Tag Archives: Xbox 360

You’re Doing It Wrong!

I suspect a cunning double-bluff of some kind...

When confronted by this kind of genuine pleasantness online, I must sadly confess that I’d be expecting a sucker punch of some kind.  Sad, huh?

(Via Reddit)

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“Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” – frustration, vindication and flashing blue icons…

As I’ve stated previously on this blog, whilst I love playing the new-fangled video games, my enthusiasm for them is often tempered by being bloody hopeless at them.  And yes, I have tried sucking less, thank you very much.

Some twitch-reaction gamer’s four to six hour single player game can typically take me between ten to twenty hours to finish, so I tend to take a while to catch up with titles which have long-since left the hardcore gamer conversation as they’re ever onto the next thing (the upside of my deliberation and slowness in completing games is that I feel like I get more value from gaming than somebody who plays a couple of levels and trades a game in to get the next new thing – could be delusional on my part, but I prefer my approach).

All of which is a long way round to talking about my initial experiences with MercurySteam and Kojima Productions reboot from a while back, “Castlevania: Lord of Shadows”.  I mentioned last week on the blog that I picked this up in the slow implosion of UK retailer GAME’s recent stock clearance and I’m happy to say that it’s living up to my expectations so far.

Moody. Mysterious. Mental.

The gameplay is a lovely hodge-podge of things you’ve played before, with the challenges of redesigning a classic 2D series for the 3D era met in mostly elegant and exciting ways.

The heroic weapon of choice in the series, an Indiana Jones-style bull whip, is redrawn as the Combat Cross – an in-no-way over the top, heavy-duty weapon of Him Upstairs, which can be used to help hero Gabriel Belmont climb surfaces, mete out violent death to arcane supernatural beasties and, perhaps most importantly, to pose moodily in the frequently driving rain.

Just a traveller/Walking down a lonely road/Werewolves want to eat me/But I don't want to know...

The major criticisms that I have at the outset of the game are its familiarity – look, there’s a set piece which is quite like “Shadow of the Colossus”!  Hey, there’s some art design ripped from the noggin of Benicio Del Toro! – and the locked, unyielding camera system which would try the patience of the Dalai Lama (were he the kind of reincarnated living deity who played modern third-person, action hack-and-slashers).   Not enough to stop from playing, although the difficulty spike in the first boss battle had me heading for YouTube for a walkthrough to try to figure out why I was being chucked around like a rag doll and where I was supposed to be jumping (that’s where the flashing blue icons in the title come in – you have to climb up the guy below, chip away at his health by smashing the blue icons on his body and then hang on for dear life as he tries to flick you off his body – it’s a bugger of a gig, let me tell you).

Titan up - see what I did there? No? Oh, please yourselves...

The acting – by the likes of Patrick Stewart, Robert Carlyle and Natascha McElhone – is pretty decent for a game, although the scripting and dialogue lean rather more towards ‘overwrought, fan fiction cheese’ than I might otherwise like.  I have to confess that my experience with “Castlevania” as a series is less than it perhaps could be but I have to imagine that this kind of archetype-heavy, breast-beating drama is par for the tooth-baring course.

Lots of anguished looking to heaven, wondering why Our Lord has forsaken his servants and let Evil run unchecked – you can probably guess the kind of thing.

I’m really quite enjoying, nonetheless – it’s a gorgeous game, which has characters, environments and animation to rival the leading-edge likes of the “Uncharted” series on the PS3.  The music’s quite lovely, too and the gameplay, whilst ever so bloody derivative, is still good stuff – it might be based around combat, puzzle-solving and exploration which you’ve seen executed elsewhere, but the standard of that execution is key to the success of this game.  Everything’s done so expertly and with such love for this kind of action experience that any memories which it conjures of previous titles can be set aside.

On the evidence of what I’ve seen so far, Mercury Steam are a video games developer to keep a close eye on.


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Live action “Mass Effect 3” ad affects massively…

How about Sheffield City Hall for a change, invading alien overlords? Haters...

Any doubts that one might have had about the desire of games publishers to appeal solely to core gamers are neatly underlined by the new ad for “Mass Effect 3” – the wholly ambiguous and in no way on the chin “Fight” teaser, which you can see here.

Not looking good for the church's new roof fundraiser...

So, small children in the midst of civil unrest, young lovers embracing as the blasts hit and pious folks taking shelter in a church and major American landmarks getting jacked up – all good stuff to use to reach out to the folks who think that games are still like Mario the Hedgehog on the Nintendo Playstation.

Yep, that's a live-action ManShep alright...

One thing’s for damn sure after checking out this advert – you can see where EA are spending your Collector’s Edition cash …


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Kinect “Star Wars” video – worse than “Phantom Menace”?

So. Much. Wrongness. In. One. Screengrab.

Via the intrepid nerdologists at NeoGaf comes this cringe-inducing look at the upcoming “Kinect ‘Star Wars'” game for the Xbox 360, which reveals categorically that Microsoft may know how to get their console and peripheral into people’s homes but they can’t make video content to save their lives.

Cheesy appearance by R2-D2?  Annoying perky presenters designed to appeal to the Normals?  Lack of anything approaching a relationship to gaming credibility?  All present and correct.

It’s this kind of thing which makes me embarrassed to self-identify as a gamer, as a fan of “Star Wars” and as a nerd.

To think – I thought that the worst “Star Wars” related thing I was going to see this week was that bloody Vodafone advert…

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Microsoft SpaceBucks To Go Bye Bye?

Eurogamer reports today that Microsoft are preparing to phase out their unloved virtual currency, Microsoft Points, by the end of 2012.

Microsoft Points - good riddance?

Moving instead to payment based on regional currency in the territories where Xbox Live, Zune Marketplace and similar MS platforms now operate, this development might well bring a song to the heart of any bleary-eyed gamer at 2:00am who can barely work out how to stand unaided let alone negotiate the confusing territory of the computing giant’s virtual money and it’s idiosyncracies.

80 points equals One British pound does it?  Not for much longer, if a report first published by Inside Mobile Apps is to be believed (I read it mostly for the riveting coverage of proactive synergies in the hand-held market space, don’t you know?).

I’m sure that this will be an entirely positive development and not just an excuse for prices to climb astronomically based on the price of the dollar against the pound and vice versa – because Microsoft wouldn’t dream of doing anything like that, of course…

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Today in consumer idiocy…

Via Reddit.

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Reminder – Xbox 360 dashboard update hits tomorrow

Rest assured, "FIFA 12" will never besmirch my console's integrity...

Just a reminder that Microsoft are due to release the latest revision of the Xbox 360 dashboard on Tuesday 6th December – with Bing search integrated (with Kinect support, too, if you’re on the motion control train) and a LoveFilm application included if streaming films is your cup of delicious builder’s tea (the best kind, obviously).   More stuff is scheduled to roll out between now and the end of this year, with some kind of as-yet-undecided BBC presence due in the first quarter of 2012.

No news yet on whether that constitutes full iPlayer integration for UK Xbox users or something of a catch-up digest, with selected programmes on offer.

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