You must realize you are doomed

Originally posted at GameSpot on June 20, 2008

Conquered the galaxy this past Wednesday, June 18th, 2008, as the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Crushing the Republic never felt so good. Again, Star Wars: Battlefront II shows why it has some great replay value.

I think the game also shows how really little you have to do to make me happy as a Star Wars fan. Have some good locations, decent gameplay, and a very shallow “strategy” mode thrown in, and I’m good. Don’t misunderstand me – I really enjoy galactic conquest mode; it’s just that it seems to be the most basic of strategy that they could have used. (Actually, I think that would go to the conquest mode in the first Battlefront)

Be that as it may, my point is that I do enjoy the conquest mode of the game because it does just enough to be fun. I would like to see much deeper strategy, but the essentials are there: 1.) You conquer the galaxy and 2.) Actually, you only need the first one.

The ending was particularly satisfying; I don’t usually buy bonuses, I go right for the soldier types and fleets. I saved a hero bonus, however, for the last battle which ended up on Yavin 4. Darth Maul was the “hero” of choice, and I simply crushed the clones. Taking every spawn point they had except their base, I was able to run them down again and again before they could regroup. The last kill was a tossed light saber up at the last Republic clone, up in a high turret. . .it was beautiful.

As the CIS victory montage played, the feeling was sweet – and I’m sure I grab another round with a different faction soon enough.

Post tenebras lux

Grads, droids, and professors

Originally posted at GameSpot on June 17, 2008

It was my brother’s graduation party this past Saturday ( June 14, 2008 ), and along with great food and hanging out with everyone we got to play a little Rock Band.

This was the first time my wife was able to play, and while not a fan of the drums she rocked out on the guitar. My daughter liked the drums though, which begs the question – will I someday be wailing on the mic while the rest of the family plays bass, drums, etc.? Just something to think about, and not a little surreal. Of course, who knows what the game will have evolved into by the time that’s a possibility?

In other gameplay news, I’m back in the saddle again – that saddle being Star Wars: Battlefront II. Playing galactic conquest mode as the CIS (for at least the second time), and I’m about three-fourths of the way to having the galaxy under my control – “roger roger!”

Pound for pound, the game is still one of the best I own. Tons of replay value, filled with little moments that never seem to get old. An example? How about placing a timed bomb on a V-Wing, then watching the pilot scurry over to it, lift off. . .only to have it then explode in mid-air. Oh yes, THAT is replay value.

As a closing thought, my wife has played Professor Layton and the Curious Village seemingly non-stop for the last couple of days. When I call her from work, I can hear the theme music in the background. I’m glad she likes it, but I’m falling so far behind!

Rocking, bombing, and puzzling – the current state of my gaming.

Post tenebras lux

Ice crystals cause a gasp!

Originally posted at GameSpot on February 14, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 – We were sent home from work early because the weather was so bad, and I took advantage of the opportunity to get some gaming in. It was almost a year to the day (Valentine’s Day of last year) that work was cancelled because of the snow, and it still felt just as good as it did then.

Quick hits:

Got some good time in with Super Mario World and Star Fox Command. I feel like I should give the latter its own entry, but that might come later.

Super Mario World is getting better, and that’s due directly to the fact that I’m actually progressing in the game now. Figuring out the puzzles or hitting a jump right goes a long way in keeping me playing. Just got out of the Forrest of Illusion and it’s on to the Chocolate Island. I get a little tired of the constant Ghost Houses, but I think that’s just because they’re tougher.

Star Fox Command has really impressed me. Any flight sim I’ve played has been on the PC, and while the game isn’t a simulation per say, I’ve never seen flight combat represented so well on any other platform. The DS control handles very well once you get used to it, and pulling out of a drive or making a sharp turn feel like you’re actually doing something.

The difficulty is just right, bordering on easy sometimes – but then a tough boss or missile shows up to even things out. I do enjoy the missile mechanic of the game more than I thought – it ratchets up the tension, knowing that you could have beat the rest of the level but missing one beacon means it was all for nothing.

The story is nothing too special, although the dialogue gets pretty good when the characters have extended interaction. Lines like, “Outta bed and full of beans,” tend to make you smile every time. I do enjoy the story surprises, though – you finish an area and all of the sudden BAM! Team Wolf pops out of nowhere!

– In both games, I’m found something I didn’t know I missed – the gasp! By the “gasp!“, I mean literally sucking in a lot of air – loudly – whenever something happens. In Super Mario World, this is usually when I die on the same jump for the tenth time in a row, or when I actually squeak by a difficult level. On Star Fox Command, it’s when I’m hitting that last beacon to destroy a mother ship or frantically trying to finish a level before time runs out. During these moments, it’s not unusual to hear a gasp! – or several of them.

I think the gasp! has been missing (or at least in the consistency of when I’m now experiencing them) due to the fact that I haven’t really progressed through a game in a long time. I’ve been racing with the new wheel, or just playing through games I’ve already beat when I have time like Star Wars: Battlefront II. But now I’m playing through levels, advancing unknown stories, and playing the DS in short bursts instead of sitting in front of my Xbox for an extended amount of time.

One isn’t better than the other, but I do enjoy this change of pace – and I’m excited about the potential gasps! to follow.

– Three great lines have come from my wife during this week, all related to Puzzle Quest:

“I’ve done this more today than I’ve knitted.”

She has really been getting into the game, and rightly so – it’s a great game! I showed it to her the night I got it, she said it looked cool, and then I left for work the next morning.

Since then she’s picked it up, and can’t put it down! I’m excited that she enjoys it, and so far she’s played it more than me – for the record, she’s on level 17 and I’m at 5.

“This is my kind of Fable

My wife “played” Fable with me on Xbox, and now she has a version of her own. With the knights, orcs, swords, and other Fable-ish items found in the game, it reminds her a lot of the world of Albion. Seeing her enjoying the puzzle aspect of the game and having her first taste of some RPG elements feels really satisfying – she told me she understands now why I get excited when I level up a character (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic), or want to expand my kingdom as much as possible (Shogun: Total War). Ah, music to my ears! Now she knows why I get excited over the things that I do

“I used yours since my battery died.”

Just as she was about to topple her foe, the DS’s battery died – but instead of quitting and waiting for her battery to re-charge, she finished the game on mine. I think that speaks for itself.

Post tenebras lux

Friday Night Frivolities

Originally posted at GameSpot on February 1, 2008

This past Friday night (January 25th) my family and I went over to a friend’s house, and we were able to get some good gaming in. I brought my Xbox and wheel, and they had no less than four DS systems to play with. Since I got one, I was looking forward to some wireless play.

The big surprise for me was playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare on the DS. I didn’t think a FPS would translate well to the touch screen format, and for the first few games I was right. But then, much like StarFox Command, once I got used to the DS screen it was a lot of fun. I even logged a few kills, which after having trouble even aiming on the first run-through I was happy about. Having the computer terminals that triggered the map and radar was interesting as well – not just a toss-in gimmick, but actually affected game play in a good way.

In other news, it was fun to show off the Xbox racing wheel. My friend enjoys a good race; the cars on Forza Motorsports really had him excited. I love it when people enjoy a game for the first time – and if I’m a part of it, then I feel even better.

And now – the lightning round!

They let me borrow Mario Hoops: 3 on 3 – so far so good. The learning curve seems a little high for a Mario game, but it’s not like have to remember every nuance to make the game fun. I haven’t played it too much with everything else going on, but I would like to spend some more time with it.

Wireless MarioKart DS. We had about five going at once; I used to think I was good at the game. . .

Star Wars: Battlefront 2 was a big hit, as usual. I’m a fan, so it makes perfect sense.

Yoshi’s Island for the GBA – my wife used to love the game, so I watched her on it a little bit.

Homemade pizza + sweet iced tea + fresh cookies + friends = great Friday night

Post tenebras lux