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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 00:38:33     -    Aqua Teen Hunger Force Zombie Ninja Pro-Am (PS2)

    GAMEPLAY

    For this gamelog I attempted the multiplayer mode of this game with a friend. I hoped it would provide us with a humorous golfing adventure, but what I hoped would be the redeeming feature of the game completely disappoints. At the beggining of multiplayer you get to choose between three characters to golf as: Frylock, Carl, and Master Shake, each comes with three costumes. This is all very exciting at first, especially because Frylock and Master Shake aren't available in single player. After your players are selected you get to make a map playlist from the 12 available golf courses. Things are still looking hopeful, but then the game actually starts.

    Multiplayer is simply a game of golf. No longer do you run from shot beating up enemies, now you simply play golf, magically teleporting to your ball after each shot. The other thing that is sorely missing is the only thing that makes the game fun: the music and the amusing dialogue. All that remains is a dead silent game of golf between two usually amusing cartoon characters. They very least I would expect from an Aqua Teen Hunger Force video game is constant humorous insults and annoying dialogue, which the single player provides, but multiplayer completely lacks. The game quickly gets tedious, and any element of competition will very rapidly dissipates.

    By now I've unlocked pretty much everything and I've found another cool feature, the disk for the game is packed full of extras. Not only is there a full single player game, and a pretty crappy multiplayer mode, there are 4 full episodes of the Aqua Teen tv show, and a ton of extra clips from both the game and the show. So even if gameplay is frustrating you, you can find something else to do for a while before you trade in the game for something new.

    DESIGN
    Here's what I have to say to the developers: Good Try, but you guys fell short. Maybe, you couldn't meet a tough deadline, didn't have enough time for playtesting, or ran into other issues. This game could have been made far better than it is if the developers spent more time with it, but a game in this state shouldn't be released to the public.

    If gameplay was flawlessly executed, and they used the resources they had to the fullest extent this would be a much better game. Sadly the single player game is full of glitches and bugs. Sometimes bad guys won't die, they often respawn inside of objects. I've had issues where boss battles don't work; there is some puzzle you need to solve to win but it just won't activate. The races are stilted and boring, and I feel like if they spent more time tweaking gameplay they could have been fun.

    Then there is multiplayer.... If they had simply scripted in the same dialogue that they used in single player multiplayer would have been so much better. Then if they really felt ambitious they could have brought the whole action mechanic into multiplayer, but I would have forgiven them if only they gave us something to listen to!

    Now onto the good things: honestly, I can't really think of anything good about gameplay. The way the three modes of play are strung together in a somewhat original way, and thanks to the familiar characters and voices, I was willing to endure boring unoriginal gameplay, but no-one other than a highly devoted Aqua Teen Hunger Force Fan should ever play this game.

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    Mar 3rd, 2008 at 21:04:40     -    Aqua Teen Hunger Force Zombie Ninja Pro-Am (PS2)

    SUMMARY
    Aqua Teen Zombie Ninja Pro-am is a golf themed 3D action game with three play modesL Golf, Action, and Racing. Gameplay involves playing a whole of golf, but between shots you have to battle your way from one shot to the next, with various golf cart races in between.

    GAMEPLAY

    When this game came out I was super excited to play it because I'm a huge Aqua Teen Hunger Force fan. After it got bad reviews I decided to wait a little while until the price came down. It's been a while, and I just picked up a used copy today for $20.

    I came home and excitedly popped the game in my PS2. Soon I'd started a new game and I was singing along to the theme song, and then I was playing. The game is overflowing with characters from the tv show, and right off the bat I got to abuse Carl as Master Shake and then I set off golfing. The best part of this game is definitely the voice acting, the characters are constantly talking and its fun to listen to aqua teen chatter as you go about your golf. The art isn't bad either, the transition from a 2D cartoon to a 3D game is always a bit rough, but this game has done a decent job of it, and I'm not going to complain to much. The place where the game goes bad is with gameplay, which is somewhat boring and often frustrating and tedious, not to mention tons of little glitches I've run into.

    The best way to describe the game is to say that it is golf themed. All the levels take place on some sort of golf course, and the game is played like a game of golf. Each level involves teeing off and taking a swing at your golf ball with a traditional distant-accuracy mini-game. Then you have to walk along the course to where the ball is landed, and as you walk you are under constant assault from chatty Aqua Teen characters. You get to play as Master Shake and Frylock, you can switch whenever you want, but each only has two attacks. Their regular light attack, and their charge-up heavy attack which leaves them stunned. This leaves you with two battle strategies, charge the enemy and try and quickly attack before they can get a lot of attacks in, or get a bunch of enemies to follow you and then use a heavy attack. There isn't very much complexity either way, and it gets tedious quickly. There are powerups lying around the level, but often they don't work properly and usually its just easier to stick with the regular attacks.

    The next part of gameplay is the golf cart races. They don't happen with any regularity, they just seem to pop up. It is a simple racing mechanic and you move relatively slow, there are only two pickups: homing missiles and boosts. The big flaw here is that once a missile is locked onto you, there is no way to shake it, so the race often comes down to who can recover from spinouts faster (which is all that happens when you get hit). The few races I've done have been difficult and I've had to repeat them each quite a few times before suceeding. What makes them so challenging is that your opponents move at the same speed as you so you have to tactically employ your boosts and rockets to suceed, driving skill doesn't really play much of a part.

    Overall the game is funny to watch, and often amusing to play. Gameplay just seems very unbalance and rough, perhaps they just needed to spend more time beta-testing before the release, because I feel like with minimal tweaks this game could be made good. But the way things are now, the only thing that keeps me going is my love for Aqua Teen Hunger Force and all things [adult swim].

    This entry has been edited 2 times. It was last edited on Mar 6th, 2008 at 00:06:44.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 00:42:55     -    Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas (PS2)

    GAMEPLAY

    So now that I've had a chance to warm up and meet my hit-and-run quota, I'm ready to settle down and explore some of the more mundane aspects of gameplay. Here I am standing in front of the hospital looking for some work. I've made a pledge to myself not to use violence to meet my goals (at least for the time being), although I'm down to stoop to some carjacking. I watch cars drive by for a while until a taxicab pulls by, that looks like a good steady line of work. So I run in front of it and claim it for my own. I hit a button, and suddenly I have objectives. Welcome to the taxi mini-game.

    I ticking clock now resides in the corner of the screen, I have to pick up fares and take them to their destinations before time runs out. Its a Crazy Taxi clone, but I don't mind because I'm in the GTA universe, and I can leave my taxi and beat a hooker to death whenever I get bored. I drive around, picking up fares and trying to keep my murder rate low. It's fun for a while, but eventually the police start chasing me for reckless driving and its back to car-chases and violence. As soon as I've left the hospital I look for another non-violent profession. I run around to the back of the hospital and find a waiting ambulance. I climb inside and start the ambulance driver mini-game. It's very similar to the taxi mini-game, only now my destination is always the hospital and my fares start in slightly more amusing situations. Again, I rapidly get bored, and after a few hospital runs, I'm back to unrestrained violence. This time the cops get me and I'm sitting outside the police station. Time for a new job.

    This time, I resolve, I will find a slightly more entertaining job. I think I want to be a vigilante. Luckily, I'm right outside the police station, so I steal a police car, activate the vigilante mini-game, and all of a sudden, I'm a semi-licensed killer. A drive around, killing whom I'm told for a while. This is a game that I have the proper skillset for. Heres my job: Drive quickly to where the criminal is. Attack his car until it's about to explode, the criminal will then get out of the car. Run over the criminal. Find the next criminal. What a rewarding career. Also, as I progress, there are more and more criminals to kill each time. What a world!

    DESIGN

    As I've played GTA: San Andreas with a game designers mindset, I've picked up on some important design elements that really make the game fun. So first off, lets label the obvious important design features and get them out of the way:
    1) massive world with no load times
    2) huge variety of cars, weapons, npcs, etc. The world is beautifully populated.
    3) compelling and humorous story with well scripted missions that moves along only when the player wants it to.

    Now lets talk about what I noticed as I played today. One aspect of GTA: SA that I think is super important but also fairly subtle is the contrast between the plot and general game mechanic with the career mini-games. It is tons of fun to go through the missions, shooting, driving, and killing. Its also fun to just run around doing those things: shooting, driving, and killing. On the other hand, the career mini-games are repetitive and boring. You usually just have to complete the same task over and over again, simply competing against a ticking clock, and only making chump change. I'm not sure this was done on purpose, but as I reflect now, I'm sure it was.

    The fun of breaking the law to make money and succeed contrasted with the law-abiding way of making money (minigames), really shows how players are encouraged to break the law to succeed. I'm sure there is a paper here on the ethics of this choice, but both the story and the actual gameplay really push across the point that crime does pay. I also think the fact that real jobs are boring and being a criminal is fun makes for a more realistic gaming experience. In real life its true, crime does pay, its a fast and relatively easy to make money, the only problem is that in real life crime comes loaded with tons of consequences. In a game, when all of those consequences are stripped away, we can completely revel in a life of crime.

    Another really important design aspect of this game is the incredible amount of collectible items. While this is nothing revolutionary, and previous GTA games have definitely used this strategy, it is incredibly important for a game of this scope. In GTA: San Andreas there are 6 kinds of hidden collectibles and 60 - 100 of each. Which means hours upon hours of extra gameplay. What these collectibles do is reward the player for their continued interest and devotion to the game. Recently other games have attempted to copy the GTA sandbox style of gameplay. For our uses we will use Just Cause as an example, it is very similar to GTA in that it is a 3rd person action game with a massive explorable world, and non-linear gameplay. The problem is, when you finish the plot of scripted missions there is nothing left to do. Sure you can keep running around and exploring the world but the game stops rewarding you for doing so. I mean the rewards in GTA: San Andreas are pretty sparse. Getting a horseshoe for climbing to the top of a building isn't that great, but its a lot more than nothing.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 00:03:03     -    Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas (PS2)

    SUMMARY
    GTA - San Andreas is the third 3D GTA game, and the last built on the GTA3 engine. It is the defining sandbox game of our time, and it builds upon successful gameplay elements from earlier games in the franchise to create an incredibly open and immersive world.

    GAMEPLAY

    My console of choice is really the PC, so when I originally played GTA:SA it was there. Since then, I've logged ridiculous amounts of time on the computer, I've also acquired a PS2 and a copy, so that is where we will go for todays session.

    Instead of starting a new game and navigating the streets of Los Santos as a inexperienced ex-con, I loaded up an old save game where practically everything is unlocked. Today I'm going cruising for trouble. I find that the best way to get back into the game is to grab what you've got and go on a killing spree. In my garage I find a crimson Voodoo, I climb in and speed off into the desert (I've spawned at my secret desert airfield). I fly over dunes, narrowly avoiding oncoming obstacles. Soon the lights of Las Venturas begin to sparkle on the horizon, and my sights are set. I barrel through traffic on windy roads, smashing over a granny on a motorbike and hitting the outskirts of town. It's time for some carnage. The framerate slows down and gets a bit choppy as I skid through a group of pedestrians to a cacophony of curses and splats. Just like that I'm up to two stars, and the fun is about to begin. I fly down the Las Venturas strip, causing as much damage as I can in hopes of hitting three stars before I see my first cop.
    As I speed past Caligula's Palace two police cars hurtle out from a side street. One flies past me, slams into another car and flips over. While the other one hits me right in the broadside and we both spinout. Soon I'm off driving again, only this time I've got a whole parade of virtual law enforcement behind me. Back into the desert, police cars, fly wildly through the air after every jump, while I land effortlessly and speed on into the night. I don't make it that far, seeing as I'm the center of this universe and #1 on the police agenda. After a few heated fire-fights, a bunch more car-chases, and a brief helicopter ride, I'm sitting on top of a sky scraper making my last stand. I shoot the heavens and mow down every officer I can see, but eventually I run out of ammo, and I'm shot down in a blaze of glory. What a life.
    And 6 hours later I walk out of the hospital unscathed, ready to do it all over again.

    Playing San Andreas today is just as fun as it was the first day I got it, which is truly a testament to its exceptional quality. The gameplay is so free and there are so many options that every time I play I have a new, fun, and unique experience. The size of the gameworld and the number of vehicles and weapons are really what keep the player coming back, but the fluidity of the gameplay, the realistic and often amusing art, and the elaborate soundtrack are what make this game phenomenal. There are just so many layers of gameplay, that it takes a ridiculous amount of dedication and effort to even access it all. It will be further analyzed in the design section, but there are just so many things you can play with in this game.

    First of all there is simply the gameplay mechanic which is so much fun, the thrill of stealing a car and throwing the laws of our society out the window is just so appealing. Then, once the novelty of gameplay is starting to wear off, there is the long and high-quality narrative the game takes you through, and which simply introduces you to the massive gameworld and all the options you can later explore. Lastly there are all of the tangents and mini-games that branch out from everywhere, waiting to be discovered. For the OCD player, there are hundreds of hidden objects to be found. For the ADD player, there are tons of mini-games and careers that require finding and mastering. And everyone else can mix and match, choosing whatevery collectibles or games they want to pursue. GTA: San Andreas isn't simply a game, it is a virtual universe containing hundreds of small games, all perfectly placed in a realistic setting to keep the player excited and exploring. Just one more small step towards the Matrix.

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    Entries written to date: 11
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    1Aqua Teen Hunger Force Zombie Ninja Pro-Am (PS2)Playing
    2Elebits (Wii)Finished playing
    3Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas (PS2)Playing
    4Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town (GBA)Playing
    5Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)Finished playing
    6The Simpsons Game (PS2)Finished playing

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