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    Feb 23rd, 2007 at 18:52:49     -    Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

    I only fully remembered how masterful the art for this game is when I played it again. By making the Colossus itself a puzzle, the designers are able to make this mythological being of flesh and stone and hair into creatures that react to your actions, but still in some places represent or resemble buildings. It's quite amazing.

    I spoke of the Colossi reacting, and they do. It's an interesting part of the game, but also a very sad one. At times, you can feel the panic of these creatures as they realize their fate, and more than once I felt terrible for being the one responsible for their deaths.

    I didn't recognize the language that the characters spoke, and I think it was all made up, which I both liked and disliked. I liked that the game created its own language, but I didn't like that it turned all the dialogue into subtitles. I also was not a huge fan of the controls on the horse. You can do all sorts of cool things, but they're very difficult. Also, I can't count the number of times I leapt over my horse instead of getting on. Having played for another short while after writing that part and continuously dying (not even near a colossus) because of the controls, I'm going to have to revise my statement to say the horse controls out and out suck.

    I loaded an old save game, and I realized that earlier I was incorrect. Your character does get stronger and better health as the game progresses, but it is so subtle that I didn't even notice until I loaded the last colossus after fighting the first.

    In a way, I think that is the charm of this game. It is very subtle in its changes, though the challenges may seem overt (colossi). I just realized while playing that every time you kill a colossus, a piller of light rises up into the sky from that location permanently.

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    Feb 23rd, 2007 at 17:59:28     -    Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

    This game blew me away. That much I just have to open with. The gameplay for this game is so much fun (when it isn't frustrating) that I almost can't explain it.

    The Game presents you with minimum story, but makes you fascinated by it nonetheless. Who is the girl? Can this nameless boy save her? What are the Colossi? The makers make it clear that they will answer this on their own time, and you'd best just sit back and enjoy.

    At first I was somewhat skeptical of this game. Then I played it. For being so simple, it is utterly magnificent. Solving the puzzles of how to defeat the colossi is gratifying in itself; it makes you feel so very clever. But the challenges are (usually) just hard enough to challenge you without infuriating you. There are no powerups, there are no special weapons, just a boy and his horse. And when you have slain a colossus, the reward is that you are closer to the end goal. And yet, this is the only reward you need in this game. Somehow, that is enough.

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    Feb 9th, 2007 at 19:26:48     -    Battle for Middle Earth 2 (PC)

    Playing more BFME2 has made me appreciate the relatively simple display system; there's almost no screen clutter. The only thing permanently on your screen is the minimap and a row of buttons showing what your current units can do. There's also a nice radial display on each building that allows you to select what you want that building to do, but again, sadly, your buildings are locked into only one thing at a time. I wish more games followed Homeworld's example and allowed multitasking.

    This game has very pretty graphics, and the neat ability to (occasionally) create secure locations within your walls, allowing gates to be constructed. It really is very cool to open your gate and let your cavalry charge out with the gate closing behind them. However, the aforementioned wall problem gets frustrating.

    Also, the computer likes to build siege weapons. This is annoying cause they mess up your walls and only by mounting catapaults on your walls can you do something about them without running out to smash them. However, as I've mentioned, the friendly AI is stupid, so it doesn't attack the siege weapons unless you explicitly tell it to. At that point your walls are either on fire or rubble.

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    Feb 9th, 2007 at 18:41:33     -    Battle for Middle Earth 2 (PC)

    I'm a fan of the RTS genre, even if not everyone else is, but I think that it above all other genres (except perhaps MMOs) is the one where you have to have an amazing game to merit buying it, like Dawn of War, or Warcraft, or Starcraft.

    Battle for Middle Earth 2 is not that game. My first dissappointment is that they did not get the actors from the film to do the voices. Then I played the game and I found it to be neat how the combat was very epic in the sense that you could wipe out entire battalions like nothing, I was also disappointed to discover that the friendly AI was programmed with the intelligence of a fish. You can set your units into stances, just like in most games. However, in this one, it doesn't affect anything. For example, I had several units of melee and several units of archers. I told the melee to attack only when enemies got close, and the archers to attack as soon as they saw anything. Regrettably, when I finished with the base modifications I was working on, I looked back at that troop to find that the archers were not firing at all, and the melee guys were mostly dead cause they'd moved from their earlier position. At other times I'll find melee units quite literally in the enemy base even though they weren't halfway across the map earlier. They just wandered in pursuing enemies or something.

    The level design is good, although I would really like to see some maps that afforded better natural protection. This game has the nice ability to build walls (unless you're Mordor. NEVER play as Mordor) however, you can't build walls more than a certain distance away from your fortress (for some reason no one bothers to explain. But that's OK, they never bother to tell you that rule anyway) so unless you're in a tight area, you have to make these goofy diamond patterns or something to form a wall around your base, which doesn't encompass much. And since your resource buildings all have to be built a certain distance away from each other, and from other obstacles (another stupid rule) you can't protect them with your walls anyway.

    This is one of those games that I keep playing, though I don't know why. It's addictive, even though it's not that good. It could be because of the few really neat elements.

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    1Battle for Middle Earth 2 (PC)Playing
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