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Video games, PC games, or other interactive media that's currently caught my attention ...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Painkiller, Half-Life 2 (Xbox demos)

In the February Official Xbox Magazine, the Xbox demos portion of the list includes Painkiller and Half-Life 2.

I was seriously stoked, because I'm a big fan of what the Painkiller guys did with Painkiller on the PC (frenetic action with a fantastic, oft-missed summary of heaven/hell/purgatory legends), and Half-Life 2 is arguably one of the greatest recent PC games.

So, how were the demos?

They sucked. And blew, while we're at it.

Graphics on both were abysmal, and the Painkiller demo didn't have Y-axis invert (lesson for all demo creators: I understand locking controller configurations for a demo, but if "invert" is germane to your genre, f***ing include it!).

I'm really hoping this is just indicative of pre-release demo concessions; but I don't know that I'm motivated enough to buy the full versions, with the bad taste the previews left in my mouth.

I need to ping some Xbox buddies who have the games and see if they suck as much in the retail versions (Painkiller releases next month).

FYI, though TeamXbox and GameSpot gave high ratings to Half-Life 2 (9.5 and 8.3, respectively), I believe OXM gave it a sub-par rating for ridiculously frequent and slow load times.

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Doom 3 (Xbox)

Man, Doom 3 for Xbox just rocks.

Gorgeous, freaky, amazing/creepy in surround sound, and a blast in online co-op mode.

Me and Xboxer dajoti just finished playing through the entire game co-op. All games (if it makes sense) should be online co-op.

What a rush.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Call of Duty 2 (Xbox 360)

I'm so glad the Call of Duty 2 Xbox 360 demo is in the February issue of The Official Xbox Magazine.

This game shows that no matter how tired the genre (do we need another freaking WWII shooter?), innovation and excellence are still to be had. And the demo is the same thing that's at in-store kiosks.

Call of Duty 2 is not only the best-selling Xbox 360 game (with 70%-plus of the game market share), it's one of the top-selling games of 2005 (and it came out the end of October).

The demo is disappointingly short, but gives a taste of the frenetic play, importance of listening, keeping your head down (and using those smoke grenades), and generally lets you get "as close to war as you'll ever want to be".

So, they can still make WWII games interesting and important.

I'm curious to see what The Outfit does for the genre -- kind of the "anti-Call of Duty 2".

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Halo Zero (PC)

So, this independent homebrew game, Halo Zero (PC), is pretty fun.

Take the concepts from Halo, and Halo 2, and mix it in with side-scrolling 2D Contra-style gameplay?

In the words of the current Guinness marketing message: "Brilliant!"

It's not perfect; the game's died a few times, and though I laud the implementation of the Halo-favorite sniper rifle, the implementation sucks (there should be one button for zoom, and one for fire; as-is, you wast bullets, and disrupt the pacing of the game).

But, overall, a great romp for a few hours, and a good addition to the Halo universe.

Go to the website (, download the game, and have fun, Halo-cum-Contraesque style.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Full Auto (Xbox 360)

I'm playing the Full Auto demo from the January issue of The Official Xbox Magazine.

This game has some potential, and if the final product improves the frame rate (the demo has a lot of stuttering, even in the in-game movies) and adds some polish, this combat racing game could be a lot of fun -- especially online, where you can designate rivals, and go after them, in addition to trying to win the overall race.

The rewind feature is also pretty slick, and could add an interesting game dynamic.

We'll see if Sega ends up with a hit on their hands. And it looks to be quite a leap forward from the Pseudo Interactive folks' last foray, Cel Damage.

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Condemned: Criminal Origins (Xbox 360)

I've been playing the demo for Sega's Condemned: Criminal Origins, downloadable through the Xbox Marketplace.

This game is a lot of things I look for in a game -- next-gen gorgeous, new game play twists on a standard genre (survival horror), and excellent use of 6-channel audio.

This is just the demo, so I don't know if the melee combat will get a little repetitive. But if it does, it's going to be brutal, visceral repetitive.

Horror films could learn from this game. It's one thing to sit and watch a movie for an hour and a half, and see something unknown scurry through the dark. It's something else altogether to spend eight hours stuck exploring abandoned warehouses, seeing things scurry away from you, and having to choose to go after them of your own volition.

Oh, and playing this thing at 1 a.m., alone in the dark, with surround sound so I can hear things in the abandoned building creak and break behind me? Creeped ... me ... out.

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