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    dkirschner's The Ball (PC)

    [August 6, 2011 01:27:41 AM]
    I just finished The Ball, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It reminds me of Portal, Marble Madness and Indiana Jones movies. This one is odd in that reviews weren't that great (68 on Metacritic), but I found it to be quite unique and compelling. It was short (6.5 hours according to Steam), and I never got bored. There were a few letdowns (I'm looking at you, boss battles), and the story was cryptic and didn't make too much sense. You unlock story mostly through finding secrets. If you don't find the secrets, of which I got maybe 1/3, you don't get story, and the story you do get just doesn't flow.

    My favorite thing about The Ball was...the ball. It looked, felt, and sounded heavy, metal, massive. I loved rolling it around, using it to solve puzzles, and smashing enemies with it. The enemy-smashing could be slightly awkward because they'd tend to run just at the edge of the ball so you couldn't roll them over sometimes. I'd have to back up and shoot it at them, but that combat worked pretty well. It is strange combat, very straightforward until the end, when you start having to set it on fire, cover it with land mines, or electrify it, to kill enemies and solve puzzles. I like the ball more than Portal's companion cube. The ball is your life in this game. Sometimes you get separated from it by necessity to solve puzzles, and it feels like you're helpless because it's the only way you can solve puzzles and fight enemies! I imagine painting a face on it and giving it hair like Wilson in Castaway. It really becomes a companion.

    The puzzles generally weren't too difficult, yet I felt they were clever. The variety was good, and the game regularly, but more in the last few levels, added twists to the puzzles. My favorite puzzle was the first time I got to magnetize the ball, giving it like a low-gravity field that, if you stand in, you can jump and float really high. I used it then to get across a big field of lava with sparse platforms. Using the low-grav field, I could jump long distances from platform to platform. My least favorite puzzle was this ridiculous platforming part where you had to launch the ball up into the air to knock a cube off a tall pedestal. It was just an annoyingly difficult feat to perform.

    The bosses, like I said, were letdowns, but they looked so cool! The giant gorilla in particular I was anticipating. But all bosses are of the 'hit them 3 times and they die' variety. I killed the zombie gorilla in about a minute once I figured out how to do it. Exact same thing with the sand worms, and then there was the pterodactyl that you don't even fight. You just avoid its fiery eggs for 100 meters. The best enemies were what I would consider mini bosses, even though they were harder than the bosses proper. Actually, the gorilla and pterodactyl were the only real bosses because the sand worms and the lizardmen (the hard mini bosses) reappeared over and over. Then there was the mysterious shaman guy who led me into traps a couple times, but I never got to fight him.

    That's really about all. The game was creepier than I thought it would be. I jumped a few times when zombies screamed and came charging at me from around corners. The environment is awesome, inside this churning volcano. I took a lot of screen shots. And at the end, the ball is not what you think it is...

    The Ball was part of Portal 2's pre-release party, so there's an extra Portal level that I played a little bit of. The underground volcano opens up into a secret Aperture Science lab with a fully functional GlaDOS. The first thing you do is use the ball to get a companion cube, but I didn't play much further. I'll fire it up and play that level next time, then start on something else.
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    dkirschner's The Ball (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Saturday 28 May, 2011

    GameLog closed on: Sunday 7 August, 2011

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Dang neat so far, Portal-esque except manipulating a giant mystery ball with a hammer gun instead of portals with a portal gun. ------------------- Cool game, recommend.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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