Monday, July 12

Best Laid Plans

In order to focus my energies this weekend I picked a genre: First Person Shooter; and even nominated some titles to play through; but I never got around to it. A psychotic, talking bunny and a 6 foot-tall dog wearing a suit hijacked the better half of the weekend. Sam and Max: Hit the Road was one of my favourite games during my childhood, where the Point-and-Click Adventure game reigned supreme for quite some time. With a dry, quirky sense of humour, the original Sam and Max featured some of the more memorable characters and (albeit nonsencial) puzzles I've played within this classic genre of videogames. More than 15 years since their debut on the PC, the Freelance Police have now made their way to the Playstation 3.

Unfortunately, PS3 owners have been made to follow on from Season 3 (The Devil's Playhouse) of the comedic duo's episodic adventures. Having now completed the first episode, The Penal Zone, I can't help but think the best days of this genre are well behind us. Sure the laughs are there, and the puzzles will force the occasional scratch of the noggin, but the whole process felt tiresome, dated, even redundant. This observation extended to the gags as well. I'm not saying that the standard of the humour was purile, but apart from a few restrained chuckles, laughs were not assured thanks to the hit-and-miss jokes employed throughout the episode. Thankfully, the episodes are now being made available individually so you can judge if the full season would be of interest; but for those of you (thanks Rubes) who paid for the entire season initially, this is a bit of a gamble. The second episode, The Tomb of Sammun-Mak is proving to be much more interesting due to the non-linear nature of the narrative, however once again the laughs do not occur as consistently as you might suspect.

Another contradiction to my words on Friday for your consideration: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker  had several protracted tours over the weekend. More challenging boss battles were punctuated by simple, yet entirely necessary micro-management, as well as some good, old-fashioned target practice. In its predecessor (Portable Ops), the recruitment and troop management system seemed pointless. In Peace Walker, with the exception of the Recon team,  the troops you employ can reap some tangible benefits that have noticeably enriched the experience. Further into the game, you can deploy squads of your recruits, as well as any vehicles you acquire to various conflicts, which in turn earns money for research and development (R&D). Any upgrades to gear and equipment can be used by the combatants you control, and by the soldiers you dispatch to various conflicts across the globe. Militaires Sans Frontiers is now packing fully-upgraded rocket launchers and tommy guns. Classy! Navigating through the menus is seldom tiresome, and the conflicts peripheral to the main adventure do require some consideration if you are wanting to expand your arsenal and make the most of your time in Nicaragua. There is a whole mercenary economy at work here which at times demanded more attention than the adventures of Naked Snake, and given the quality of the voice-acting and illustrated comic cut-scenes, that is a compliment of the highest order.

Finally, a tip of the hat to the Oranje boys who put one hell of a fight against Spain. They may not have come away with the trophy, however I am still proud of the team and their efforts at this year's tournament. Go Nederland!


  1. A good run down, but par for the course! Interesting that we've both revisited the good old days with the adventure genre over the weekend in some form or another. I dipped back into Broken Sword - my all time favourite adventure game - and found it even more delightful than when I played it a long, long time ago. Over a decade!

    I agree that the new Sam & Max games don't have that charm about them that the old one did...I dunno, the transition into 3D sorta takes away from that whimsical feeling Hit The Road had. And, as you said, the writing isn't really up to the same standard as the other ones. Still, anything to get the young 'uns into adventure games again.

  2. I have never played any of Broken Sword games, I'm obviosuly missing something? Have you ever played Full Throttle? Best use of battery-powered bunnies in a game. Ever!

    I think I'll persist with Season 3, but I won't be falling over myself to boot it back up again. I'd be interested to see how I would have felt about the game if it was in beautiful, hand-drawn 2D. Oh well.

  3. Ah, the first two Broken Sword games are brilliant. It went 3D, and while the story remains okay...something was lost when it became a direct-control game - kinda like Escape From Monkey Island. You can pick up the second Broken Sword game at for six bucks, well worth it.

    To be honest, I enjoy the LucasArts games, but not to the extent of everyone else. They're good and all, but any game that uses the "band-aid with rubber duck and lightning rod" kind of puzzles give me the shits. There's just a beautiful procedure to the Broken Sword experience that doesn't require that quirky LucasArts jumble inventory solution.

  4. Sam and Max is one of the few games where I was required to resort to a walkthrough. Embarrassing :(

  5. I am a fan of the old Lucas arts, but I agree that sam and max gives a few little giggles and not much else.

    I didnt mind pre purchasing it because 1 good childhood memories, 2 tris you have purchased a fair few games that i have downloaded off of you so its all good.

    Still Mass effect has my full attention, replaying Mass effect 1 at the present.

  6. Seriously dude, Mass Effect is your MW2! LOL Only difference is the Mass Effect is actually a really good game! Oh well, come November I will move onto Black Ops, which is looking pretty cool, and will hopefully get rid of all the bullshit.

    On topic, I never played Sma and Max, I was into thinking while playing games when I was younger(still not really).

  7. Who needs an imagination when LucasArts is providing the funnies? I'm with Rubes, great memories. Even the old SCi games like Kingdom O' Magic hold a special place in my heart.

    Black Ops Sambo? Venture outside the first person pescpective, you might find something you like.

    Has anybody played the new Transformers game? I played the MP demo and I thought it was rubbish, keen to hear about the solo experience.

  8. I will not be heading into any new avenues for a while me thinks. waiting til move, I feel Bioware has me covered for quite some time, I realised i had eb gift cards and got myself dragon age again so i could finish it with my warrior finally.

    Ahhh Bioware you know how to make games for me.

  9. Your dogged commitment to Bioware RPGs is commendable Rubes. I'm going to try and get back into Mass Effect 2, but for now I can't see what the fuss is about. Should I bother with Dragon Age?

  10. I have moved into other genres, but honestly, there isn't really anything new in games anymore. I have played every type of game, and I am kinda over the games like AC2 and RDR (which by the way is really repeatitive).

    However I am thinking of picking up FFXIII, purely because I haven't played one in a while and I think it would be something to distract me.

    And I enjoy FPS because of the competitiveness and the fact that no two games are alike.

  11. If you don't like RDR and AC2 then odds are you would not love FFXIII. It travels at a snails pace.

    I know RDR is repetitive, but I think that is kind of the point. Much like GTA, you build your profile by living the life of lawman or criminal and you earn your redemption/revenge. I loved it.

  12. I get that I have to be consistent, but seriously, the missions do not really vary. And I think the fact that I have played GTA for how long now, it has become a pretty stale formula.

    And I like the grind of FF games. I don't know why. RPGs are where I am at (let's be honest, COD is a grinding FPS, I am playing for achievements now!).

    I loved FFXII (Not the best in the series, I know) and Oblivion, because I could see my character getting better, with better stats, better equipment, etc. In RDR, the only way I see if I am improving is what I can buy. I can't do anything any better, which i always though was a pitfall of the genre (probably anotehr reason why I think San Andreas is the best GTA, as it had a real RPG feel to it).

  13. I agree Sambo, the GTA mission structure was really starting to irk me in RDR. The whole Mexico section to me was proof that the Rockstar San Diego team was running out of ideas. So many boring missions with about 10 minutes of travel and dirty work for characters I didn't like. The final chapter in Blackwater so good though, similar mission structure but much better characters and dialogue.

    Oblivion is one of the games of this generation. Anyone who disagrees either hasn't seen how beautiful Tamriel is when you first escape gaol. or they have forgotten.