Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I played the demo for FIFA 10 over the weekend. This game is going to be awesome. I have a bit of a bias for soccer since 2 of the kids play. We played the demo for FIFA 09 earlier this summer and the kids really got into the game, but when we realized that 10 would be out just around the corner I told them we should wait.

Now that we have waited and I've had a chance to play the demo I'm glad that we've saved off for now.

The control of the ball has been improved from 09. The online features to the game are amazing. The ability to import your picture to create your own players is something I'm sure the kids will enjoy. The other online feature that I think is slick but I'm not sure if we would pay for is the My Live Season which will update weekly the real world stats to the local game play. As real world players improve or get injured then the games players will improve or get injured as well.

If we got better world soccer sports coverage on TV then I could see us paying for the My Live Season, but I'm still not totally sold on that. Check out more of the new features for FIFA 10 and enjoy the trailer below.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Replay value?

I finished Batman: Arkham Asylum last week.  Rather I finished the Normal Story mode.  But the game is not complete without getting the Platinum trophy, which requires replaying the game on Hard, plus earning medals in the challenge rooms.  Half of the challenge rooms are pure brawler the other half are stalking rooms.  I love the stalking aspect of the game, but the brawling....meh.  Plus there are Riddler Challenges yet to complete.  The Riddler Challenges are probably one of the coolest parts to the game because you can get so much backstory on Batman and the various enemies he has faced over the years.  The problem I'm facing right now is I have completed 238 out of 240 Riddler challenges.  The last two I need to complete are elusive.  You need to destroy 20 chattering teeth in the different zones of Arkham to complete the Riddler challenges.  In one section I have 19 of 20 and in another I have 17 of 20.  I have slummed through the incomplete sections twice and can't seem to find the last 4 chattering teeth.  Ugh. So for the sake of "replay" value I find myself hunting for trophies in sections of the game that I have completed, basically wondering the halls of Arkham, now empty, and find it boring.

I'm not sure that I want to replay the game on Hard and I can honestly say that the challenge rooms aren't my cup of tea (except for the stalker rooms--that was the best part of the actual game).  I may go back to Batman at some point in the future.  But I still need to actually finish Star Wars Force Unleased, something I'm not sure I really want to go back to.  Sam beat the stinking game in one day.  This is the second time that he has finished the game.  I have yet to beat it.  I have been playing it on Normal.  I think he has been playing on Easy.  Curse my need to collect trophies.  I find myself going back to Batman because it is fun, even though it is challenging.  Force Unleashed is not fun and annoying.  If there was a way to set the game on auto pilot simply to be able to see the story unfold I would put the game in and play through for sure.  I suppose there are other games that I could go back and re-play or finish.  All for the sake of trophies....so do they add replay value or just a big headache?

I'm not sure.  Maybe both depending on the game.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I am the Walrus

So I rented Rock Band: Beatles and played through all but the last set the first night. Saturday I finished off the game. There is something satisfying about the game and how you can "beat" the Story mode in such a short play through. For my trophy hunter instinct I only had to go back and re-play 4 songs to earn the gold for playing all songs to 5 stars. Granted I only played on medium, but in my view, music games should be played for the fun of the music, not the torture of playing so hard that your hands cramp up. I may actually try some of the songs on hard though seeing that so many are listed as easy. But I think that's the magic of this game (or more likely The Beatles) is that I grew up with so much of their music that I would rather play at a hard level because I'm so familiar with the tunes that I can really get into each song.

I think the game is a great play, but I miss a lot of songs. I'm sure that's where they will get most people. Nothing like missing Norwegian Wood, Help, or Eleanor Rigby to list a few that I would love to play. What I'm curious to see is how they handle the DLC. Will they redo the background themes to each Album when they become available for download? Will they add new photos to unlock for each album as well?

I haven't tried playing the game with other instruments yet, something I may try tonight, nor have I played any songs with the kids, but I don't know if they would appreciate the songs as much.

Overall I like the game, but I'm not sure that it is anything more than just another music game. Something fun when people are over, but bland without friends.

More later folks.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

More Batman last night

The problem with Batman Arkham Asylum is that it is a good game.  It reminds me of the Civilization games where you'd start playing and then 2 hours later realize that you've been playing for 2 hours.  You need sleep but you keep telling yourself, "Just one more turn.  I'll stop after the next turn."

Now granted last night I was ready to throw my controller through the TV and give up for the night in one particular section toward the end of the game; however, the game is so good that you just want to finish playing to see how it all ends.  I admit that I was probably playing the section too cautiously but up to that point, the game had taught me to be a cautious detective.  The section in particular leads you back to a kill box from the beginning of the game.  This time however there are 7 guards all with guns and the gargoyles that you previously would hunt the thugs from have been strapped with proximity bombs.  If you spend any great amount of time on them they blow up, hurting you and removing one of your perches to hunt from. 

Fortunately the game has a very quick reload if/when you die, but I have to say that after the 5th or 6th death I was seriously getting tired of hearing the Joker's death taunts.  Once I finally got past the kill box I was sucked back into the story.  I really enjoy the fact that Rocksteady has created levels within the game that allow have you play through more than once but each time you play the area it feels different.  A lot has to do with the fact that the Bat toys have been upgraded so now you can get to items that previously were inaccessible.

I may be able to finish the story tonight, but given last night's late night session, sleep may come first.

More later folks.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A full weekend of gaming

After being away from the PS3 for a week for training it was nice to come home to find my copy of Batman: Arkham Asylum had arrived. Prior to playing the demo I was on the fence about purchasing the game because it looked like nothing more than a brawler with beefy thugs that didn't look like any one particular Batman villain. My fanboy mind was swayed after playing the demo though when I realized just how deep the game would end up.

Friday night after the kids went to sleep I put the game in and was immediately sucked in. The story from the demo was only a portion of what the full game contains, but the fact that the story in the demo was intriguing enough, but then to find that the full game has so much more a treat for gaming.

What really sells the game for me is the fact that Batman just plain and simple kicks some serious ass. He is a brute that fights for justice. At no point do you feel like there isn't any thug or boss battle that you confront and think, crap I'm never going to finish this battle. The fighting is simple, but there is a nuance to the fighting that adds to combos which ends up putting Batman in some of the coolest fight sequences as he floats between, over and through waves of thugs.

But fighting is just one element. Batman is a detective. Being a detective you get to walk around and examine lots of different things. Since Batman is also known as The Dark Knight you have plenty of opportunity to move around stealthily or swing from a dark corner down onto an nervous thug. With the funding of the Wayne fortune Batman has every toy at his disposal for...uhm...well...detecting things. With a simple press of the L2 the view switches to an almost wireframe view of the immediate area with certain important objects standing out in orange (a nice complementary color to the typical blue view that Detect mode normally runs in). Thugs and good guys stand out as skeletal frames when in Detect mode (thugs with guns show up in red). You start off with the Batarang but end up getting explosive charges, a Batclaw, a repel line and a micro transmitter to disarm computers and other electronic devices. Each Bat-toy fits perfectly within the context of the game.

One of the other nice design elements of the game is the fact that you can collect Riddler trophies within the game. The trophies help to build up XP for improving the Bat-toys as well as help to unfold additional story elements for some of the villians. Some trophies seem impossible to get at first glance, but once you have all of the Bat-toys you can go back to the hard to get trophies.
This allows for multiple play throughs without the environment becoming too stale or boring.

At this point I haven't even loaded up the Challenge rooms, but I'm looking forward to switching modes and playing as the Joker. Speaking of the Joker--hot damn Mark Hamill does a fantastic job. Not too hamtastic with the peformance, and plenty of nuance when the moment calls for it.

More later folks.