Monday, 28 February 2011

One month to go, but is the 3DS for me?

With the 3DS selling out faster than anti-zombie pheromones would in Racoon City, it’s fairly safe to assume that the portable console’s launch in Japan has been a success. 400,000 units were shipped for day one, with the majority disappearing from shelves in 24 hours. I’ve had eight months to drool over the 3DS and now have one more left to wait until the UK release, but I have no idea if I want it or not anymore.

I was fairly euphoric and overly excited upon first hearing of Nintendo’s magical console that offered goggleless 3D gaming and a serious power boost over the original DS. I saw Ocarina of Time was to be re-mastered and a Resident Evil title that looked almost as good as the home console variants. With treats like a new Starfox game, Pilotwings and even a new Kid Icarus announced, how could any games fan not feel warm and gooey in all the wrong places?

Then the news broke that it would cost around £230 on launch day. This may seem a bit pricey, but for a new console boasting technology that not many people will have had the joy of experiencing; it could have been a heck of a lot more painful for your back pocket.

Mulling it over now though, is the 3DS really going to be the all singing all dancing gameplay revolution that we all saw back at last year’s E3? For starters I’m not even sure that I am in the target market.

We have all seen Nintendo’s advertising campaigns that show slightly famous people relaxing in their living rooms and playing on the DS like it was an alternative to reading or knit work. Looking at reality though, I rarely sit down to play on a portable console when I’ve got my PC or games console in the same room. It’s gone with me on buses, trains and nights away, but I’ve never seen it as a major games platform. I’m not sure if the 3DS can convince me to play it a huge amount at home, especially with Crysis 2 being released on the same day.

An absent feature from the 3DS is a second thumb stick, an issue that pretty much crippled the PSP in the eyes of many. Where Sony learned from their mistake and corrected it with the NGP, Nintendo has decided to debut its portable thumb stick console with only a single nub. Where as many would argue the touch screen can stand in for all the analogue nubs in the world, it does not sit very well in every type of game. Call me old fashioned but the touch screen still hasn’t convinced me that it’s a decent control method.

Then there is the distant call of the aforementioned NGP, or the PSP2 as I like to think of it. It looks like an impressive bit of kit with an equally strong game line up announced for the machine’s early life. Even though it is most likely still over a year away, it looks like an interesting option to wait for.

Last June I probably said I would get a 3DS on launch day, or something crazy like that. Knowing Nintendo’s fetish for undersupplying consumer demand, I can say for a fact that this won’t happen now. In fact I can probably wait until closer to the NGP’s release. Who knows, maybe Ninty will feel like knocking a few quid off the RRP in the spirit of competition?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

"One of the best games ever" gets a reboot

Teasing us like a fine Las Vegas stripper covered in Mini Cheddars, Official Xbox Magazine has mentioned on its ‘Next Month’ page that “One of the best games ever made is reborn on 360”, with details supposedly in the next issue. The wonderful world of publisher deadlines however has meant that this intriguing reveal is put on hold, with OXM editor Jon Hicks stating the big reveal “is very unlikely to appear in the magazine for the foreseeable future”.

The CVG comment forum started to light up with speculation as to what series might be getting rejuvenated, rattling off titles like a house losing masonry in an earthquake. It wasn’t long before Mr Hick’s shed some interesting light in a follow up story, mentioning that the mystery title had already been guessed correctly by one of the bees in the comment swarm – and that the game isn’t the Halo Combat Evolved remake.

So, the long list of possibilities that this mysterious rebirth could be is as follows. Deep breath now. The game could be: Jet Set Radio, Shenmue, Elite, Knights of the Old Republic, Rainbow 6, SWAT, Jade Empire, Metal Gear, Final Fantasy VII, Q*bert HD, Counter-Strike, Theme Hospital, Blinx, X-Com, Syndicate, Beyond Good and Evil 2, Perfect Dark, GoldenEye, Battlefront or Sim City.

From that list (helpfully composed and shamelessly nicked from forum user ‘Slick Loose’) I think we can rule X-Com out for starters, having already been announced with game footage. I’m also not convinced that we’ll see another GoldenEye reboot seeing as the Wii got that treatment late last year.

The immediate buzz was for Rainbow 6, with the ‘Next Month’ page teaser image being of a floor plan that looks vaguely reminiscent of the game’s maps. The other running theory based off of the image was that Syndicate could be a likely contender, seeing as the box art for that game is very similar to the teaser pic, only green.

Personally I’d love to see a properly executed Perfect Dark sequel, or a new Star Wars: Battlefront game. Final Fantasy VII remade sounds nice in my head, although perhaps that one is best left planted in the beautiful and tranquil meadow of nostalgia – it doesn’t need digging up. Having said that the promise of “One of the best games ever made” is often applied as a tag line for the seventh entry in the Final Fantasy series. It was also pointed out by another user that the teaser image could be the Shinra building hall map.

Could it be a new Counter-Strike to update the aging but still ever so popular shooter? A new Theme Hospital would certainly get me hot under the stethoscope, not to mention the tingling sensation in my mind when thinking of skin tight rubber suits (Metal Gear, obviously).

Whatever it is you can colour me a pink shade of excited, for the time being at least. By the sounds of it we have to wait until April to find out whatever it is, if not longer. A lot of rebirths and sequels happening lately though - wouldn’t it be nice for a few more original “triple-A” titles?

Monday, 14 February 2011

In Dead Space no one can hear me scream

I’m a massive girl when it comes to horror games. I don’t mean to be sexist at all when I say that, but I’m convinced that as I’m walking down the darkest virtual corridor to creepy music and small children giggling, the slightest jolt or surprise might cause me to ovulate.

This is the reason why I was very unsure as to get Dead Space 2 or not, but after the rave reviews and the demo I enjoyed, I thought I would jump head first into it, kicking and screaming like a mad man with a fetish for being on fire. If I just keep telling myself that it is Resident Evil 4 in space then I’ll be fine.

I have played it to chapter seven so far, and the amount of sudden steam vents blasting me without warning and rotten looking corpses that re-animate upon closer inspection have made me clench a lot of things that I didn’t realise could be that tight. Having said this, the more it happens, the less effect it is starting to have on my fragile, wimp like mind.

The scariest moment in a game that I have hoisted up my dress to wade through was in Silent Hill 2. It was in a dark corridor somewhere in that most un-christmassy town where the only source of light was my unnervingly dim torch. All I could hear in the background was a screeching noise, but I couldn’t for the life of me find out what it was. Upon discovering it was an overturned wheel chair I felt most uncomfortable and stopped playing for the night.

It’s that kind of atmospheric build up and anti-climax that makes a game truly scary. I was imagining some kind of hideous monster that deliberately hadn’t lubricated its mechanical joints, just stalking me and about to pounce - not that the creepy noise was an upside down medical aid for the waltzing impaired. The player’s interpretation of a situation made that game scary (and possibly the demented nightmare demon with the giant pyramid for a face).

Dead Space 2 seems a bit full on and cheap in comparison. It can certainly pull off spooky atmosphere, but then it throws up something equivalent to an internet screamer, just for that instant unnerving sensation which is over before it can manifest into anything that lasts. After a while you begin to expect it and the shocks become limper than wet toast.

Fortunately for me however it means that I should be able to play it without having to put newspapers down on the sofa first. Mastering the ability to rip off scary appendages with some kind of techno-kinesis before blasting the dismembered lump back like a meat javelin also appears to help with overcoming the fear of imaginary shadows. What a nice game.