Friday, September 08, 2006

The Commanding of Foxes, Star and Otherwise

Greetings. Welcome to Friday's post. It will be rife with topics, so please try and bear with me. The majority of them will be gaming related, however structure and I have parted ways for today. You've been warned.

I was quite bummed out to hear of Steve Irwin's death. I've always liked him and anyone who does work to help endangered animals is ok in my book. More importantly, I hate to hear of anyone dying and leaving behind a family with such young children. It is this last part that people seem to have forgotten, which irritates me to no end. Why people have to take this time to come out and say what an animal subjugating asshole Steve Irwin was is beyond me. I mean, the poor man hasn't been dead a week and already folks are damn near gloating over his death. Can't we have some seblance of propriety and give his family time to mourn before we go on tv and the radio and say what a callous bastard the man was? It's not like he was a war criminal or something, a being so evil that his actions must be condemned, regardless of the impact on others. He wrestled gators for Christ's sake. Let's let the poor man rest in peace for a little while before we paint him as the Antichrist of the crocodile set. It's times like these I feel that my loathing for humanity in general is well founded.

I picked up Star Fox Command on my week off and am finding it to be an entertaining game, but not without fault. The flying controls are very well done. THe ship is always flying forward, which allows you to control the ship entirely with the stylus. You drag the stylus to steer the ship, tap in the upper portion of the touchscreen to do a turbo boost, tap in the lower portion to brake, and drag the stylus left to right anywhere to perform a barrel roll. This last part is needed to deflect enemy shots, collect powerups and attack motherships. Additionally you can tap a loop-de-loop button or a u-turn button to do quick turnarounds. You can use any button youd like to fire shots, but I've found the left trigger button to provide maximum firepower for minimal clickage. Bombs are also available by tapping the bomb icon on the touchscreen and dragging the bomb on to you radar. It's an odd kind of mechanic, and is more like calling in an airstrike than dropping a bom from your craft unless it's some sort of strange teleporting bomb which isn't so much dropped from your ship as magically placed in the theatre of combat. It sounds complicated, but it comes together quite well.

The game play is an odd mix of turn based strategy and spaceship flying. The turn based strategy I could do without as it seems to be just a means of extending the gameplay time in between flying missions, rather than a compliment to the space missions. At the beginning of each mission you'll have yourself, your allies and your mothership on the screen and by scribbling away the fog of war, or simply drawing paths for your ships to follow through it, you'll uncover various enemies, missles for the mothership, or general combat powerups. Once you've decided on a course of action, you perform your turn and collect powerups and engage enemies in combat, at which point it switches over to the flying missions. If, by the time you run out of turns you haven't found and defeated all of the enemies on the screen, you have to start the whole mission over again. This is particularly annoying if you've spent some time on several flying missions only to find yourself in your last mission with something like 25 enemies and only 10 seconds to defeat them all. Ditto for spending a bunch of time battling enemies in one part of the screen only to have some bastard sneak in from somewhere else and put the kablooey on your mothership. Personally, I could do without the turn based part, and wish there were a way to just turn it off, as I'm only interested in flying and blowing things up, but I can live with it to have a portable space flying game. Even with the save game structure, you can get through missions in a short amount of time, making it more conducive to short bursts of game play than Metroid Prime: Hunters. There's a Mechwarrior game on the horizon which, if devoid of turn based mission malarky, may supplant Star Fox as my space combat game of choice. We'll see. I don't consider it a bad purchase, however if you're looking for just flying and shooting, I don't know if I would recommend it. Also everyone speaks in a strange, robotic tongue, despite me not having the robot speech option turned on. Why there's even a robot speech option in the first place is beyond me.

The bloom on the Dead Rising rose has worn off, sad to say. I keep forgetting to make it to save spots and up doing the same things over and over again. I know that there are many of folks who believe that the game's save structure is a blessing as it allows you to get your character powered up for the main mission, but those people have functioning memories, unlike myself who always forgets to make it to the restroom or security office to save and up as zombie food in the mall. That and I've been spoiled by Oblivion, a game which allows you to tiptoe through the meadows and pick flowers and ride unicorns or some shit all the live long day until you're ready to jump back into the main storyline or any of a dozen storylines you've left hanging while you've played Johnny Fucking Appleseed. Now that I've had that, I demand it of all of my other games, Dead Rising included. I don't feel bad about purchasing the game, even if I don't plan on finishing it, as I would like to support the zombie in a mall genre, and I may keep it around to see what happens in the end, however Lego Star Wars is beckoning so I also may trade it in and just watch the cut scenes on YouTube.

Guitar Hero continues to plague my wrist with soreness as the Medium level songs represents a jump from Easy similar to how a 5K run represents a jump in difficulty from walking across your kitchen. Sure, you can probably run that 5k on your first try without any training, but don't expect to be hanging out at the winner's circle. I haven't been booed off the stage yet, however my run of 3-star performances isn't exactly allowing me to quit my day job and rock out full time. I'm averaging something like 100 bucks a gig. Sorry Judy, you're going to have to keep working at the Kinko's until I can spend more time with Spanish Castle Magic.

A partial set list (I say partial because it's only 20 or so songs long) for Guitar Hero 2 has been released and the rock is well represented. The addition of "Sweet Child of Mine" and "Freebird" has me slavering with anticipation. I can only hope that the character modelers at Red Octane are working on an Axel Rose snake shimmy animation for the lead singer. I would also like a Slash-esque guitar hero character model as well, complete with hat and eye covering rock hair. Still no Led Zeppelin, however hopes are high. I would like to see some extra peripherals for the guitar controller including a waa-waa pedal that you could hit to either engage your Star Power, or just change the sound of your axe. I would also like one of those mouthpiece thingies, complete with a 20 minute long Frampton song. I would not recommend using the mouthpiece in multiplayer though as I'm pretty sure you don't want to share that with someone else. I get wigged out when I have to share a controller with someone who's hands sweat during Burnout races, but maybe you're less hesitant about swapping bodily fluids with those you game with. To each their own.

I haven't been playing a lot of games lately as I'm watching back seasons of Battlestar Galactica. The show reminds me of Firefly, just without the witty banter and the swearing in Chinese. It's well written, well acted and chock full of badass space combat. I'm glad to see it's doing as well as it is, and can only assume that had Firefly been on Sci-Fi, where it would have a built in audience, rather than shuffled around to death on Fox, we'd be well into our 4th or 5th season. Oh well. I don't think I'll be caught up for the Season 3 premiere but will be Tivoing with abandon.

Finally, Redskins football starts on Monday. All is right in the world, or at least in my insignficantly small part of it.


Greg said...

Excellent post chock full of goodness. "Ride unicorns or some shit" is perhaps my favorite phrase of the week.

So you've discovered BSG, eh? I love that show. That and "The 4400" are probably my favorite TV shows.

Hopefully some day, Dead Rising is released for the PC. I found Condemned: Criminal Origins to be a disappointing 360 port, but hopefully Dead Rising is much better. I'm also waiting for Resident Evil 4 for the PC, which was originally set for release on 9/13, but now is "TBA", damn it.

This coming tuesday is my birthday. Maybe I'll buy myself Guitar Hero.

suburbanjoe said...

Greg's back! Wahey!

Greg said...

I bought myself Guitar Hero.

My left hand hurts.