Weekend Impressions: 'Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal'; 'Halo: ODST'; 'Gran Torino'; and demos galore!
September 27, 2009 § Leave a comment
I finally finished Bad Company this weekend and am now suitably happy about my gamerscore to move on (sad, I know). So, leaving that in my wake, I’ve played a little of the Forza 3 and Wolfenstein demos as well as ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, an XBLA title. ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE is yet another game about maiming zombies (those guys really need some political representation) and plays like yet another dual-stick shooter. It looks okay, but this sort of thing is getting pretty old now. Besides, they totally messed up with how the chainsaw weapon handles – and, as anyone knows, if you include a chainsaw in your zombie game then it must be both fun to use and look cool. The chainsaw in ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE fails on both counts; hence, they can forget the 800 MS points.
Wolfenstein felt pretty underwhelming, and although I probably will play through the game at some point, it looks like it’s only worth a rental. It’s hard to pin down exactly what doesn’t gel, but I think that they went in the wrong direction with the Veil powers, and the tone of the game feels sort of off. whatever it is, it plays out more like any number of generic shooters than a Wolfenstein game. Shame.
I’ve never played a Forza title before so I came to Forza 3 with little idea of what to expect, other than it being a driving sim analagous to GT. I played through the demo track twice with two different cars and, yes, it looks good; nonetheless, it feels devoid of any sense of real speed or excitement and, in short, it’s a bit boring. That said, I think it may just be the case that game is not for me. I have no interest in cars, tuning, paint jobs and all that jazz. I like racing and crashing into things and blue skies and an awesome soundtrack behind it all.
And here we come to another series of games I really should have played by now but haven’t. I’ve just started Halo: ODST‘s singleplayer campaign and it’s shaping up nicely. I’m still sort of transitioning to the controls, my last Halo game I played having been the original on the Xbox, but I like it so far. I haven’t even tried the multiplayer disk yet or the Firefight mode, so those are things to look forward to. Whatever some people might say, I think that the game probably represents a good deal for those without all the Halo 3 multiplayer map packs, and I have it on fairly good authority that the Firefight mode is pretty cool. Besides, even if the main campaign is short, if it’s enjoyable enough then people will play through it again, alone or together in online co-op, on the harder difficulty settings. My thoughts, at the moment, are sort of apathetic, though. I missed out on the Halo buzz that came with the second and third sequels, so I really don’t have much attachment to this universe unlike other people. Also, and this may be me, Bungie seem to make their level designs a little too “boxy” for my taste – artificial and inorganic. It was the same thing in the original Halo and I’m half surprised it’s the same in ODST. It’s an aesthetic thing more than anything else, but if you compare ODST‘s New Mombasa with Half-Life 2‘s City 17 then the former looks like a bit of a joke.
I managed to grab Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal for free during Telltale’s “Talk Like A Pirate Day” celebrations. It’s an amusing diversion and I’m sure that fans of either the series or of point-and-click games will enjoy it. I actually found myself quite getting into it until I got completely stuck and had to look at GameFAQs for the solution. And here in lies the problem with this genre: as soon as you get stuck, it stops being fun and becomes a case of randomly clicking at shit; no longer is it a test of logic and intelligence but a pointless exercise of trial and error. It doesn’t help that in these cases the solution is often so nonsensically convoluted that you’d only really stumble on it by luck. I should point out here that it’s not that I’m hating on Monkey Island specifically, but I think that it’s unacceptable that there is no mechanic in place to help the player when this happens. Jesus, just a hint button would be nice or some feedback from Guybrush. I don’t find it suprising that point-and-clicks fell by the wayside because it’s clear to me that they never evolved at all, and that which doesn’t evolve dies (profound insight indeed).
Lastly, I got around to watching Gran Torino last night – a film I’ve been looking forward to since I saw the trailer with Clint Eastwood growling at people to get off his lawn. Having now seen it, my conclusion is that it only just about works because of Clint Eastwood’s presence, because of his acting history and what we associate about him. The character he plays is a racist, xenophobic asshole, and it’s only because it’s Clint that the character is just about made likable. But, really, the script is so cliched, uninspired and predictable and not even Clint’s aura can hide that. The truth is, if it were any other actor the film would be crap. Actually, you know what word comes to mind, right now, thinking about it? Lazy. And way too easy.