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

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360)

I'm playing the new Batman: Arkham Asylum game on the Xbox 360, and I've been pretty impressed so far.

This is a solid, dark treatment of the license, the full game is more polished than the demo (which itself was a good concantenation of a few segments of the game to show scope and diversity), the detective mode has been tweaked (and is pretty slick), the art direction is cool (and consistent), fanboy unlockables are solid and slickly implemented, and I like the progression, the open-endedness(ish)ism of the title. And (yay!) the video tweak settings let me brighten the game without washing out the graphics -- very important for playing on a projector.

Mark Hamill (who is the Joker) and Kevin Conroy (who is the Batman, at least until I am), are fantastic -- as is a lot of the primary voice acting (some of the secondary (like the guards) doesn't come close to the caliber, which is unfortunate). Good voice acting makes a game; bad kills it. This is stellar stuff.

And I like that there are subtle things like me being able to move Batman around during an in-engine cutscene, downed enemies are still breathing (they're unconscious, not dead), and the brief (at least one so far) first-person implementation (hey, you get it for free with the tech; might as well play with it; which most licensed fair refuses to do).

It's got a few shortcomings, but nothing that kills the game for me.

First off is I'm not crazy about the muscle-bound nature of ol' Bats -- feels a bit over-done, put - a -space -marine - in - a - batsuit. Also, the skinning of the game is a bit of a weird mix of shiny and muddy, but that's stereotypical of the Unreal Engine (right or wrong). Also, I'm sure I'm in the minority, but I game on a projector, and at that size Rocksteady's particular implementation of the third-person camera causes a bit of a problem with slight queasiness that most other games don't cause.

But overall, the game is solid, I'm enjoying it, kudos to Rocksteady for getting it right, and I'll be tooling through it for a while.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer (NDS)

I picked up Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer for the Nintendo DS because I wanted to play a polished roguelike on the handheld.

Liking it so far, though I think after it, I want to find a darker roguelike game. If I can't find one, I may make one.

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (Xbox 360)

I'm a bit of a Mortal Kombat fan. I'm a comic book fan. I sooo wanted to be a fan of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.

Unfortunately, so many things worked against the title for me, that I'm not a fan.

Granted, since I'm a fanboy, I had expectations. And they were dashed.

The fighting is frustrating, it devolves to button mashing that's not even fun (like Soul Calibur is fun), feels unpolished (art to animations to transitions to performance), the dialog and expositions are stilted and heavy-handed, and it just didn't do it for me.

Now, that said, it is fan-fare -- So I dig seeing my guys and gals in tights in a new setting. And while the characterization and dialog is challenging for the most part, a lot of love was obviously spent just on the Joker -- and he comes across well. There is one cut-scene moment Joker reaction when the main baddy is announced that is money, and makes the whole game worth it. Actor Richard Epcar doesn't take the place of Mark Hamill's joker for me, but he sells it.

The other thing to note is I played the whole thing on the Xbox 360 using standard controllers, and the 360 D-pads are crap -- especially for fighting games.

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