Monday, May 17, 2004


Since Xenogears hasn't really been doing much for me, I've been branching out of my PS1 RPG rut a bit.

I tried Prince of Persia: Sands of Time on the new computer because I had heard good things about it. Also, I had gotten it before the computer upgrade, and I couldn't play it because (at the time) I didn't have a GeForce 3. Since I've had to see it sitting on the desk mocking my lack of a modern graphics card my expectations were high. And as usual, I was disappointed. The graphics were OK, but nothing that appeared to justify the silly GeForce 3 requirement. The controls were decent enough, considering it is a console game ported to the PC. But the sword fighting is lame/frustrating. There will be like 7 guys all ganging up on you at once, and you have basically three moves: Slash, block, and counter attack. Oh, and at least at the beginning of the game it is not enough to kill the zombies, you have to take time out from fighting the other 6 monsters to stab the knocked out zombie with your dagger, thereby 'killing it'. Meanwhile of course the other 6 guys surround you and start pummeling you.

So, having better things to do with my time then killing zombies over and over and over, I decided to try something else. On Friday night, I was over at Dan's house and we played some of the UT 2004 demo. That was quite fun (I enjoyed UT quite a bit, UT 2003 demo didn't do much for me, and didn't really run well on the old computer). So that got the old FPS juices flowing, and I recalled that Linzy picked up Unreal 2 for me off the Target clearance rack for like $10. Another game that wouldn't run (well) on the P3-933 so had sat unused in a drawer. Alas, the reviews were right, and Unreal 2 didn't grab me. The graphics are quite good, but there was WAY too much talking at the start of the game, and not much in the way of action. Then you get dropped off at a base, and have to fight through millions of really fast bug creatures with either their crappy guns, or a lame assault rife. Oh, and they introduce the Skaarj in almost EXACTLY the same way as in Unreal 1. The lights go off one by one, and then the thing jumps down through the elevator ceiling. I mean, that was cool the first time, but couldn't they come up with anything better?

Anyways, it so happened when Linzy and I were over at Shawn's on Saturday night that he had XIII sitting on his shelf. Since I noticed that was only $20 at Best Buy the last time I was there, I asked if it was any good. He offered right away to let me borrow it, so I did. I had always thought the screenshots looked cool, but then the reviews weren't all that flattering. But, it turns out to be pretty fun! The graphic style is cool, and makes it feel sort of original, even if the gameplay is pretty standard FPS. But the weapons are interesting, there are cool comic-book-like cut scenes that appear inset in the screen when you kill someone in an interesting way, and the levels are quick and varying so that you get to try a lot of different stuff out pretty quickly. The inventory system is atrocious, there appears to be no way to set quick keys for switching to the grappling hook which you have to use every few minutes. Oh, and there is only a checkpoint save system, which is a bit frustrating, but it hasn't been too bad so far, and I am roughly ~50% through. The only other complaint I have is that the story is a bit dry. David Duchovany does the main character's lines (what few there are). You have amnesia (imagine that, a game where you can't remember your past), and sometimes I'm pretty convinced the character is a mute too.

Overall it is pretty fun. If history is any indication, it doesn't look good for ever finishing Xenogears now....

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