Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Or however you celebrate the holidays! Hanuka, Kwanzaa, whatever! Have a safe, happy and wonderful time. Enjoy a few days rest, text or call people you haven't spoken to in a while, just generally do something nice for someone.

Oh, and do me a favour: Wish really hard for snow. Maybe if we all wish together, we can get some!! I had a Christmas jump on a frost covered trampoline at 8am this morning, which was fine, but snow would be great too!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Well Done Agent

This review is short and sweet.

I love it, some of my friends love it, some don't. A free-roaming sandbox game from the creator of the GTA series, Crackdown puts you in the place of a future cop with a crazy suit of armour that allows you to leap small buildings, pick up trucks, snipe with a heavy machine gun, and cause company cars to transform from G1 Transformers to Bayformers. Freakin' sweet! Admittedly, that's what you can do once you have leveled up a bit, but that really doesn't take very long. I was fully dotted before even starting the last of the three city zones.

I love the freedom, the leaping around, the crazy action, the pick-up-and-play aspect. I love the leveling up process, the cell shaded animation, and the sharp dialogue. I just love how much fun I find this game to be.

But I can't recommend it. You have to play it yourself. If you can, rent it, or even better, if you're on Xbox Live, just download the free demo. The leveling up speed has been ramped up so that you can almost max-out your athletics or weapons in the hour and a bit the demo allows you have. If you enjoy it, you can pick it up for about €25-€30 new, and €15-20 second hand. That's all it's really worth. Even I know when I get stuck into my other 360 title, even the colourful graphics and equally colourful gameplay won't pull me back. Though, as a rule of thumb, I'd say that if you enjoyed Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, you'll love this.

Galactic Conquest

I love playing computer games, but find anything that makes me too frustrated is not worth my time. Often, if I get stuck on a particular level, or a certain area, I'll just give up and never go back. If a game annoys me to the point of cursing or even anger, it's not worth it (I should note that this is different from getting excited to the point of cursing. Chu-Chu Rocket had me screaming like a sailor for hours, and I loved every second of it!). I can turn it off and try again tomorrow. If I still get angry at it, then I know I'm not going to finish it. This is entirely independent of how good the game is.

A quick glance at my games on my game rack brings lots of examples to mind.

Mercenaries: Made it to the second Ace. Couldn't capture him alive. Replayed it too much. Never even got to play on the second map.

Gun: Stupid frackin' last boss. In fact, I didn't even play the last part of the game. Jp played it.

GTA: San Andreas: Got bored.
GTA: Liberty City Stories: Couldn't get into it.

Metroid Prime 2: Fish boss killed me too often, and every time I died it was a ten minute trawl back to his location. Nope. Not again.

Punisher: Started something else... damn. I liked that game. Must go back and play it again...

Add to that a list of PC games a mile long, and you see the problem I face any time I consider buying a new game. If I play it, will I enjoy it? Will I finish it? Even if I don't complete it, will I put in enough time to make it worth the price?

Mario Galaxy took up more time in my life for the two weeks after I got it than eating, and arguably breathing, did! Certainly I got far more of a sensorial response playing Galaxy on the Wii than I did with any of my meals during that time!
From start to finish, this is a masterpiece exploding with humour, creativity, intelligence and a level of complexity to make the game challenging without being frustrating. The hardest Stars to get (once more, the goal of the game) are often on the most fun levels to play, so dieing ten times in quick succession doesn't seem so bad! Collecting purple coins on a pixelated Luigi is awesome, but I've lost over 20 lives to it already and still don't have a Star to show for it.

Galaxy is the first game I've really played in a long time. It's certainly the first in a very long time that I have totally enjoyed. Every new level is a thrill, every new Star, a burst of adrenalin. While the big Stars might power the space station, it's collecting the little ones that power me forward. Races, time-trials, quests, and other challenges divert from the platforming for a while and add to the fun. And while I'm talking about platforming, returning to the classic 2D styles in a 3D game without a break in the action is beautiful to watch! Mixing those up with altering gravity fields and mind warping puzzles is just fresh strawberries on an already perfectly iced cake.

There is nothing bad I can say about the game. Sure, the two-player mode leaves the second player with little to do, but Claire loved it while I was Mario, and I loved it while other people controlled the main action. It's not much, but it's damn fun to do! The bosses are colourful and varied, the levels are amazing to play on, and the innovative gravity elements are mind bending to play with. Running around to the underside of a platform to avoid enemies can be confusing at first but you eventually get used t... no. No, you never get used to it! It's amazing every time!

If you have a Wii, you need this game. Mario 64 on the N64 redefined platforming, bringing it into the third dimension. Mario Sunshine was weak, created to fill an unusually long gap between Mario games. But Mario Galaxy is a shining achievement that Nintendo is rightly proud of!

Finally, Some Me Time

It's been almost a full month since I last updated, and it's been a busy month! Preschool work kicked into overdrive in the run up to Christmas, and I've been putting in extra time at home on arts ideas for the class, as well as buying supplies in town. My other work has had me in for more hours, both in the health food store and the comic shop. This is great, because I really need the money! Rent this month is on the credit card!

And on top of all this, I got a new game for the Wii, and an Xbox 360! The Xbox was a Christmas present from Claire, and I bought the games for it myself through ebay. In fact, most of my Christmas shopping was done through ebay! Sweet!

Edit: Oops! Silly me. I almost talked about what I got people, before realising that some of them read this!! Heh. Anyway...

But tonight I have a little time to say hello to the world wide web again, and blog a little. Poor Flickr is still feeling cold. I haven't really taken any photos at all recently, even of action figures. I guess I'm allowed take a break now and then, but I really want to get back into it. Maybe in the New Year. I'm not going to make a resolution to photograph or blog more though. I feel I did a lot this year, certainly more than I expected to do, given my reputation for starting and ending things with reckless abandon! Still, hopefully I'll have time to blog a bit more before the end of 2007.