Thursday, 15 May 2008

Time for another review methinks

It's because I'm bored and there's nothing to do for 8 more hours until work. Anyway, I think it's time I talked about a game that didn't involve mindless killing and destruction for once. Viva Pinata. Note: Though the killing and destruction is infact there, it's more childlike, and nothing actually dies.
Viva Pinata is a sandbox game in which you make a garden for a load of paper mache animals to come live in. Sounds boring? You'd be wrong. And shut up. The game is surprisingly addictive. Remember when The Sims first came out and you spent your days playing that, doing the same things over and over? This is the same. You clear the junk out of the garden, plant some grass, get upgrades on tools, build houses and plat seeds, sell things to buy more things, and get animals to move in. Then you get your garden expanded, and you o the same, but with more space. But the key mechanic of this game is that it's fun. It just goes to show that you don't need guns and dead bodies to make a game fun.
While we're on the subject, if a Pinata does 'die', the paper mache splits to splatter sweets onto the ground, which the other animals come to eat. While that's happening, the paper mache bits float in the air, and reform outside the garden boundary. I found this a fun way to cover up the fact that your child's prized worm just died. It also allows you to technically 'kill' the same thing many times, which could be quite satisfactory.
There was a time in the game when I didn't think about selling the random bits of fruit to make some money, and spent all my time mating my worms and birds. Everytime you try to mate two pinatas, you have to go through a maze mini-game, where coins litter the place. You can get up to 20 coins each time. This meant that there was A LOT of incest in my garden, as I was saving up for a lamp so a moth could move in. This kept me amused for a while as I realised it was a kid's game and I'd just destroyed the innocence of it.
That, and the penis shaped pond didn't help.

Monday, 5 May 2008

No-one's ever blogged about this game before!

It's GTAIV week! Even though I haven't actually managed to get a copy yet, I've played a mate's copy for a few hours. I've been told by a tutor that 15 minutes is all you need to get a feel for the game, so this should make me an expert. Right? Strangely, most of this time was spent progressing through the story, rather than the homicidal rampages which used to pop up after completing a few missions, getting bored, and realising you're holding a loaded firearm in a crowded area. From what I've seen, the story is amazing. The characters actually seem like real people, rather than gangsters who just tell you to go to point B and kill person X because they stole a cherry pie from them last week. (For the record, I'd say this is a pretty good reason for ordering a hit on someone.) The characters are given in depth back-stories, most obvious being the main character, Nico. Nico actually has a reason for his sharp shooting, unlike the previous GTA games which basically insinuate that the character is a really lucky shot.
The map is enormous and really goes to town on the scenery. It may be using the same name as the city from GTAIII and GTA: Liberty City Stories, but that's all it has in common with it's namesake. (That, and the ridiculously high crime rate.)
The cars' handling is more realistic, making the chase missions that little bit harder until you come to terms with it. The 'cartoony' explosion is long gone, with different parts of the car catching fire, before exploding into a fireball and engulfing nearby pedestrians. The wreckage is sprayed all over the place, with the chassis still on fire for a while afterwards. It's not just exploding which makes the cars inoperable anymore either, with the engine failing after one too many hits to that tree.
The NPC aspect of the game has greatly improved, with the pedestrians no longer walking over corpses in the street not paying attention to the strange man with a rifle aiming at them in the distance for some reason. Speaking of which, corpses have actual physics now! Imagine my surprise when I walked over a guy I beat to death with my car, to see that he rolled over depending on how I walked over him. Cue 5 minutes of me running back and forth over him. Which brings me to my other point. The bodies stay there and don't just disappear into the ground, only to be replaced by a chalk outline and a blood spatter. I've not yet found out how/when the bodies do actually vanish, but I'll keep on the case. (Which means my killing will be for science. FOR SCIENCE I SAY!)
There are many more things I could talk about, like how mature the game seems over it's previous violence hungry predecessors, but I'm sure you've all actually got a copy of the game and are too busy playing it to actually read this. Sorry for distracting you, now go back and kill that hooker.