infected ship crashing to the ground. I went through the portal to find the Ark, from where the Halos could be controlled, and tracked down the remaining prophet - and the Arbiter killed him. Not before Truth's lackeys had killed Keyes, though. Sob.

While the game's made up of excellently-designed levels, and the way the set-pieces are built around the AI is really clever, it's not really that memorable. I suppose the individual fights are unmemorable in a good way, in that the whole game is actually excellent.

There were some highlights. Taking a Scorpion tank through installations, destroying Wraiths and Ghosts. Flying the Falcons to take out two Scarabs at the same time. Allying with the Flood to get to the prophet, running along and seeing fallen enemies being consumed to join my army. Great fun.

We found a new ring, being built to replace the one destroyed in the first game, and it was explained in a rather long-winded way that we could use this to destroy the Flood and not kill everything and everything. All I need to do is find Cortana, who's somewhere on the Flood-infected High Charity ...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Hexic HD: two black pearls

I really love Hexic. It's perfect for when you want to just relax and take your time over a game. And I'm quite good at it. I managed to get two black pearls, which is amazing given the hoops you have to go through to get even one. I had four starflowers towards my last black pearl too. I was getting quite excited.

And then the stupid game-breaking feature came in: a bomb which was impossible to diffuse before it went off. I can understand the bombs; you do need some way to lose, and they do make the game more anxious. But it isn't asking much, surely, to request that it be always possible to diffuse them? Otherwise you get to a stage where the game is deciding when it's game over, with nothing to do with your skill. Rubbish.

I will no doubt be told that it wasn't impossible to diffuse this bomb, but it was. The yellow bomb sat alone, no other yellows near to it. There were only three hexagons underneath the bomb which could be cleared, and when they went no yellows appeared above it. All other moves were on the other side of the play area, so any yellows that appeared there were useless anyway.

How you're meant to collect six black pearls when the game is this unfair, I have no idea.

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations: nobody's died?

A case of burglary, not murder? I am shocked and stunned.

Project Gotham Racing 4: two wheels bad, four wheels good

I don't like the bikes. They handle oddly, you have to be really careful around the cars, and the rider is a bit oddly animated at times. I'm quite happy to have the computers ride the bikes, and it's fine if other people want to ride them, but ...

I was quite happily going through the arcade mode, and then I got to a stage where you must use bikes. I'd resigned myself to only completing half the game as it is (for each arcade mode, you get two sets of medals, one for the car and one for the bike), but even that's not good enough. I'm being forced to ride rickety bikes which fall over if you breathe on them. And the computer cars have a propensity to drive straight into me. Huff.

Sensible World of Soccer: a wonderful achievement

Last night I gained 5 gamerpoints. They were for the hardest achievement I've managed to unlock so far.

I won a game of SWOS against the computer.

Now, yes, I was playing as England against the Faroe Isles. I did play eight games before this winning one. I did only score once in those eight games (and then lost 4-1 overall). But let that not take my glee away from me. I won a game!

It's not as good as the old Mega Drive game. It's annoying, the controls are awful, and the computer's just too good. At least I can rest easy knowing that I won a game, and never have to try to again.

Project Gotham Racing 4: I've got me a career

The career mode in PGR 4 isn't quite as good as the old single player modes, which is a shame as it's obviously intended as the main part of the game. The old single player is most similar to the new arcade mode, but that's a bit odd with you being restricted to a single car for all the

As with PGR2 (and the small part of PGR3 I played before getting bored), I'm aiming for the silvers in the arcade mode, and so far have got them all without a hitch. The different types of gameplay are great - I particularly like the 'Time v Kudos' mode, which pauses the clock all the time you're earning Kudos points - large powerslides never felt more satisfying.

The career is much harder though. For each event you compete against three computer-controlled characters, and I've only won two of the five events I've completed so far - I came second in the other three. Interesting I seem to win by far for those races which aren't actually races - Hot Laps, Cone Challenges and so on - but often have difficulty in the street races. It all feels a bit unbalanced.

And there are some really daft things in the game too. Who put the names and nationalities in such large text, so that they can completely obscure the track ahead? Who decided that it was a good idea to only allow the Tourist mode to be playable in multiplayer online? I want to drive around London by myself!

Having said all that, I really do like PGR, and this does seem to be the best yet - yes, even better than PGR2. That's saying something.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations: piles of unbelievability

So, Phoenix eats a necklace, the prosecution is so flustered by my brilliance that he loses his hair, and my boss won't stop talking about his bottom problems. Really quite offputting.

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations: lovely pink jumper

The first case of the third game is very much a piece of retrospective explanation, with Phoenix himself accused of a murder while he was at university, and Mia defending him in only her second case.  As ever, it's rather easy and holds your hand all the way through, but I'm managing to solve the problems in many cases before they're even presented as problems - I mean, a necklace with a bottle on it ...