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PAX, Portland retrogaming, Case Zero, Vanquish, and The Prince returns

Brad Gallaway's picture

PAX Prime is THIS WEEKEND. I will see you there.

If you're going to be in or around the Portland area this September 18th and 19th (and you're not completely dehydrated from PAX Prime) you may want to make your way down to the Portland Retro Gaming Expo.

Taking place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel near downtown, there will be free-play, arcade machines, exhibits, common areas and more, all devoted to the roots of everyone's favorite pastime.

Presale tickets are available. If you end up going, make sure you tell them "HI!" from me!

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero Screenshot

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero hit Live today, and I was only too happy to download it.

For those who don't know, Case Zero is a bit of a weird beast. It's essentially a demo for the full version of Dead Rising 2, but not exactly—this demo has been reworked into a complete micro-adventure that gives players a real flavor for what the larger project will be like. It comes with its own achievements, and players who complete it will be able to carry over stats and items into the main game. If you ask me, this is a pretty bad-ass idea and I'm diggin' it…

… Or at least, I was diggin' it until the game kept booting me out to the main menu without giving me a chance to save any of my progress.

When I turned on my 360 this evening, I queued up five or six different things that I wanted to download and then got rolling in Case Zero. Unfortunately, every time one of the other things in my active downloads completed, it completely interrupted gameplay and kicked me out of my session. I've never had this happen to me with any other game, and it took me a minute or two to figure out what was going on.

Once I put two and two together, I stopped playing until the downloads finished—or at least, until I thought they finished. There ended up being one more that I had forgotten about, and when I lost progress that last time, I decided to pack it in and start fresh in the morning.

I really, really like what I have seen of Case Zero so far, but Capcom should have caught this hiccup before releasing it. Granted, it's not a huge deal, but it was certainly irritating enough to make me stop playing it for the evening, and I expect better quality than that for a paid transaction.

I also tried the Vanquish demo, a little slice of the latest project from Shinji Mikami and Platinum.

So.... the game.

It's quite beautiful, I give it that. I found the graphic quality to be outstanding, and seeing something that looks as clean and as detailed as this certainly makes me think there's plenty of life left in the old 360.

Nier Screenshot

 As for the rest... Well, I'll have to say that the jury is still out, but I'm not getting very positive vibes.

It's hard to tell from just a demo, but the characters and dialogue didn't do much for me and the bits we got seemed like a crazy lovechild from Halo and P.N. 03. I have a sneaking suspicion that unless there are more design surprises in store than what was in the demo, it might end up feeling very samey and repetitious.

It's way too early to call it, but my caution meter just rose a few increments. It's now yellow.

Moving away from downloads, I wrapped up my second playthrough of Nier and saw the B ending. I'm glad that I went through that second time because the second ending really did add quite a bit to the experience. That said, I wasn't really up for replaying a third and fourth time (especially after finding out that there was a lot more collecting of things to be done) so I just YouTubed the C and D endings.

Interesting stuff to be sure, but after having seen all four, I think I was best satisfied with just A and B.

Last but certainly not least, I elected to go with Prince of Persia: the Forgotten Sands as my next console play. (After that? Deadly Premonition, I'm fairly certain.)

I'm a pretty big Prince of Persia fan, and I like the crazy-surreal platforming gameplay the series has been known for since its big reboot in 2003. It certainly gets more than a little ludicrous at times when you look at how these "castles" are designed for nothing but an un-engineerable high-wire act, but leaping from ledge to ledge feels great, and there is a certain thrill in having a character that's so agile.

I'm liking what I'm seeing so far (it's a hell of a lot better than what we got with that bizarro never-die re-imagining last time) but this is coming from someone who is already predisposed to liking the franchise and who is basically okay with keeping grains of salt nearby.

Putting my fandom aside for a moment, the premise that this game is supposed to actually connect plot-wise with the original trilogy is a bit laughable. I didn't even try to swallow that one, and instead I see this title as a stand-alone one-off regardless of what Ubisoft says.

Talking about the Prince specifically, he's mad ugly. I don't know for a fact that the developers were actually trying to make visual connections between the Prince and Jake Gyllenhaal, but whatever their intentions were, all they ended up doing was making him look really odd and disconcerting. I ended up playing the first big chunk of the game with the Prince wearing Ezio's outfit from Assassin's Creed II since it did a good job of covering him up, but let's get serious—that little Italian shoulder cape is hyper-fruity.

I ended up changing back to the original outfit, but if Altair's costume had been the choice, I would've went with that.

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Glad to hear you're digging

Glad to hear you're digging Case Zero despite the hiccups. There are a few other little glitches that I spotted while playing, but nothing that actually kicks you out of the game. Glad you at least figured out how to get around it.

I'm actually pretty excited about DR2 after playing Case Zero. It's got enough of the original DR stuff to keep the old school fans happy, but it feels like they took some of the criticism to heart and actually worked on improving the experience. At 400 MS points, this thing is a no-brainer unless you just absolutely hate zombie games.

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