Friday, January 29, 2010

Last week's thoughts

Here are some thoughts about what I played this last week:
  • Dark Void ended in an awful way
  • Darksiders is really good
  • Muscle March is still great
  • Bit. Trip Void is still boggling my mind in concept
  • Mass Effect 2 is great despite my grand dislike for the first one
  • I need to get back to Dragon Age: Origins
  • No More Heroes 2 looks incredible so finishing the first is now a mandatory task
  • Why did I buy the second No More Heroes with only three hours clocked into the first?
  • Spirit Tracks is still a great game and I'm quite enjoying the heavy music aspect
  • Battle for Forli is garbage

Top Down Perspective

With two of my friends, Nathan and Jon, I am starting up a podcast again. Like Blown Speakers, it will be weekly and all about the games we're playing and the industry surrounding them. It will be called Top Down Perspective and I am very excited to get it going.

The difference between this and my previous podcast is that I have much more faith in this one. Doing a podcast with one other guy can be very hard. If only one of us has played the game, the discussion on it will be short. If one of us isn't available to do it, it can't be done. With three people we are able to have much more engaging conversations and can bring extra flavors to the news. the guys I'm working with on this are great, their passion for games is as great as, if not above, my own and they really know their stuff.

So far we have been doing these on Friday nights but it will most likely just be one day each week that we're all free. We will be doing our first official recording tonight and hopefully it will be up by the end of the weekend.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Uncharted 2: Why I love it

So I finished Uncharted 2 a little more than a week ago. As I'm sure you have heard, it's great. The thing is, I disliked the first game. In fact, I almost hated the first game. The second game however really fixes everything, like everything. Overall it was a great game, but let us explore just why I enjoyed it so much despite my hatred of the first.

The Combat
In the first game the combat sucked. It had all the mechanics that it should have but the difficulty of them and the execution wasn't the best. First off, the enemies never died. Those guys could take so many hits without even being fazed. And the ones that could get knocked around a bit seemed to be able to take even more bullets before dropping.

Along with this, you ended up having to use a LOT of bullets, bullets that can't do much damage, bullets that need to be picked up off of fallen enemies. You can see the problem. Countless times I wasted several clips on a group of enemies to end up finding myself having to run into the group to pick up some more. Leading to an easy death.

This brings up the idea of the hand-to-hand combat. It wasn't very good too. The only time you ever wanted to use the melee attacks was when there was only one man remaining. If you do it with a few guys around, they will kill you before you're doing beating the first guy down. What ruined it was the very precise timing you needed to have when hitting the square and triangle buttons. Don't get me wrong, needing a sense of timing isn't bad, but needing that precise of it when being rained down on by gun fire is very hard.

So you might be thinking that I just sucked at the game and should have changed to an easier difficulty. Well the thing is, I was playing on easy throughout the whole game. I choose this off the bat since I had heard how good the second game was and needed to finally start the first. I had to get through it quite so I could experience it and know the story and characters.

So you can see why I had become so frustrated with the game when I was losing so much on what should have been easy, at least the choice of difficulties lead me to believe this.

The Platforming
This was the only part I enjoyed about the first game. It had some really good landscapes and made you scale some really crazy towers. The issue with this was that there wasn't enough. After around five minutes of climbing and traversing the environment, you had to go into another gun fight. The whole game was just moving from one gun fight into another. This really made me notice how short the one aspect of the game I enjoyed was and ended up ruining for me.

If Uncharted: Drakes Fortune had less of a focus on the gun-play, it would have been much better.

So what did the second game do that made me love it so much? I'm glad you asked.

The Combat
Fixed. Enemies now don't take ALL the bullets to go down. I can stay in one spot and shoot out people easily. This makes the gun fights last significantly shorter. One bad thing is that picking up ammo is the same but with the ability to actually kill the guys when you need to makes this not as bad.

The hand-to-hand combat is also much, much better. Instead of needing the exact timing when hitting the guy, you can just mash the square button until he is dead. They even add in a counter attack mechanic. This allows you to fight back whenever one of the enemies grabs you or blocks one of your punches. Much better.

Also fixed. I was able to go through the whole game on Normal and find it easier than the first one on Easy. With the enemies actually dying after a realistic number of bullets I found myself having a much better time and even enjoying the gu fights. The only downside was near the end when you have to fight these incredibly over powered enemies. They can kill you in about two hits from either their melee attacks or their crossbows. Thankfully this was only for about one or two chapters at the end.

The Platforming
Great. I enjoyed it in the first game but the way they set it up in this one was much better. They last so much longer, the gun fights don't take away from the traversing and the camera alone both helps point you in the right direction and forces you to look at how gorgeous the environment they created is. In fact, the movements of the camera are one of my favorite parts of the game. The quite cuts and ideal slow motion moments make seeing Nathan Drake jump from a collapsing building better than ever.

The Set Pieces
This is where Uncharted 2 really shines. Not only did it fix everything from the first game, but it managed to make some incredible lasting impressions by making you play incredibly one time moments again and again. Whether this be running down a city street while a tank follows close behind trying to blow you up, climbing out of a train dangling off the end of a cliff with a bullet in your gut or even fighting enemies in a tower that is falling over and making you jump through a window in order to live, everything was amazing. These moments - along with countless others - are what gives me such a good lasting appeal about the game and make it a hard one to forget.