Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Deadly Space...

...So deadly that my Xbox 360 nearly gave up the ghost. Again. With three flashing red lights. A quick reboot resolved the problem, but I'm now filled with trepidation that it may croak at any time.

The game that caused my console to shy away in fear is Dead Space. And having played about 3/4 through, I can't blame the poor thing. Playing the game was terrifying enough. Having to ingest and process it must have elicited some form of defensive response.

Terrifying as it may be, I am completely enjoying the game. And I'm glad to say that I'm near the end, which is great. I don't often complete the games I own because I do get bored with them fairly quickly. But Dead Space has really hit a sweet spot for me, with regards to compelling gameplay and game length. I think it'll probably clock in about 10-12 hours in total, and that's great. It means that I'm done in about a week if I play a little everyday.

The game has had it's scary moments, but the thing it does the best is building an atmosphere, a high tension environment, a mood.

The story has been really intriguing up til now. While one might argue that it is generic sci-fi fare, it has been wonderfully presented. I just hope that the ending holds up and keeps the momentum going. I guess I'll find out once I play till the end.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Chanel Cake

When does culinary skill become art? When you make cakes like these. This was an entry into the cake competition at the Royal Melbourne Show a month back. Can the thing even be eaten?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Fallout 3 Mid-Mortem

I've been devoting a lot of time to Fallout 3 over the past two weekends, but it has been a little tough getting into the game. As a huge fan of the original Fallout, I guess I was fully expecting this game to shoulder the reputation of its predecessors. I guess that harboring such expectations is entirely unfair. This excellent game stands on its own, and carries the series in an entirely different direction. Admittedly, it may be hard for someone like me to reconcile the new game with the ones that came before, but I can see a game that has been lovingly crafted, and it deserves our full attention.

One thing the game really nails is how utterly bleak and desolate the Fallout world is, and how immersive it is. It is not a pleasant place to be in, much less explore. And yet I feel attracted to it all, driven to return to it constantly, and to witness how much more horrible the world can get. The pockets of surviving humans, the run-down tin-shacks, the horrendous living standards and the disgusting food really helps to paint a picture of hopelessness. And juxtaposed to all this despair are people who are so willing to hang on to any shred of hope. There is a real, living world that has been created here.

This has made my gameplay experience especially compelling. Between the despair, and the people, there is a continuing burning need to push forward. And within that space, I have grown to identify and emphatise with my character, and to play the game as she would have lived.

That immersiveness was nerely broken when I murdered two NPCs just so that I can steal a gun off them. But my instant rationalisation that this action was taken by me, the human gamer, speaks volumes of my emotional investment into my character. I felt strongly that she needed to be absolved of any guilt, because the action was taken by an external third-party who had tried to game the system.

The things that I didn't like about the game were mostly technical. Managing the inventory can be troublesome sometimes, especially when buying/selling with in-game characters. There aren't many facial variations between NPCs, so many characters look the same. The voice-acting is a mixed bag (a character named Butcher from Reiley's Rangers has a oddly deep booming voice for someone so diminutive in size). Game-wise, many things have not been useful regularly as mechanics are geared towards combat; But combat remains uncomfortably straddled between an FPS and a turn-based strategy.

The one thing that I really didn't like about the game is the lack of memorable characters. The points I made above were more reflective of the relationship that I had built with my own character. Having played about 10 hours, I still haven't been able to form a similar link with any of the in-game NPCs. Perhaps this may change as I delve deeper in the core quest, but the side quests haven't produced any memorable moments for me as yet.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Very Gamey Weekend

It's been a very gamey weekend, which is excellent. I've got so many things to play on my plate right now, it's absolutely glorious. I played a couple of boardgames on Friday evening (Manoeuvre & Roma), played Fallout 3 for most of Saturday and Sunday. I received Dead Space and Fable 2 in the mail, and tried the Mirror's Edge demo which was brilliant. I also picked up Wii Fit on Friday, which has quickly become the bane of my gaming life; Yoga, aerobics, and calisthenics? You've gotta be flippin' mad!

Impressions of these games to follow.