Sunday, April 26, 2009

Gamer's Diary 2009-04-17

Between finishing taxes and working overtime, didn't have time to game much until last night.

Amazon recently had Mirror's Edge for $20 USD as its Video Game Deal of the Day, so I picked it up. Sadly, they'd already sold out of the Xbox 360 version, so I ended up with a PC copy.

I also picked up Bully: Scholarship Edition for the 360 at the same time, as it was also $20 USD and the folks at Rebel FM Game Club recommended it.

The package from Amazon arrived yesterday, and while I waited for Mirror's Edge to finish installing, I put Bully in the 360 and started it up.

Rockstar is known for mining pop culture, especially movies, for its games. Grand Theft Auto and The Warriors are good examples of this. With Bully they appear to be tapping into any number of movies, television series, and books about teens and high school. The developers have mentioned movies like Sixteen Candles and books like The Catcher in the Rye.

The player will find all the usual cliques here: the jocks, the nerds, the preppies, and so on. Rockstar establishes the player's character in the first scene: an angry, alienated teen kicked out of other private schools being sent to the bottom-of-the-barrel Bulworth Academy by his divorced mother and her smarmy new fiancée. I'm only an hour or so in, but he's already gotten into fights with the rough crowd.

I'm expecting a lot from this one.

Mirror's Edge required only minor video adjustments to run well on my PC, and it looks great. I was playing it within five minutes of completing the installation.

For some reason, I find the actual game far easier to play than I did the demo. And once I get going on the free-running, I get a sense of 'flow' similar to the one I get when performing at the limits of my abilities in a sport or when dancing in the groove. Excellent!

Much has been made of the awkwardness of the combat system, but I haven't encountered it yet. Perhaps that's because I escape and evade whenever possible, only fighting when it's unavoidable. Or perhaps it's because I haven't needed to fight much yet.

Anyway, I think that after I finish the game and the time trial DLC, I'll probably go back and replay them. Not because I'm a perfectionist, I'm not, but because by becoming skilled enough to move through an entire level without stopping, I should get that feeling of flow for minutes at a time.

Love the art style. The predominance of blues and greys, of concrete and hard, shiny surfaces gives it the kind of totalitarian futuristic vibe one gets from the Citadel in Half-Life 2, and the architecture in movies like Conquest of the Planet of the Apes or Equilibrium.

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