Been some new games since the last time I posted about what I was playing. Figured it would be worth running down what's sitting in the various machines.
Saints Row (Xbox 360) - Yeah, yeah it's a GTA clone. I'm not entirely sure why the gaming public reacted so poorly to this. Like 83.72% of the market isn't clones of Castle Wolfenstein or Pole Position. If we were getting a GTA this year then maybe I'd feel we don't need two, but the only GTA flowing this year is Vice City Stories, which is ITSELF a clone of Vice City, which is basically a clone of GTA III, so I don't see the problem. And it fact out GTA's GTA in a few things. The combat model is WAY better - the right stick controls look/aim while the left stick controls motion. So suddenly you can do things like drive-bys reasonably. The gang interfaces make sense and are integrated into the game much better than GTA: San Andreas where all the gang stuff was pretty half-baked. The map shows a route to your waypoint so you can focus on your driving instead of constantly pausing to bring up the map screen and plot your course. If you fail a mission it asks you if you want to restart it, skipping the whole painful reload, return to the start of the mission gameflow that GTA always has. Short form: it's a fun carjacking, sandbox sort of thing. And since it actually competes with GTA and extends the form in some ways I'm hopeful we'll see GTA fix some of it's most glaring problems (c'mon nobody could figure out using the right stick for aiming over three titles?). Competition is good, so I'm happy to see someone step up to the plate and take GTA on.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong II (Nintendo DS) - I enjoyed the first one and this one got good reviews, so I picked it up. I like it, and surprise! after all my DS bashing it's the first game where I can say "Yes, this is a good game and it requires the touch screen to play." So Nintendo finally found a game with more than 5 minutes of content that uses the touchscreen effectively and the console isn't even two years old yet! Wahoo! However, there is a downside - you also have to use the dpad (to scroll the camera) and it turns out that even with my DS Lite I can only play for 10 - 15 minutes before the DS Hand Cramp(tm) comes back. Luckily the gametype is such that it's best in small doses. I'm on world 5 of 10, and that means I've played through ~40 levels so it's doing something right, even if I do sometimes have to stop because of the poor form factor.
Okami (PS2) - I just got this from Gamefly yesterday, so I don't have a firm opinion on it yet. I wasn't bowled over by the gameplay at the 2005 E3, and that assessment still stands so far. The art style is neat, but the gameplay so far is ho-hum. And it's talky as hell, which is aggravated by the fact that everyone talks in Charlie-Brown-Teacher voices. And there's no hurry-up button. The first save occurred after about two minutes of gameplay - but that was 19 minutes after hitting "New Game" - that's a lot of talking. Oh, and the second save point? at 1 hour 15 minutes. So if you want to play more than 20 minutes but less than 75 this may not be the game for you.
Gamefly (Motto: Dead Rising Doesn't Really Exist) is still annoying the crap out of me. I cut the living crap out of my rental queue - as of right now it has 7 titles, 2 of which are future releases. Dead Rising is still not available - today is actually the first day I've seen Lego Star Wars II list as being in stock. Okami was 5 on my list when they sent it. Right now they are still worth their monthly fee, but they are really pushing it.
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