Monday, June 28, 2010
At first I was just a spectator, watching the initial body test process, and then laughing hysterically at how stupid my friend looked doing some of the activities. It wasn’t long though before the board started calling my name, and I simply had to have a turn.
The first thing it asked me to do was take off my shoes and socks. While I can see why this is necessary, it was slightly annoying as 1) it’s winter time, and thus very cold but mostly 2) my socks were knee high, hidden under skinny jeans and tucked safe inside my nice warm boots. But I dealt with it, removed what I needed, and stepped on board.
Next step was telling it my height, weight and age. The default height setting is 170cm, and it was almost funny (but slightly heartbreaking) to watch my character shrink as I lowered the number by 22cm. I told it my weight and age, and the Wii board calculated my BMI at 21.47, putting me right in the middle of the ‘ideal weight range’.
Then it was time to set a goal. Though the board told me the best thing to do would be to maintain my weight, I decided to make my goal losing 7 kilos, putting me at the ‘underweight’ section of the body mass index. The Wii board didn’t bat an eyelid however, and simply asked me how long I’d like to allow myself to achieve this goal. I’m sure if I’d said I wanted to gain 100 kilos it would have done the same thing. Wii boards are so supportive.
After that the most logical thing to do would have been to go through with the training plan the board picked for me, which was ‘tailored to my weight and goal’, but I chose to end my session there. I’d just eaten dinner and didn’t think flapping my arms about like a crazy person was going to help the digesting process.
I can see the Wii Fit being something I’d want to use on a daily basis. I could turn the music up, close the blinds so no one can see me, and flap my arms and kung my fu like I’ve never kung fu’d before. And you don’t have to choose the childish idiot creating activities, there are also loads of aerobics and muscle building training games for you to use, in case you’re self conscious about that sorta thing.
Each time you step on board, the Wii Fit will tell you how long you’ve been using it for, and how many days it’s been since you two have seen each other last. It then also tells you how much weight you’ve either gained or lost since you’ve last used it. It’s going to be your best friend on the days you feel slim, but on a fat day probably stay away from it. Hearing that high pitched robot voice say ‘You’ve gained x amount of kilos since our last visit’ will probably make you die inside… and then pitch the board across the room.
The Wii Fit is an awesome idea, and if you can afford it and feel like shedding some winter flesh, definitely worth a purchase. The game and board is still about $100, and that’s before you purchase a Wii to go with it, so if your wallet is feeling a little light this season, it might just be easier to take a walk. To the bank. To get a loan, to buy the Wii Fit.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Mods, Custom Content and Hacks: We’ve all played a game that could have been improved with a mod, or some custom made content. Whether it was pretty clothes for your Sims, amazing strength for your elf in Dragon Age or even a boss mod to make World of Warcraft battles easier, you know you’ve been there. And though these things are amazing, they can really screw your game up if you install them wrong, or if they’re faulty. It’s extremely annoying when you start your game all geared up to use your new content, only to find that the game refuses to run at all.
Rating on the frustration scale: 6/10
Patches: Patches are a game developer’s way of giving back to the community that so loves their work. Most of the time patches are good. They offer us fixes to annoying glitches, and sometimes add new activities, areas or items to the game. However, sometimes patches can be a source of pure evil, breaking the game and forcing you cry, kick, scream, complain, and then eventually just deal with the fact that you’re going to have to reinstall it all over again.
Example; not long after The Sims 3 second expansion was announced (World Adventures,) EA released a patch for the game. This patch messed with certain custom items causing every single house and lot to turn into a blue patch of nothingness, rendering the neighbourhood unplayable. The only fix was to either reinstall the game and not install the patch, or search through oodles of custom items trying to figure out which one was causing the problem. Oh, and even if you managed to find the items causing the trouble, there was no bringing back the neighbourhood you’d spent hours of your life playing.
Rating on the frustration scale: 9/10
Annoying Siblings: Before consoles could auto-save to a hard drive, we had to use memory cards to keep our save game data safe. We also had to rely on our siblings to love us enough to not destroy our saves, or do anything to corrupt them. However, anybody with a brother or sister can tell you that no sibling will ever love you enough to do that. The years of the memory cards were also the years of many family disputes and lost or corrupted save games. Rip the head off your sister’s Barbie doll and she’ll pull the memory card out while you’re playing and destroy your save games. Kick your brother’s ball over the fence and he’ll find his way into your room at night and delete every file off that card. Back in the days of memory cards, our save games were dependent entirely on our brothers and sisters being nice little children and not destroying our lives. Thank god games save to the hard drive now.
Rating on the frustration scale: 9/10
Rage Quitters: Though we may love games and think they are the awesome, supreme rulers of the 21st Century, there comes a time where they annoy us. And not just a niggling little facial twitch type of annoyance either, I’m talking full blown throw your keyboard across the room and scream, annoyed. If you then choose to quit the game after picking up your keyboard, you are what we call a rage quitter. And we hate you. Rage quitters force everybody else in the game to quickly try and replace you, or play on without you and be at a disadvantage. Screwing your team-mates over is never cool, especially if it’s just because you suck. If you find yourself rage-quitting too often, chances are you’re just not very good. In which case, find a new game to play. Or just stop playing games all together. Your call.
Rating on the frustration scale: 7/10
Games are good, games are great and games can do no harm (except maybe to your grades and social life, but lets forget about that). Just remember that next time your game freezes and you have the overwhelming urge to throw your X-Box across the room. Don’t blame the game, blame the fat guy that made it (or the stupid sibling that wrecked it).
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Nintendo's big news at E3 this year was the 3DS, which looks like this:
And its launch list looks LOADS better than the one I published yesterday for the Kinect. The list includes titles such as these:
Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater
Resident Evil Revelations
Final Fantasy franchise games
Dragon Quest franchise games
Lego series games
And then of course all the Nintendo favourites I've failed to mention, simply because we all know there isn't going to be a Nintendo console released where they don't make an appearance.
The Playstation Move was something I was a bit skeptical about when I wrote about it last (over here) but its launch list doesn't look anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be, including pre-existing titles such as Heavy Rain, and soon to be released titles like Killzone 3 and Little Big Planet 2. Of course, there's the bombardment of sports titles and casual games, but overall it looks like Sony has delivered something to cater to all sorts of gamers.
Their full launch list looks like this:
Sony Computer Entertainment
Beat Sketcher (Fall 2010)
SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs (Fall 2010)
EyePet (Sept. 2010)
Kung Fu Rider (Sept. 2010)
Sports Champions (Sept. 2010)
Start The Party! (Sept. 2010)
echochrome ii (Sept. 2010)
Tumble (Sept. 2010)
Hustle Kings (Oct. 2010)
The Fight: Lights Out (Oct. 2010)
The Shoot (Oct. 2010)
TV Superstars (Oct. 2010)
High Velocity Bowling (Oct. 2010)
PAIN (Oct. 2010)
Heavy Rain (Oct. 2010)
SingStar Dance (Nov. 2010)
Little Big Planet 2 (Nov. 2010)
Sly Collection (Nov. 2010)
Killzone 3 (Feb. 2011)
Heroes on the Move (2011)
John Daly’s ProStroke Golf (OG International) (Fall 2010)
Racquet Sports (Ubisoft) (Fall 2010)
The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest (WB Games Inc.) (Sept. 2010)
Brunswick Pro Bowling (Crave) (Sept. 2010)
Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition (Capcom) (Sept. 2010)
RUSE (Ubisoft) (Sept. 2010)
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010 (Electronic Arts) (Sept. 2010)
Time Crisis: Razing Storm (Bandai Namco) (Sept. 2010)
Toy Story 3 (Disney) (Sept. 2010)
Kung Fu Live (Virtual Air Guitar Company) (Oct. 2010)
NBA 2K 11 (2K Sports) (Oct. 2010)
Deadliest Catch: Sea of Chaos (Crave) (Nov. 2010)
Disney Tron Evolution the Video Game (Disney) (Nov. 2010)
If you look at that launch list and use your imagination, there are some titles that you'll probably be able to picture working quite well with a motion controller. One of these is Heavy Rain. That game is unsettling enough as it is, and when I played it there wasn't a single moment where I was relaxed or at ease. Playing that title with a motion controller will only enhance a lot of the more disturbing scenes (there's one in particular that, when performed with a motion controller will probably make me throw up.) But it's things like this that make the Playstation Move something that now intrigues me, rather than being something to laugh about.
However, no matter how much better it sounds with a launch list, it still looks stupid. I mean really. Even if I am a big tough guy shooting zombies down in Resident Evil, I'm still going to feel like a complete tool everytime I point this at the screen.
But all in all, Nintendo and Sony did a pretty good job of giving people something to look forward to. So all you X-Box fans out there, dry those tears. Because it's going to be ok, really. Microsoft may have forsaken you but Nintendo and Sony are here.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
a) something wrong with the console
b) something wrong with the company or
c) something wrong with the fanbase of people that keep purchasing it.
I think the announcement of the Kinect (Project Natal) and the 15 thrilling titles for it, proves all three of my points.
The Kinect launch list looks like this:
Kinect Adventures (Microsoft Game Studios)
Kinectimals (Frontier Studio/Microsoft Game Studios)
Kinect Joy Ride (Big Park/Microsoft Game Studios)
Kinect Sports (Rare/Microsoft Game Studios)
Dance Central (MTV Games)
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved (Ubisoft)
EA Sports Active 2 (EA)
Deca Sports Freedom (Hudson)
Dance Masters (Konami)
Adrenalin Misfits (Konami)
Zumba Fitness (Majesco)
Sonic Free Riders (Sega)
The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout (THQ)
Motion Sports (Ubisoft)
Game Party: In Motion (Warner Bros.)
It also looks like a waste of money, as well as a waste of time, and a sure fire way to kiss your dignity goodbye. Microsoft never ceases to amaze me with just how much they're able to do.
The launch list looks just like every title already available on the Wii, except now you get to repurchase them for a lot more money on a much more expensive console and prance around your living room without a controller.
The Kinect. Making you look as cool as these guys from November onwards.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I signed into Playstation Home last night, thinking that soon enough, it would be my home. I could picture myself spending hours upon hours there, customising my avatar and apartment, and chatting to other PS3 lovers. However it didn’t take long for me to realise that this would not be the case.
Firstly I was disappointed by how many things I was required to either download or pay for. For example, I thought I’d take a trip to the Bowling Alley for some fun. Bowling Alley must be downloaded. Right. Hit ‘download in background’ and continued wandering around. Next stop: shopping centre. Shopping Centre must be downloaded. Oook. Downloaded that in the background too.
While I was waiting for something to do, I watched a conversation between someone called ‘Hot Sexy Barbie Chick’ and ‘Latino Stallion’. That was about as interesting as it sounds and thoroughly turned me off everybody on the PSN for the rest of my life.
Finally the Bowling Alley was downloaded, so I ran in there to escape the Latino Stallion’s advances. Decided to bowl a little to keep myself entertained, and was put in a queue. Not happy. Wandered over to the pool table, and was greeted with another queue. Saw some arcade games out of the corner of my eye and became infuriated when I was told I’d have to download those too.
Playstation Home verdict: Never.Again.
It was a nice try though Sony. Better luck next time.
What saved me from being completely and utterly disappointed by everything online, was the actual games. Ah games, how I love thee. I chucked in ‘Little Big Planet’ and after downloading 11 updates and curing my facial twitch, I actually had a lot of fun. Apart from the annoying zebra with the fifty thousand peacock feathers stuck to his head who found it hilarious to drag me off the screen every three seconds, I found Little Big Planet online a truly enjoyable experience. Sure there were the annoying ‘Sxc Time 4 U’ levels scattered around the place, but the number of really good levels helped me to overlook that. Thankyou Little Big Planet, thankyou.
The world of online games is so massive that I have no idea where to start. I look at the games sitting in my cupboard and the possibilities are so endless they almost result in seizures! But I shall carry this burden and spend my days on the couch carjacking people and riding skateboards down hills, simply so nobody else ever wastes their time with useless online ventures. Here’s looking at you, Playstation Home.
Monday, June 7, 2010
What it’s about: It follows the story of John Marston, a once criminal turned good guy who wants to make up for his bloody past to ensure a happy and safe life for his family. Of course, nothing is ever as simple as it seems in a Rockstar game.
What I like:
- It’s different. It took all the aspects we loved about GTA like the open world, side quests and obscure humour, and then sent everything back in time to 1911. Instead of cars you ride horses or carts, and instead of exploring the tall sky scrapers of the cities you wander around ranches and shanties.
- The atmosphere is amazing. Every aspect of the game has been tailored to fit right into society in 1911. People’s accents have that well known western twang, their clothes are dusty, the gambling is popular, crime is rife and even the tumbleweeds meander along like they haven’t a care in the world. 1911 was a simpler time, and if you play this game for long enough, you’ll feel like you’re right in the heart of it.
- So many different ways to play the game. I personally have been trying to play the game as an honourable man. My John doesn’t steal or sleep with whores, nor does he kill unless he absolutely has to, man or animal. However my brother played the game differently, being honourable only when people could see his actions. Otherwise he was a gun slinging no good criminal just like the bounties I spend my time chasing down.
What I don’t like:
- Glitches. This game glitched on me a lot, and sometimes it stopped me from completing a mission. They did go away upon restart, and the same glitch has never happened twice, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying.
- Animal violence. I understand full well that in 1911 people killed animals not just for food, but for their skins, organs, claws and anything else they could barter. But there’s just something unsettling about the look on John’s face when skins an animal. Makes him seem like one of those kids who tore wings off butterflies, instead of an honourable man trying to do right.
This game is a lot of fun, and has the ability to keep you entertained for hours. Apart from the main storyline there are also countless side quests, jobs and mini-games to complete that guarantee many hours will be lost to this title. It’s easy to overlook the games minor flaws when its positive points are so bountiful.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The Facebook applications taking the social networking site by storm seem to include Farmville, Bejewelled, Café World, Restaurant City and many many others depending on your taste. I know my own personal news feed has been spammed with people looking for homes for lost sheep, and hiring staff for their hotel. And lately I have joined these culprits and returned the spamming myself.
So what is it about these Facebook apps that make them so damn popular? It’s certainly not that they’re a high quality, entertaining game but it could be the social aspect involved in them. The more friends that play the game, the more benefits you earn. However, the real reason behind their success is something much simpler…and not done by their own merit.
There’s a definite trend in the use of these games, and I think their popularity has grown sheerly through people’s incredible ability to procrastinate. Games like Restaurant City and Farmville base their success purely on people’s exam schedules and work loads. More often than not, it is on the nights you are buried in uni assignments or exam notes that you will be bombarded with requests to try a new dish, or challenged to beat someone’s high score. Because nobody likes useless applications more than when they have something important to be doing.
If you’ve found yourself a victim to the call of Facebook games, you don’t need to blame yourself. Blaming somebody else is much more fun. Especially when the real people at fault are the ones who made them. Their sneaky cunning plan to put everything you do in these games on a timer almost ensures you’re going to return to the application time and time again. For example, take Café World. In this game you select a dish, organise the ingredients and then wait however many minutes/hours for it to cook. Then you must serve it, and wait once more for your customers to finish it so you can serve something else. If you don’t bother coming back to check on your café your food will spoil, your customers will become dissatisfied and your entire establishment is seen as nothing more than a big Facebook joke. If you do return like a good little application slave, you will be rewarded with the money you’ve accumulated and gifts you’ve received from friends. It’s genius at its worst.
If you feel you spend far too many hours outfitting your hotel instead of playing real games, or you only add Facebook friends so you can browbeat them into joining you in Restaurant City, then you probably have a problem. Try investing in a more addictive game that’s actually good, or simply hide all the updates from these applications so you won’t be tempted.
It’s one thing being obsessed with games… it’s another to be obsessed with applications. And if you’re going to have an addiction, you should at least do it right. Choose real games. Choose dignity. Choose a better quality of life.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
The Tomb Raider franchise is a good example of a series that relies solely on its sexy main character to sell its games. Sure, the gameplay is fun, but it’s no different than any other adventure game out there. The reason people buy Tomb Raider games is for Lara. She’s hot, she kicks ass and she does it all whilst appealing to both males and females.
Another team that managed to get female sexuality right is the Final Fantasy developers. All the girls in the FF franchise have a mission to do or a goal to complete. And while that goal might be to make the main character fall in love with them, achieving that goal never goes along the lines of ‘lets take off all my clothes and see what happens’. The FF girls are pretty, they’re smart (or affectionately dumb) and their appearance isn't making waves with either gender.
Dead or Alive is a game that made me laugh when I was a kid, and admittedly still makes me laugh now, even if it represents women in a ridiculous way. Dead or Alive was one of the only fighting games I’ve ever seen with an age slider. The age slider didn’t seem to change the appearance of the characters much, but it did make a big difference in one area, and that was how much the female character’s breasts jiggled. (Who else laughed when they read that line?)The older you set the age slider, the more jiggling you’d see. But even if you set the age slider to make the characters as young as possible, the jiggling didn’t go away completely. In their defence, they said they were aiming for realism….but I doubt it.
My doubts became clearer with the release of Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball. This game was simply girls in bikinis jumping around in the sand. It was plainly a reason for boys to gather around an X-Box and take numerous subtle trips to the bathroom. Though some feminists out there might see the creation of such a game demeaning to all women worldwide, I think the sheer ridiculousness of it makes it more humorous than anything else.