Playing With My Weiner

Gaming at the mercy of miniature daschunds.

WeinerCast Wednesday! GVGA Edition December 31, 2008

The Weinercast is go! This week: Gwyddia Hosts The 2008 Gnome Video Game Awards.

As always, the Weinercast is available on Gwyddia - Weinercast

Please leave us a review or a comment/question, and we’ll address it on air next week!

A non-iTunes link if you need it.

 

Little Big Updates Bring Win December 19, 2008

Filed under: Games,PS3 — Gwyddia @ 9:50 pm
Tags: , , , ,

littlebigplanet_pegi_wm0001Updates 1.06 and 1.07 for Sony’s Little Big Planet are available, much to the relief of online players.

1.06 focuses on moderation, giving creators the chance to work on unpublished levels that have been moderated offline, and provide explanations to those creators whose work has been taken down.

1.07 is all about shopping. Enter the Little Big Store – a place for all of your DLC on one shiny planet. Get your free Christmas swag there today!

 

Home Launches. Sorta. December 12, 2008

Filed under: Industry,PS3,Sony — Gwyddia @ 12:04 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Please note the "beta" on our fourth wall.
This is the Fourth Horseman (after the Phillies Series, Obama’s win, and Ann Coulter’s jaw being wired shut.) Sony’s “revolutionary” Home service, dashboard, MMO thing launched, but was not “released” yesterday. Basically, this means that Sony can deliver a potentially unfinished product and not cop to the lack of polish because it is technically an “open beta”. An open beta that every single PSN user can be in, without exception. That sounds like a release to us. At any rate, check it out, and see how it compares to the new XBLE.

 

Get Your Sack On! December 4, 2008

Filed under: Games,Other Folks,PS3 — Gwyddia @ 4:37 pm
Tags: , ,
International House of Sacking

International House of Sacking

Is your Sackboy lonely? Does it want to share interests and passions with other small cloth people? Has it found new and exciting levels and lacks the ability to tell the world? No more. Check out Sackbook, the first social networking site for your Little Big Planet sackpeople.

As per the official FAQ, “[i]n these days of 24/7 up-to-the-minute news, Sackbook allows you to keep apprised of the latest goings-on in LittleBigPlanet when the commitments of your waking life cruely keep you away.”

 

360 Install Base Passes Original XBox Installed Base November 25, 2008

Filed under: Hardware,Industry,Microsoft,PS3,XBox 360 — Gwyddia @ 10:41 am
Tags: ,

154466-xbox_xbox360_originalAnd it only took 3 years! This week Microsoft’s Xbox 360 hit the 25 million console mark. Of course, there are almost 150 million PS2s, even today, so who really knows what that says about the state of the console wars.

 

Microsoft seems to have scuppered their plans for a box in every home, and is rather focusing on the 10 million folks on XBox Live. The New Xbox Live Experience still has a few hiccups, like frequent network drop-off, but the company continues to patch the product. Nothing like load testing to put a spring in your step, eh, Microsoft fans?

 

It Was Nearly Two Years Ago Today . . . November 18, 2008

Filed under: Hardware,PS3,Wii — Gwyddia @ 2:17 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

That the Weiner Daddy and I slept outside on the sidewalk outside a Las Vegas Target for a Wii. Two years later, you still can’t get one easily, and that’s a damn shame to all of us who have enjoyed the five or six fine games for it.

This is also the PS3’s 2nd birthday. We didn’t stand out for that one, though – we just capitulated when Sony threatened to take away our Emotion Engine and make our PS2 library obsolete. It’s a damn fine Blu-Ray player, that system.

Not to be left out, the XBox 360 celebrates its third birthday next week.

Happy Birthday, hardware!

 

Review: Fallout 3 November 11, 2008

fallout3

There is a Fallout fever in my house.  The Weiner Daddy is playing on 360, I’m playing on the PC using both keyboard and mouse and the Microsoft game controller.  We’ve been playing since the game was released on October 28th, and neither of us is anywhere near completing it.  I will also note that neither of us have encountered any of the nasty bugs reported by Kotaku, but these are known issues, so your mileage could vary.

 

Theme:

Welcome to post-apocalyptia, children!  The theme and setting are the same no matter which version you choose. Fallout is set in an alternate history universe full of retro-futuristic kitsch and post-bombing hell. Imagine the American 1950s, only with 22nd century laser and gene-mapping technology.  By the time you are on the scene, the bomb has long since dropped.  It’s 200 years later, you are ready to crawl out of your sealed Vault and see what’s what in the ruins of Washington, DC.  The Capitol Wasteland comprises a HUGE area, and the sidequests alone can take you hours upon hours.  Unlike Bethesda’s Oblivion, however, you can and will want to get back on track with the main quest eventually.

Welcome to the world of yesterday's tomorrow!

Welcome to the world of yesterday

 

Art:

Think bleak.  As befits the setting, the Fallout 3 world is full of brown, grey, and yellow.  Unlike the repetitive trash-strewn levels of Hellgate: London, the environment of Fallout 3 is huge and fairly varied. When does Bethesda reuse something in the game, they are doing it on purpose.  Think all those tract-home shells look alike? That’s the point.  All of that suburban sameness makes it much more powerful the first time you see the ruins of the Washington Monument or the Capitol Building.

 

The character models are straight out of Oblivion, albeit with different clothes. The facial mapping and details are improved from Bethesda’s RPG, but the idea is the same, with the PC having the edge over the 360 in detail.  Enemies vary, from mutated critters to raider gangs to super mutants.  The critters are pretty much all the same, but the raiders and mutants are varied.  If you look closely you can see the attention to detail, as most of the humanoids’ armor is actually pieced together bits of the trash strewn across the Capitol Wasteland.

 

Gameplay:

It is here that the PC and 360 versions diverge.  Fallout 3 is not a shooter and it is not a full-on action RPG, but is something of a chimera of the two.  After fighting with the mouse and keyboard for over 20 hours, it is clear to me that Fallout 3 was designed for a controller.  Even the lowest mouse sensitivity option will swing your view way wide of the enemy in front of you.  Lockpicking is nearly impossible to do without failing a few times, due to the twitchy nature of the PC controls.  My experience was vastly improved when I used a gamepad on my PC.

 

Combat is its own strange bird.  On the shooter side you have the option to take a first-person view and use your weapons as you see fit. On the ARPG side you have the V.A.T.S. system; action points-based pause-and-play combat.  Contrary to popular belief, you can’t really play Fallout 3 entirely as a shooter or entirely in V.A.T.S.  Most of the time you’ll use V.A.T.S., then try and duck and cover while your AP recharges to use it again.  Why?  Because the FPS perspective doesn’t work that well.  The target reticule is small and inaccurate, and there is no lock-on.  This is true in both the PC and 360 versions.  

 

Use V.A.T.S. to shoot the junk off his trunk.

Use V.A.T.S. to shoot the junk off his trunk.

Searching for and picking up items must almost always be done in first person view.  The “target boxes” for small items, such as stimpaks, is ridiculously tiny, and unless you’re nose-to-nose with them, you may not be able to highlight them to grab them.  This is a little better on the 360 version, but here again the PC version suffers from poor mouse control.

 

Overall:

Don’t let the PC control issues dissuade you.  Fallout 3 is a fantastic game.  It is engaging, fun, and deep.  You will care about your character.  You will care about some NPCs and want to kill others. You will make irrevocable choices early on that will truly affect your game path and the game world. Evil is as viable a choice as good, and your experience will differ greatly depending on which path you take.  You can get through the main quest in about 10 hours, yes, but if you do, you’re missing the point.  I didn’t miss it at all, and I’m wondering how I’m going to balance playing more Fallout 3 with the release of Wrath of the Lich King on Thursday.

 

For being an excellent and engaging game with real consequences and deep story branches, I am giving Fallout 3 five weiners out of five.

Line weenLine weenLine weenLine weenLine ween

 

Preview: Hands On With Mirror’s Edge November 7, 2008

Filed under: Games,Previews,PS3,XBox 360 — Gwyddia @ 7:58 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

mirror-s-edge-first-gameplay-footage-1With only a week remaining until its North American release on the XBox 360 and PS3, it is time to delve into Mirror’s Edge.  We’ve been playing the demo here at the Weiner and we’ve got some pretty interesting stuff to report.

 

Mirror’s Edge is a new twist on an old genre – it is a first person parkour game.  As per Wikipedia:

Parkour (sometimes abbreviated to PK) or l’art du déplacement (Englishthe art of movement) is an activity with the aim of moving from one point to another as efficiently and quickly as possible, using principally the abilities of the human body.  It is meant to help one overcome obstacles, which can be anything in the surrounding environment—from branches and rocks to rails and concrete walls—and can be practiced in both rural and urban areas. Parkour practitioners are referred to as traceurs, or traceuses for females.

Founded by David Belle in France, parkour focuses on practicing efficient movements to develop one’s body and mind to be able to overcome obstacles in an emergency.

 

I may not kick your ass, but I'll run like Hell.

I may not kick your ass, but I can run like hell.

The protagonist is a courier named Faith who takes to to the rooftops to deliver important packages in a world where information on the ground is locked up tight. Faith’s world is detailed in shining white with spare primary colors, notably red, indicating your path.  That isn’t to say that the game is linear, but instead the bright accents give you a sense of direction when your body is hurling through space.

 

There is some fighting in Mirror’s Edge, but the action centers on Faith’s movement through the levels.  Weapons are generally used to get out of a jam and then tossed, because combat will slow you down too much.

 

The demo feels solid.  The jump buttons are on the shoulders, which gives your motion a more organic feel as you maneuver through the sky. They offer a couple different configurations, but the default has (Jump/Duck-Slide) mapped to the LB/LT and (Punch/Kick) to RB/RT. (Although RB will also do quick turns.)  It takes a moment or two of getting used to, and then it really feels smooth.

 

There is a definite sense of urgency to the missions, which makes it feel even better when you hit your jumps and turns and swings just right.  In that way it feels like a well-designed platformer, and the pleasure you derive from play is oddly similar to what you might feel when flawlessly completing a level in a Mario game.

 

 

Falling to your death never looked this good.

Falling to your death never looked this good.

The checkpoint system is reasonable, which is good.  You’re going to plummet to your death 20 or 30 times while getting the hang of this thing.  The time trials are not nearly as forgiving – the demo’s “qualifying time” of 2:00 will take more than a few tries.

 

All in all, Mirror’s Edge looks like it has come together well, and shaped up quite a bit from when we saw it at PAX.  Check out the launch trailer here and enjoy the game when it comes out next week.

 

Review: Little Big Planet October 30, 2008

Filed under: 5 weiners,Games,PS3,Reviews — Gwyddia @ 8:09 am
Tags: , ,


This is the most charming game I’ve ever played.

 

I didn’t expect to be sucked in by Little Big Planet. I had pre-ordered it, cancelled the pre-order, and then pre-ordered it again because I figured that any serious game writer needed to try it. I am so very glad that I did.  LBP is more than a platformer, creation sim, kids’ game or adult game.  It is all of that, and so very much more.

A player-made level.

A player-made Donkey Kong level.

 

Theme:

 

The game opens up awesome and doesn’t let go. LBP starts with a series of gorgeous tutorials narrated by Stephen Fry. Fry’s voice and distinctly British sense of humor immediately set LBP up to be a game for all ages. Jokes range from “no, not that kind of a seal – don’t give it a fish!” to jibes about how your stickering style is “very Andy Warhol”.  This quickly blew away any concept I had of LBP being a kiddie game.

 

Art:

The levels are lush and amazing. Zoom and and look at your sack person and marvel at the detail. I chose the blue yarn hair to start, and when I zoomed in I actually gasped to discover finely and perfectly rendered strings of tinsel woven into her yarn hair. That sort of detail is the hallmark of this game. LBP is all about texture. Each surface, character, sticker, and object has incredible weight and depth. You can look at these things and easily imagine how they would feel to touch. More than that, you’ll want to touch them, and find yourself slightly disappointed when you remember that you can’t.

 

Gameplay:

The gameplay is solid.  Developer Media Molecule incorporates the SIXAXIS controls in a way that makes them fun, but not necessary.  You can use the motion controls to make your sack person emote, wave, dance, etc.  Fun, but not make-or-break functions by any means.  

 

The actual play controls consist of a traditional jump and run setup.  LBP is at its core a 2D platformer, and it carries on the 2D platforming tradition of not being frackin’ easy.  Media Molecule programmed a deep physics engine into LBP.  This means that rocks are heavy, see-saws teeter and totter appropriately, and most of all, you are a light little sack of cloth.  This means that your jumps are floaty, and until you get used to that you will have a tough time getting through some of the premade levels.  

 

Scary monster is scary!

Scary monster is scary!

Those of you who could give a tinker’s cuss about the platforming and just want to create will have to hold up a moment.  LBP requires you to play through at least the initial planet before it will let you out into the real world. This is a good thing, though, as the Fry tutorials are both a treat and terribly useful. Additionally, the premade levels are packed with design content from stickers to objects for your personal pod, so it’s worth a playthrough for anyone who wants every possible tool at their disposal.

 

Online play is everything Sony said it would be.  You can dive into other people’s world and marvel at their ingenuity or scoff at their ineptitude.  User-created prizes and goodies make collection quests a gaming delight for the first time in years.

 

I know it’s a big month for games.  LBP, Fallout 3, and Fable 2 all within days of each other.  But please, don’t miss this one.  You will regret it if you do.

 

For being the most charming game ever, and for being so much to so many gamers, I am pleased to give Little Big Planet 5 Weiners out of 5.



 

Mega Man 9 DLC is Go! October 7, 2008

Filed under: Games,PS3,Wii,XBox 360 — Gwyddia @ 5:14 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Not content to merely talk about downloadable content, Capcom this week released not one but two DLC packs this week for the well-received Mega Man 9.  The first is an endless level, which is sort of a brutal Mega Man Le Mans sort of trial.  Go and go and go until you inevitably die.  The second is playable Proto Man!  This MM upgrade gives you a slide, a charged shot, and a forcefield, but doubles damage taken and knockback distance when hit.  

 

The Wii folk are enjoying this already.  360 people can get it Wednesday.  Poor PS3 users have to wait until Wednesday.  But hey, at least its definite!