Playing With My Weiner

Gaming at the mercy of miniature daschunds.

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

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

 

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

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

 

Mega Man 9 DLC is Go! October 7, 2008

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

 

Review: Alone In The Dark September 25, 2008

Filed under: 1 weiner,Games,PS3,Reviews — Gwyddia @ 7:40 am
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The day has come, Weiner fans.  This is my first 1 Weiner out of 5.  I tell you up front because I believe in fair warning, accuracy and succinctness, concepts with which the developers of Alone in the Dark are obviously unfamiliar.

 

Cutscene Brand Cutscene(TM).

Cutscene Brand Cutscene(TM).

The original Alone in the Dark series is the scary godmother of the survival horror genre.  These PC-based thrillers drew on such diverse source material as H.P. Lovecraft, H.R. Giger, and the voodoun tradition.  The original games starred Edward Carnby, a private investigator with a habit of treading into darker paths than he would like due to his passing sensitivity to the parnormal.  The original Carnby is a fairly unassuming detective – a bit of the “everyman” with just enough skill and verve to live to spy another day.  The original games had everything a gamer could want from survival horror – good stories, decent visuals, okay voice acting, and enough terror to make you want a night light for a while.

 

In 2005, Uwe Boll released another one of his cinematic abortions, this one based on Alone in the Dark. The movie starred Christian Slater as an overwrought Carnby who was experimented on as a child, giving him the power to see paranormal phenomena.  (Shockingly, Boll had to replace Slater with Korean-American actor Rick Yune for the upcoming sequel, because Slater “declined” to return.).  Most of the plot points in the film directly contradict the game, and the entire thing is a vomitous heap of bad acting and terrible visual effects.

 

So, which version of AITD did Atari choose to emulate when they decided to revive the series?  You guessed it – Uwe’s baby. Today’s Edward Carnby is a grunting whiner who believes that fire is the answer to everything.  The “immersive” Central Park setting is a repetitive grove of dark (and flammable) trees.  Yes, you can pick up and interact with almost anything (when the nice buttons announce you can), but the limited “hey, wanna buy a watch” jacket inventory system and the fact that every single thing in the game appears to be completely incendiary makes the whole thing a moot point. 

 

Visually, AITD is a dud. I played the PS3 version of the game, and it looks passably grim. Light help you if you attempt to play the PS2 or Wii versions. Even on the PS3, the cutscenes look like they were rendered by first-year students working on Grape iMacs, and the in-game character modeling has two settings: “brooding” and “undead”.

 

Give me pouty!

Give me pouty!

OK, dead eyes, dead eyes!

OK, dead eyes, dead eyes!

The controls do not improve the situation.   AITD handles like Resident Evil 1’s mentally challenged younger brother. It’s a shame, too, because every time you die you are kicked back quite a ways, and have to relive each cutscene or listen to the exact same ambient noise or dialogue as you burn your way to the next checkpoint.  And burn you will, because fire is the answer to everything and if you try to take the time to cobble together some items to find a new way of dealing with a situation, you will be killed thanks to Atari’s “innovative real time action”.

 

I found myself wishing that Atari had taken a page from BioWare and allowed for pauses to experiment with the inventory. That would have gone a long way toward making this a playable game. As it stands, after five tries, I don’t care if you’re trapped in the elevator ma’am, I just want you to shut your mouth.  Permanently.

 

In the end, AITD’s developers managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of very possible victory. They had a strong series of games to use as source material, and adequate time and processing power to make something awesome happen. Instead, they took the road less traveled (at least by cinemagoers) and followed Uwe Boll down the road to damnation.

 

For being a terrible remake of an excellent series due to shoddy controls, adequate visuals, and the waste of what could have been an excellent inventory and interaction system, Alone in the Dark “earns” 1 Weiner out of 5.

 

3spot – Halo and Kingdom Hearts news September 3, 2008

Filed under: Bungie,Halo,Kingdom Hearts,Penny Arcade,PS3,Rumors — Gwyddia @ 8:25 pm
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Halo 3: It looks like we’ll be seeing a Halo 3.2 expansion pack coming soon from Bungie, bringing with it 60 new Achievements. I saw these maps and achievements myself at Bungie’s PAX booth, and the folks manning the booth would neither confirm nor deny my supposition. I don’t think this is the announcement that Microsoft scrubbed at E3, though – look for THAT at Tokyo Game Show.

Speaking of the Tokyo Game Show, rumor has it that Kingdom Hearts III will be announced at TGS as a PS3 exclusive. Huzzah!