|The swift justice of the Vorpal Blade really shows off A:MR's visuals.|
After another week of playing, I’ve seen even more of the alphabetically prime Alice: Madness Returns and Alan Wake, the latter of which I finished last night. Asides from that, I took some time to try out a couple of releases; some new, and some not so new on the XBLA Marketplace.
After many mostly-dreaded playing sessions, Alan Wake finally drew to a close tonight. I know it’s an ongoing and repetitive mantra that I chant, but I still feel as if Silent Hill 2, in its excellence, has corrupted my experience with the survival horror genre. I was wholly unsatisfied with the ending and I want to believe that, à la Silent Hill, it is because I was at fault, rather than the game drawing to a rushed and lazy close. Around every corner, Remedy’s Alan Wake threatens to reveal and unleash a seriously great story, something truly engaging and affecting. Largely, in my experience, the majority of the story exposition was polluted by far too much wandering around. It’s painful to play through an entire game, and then have begun and climaxed the story in the same location. Some might call it coming full circle, whilst I feel as if I simply spent many hours wandering through forests and all manner of darkened endroits for no apparent reason. Too much of the story feels as if you reach somewhere, only to relentlessly turn back; to be sent to find another abandoned location to wander through. The gameplay becomes repetitive a little too quickly for my tastes, and the enemy balancing makes it feel as if each encounter is either manageable to pass, or else mostly reliant on luck if you wish to see the other half.
|If you stare at this screenshot for around eight hours, that'll|
make for a decent simulation of the gameplay experience.
Speaking of Alices, as far as visually-arresting games go, Alice: Madness Returns goes from strength to strength. Platform games have never much tickled my fancy, however Alice often reminds me of one of the few platform games that really engaged me in my youth: Rare’s N64 classic Banjo Kazooie. First-off, the enemies are of that similar cute-but-deadly ilk, such as Alice’s Cannon Crabs, who are currently my personal favourites among her foes. Secondly, there is level design which, and I am emphasising particularly here the underwater levels, really brings to mind areas such as Banjo Kazooie’s Treasure Trove Cove, alongside general art direction similarities that I find hard to express here in words. Finally, and what perhaps invites association the most for me, is the use of enjoyable character dialogues between Alice and the title’s various NPC cohorts. Oftentimes the information is crucial and driving for the story, but is coloured by a certain tongue-in-cheek tone, all of which is exaggerated by the fairy-tale setting, something that BK did brilliantly in its day. Before we move on, a common criticism is that the game’s chapters/levels outstay their welcome, and I am inclined to agree. I’m not sure if it’s a by-product of the typical modern games experience, but I expect most if not all sections of a game to not push me further than an hour. Much more than that, and I start to feel as if time is being wasted that could be better spent elsewhere. Alice and Alan are both guilty of this over-stretching throughout.
This weekend, my girlfriend and I decided to give our Magic the Gathering starter packs a whirl. She got a white set, led by Ajani Goldmane, whilst mine was a black set, led by Liliana Vess. If you know anything about MtG, then you might perhaps be better equipped to resolve our confusion, but after a number of games, we concluded two things: 1) MtG is ridiculously complicated, even at entry level, and 2) She really enjoys MtG. I remembered that a friend of mine on Live used to play MtG on his Xbox, and so I went in search of the demo so that she/we could try it out. I came back with two versions of essentially the same game: Magic the Gathering, and…
|Card games benefit from translation into video games.|
MtG is no exception.
The purchase of MtG resulted in me being granted my own 800 points to play with, and thus much browsing of the XBLA has ensued. I’m tempted to go for Rez, having seriously enjoyed the first-level taster that the demo gave me. In spite of the enjoyment, though, I’m wary of the game being largely a repetition of that first level, but would that be such a bad thing? The storm rages on.
|The most untrue 'full version' I have ever downloaded.|
|The boss fights add a well-integrated level of tension to|
the puzzle solving.