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    Feb 24th, 2007 at 03:39:21     -    Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

    The next few colossi weren't too hard, though one of them help me up for a while until i figured out the trick. design continues to be impressively varied without deviating from an overall motif of sorta... nearly-evil-looking supernaturally-created-metallic/organic beings.

    The movements of the colossi combined with the grip meter make for some suspenseful situations, and the battles can be fairly epic, though after spending ten minutes scaling a colossus, to be shaken off before dealing the final blow is a wee bit frustrating. But never so much that there is any serious urge to give up.

    Landscapes continue to be impressive in both scope and craftsmanship, and I'm pretty sure the game is more of a showcase of the graphical capabilities and draw distance of the console than a game for gaming's sake. Fine by me!

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    Feb 24th, 2007 at 03:33:09     -    Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

    I had heard of this game a back in the early days of the PS2, and it sounded both cool and confusing. How could a game be stretched out to full length if there are only 16 monsters to defeat?

    I started the game, watched the intro. Interesting indeed; someone was very excited about the ability to create large sweeping landscapes. Story was minimal, though it seemed pretty obvious: something happened to a girl, let's save her. The booming voice from above then explains further: to save her, kill a buncha colossi. K.

    I ventured forth to the first one, making slight detours at the direction of my friend, whose game it is. Once I got to the colossus, i dispatched him relatively easily, as was intended; it was mostly to help me learn to controls. The "grip meter" is a cool idea, and certainly a necessary limitation for a game like this.

    The next colossus showed creativity in design, but wasn't much different strategy-wise. I started to realize that the colossi, though the point o the game proper, are really just anchoring points for a bunch of extraneous design. Little surprises abound here and there; regular geysers spouting from the earth, scurrying turtles and lizards, vast beautiful panoramic views, the ability to stand on your horse as he gallops. Interesting indeed.

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    Feb 9th, 2007 at 05:10:23     -    Far Cry (PC)

    I suppose predictably, the game gets darker and less tropical, while introducing some fairly run-of-the-mill plot points; nefarious research, evil scientist, there's a girl, etc. However, it's pulled off rather well, and the resulting mutants from the nefarious research are sufficiently more difficult than regular soldiers, without being obnoxious, but while still providing a boost of adrenaline when they pounce.

    The weapon system is nice; instead of simply having the 10 possible weapons 0-9, there is a reasonable variety but only four can be carried at any given moment. Choices have to be made, as almost all have a good use (aside from the pistol, which is only useful at the beginning when there's nothing else). Fortunately, I know that, for example, the next time I find sniper rifle ammo is probably going to be in the form of an actual sniper rifle, so I can safely discard the one I have in favor of a shotgun for the current indoor level, and then trade it out when the time comes.

    The continuing dialogue between the mercenaries on the island is cheesy but welcome. It is also the first of two reasons that using binoculars is actually useful in this game (as opposed to most). So firstly, the dialogue can only be heard if you view the mercs from afar without their knowledge, using the binoculars. Secondly, in an interesting gameplay mechanic, enemies will only show up on the radar thingy once they've been spotted through the binoculars. This is a nice addition and prevents me, the player, from magically knowing where enemies are in the foliage until the game is reasonably sure I've actually found them.

    Stealth is an important part of this game; after all, you're one guy against an island full of hardened mercenaries. An all-out guns-blazing approach will end in tears for all involved, and it is integral to get at least the first kill or two in any sortie before others are alerted. The game provides satisfying distances and vantage points such that the sniper rifle can be an extremely fun weapon; I chuckle along with the game designers as I spot two soldiers chatting near an explosive barrel, and fire, creating some amusing rag-doll entertainment. There is a meter which purports to show how close you are to being discovered by enemies in the area, but it sometimes lies. Another interesting twist is the ability to throw rocks to distract an enemy. This can backfire, however; when grenades are found, the game automatically replaces rocks with grenades as the thing to be thrown when G is pressed. Aside from these minor grievances, however, the stealth aspect makes this the sort of game which is right up my alley, and I look forward to beating it.

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    Feb 9th, 2007 at 04:05:23     -    Far Cry (PC)

    I recently acquired this game after years of vaguely wanting to. I had never played it, but it was always in the atmosphere, beckoning to me...

    I knew of the basic theme and was intrigued; i always prefer bright environments to sewers/swamps/underground research facilities/etc. I also knew that the game would run well even on lower-end computers like my laptop is fast becoming, and I didn't have a good FPS for mindless shooting during downtime.

    The initial area is a fairly generic learn-to-move area, done reasonably well. The first enemy I encountered was also the first who spoke in-game to his superior or whoever, a pattern which would be repeated throughout the game in varied and impressively optional manners. It's a good way to advance the story without forced cutscenes or finding "notes" a la Resident Evil, and rewards careful characters who don't simply shoot everyone they see on first sight.
    At any rate, this first enemy was also my first chance to use stealth, a chance which I heartily failed to take advantage of, and I was down to half health by the time I got to safety. I cursed myself, as I am normally a more stealthy character.

    As the game progressed, I became more and more impressed with the design. The lush forest setting manages not to completely destroy the frame rate, and also gives you a good feeling of creeping through the grass; of course, the enemies couldn't care less about the 2-d grass sprites, and so if they see you first, it can be a lot harder to figure out where they are without being killed first. The level design is certainly progressive and mostly linear, but does a tremendous job at pretending it's not; instead of simply not allowing the player to leave a path or general direction, there simply isn't anything interesting over there. I never found myself wanting to stray off to the side for any length of time, because i could see the huts in the direction i was supposed to go with lots of targets and so forth. There are of course still physical impediments to travel in certain directions, but there's definitely no feeling of being ushered along by the game. It's quite possible to get lost in some areas.

    The shooting mechanics are a little weak; the sensation of recoil is plasticky, and the enemy reactions to being shot are at the level of Medal of Honor, in terms of being nearly inconsequential. It can be hard to aim accurately for any period of time, but then I think this is more realistic than anything else. One advantage handed to you by the game is that when driving a vehicle with a weapon, there is a limited auto-aim (invaluable for shooting while moving swiftly).

    more to come!

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    1Far Cry (PC)Playing
    2Goldeneye 007 (N64)Finished playing
    3Katamari Damacy (PS2)Finished playing
    4Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)Playing
    5Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption (PC)Stopped playing - Got Bored

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