Sunday, July 29, 2007

Pokémon Pearl: down t'pit

I'm getting tired of encountering geodudes now. I chose Chimchar as my starter, which means I have a very cool pokémon other then the fact that he's a bit rubbish against rock-types. Luckily, I've levelled him up to the point now that he's learnt Mach Punch, so he's at least partially effective, and Shinx and Machop can help him out. So I've got the coal badge, after hassling the gym leader in the mine, and am now trying to battle my way through a big cave thing to get to the next city. I hate caves; finding your way around a maze is OK but when you're being interrupted every now and then for a random battle, it's a little tiring.

Anyway, Pokémon Pearl is great, really. The game mechanics are pretty similar to the previous games, of course, but it's so much prettier and the touch screen is generally well used for the copious menus, particularly in battles. Outside, though, the traditional controls seem to be the focus, which is a bit odd, particularly given the depth of some of the items menus. I'm sure it'll make sense in time ...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Essential Sudoku DS: a brick wall

And it's not my fault.

There's a puzzle (around #585) which requires guesswork, I'm sure of it. I've tried three possible methods and they've all failed. I can't be bothered any more.

Plus I bought Pokémon Pearl at lunchtime. Yes, I know, I've not completed Sapphire yet. Whatever.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bomberman LIVE: red bomber, one more!

I tried out the demo last week, and last night I bought the full game. And played it a lot.

It has two main drawbacks. Firstly, the Xbox 360's d-pad is a bit spongy and inaccurate, so it can be tricky to control your character. This isn't helped by the faux 3D perspective which means your character's head overlaps with the row of the playing field above where you're standing - making it a bit tricky to work out when you're in the path of a bomb and when you're not.

The second drawback is common with almost all games on Live. American teenagers who disconnect when they lose. Last night I played in six tournaments, and finished two. And two of them didn't get past the first game, when the host lost.

I wasn't too down though. I won a tournament, 5-3-1-1, which was very pleasing indeed.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Essential Sudoku DS: 500!

It's about all I play on the train now. I'm well beyond puzzle 500 now, and progressing faster and faster.

I bought Me and My Katamari for the PSP when I was in Bahrain, and haven't even opened it yet.

Burnout Revenge: checking traffic

I'm in two minds about this.

In Burnout Revenge (and, I believe, its predecessor, though I've not played that) you're able to hit most traffic going the same way as you without it triggering a crash. In previous games, any contact would lead to the game resetting you on the road and you losing time. You had to choose between driving on the correct side of the road and being able to more easily avoid cars while missing out on building up your boost bar, and driving on the wrong side of the road, getting bonuses to build up boost but at the same time having traffic madly dashing towards you. In this game there's no choice to be made. Hitting other cars up the backside gives you just as much boost bonus, and hardly slows you down at all - certainly not enough to offset one or two crashes.

This makes the game a lot easier. I've already unlocked up to level seven of ten (although I'm trying to complete each level, so I've only raced a little beyond level four). But it's a lot more fun, in a mindless immediate rush way.

And it's fantastic in high-definition. Really, really fantastic.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter: fighting in Mexico

It's a bit tricky.

Having said that, I've made some good progress, and haven't killed off my entire team too many times. The future setting gives you some fun gadgets to play with, including a head-up display which identifies friends and foes. But there are still some limits ... how come I can heal my team, or can instruct them to heal each other, but if I get shot they can't heal me? Why can't I swap guns with others? And why are they happy to run through a hail of bullets just because I told them so?

I've rescued the Mexican president now, though we're not out of the danger area completely. I suspect something else is about to happen given my team's apprehension ...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Forza Motorsport 2: like Gran Turismo, but fun

Although I got this along with my Xbox 360, I've been rather daunted about starting it. It's a huge game, with countles cars and tracks, and the career mode just seemed to require a lot of commitment. Even online is just full of people taking the game too seriously, as evidenced by the posts on Internet message boards.

But, you know, I'm glad I at least started to play the game. It's another racing game on the 360, yes, but it's probably even better looking than Test Drive Unlimited, and it's got a far better driving model. The structure of the game's not as innovative, granted, but this is a serious driving simulator, and it plays like one.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Paper Mario: the whole castle's been kidnapped

What a surprise. Peach has been kidnapped. Again. Mario must rescue her. Again.

The roots of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga are evident here, from the action-based turn-based battles to the item system. It's probably about as funny, possibly more clever, and the paper-thin characters are really quite clever.

I'm worried this'll get lost among all my other games and other stuff that's happening. I might have to put it on the front page of my Wii Channels to encourage me to play it.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Test Drive Unlimited: silver shame

A whole bunch of surprises here, indeed.

Yes, I have an Xbox 360. I bought it last Friday, before I went to the Dome for an evening out, and before our games day on Saturday. I'd just been paid for the first time in my new job - indeed, the same new job that's left me rather busy and with a lack of games diary updating time - so I took the leaving present from my old job (HMV gift vouchers), plus the pay I got for the day of holiday I didn't take before I left, and got the premium version of the console, along with Forza 2 and Spiderman 3 plus a remote control thingie, for £280. I traded Spiderman 3 in straight away in the Gamestation in Orpington for Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and Burnout Revenge.

All of these games are great - although Forza may be just a little too realistic for me to get good at. And Burnout has just too much locked at the start, which was very frustrating when we tried to play it multiplayer on Saturday.

But the star of the show so far for me is Test Drive Unlimited. Playing through an HDTV, it looks stunning, and the whole game's really well structured. I've now got two cars - an Audi TT and an E-Type - and have been driving around the island competing in races and speed tests. Last night for the first time I got a silver instead of a gold in one of the latter - I'll have to retry it later with a car with better acceleration. I've already found where you can buy a Caterham.

The way it's tied in with Xbox Live is marvellous. Driving around to get to events, you see other player just driving their own way. You can challenge them at any time - but given my current slow transport I've not done so. But you can knock them off the road. Of course, I only do so when provoked ...