Thursday, April 28, 2005

Lego Star Wars Episode II: attack of the 2x2 stud pieces

I've had to stop playing this for now, because I've got to the end of Episode 2 and, while I do know the rough story of what's going to happen by the end of the third film, I want to keep some suspense. I mean, I'm expecting dodgy acting, dire scripts and dubious special effects, so I've got to have something to look forward to.

I've been trying to convince my girlfriend to play this in two-player mode, but she doesn't seem keen. She'd never seen Star Wars before meeting me, admittedly, so she misses out on the childhood memories. Maybe I ought to get her Barbie Horse Adventures.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Lego Star Wars

(or Star Wars Lego)

It's rare that a game makes me laugh out loud, but this has, several times today. It's just so charming and amusing. Yes, it's a kid's game. So what? It's fun. And I'm not even a massive Star Wars fan.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Timesplitters: Future Perfect: completed!

Completed, that is, in a limited way. I've completed the story mode (on normal difficulty level), but have made very little progress on the challenge mode. And medals in arcade mode are very rare.

This game is superb. The story mode is uttely compelling, well structured, and very funny. The game has more humour in it than any other I've played, not just in its characterisation, not just in its set-pieces, but in its whole self-parodying nature and its throwaway gags.

Just as an example, last night I was making my way through a massive underground town (one that reminded me very much of the dreamt-about Whole New World from War of the Worlds) and found myself being shot at from an upper balcony. Next to this shooter was an oil drum, which I shot with my sniper rifle. The soldier was thrown over the balcony, and fell screaming "Aaaargh!". I'd turned away slighty, when I heard an "Owwwwww!". Scanning back, I was that he'd landed on the raining of a lower balcony, legs either side, with a grimace on his face. I actually died shortly after, because someone else shot me while I was laughing.

It's very difficult to convey humour in a video game. Unless you go for incredibly obvious cutscenes or set dialogue, the comedy that can be conveyed is limited. But Timesplitters: FP manages to be funny in a subtle way, through background animations, overemphasised locations and slightly ludicrous characterisation. It's all believable, but unlikely.

The story itself is pretty clever. It sees you frequently going back in time to help yourself out; sometimes knowingly and sometimes not. There's a rather good twist near the end too, which I won't spoil. I'll just say that it made me want to restart the game immediately. On 'hard', naturally.

Thoroughly recommended.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

James Bond games are a varied bunch

Goldeneye on the N64 was great. Amazingly great.

My friend got 007 Nightfire on the Gamecube, and the multiplayer of that was also great. I bought it on the Xbox when I saw it for a fiver. I played through the single player mode for a bit, but it was dull. Insipid and uninspired. I gave up when I got to a section where I had to manouvre my car underwater, made frustrating by the appalling controls rather than any game difficulty.

I was recently given Goldeneye: Rogue Agent on the Xbox. Again, the multiplayer is superb, more so given that it's playable online. There's nothing really special about the multiplayer - there's certainly nothing unique to this game, other than maybe the Mag Rail gun which shoots through walls, and the golden gun which massively unbalances the agme in favour of the holder. Some of the multiplayer maps are well designed, and they include interactions (such as collapsing floors, missile launches, and gas chambers). Some are badly designed. But they're fun to play and explore, and I've played it lots for this reason.

The single player isn't that good. It's well presented, with good graphical effects, and great music (from Paul Oakenfold), but it's very much an on-rails game. You'll frequently come to an area with a few doors. they all look the same, but only one will open. You'll be given a new ability (like the ability to see through walls, or the ability to hack opponant's weapons so they malfunction) from time to time, which you'll have to use in the next level but probably never again after that. The game was obviously designed to be played on a PS2 joypad, because it compensates for the large dead zone on the Dual Shock, making control on the Xbox joypad very jumpy indeed (and I'd hate to see how it worked on the Gamecube joypad).

But all that said, it's not that bad either - around 256% better than that of Nightfire. It's certainly very playable if you want a no-thought blaster, and it's interesting to see how EA are really keen to get as many old Bond characters in there as possible. It's also amusing to see how unsexy they can make an Honor Blackman character look. Goldeneye: Rogue Agent definitely has a place in my games collection.

You can tell it's not a labour of love like the original Goldeneye was, however. It's just a bit lazy. That's not the worst crime in the world (the worst crime is not offering customisable controls. I'm looking at you, Doom 3 Collectors Edition), but it does make for a bit of a dull experience. I wonder if I'll ever complete it.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Doom 3 and 2 and 1

Doom 3 is a scary game. I've not played much of it yet, but that's because I'm a wimp and I get put off when I'm stuck in a dark place with something killing me from the darkness.

I bought the Collectors Edition because it includes versions of Doom and Doom 2, playable in split-screen co-op modes. This will be ideal for when John and Kieron come around. Or at least it would.

The first first person shooter I played on consoles was Doom, on the 32X. It was great. The first fully-3D FPS I played on consoles was Goldeneye. For this I used the control scheme of champions: looking on the analogue stick (giving extra precision) with movement on the C buttons. This then allowed use of the A and B buttons to switch weapons and open doors.

So, look/turn on the left hand side and move/sidestep on the right. Fine.

I got used to this. So much so, that if a game makes me use the other way around, I can't. I got about two levels through XIII before giving up.

Luckily, Doom 3 does allow me to configure the controls to suit me. It took a bit of a struggle to get them set up right, admittedly, but now they're fine.

But Doom 1 and 2 don't. I can't even find a way to put the controls to a classic Doom method of move and turn on a single (left) stick. If I can't be bothered to adjust my controlling method for a full game, I'm certainly not going to change it for a throwaway bonus. Cheers, id. You idiots.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Zoo Keeper: pure genius

No, that's not its subtitle, but it should be.

This is the reason I said that Mr Driller: DS was possibly the best game available. It's because this actually is.

It's a simple concept. Switch tiles to make a line of three, and these will disappear. Make chain reactions. Get rid of a certain number of each tile and move up a level. Score lots.

It's so good that I'm not wasting any more time writing this. It's only £20 in Asda. Find out for yourself.