Thursday, March 30, 2006

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories: multiplayer

On the tube home tonight, a random bloke asked me what I was playing on the PSP. I was, at the time playing GTA:LCS. So I told him.

He was also playing GTA:LCS, and asked if I wanted to try the multiplayer game. I didn't realise there was a mulitplayer game ...

It took a bit ogf hassle to link up, but one we had we were able to run around Portland trying to kill each other. It was pretty fun, although the controls did their best to ruin it. I won 4-1 in the end, when we had to get off of the tube.

Cheers, Pieter, if you ever read this.

Toy Golf: silver course unlocked

Having struggled to get below 18 for the first three holes (par for each hole is 6), I managed to get an albatross, and eagle and a par to get a total of 13. So, I've unlocked the silver course. It's the same three holes but with another three afterwards. It seems a bit harder, but hole six is masterful - it's a par 3, but I've got a birdie at it a few times. You just need to hit the first ramp with the right amount of power and the ball rolls all the way down to the hole.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Midweek Challenges - 29/03/2006

Get onto the second island in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories.

Clear the Bronze Course in Toy Golf.

Start Prince of Persia: Revelations.

Complete up to level 20 of Exit.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories: my mum hates me

And she's trying to kill me. As you can imagine, this isn't very nice.

I think I'm nowhere near getting off the first island; I'm stuck on a mission where my mother's hired hitmen to take me out. I dispatch loads of them, but then four arrive all armed with machine guns, and kill me almost instantly. Not fair.

The problem is not with the game, but with the controls. They're just not suited for any sort of precision. It's very frustrating.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Pro Evolution Soccer 5: running away with it

I'm now second in the league with two draws, one loss, and five wins. The top team has ten wins. That's just not on.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Burnout Legends: opening up the coupe class

Not only have I completed the compact class, but I've also completed the muscle class. There were a few tricky events in the muscle class, including a Road Rage event where I just couldn't take out enough opposition without ruining my car. In particular, the track went under an elevated roadway, and there were pillars everywhere, which I kept hitting.

In the end I got a silver - I think I've got mostly gold with three silvers over all events. That'll do for me.

I've also played a few more crash events. I think my favourite has to be "Jackknife Junction", where I managed to hit a car so it bounced back and forth across the road taking out anything that drove near it, including six lorries.

I've completed 18% of the game. It's rather good.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Excellent game, so far. It's a cross between a platformer and a puzzle game, sort of like Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time was in places. It's also like Krusty's Super Fun House in that you've got to guide computer characters out of the door - or, more to the point, to the exit. These compute characters are of several types, and you can instruct them to do stuff - for example, you need two youngsters (or one youngster plus yourself) to pull an adult up over an obstacle.

It's a little slow, but I think that's more due to the style of the game than anything - it's certainly been built around the speed. It may become more problematic later on, but currently (I've finished the first ten levels) the time limit isn't a barrier in any way.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Pro Evolution Soccer 5: a famous vicory

I've started playing through a league now, as Chelsea (one of the two licensed clubs they've got in the game - I'm currently trying to find an option file to rename all the other clubs and give them the right kits and so on). So far I've drawn twice, lost once, and won twice.

The last victory, against 'Manchester Reds', was great. On the tube home last night, I scored three goals in the first half, against none from them. I then put the PSP into sleep mode. On resuming the game this morning, Manchester Reds had obviously got very fed up waiting, and proceeded to injure three of my players. I still scored another two goals, though - finishing 5-0.

Toy Golf

Another Gizmondo game. You play a game of golf around a Micro-Machines-esque household, by aiming the ball and controlling the strength of the shot - you only putt, though. It's strangely addictive, even though I can't complete the first course under par and so am restricted to three holes.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Animal Crossing: Wild World: loadsamoney

Thanks to Jaxon, I've now got over 10,000,000 bells in the bank. The town hall had better send me something nice.

Sticky Balls

This week I'm set to fail all my challenges. Well, maybe not. But I have just bought my second new handheld in as many weeks - I've got a Gizmondo. HMV were selling the £130 model for £40, and all games for just over a fiver. I've had a bit of a play with it, and it's a pretty nice handheld - much easier to hold than the PSP, but with fewer buttons and a much smaller screen.

Along with the handheld I bought Sticky Balls. It's a game where you have to knock coloured balls around a level getting them to stick to each other. In doing this, you must make sure whichever ball you hit touches a ball of the same colour first, otherwise you commit a foul - and you've only got so many fouls at your disposal. It's much better than it sounds - and is rather addictive. It's almost worth the price of the console plus game itself.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Midweek Challenges - 22/03/2006

Yes, I failed everything last week. But I had an excuse.

Get onto the second island in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories.

Get to 10% complete in Burnout Legends.

Win three matches in Pro Evolution Soccer 5.

Play some of Exit. I would set a more specific challenge, but I've not played it yet so I don't know what sort of challenges can be set. From the box, it appears to have levels, so I'll challenge myself to clear level 1.

Pro Evolution Soccer 5

It's virtually identical to the home console versions.

This is mainly a good thing. The game plays really well, and there's very little slowdown other than in cutscenes where it doesn't really affect gameplay. It's as hard as ever to score, and it does reward passing and building up play. It even works OK with the analouge nub - maybe I'm just getting used to it now. It's mising a few play modes - only one league is available, and the number of teams is cut down - but the basics are there.

But they really ought to have thought about how the game should be redesigned. They've left in all the videos, the cutscenes, the elaborate menus ... all the things that mean it takes a good couple of minutes to get into a game, past all the loading sections. It loads an introductory cutscene for 20 seconds; I press X as soon as it appears; it then goes to load in the game.

Worth waiting for though. It's great to play.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Lots of new games

As I mentioned, it's my birthday today (and will be for at least another four minutes). We went out for drinks this evening and my friends have been very generous indeed. For I have been given:
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 5 (PSP)
  • Exit (PSP)
  • Prince of Persia: Revelations (PSP)
  • FIFA 2005 (Xbox)
I suspect the last one of these was because John got it for less than a fiver (effectively), but it does mean at last I can play football against him online. And he also got me Prince of Persia - which is supposedly pretty good, being a remake of Warrior Within with bugs removed and additional storyline development.

I'll have to play them all now. What hardship. Opinions as and when I form them.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Gadgets galore

It's my birthday tomorrow; I met with my parents today in our new house to do some decorating and they gave me a present.

An iPod. I think the multimedia functions of my PSP have just become rather redundant.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories: the car lot

I can't believe there's a side mission which sees you driving a car around the city slowly and carefully to try and tempt an old woman to buy it. I further can't believe that it's so hard.

I've had a bit of a play with the PSP's other capabilities this weekend. The video function's great. I ripped my DVD of the Lion King to my computer, then converted it to a lower resolution - it comes to about 600Mb, and took about 4 hours to convert. Then, after that, it was just a case of transferring it to the PSP via a USB cable (and storing it on the memory stick), and then watching it. The PSP's speakers are pretty good, and the screen's great.

Transferring stuff to the PSP is really easy. Films are the hardest, in fact, since you have to name them in a certain way. Music and photos can just be dragged across as if the PSP were just an external hard drive. You don't have to install anything on the computer, you just plug in the USB lead and away you go. Great.

The music function's just as good as the video, but it's lacking a few features from what I could see. No random songs option, and I don't think you're able to turn the screen off while playing songs which would impact on the battery life. Again, though, it sounded good through the speakers (and even better through headphones).

Photos are clear on the screen and there's a nice slideshow effect. Not a lot more to say.

And the Internet browser's great. Now, it really does miss having a keyboard (or even touch screen), and as such I'll never be able to type on here using it, but sitting on the sofa and browsing the BBC website while watching TV is really useful - especially given the quick startup (from sleep mode).

Big thumbs up here.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

They've done a fine job of squeezing GTA3D onto a handheld. Technically, it's very impressive indeed. It's fun as well, to a point. That point being where you realise that it's really, really hard to control. As ever with 3D GTA games, the on-foot sections are the hardest to control, but this surpasses anything that's gone before in the "no, not that way!" stakes. Partially due to the rubish analogue nub, partially due to the sensitivity of changes in directions, and partially due to the camera that gets stuck behind the nearest building whenever it can ... it's just very frustrating.

It's frustrating because I love the GTA games, and want to be able to play this. And when I'm playing it, it's fun, but I'm continually thinking that it would be so much better on a home console where I could control the character.

Having said that, Ive played it loads and still want to play it some more, so it must be doing something right.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Burnout Legends: extended play

Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow. My hands.

Six events completed now, including a couple of very annoying one-on-one races. The way in which no matter how well you race, you'll never leave your opponent very far behind is very annoying - I had an almost perfect race with constant boost, and one crash right at the end meant that I came second.

Still, done now. This is a great game.

Burnout Legends

This week I'm set to fail all my challenges. Not because I'm lazy; not because I'm just pessimistic. No, it's because I've just taken delivery of a (white) PSP. As such, I think I'll be stuck in the thrill of the new for the next week or so, and it's unlikely that Pokémon Sapphire, Black or Advance Wars: Dual Strike will get a look in. I'll water the flowers in Animal Crossing, of course.

I've not had much of an opportunity to play with it yet, but I couldn't resist, at lunchtime, turning it on, looking at the menus and setting up my name and other information. And trying out Burnout Legends, which is one of the games I got with it.

It's very good indeed. I liked Burnout and Burnout 2, but Burnout 3 was just a bit too heavy for my tastes. Burnout Legends isn't as 'in your face' as Burnout 3, but uses a lot of the same gameplay mechanics, while also returning to the ideas that made the first two games so good.

There are only a couple of issues. The PSP may look nice, but its controls are utterly retarded. The analogue nub is virtually impossible to use accurately, which means that I was trying to rely on the D-pad to steer. And the D-pad is a Sony one, which means it's the worse D-pad ever made. I'm sure I'll get used to it, but it's very awkward to hold and use, and after fifteen minutes of playing, holding down the right shoulder button to accelerate almost constantly, my hands did start to hurt.

I can't wait until I get to go home ...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Midweek Challenges - 15/03/2006

Complete level four of Black.

Work out where to go next in Pokémon Sapphire, and go there.

Complete the Advance Wars: Dual Strike map that I'm playing, without quitting.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Turnabout Goodbyes

Rather a long and complicated case, but I liked the way it drew in stuff from everything before and filled out the backstory for the whole game. Good twist at the end as well. Again, not giving too much away, some points:
  • The young Miles Edgeworth and his bow tie were amusing
  • Some of the dialogue is very melodramatic - especially from Larry Butz
  • Maya gets on my nerves rather a lot
  • A stun gun? Hmm
  • Whoooooooooop!
I'll move onto the fifth case at some point soon but I think I want to play something else first.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Black: level 3

I ran through this again last night and completed six secondary objectives. It's a bit easier when you know where all the RPG launchers are standing.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Black: the first two levels

This would be the first three levels, but it's not, because of the lack of ability to save midway through a level. Not all of us can always guarantee a full hour to play on something, EA. More on that later.

Anyway. Very good game other then the saving annoyance. Oh, and the unskippable cut scenes nonsense. And the fact that it lets you set up all the controls as you want them, then prompts you to create a profile, doing which wipes the controls you spent ten minutes perfecting. Still, at least it lets you customise the controls to be exactly how you like them.

This last point adds on at least 2 points to a score out of ten.

It's very stylish - very orange and, er, black. The guns are suitable meaty and weighty, and while your movement is a little too constrained for comfort, it's not too slow for you to think the game's in the process of crashing. It adds tension too - running from gravestone to gravestone to avoid the sniper is rather breathtaking when you can't just dive from one to the next. The AI is a little suspect - characters run out to the same point over and over again, even if they get hit by a bullet every time they move. But when they're running towards you, it's fairly realistic.

I've now played the third level one and five sixths times. The first time I played it, I got to the big open area near the end where hundred of enemies rush out at you. And then I had to go out. "Never mind," thought I, "I've just passed a checkpoint, so I'll quit out and when I come back I'll play from there." Oh no. The game let me play from the beginning of the level, and nothing else. Retracing my steps took quite a bit of time - but at least I knew what to expect. I got to the end of the level and celebrated a bit too soon - I'd only completed 2 secondary objectives, and had forgotton to check before I finished the mission whether I'd actually pass or not. On normal difficulty, see, you have to pass at least three secondary objectives.

So, I'll be playing the third level again soon. At least it's a good game, so I don't mind playing the level again. Although if it fails me next time ...

Friday, March 10, 2006

Pokémon Sapphire: Norman stormed

My dad is defeated. He had some nasty level 30-odd pokémon, which used a move called facade which took my energy down pretty quickly. Only three of my pokémon were actually effective - Kiria, Combusken and Gyrados - since the other three were, and are, too low a level. I'll have to go around levelling them up a bit.

The fight was a bit tense though. It didn't help that Norman used hyper potion on each of his pokémon just as I was about to defeat them each time. I defeated his first two pokémon after a while, and took his last Slaking down to very little health. Then he healed, and hit my Gyrados with facade, taking me down to six health.

Slaking can only attack every other turn. I used dragon rage, and had a critical hit - I knocked around two-thirds of his energy off. Slaking lazed around.

I used dragon rage again. Slaking was left with one pixel of energy. I had no other pokémon left, and Slaking was about to kill Gyrados I was about to lose.

And then Slaking used tackle. And missed.

Gyrados, use strength! Bish bash bosh. Down he goes. That'll be you defeated, Mr Dad.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Midweek Challenges - 08/03/2006

Since Phoenix Wright took so much time, I only managed to complete one challenge last week. I'll be a bit more realistic this time ...

Complete case 4 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Complete another Advance Wars: Dual Strike 2CO map

Progress to the next gym in Pokémon Sapphire

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Turnabout Samurai

That was rather long.

I've just finished the third case of Phoenix Wright, which seems to have lasted an absolute age. There were so many twists to the plot it was like an M Night Shyamalan film. Apparently it was only three days in court, but it felt much much longer. Luckily, there wasn't much that you had to remember all the way from the start to the end, and what there was was very heavily hinted about. Especially the spear.

The game really is a bit limited, in that there were a few times when I wanted to point out erors in a testimony and couldn't. And occasionally you know there's a contradiction, but you have to present evidence to object and the 'correct' evidence you have to choose is rather tenuously linked.

Still, it gets pretty exciting at the end of a case, and the main characters are a little more fleshed out now. I must say that I wanted Will Powers and his three frames of animation to hang, though.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Turnabout Sisters

That was a bit of a shock at the start. And it went a bit odd in the middle. Again, no spoilers, so I won't say anything about the case, except that it was a lot longer and more satisfying than the first.

I still feel constrained as to what I can and cannot do, however. I want to be able to object based on what people said before, not just object based on evidence.

And I want to be able to punch Edgeworth.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Public Gaming

John, Kieron and I met up last night in a pub in London for drinks. And after a while, after eating some rather nice burgers, we got out our DSs, and played games.

We started with Mario Kart DS, which was great. I won. Kieron will claim he would have won had the bar staff not come over to us and started to talk about how they were planning on installing an Xbox 2 and a PS3 for customer use on a Saturday afternoon when the pub was quiet. Kieron will claim that, but he would be fibbing, since I was paying as much attention to the barman as he was.

It was interesting, in fact, that three of the (male) bar staff all came over and were talking to us about videogames, whereas I've never been approached by bar staff wanting to talk about anything else in the past. Oh, with one exception. It was all very pleasent.

I think we were all slightly apprehensive about the reaction we'd get playing games in the pub, but it was pretty good, in fact - when we were playing Mario Kart almost everyone who walked past was trying to see what we were playing, probably because of the way we were just as animated as normal, laughing, telling each other we were gits, groaning at being hit with four red shells on the trot, urging more speed out of our karts ... I didn't think we would be, but I suppose the game demands it. Having drinks probably helped.

Second we played some Advance Wars Dual Strike. The first game lasted about 3 minutes before the connection dropped, which was annoying - we've never had the connection problem before with any other game, but AWDS seems to be very flakey. We played that for ages the second time around but it was a bit of a stalemate and got a little dull. Especially because John had four or five battleships; Kieron had lined up infantry all along the shore so John couldn't land, and I had loads of bases and territory but had nowhere to attack. I can't remember the name of the map.

We finished up with some Bomberman DS. I can't remember who won that. I do remember being the red bomber and saying "Red Bomber, one more!" in a slightly high pitched voice, far too loud.

The pub we were in is the Prince of Wales Feathers on Warren Street. A good place to play games. Unfortunately no TheCloud wifi. I might suggest they get it.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Midweek Challenges - 01/03/2006

Complete cases 2 and 3 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Complete another Advance Wars: Dual Strike 2CO map

Progress to the next gym in Pokémon Sapphire

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: The First Turnabout

Everyone's been raving about this, and I'm not overly sure why. It seems to be a pretty standard text and point-and-click adventure game, although you do have to think a bit harder than in some I've played. The first case was pretty short, and was really just a lesson in how to argue your case, present evidence, find contradictions, and so on. It seems a little limited in terms of how you interact, but that may have been because it was the tutorial.

Interestingly, it's blindingly obvious what actually happened in the case very near the start, but you need to prove it, which is the tricky side.

I'll move onto case two soon.