the rantings and ravings of a not quite sane cow

Friday, February 20, 2009

Abortions of the English language, Part I

As murdered at

"Is it just me or is the fact that there redoing dead rising for the wii but no ps3 version yet there doing dead rising 2 for ps3 & no wii version, I think they should not bother with the wii dead rising."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Platform Showdown, Part II: Mirror's Edge demo, PC vs. X360

Please note that I change the format of my features as I see fit. If you want a little consistency, why are you reading this is the first place?

Another note: I actually played the full version on the PC, but I only had a chance to play through the content that's in the demo.

I'm presuming my readers have an idea what Mirror's Edge is (if not, now's your chance to look it up. Go on, I dare you.)

PC: First, I pity you if you intend on playing this on a 4:3 monitor, the display being anamorphic 16:9 and all. Not so bad on my 16:10 mini-behemoth, but if you're living in the past you have some serious windowboxing in store. Not sure whether it means it's a lazy port or they're trying to make it more cinematic or something. Other than that, the graphics are fairly similar, except that obviously you can crank it up to higher resolutions and pile on the AA (I didn't, because it reduced my framerate by 75%).
X360: I'm fairly sure that it's not windowboxed at 4:3 (but I haven't had too much chance to test, 4:3 TV's are harder to come by these days. It looks good enough though, and I don't think the PC additions are really necessary.
Tie - the PC version can look nicer if you've got the hardware, but the 360 version looks good enough but is better at maintaining a consistent frame rate.

Tie - it's sound, whatever way you hear it. I prefer the PC version myself as I have 5.1 speakers for my PC but not my 360.

PC: the PC version is actually in an interesting position here. On one hand, moving around is worse with a keyboard, but on the other, looking around is better with a mouse.
X360: This is an entirely unscientific measurement here, but the gamepad just FEELS better. It feels like the game was designed around a gamepad (probably true). For some reason I can't particularly explain, having the up and down action buttons next to each other just seems like a better way to do things. Take that as you will, however.
X360 - It just feels right, and that's the most important thing in a platformer.

PC - Both offer leaderboard multiplayer. TF2 has the right idea with that, and occasionally you'll see me top the Audiosurf board for some obscure song, but other than that I'm not particularly interested. The points however go to to PC version, since you don't need a Live subscription to compete (as far as I know, correct me if I'm wrong).

Platform-specific Features:
PC: It has PhysX support, if you have the hardware. From what I've seen, it doesn't add anything useful. A couple of banners flopping around in the wind, but since the game has so few guns you can't really play around with (read: shoot the brains out of) them. One glaring problem I should add is that many of the menu screens have a lot of white, and the mouse cursor is white with a tiny blue outline. You can barely see it, and on most menus I was just flailing the mouse around until it moved over something that wasn't white (keyboard navigation works in most parts but in some places you're almost forced to use the mouse).
X360: To be completely honest, can't think of anything. There might be in the full game, but having only played a demo I can't see anything.
Tie - The PC version has PhysX support, but it doesn't add anything.

As you can tell by all the ties I've given, it really doesn't matter which one you get (worry more about whether you like the game or not, it can be somewhat of a niche title). If I had to pick one (get that gun out of my face!) I'd pick the Xbox 360 version, it's just a much more coherent experience, and it's fairly obvious that it was designed for consoles and the PC version does show of a lazy port in some places.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Demo Impressions: Halo Wars

As anyone who has even a passing interest in Halo knows, the demo for Halo Wars was released a few days ago on the XBLM.

I, however, have not even a passing interest in the Halo franchise, not having played any of the first 3 games for more than 5 minutes. With a free demo, however, I felt that it was worth a try.

If you're too lazy to read beyond the first 3 (short) paragraphs, you should take this away this: since this is Ensemble Studios' last game (thanks, penny pinching Microsoft!), they should be very proud of themselves. I just hope that wherever the developers go they can continue this level of quality.

That being said, it does suffer the problem of being an RTS on a console, and you can never really get the same level of control with a controller as you can with a keyboard and mouse. It also doesn't quite reach the depth some computer RTS's reach, but that's not to say it entirely lacks depth. I've seen RTS's on PC which have a lot less depth.

To get into a bit more depth with the controls, there are things I like and things I don't. This being the first RTS I've played on a console, it definitely seems like the controls were designed for a console. The left analog stick is used for both moving the camera and as a cursor for unit control (the cursor stays in the center of the screen). This is both good and bad, as while it makes it easy to center on what you're trying to hit (you don't really have a choice), you lose a view you may have on other things you may be trying to kill.

Units are selected with the A button, hold it down to select units over a larger area. LB selects all the units you have, RB selects all the units on screen. Each type of unit has a special ability mapped to the Y button. RT switches through different types of units, if you have more than one type of unit selected. The problem with that is that after cycling through the list, it doesn't select of all them again as I'd like, I have to select them manually. That's easy if I'm using all my units at once (my mind doesn't often consider more advanced tactics), but harder if I'm using multiple groups.
Edit: on a second run through I figured out that B will do exactly this. Thanks for telling me, game!

I can't really fault the game for this; it's really a limitation of being on a console and I don't think there's anything they could do to fix it. Now on to the other matters.

The graphics are highly impressive. Everything has plenty of polys and textures everywhere are very clear. Of special note are the prerendered cutscenes. To say they're stunning is a massive understatement. These guys could make a CGI movie if they wanted to.

I usually don't have that much to say about sound, so I'll just say the sound here is more than adequate, music is lovely, speech is clear and sound effects sound like what they're supposed to sound like.

My problem with the demo is how little there is in it. Two tutorial missions, two campaign missions and a skirmish on one map wth only one general from each side available (at least they're letting you play as the covenant). No multiplayer though, local or online.

I'd spend more time explaining the gameplay to you but that would defeat the overreaching point of this article: download them demo! Unless you don't have an Xbox 360, then buy one and download the demo.