Friday, February 29, 2008

Xbox 360 vs PS3 vs Wii; A Budget Point of View

Some say I’m a hardcore gamer. Or was? I read in a game magazine somewhere that what defines a ‘hardcore gamer’ is when you have all current generation (or next gen) video game console in the market that you’re actively playing. Don’t bother which one is current or next-gen, as long as the console’s still flushing with new software hits, you gotta own them all in order for a bragging rights to be a ‘hardcore gamer’. Talking about last gen console war, well, I didn’t really think about it, cuz I own them all: Gamecube, PS2, and Xbox. I played them all to their limit. I replaced my first loyal serving PS2 last year with the slim version, and now I think my slim PS2’s optical drive has to be trimmed up (for those of you who may wonder why such a short period, I play only backup games *evil grin*).

Now that the next-gen console war has turned into a ‘current gen’, we gamers has no choice than to plunge ourselves in the middle of the battle. And those are expensive battle indeed. I really miss those back in the days when you can buy a game console for as much as USD 150 or even USD 200 with fully accessorized, turbo charged machine. When you can easily collect all three consoles with minimal effort (no overtime shifts necessary), now we’re faced with bitter choice of picking the right one for you. Up to this point, I think this post is well suited for cheap-ass limited-resources gamer like I do. I can not blame inflation really, but think about it, a Wii costs around 249 bucks, with no additional racing muffler, compared to Gamecube’s heyday at $149. A PS3 costs around $499 with no leather seating, compared to PS2’s once most expensive model at $199, and should I mention Xbox too? I dunno about you guys living in a place called North America or Europe with better standard of living, but I live in a country which, as a single guy, you can have $500 monthly and sipping Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks everyday of the week. Stashing some hundred bucks for a single console can really left a big hole in your already shrinking pocket. If someday later you can compare game console as basic as the need for oil, we should really march to Japan and Redmond, Washington and I’ll be your Malcolm X. I’m starting to think that I’d convert into a vegetarian just to afford a Wii and a PS3 (what? Veggie meals are more expensive? Damn!)

But, as some wise men say (btw, these wise men should really try to live as a gamer), let’s look things at its bright sides. I also live in a country where games are still insanely cheap and *cough* piracy *cough* is abound. In here you can buy a 360 game for as much as $5 and even less. A Wii game for about $1.5 and you feel like a kid inside a candy store… with big allowance.

What can I say, we choose gaming as our hobby. I read somewhere that some guy is crazy enough to sell his house just to buy a Harley-Davidson. I guess we’re still better this way (my fingers crossed). We make sacrifices for all things we love. This is way better than not to have a hobby or living in a cave, biting leftovers of a dead zebra. Long live gaming!

But then again, hopefully I can regain my hardcore status when I’ve enough dough to grab that PS3 and Wii (they’re already winking dreadfully at me).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'm an Assassin, with no Creed

Assassin's Creed. This Ubisoft title has caused a spur ever since it was announced to the world, back in 2006. Does it live up to the hype? Well...

First of all, this game is good, not great. If you measure a game solely by its visual performance, then you'd place this in one of your all-time top ten favorite list. This is a game which apparently set up with a sequel in mind. I've been disappointed before by many North American games, which takes you into a something like open-end ending kinda thing (or you got better and proper word?). Try Halo 2, or Gears of War (those are great games which I enjoy very much, but whine on its ending).

Gameplay wise, it's interesting but not captivating. Basically you were dispatched by your boss to kill nine bad-guys. In your journey to wring the neck of those poor souls, you have to meet some requirements, like pickpocketing, eavesdropping, catching flags (catching flags??), killing some soldiers discreetly, beating up some guys in the middle of the street, and... um, basically that's it! Yeah, for every single stage, out of 9, you were basically required to do the same process all over again. That's the only flaw of this game, and the BIGGEST one. This lacks creativity, cuz it's just too bad that Ubisoft created this game so grand in visual, but the gameplay is so lame. The sword-fighting part is not that OK either. You start to really enjoy your action scenes only on the later part of the game. During the beginning to the middle of the game, when you cross-swords against your enemies, usually you can go and win a fight barely unscathed (except the Templar Knights, they're slightly more challenging). But the story can be different when you're up against many Templar Knights at the same time, en route to the final boss stage. That's when everything gets to be interesting. By then you can starting to feel how this prick gets really tough.

Playing Assassin's Creed is like a roller coaster ride. At first you're going to be awed with its stunning graphics, cuz you start from the apex of a roller coaster and slide down in full speed then at the bottom you're twisting and turning with screaming along the way. But, after the screaming part wanes, you're entering a flat course, rolling to another apex or twist n turn, but this time the flat course is just too long it makes you drowsy and just can't wait to hit another screaming part. That's what happened to me. In second half of my journey, I always skipped the non-required part and head straight to kill the main bad-guys, just to keep me from yawning of these unnecessary repetitions.

All in all, this game is certainly having a sequel. Let's just hope that the Ubisoft guys listens to the the screams of the fan cuz their roller coaster has not enough apex and twist and turns (cuz I know game developers won't listen to me cuz I live in Indonesia and they don't have much luck in Indonesian software market =p)

Devil May Cry 4... beaten!

I've just beaten one of the most kick-ass games of all time, the latest entry of the DMC series; Devil May Cry 4. In a Devil Hunter difficulty, mind you, so I'm not a mere mortal Human.

Impression so far? Well, let's just say that I'm impressed with the graphics and all, especially when I grabbed an HDMI cable to replace the original 360 component cable, the graphics look stunning and smooth, with clear filtering, no jittery white lines on a 720p setting, super awesome display. Gameplay overall is satisfactory, with huge boss battles (and I mean HUGE), even those Shadow of the Colossus bosses look like dwarves (OK, that's exaggerating). This game represents one of the best experience for a hack-n-slash enthusiast like me.



here are the things that I don't really like about this almost perfect game (emphasis on almost):
The game's too repetitive in terms of boss battles and world-venturing. When Nero has finished his part, then you play as Dante. Dante then, umm, running back right to the point to the very beginning of the game, to enter the final boss stage, including fighting the already beaten-by-Nero bosses. I'd say that's cheap trick. That makes the game's too short (in my standard) to be played into full force. I'm not the type of gamer who likes to play the game all over again in second or subsequent run-thru after beaten a game. Especially when you start in medium difficulties (exception on GoW when I played in Casual on the first run and then beaten on Hardcore the second run, most because I'd like to know the display comparison after my TV set was HDMI-charged). I mean, is that it? Is this the game that took more than two years in development then feels like you're playing Monopoly? Don't get me wrong, the boss battles are still very-challenging, and tough. Even dueling against Dante makes sword-fighting against Vergil on DMC3 like a walk in the park. But that's it. That's the toughest battle, tougher than the final boss, I think. I'm expecting this like as tough as Ninja Gaiden, but apparently Ryu has some tougher opponents.

Now that I think of it, this turns out makes this game far from perfect, not almost. Capcom can do better of course, but this time it's just not good enough. I'll wait for Resident Evil 5 to come out, and Ninja Gaiden 2. By then I'll see if my craving for virtual blood would be abated.

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