June 8, 2009 7 Comments
I’m taking a bit of a break from WAR. Not because I dislike the game or anything. I just don’t want to burn out on it before LotD drops. I picked up two console games for my PS3, Mirror’s Edge and The Orange Box. I tore into them for most of the weekend. Much to my wife’s chagrin. Unfortunately, she sees the family room as her domain, and anyone foolish enough to enter needs to survive combat with the hydra she turns into upon suggesting a use other than what she has determined. Luckily, the multi-headed beast naps frequently, and the soothing music from Mirror’s Edge helps to lull this creature into a long sleep.
That said, I’m really sad I have drifted so far from my console roots. These two games have done so much to restore my faith in console games. The first game I purchased when I got my PS3 was Assassin’s Creed, and I was actually disappointed with it. It was a fairly fun game, but it just felt slow. Running around on horseback between cities, climbing the same structures and jumping into the same hay bales over and over got real old, real fast. It’s interesting, and the story is okay, but I still have yet to finish it. I just became apathetic to the game as a whole.
But now, look to Mirror’s Edge.
This is probably in my top 5 games of all time now. It is that fun. Aesthetically, it’s amazing. The architecture nerd in me is loving all the details and composition of the city-scapes. The senses are all incredibly crafted, and strong bold colors are used to paint all the scenes, but done in such a way that it isn’t glaring or harsh. It just works, and find yourself having an emotional response to each color. The implementation of this is what they called “Runner Vision” and it really is one of the strongest characters in this story. Speaking of, the story is impressive. It’s the not-so-distant future, and society (or this city at least) has two sides to it, a clean, pristine utopia of consumers, and a dirty underworld of those who live on the edge, defying the norm. So far, flashbacks have given insight into some riots and protests that occurred before the great whitening of the city, but details are still pretty vague. It’s all set up for a great story of dirty corruption behind a veneer of sterilized safety. The physics and audio shouldn’t be ignored either, since the whole game pretty much revolves around that working correctly. The increased momentum from getting a longer distance to run, the thud you hear and feel every time you miss a landing and slam into the side of a building, the scrambling and scraping noises that are made while trying to pull yourself up from said edge, the smooth swinging off of horizontal bars, and the sickening crack of bones when you fall to your death. Even my wife was grossed out by the last part. There are options to do time trials, but I haven’t finished with the main game yet, so once I have, I’ll get on that, but until then, I’m just enjoying the game.
The Orange Box has been a hell of an experience as well. Ironically, I have yet to play the core Half-Life games, and have only poked about in Team Fortress 2 and Portal. Either way, Valve struck gold again with both of these. Team Fortress 2 really is a staple FPS game, very loose gameplay and a plethora of choices to make in what role you want to play. Nine different careers that you can hop in and out of in the middle of a match, and a handful of fun, well crafted maps to blow shit up in. It’s a very interesting stylistic choice for gameplay that should make you think of the movie “The Incredibles”. A very straight lined, blocky style with bold colors and intriguing details. Apparently, there are achievements you can get from playing the game, and items you can pick up. I can’t tell you where I got this news specifically, it’s just random musings I remember reading on the interwebs. I really enjoy the Scout class, it’s insanely fast, can double jump, and packs a decent punch up close. A dented, metal baseball bat is his melee weapon, and a sawed-off, double-barreled shotgun is his primary. The scouts secondary ranged weapon is a simple handgun. I feel like I’m just zooming all over the board, causing havoc wherever I go. The downside so far is that this game apparently supports voice chat, but I don’t have a compatible headset for the system.
Portal is an entirely different beast from TF2. It’s a puzzle game, but fun and quirky with a great sense of humor. Playing a female lead in the game (that’s becoming more popular, gender boundaries falling?), the reason seems to be a bit muddled. A robotic voice is in communication with you at all times, explaining the different levels, or making sarcastic comments about how impossible each challenge is. She sometimes also offers suggestions on how to avoid death and informs you of other unpleasant side affects you may have as a result of using this device, like melting teeth. The physics in this game are really impressive as well, and throwing yourself off of a ramp 45′ above a portal that shoots you horizontally out of a wall to reach a far-away platform is pretty damn impressive. It’s weird, but something really makes me want to buy a shirt for this game, and gets me thinking of funny t-shirts that could be made to market this gem. A shirt with the Portal symbol over the left breast, and on the back the list of side-effects that are rattled off to you in the intro. Or just a black shirt that has the Aperture logo on it.
Either way, I’m sure a lot of people have played these games already, but I don’t tend to buy console games when first released, it’s just too damn expensive. I picked both of these up for $42 US on Thursday (I think that was the day). That’s less than a brand-new PS3 game, and I technically got 6 games out of it (3 Half-Lifes in the orange box). When it comes to consoles, used is the way to go.
Edit: I wanted to add, I don’t know how the whole PS3 network thing works, but my handle is AndrewSquared if anyone wants to add me as a friend. I’m still getting used to consoles as more than just a physically-present communal activity.