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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Video game number sixty five: Darwinia+

Video game review number sixty five in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Darwinia+".

Darwinia is a pretty interesting game that I played on Xbox Live Arcade. You start out in digital world that looks a little like "Tron", where you are given a quest by some strange professor to save the "Darwinians". Everything is very "blocky" in this game, from your little stickman soldiers to the snakes and spiders who will try to kill them. These predators are viruses, infecting the Darwinian computer world, so that all makes sense to me.

There are elements of real-time-strategy to this game (you have to lead your little dudes from point A to point B without them being killed). You have to flip switches to transfer your guys, and clear a path for them using the standard twin stick shooting controls.

I really like the gameplay, but have a major gripe that is making this game frustrating for me. The objective is never clear enough for me. Often, you're supposed to lead the Darwinians somewhere, but there is no clear indicator of where that place is on-screen. The professor narrates your objectives at the beginning of each level, but he never specifically points out your goals. This means that I often ended up with a level completed, all my enemies killed...and I didn't know where to take my Darwinians. Trial and Error doesn't work, because every time you send them in a direction, you lose one. Do that frequently enough and you won't have enough to meet the goal to pass the level.

There are youtube guides I found that walk you through this, but frankly...if you NEED a youtube guide to pass a game, it's probably not the game for you. That's how I feel anyway. I put between 5-10 hours into this one, but progress is very slow because I keep getting stuck. With a few simple UI tweaks (an indicator that shows you your goal, perhaps?)...I think this game could have been great. As it stands, I find it a little bit frustrating...and that's what steered me away from it.

Overall socre? 5/10. Great potential...but in my opinion, the campaign is just a bit too confusing. Difficulty is fine, but I don't like completely beating a level and then wondering "Hey, what next?" every time. One of my coworkers beat this all the way through, and he thought it was a really good game. I think this is one of those cases where you should definitely play the demo and see for yourself whether you like it or not. If you have the time to invest in unraveling the mysteries of Darwinia, this game could be awesome. I don't have the time...I want that instant gratification, damnit. :-)

Video game number sixty four: Greed Corps

Video game review number sixty four in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Greed Corps".

Greed Corps is a turn based strategy game where you control little units, resources and buildings on a map that slowly deteriorates while you try to kill your opponent. I like strategy games from time to time, but this one has no story or anything. They just give you a few units to control, some money...and you're off to the races.

If the units were interesting to look at, or the animations when they killed someone were cool...this might be a cool game. Unfortunately, the graphics in this one look like they were designed for the Gameboy Advanced, and the gameplay moves at a snails pace. The music sounds like a tune you might enjoy if you were in the elevator at a nursing home. I'm not sure why they thought a nice slow jazz song was the perfect background for a combat game, but it plays over and over again. I think that they might possibly be trying to lull you to sleep, so that you'll dream happy thoughts of this game instead of experiencing the sad thoughts you have while actually playing it. This game is totally awesome....in your dreams.

I didn't enjoy this at all. Play the demo before you waste your 10 bucks on it. Overall Rating? 2/10.

Achievement? I got one. They are VERY few and far between in this game...and I have no intention of grinding to get them.

Video game number sixty three: MLB 2K10

Video game review number sixty three in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "MLB 2K10".

This game was released today and I played it within hours of it going on sale. Why? Because the first person to pitch a perfect game in this game gets a million dollars from the developers. This isn't in-game money, this is actual cash to spend in real life. It's an awesome idea for a contest, and I had to partake. I had never played an MLB 2K game before, but how hard could it really be?

This game was exactly like what I imagine playing in the Major Leagues would really be like for me. I couldn't get a hit to save my life, not even in batting practice. When I was pitching, the batters hit on me like I was the only hooker at a bar filled with sailors on shore leave. When I was on defense, fielding even the easiest hits that came towards me usually resulted in the ball going right by. Even base running was a challenge. This game is fucking hard.

I love baseball, but I haven't played many baseball games since the old school days, mostly because somewhere in there...they got too complicated for me. I miss the "Hit "A" to swing, "B" to pitch" two button games of my youth. These days, you have to time your swing, then move the right stick back and forth...then pray you'll make contact. There's a "classic" control scheme, but it's not much better. I sat in the hitting drills, and threw 80 pitches at my hitter, but I think I only made contact with 4 of them. All of those hits were probably luck.

Pitching is just as hard. It's like pulling off moves in street fighter. It's a button/joystick combo, and you have to get the timing perfect. Again, I went to the drills (which is the closest thing this game has to a training mode)...and I couldn't nail even one pitch. They give you three tries on each of the types, but I never successful threw any of them.

I played a couple of full games, hoping that I might get the hang of it, but the computer scored 6 runs in the first inning in the first game (which I restarted), and then promptly beat me 10-0 in the second game. I suppose that's actually improvement.

My overall rating might surprise a bit. I'm giving it a 6/10. My first instinct was to give it a 2 or something, because I couldn't pick it up and play it. Even a few hours later, I wasn't getting any better. There's no tutorial, the instruction book is worthless....so if you've never played one of these games before, you can expect to suck the big one.

Still, even though I couldn't figure out how to play it...I have to admit that it's a pretty good game. The graphics are amazing (it's like watching a baseball game on TV), and the player rosters are updated in real time. There are modes to create your own player, and an online multiplayer mode to compete against other people online. The controls are impossible for a noob to learn, but I recognize that if I am ever able to get good at this game, I'd probably really enjoy it. I'm too frustrated to keep playing right now, but maybe I'll find someone I know who is good at it, and they can give me some pointers.

I posted a little video of my adventure trying to get a million dollars: It's pretty funny.

Achievements? Somehow...I managed to get a few.