Saturday, December 01, 2007
Thanksgiving and SF Trip
Over Thanksgiving I got to catch up on a lot of vidoegames that I had been wanting to play. I got to sit down and finish Ratchet and Clank: Future Tools of Destruction! Great game like many have said for sure. No stupid racing that requires me to get 1st, no spherical planets that make me feel nauseous and no giant clank levels that aren't all that fun to control when it's all said and done. Just straight up Ratchet stripped to the core with fun weapons, fun platforming and humor to keep the action all tied together.
That being said - I think the game is about an hour or 2 longer than it should have been. Many times I felt like I was at the last level when it turned out I wasn't. The camera feels like it's a little bit worse than before but maybe I'm just remembering the previous ratchets with rose colored glasses as they say. I don't remember the crates having physics before but this time they do which made them feel really ghetto to me. Too many times they fall off ledges, collide with one another, do that 'video games physics shake', etc. The story - while it made me laugh confused me really bad. I never knew Ratchet was a Lombax so it took me like half the game to realize they were talking about him. The level design is top notch as usual although maybe I have a bad memory. For some reason I remember the levels looping back on themselves more - a lot of times I just got to the end of the road and a teleporter had to take me back to the beginning.
The first level is totally fantastic though. The ratchet team definitely inspired us on GoW and I would like to think that we inspired them with this game in particular. I unfortunately don't know anyone from the team so I have no way of confirming this but thats how it feels. The first level and the Dinosaur level are amazing. I love in games where you think to yourself, 'oh my god - I hope I can do this....' then you actually find out that you can. Thats how I felt when I figured out that I could climb up on the dinosaurs.
The weapons are fun as usual even though nothing really stood out to me as amazing this time. I almost wish the game only had one currency instead of the 3 that it has but at least I never felt like I was short on bolts. A much better job of juggling the economy compared to the first one. The Six Axis implementation starts off really good - but at the end of the game I was tired of that Electric Ball minigame. The Pirate Dance game totally felt Rhythm Tengoku which made me smile. I think there's something similar in FF7 if I remember right.
Even with all the hiccups the game is totally worth playing and I suggest everyone checks it out.
I also played a ton more of Rock Band. Going through solo mode with the drums on both Easy, Medium and some of Hard. I absolutely fucking hate World Band Tour mode though. Me and my girl were trying to go through it and she is playing Bass on Easy and I'm playing Drums on Medium and we simply can't get enough fans to go further. Everyone that I talk to about this game say the same things, 'terrible fucking menus and WBT could have been better'. A good 1st start that either can be fixed with some upgrade loving for part 2.
I went to SF for the past week for work and got to meet up with a lot of old friends. Granted certain people suck and were at the Montreal Games Festival but I had a ton of fun seeing everyone that was there. Got to meet up with not only the usual suspects - Choi, Seth, Peter, Sirlin, etc but also the amazing 1up crew. Had dinner and drinks with Jason, Cesar, Kathleen, Patrick, Mark and celebrated Shane and Alice's bday for a minute. Even got to play some rock band with Cesar, Hannah, and Garnet even though we couldn't hear anything in the bar. It was good to see everyone and look forward to next time - either in LA or in SF.
Still trying to make my way through Zelda on DS. I just got the hookshot but I'm soooo dreading going back to that damn dungeon. In fact every time I stop is when I have to go back there. Oh well - amazing game though. I love watching Link's face when he slides on the ice and what not. The art style they went to for WW and PH is a 100 times better when compared to Ocarina and Twilight Princess. The cell shaded style really makes me feel like it's Link in an adventure where as the grown up Link seems very out of place.
Oh yeah! A lot of things happened while I was out of town. The craziness that is Jeff Gerstman and Harvey smith. I haven't read up enough on the Gamespot thing but if it's true it seems like the whole editorial staff almost has to quit. The reason why I say it has to be this extreme is because it really does open up the door for many many worse things to happen.
The Harvey Smith thing kinda disappoints me. I've never met Harvey but he's been in this industry long enough to know when to stop babbling. On the other hand - Kohler and the rest of the Wired staff should have also known better and not ran such a sensationalist article. From my understanding what Harvey said was mentioned at the end of the interview and it sucks that someone lost their job over the whole thing. Area 51 never really looked like a "Harvey" game from the beginning so maybe it's best for everyone involved so we'll see. Speaking of Area 51 whats up with Midway banking their whole company on such big titles like this and Stranglehold? Maybe it will payoff but seems like a scary business tactic from an outsider looking in.
The main reason why it disappoints me though is because this is the 2nd time someone has said something at a conference and been fired for it - the first being Chris Hecker and his comment about the Wii being nothing more than 2 Gamecube's duct taped together. Developers definitely have more to say than just the games they work on and there isn't a good avenue of expressing anything beyond what the PR department will allow. It sucks that as developers we can't even talk about the games we did work on let alone start talking about other games. This week has shown us that game reviewers allegedly can't openly speak about how they feel nor can developers.
Sorry for babbling so long.
Ninja Edit: While digging up some handy URL's to attach to this post I found this - a story where the 1up walked over to CNET to show their support for Gerstman. Makes me love the people I know from the Ziff Davis family even more.