Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Gamer's Diary - Fallout 3, Ridge Racer 6, Phoenix Wright, Prince of Persia 2008, Persona 4, Ridge Racer V, Fable, Lost Odyssey

Fallout 3: Recently I finished it a second time, in this case completing all the side quests first (except the one that requires the player to enslave others; I played a virtuous character). That done, I decided to let my randomizer pick the next game I'd play, and it picked

Ridge Racer 6: It has simplicity in its structure and gameplay. Some might say it has too much, and that may account for some of the mediocre reviews. Gameplay consists of driving and drifting, and progress of unlocking new cars. It has little else besides multiplayer. But I think the main problem most people have with it lies in its lack of a feeling of speed. Ridge Racer 6 doesn't give the player anywhere near the face-melting sense of velocity that either Burnout 3 or Burnout Revenge does, and not even as much as its own cousin, Ridge Racer for the PSP.

But I enjoy it well enough, the sensation of speed grows as I progress through the car classes, and I am steadily nearing the game's single player finish.

Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney: I had loaned my copy out and the borrower lost it, so I replaced it. Then I had to play it to make sure it worked. It sucked me in again, and now I play it from time to time in much the same way I reread favorite books. Knowing the answers doesn't lessen my enjoyment at all; instead it allows the story to flow more naturally.

Prince of Persia (2008): I originally felt pretty lukewarm towards this game. The series had gone downhill since The Sands of Time, and I expected more of the same from this next title, but with cel-shading and an artificially stupid companion. Then I read that the platforming and combat flowed naturally, and my interest began to perk up. Then I read that the characters and environments looked beautiful and animated smoothly, having the style not of a cel-shaded cartoon but rather of a painting come to life. Then I read that the developers had created an interesting and well-told story. Then I read that the voice actors had delivered solid performances. Then I read that the player controls the delivery of the story by (optionally) triggering each sentence of dialogue. Then I read that the game had virtually no camera issues, with it almost always placed to show the player what he needs to see. Then I read of the companion AI's elegance, with nary a pathing problem, no need to protect her, and that she never got in the way. I had become very interested. Then I read of hardcore gamer complaints that the game made things too easy for the player.

I bought it.

And all that I had read of it was true, from its art design to its story to its lack of difficulty. Well, not everything; it doesn't "play itself," and there are challenges to overcome, from tricky platforming sections to tough boss fights (well, tricky and tough for me, anyway).

I've enjoyed it immensely, and I consider it a contender for the best new release I've played in 2008.

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4: I liked what I'd played of Persona 3 - a lot, and the reviews for Persona 4 glowed, so I picked it up on release day. I've liked what I've played of it so far, despite it lacking 3's gimmick of releasing one's Persona by shooting oneself in the head with a magic gun, or the 25th Dark Hour of universal unconsciousness and stopped clocks at 12:00 midnight. This one will be getting more play.

Ridge Racer V: I popped this into my PS2 to compare it to Ridge Racer 6 and see if I dislike it as much as I remember. And I do. I don't see how it ever managed to get a score of 80. The game runs on the PS2, but has graphics not much better than PS1 games. I have difficulty handling the cars, often crashing into a wall rather than drifting around the curve. I also have trouble keeping up with the degree of difficulty; I haven't been able to win even the first race, and coming in fourth (the minimum placement to progress to the second race) took all my skill.

So to have fun with Ridge Racer V, I recommend this:

  • Remove the game disk from the console.
  • Throw it like a Frisbee. Or,
  • See how many pieces you can break it into.

Fable: The Lost Chapters for Xbox: I'd looked for this one for a while, having had it on my wishlist ever since I found out that the Xbox had it as well as the PC. I found it in a newly opened GameStop near my home. I tried it first on my Xbox 360, as I found it entered on the backwards compatibility list. Sadly it had a framerate on the slow side and would occasionally freeze for a good fraction of a second. I then put it in my original Xbox and it played smooth as butter. I'll play it when it comes up in random rotation. And I expect I'll give away to a friend my PC copy of it, and my Xbox copy of Fable.

Lost Odyssey: I'd had this on my wishlist for some months also, and finally the price dropped to a level I could buy at. Pretty graphics, interesting story, turn-based combat - just my kind of JRPG. It turns out the combat does have a timing-based mini-game, but it doesn't bother me much, as it presents far fewer annoyances than, say, Final Fantasy X. I look forward to playing more of it when it comes up in random rotation.

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