JRock3x8's Life Musings

Monday, March 27, 2006

Gamerscore Whore

The dark and seedy side of Microsoft's new "Gamerscore" system is that I will spend hours playing games I no longer care about just to get an achievement.

After all, who really wants to play 100 games of Hexic? I turned on the "timed" mode, matched one combo and watched TV for 50 seconds while the timer ran down. An hour and a half later, voila! 25 points! My wife was bored nauseous watching this.

Last weekend, I set a lap time in every PGR3 track at the same sitting. Let me tell you - the Behemoth is not that much fun when you've already raced the other 2 Germany races and every other race in the game.

Don't get me wrong - there's a fun side to it too - yesterday while playing GRAW multiplayer, I unlocked 2 achievements in a 15 second span, one for 30 kills without dieing and one for 4 kills in 4 seconds. That was a blast.

But the damn gamerscore points are so addictive - I start looking through my list of games to try to figure out which games / achievements I haven't gotten yet that I think I could get through fairly easily. Last night it was Hexic (an exercise in patience to be sure).

The worst part is that after all my gamerscore whore-ing, my gamercard is at a whopping 897 points. (Sob) (weep) Ah well, at least I'm 900 points ahead of the sad saps who still have theirs on pre-order from last November :) I REALLY hope those are all filled by now...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

GRAW Multiplayer

Played multiplayer co-op for a couple of hours today and wow it was a lot of fun. I never imagined playing against hordes of AI enemies could be so challenging but sure enough I turned a corner a fair number of time and blam, I was dead.

My favorite contest of the afternoon was Co-op Territories where the enemies just keep coming. We had the 800-round machine gun with 100-bullet clips and with FIVE of us wailing away at these guys they still easily overwhelmed us in about five minutes. The awe factor of being outnumbered ten to one and just feeling them swarm over you is really quite an immersive experience. I rather like the co-op side of the game rather than the versus mode I'm used to in Halo. I hope it's a trend that catches on because I would much rather play with people than against them. I'm just not that competitive. Plus - if I run around like a stupid fool - the only person I hurt is myself.

Fun games, though - look forward to more of them.

JRock's 60 (okay 120) minute review of GRAW

Lots of luck trying to form an opinion on this game in one hour. There's just too much to learn.

Anyways, I finally picked up GRAW and by and large, I'm enjoying it.

The visual presentation is just unreal at times. But pretty graphics are worth about 5 minutes of good karma in my opinion. After that, you better have some really great gameplay. Fortunately, this game succeeds in that regard. There were some bizarre glitches in my first few minutes - a guy hiding behind a barrel would inexpicably flash above the barrel with his arms spread wide like a "T" and then disappear. These episodes were very few and far between.

It took me a good long time to get used to the controls after being a die hard Halo guy for so long. This reminds me of people in MechAssault2 multiplayer who would climb out of their mechs by hitting "Y" because that was the weapon switch button for Halo. The one thing that is really frustrating me is switching weapons. For whatever reason, it doesn't cycle among your 3 choices - it just toggles between your 2 most recent choices. To select the third weapon takes way too long and could really cost you your life in a firefight.

I've read people who have said this game is really hard and at least from the first level - I really don't follow that line of thinking. As long as you protect your drone from enemy fire, you can almost always have the first shot in any fight. I did get gunned down fairly quickly in my first shot at helicopter gunner, but I was more interested in replaying the first level again - which brings me to my next point.

The replayability of this game is awesome. You can hit your enemies from so many different angles in so many different ways it's really fun to hit one guy, watch the other two guys react and then hit the other two from a different angle. Grenades, headshots from afar, close-in guerrilla tactics - it's all a lot of fun.

I sometimes felt that CoD2 was way too chaotic but it's war so I get that it should be that way. This game is a thinking man's game not a shooting man's game. You have to know where your enemy is before you go in with guns blazing.

I am looking forward to playing this game online as multiplayer sounds like lots of fun.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

JRock's 40 minute review of Burnout : Revenge

Ok, so as usual, first things first. I loved loved loved loved loved Burnout : Takedown and I thought after I finished all the game modes that I should sell it because I really didn't want to try multiplayer (we'll cover that in another post).

I didn't want to give the game away though so I priced it on half.com for $5 above any other used copy. Fine. So I come home one day and my wife says oh I changed the price on Burnout and sold it. Cough. Sputter. Wheeze.

To make matters worse, my jonesing for some great Burnout action got really bad two weekends ago when I played Takedown on my brother's XBox. I don't own an XBox anymore and it's not a backwards compatible title so I thought - Sweet, Burnout : Revenge comes out March 8th - I'll get that.

Huff, huff, huff-sorry for the exorbitantly long intro there. So I had some pretty high expectations coming into this game, and while it's gorgeous and slick as hell with the frame rate, it's not Takedown.

Let me explain. In Takedown, my wife and I played the Crashbreaker modes almost exclusively. In Revenge, you kind of have to go through the "World Tour" in the way they guide you which takes away an element of freedom imo.

Also, there doesn't appear to be a single player road rage mode or freestyle modes of the other race / crash types. I've long since sold my 53" HDTV and playing road rage on split screen is really not all that much fun on a 27" TV. Again, it's about personal gamer freedom.

Last but not least, the default difficulty is MUCH harder than Takedown. Taking down cars in Takedown is like taking candy from a baby - maliciously satisfying and easy as pie. Taking down cars in Burnout is much harder as they actually try to avoid you when you have them in a bad spot and they dont squeeze up against the walls like watermelon seeds like in Takedown.

Hence, this review became a 40 minute review instead of my normal 60 minute review, because I quickly began to lament the fact that this was not the game I loved. If Takedown becomes a backwards compatible title, this one goes on sale the next day. Until then, I'll just keep playing.