Saturday, March 31, 2012

Top Five: More EVE Online Stories

  • A word of warning: I don't follow EVE Online all that closely. So these five stories are just the ones that got big enough for me to see them. So if I missed something really cool, it's because I had no idea what I was looking at. Let me know in the comments and maybe they'll make it into the next post. My original Top Five post of EVE Online stories can be found here.

  • 2006.12.11 - First Titan Built, First Titan Killed - Having been built less than three months before by Cyvok of Celestial Horizons, the Avatar class titan name "Steve" was brought down by Band of Brothers. It was both the first titan built on the Tranquility server, as well as the first titan destroyed. A memorial currently resides in the system, C9N-CC, where Steve met its fate.

  • 2007.02.09 - T20 Scandal - Like any good MMO developer, CCP employees actually play the game that they work on. Unfortunately, one such employee took the situation too far when he granted several Blue Print Originals (BPOs) to his corporation. It was one of the first scandals that eroded confidence in CCP, leading in turn to the formation of the Council of Stellar Management (CSM).

  • 2009.06.22 - Unholy Rage - Like most MMOs, EVE Online had an issue with external Real Money Trading. Bots and ISK farmers were ruining the game's economy. In June 2009, CCP launched an initiative to ban bots and other RMT related accounts. According to their reports, closing about 3000 accounts had an immediate effect not only on the economy but also on the servers disproportionally taxed by the botters.

  • 2011.06.23 - Incarna meltdown - After the launch of the Incarna expansion, the EVE player base revolted in the forums and in the game itself. With so much displeasure being voiced, CCP called an emergency summit of the CSM and eventually changed the course of the game. With their next expansion, Crucible, CCP showed that they had renewed their focus on the Flying In Space systems. If you need a snarkier version of these events, go read Scott Jennings' post where he reminds us why he was once called Lum the Mad.

  • 2012.03.27 - The Mittani Banned, Steps Down From CSM - In the wake of questionable comments made during a panel at the 2012 Fanfest, Alexander "The Mittani" Gianturco, after having made an apology and resigned the chairmanship of the CSM, received a thirty day ban and was removed from his position in CSM7. Almost as interesting as the main story is abysmal quality of copy-and-paste journalism about the incident.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Random Shots: Fighting The Console Wars

  • I have spent far too long being far too negative for the last couple of weeks. No more. Let's take a look at my favorite games on the various consoles that I've owned. I'm not including any version of the Playstation because I never invested much in those consoles.

  • Intellivision: Pitfall - Once upon a time, the name Activision on a game meant that you were in for an amazing experience. And my favorite game was Pitfall. I never got that great at it. I didn't break out the graph paper and map the perfect path. But somewhere in a box at my parents' house with our Intellivision and a tally of all my high scores. The moment I learned that running left was much easier was a revelation.

  • NES: Mega Man 2 - I've owned and played the first three games, but Mega Man 2 was the perfect match of platforming and puzzle solving. Sure, the puzzles were always which gun to use on which guy, but the weapons were all unique and it made you feel smart to figure the right combinations. The opening theme is still one of my favorite bits of game music to this day.

  • N64: Super Mario 64 - I just noticed that my first three games are all evolutions of the platformer. Super Mario 64 is the game that took the genre into three dimensions (not stereoscopic) and set the standard for every 3D platformer after. Also, I would occasionally load up the underwater level and listen to the music loop over and over again. Sublime.

  • Dreamcast: Phantasy Star Online - I was a huge fan of the original Phantasy Star on the Sega Master System (which I didn't own, so it's not on this list). So when this new game was announced, I knew that I had to buy a Dreamcast. Yes, PSO sold me this console. I'm almost embarassed to admit that I never took PSO online, even though that was the whole point of the game. But that never stopped me from playing the single player game over and over again. If only the follow up games hadn't stumbled so badly.

  • Xbox: SSX 3 - There are those who believe that SSX Tricky was the pinnacle of the series, but I disagree. SSX 3's combination of race, trick, big air, and half pipe events made the mountain feel like a virtual world with a grand competition and the option to freeride and take to the back country as I saw fit. And to cap if off with a run from the top of the mountain to the bottom that took a half hour was a capstone expereince that I haven't felt in a sports game again.

  • Xbox 360: Red Dead Redemption - No other game fulfills the promise of the GTA games like Red Dead Redemption. Melding an open world game with the western genre was masterful. Yes, the Mexico section dragged a bit. But there was so much to experience in the game that I did not want to leave it. And how can not mention the ending. I don't think that there has been a more masterful ending to a video game. Just writing about it make me want to start a new game tonight.

  • Now it's your turn. Comment and tell me exactly how wrong I am and which games I missed.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Random Shots: Denial

  • As the debate rages on, and as I listen to and read arguments about the ending Mass Effect 3, I've come to the conclusion I've fallen into the minority position. If it has taught me anything about a vocal minority, it's that we are vocal only in comparison to a contented majority.

  • One of the first things that Adam Sessler says in this Vox Games podcast was "I didn't realize the ending was not to be liked." That made me think, but from the opposite side. Knowing that so many other were dissatisfied gave me the courage to step forward about my own disappointment. And as we've added voices of dissent, we've encouraged others to join as well. But I see now that even if we're the ones speaking up, there is still a vast majority of people who are just fine with the ending and don't have any special need to share that.

  • (Of course when I saw the ending of Portal 2, I wanted to tell everyone how great that was. But I'm not here to complain that the ending doesn't live up to that mark.)

  • There is no tyranny of the masses going on here. I have to come to terms with that fact that I may very well be wrong about the game. Bioware does not owe me a change. I'm the one who needs to change. And it is a change that has been a long time to come.

  • To date, Bioware has produced exactly three games that I have enjoyed unreservedly: Jade Empire, Mass Effect, and Mass Effect 2. Every other game that they have produced has been flawed to such an extent that I do not like them, although several are considered classics: Baldur's Gate, Dragon Age, Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights. As much as I may enjoy some of their stories, I did not enjoy them as games. Even though I've purchase all of them, I'm come to regret doing so in many cases. And I have no one but myself to blame.

  • Going forward, I will no longer buy any games from Bioware. I won't bow to the hype as I've done several times in the past. I should have learned my lesson long ago, but I can't continue to make the same mistake over and over again.

  • Now if you'll excuse me, Skyrim seems to be a lot better than I expected from a Bethesda game. Maybe that second chance will pay off.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Random Shots: Change/Don't Change

  • We're back in no spoiler territory for ME3. However, there are spoilers for Blade Runner and Wall-E, so read accordingly. Yes, I'm still writing about that game. No, I can't get it out of my head.

  • One of the craziest things to come out of the Mass Effect 3 ending fiasco was the backlash from game journalists when Dr. Ray Muzyka stated that Bioware would revisit the ending in some capacity due to feedback from the fans. Several of them took to Twitter to whine about how Bioware had caved to the fans instead of sticking to their artistic intention. It was just as embarrassing as all of the people making threats and attacking Bioware. They seem to think that changing the ending would be a fatal blow to the "games as art" position.

  • It is amazing to me that so many people forget that Bethesda sold a new DLC ending for Fallout 3. People hated the ending so much that they were almost required to clear it up somehow. And it should be no surprise that Bioware would consider changing the game since they committed to patch the novel Mass Effect: Deception due to numerous errors.

  • I suspect that what everyone fears is that the changes will end up like those made to the theatrical release of Blade Runner. The original cut ends with Deckard and Rachael making a run for it, not sure how long she'll live, whether his fellow blade runners will come for them, unsure whether he's really human or not. Test audiences were so dissatisfied with this ending that the studio demanded a happy ending be tacked on. It is still a towering achievement in science fiction cinema, but the eventual director's cut showed that Ridley Scott's original vision was greater still. Tacking some inane happy ending onto the end of ME3 will make some people happy, but it's not what we really need.

  • Instead, the paradigm people (and Bioware) need to keep in mind is that established by Wall-E. When that movie was tested, fully half of the audience believed that the humans returning to Earth were so incapable that their deaths would so follow the end of the film. Director Andrew Stanton, not wanting to leave audiences with that impression, added the end credit sequence that shows human civilization growing and flourishing after the movie ends. It is great bit of animation and it leaves no doubt about how the ending should be viewed.

  • If anyone at Bioware is smart, this is template they will follow. The ending of Mass Effect 3 left so many people, including myself, with the opposite impression from the one they were intending. I can't say that I'm looking forward to their solution. But it will be interesting to see if they can pull it off.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Random Shots: The Infamous Ending

  • SPOILER WARNING!!! IF YOU HAVE NOT COMPLETED MASS EFFECT 3, TURN BACK NOW!!! (I EVEN CAPITALIZED THE HTML TAGS. THAT IS HOW SERIOUS I AM.)

  • Even though I said in my last post that I was going to talk about the ending today, I was strongly reconcidering whether I want to keep beating this drum. But after talking to my brother about the game for an hour and a half (he is compelled by the Indoctrination Theory, I am unconvinced) and then falling down an internet hole of people trying to describe why they did not like the ending (with a myriad of differences, good luck parsing that, Bioware), I knew that I could not let this go yet. I have to get my thoughts out before I could put the game (and the series) behind me.

  • To explain what I feel it wrong with the ending, you have to understand how I experienced it. It was about 3:30 in the morning when I began the final mission. When you land on Earth and start fighting your way through the streets of London, there are some incredible battles. Even in casual difficulty, I felt hard pressed to succeed. And when I reached the final hold out battle, it felt like we really might be overrun. So when we killed the Destroyer guarding the conduit, I was so relieved. I had been so excited by this entire sequence that I had stood up somewhere along the line and was standing four feet away from my television. It was from that position that I experienced the rest of the game.

  • I honestly thought that I might be the only one to survive the final rush to the conduit. So when the reaper's beam shoots across the screen, I thought that I was done for. But then there is the incredibly effective final stagger to the conduit, fighting off the husks and marauder, the walk through the corridors and bridge to the circular chamber where you find Anderson and the Illusive Man. It was at this point that the game started to fall apart for me. The conversation goes on for far too long for a talk with someone who is only a proxy for the enemy. I ended up shooting my way out of the situation, though Anderson ended up dead. Maybe I could have forgiven the clunky writing of the conversation if it were not what happened next.

  • When you meet the Catalyst atop the Citadel and are presented your three choices, I'm sure the designers intended this to be a challenge for you. They want you to weigh the options and decide which is the lesser evil. When I made my decision, it came down to the fact that the center option looked closer. That is it. I looked at the destruction and control options off to the sides (and in my mind, I had confused which option was which), they seemed harder to navigate to reach them. So I just pushed forward. I cared so little for what was presented to me that literally decided the fate of the galaxy based on the fact that it was easier just to hold the stick up the whole time. When the Catalyst finished listing the options, I deflated like a balloon. There was nothing left in me to care about how the game ended.

  • I know that the Retake petition is asking for a more heroic ending to the end. That was not what I was looking for from ME3. What I want is an ending that is consistent with the themes of the game to that point. The Catalyst's explanation that organic life has to be saved by being destroyed is idiotic. My Shepard had just spent the entire game disproving the point that organic and synthetic life had to be at odds. She was nurturing EDI's growth as a lifeform and encouraging her and Joker to act on their feelings. And she had successfully brought the Geth and the Quarians together, saving both species in the end. That I did not have the chance to prove that the Reapers were in the wrong flew in the face of everything that Shepard had worked for over the course of the three games.

  • At some point as I was playing, I started to imagine what a fourth Mass Effect game might look like. I must admit that I drew heavily from Firefly. I could see a ragtag crew of traders and smugglers traveling the Traverse in a post-war galaxy. Of course, you would stumble across some nefarious plot that you must end. The world Bioware built seemed so full of possibility that I could see room for a number of sci-fi plots to flourish here. Then they decided to blow up the relays.

  • It seems clear to me that the developers thought they were building a work of art with the ending. And credit must be given to how skillful and beautiful the final movie is. But they thought that this ending was so good that they could burn down the house after they left. I'm not even going to get into the fact that Bioware established that a destroyed reply explodes like supernova, effectively wiping out the star system. In The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3, Casey Hudson says that he's not interested in making a post-ME3 game, instead preferring a prequel or side story. And he was adamant about it that he turned the ending into a choice of three ways to nuke the galaxy. So in a way, the game is a failure because it is destructive to its own themes, as well as destructive to the possibility space of their universe. And people wonder why some of us might have difficulty accepting the current ending.

  • If you are really interested, here are a few links to better writers than I who are also picking the ending apart:



© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Played Lately: Mass Effect 3

  • The announcement that Bioware is reconcidering the ending of Mass Effect 3 comes at an amazing time. Just the prior night I stayed up until four in the morning to finish my game. But even if Bioware is going to address people concerns, I still need to explain my feelings. I will avoid any major spoilers. However, if you want to go into the game completely clean, feel free to bookmark this post and come back when you're done. I've done that with several posts that I'm finally reading today.

  • I spoke with my brother that night. He beat the game a week ago and really wanted to about it. He called it a punch in the gut. Until I finished, I wasn't sure what he could mean by that. Surely Bioware would write the ending in such a way as to fascilitate the upcoming DLC, I told him. No, he told me, the ending is as final as final can be. Huh, I said. I was saved from the rest of the conversation by the baby, but I was left unsettled. It's one thing for the internet at large to tell you a game sucks, but it's a whole other thing when it's your brother.

  • The funny thing is that, by this point, I was really enjoying ME3. I know that I complained about the combat before. But after several nights, I was finally used to the controls and even enjoying the combat again. Sure, I was still playing on Casual, but I was having fun. And I was having fun doing missions and talking to old friends. The game, oh the game was fantastic. It was the story that let me down.

  • Everything about Mass Effect 3 was great, right up until the last fifteen minutes. The ending undoes everything you've just spent the game achieving. After spending the entire game trying to bring the universe together, you are given a final choice that contradicts everything the series has stood for. It even contradicts plot lines that you are following in this very game!

  • I honestly think that video games are a completely valid art form. But they are not passive like every other art. Gaming is a collaborative experience between the designer and the audience. Authorial intent is very murky when you are hang your narrative on the player's actions. That players would rise up so vociferously to a story decision should be no surprise at this point. No matter what Paul Barnett says, games are not one directional media; designers have to honor the interactive nature of games and the stories that play out.

  • Between this and the Dragon Age games, I have lost all confidence in Bioware as a game designer. From here on, I won't be buy their games until I am reasonable assured that they will be worthwhile.

  • Addendum: Before I finished this post, I downloaded and read Geoff Keighley's The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3. Watching the included videos, I started to feel bad about how much I'm seething about this game. Casey Hudson is just a dude, trying to make a game people will like. That he got so close should be commended.

  • I'll have one more super spoiler post to discuss the ending but then I'm going to move on.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Random Shots: A Better Use For Mass Effect


  • This may get me to buy my first Final Fantasy game in years.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Random Shots: The Topic Of The Day


  • Congratulations to Hunter for avoiding the word "microtransactions" in his post title.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Played Lately: Psychonauts

  • I suppose it's about time. The game came out in 2005 during the previous console cycle. It has felt like a huge hole in my gaming knowledge. So last night, instead of saving the galaxy, I loaded up Psychonauts for the first time.

  • Like any older game, it feels out of time even with the improvements Double Fine made to the PC version. The fact that it reads my controller on the PC is amazing, even if the button prompts still reflect the keyboard keys. The graphics are decidedly Xbox quality, but the style helps overcome the deficit.

  • My favorite thing about the game so far is the explorable hub world. I like that they give you this open space and set you free to do what you want. I'm sure that I could exhaust the possibilities if I focus on it too much. But so far I've found several hard-to-reach or hidden areas that keep me looking for more. And I love that there seem to be multiple ways to approach different problems in the open world.

  • I've only tried the introductory level so far. It seemed a little long and the frightfully linear. But the art design was great to explore and it told an interesting story.

  • Only an hour and a half in, I'm on the fence about Psychonauts. That first level didn't win me over like the open world has. I'm hoping that further levels draw me in more.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Random Shots: Thumbing My Nose At Bioware

  • Despite the fact that I really need to be sleeping, I've been staying up to play Mass Effect 3 for several nights now. I put in a couple hours a night, scanning planets, running around the Citadel, and shooting dudes. Oh yeah, and I'm never going to play the multiplayer. So there.

  • I've had a couple offers (and several insistent ones from my brother) to try out the multiplayer with them. By all accounts, it's supposed to be a lot of fun. In any other circumstance, I would probably try it at least once.

  • But here is the thing. We all know the Bioware collects statistics about how we play their games. And when they look at the percentage of players who try the multiplayer, I want to show up in the "no" column.

  • It might be petty. I might be avoiding something I might like just to prove a point. But this is the line that I'm not willing to cross. I want to show them that I think this was a mistake.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Random Shots: Who Will You Be? GW2 Edition

  • Syp has a post up on Bio Break discussing his character plans for Guild Wars 2. There are a great number of options since there are no race/class restrictions. I have at least a vague idea of which I want to try. So in order of likelihood from least to greatest, here are the professions:

    • Necromancer - Ew. I had one character of every profession in Guild Wars. Even the lame expansion classes. But I never, ever played a necromancer. They just look gross. Blech.

    • Engineer - While I understand that the history of Tyria has moved on, I can't get my head around a technology based profession. Sure, WoW, WAR, and other games have gun focused classes, but it has always rubbed me the wrong way.

    • Warrior - This is a long standing bias, but I never really enjoy straight up fighter types in MMOs. Maybe GW2 will make them more compelling, but they are not high on my list.

    • Guardian - Here we get into the noncommittal part of the list. I don't know enough about guardians to know whether I want to play one or not. Maybe I'll get jealous of all the cool things they do after playing for a while and I'll want a guardian alt. Just not at launch.

    • Thief - Ditto, except the character art for the female thieves is really... interesting to me. As long as they don't develop assassin-like spikes, I'd be willing to give them a look.

    • Elementalist - Now we get to the excited part of the list. I have always liked elementalists. My one great character deletion regret was deleting my gray-haired level twenty "ellie" before Factions released so that I had an open character slot for the preview weekend. I hope there are a lot of lightning based abilities because I plan on shocking the heck out of very many dudes.

    • Mesmer - More than any other profession, the mesmer proved that Guild Wars was not your usual RPG. I loved playing my mesmer and I can't wait to see what they do in GW2.

    • Ranger - My first love has always been the ranger. I don't play this kind of class in any other game, but I can't wait to try them again in GW2.

  • And for the races. Two definite no's, two maybes, and one already decided:

    • Asura - I have never liked little races in games. The asura seem like the worst example. No. Just no.

    • Charr - Although I learned to like the charr a little after reading the Guild Wars novels, I still can't see myself playing one. I can't forgive them for what they did to Ascalon.

    • Sylvari - I am super curious about the sylvari. We know so little about them that it will be a joy to explore their story. Yes, they are dressed up elves, but with enough differences to make them stand out.

    • Norn - Ever since Eye of the North launched, I've wanted to play one of the Norn. What is there about giant warrior women who turn into bears that is not to love?

    • Human - When it comes down to it, though, my first character will be human. I want to see what has become of the descendants of my GW characters and where they will go. That is very important to me and I wonder if any other long time Guild Wars fans feel the same.

  • When broken down, my first choice is obvious: a human ranger, just like my main character in Guild Wars. But from there do I roll a norn mesmer and sylvari elementalist? Actually, that sounds pretty cool. I'm glad I did this.

  • How about you? What characters are you looking forward to playing?

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Random Shots: SSX Is Wack, Yo

  • First off, many apologies for the title of this post. I've been reading too much Yo, Is This Racist? and it rubs off after a while.

  • Second, I'm not saying that the game is wack. SSX is actually better than I expected. What I'm talking about is the title, or at least what they did to the title.

  • If you don't want to be spoiled, stop reading now. But it might be worth your while to keep reading anyway.

  • According to the new game, the name stands for surfing, snowboarding, and motocross. That's right, it is completely stupid. They even brought DJ Atomica back long enough to spit this idiocy at you.

  • In an otherwise great game, this seems like the regrettable tendency for people to update something that is perfectly fine to begin with. Bah!

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

News Filter: Guild Wars 2 Edition Frenzy

  • Like a bolt from the blue, ArenaNet has announced exactly how much of your money they would like to take from you. And it is surprisingly similar to another recent game. The three available editions are:

    • Digital Edition - $60 - The game, access to the beta weekends, headstart access, and an in-game item

    • Digital Deluxe - $80 - The above plus some additional in-game items

    • Collector's Edition - $150 - All of the above plus the obligator statue, art prints (plus frame!), art book, and soundtrack

  • So begins the five stages of grief as I come to terms with the fact that there is no way I can afford that collector's edition. Even the deluxe edition seems like a stretch, but I can at least rationalize it.

  • A few others have already picked the options apart. Which edition (if any) are you giong for?

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Played Lately: Mass Effect 3

  • There seems to be some consternation about the ending of Mass Effect 3. Chances are, if you are reading this blog, that you either have played, are playing, or plan to play at some point in the future. In any case, I don't know what the ending is. But anyone who has followed the series to this point is probably very invested in how the trilogy wraps up. Bioware released a flowchart showing how the suicide mission in ME2 would turn out depending on your decisions. I'm hoping the at some point down the road they do the same thing for ME3. Just not yet because I want to finish the game. I have a vague guess at how the game ends, but I'm really bad at making predictions.

  • I haven't been able to play too often over the last weekend (house guests and my daughter's birthday curtailed my gaming for a few days). But the nights I did play saw me up much later than is good for my aging self. As I've advanced in the game, the twists and turns in the story have driven me to keep playing one more mission. It's almost like the Civilization "One More Turn" trap, only each mission is thirty minutes long.

  • I continue to dislike most of the shooting dudes stuff, mostly because I'm slow and the game is so very fast and confusing. I did stick with the Casual difficulty, though. Dropping to Narrative mode would make me a failure as a gamer.

  • On the other hand, this is as good as Mass Effect has ever been by giving you hard choices to make. One character just made me an offer last night before I went to bed that has my head spinning. I know that if I follow my gut, it will hurt the war effort in the long run. But I can't bring myself to sacrifice my principles, even with the galaxy at stake.

  • And that's why I keep playing. Even when I told myself I would wait. Even though I need to get some sleep. Even though I'll regret it in the morning. Actually, I never regret it that much.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Played Lately: Mass Effect 3

  • THIS IS A ZERO SPOILER ZONE! SPOILERS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED! IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR SPOILERS, I WOULD LIKE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO THE INTERNET. GIVE IT A LOOK SOME TIME.

  • Monday night, I told my wife that I didn't think that I would buy Mass Effect 3 because I don't really have to time to dedicate to it. Tuesday night, I played Mass Effect 3. I'm not even sure what happened in between those two points.

  • If I had to point out what pushed me over the edge, it would be that I had to know what happened to my Shepard. With everyone talking online about playing, I knew that I could not leave Shepard's story incomplete. She had been through so much already, even death for a time. I wanted to see her fight to its completion. I was particularly happy when the import screen showed me all of the important decisions I made over the last two games.

  • Funny enough, Syp and I both picked the same stopping point last night. After working my way through the opening levels, I knew that reaching the Citadel again was a natural place to break.

  • Like with SSX, I see how age, lack of practice, and late night gaming have eroded my gaming skills (if skills I ever had). I turned the difficulty down to Casual and I'm actually considering Narrative mode just to avoid any frustrations I have with the combat. Funny to think that just a couple weeks ago I was shaking my head at the idea of focusing on the story over gameplay in an RPG. But as the Mass Effect series has improved as a shooter, the less that I want to do that. Oh well, at least the option is there for me.

  • It is going to be slow going for me, saving the universe an hour at a time. But I'm going to see this end of this series no matter what.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Played Lately: SSX

  • I returned to SSX the last two evenings to resume my conquest of the nine deadly descents. My first session left me dissatisfied, so I actually waited a couple of days before going back. Although I still find myself frustrated, my problems are starting to fall away.

  • On top of my frustration with the controls, I've found that there are some terrible difficulty spikes. The deadly descent runs are particularly grueling, each requiring multiple attempts to finish. Then there is the ever-so-helpful option to skip a race if you screw up over and over again. They will even give you the XP and credits as if you won, like a backhanded consolation prize. Thanks for reminding me how much I suck, EA.

  • Stepping outside of the World Tour mode taught me something important: I started to notice when various drops fed into the same run. So by the time I was on my fourth race down the mountain, I could anticipate the lower half of each run and I was much more confident in pulling off tricks. Since you jump from peak to peak in the World Tour, you don't get the same opportunity to learn the tracks. I suspect that repetition will be a big help as I progress through the game.

  • Explore mode ended up being a lot more interesting than I expected. All you have to do is choose a peak and run it, either as a race, trick, or survival event. While that seems simple, the mode really allows you to learn a mountain top to bottom. I was able to set three silver medals and one bronze and I look forward to improving on those times.

  • I feel like the game is slowing unfolding in front of me. As long as I stick with it and get past all of the frustrating parts, there is quite a lot to like about SSX.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Played Lately: SSX

  • As mentioned in my last post, I dove in with both feet for the new SSX. My first night with the game was odd. I didn't have a chance to try it until after midnight (I had many chores that evening) so I could not play very long. But no matter how late it was, I was not going to miss my chance to try it out.

  • The tutorial starts you in freefall which is an amazing way to learn the new controls. I tried out the new the right thumbstick option for grabs and it is unbelievably intuitive to make grabs. Pushing left on the stick starts a left hand grab, right for right hand, and up for both hands. That's fine for basic tricks, but you can then add a quarter circle or flick across to grab a different part of the board. Add in some flips, spins, and tweaks and there is a hug collection of tricks you can doing very easily.

  • At least, they were easy in the air. Once I got onto the ground and had to deal with steering, prewinding, and jumping, I completely lost my cool. My thumb completely fell back on its SSX 3 memory and started jamming buttons. It was a very frustrating experience.

  • On the positive side, I really like the new music in the game. I looked over the track list and did not recognize any of the songs. And the only musician I knew was Skrillex, but only because that name comes up a lot. I've never heard any of his music. So like in SSX 3, I'm hoping to discover some music that it completely new to me.

  • The game really is beautiful and it sounds great. The courses are a mad blur as you speed through them. I understand why all of the reviewers say the old games feel sluggish in comparison. I just hope my old hands and mind can keep up.

  • At the end of the night, I was left feeling disappointed. I know that some of that was because I was tired. And I know some is that learning the controls will take some time. But I will be back to try again.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.
Google Analytics Alternative