Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday afternoon tidbits

My birthday is this weekend! Let's hope it's a good one. I had a plan to see Max Payne, eat barbecue, and drink craft beer, but after seeing the reviews maybe I'll skip the movie and double up on the brew dogs. We'll see. In the meantime, here are some non-birthday-related links to start your weekend.

-The tsunami of praise for Dead Space reminds me of Leigh Alexander's "Four-Month Bell Curve" hypothesis, which will seem ever more relevant as we head into the holiday release season. It's a good game! But I get the impression on message boards, and even in some reviews, that people are talking themselves into something on this one. But it's easy to think that when you feel like you're in the minority.

-Speaking of Dead Space, Stephen Totilo got stuck at the same asteroid-blasting sequence that I did. It's really hard. The controls are great when you're on foot, as you are for 99% of the game. I don't know what happens once you strap into that laser cannon. I felt like I could never put the sights where I wanted them. All told, it probably took me 10-12 tries to beat that part. Even the boss battles never took more than two. It's strange when a game executes its core gameplay so well, and then grafts on something that feels so out of place.

-Tom Armitage at Infovore had a good post on the relationship of player, camera, and character, vis-à-vis Alone in the Dark. Sounds like the developers had the right idea, if not quite the chops to pull it off. Then again, Tom's post reminded me of the impassioned defense of the game from's Daniel Weissenberger. This could be one of those misunderstood works of genius we're always saying we want. One day, when I have all the time in the world to play whatever I want, I might give AitD a spin.

-I'm not going to get on my high horse about the LittleBigPlanet delay. It's a pretty astonishing story, though. The funny thing is that the letter making Sony aware of the religiously offensive content suggests a smarter solution than delaying the game: removing the song with a downloadable update.

-A blog can be a cruel mistress. It's hard enough to keep one updated at all, never mind regularly posting quality content. Andrew Sullivan, one of the first real, full-time bloggers, has published a piece in the Atlantic called "Why I Blog," which is well worth reading, especially if you are a blogger yourself. Blogs will never replace books, essays, and long-form articles. But they don't have to. They are their own form of expression, with their own virtues and their own drawbacks.

-A high school student in Kentucky faces felony charges after writing a story in which zombies overrun his school. No matter how many news stories like this I read, I'm flabbergasted every time. (h/t Pat Duggan)

-It occurred to me that I'm only about two months away from having to put together a top-10 list for the year. As it stands, I can think of maybe 5 games that would belong on there. Before the year is out, I'm going to need to make the time to catch up on some things I missed, including Castle Crashers, Yakuza 2, and Wipeout HD. What else do you suggest? (For a list of everything I've played and reviewed this year, see all posts tagged with "reviews.")


Christopher Hyde said...

On the smaller end of the scale, I'd say that you should absolutely make sure to play World of Goo. I've got the PC version, but I hear that the Wii version may have better controls.
I also liked Iji a lot, which is a one man platformer sort of Deus Ex-style inspired game that is deeper thematically than it may look at a glance. But it's also pretty funny in spots. Maybe not Top Ten material, but worth a spin. Also: free!

But definitely Yakuza 2. Love Yakuza 2, going to play the last chapter now.

Nelsormensch said...

Seconding what Christopher said- definitely, *definitely* World of Goo. Castle Crashers is great too, but optimal with four.

Rob Zacny said...

I think it's extra special that that kid's grandparents are the ones that dropped the dime on him. That indicates a really healthy family dynamic.

Kid is trying to write about the zombiepocalypse coming to his school? Better stop him before he makes fantasy into reality!

Why isn't that Max Brooks kid in jail where he belongs, come to think of it?

garrett said...

I agree about Dead Space; definitely a well-made game, but not necessarily something I'll remember too well in a month's time. Perhaps excitement over a new property and an above-average debut has clouded some people's faculties. And thanks to Totillo for prepping me for that 'roid-blasting bit; knowing that was around the corner really lessened the frustration.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for it!