Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Adam Bergstein and Assassin's Creed

When thinking about the games I am more excited about, Assassin’s Creed is by far at the top of the list. If you haven’t heard of this game, it means you own no gaming consoles and possibly live in that cave with Osama bin Ladin, you hater of all that is beautiful and good in this world. Assassin’s Creed is a game set during the Crusades, and you play Alta├»r, an assassin battling the corruption of the Crusaders. Your goal is to slay 9 key figures orchestrating the Crusades. What makes this game unique is that every trailer and cut scene are rendered in-engine and on the fly. This means that this is the most beautiful game ever made to date.

Also of note is the fact that you can interact completely with the environment, and I do mean completely. Walls can be grabbed, rafters swung on, and this also includes the crowds of people. If you shove through a crowd it’s quite likely that they will shove right back, and if you start climbing up a building, the people below may start screaming, drawing attention to you. Just thinking about all the acrobatics that it must take to climb over a city like a playground wears me out. It just makes me tired.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Adam Bergstein and Dungeon Hero

Amongst the announced titles at E3 I really look forward to a little game called Dungeon Hero. At first glance this appears to be another random dungeon crawl hack n’ slash, but the name is ironic. Watching the trailer you get a very different viewpoint of the dungeon world. This particular dungeon isn’t a treasure trove of gold and riches housing fiendish ghouls and nasties just waiting to attack any human that seeks their loot, it’s more like subsidized housing. I am a lover of innovation in gaming, and this game fulfills that in spades. It takes a recognized genre and turns it on its ear. I can’t remember the last dungeon crawler I looked forward to playing.

Much like Molyneux’s announcement of another Fable title, Dungeon Hero looks like it will be a fascinating exploration of already explored worlds. I admit, I am more than eager to spend some time down in that dungeon. No word on whether or not you will get to play as a dungeon dweller, but either way this game makes me wish more titles looked at themselves with a sense of humor. If there were more innovative games on the market, games that attracted non-gamers and those who just like a good story, we might start beating some of the horrendous accusations lobbed at the gaming community. But no, companies continue to release crap title after crap title. It just makes me tired.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Adam Bergstein on Harmonix

Harmonix is taking themselves pretty seriously these days, especially when it comes to their new game Rock Band. Apparently they are setting up an advisory board of rock stars and musicians to err, advise them about what music should go into the game. The guy they chose to head their crack team of experts is someone called “Little Steven,” which sounds more like the little mouse from the children’s movie than an expert on modern music.

I’m sorry, but I fail to see how this will ensure the games success. We already know what songs are popular. Anyone who listens to the radio could sit on that advisory committee and do just as well as “Little Steven.” What it all comes do is Harmonix trying to make themselves into some legitimate musical entity instead of what they are, an incredibly successful video game developer. Come on, embrace who you are. All this grandstanding is annoying. Knowing that Harmonix is ashamed of who they are is equally annoying. “Little Steven” is annoying. It just makes me tired.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Adam Bergstein on the Sony E3 Keynote

The Sony E3 keynote was both fascinating and boring. I loved seeing the possibilities of what they are going to do with Playstation Home. The rending on these environments rivals the realism we see in the Grand Turismo series. The images I have seen have been of Japanese varandas overlooking mountains so beautiful I wish I could move there. Interestingly enough, it looks like they are expanding the Home network to include mobile devices, something the Nintendo Mii system has yet to implement. I think this is a very smart move for Sony, tapping into a new market that has huge potential for success. I really think that the mobile networks are really missing a social environment, and if they can build phones with the capability of rendering toned-down versions of the Home spaces, this could really explode for Sony.

Reading through the titles they were releasing reads like a love letter to the PSP, as if somehow they haven’t already lost the handheld war to the DS. Not one to give up easily, Sony has decided it’s time to whore themselves out Star Wars style, and brought out Chew Bacca to introduce a lighter and possibly Star Wars-themed PSP. The PSP is not a breakfast cereal, guys, come on. It’s as if they haven’t figured out that they lost the war, and are still spending tax dollars and the lives of army personnel to try and fight the incredibly successful DS that continues to innovate. You’re Sony for God’s sake, you don’t need to wrap your products in a Disney cover. Just let the PSP die before you make complete asses of yourselves. Oh wait, too late. Overmarketing is the stupidest thing Sony could do at this point. It’s annoying, it’s frustrating to witness, and it just makes me tired.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Adam Bergstein and the Nintendo E3 Keynote

The Nintendo keynote address at E3 raises some interesting questions. How many women really play video games? Is Nintendo regressing in technology? Want a video game that knows how much fat we have? The beginning of the keynote explained that a larger increase in female gamers is evident in today’s gamer population. 33% of gamers are women between the ages of 25 and 49, which is a substantial increase over previous years. Nintendo would love to claim responsibility for this statistic, which is why they bring it up. I think it is more a case of people recognizing that female gamers are out there. The gamer girls have been there all along, only now there is a statistic to prove it.

A few new snazzies were announced at Nintendo’s toned down keynote, the first being the Wii Zapper. I fail to see how regressing back to the origins of video gaming is somehow a revolution. The light gun is the oldest of old school technology, and so I’m a bit disappointed that this is the great innovation from ultimate leaders in gaming technology. The same goes for their second release, the Wii balance board, which harkens back to the Power Pad available on the original NES. Yes, the Wii balance board can measure weight, center of gravity and BMI, and yes it’s wireless, but I fail to see how this is some great leap in technology when they’ve done it before. All this borrowing from previous years might be smart, but it’s not new. It just makes me tired.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Adam Bergstein on Little Big Planet



It’s Friday the thirteenth, and so I would first like to just say, welcome all you superstitious readers. For me this has never been a day to dread, but rather a day to enjoy. Friday the Thirteenth is much akin to leap year in my personal belief system. It’s a day that is special by virtue of being unusual. It’s not every day that a date comes around with this much significance. This is the sort of day I like to take as a personal holiday, like a birthday. It’s the anniversary of America’s collective paranoia, and I love to celebrate those sorts of milestones even if they are small ones.

The trouble is, of course, that the deadlines don’t recognize my personal holidays, and E3 certainly isn’t going to pause just for my benefit. Yesterday saw some gorgeous trailers and releases. There’s too much to go through all in one sitting, so I’ll just pick one. I have three words for you: Little Big Planet.

There is so much that I can call innovative in this game it’s not even funny. Much like Pikmen, Little Big Planet is all about the group dynamics. The strategy of this game requires you to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each member of your group. Each little adorable character has abilities that will help the group along. Also, the player can interact with everything within the environment, another amazing advancement in game play. And when I say everything, I mean the player designs the character and the environment. You place objects in the game that you receive as “swag” as you go along. This is the sort of deceptively simply game that I can imagine sucking up whole weekends because it just looks like a hell of a lot of fun. I cannot wait to play it. Knowing that I have to wait for it is not only killing me, it just makes me tired.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Adam Bergstein on E3 Releases

There are a couple of exciting releases highlighted at E3 so far. I say so far because it’s only just beginning, but I am particularly interested by several titles out there. The first being [Mass Effect (http://www.gametrailers.com/player/21471.html?e3i=1&type=mov)] , a game that promises to bring tight story and plot to science fiction gaming. God I can here all the fanboys drooling over [Halo3 (http://www.gametrailers.com/player/21469.html?e3i=1&type=mov)] but honestly, I’m tired of the series. Mass Effect promises much of the same game play with an interesting storyline and phenomenal graphics to boot. Oh, I’m sure Halo3 will do well, it already has exploded in the beta, and I love what they did with the ARG, since I’m a fan of the Lost alternate reality game running this summer. Check out my site, [Adam Bergstein is Lost Beyond the Looking Glass (http://www.adambergstein.org)] for more info on that particular obsession.

What I don’t like, however, is how a series is somehow viable for sequels just because the previous games were popular. It’s almost as if we expect video games to churn out newer versions of the same old tripe. Take the Madden series for instance. Yes, we will see a Maddon ’08, ’09, ’10, but do we really need to? Isn’t it just fine enough to play the older games with the same lame quips? It just makes me tired.