Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Wii Remote Jackets have Arrived

At long last my Wii remote Jackets have turned up. I ordered them some time ago, however, it was only yesterday that Nintendo said they had got to my order, presumably meaning the got quite a few. None the less both my Wii Jackets did turn up today.
The Jacket is light and rubbery and fits the Wii remote excellently. The holds for the buttons are just big enough to be perfectly comfortable without being so big the jacket feels pointless. Also, the top area, the element of the 'Mote with the most fragile elements, has the thickets part of the Jacket and really feels like it would do some good at protecting both the 'Mote and the item it hit.
So how does it actually effect gameplay. Well I am pleased to say virtually not at all. Apart from turning the Wii on, you will barley notice you are wearing this extra layer of protection. At first I thought the B button may be little tricky but considering I use that as shoot in MP3 and I am currently playing with Jacket in said game, the fact that I haven't noticed is quite conclusive. I was hoping this may have slightly better grip, the grip is marginally better, but not really noticeable.
In conclusion, these are worth picking up seeming as they are free. Judging by the extensive rubber used on the head, these seem much more safe. I did a brief test on my brother and he said that the unprotected Wiimote hurt more. They don't exactly help for any proper gamer and do diminish from the looks, however, if you have some less experienced Wii players coming round for the day, it may just be the clincher in saving some one or worse an HDTV.
You can order your free jackets from Nintendo (have your Wii serial number and an email address as the ready) here

Monday, October 29, 2007

Brawl has a Map Editor

As much as I am enjoying Metroid Prime, there is one game that I am looking forward to, a lot more. That is Brawl. Every day I check the website for new updates. Today, a Map Editor was announced. Not a little on the fly thing a la Halo, a full blown(ish) map editor. You can choose from all the backgrounds and then there are what looks to be a large selection of shapes, all of which can be coloured and skinned. Furthermore there are all the normal items you would find in a game of SSB. It really does look amazing.

What's more, you can send your maps to friends and save them to SD cards (so no need to worry about size) But if this wasn't enough, you can submit a map (once per day) to Nintendo. Then every day, a new map will be sent to your Wii, created by someone else. You are then able to play on it for that day. Then the day after, the map will have changed. Apart from that being simply amazingly cool, that will be quite a technical feet also. As the Dojo says, "With a feature like that, won’t I be able to play this game forever?!" You can read all about it here...

Brawl is currently set to release in the UK at the end of February. And yes, I will have a counter.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption Live Updates

[07:57] It is the 26th of October! Metroid Prime 3 finally comes out in the UK today! I have just watched the last video on the Metroid Prime Preview channel, and if I wasn't looking forward to this game enough, I am now. One of the weirdest parts actually featured Samus's face (no helmet) in her suit, and then in her mask, what looked like Dark Samus. Creepy stuff. This is, incidentally, the earliest I have ever got up in half term, so I am tired but the adrenaline should keep me going. Having breakfast now, will be setting of about 8:30 be back by 9:15 (shop opens at 9) My brother will be posting the live updates as I dictate so thank him as well.

[9:17]Just got back from game probably the quickest run ever. What`s more the game was £35.00. Bargain!

[9:22]For some reason my wii had to download a wii update.

[9:24]You even get to choose your own mii for your save.

[9:30]Wow the graphics have a blurred effect.

[9:41]The gestures feel very realistic, you feel like you are inside the game.

[9:48]Voice acting fine but some of the lines are a little weak and clich├ęd.

[10.00]Nearing the end of the training mission, I have really enjoyed it. Some of the puzzles are a not as well crafted as those in Metroid Prime 1. But the graphics are definitely a mark up.

[10.05]I Just got a missile launcher in training mission, it`s much faster flowing than mp1.

[10:10]Fighting boss in training.

[10:13]Beaten boss finished training.

[10:16]Got grapple lasso.

[10:16]Tried out grapple lasso it`s a bit difficult at first.

[10.42] Dark Samus and Metal Ridley have made an appearance. Game is much more more fast flowing than the original and definitely feels like the conclusion of a trilogy.

[11:01] Just dies falling down a hole whilst fighting Ridely. It is an intense experience a boss fight with a time pressure (of when you are going to hit the ground) Going to have a brief pause now. Impressions are very good, hope the live updates have been ok.

[14:16] I have beaten Meta Ridley. Because of the falling the boss is really quite challenging, although my cousin managed to beat it first time. The games continued usage of soft lighting really do make the difference between this and MP1. The variety of enemies has been good, the environments less so but I have been in the same place basically. The controls work very well and make the game feel very responsive, especially when compared with MP1. Finally, the unlockables look really cool, but to get them you have to collect these little hexagons which you get by accomplishing various things such as beating bosses, scanning and killing a certain number of enemies. You can then choose what to purchase with your credits. More details soon...

[15:05]Just arrived at a other planet very Magmoor Cavern-esque very cool.

[17:19]After a brief game of tennis, as I got stuck, I returned to the game, and loe and behold there was a simple solution. Once I had done this I got the "Graple Swing" which, as the name suggests, allows you to swing on grapple hooks. The best bit is, you can shoot at the same time! This may sound insignificant but this was one thing I really wished I could do in the original.

[17:25] I also forgot to mention that I got the PED(Phazon Enhancement Device) Without going in to detail, it makes you really powerful but drains your health. Some units require you to go in to it, which feels a little set up, however, I imagine it will be much better when you use it optionally.

[20:40] Well the games pace has slowed down a little from the intense action that was the first level and you are not exploring on your own just like good old fashioned Metroid. The game is focused more around combat this time round, mainly due to the controls, but also you don't loose all your power ups at the start of the game. As a result, most of the enemies are much more aggressive. This works well as the combat is much more rewarding.

[20:56]Just got my "Corrupt" death. Not quite sure why it happened as I thought I had plenty of time left. Clearly I wasn't checking my Bio-health in my space ship often enough. It happened in the next boss fight. Either this game is too easy and I am blowing through it or there are a lot more bosses than in MP1

[21:40]I literally cannot believe the time, no exaggeration. I am coming off now, as I want to have energy to play it tomorrow and make it last. Conclusions, graphically, the soft lighting, despite being basically the only difference between this and MP1, really makes all the difference. The sounds are as good as they ever where, game play is a little more combat focused, but over all this works well. You space ship is a very nice addition with the options to view your stats and your health and even use it to blow up stuff that your guns are too weak to do. I won't be doing Live Updates tomorrow, but I hope this has given you an insight in to the game. I recommend this game simply because it is another masterpiece. It is still quite similar to MP1 though, so if you didn't enjoy that, you will enjoy this more, but still not enough. Will be playing more tomorrow and at some point compiling some real first impressions.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Metroid Prime

System: Gamecube
Type: Shooter/Adventure/Platformer
Graphics: 9.5/10
Sound: 8.5/10
Gameplay: 9.5/10
Story: 9/10
Multiplayer: n/a

Overall: 9.5/10

This is one of the first console games I have actually completed, why? Not because it is too short, it took me 17 hours, but because it is amazing. Metroid Prime is not just a first person shooter, it features environmental puzzles, some light platforming and huge amounts of exploring. I believe it is this careful mix of genres is what makes this game so good.

The game put you in the shoes of Samus Aran, a female bounty hunter, on her way to a distress call.The distress call comes from a planet called Talon IV, inhabited by the Chozo. However, they all appear to be dead. That is the basic introductory story, I won't spoil the story line, but it is suffice to say that what killed them you will kill. The story in this game isn't well crafter like a Harry Potter novel or as gripping as Zelda, the beauty is the back story. In the game you have a visor called the scan visor. You can use this to scan certain objects in the game. Some of these scannings are compulsory, such as lifts that need activating, but there are many which are unnecessary and have varying significance. You have a log book where you store the back story as it were, in the game there are 17 Chozo Lore, 27 Space Pirate Data and hundreds of items about all the creatures. Each Chozo Lore/Space Pirate Data contains a snippet of information (about 3/4 A4 page) This already adds a huge amount of interesting but in some senses unnecessary information to pad out the story. Furthermore, almost everything interesting can be scanned for more information. For example, early on in the game you will come across half dead Space Pirates, you can scan them and find out how they got injured and where their weaknesses lie. Overall the story is normal sci-fi, but the back story is on the scale of Oblivion, which makes the game feel that bit more real.

Graphically this game is amazing. Considering it came out 7 years ago, and today I regard the graphics as excellent is a credit to the work. It isn't just the great looking graphics, although the various areas of Talon IV are recreated beautifully, but the little touches that are through out the game. When you come out of water, water drips off your visor, when in X-Ray visor, you can see the bones in your hand and when there is a bright flash of light, you can see Samus's reflection. On top of this, there is a fantastic physics engine on the same line as Halos'. Admittedly, there aren't hundreds of boxes flying about, however, each enemy moves realistically and impressively when you blow them up. All this adds up to an excellently presented games with only a few, and almost unnoticeable, frame dips.

Not only this, but the game sounds great too. You various guns make excellent noises, generators make strange pulsing sounds, each enemy makes individual screeches. Even your footsteps are impressive as they vary depending on what you're standing on and how hard you hit it. The games music, although not as catchy or as well orchestrated as say Zelda or Mario, certainly sets the atmosphere and the boss fight music also sounds good. Once again, I conclude that the sounds are fantastic and frame the game excellently.

The game play combines may different genres, and mixes them excellently. Exploring the vast world of Talon IV is great fun. There are so many nooks and crannies through out that chances are you will never find everything, in fact, I have completed the game and put a couple of hours just looking for stuff and I have still found under 75% of everything. Furthermore, you will find new creatures, environments and weapons which will spur you on to continue you exploring. When you find these creatures, you will have to kill them, the difficulty of this task varies considerably. Fighting the enemies is handled through locking on and shooting them. At first this seems a little simple and un-rewarding, but as your enemies get harder, you will be forced to dodge incoming attacks, find and face their weak spots and do all this in a narrow corridor. Space Pirates excluded, the animals fight with animal instincts. This feels really realistic as you will find each creature will have its own methods at defending itself and the colony. Fighting Space Pirates also feels great as they will roll and dodge your shots whilst maintaining a constant barrage of fire on your position.

Another genre that is mixed in with the game is platforming. In most instances this breaks up the combat and fits the adventuring well. However, because the game is in the first person perspective, this can some times be frustrating. As you can not see your feet, you can easily make a jump, but because you believe you may have over jumped you adjust your jump and thus miss the platform that you were aiming for. This problem is exalted by the fact that when you miss, you will invariably be sent right back to the first jump, which as likely as not will be just as hard. Some platform-centric rooms can take you over half an hour to clear, despite knowing that each jump is easy and perfectly possible.

One final genre included in the mix is some basic puzzle solving. Although the puzzles aren't as well thought out as something like Zelda, they do, once again, break up the action nicely and are fairly rewarding when you crack them. Quite a few of them are environment based, forcing you to study, and scan, your environments to find out how to reach an especially high ledge, for example.

Overall the gameplay is fantastic. Some times the controls feel a little dated after spending some time with Halo, but you will soon come to realize that the game isn't focused around the combat, and when it is, the challenge isn't hitting the enemies, but making sure they don't hit you. The only gripes I have are that looking up and down are unnecessarily tricky process and sometimes the platforming feels out of place in the first person perspective.

As for replayabilty, when you complete the single player you unlock the harder mode, which while I have not got very far in, my friend assures me that the difficulty is certainly a mark up from the normal difficulty. On top of this, many players, me included, will be tempted to go back and find all the things that they didn't find on their first time through, and believe me you won't have found everything. The game lets you carry on from your last save before the final boss, making it perfectly possible to do this. The game does not have multiplayer, but because of the lock-on control system, it doesn't feel missing. The main single player will take you slightly less than 20 hours excluding all the time you will spend finding everything.

In conclusion, this game is simply fantastic. This game is so well polished, you can see your reflection in it, literally. The graphics and sound add together to make one smooth game. The gameplay is a beautiful blend of different genres which culminate in great boss fights. While the game may not have multiplayer, the game has plently of single player and replayability to make up for it. Any slight quips about controls can easily be ignored, because this isn't just a great platformer/shooter/adventure it is simply one of the greatest games ever made.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Metal Gear Solid and Civilization Revolutions

Metal Gear Solid is Two Games

I was reading a post about the Wiis success in the gaming market when I came upon an interesting piece of news about MGS that I was unaware of. They are splitting the game in to two. The single player portion and the multiplayer portion. That would be absolutely outrageous anyway but it is the only AAA PS3 title left. Everything else is on the 360. The big PS exclusive was GTA, which will be coming out at the same time on the 360 with bonus content. This leaves the PS3 exclusive looking very weak, with BigPlanetLittlePlannet and Home being the only titles worth owning. A very good quote from the post is:

Imagine if you bought Halo 3, completed the story/single player mode, and then when attempting to go online, you get prompted to purchase an additional online pack for another 40 bucks.

Civilization Revolutions

For those who don't know, Civilization Revolutions is the ever popular Civ franchise ported, no sorry, built for consoles. It is currently confirmed for PS3, 360, Wii and DS. Obviously the Wii and DS seem to be the most suited to the game as they both have mouse like abilities. However, GS recently got to try a version for the 360. You use the joystick as the mouse and the face buttons to issue orders. To me, using the joystick as a mouse has always been a fiddly affair best avoided (as in the case of Red Alert for the PS2) however GS says it works well. Civ has the added benefit of being turn based, so there is no rush, however fiddly controls could put off console gamers as they will, in general, not have played many turn based strategy games, preferring action. None the less, I eagerly await this title as I may be able to use it to get more people playing full Civ on the PC

Now playing: Radiohead - In Rainbows (Their new album which YOU choose the price (even £0)
Get it here
via FoxyTunes

Monday, October 15, 2007

Halo 3 First Impressions

I have now played with all the main elements of Halo 3. Readers of this blog will be aware of my disapproval of Halo 2. I believed that it was massively over covered, yes the online was perfect, but the single player was weak, repetitive and short. Overall, I believed there was simply not enough content in the multiplayer to make up for the single player. However, does Halo 3 suffer the same problem? In short, no. Despite my prejudice against this game, I still left after playing this with a desire for more, much more...

The single player, of which I played in co-op mode, seems drastically improved upon. They took the good parts of Halo 2 and blew them out of proportion. The vehicle scenes are back in force, and thanks to the 360s increased power, the battles aren't restricted to corridors and small areas but now take place in massive planes with hundreds of units all fighting. The combat still follows a similar pattern and the game is still short, however repetitiveness is no longer an issue as it is fun all the time. As for the length, there are correctable skulls and Legendary difficulty, but ultimately the single player won't keep you for long.

The multiplayer is fantastic as you would expect. You will be fighting in teams and on your own for flags, skulls and kills online on Xbox Live. Building on the success of Halo 2, match making is easy and there are a wide variety of playlists for BTB (Big team battles) where you have 8v8 and Rumble Pit where it is all against all. One very interesting addition is 4 way matches. You play in teams of two against 3 other teams. As normal as that sounds, the chaos multiplies ten fold and playing in teams of two is loads of fun. My friend and I would go covering each others backs and making sure to avenge all deaths. It works particularly well in games such as Oddball as with all 4 teams going for the same space you get massive fights and one can be very lucky with two teams killing off each other and then you just run away with the Oddball! Overall, the multiplayer is, as to be expected, fantastic and fun.

One of the key elements added to Halo is Forge. Forge allows for on the fly editing. Basically, you can be fighting with a couple of people and then, press the D-Pad, spawn a Scorpion (preferably on someones head) and drive off. It isn't just vehicles you can spawn, you can spawn weapons,grav lifts, teleporters, explosive barrels even respawn points. The more you think about it, the more possibilities you will come up with. Forever exploding barrels (as all items respawn if they get destroyed), a fight on an arena of Grav-lifts etc etc. This feature adds a lot of replayabiltity to the game.

Overall, the game is a significant improvement on Halo 2 in all areas. The single player is much more fun and expansive, the multiplayer just keeps doing what is does so well and features such as Forge, the extended game mode customisation and the replays add up to make this a superb game for the 360 and if you have Live, there really is no reason not to own this game. Even if you don't have Live, providing you have two controllers you can have buckets of fun with offline MP and Forge.

Metroid Prime Preview Channel is out [Blog Update]

It has finally been released in the UK, the Metroid Prime Preview Channel, previously only released in America, has just been released in the UK. It is so cool and I now can't wait for this game, now only 11 days and 17 hours away! Another video will be released on the 17th. Graphically, the game looks quite similar to Metroid Prime 1, however, it is worth bearing in mind that this video is streamed over the internet and also, even if they are only mildly better than MP1, they are still very good.

Talking of Metroid Prime 1, I am nearly finished. I am on the second to last boss fight at the moment. I must admit that I did cheat slightly as I looked up the locations of the Artifacts, but I was pretty much right before, I was just not doing the right thing. However, I will have the game and the review finished by the 25th October.

On the release day of Metroid Prime 3, I will being posting a post that I will update with "Live Impressions". Every so often (5 minutes or so) I will post a sentence or a picture from the game. So, if you are interested, make sure you are here at 9:30ish GMT

My Halo 3 first impressions are nearly finished and I will release that some time today or tomorrow. I am currently doing work experience at my old school, so that is why I haven't posted it before.

I have received many updates for my Wii recently, each time getting my hopes up that it will be the Metroid Preview channel. One of them allowed the Wii to support USB keyboards. I do not have a USB keyboard so was unable to test this, however it has much further reaching implications. Namely, that through the updates, support for other USB items can be released, for example a USB headset or external hard drive.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Secret Nintendo Confrence

Stop the press every one. Nintendo have just held a "secret" press conference and there have been some big announcements. I will do them in least important order. Skip to the bottom for the most exciting

New Wii Game Announced - Super Mario Stadium Baseball

No real information has been released just a short video, which I haven't seen. Besides, baseball isn't a sport I am particularly interested in and Wii Sports Baseball dosen't need any more depth. Even online multiplayer or a proper single player wouldn't add much.

Everyone votes to get up sized

The service is set to expand to allow people to vote on games, and then using this data will suggest games that you like. Sounds good and very web 2.0, but I normally know what games I am going to like, as I do research before buying them. Will be good if you can connect to people with similar tastes to you. Like that will ever happen with Nintendo's policy on Wii Codes.

Some WiiWare titles announced

Main title mentioned is Pokemon Farm, which allows you to take your Pokemon of Diamond (and other versions) and treat them in a farm like environment. Sadly no mention of Gravitronix.

WiiFit Gets Release Date (In Japan)

WiiFit, the game that will feature the board demonstrated at E3, will be released on the first of December for Japan. No release data as of yet for the UK or America. Demonstration given and possibility for WiiWare titles using it announced.

Mario Kart with Bikes

Mario Karts release date is still Spring 2008, however, the game will come with the steering wheel and motor bikes. How this will fit in to the whole "Kart" theme, I am not sure, still I am not complaining.

Monster Hunter 3 Coming to the Wii

Previously a PS3 exclusive and a massive hit in Japan, this 3rd person action role-player is coming to the Wii. Yet another dent in the PS3. No release date has been announced yet

Sonic is joining the Brawl

Well we all knew it was going to happen, but it finally has. Sonic has been confirmed for Super Smash Bros Brawl. Incidentally, this title has been pushed back for Japan till January. No mention of the US release date, but I am sure that if the American release date doesn't get pushed back, there are going to be some raised eye-brows.

Online Co-op on Brawl

Just what I asked for, the game will support on-line co-op. They did not specify whether it would be the Sub Space Emissary but that was what was implied.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sony dosen't like the UK

Long term readers of this blog will be aware of my dislike of the PS3. Recently, my opinion had started to become less serve. The graphics were improving, I was starting to see the benefit of having a Media centre that wasn't owned by Microsoft (leading to propitiatory formats only) and LittleBig planet looks really good. Then Sony announced the price drop in the UK. The price will be reduce to £349. Still over priced, but it should be worth it now, as HD is about to become the standard for TV, and once that happens you're going to notice the difference when watching non-HD DVDs. This price includes two games.

However, Sony have just announced that the 60GB model will be discontinued, and when it runs out, it runs out. It will be superseded by a 40GB model, no free games and no support of PS games. This will be priced at £299. This is outrageous. Sony takes everything away from the UK. By next year, assuming that these PS3 sell, it will be impossible to get a backwards compatible PS3. Sony should just cut their losses, release the 60GB in Europe for £299, take the losses like a man and reap the benefits of a far more loving community. Sony has lost a lot of money from the PS3, a bit more isn't going to make any difference, but if they shift a million units in the UK, they are laughing.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Wii Remote "Jackets"

When I arrived home from school today, I noticed that my Wii was glowing. I nearly died of happiness, thinking that it would be the Metroid Prime Preview Channel. Alas, it was not, however, it was a message from Nintendo. The message main point was:

"We at Nintendo are continuously researching new ways to improve our products. On this occasion we would like to introduce, our latest development, a protective cover for the Wii Remote called the "Wii Remote Jacket"
The message then details on how you can get your hands on this free piece of equipment. It directs you to this page. I intend to order one, partly because I want to be more safe, partly because it is free but mostly so I can see what it looks like and whether it improves grip, as I will be playing Metroid Prime for very long sessions (in just 23 days!) so I want to improve my Wiimote as much as I can. If and when they turn up, I will take pictures of them and detail how good they are. Personally, I would recommend getting them, so that if anything, heaven forbid, does happen, Nintendo can't say "well you should have been wearing jackets." Besides, its free and could save your expensive TV

"All your base are belong to us"