On character creation (and avatars)

April 25, 2008

I like men. I really do.

This post is nowhere near as academic or investigating as the title might suggest. Expectations lowered? Alright.

I’m getting pretty jaded with character design these days. For once,
I’d like to play a failed, unemployed guy in his mid-forties. Perhaps a heavyset man who tires quickly? In short, I want weaknesses and flaws – not muscle, beauty and competence. As I’ve understood it, Eternal Darkness (2003) lets you control an array of characters with no apparent skills nor good looks. I like that. It gives the characters a certain depth, unlike those soulless, muscle-flexing idiots you usually get to manoeuvre. Always so tough and able. I’m sick of it. Just give me a paraplegic in a wheelchair, or someone with racial issues and a drinking problem – a real bigot, a mediocre backpeddler. I’d like to take that journey, please.

On a more positive note, and as an example, the protagonist in upcoming Alan Wake features an author, who’s suffering from insomnia and writers block. Taking refuge in a backwater town, the monsters of his nightmares soon arrive to plague him. Which is believable and realistic in some aspects (not the monster part, right?). That title is perhaps where my hopes lie in 2008. Let’s hope it doesn’t slip into the fiery depths of 2009. The new Alone In the Dark will also feature one certain Edward Carnby, who’s supposedly not too handy with a gun. Ooh, I’m gonna enjoy dying over and over again! Also, Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy) tried a different route, and there’s always trusty old Gordon Freeman, the silent protagonist. I think things were better back when the avatars didn’t talk so much, as there was less attitude to put up with. Can you guys name a few other characters that felt inspirational and interesting instead of tired and shallow?

(Update: Rumours indicate that Alan Wake has indeed slipped into the fiery depths of 2009. Goddamn it.)

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Professor Layton demo (Flash)

April 19, 2008

Do as I say and try this. You will be a better person for it.

Everyone should head over to the Professor Layton website and try the game demo, which also includes some of the fine animated scenes from the game. Then, if you haven’t already, read my review of the game, further down on this page. Enjoy!


Confessions of a Spore whore

April 10, 2008

Omnivore. Carnivore. Herbivore. Sporewhore.

Chances are I would sell my body to get my hands on this game. That’s how bad I want to try it. Anyway, after gushing about Civ Rev (which also shares the curved world phenomenon, if you compare the screens), I thought I’d mention some other titles that are on my list for 2008, and Spore is certainly one of them. This game, if you somehow managed to avoid reading about it, lets you create a species and guide it from the origin of life through various stages of civilization and technology, all the way into the far reaches of outer space. To be more precise, your creation will start off in the Tidal Pool Phase as a tiny single celled organism and then progress as you continue to evolve, eventually crawling onto land. The last segment of the game is called the Space Phase, where you traverse the galaxy in flying saucers, visiting (attacking) other civilizations, exploring the solar system, perhaps with the intent to colonize and terraform, all in the name of galactic dominance.

Spore is due out this September. If you haven’t already, I urge you to take a look at the Eno/Wright seminar for more insight to the mechanics of the game, such as evolution and generative music. It’s also coming to the DS, but it will be watered down and sucky. Oh, and all my pictures have floating captions, in case you’ve missed it.


Review: Professor Layton & the Curious Village (DS)

April 9, 2008

4/5. Dawson’s intrigued. Heed his advice!

Professor Layton and the Curious Village (the title is reason enough to import this, you hear) is all about puzzles. In fact, you’re constantly bombarded with them for each step you take in this point-and-click adventure, and there’s well over a hundred puzzles for you to solve, with more coming every week as downloadable content. Even though there’s not as much investigating as the title might imply, and even though you might recognize most mechanics of the puzzles presented (if only in that slight familiar way), you need not worry, as there’s plenty to go around before you’re done with this. Now take a look at the character art. Looks like a Studio Ghibli production, right? Damn right. Add some splendid music, wonderfully animated cutscenes and the occasional spoken dialogue, and this Level-5 release is exactly what your heart and soul needs. If not easily swayed by cuteness, you might need to brush up that intellect of yours. Simply adorable.
(Try the demo at the official website.)

4/5


Waiting for Sid Meier’s Revolution

April 2, 2008

Clearly not the DS version.

I’m hoping that Sid Meier will deliver the goods come June, when Civilization Revolution drops. There has been lots of previews lately, and most importantly, a screenshot from the DS version. Now, as I’ve explained before, I’m a reformed PC strategy nerd. These days however, I want to play expansionist games in airports, in bed, or even in my bathroom. I also have the need of holding a cup of coffee in one hand, so there better not be any buttons to press whilst managing my troops. Granted, the DS version looks like Civ II or some mobile phone version, but that doesn’t matter. Age of Empires proved that the DS is a well suited platform for strategy gaming. Full circle. Anyone else with high hopes?