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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 00:25:18     -    Halo 3 (360)

    GAMEPLAY

    Once I began to play the game for a second time around, I noticed it quickly became very difficult. I chose to put it on "Heroic Mode" (similar to hard). Since I am an avid FPS player, I assumed my inability to master the controls to the extent of some of my peers (who seem to have mastered Halo on a completely different level) would be compensated by my general ability to adeptly play a variety of different FPS's. I found that the game, as I progressed, met my ability to play FPS's in general, while also greatly challenging my inability to properly control this game.

    This aforementioned notion was expressed mainly through Halo 3's gigantic and greatly varied level designs. The game is played basically by progressing through smaller areas and continually arriving at larger open areas involving epic battle sequences. As I kept playing, there were certain areas in which I died literally over 20 times, but I kept playing with more and more drive almost never getting bored. What helped this aspect of the game, I realized, was the fact that there was an almost limitless way to conquer each epic battle sequence. For each section, I was given the option to explore the areas and find new ways of conquering each one.

    One particular of this example (I found), was during the first battle between Master Chief and the giant Scarab (a large ground based enemy machine). The section that I had to fight in was very large, giving me the ability to explore different options. My options ranged greatly from attacking the machine with a Warthog (a drivable military vehicle) to attempting to bring it down on foot. I felt this aspect of the game created a higher level of interactivity than I have seen in its predecessors.

    DESIGN

    Perhaps the best aspect of this game that I discovered was the amazing multiplier and co-op missions. After playing the game to what I felt to be quite extensively, I offered my roommate a chance to help me with the co op missions. He quickly agreed and we began our play in the co op mode. I was greatly impressed by many aspects of the co op play, particularly though, I appreciated the appropriate change in the amount of enemies, as well as the unique ability to control the vehicles throughout the game.

    Though the game was noticeably shorter (we beat it in only about 3 sittings), I found to be surprisingly more enjoyable than the 1 player mode. I was allowed to customize both the difficulty and the the level that we started on. Even further, I was allowed to select the desired checkpoint I wished to start at (marked by alpha,etc.) within each level. This allowed my roommate and I to select levels we knew to be fun and play them at any part. I felt that this aspect of the co op mode created an extremely enjoyable playing experience.

    Once we began a level, I found that the amount of enemies had changed to accommodate the fact that there were two players rather than one. I felt this notion allowed for a unique gaming experience that I would have never been exposed to had I not played the co op. Though it also made it noticeably harder (as it seemed some areas had an endless amount of enemies - especially the areas with the notorious "Flood"), it created a very challenging experience that made both my roommate and I desire to push through the difficult sections of the game.

    In addition to this, I found that the co op mode did an excellent job in regards to giving the players the ability to control the various vehicles. I recalled that in the first player mode, many missions completions relied heavily on my ability to use the vehicles, and I questioned how the co op mode would handle this aspect of the game. To my surprise, it handled it very well. The vehicle heavy missions, I remembered from the first player mode, created numerous spawns of vehicles all over the maps. This allowed both my roommate and I to choose whether we wanted to team up and control the same vehicle (Me-turret, him-drive, etc.), or if we wanted to take on the enemies with our own single person vehicles.

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    Mar 5th, 2008 at 22:22:32     -    Halo 3 (360)

    SUMMARY

    Halo 3 is an immersive First Person Shooter taking place in the futuristic universe of "Halo." The player starts the game with Master Chief (your playable character) being shot down through Earth's atmosphere and crashing into the dirt. My goal through the game (aka the plot) was to prevent the leader of the opposing alien forces (called "Covenant") from reviving an ancient race of intelligent beings that will threaten the existence of the universe.


    GAMEPLAY

    Having played both Halo and Halo 2, I suspected that the third installation would remain very much the same. However the advanced game play and unique story helped to prove this theory incorrect, much to my enjoyment.

    Once I was thrown through the atmosphere into Earth, I was already immersed in the story of the game, as I felt like I actually was Master Chief. Being "thrown" (literally) into the plot of the game and being allowed to move around instantly already made me realize I was in for a pleasurable gaming experience. Whereas I felt the previous Halo's suffered from heavy exposition, Halo 3 allowed me to get right into the action, which is a crucial element of an enjoyable FPS.

    As I began to first explore the surrounding area, I was completely amazed and impressed by the environmental aspects as well as the whole level design of the graphics in general. As I traveled through shade into a sunny area, it accurately captured the effect of this occurrence as it exists in real life. This again added to the feeling that I was actually in the game. I felt this aspect of the game was particularly important because many FPSs suffer from a detached atmosphere between the player and the game for one reason or another, and as I played Halo 3 further, I realized this was not such a game.

    In addition, I found that the already engaging story also acted as a guide to direct me where to go next. Whereas many games offer excessive, though sometimes interesting, story lines, Halo 3 not only created a unique storyline but also used it as a method to progress game play, which I found to be a particularly helpful and unique element of this game.

    Another aspect of the game that helped create an immersive environment was the voice acting (which greatly aided the development of the the story). Many FPSs tend to avoid helpful (and well acted) dialog and focus mainly on the action. Playing Halo 3, I felt its story was not only presented and developed, in no way detracted from the overall game play of the game. It was short and to the point, yet still very interesting. Typically I feel like I want to skip through the boring and uninteresting narratives of most FPSs, and I find myself unable to do so, greatly taking away from the "funness" of the games. However, I always found myself engaged with Halo's story, and if at any parts it were to lag a bit, I happily discovered I was allowed to skip the scene if I so desired.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 02:13:06     -    Chrono Trigger (SNES)

    GAMEPLAY

    Upon playing the game for a second time, I found that the storyline was even more unique and interesting than I previously thought it to be. After realizing that I had been exploring the world map and particularly the Millennial Fair for over 30 minutes, I realized that I was in for a treat (knowing that this was undoubtedly the least interesting part of the game, yet it managed to capture my attention and interest for such a long amount of time).

    Another factor which added to my desire to wander aimlessly was the music. I didn't appreciate it as much when I first played, but as I explored and enjoyed the unique dialogue of each NPC, I began to pay closer attention to the background music. I found it to be so engaging that I let my character rest as I sat back and enjoyed the music for certain portions of the game. I was particularly surprised by this gameplay aspect of Chrono Trigger, particularly knowing that it was for the SNES, which tends not to focus on background music for its video games.

    As the story began to unfold, I found myself already caring for the characters more than I thought I would, and much more than I do for at least 80% of the RPG's I have previously played. When Marle disappeared through a mysterious time warp, I realized I was just as confused as Crono and Lucca and just as unable to explain the mysterious occurance. Knowing this, I found myself greatly impressed by the designers ability to create dialogue and events that captivated me so early in the game. Rarely have I been so interested in the fate of an RPG's main characters within the first several hours of gameplay.

    After following the story I found my character warped into a mysterious mountainous world, of an unknown location. I found the battle system to be similar to many other RPG's (as I confronted enemies almost as soon as my character arrived in the new area), but still extremely challenging (as I will further discuss in the design portion of my blog). The designers provided chests along the way which allowed my character to obtain, what I felt to be, the perfect items for the situations I found myself in (for example, as I lost health from the battles, I obtained a tonic that restored my health soon after, preventing a potentially frustrating section of the game).


    DESIGN

    One design aspect of the game that I found impressive was the unique battle system. Many early RPGs implement this same battle system of fighting the bad guys that the character comes in contact with. However, at the beginning of Chrono Trigger, when I created a new file, I was given the option to select a battle system in which the enemies would wait to attack until I chose my attacks, or if they would attack whenever it was their turn. Initially I assumed that this idea would be secondary to the gameplay and would merely not matter with regards to the overall feel of the game. However, realizing that I had chosen to allow the enemies to attack whenever they were ready, I actually found the game to be more challenging this time around. Even at the first level (after being teleported via Lucca's teleportating machine and Marle's pendant) I found it to be extremely challenging. At first I died rather fast, and I was afraid it would be so difficult that it would detract from the aim of the game. However, dying so quickly allowed me to better plan my attacks and actually understand the game better and on a different level.

    When the game could have been unnecessarily difficult, it actually excelled and proved to be superior to many of its predecessors in the RPG genre. I almost instantly gained a level after only a few battles, allowing my character to be able to compete on an equal level with the tougher bad guys presented in the game. I find that many other RPGs are too hard earlier in the game as your characters are too weak. However, this unique design aspect of the game prevented me from becoming frustrated with the battle system, and actually enjoy it and explore the many options within each individual battle (For example, I soon learned new Tech moves that allowed Crono to use what I found to be equivalent to magic in the game).

    In addition to the battle system, I found the storyline of this RPG to be the biggest driving factor of the game. As aforementioned, I discovered myself greatly caring about the fate of the main characters even though I had only played for a little over an hour or so. Whereas many RPGs rely on the battles to progress the story and allow the player to continue playing, I actually found myself wanting to uncover the fate of the main characters. The designers created an interesting enough storyline so that I cared enough about it to want to keep playing, thus realizing that the battles were merely a pleasant addition to the very much engaging storyline of the RPG.

    This entry has been edited 2 times. It was last edited on Feb 21st, 2008 at 14:22:00.

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    Feb 20th, 2008 at 22:09:44     -    Chrono Trigger (SNES)

    SUMMARY

    Chrono Trigger is an innovative and "ahead of its time" RPG released in 1995 for the Super Nintendo. The main character, Crono, travels through time to prevent the destruction caused by Lavos while meeting new characters (a total of 7 playable characters) in different points in history (as well as the future) along the way.

    GAMEPLAY

    I returned to Chrono Trigger after playing it several years ago, as I wanted to obtain a more analytical perspective of the game. Knowing that this is one of my favorite games of all time, I was afraid my bias would blur my examination of the structure and gameplay of the game. However I found that its vastness and creativity allowed me to examine it with a detached perspective and still have an enjoyable experience exploring the game in a new light.

    The game begins with Crono waking up and visiting the towns Millennial Fair in 1000 A.D.. This momentous occasion marks the unveiling of Lucca's (soon to be a playable character) teleportation machine. When I began exploring the fair I eventually ran into (literally) another playable character named Marle. I liked that the game creatively introduced multiple characters without seeming overwhelming in any way. Rather I found the quick introductions to be unique as it made me more interested in the game's storyline and overall character development.

    The thing I initially liked about this game was the dialogue. Whereas many RPGs begin with boring story line oriented dialogue, I found that the method in which this game revealed its story was innovative and very interesting. I found myself pausing and taking time to read everything the characters said, as I could tell it would be important later in the game.

    Each of the two characters that I first interacted with (Marle and Lucca) had very obvious and interesting character traits. Marle was care free and joked with my character, whereas Lucca appeared to be an eccentric scientist. As storyline and character development are extremely important to the gameplay aspect of RPGs, I felt that this was something that made the game initially quite enjoyable. Whereas many RPGs throw in characters that no one really cares about and just sit in your party, I found that I was excited to have both Marle and Lucca join my party and add a more interesting aspect to the potentially uninteresting character oriented aspect of the game.

    Another thing I appreciated about the game was the immersive world that I was initially allowed to explore. RPG's rely heavily on environments and level designs and many fall short of interesting and unique. However, in Chrono Trigger, I was impressed by the colorful and interactive world that I was required to venture through. I found that I could interact with almost every NPC in the area, and many even had interesting mini games I could participate in. (For example, there was a race constantly going on that I was allowed to bet on, and even a House of Horrors).

    I felt in particular that the games graphics, though limited by the SNES' capabilities, were colorful and created a world which I felt I would want to visit in real life. It pushed the graphical limitations of its day further then most SNES games I have played in the past. I felt this aspect of the game in particular greatly helped my experience of the game become more enjoyable the more I explored each level.

    This entry has been edited 3 times. It was last edited on Feb 21st, 2008 at 01:50:18.

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