February 23, 2009

Non-WAR Activity Log. One-Shotted.

This one is a wall of text so watch out.

WAR is my first MMO and I'm loving it to death. There's nothing like a good MMO and I won't be hanging it up anytime soon. That being said, first and foremost, I'm a console gamer. And for the past week I've been console gaming. The difference between when I've got a good console game to sink into and a good PC game to sink into is my amount of time spent on a computer. See, when I'm playing on a PC, good game or not, I'm constantly alt-tabbing, checking news-sites, blogs and whatever. This goes double for WAR. But playing on a TV set, with a controller in hand and a keyboard so very far away, I just don't have the urge log in. Except to check the herald and penny-arcade. Some things I just have to do.

It's hard to explain, but when I find a really good console game to play, it then becomes all that I do in my free time. For a really good computer game, I can always save, alt-tab, or whatever. I'm just programmed that way.

So what have I been playing that has so effectively kept me from WARing, blogging and general interneting? Psychonauts. An old Xbox game I never got around to picking up because at that time, I only had a gamecube. It's been on Steam for awhile but I've only recently acquired a capable computer. Lo and behold though, I found myself browsing the Xbox Originals tab. After picking up Sega Soccer Slam (great game about racial stereotypes beating each other up while occasionally kicking a ball around) I came upon Psychonauts and remembered the ridiculous amounts of adoration it's received from the press and blogs and reviews. So I bought it.

Seeing as Psychonauts is all that I've been doing outside of school/work for the past week, and that I really want to blog about it, I'm gonna write out my thoughts.

It plays like a platformer/collectathon with some (fairly easy) fighting. The bosses are especially easy, with the final one being the easiest. The different levels consist of different campers'/asylum inmates' brains and the variety and uniqueness of them are pretty huge. The "Milkman Conspiracy" will go down as one of the best levels of all time. The game is pretty easy for the most part but then something happens. Then you get to the Meat Circus level and the game becomes nigh-on impossible with a mix of timed portions and aggravatingly hard platforming. But it's the climax so you stick through it only to end up at a boss that's easier than all of the others. And then there's a satisfying ending cinematic.

The story was light-hearted and unique, with a save the world main plot and a romantic subplot that was very cute, but weird if you remember that they're ten years old. Wasn't that still deep in the cooties age? Right from the opening cinematic, the game snagged me with its charm and genuine humour. A lot has been said about how funny the game is so I won't really add much there, but the game is real funny, not poop joke funny. In between the happiness though, there are quite a few sad moments tucked away in corners, like Milla's secret room and Sasha's vaulted memories.

The characters are endearing and memorable, even the side one-note characters. If you take the time to see it they all have their own sub-plots going that are interesting for the most part. It also helps that the game is fully, 100% voiced, and acted well too. It's rare to see a game where the kids act like kids and it stays believable. They have child-like relationships with each other and it is all very respectfully written. My favourite kid is Vernon, with his slow, monotonous voice, and his boring_stories. Also, Mikhail, the wannabe bear wrestler, has the best fake Russian accent ever.

The graphics hold up nicely being very stylised and cartoony. I don't know if they were touched up for the 360 release or not but the game looked really good, with a lot (a lot) of little details and flourishes everywhere. It made for a very believable, if fantastical world.

The music is awesome, and the songs are appropriate for their respective stages, though they are kind of short and loop often enough to get annoying. Especially when you're trying to find every last collectible (which is all the time). My favourite tunes are the ones from the matador/painter/wrestler level. Nothing stands out as bad, except if I have to hear the "Meat Circus" music anymore I may have to strangle someone.

Tenuous link to MMOs to keep this entry relevant to my blog: The way that the game rewards exploration. There are countless one-time only conversations going on between the campers that you can only see if you travel the camp avoiding the main plot. There are so many hidden extras and I know that I missed a lot of them, You get a different reaction from everyone every time you: levitate them, firestart them, punch them, confuse them, show them the button, show them the "claw", hit them with the brain duster and tickle them. Also with "clairvoyance," everyone (including enemies, animals and bosses) see you as something different. Don't forget to read the bulletin board after a major event as it updates often.

As a side note, when I like a game, I really get into it How much into it you ask? I have since purchased_the_soundtracks, checked out the Psychopedia, the camper`s myspace pages, and if there was an art book I would have bought it for sure. I am now eagerly stalking Brutal_Legend. And I am hunting down a copy of Grim Fandago as we speak.

A lot of love and detail went into to this game so if you haven't picked it up yet, it's up on Steam and XBLA. If you need any more reason to play it, it's a game that Yahtzee likes, and he hates everything.

While I was gone console gaming: Choppas and Slayers are put up on the PTS, a new round of server transfers start, Darkfall gets more pre-orders than they can handle and most importantly, I_got_a_one-shot.

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