Last week was my birthday, and if there's anything I love more than getting books, it's getting video games. I'll admit that I'm a kid at heart - that will hopefully never change - and I absolutely love picking up a new game and seeing what great adventures, stories and characters are out there. It is truly my belief that a video game, if done right, is merely a great story accompanied by reader interaction, visuals and sound effects. Great stuff!
My wife took me to Bookmans and I nabbed a few games with some store credit she had: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, Resident Evil 4, and Goldeneye: Rogue Agent, all for the Playstation 2. I nabbed Dragon Quest on the referral of my good friend, Paeter, because I have been looking for some good RPGs (role-playing games) on the systems I already own. Goldeneye: Rogue Agent was one I grabbed because I had played it on my brother's Gamecube years ago and decided I would try out the game in its entirety. And Resident Evil 4 has just been on my list for a while now.
Along with those, I was able to use some other birthday funds to grab a game I have been wanting for a great long while now - Muramasa: The Demon Blade, for Wii. Out of all of the games, I just recently ended up returning Resident Evil 4 simply because the controls were too frustrating for me. I'm going to keep my eyes open for that game on the Wii though because I don't think there's anything wrong with the game itself, it was just the way the controls were set up on the PS2. In its place, I picked up The Conduit for Wii and Dark Cloud 2 for the PS2.
Most of these games I've been able to play for a couple hours already so I decided to give my thoughts on each one. The only one I haven't tried yet is Dark Cloud 2, but I plan on playing that one this weekend at some point. I won't give my thoughts on The Conduit yet because I haven't played that one too terribly long.
Dragon Quest VIII is an absolute blast. The game is easy to get into, I didn't find myself pressing the start button to try and skip my way through every cutscene. The exploration in the game is crazy awesome and the battles haven't become boring yet in the least, which brings me to my favorite part of the game: variety. I've played RPGs that made me yawn and close my eyes in the middle of battles because the same creatures pop up over and over again (games that come to mind are Magna Carta: Tears of Blood and Xenosaga).
One of the cool things about this game is the day and night cycle. Daylight will turn into a starry night and, depending on if it's day or night, the characters in towns and interactions with certain things will be different. Very nice. The cell-shade animation is easy on the eyes (reminds me of Rogue Galaxy's graphics). So far I love this game.
Goldeneye: Rogue Agent is what it is. I like the game because I love FPS (first person shooters) but this game lacks a little in the variety department. It's nice to be able to wield duel weapons and it did take me a little while to learn how to multitask with the PS2 controller to make each one do its thang. The enemies are uninspired and the upgrades you get to your Goldeneye aren't all that impressive or really needed all that much either. They might be more useful in the harder game modes, but I'm not sure. Another mark against it is that it feels very short. I think I'm coming up on the last couple levels already (unless there are others I can unlock) and I haven't been playing the game that long.
A plus to this game is the fact that you can earn little achievements for using environmental traps to kill the bad guys or taking well-placed head shots to your enemies. Those things add some variety to the game, but I'll have to play through the whole game first before I decide if this is one that will stay in my collection or not.
What I did play of Resident Evil 4 was nice. A gritty horror that scares the crap out of me when I turn my character around and there is a zombified villager hurling his pitchfork at me. Creepy! The only complaint (which I stated earlier) was the controls on the PS2. That is why I returned the game and hope to find it on the Wii sometime soon.
My absolute favorite of all of these so far is Muramasa: The Demon Blade. The visuals in this game are absolutely gorgeous. The animation is fluid, the storyline is well done. I was a bit thrown off at first when I found out the characters speak in Japanese, but with English subtext, I got over this in the first ten minutes of the game.
There are many secrets, many enemies and many roads you can take in your journey which leaves room for replay. A complaint in this area though is that there is no easy way to go from one city to another. You can find a traveling cart of sorts to take you from A to B, but they are spread out and only go to certain locations (from what I have seen so far). You can also find a consumable item that will teleport you to the last save point you were at, but that only helps to a certain point. There is a bit of backtracking, but with the random enemy encounters, it doesn't bother me enough to stop playing the game.
In the game you can cook with recipes you find throughout your journey. Things you cook will restore life and spirit points and give you added benefits throughout the game. You can forge different swords (which I think is one of the strongest reasons I like the game besides the visuals) and use the swords to destroy the mayhem you come across.
The game is played out by two different characters. Each character's path is unique and you can switch between the two. From what I've read, each path has different bosses and swords, so it lends to a lot of fun customization and items retrieval.
With all these games, I'll just have to be vigilante in keeping an eye on my time management to make sure I stick to my writing and marketing goals. I still play Half Life 2: Deathmatch on the side and dabble in Guild Wars when I get a chance - I am still waiting for the sequel to come out.
Good thing you can never have too many good games.