Videogames, politics, science, all the important things in life.

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 9-9-08

Posted by nfinit on September 9, 2008

Kevar points out from lasts week that the few who Viva Pinata were, hardcore gamers and that the game was genuinely well-received by critics.  And while I won’t argue those points (84% at Metacritic, after all) that’s not the point I was trying to get across.  Yeah, you can say that it was the hardcore that wound up buying the game, but I’d argue that that’s largely because on November 2, 2006 there weren’t a whole lot of options for the 360.  VP and Gears of War were virtually the only 360 exclusives on the field.  We were legitimately excited for Sneak King and Pocket Bike Racer, for chrissake.  If you happen to exist at that unlikely crossroad of 360 ownership and Harvest Moon fandom yeah, VP2 is your title.  But that doesn’t mean it exists within the 360’s market.

Last week you may remember me carrying the water for Mercenaries 2.  As you may note from my general scorn and derision for 90% of the games I list here, legitimate excitement over a game is a rare for me, and Mercs 2 represented the first time I’ve paid full retail price for a console game since Ninja Gaiden 2– and maybe the third time all year between those two and Devil May Cry 4.  And while I don’t regret this, Mercenaries 2 has overall been a disappointment.

Mercs 1’s biggest problem was it’s general lack of polish, and along with that a full suite of bugs and and hilarious geometry errors.  And while the game has received a gloss of EA polish– you’ve probably already heard the theme song the bugs have at best, been revised.

Geometry errors still abound– your helicopter pilot seems unable to grasp the concept of flying over palm trees instead of through them before giving up and dropping your cargo (whether it be something as simple as a crate of AK-47 ammo or a fully equipped Abhrams battle tank) wherever he got suck and then popping out of existence. The frequent race missions represent an exercise in speculative physics;  NPC soldiers tend to get stuck in interesting locations such as the space between the body of a tank and it’s turrent, being none worse for wear despite the ordeal.

Brand new bugs include a radio dispatch operator who’s continually advising you to return to base for nonexistent missions, A GPS system so horribly broken that deciphering it’s quirks constitutes it’s own mini-game, and bikes equipped with a truly remarkable gyroscopic stabilization system that resists gravity, tumbles fromatopmountain precipices and broadsides from rocket propelled grenades.  Mercenaries 2 also continues a troubling trend where developers try to cram as many functions into one key as possible, to the point where large swaths of the controller become unused in favor of the all-inclusive Action Button.

All of which makes for a frustrating experience, and this is in despite delays and an upgrade in publishing companies.  It’s still a fun game and one I don’t regret buying, I wish Pandemic had been as inspired in QA as they had in producing the rap jingle.

That’s all ignoring that Mercs 2  has caused my launch edition 360 to red ring– which is confounding, as the game basically looks like the XB1 original with better geometry and light blur.  In closing, fuck you, Pandemic, fuck you for blowing up my 360 and fuck you for screwing up Mattias’ voice.

Spore (PC)

I don’t get sim games.  I don’t mind them, I just classify them in the same space reserved for ballet or lacrosse or the Beatles, pursuits that are probably more culturally important than the things I enjoy and cause me to feel guilty for not enjoying.

However, I feel people are going out of their way to refuse to classify what would otherwise appear to be a classic Will Wright sim.  And maybe it’s because this has never been my type of game– a decided lack of ninjas or beheadings or Lotus race cars– I’ve never been terribly interested in the game Spore as much as the concept of Spore.  That said, I can’t be mad at a game that allows me to create a walking, spiked-club wielding penis to do battle with alien cultures, and you have to respect a concept that refuses to patronize it’s players, even if that comes with a certain lack of accessibility.

‘course, that’s ignoring the real possibility that Spore might not be a fundamentally good game, if impressions from the pirate community are to be believed.  Let’s just hope that the confluence of software pirates and 4x exploration fans turns out to be rather low.

Spore Creatures (Wii)

I’ve spent the past two days reading impressions and watching gameplay trailers for Spore Creatures and I still cant’ tell you what it’s supposed to be about or what it’s supposed to do with Spore PC.  At best I think it’s supposed to be Cubivore with Paper Mario’s art style.  Maybe.  I dunno.  It’s probably wretched.

NHL 2k9 (Everything)

If you’re going to buy one NHL game this year… well, this is going to pretty much have to be it, isn’t it?

You know, hockey is a pretty easy to translate to videogame form, and is one of those concepts that make for better game without official licensing or faithfully-reproduced physics.  Knowing this, why hasn’t someone paid five bucks for the Blades of Steel name and run with it?

Mystery Case Files:  MillionHeir (DS)

While none of us were paying attention, a company called Big Fish Games has made an enormous amount of money producing Myst games for housewives in the guise of the Mystery Case File series, and this is the culmination of their efforts.

The point of these games is to– and I say this will all seriousness– to find items in the background and click on them.  Did I say Myst?  Obviously I meant Where’s Waldo.

This goes beyond simple casual gaming, beyond your parents waving a wiimote in the general direction of your TV screen, this is a game your three year old niece would be personally offended if it were installed on her LeapFrog.

At first I wondered how something like this garnered a hundred million downloads and six games, but then I saw where Big Fish Games was founded by the same guys who founded RealNetworks and it became obvious– they tricked people into buying these, same way they tricked millions of poor suckers into downloading RealPlayer and RealArcade.  So in the unlikely event you buy a DS game in the near future, be careful– there’s a good chance these assholes have infested that copy Bangai-O with Realplayer:  The Game Series.

Lock’s Quest (DS)

A hardcore-ized version of Tower Defense ginned up with anime-style art (although it’s about as Japanese as a Toyota Camry, having been developed by the Drawn to Life guys); If it’s $20 I’ll buy it, if any more expensive than that you wonder why they’ve bothered.

(I do, however, like this idea of flash game concepts making it over to handhelds, and am saddened to learn that Tower of Goo — pretty much The Perfect DS Game– is going to WiiWare instead.)

Mazes of Fate (DS)

Normally, I’d be excited to play a handheld Shining in the Darkness. But then I remember Etrian Odyssey already exists, is five hundred million hours long, and features dominatrixes with enormous boobs as a playable character class. And suddenly I no longer care about Mazes of Fate.

Bratz Poneyz 2 (DS)

Yeah, we’re going to talk about Bratz Poneyz 2, as I think it’s important that we bring a game who’s ultimate goal is raising a doe-eyed horse slut into the national conversation.

Those sassy, naughty little ponies.

This is the point where I feel I should confess my crush on Megan from the My Little Pony cartoon, so maybe I’m coming into this with mixed emotions and I’m not a fair judge of this game’s …merits… but I feel this game is not only offensive to gamers and the unfortunate eight year old girls and effeminate boys who receive this for Christmas, but aslo to the entire anamorphic equine community.

Between this and turning their delicious bones into Jell-O desserts, we’re going to have a lot to answer for one day.

Zoids Assault (360)

What the fuck is Zoids Assault

TNA Impact (PS3, PS2, 360)

A fake wrestling game (They’ve removed grappling and submissions!) for a fake wrestling company that represents a fake sport.  Have I mentioned that these guys have been paying Kurt Angle money to stay on their payroll for the past two years, a guy who’s neck vertebrae have all the structural integrity of a granola bar?

That said, if Kevin Nash’s moveset is simply him taking four steps into the ring and then instantly retiring, it’s at least worth a rental.

Active Life Outdoor Challenge (Wii)

Or as I like to call it; Irony: The Game.

Yakuza 2 (PS2)

I’d never played the first, having passed it off as a weeaboo-friendly GTA3, but it seems I may have been a bit rash in that decision, or at least should not pass that opinion off to it’s sequel.  This could well be the last Really Important Game PS2 owners lay in the system’s spindle.  If any company were to give us the PS2’s swan song, it’s only fitting it should be Sega.


Force Unleashed continues the epic story first hinted at in Soul Calibur 4!


Battle Fantasia:

Is alright by me!


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