Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions (360) – Initial Impressions

Well, while the multiplayer for those appears to be good, I’m very underwhelmed with the single player game.  The background of the story seems interesting (people defending themselves from hostile aliens on a chilling cold, snow-covered planet) though we just had that same story effectively from Gears of War, but the in-game presentation of the story is lacking, so far.  While the game does combine, moreso than Halo, the combination of on-foot and mech use in fighting the alien foes, there’s nothing yet drastically new with the game, plus the graphics seem less than stellar when things get a bit hectic on screen.

The multiplayer looks good, however, with a few new modes that aren’t normally in other multiplayer games, though I’ve only tried a couple matches so far.

Super Swing Golf (Wii) – Initial Impressions

If you’ve ever played Albatross Golf, a free online multiplayer golf game for the PC, you’ll be quite familar with 90% of what Super Swing Golf has – it’s basically a port of the game to the Wii, using the same characters, graphics, courses, and other features, but adding in a story mode and, of course, using the Wii mote as your golf club.   It doesn’t have online competitve play though you can play with 3 others.  The swing is a bit less forgiving than that in Wii golf, but also gives you a bit more control of how you can play up the ball.  Plus with the larger number of courses, computer opponents, and other features, it’s a nice, if easy, adaptation of the game.

Tales of the Abyss (PS2) – Initial Impressions

I was rather disappointed with the last Tales title (‘Tales of Legendia, PS2) which, while keeping the general mechanics of the previous title (Tales of Symphonia, GC); it may have been that the battle system while still using the active but linear (like most 2D fighting games) system, it had no 3D depth, or the look of the game was a bit weird, or maybe just a very odd story, but it didn’t grab me as much as ToS did.

I’m glad to say that Tales of the Abyss feels much closer already to Symphonia that Legendia, as the graphic styles are closer to ToS, it uses close to the same battle system, and the story feels a bit better.  A few changes to the Tales mechanics are there, but not too much that I’ve seen yet (though only about 3hr into the game).  The largest annoyance which I’ve found is that the character sketches are back – brief little scenes which use 2d sprites instead of the 3d models and with text-only dialog to talk about aspects unrelated to the story but generally help with character development.  However, unlike the main text dialog (both voiced and text) which you can skip ahead, you have to wait for character animations to finish out to progress forward; you can cancel out of these with a button, but you don’t see the rest of the dialog.  I beleive, if I remember correctly, that ToS had the same problem with this mostly unskippable scenes.

But I’m still glad to see something more along the lines of ToS for Tales of the Abyss rather than ToL.

Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom (PS3) ~ 10hr

Man, this game is a button-mashing fest.  There’s almost no skill in it, yet, beyond making sure to upgrade your armor at save points.  Plus for a PS3 game, the camera control is poor and the graphics are rather bland.   I have a hard time classify this even as an RPG despite it having some elements.  Mind you, I am finding I’m to a point I need to use magic a bit more, but still, it just feels like a quickly done buttonmashing game.  And while I’ve got but not finished the previous Untold Legends for the PSP, I know the style is very different there, and I think I preferred that more to the PS3 version.

Excite Truck (Wii) – Review

Excite Truck - Cover Excite Truck, developed by Monster Games for the Nintendo Wii launch, is a nice introduction to how the Wii Remote could be used as a virtual steering wheel, and is rather quick and easy to jump into. The game is pretty fun with a nice difficulty level, though lacks other racing innovations and uniqueness to make it a must-have hit. Continue reading

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (NDS) – Review

Portrait of Ruin CoverA continuation on the long-lasted Castlevania series from Komani, Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin keeps most of the same gameplay as it’s previous 2D side-scrolling predecessors, adding a partnering mode previously seen as an unlockable version from Dawn of Sorrow and the use of Quests to give bonuses to the players. The game comes off quite well polished and is definitely another hit for the DS. Continue reading

Final Fantasy XII (PS2) – ~16 hours

So I got the first major magical shard in the game, which had some very impressive cutscenes, and now have regrouped for what I’d call the second chapter of the game.   So far, I’m loving this.  The gambit/license system is pretty good, though almost gears to computer programmers and the like given how you have to think about it.  Seeing what new gambits and tactics are available with the start of the new chapter makes me wonder how many more options they can give you, for example, gambits based on having a certain number of items remaining in inventory, or the like.  Also, attempting to max out the chain level for killing monsters of the same type in a row is fun and also challenging.

And it still feels like I have a way to go in this game.