F.E.A.R. 2: Scary Slider: Demo Impressions (PS3)

Dear Horror Games,

You’ve got Audio sliders for volume levels, and difficulty sliders for difficulty levels.

Why not Horror sliders for Horror levels? So if I’m about to go asleep, I can turn it from bleeding-walls and scary little girls to flowers and puppy dogs?

Other than that, the FEAR 2: Preposterous Subtitle Demo on PS3 has good shooting mixed with a mediocre PS3 port. At one point the audio in the demo cut out almost entirely (not due to Spooky/Scary sound effects as far as I can tell), so I quit the game out of frustration.

Goozex Review

funcolandMost people who want to turn their video games into other video games take them to Gamestop, despite the huge discrepancy between how much gamestop games sell for, and the trade-in value. Old timers will recall Funcoland and their even worse trade-in values.

At least Funcoland had a book you could flip through to spare yourself the embarrassment of asking how much money they could give for your copy of Anticipation.

There is another choice, though it does involve trading with humans.

Goozex offers a trading system where you ship out games to others in exchange for points, which you can purchase if you don’t want to send out any of your games. Games are offered on a sliding scale from 100 to 1000. Most new games are between nine-hundred and one-thousand points. Their system automatically adjusts the price (in points) of each title based on the supply and demand. They end up fairly balanced, so your trade that is still in demand is worth a fair bit.

Lets take Call of Duty 4: GOTY Edition (PS3) as an example, today it is worth 850 Goozex points. 100 Goozex points are worth $5 in real money. So, CoD4: GOTY  is worth about $42.50. If I wanted to trade in that game, I’d toss the game into my offers queue and wait until the system finds a match. There are apparently 90 some people in line waiting for that game to be available, so that shouldn’t take long.

Once Goozex finds a match, I can look over the profile of the person who wants it, approve it if their feedback looks solid, print out a label, and finally ship it. Obviously you lose a little in shipping, most of these folks have a stack of envelopes and quite often you’ll get a game in the mail inside an envelope that has clearly seen better days. Your faith in scotch tape will assuredly rise.

Now here is one of the problems with Goozex; once the guy receives the game, if you’re lucky they’ll give you feedback immediately that says it was in good condition and receive your 850 points. Otherwise, you could end up waiting 21 days for the system to automatically give you the points. I’ve had several folks take a week to give me feedback, which left some of my requests in the lurch while I waited for the points.

Getting a game is a little bit more straight forward, and is the only time you are forced to pay into the system. Receiving any game costs 1 trade credit, which cost $1.  So if I want to receive CoD4: GOTY for 850 points I can either buy the points (you can only buy in hundreds or thousands of points, so you’ll probably have some left over) or you can trade in games to get them. Those points, plus a trade credit net you the game once you’ve passed through the queue. Most of the people in it won’t have enough points to request the game, or will be excluded for some other reason, so it might not take that long to traverse the queue.

The exception is with new games which often have a trainwreck of folks stacked up to get the game. If you really want a new game, some folks snipe the queue by logging on early in the morning. Otherwise it is best to trade new games into the system and get back out less recent titles. Even if you were to snipe the queue, you’d have to wait for someone who wants to trade the game into the system.

One of the nice benefits to Goozex over Gamestop, is that they have PC and Mac game trading. Though newer titles come with their caveats of cd keys, online activation, and the like. I’ve tried this once with a cdkey’d game, Mass Effect. It turned out fine and I had no issues.

All of this might seem a little complicated and there are bunch of caveats like the inability to trade directly with someone you know within Goozex. Fortunately the site is organized well and streamlines you through the process of offerring or requesting games. In the past few months I’ve both sent and received a variety of games and have been pleased in general with the condition of the games received and the people I’ve sent games to.

While I wouldn’t rely entirely on Goozex, especially for newer titles, it has been useful for avoiding the loss in value that comes from dealing with the used game system at gamestop. The prices on games match their actual value to the gaming community, which is a benfit to both people requesting and offering them. So the benefits of it outweight the negatives and I’ll continue using Goozex for the forseeable future.

Little Big Impressions

Snake LBP PaintinatorLittle Big Planet has recently captured my attention by being the most inspirational & creative game of 2008.

Let me explain.

I first gave LBP a shot during the beta. During which I had fun but wasn’t sure how polished the final product would be.

The user-created content was a chore to trawl through for good levels. No fix was in sight and the developers own levels were too few to make a judgement call on what they would include in the final game.

Later on when LBP was released I read about the server issues and declined to purchase it. Who knew if the developer would correct these issues?

SOCOM: Confrontation certainly was proving to have similar problems and theirs weren’t fixed in anything like a timely manner.

Another concern I had was with the lack of interaction. Until recently, sackboys could only interact with the levels through grabbing, jumping, and running. With the recently released Metal Gear Solid pack that has been fixed through the addition of the Paintinator. So now Sackboys can shoot, giving them another path to interact with their environment.

Finally, Little Big Planet has been patched to remove most of the connection issues. Sure, I still get the occasional disconnection from the community servers, or lag. However, the bugs are mostly gone.

If you’re one of the folks who fretted about the quality of the game before purchasing it, fret no longer, get Little Big Planet, have fun.

LBP MGS Meryl

You know you are no longer the ‘Prince of Darkness’ when…

Ozzy Osbourne’s latest appearance on the pop culture radar comes in the form of a commercial promoting Blizzard’s “World of Warcraft.”  In this advertisement, Mr. Osborne tells us that he is indeed the “Prince of Darkness,” at which point the elderly-Brit is transformed from a docile-mumbling and aged-hipster into the larger-than-life polygon Royalty of Doom and Gloom (it is him, the tinted glasses are a dead giveaway).

The reality is that the Ozzman stopped being the Magnate of Little-Light on March 5, 2002.  For that is the day that “The Osbournes” premiered and the curtain was pulled back on a former great showman.  From that premiere episode right up until the end of the reality series run in March of ’05, we learned that Ozzy is nothing more than a character of his stage persona and a creation of record lyric and promoter myth.

What we saw during the years the show was broadcast was a man who was nothing more than a famous and wealthy Jester of Dimness who was easily ignored until called upon -following the court’s (his home) pecking order he was on the bottom (after his wife Sharon, out of control children, house guests of his out of control children, and the heard of dogs.)  It is difficult to head bang away to “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” when you know that the perpetrator of this metal-driven-scowl is in reality, or currently anyway, nothing more than an over-drugged bird-biting sellout who did his time in the good ol’ Seventies, got bloated and almost killed his wife in the Eighties, sung about his Mama in the Nineties, and now in present-day has an embarrassment of a family and tremors worse than San Andreas.

“I never said, ‘Get the f***ing gun’.”  How does the former Purveyor of all things Ill-Lit go from suicide-inducing subliminal lyrics to suicide-inducing mumble-logue?  Lights, camera, reality-based-action is how.  This decade’s version of televised embarrassment (see variety shows of the Seventies) turned Black Sabbath and Ozzie Osbourne fans such as me into disgruntled bloggers looking to disassociate from their former idols before today’s Molly Cirus ilk find our spot of weakness and strike!

The downfall came swiftly after the sadness known as “The Osbournes” became a hit.  Things snowballed with a Super Bowl commercial for Pepsi, then the penultimate disgrace in a cameo for a fart-joke filled, was funny the first time around, sequel comedy (see Austin Powers:  The Spy Who Did Something We No Longer Found Funny.”)

So now, close to four years later, and with a tarnished crown, Mr. Osbourne is picking up the scepter by endorsing video games.  And it is not just World of Warcraft, Ozzy is also badassing it up and down your block in Guitar Hero (again, tinted glasses are a dead giveaway.)

This all brings us to the number one reason you know that you are no longer the ‘Prince of Darkness’…

…when you are whoring yourself for the űber-dork-playland known as W.o.W.*

*As in, “Wow, can my wife/agent/Power of Attorney for a now disabled rocker put me into any worse advertising nightmare than video games and another Sabbath reunion on this year’s Ozzfest?”

Satan laughing spreads his wings.

Mirror’s Edge (PS3)

Having completed Mirror’s Edge I can confirm that indeed the plot continues on as if it were indeed created by the same creative forces behind Robocop 3. The ending is trite, and ridiculous considering the circumstances. I can, without spoiling anything, say that you have a tender moment with someone on top of a building while guards you saw just moments ago ignore you. I suppose they must now understand the error of their ways and decide to ignore the embracing duo!

It is the interaction of your character with the environment that you play Mirror’s Edge for, and however ridiculous the plot, you come back for the running. Running is a fresh and exciting change from shooting nameless goons in most first person games. There really isn’t much depth to it: Run; Jump; Turn; Jump; Grab; Climb; Run; Jump; Die; Reload; Repeat. Nevertheless, that is all you need to have fun in the city.

Too often, though, you’re dragged back into a shitty shooter when your character is swarmed by guards. Though you can run past them, sometimes you’re forced to disarm guards in order to continue. Combat is a kind of hit-or-miss affair involving lots of reloading from checkpoint saves. Maybe it was just that I found the timing of disarms intolerable, but I could never get past a series of guards without at least one reload.

In any case, if you can look past the terrible story, combat, and the cut scenes with macromedia flash animation, you’ll find an enjoyable twist on speed-running that you never thought possible from a developer locked into the Battlefield genre.

Eight out of Ten MSDN Subscriptions for Mirror’s Edge.

Call of Duty: World at War (PC)

Call of Duty: World at War is critically under appreciated. By that, I mean the slights it gets for being popular. Some too-cool-for-school game critics think that CoD:WaW can’t be good because regular people enjoy it.

If only they could see past their indie-rock-pete-esque hearts to the shiny gooey filling that is an improved and different Call of Duty.

Improvements on CoD4:

  • Nearly the entire single player campaign can be played cooperatively online.
  • In-game friends list, including invites.
  • You can squad up with your buddies fairly easily during team-based matches.
  • Prestige, previously only available to console players, is now available for win-folk.
  • Large, open multiplayer maps enable a different style of play. Bolt-action, single shot rifle kills are now reasonable. As are tanks and other changes to gameplay style. This might not appeal to everyone, but it is a definitely visible change to anyone who has sunk time into CoD4’s multiplayer campaign
  • The Flamethrower, flame tank, and molotov cocktail all bring a new kind of area denial  effect to play.
  • Nazi zombie mode.

You broke it:

  • Co-op isn’t continous, you’re automatically sent back to the lobby and the map is reset to the first map (Semper Fi). Good luck remembering the name of the map you were on.
  • Multiplayer squads aren’t retained between map changes. Boo!
  • The game seems to crash more than is usual.
  • Should have been released on steam on the day of the retail PC release.
  • Still different binaries for multiplayer and singleplayer.
  • While you can invite friends to the multiplayer game you’re in, you can’t see what game your friends are in without having to accept an invite. That is to say, you must request an invite to get to that server.
  • The name tags in multiplayer are colored red or green for differentiating  friend or foe. I can’t see those colors.