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Brad Gallaway's blog

Phantasy Star Portable: pros and cons

Contrary to popular rumor, the Best of Community feature I've been plinking away at is still alive and kicking. I had to shelve it for a little while for various reasons, but I have two reviews that need to be posted tonight, and once those are in the can then I'm going to focus my full attention on getting the first installment of Best of Community up and running.

In other news, I never saw this one coming but the PlayStation Portable's Phantasy Star Portable has been getting the majority of my playtime lately.

One reason is that I've been on the go much more than usual lately, so the "portable" aspect has a lot to do with it. That aside, it's been a while since I played a good level-grinding loot-fest, so this one is fitting the bill. It's not one of the genre's best and it's certainly not as good as it could be, but it definitely has a certain charm.

Calling Juarez and plus-size Phantasy

I needed something to play on the PlayStation Portable since I knew I'd have some time to kill. Scanning the shelves of used titles (and trying not to imagine a future where this is no longer a reality) I found myself strangely attracted to Phantasy Star Portable.

Although I enjoyed a couple of the original Phantasy Star games back on the Genesis and spent some time with Phantasy Star Online, I can't really claim to be a huge fan of the series in its various incarnations. The more recent titles have been especially lacking in my opinion, and although Phantasy Star sorta paved the way for online console MMOing, the developers don't really seem able to keep pace with current trends for various reasons.

Getting back up to speed

I'm completely behind schedule in terms of reviews which is a little embarrassing since I pride myself on being an industrious, high-output kind of guy, but I'm making the effort and slowly getting back up to speed. At the moment I'm still chugging through Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood on PlayStation 3.

Call of Juarez and Magic: The Gathering addiction

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood Screenshot

Started Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood on PlayStation 3 tonight. I was having a little trouble keeping my eyes open so I didn't play past the first two chapters. However, it definitely seems better than the first Call of Juarez so far. It's still not a graphic powerhouse, but the visuals have improved and I'm always a sucker for a Western (or Western-ish) setting.

Thanks to GameStop, I now know that Lair sucks

Just from the description Lair sounds like a can't-miss, but it was savaged in the reviews at the time for a number of reason—one of the primary ones was that control of the dragon was linked directly to the motion of the Sixaxis instead of a more traditional setup. I tried it briefly and found the controls as atrocious as most said, so I quickly moved onto other things. However, I was aware that Factor 5 had produced a download patch that gives players the options for standard flight controls using the sticks, and considering that I needed a third game to get one free, I was willing to give it another chance.

Interview with Dan Eriksson, producer of Bionic Commando

Bionic Commando Screenshot

If you've been reading this blog then you will know that I was quite impressed with the recent Bionic Commando game, updated and re-imagined by Swedish developer GRIN. So impressed, in fact, that I felt motivated to track down someone on the development team and ask them a few questions about their superb effort.

Thankfully, Bionic Commando producer Dan Eriksson was quite willing to chat with me for a bit about the work involved in reinventing such a classic game.

Prototype... and a couple of spoofs

About a month ago, I started getting a serious open-world jones, and being as tight with my discretionary spending as I am, it wasn't really an option to buy both Prototype and inFamous brand-new. Naturally, since both games are basically the same thing in large part, the feverish comparisons began. Which one had more of what I want? Prototype had some killer videos out on the Internet to show the wide range of abilities, but I had total faith in Sucker Punch and have been a fan of theirs since the beginning.

It was a tough choice.

Still loving Bionic Commando... and other ramblings.

Have I mentioned yet that I love GRIN's Bionic Commando? Love. It.

If you haven't given it a spin yet, don't be scared off by the overly-negative reviews and see what it's got to offer. Despite finishing it a few days ago, I still can't get it out of my head. And the ending? Although it's been categorized as completely random and nonsensical, I didn't find that to be true at all… I'm not going to spoil it, but I thought it was pretty amazing for a few reasons.

Bionic expectations and the E3 Podcast prep

Expectations are an important issue to deal with for anyone, but doubly so for a critic. After all, we are supposed to be "neutral and unbiased" when we evaluate, right? Of course, it's absolutely impossible to be without some sort of penchant or leaning—we wouldn't be human, otherwise. But, although it's not realistic to sit down with a game and approach it as a completely blank slate, managing expectations is something that could, and should be done.


Take, for example, GRIN's reimagining of Bionic Commando.

E3 2009 Quickies: Day 2

Today brought the Nintendo and Sony press conferences. I haven't had a lot of time to digest the total of what's been announced today between these briefs and the wealth of other information floating around the intarwebz right now, but after keeping up with as many tweets as I could and scanning the online presentations, here are some quick takes:

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