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Finishing The Force Unleashed

Polished off Star Wars: The Force Unleashed this afternoon, and it was a pretty fun thrill ride from start to finish.

I have to admit that I had heard the gameplay had some problems before I started it, so I set the thing to Easy and I'm glad I did. The developers have a real over-reliance on snipers and people firing from a distance which wouldn't be so bad except that it's far too easy to get knocked down and fall into a gang rape as you bounce back and forth between enemies. There's nothing more frustrating than getting ping-ponged without the chance to really do anything, and even on Easy it happened to me more than I like.

The Force Unleashed and getting an early look at Halo Wars

I'm still catching up with games from 2008 that I never got a chance to get around to… this week, I'm trying Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on the 360. I'm definitely a Star Wars fan (although less so since the new trilogy ruined everything) but I've got to say that so far, this one fits into the canon pretty well and I really like the tone. Playing as Darth Vader's secret apprentice is a neat concept, and LucasArts nailed his character design—his costumes all exude a sort of low-level wraith-like quality, and although I'm sure that there are only a finite number of ways to carry a lightsaber, this new "behind the back" style is pretty hot.

Are nonlinear, open world games a dead end?

Far Cry 2

I've been noticing lately that I've developed a fairly strong preference for short, linear games over the more open world "sandbox" style ones. Taking a look at some of the games I've played recently (e.g., Call of Duty 4, Gears of War 2, Portal, Mirror's Edge, Grand Theft Auto IV, Far Cry 2, and Fallout 3), I can see a clear pattern emerging in terms of what games I'm more likely to go back to, or in some cases which games I'm simply more likely to continue playing through to completion.

I'm also starting to believe that the whole idea of the nonlinear, free roaming game as some sort of holy grail for the medium is a bit bogus. We've already seen some pretty damn amazing open world games, but what I'm discovering is that there doesn't seem to be anything particularly earth shattering about these games that, for me, makes them feel that much more profound than the more scripted stuff.

The Maw Review

A heartwarming tale of a boy and his... sentient, mobile mouth

The Maw Screenshot

HIGH Looks and feels just like a standard retail release.

LOW It's over way too soon.

WTF Any potential sequel is going to have to take place on a much larger scale.

Prince of Persia Second Opinion

"Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courageto move in the opposite direction." —Albert Einstein

Prince of Persia Screenshot

HIGH Effortlessly running, jumping, and climbing across the entire game world.

LOW Lightseed collection gets extremely monotonous.

WTF The final "battle" where your opponent is apparently a drunk Pokémon on steroids.

Game critics: Are you experienced?

Street Fighter II - Stephen Totilo's nemesis

Two articles touch on the subject of experience behind a game critic. The most recent example is MTV's Stephen Totilo not being adept at basic moves for Street Fighter II, a heralded and historically important game series.

As video games mature, so does its criticism. Totilo and N'Gai Croal bring a certain air of legitimacy in the mainstream media that many other writers in the industry lack.

However to maintain a level of balance and fairness, a critic needs to be very well rounded.

Doing a hurricane kick in Street Fighter is as basic for a gamer as what a film lover would do in citing a movie like Annie Hall or Citizen Kane.

Sure a gamer need not necessarily need to grow up in that era, or be heavily involved in the culture.

But imagine if a movie critic knew nothing of Annie Hall? Or Raging Bull? Imagine a videogame critic not even knowing how to do the most basic move in fighting games?
As long as the critic is forthcoming about it, I don't think any credibility would be lost.

However, and more importantly, I would know who to trust less.

Prince of Persia Art Gallery

Prince of Persia Review

Beauty plunged into darkness

Prince of Persia

HIGH The beautiful art style and incredible palate of color.

LOW Simplistic gameplay that fails to provide a challenge.

WTF Why is Elika encumbering this game?

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