Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gamer's Diary - Max Payne, Burnout 3, Mercenaries

Max Payne: I ordered the Xbox version of this at the same time as its sequel (cheap!), and it arrived in the mail Tuesday. So now I can give away my PC version and still play on a console.

I had no problems playing it on the Xbox 360, beyond a barely-noticeable hitch when the comic book cutscenes start. I had fun spending an hour with Max. I like this Max better than the one in the sequel. He has an edgier look and a more distinctive face. The Max of the sequel looks more generic, more bland. The world-weariness and sardonic attitude don't show through in sequel-Max's face.

I also like the over-the-top 40's pulp crime story monologues. It goes so far over-the-top that one cannot take it seriously, and edges into parody of the genre. By contrast, the sequel does seem to take itself seriously, and as a result delivers grimness rather than humor. It makes Max Payne 2 less fun.

Don't get me wrong though; I liked both games. I just have a little more love for the first one.

Burnout 3: Takedown: The Picker selected the PS2 version of this for me to play. If I had to summarize this game in two words, I'd choose "bottled fun." With the face-melting sense of speed, the rough and tumble of takedowns, the joy of unlocking even more insanely fast vehicles, the brilliant destruction of crashes, the widescreen 480p graphics you wouldn't have thought possible on a PS2, the energetic music, and the mayhem of online racing and crashing, this game contains the perfect storm of ingredients for making an awesomely fun evening.

I only have two minor complaints to make about Burnout 3. First, the over-excited radio DJ, "Atomica", gets wearisome after a while. Second, the aftertouch camera points in the wrong direction. How can I guide my burning wreck into the path of racers behind me when the camera is looking ahead?

Except for those two tiny items, Burnout 3: Takedown delivers a truckload of fun.

Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction: The Picker chose this for me Wednesday night. When I first bought the game, I didn't understand it. I thought it a linear game, with a single path through the objectives and movement outside that path restricted. So I played it that way and got bogged down in killing an inexhaustible supply of enemies.

When I played it Wednesday night I decided to go straight for the next objective and only kill the enemies that got in my way. I soon found that I progressed much faster playing that way, and discovered that the game actually offers an open world with various missions to complete, GTA style.

In fact, if I had to choose a more descriptive name for the game I'd pick something like "GTA North Korea" or "Crackdown North Korea". Instead of a criminal you play a mercenary, instead of a city you have a country, instead of working for criminals you work for the U.N. coalition forces, and instead of doing crimes for pay you capture North Korean war criminals... for pay.

I had a lot of fun with it.

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