Thursday, January 20, 2011

Little Big Planet 2 Preview

Just got my hands on Little Big Planet 2, by Media Molecule, for Playstation 3 a couple days ago and I have been able to put in a few hours of singleplayer and multiplayer. So far its been a blast and akin to the favorable ratings and reviews I've seen all over the place. There are many things similar to the first game that I would like to point out.
  • Co-op works the same
  • Singleplayer gameplay is very familiar
  • Multiplayer online works the same
  • Long load times, slightly shorter
  • Multiplayer connection hiccups
  • Same engine
So while those may all sound bad they all have good things about them. Co-op and multiplayer online both work the same but framerate is improved and so far I've experienced very little lag in online. While the gameplay is very similar it is improved upon in many ways. I've only experienced a very small portion of the new improvements but so far they are improvements not just gimmicks, for example the grappling hook seems like a gimmick at first but it adds a lot to the gameplay. Like I said before load times are still pretty long, but they now have areas in levels that basically teleport you to entire new areas with no loading what so ever. Also online loading times are much improved so far, except when connecting to other players; those load times seem to be erratic so far. While the engine is the same it is very much improved upon, like I said before the framerate is smoother, transitions are quicker and the graphical detail on levels I've seen is impressive.

All the multiplayer and pod improvements I've seen are really great as well from what I've explored so far. There are still the normal community levels that you can choose from but there are also now MM Levels, Media Molecule selected community levels that seemed to be updated constantly. I've played a couple normal community levels and a couple of the MM Levels and so far all the MM levels are really high quality and well done. All community members may build and decorate their own planets and moons, which shows all the levels the player has created. There are also pins now which are basically achievements for the game itself, some of which are also trophies and it signifies it with a bronze, silver or gold trophy next to the pin. I'm eagerly looking foward to trying some of the unique modes people can make now, so far all I've run into are normal platformer puzzle modes. That's all for now but I'll try to give more a comprehensive summary once I've delved into the game a lot more.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Amnesia the Dark Descent

This is a indie survival horror game developed by Frictional Games for PC only. It has done very well so far about 200 thousand copies sold according to Rock Paper Shotgun, and it well deserves its success. Much of its success is due to steam, the digital distributing and gaming program, which has had the game on sale often and it has sold well during those times. I normally like survival horrors with more action similar to one of the Resident Evil series but this is much different, it has a unique kind of action the kind of action that involves surviving not fighting. It is in first person perspective and you never fight anything, you just run or hide. I have many found memories of seeing a monster and running for my life and slamming a door in its face, which doesn't stop them, and hiding behind a barrel or in a cabinet. You have sanity which runs out if you stay in the dark too long, hear scary things, see monsters or other disturbing situations. You also have health which isn't considerable if a monster gets to you, you can usually only take a hit or two. When your sanity runs out it does pretty neat stuff, for instance when you get really low on sanity you can barely stand, hardly sprint and on top of that you may start to see things. You have a lantern, which you have to find oil for, and you have materials you gather in order to light torches and candles. Light is your one and only friend in this game, you cannot live long without it.
The story in this game is pretty interesting and exciting , especially for a indie. It starts off with you losing your memory and walking up wondering through some halls following some blood on the ground and you find fully voice acted journals from yourself throughout the game explaining everything. All you are told in the beginning is to kill someone named Alexander, the main protagonist. The way the story wraps around towards the end is fantastic, especially as you figure out who you used to be before you wiped your memory. You have several options for endings, all of which are pretty neat and only one is a definite bad ending.

You are by yourself for the majority of the game, except for monsters of course. Everything in the game seems to have drawn influence from H.P. Lovecraft. The graphics are very impressive for a indie game, it helps a lot with getting immersed with the atmosphere of the game. Overall, as long as you are not dieing for some action, you will find a lot to enjoy this game; especially if you let yourself become immersed in the atmosphere and story. I highly recommend this and it is often on sale for around five dollars. It is mainly available on steam but there are other digital distribution websites that also sell it, it is not available through retail. Best survival horror game I've played in many years. Thanks for reading.

Violent Score: 9
+Great Atmosphere
+Impressive Graphics
+Intriguing story
+Multiple Endings
+Unique gameplay
+Well designed interface
+Good controls

-Not very long
-Physics a little annoying sometimes
-Some difficult puzzles

Plants vs Zombies (Xbox 360)

This is a game most people have played, developed by PopCap Games, and most people have decided upon whether they like it or not. It has been available for PC for quite some time and for xbox 360 arcade for several months at least. I have been playing it since release and I still have not been able to unlock everything, but I finally have unlocked the majority of it. I would like to point out that there are not too many differences between the xbox 360 and PC versions.
The big differences are...
  • COOP mode
  • VS mode
  • More Puzzle mode
  • They added a hedge
That's about it. When I speak of the hedge, I speak of when the zombies are coming to attack no longer do they come from the street, they come through a hedge. There is no online multiplayer, just local for COOP and VS. After playing it for a while I wish they had included COOP and VS as online multiplayer versions as well. The COOP you can do in any mode, as far as I have been able to figure out. You can do COOP puzzle, survival and story. As for versus they tackle it by doing one player as plants and one as zombies. Plants side goes for how you think it would but the zombie side is very fun and interesting. Both players get to choose what plants/zombies they want and the zombie selection covers a majority of the zombies. The plant player gets sun from normal means and the zombie players has brains that float down from the sky plus you can *plant* gravestones which produce brains. There's more to say, but that's the sum of it and it is very fun.

The game itself is still very addictive and very fun, you are always propelled into one more level or one more puzzle. The game has a garden, shop, tree of wisdom, mail and a log book of all the plants and zombies. The garden is pretty fun, I found myself often spending ten to twenty minutes sitting around collecting coins and watering my plants. I could embellish more upon this excellent game, but many people have known of this game for a long time. Gonna try a pro's and con's for this one.

Violent Score: 9
+Very fun
+Lots of Extras
+Funny characters
+Funny logbook
+Great versus
+Fun Coop

-Versus and COOP could be online as well as local
-Normal XBLA price tag, 1200 points.

Written by Sean Cargle