September 2008

Halo 3 Title Update

September 23, 2008

Bungie announced today that the next time you fire up Halo 3, expect a mandatory title update. What’s in the update you ask? Well, how about a bunch of new achievements? Also included is a Playlist Ratings function and some administrative features for the Bungie team to ban all those cheaters out there. For a list of all the features with more details, click here

NPD has released the monthly numbers for August. The big news on the software side is the release of Madden 09 and its associated gangbuster sales. Meanwhile, hardware sales haven’t deviated much from the recent status quo.

The NPD retail month of August is a 4 week month that started on Sunday, August 3rd and ended on Saturday, August 30. Since August is a 4 week month like most NPD months, but other months are 5 weeks, most comparisons and trends will be drawn using weekly averages instead of the monthly totals. This allows for a more accurate understanding of what’s happening that isn’t broken by different months covering different time spans. We’ll start at the top of the list and work our way down. The first number will be this month’s sales, followed by the weekly average in parenthesis, then last month’s sales with the weekly average, and finally August 2007’s sales and weekly average. READ MORE

Deadliest Catch is a sim. You won’t feel like a deck hand, engineer, or medic after you’ve completed a season. Alaskan Storm is all captain all the time, and it hurts the experience because the most interesting parts of the show aren’t plotting courses and deciding were to drop pots. Sure, you can watch your crew, but it’s impossible to join them.

Deadliest Catch is a good simulation though. You make the same sorts of decisions that captains on the show do, and if falls to you to upgrade your ship, hire deck hands, and decide where to fish and how long. Simulated King and Opelio seasons are the meat of the game, but there is more available for those that enjoy a more structured game.

Deadliest Catch has a mission mode that concentrates less on fishing and more on the types of situations seen on the show. You’ll navigate your giant ship down the Yukon River after picking up a worker, you’ll take control of the Coast Guard cutter Mellon to catch poachers, you’ll park your ship in tight spots, and you’ll compete in harbor races in a dinghy. Sadly, the missions are over far too quickly and then you’re right back in either simulation mode or multiplayer simulation mode.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with Alaskan Storm, but it’s slow and methodical (like real crab fishing must be) and that doesn’t translate well into a video game. If you’re a die hard fan of the show and really want to catch some simulated crab then you’ll enjoy Deadliest Catch. Everybody else would be wise to steer clear.


September 2, 2008

Braid is unique in many respects – it’s a platformer with a story, death isn’t permanent, and it is full of clever time manipulation puzzles that don’t repeat. To be certain, later puzzles will incorporate things learned in previous head-scratchers, but you’ll never look at a puzzle and say A

Wolf of the Battlefield is the second sequel to Capcom’s popular arcade shooter series: Commando. Much like in the previous games, you take on endless hordes of enemies in a scrolling shooter, giving players a nostalgic experience. A question remains: is WOTB a positive nostalgic experience?

You take control of one of three characters, with whom you go around and shoot stuff. With that out of the way, I could basically finish the review, as this is all that the game is about: shooting stuff for five levels with a number of different weapons and vehicles. Oh yeah, you can rescue captured POWs, but they are pretty useless.

Run-and-gun games can be fun, especially if playing with other people, but Commando 3 makes a fatal mistake. You are permitted to die only so many times per level, and if you die more, you need to start all the way from the beginning of the game. This was probably acceptable in the 80s or 90s on an arcade machine. Today, it simply is not. Casual gamers simply will not have the interest or the patience to play for six hours, only to keep dying on the last level, and having to start from scratch for the sixty-seventh time. Though it can be considered rewarding when you finally beat the game, it’s probably as rewarding as building a sand castle, only to have a huge tidal wave destroy it before you complete it. While you can select levels after you beat the game, it will have probably pissed you off so much that you won’t bother.

Graphics are nothing special. Environments are different every level, but within the levels, there is not too much variation. The same could be said about the music and character design too; simply nothing special or varied.

If it weren’t for the tiny, yet game-breaking detail, WOTB could have been one of the better arcade shooters out there. Now, however, I can only recommend it to hardcore and desperate arcade-shooter fans.