Lack of updates

Hi, everyone — sorry I’ve not posted in the last few days;  been quite ill and have been taking time off to recover.  Am finally beginning to feel better again.

During this illness, I finished playing/watching a bunch of things which were in my backlog.  These included:

  1. Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands
  2. Super Mario Galaxy 2
  3. Jolly Rover
  4. Paranoia Agent
  5. Half Life 2: Episode 2

I have also made repeated attempts at China Mieville’s The City & The City, but my brain isn’t quite functioning well enough to keep up with it, at the moment.  Will try again, once I’m better.  Instead, I’ve been on-and-off watching season two of “Merlin”, which appropriately matches my current level of brainlessness.

I do have some neat ideas for MMORPG Tycoon 2, but I’ve learned not to attempt to code anything when my brain’s not firing on all cylinders.  I’ll talk about those over the next few days, hopefully.

Short reviews:

Prince of Persia:  Forgotten Sands

I keep having the feeling that the original Sands of Time was smoother and more controllable than any of these later incarnations.  This may be nostalgia.  Someday I’ll break out Sands of Time again and actually see if it holds up.

Movement in Forgotten Sands is essentially Guitar Hero without a music track.  The buttons you have to hit and when are determined by architecture, instead of by icons moving along a line.  But much of the game is essentially the same, when stripped of the theming.  The Prince of Persia reboot game was too, now that I come to think of it.

Combat is generally dull.  There’s God of War-style powering up your attacks (because it’s the Law that every action game needs God of War-style powering up of attacks), but honestly, these really don’t matter and aren’t interesting.  Combat is just a time-sink between movement sections.

Frequent bugs.  Had to restart once (luckily, near the beginning) due to the game saving me in a bugged state where I couldn’t progress.

All this, and the game killsteals the final boss from you.  It’s even worse than when John Cleese did it in Fable 2.  At least there it was an obnoxious in-game character who did it;  here, the game just takes over your character toward the end of the boss fight and finishes the fight for you.

Super Mario Galaxy 2

It’s more of Super Mario Galaxy.  Some tweaks, improved 2P functionality (which was already surprisingly not-terrible in the original), and shockingly nice looking on the Wii, as was the original.  Amazing how big round untextured shapes with rim lighting can look so nice.

If you liked SMG, SMG2 is more of the same.  If you didn’t like SMG, SMG2 is more of the same.

Jolly Rover

Already covered here.

Paranoia Agent

Recommended to me by a friend.  Awesome intelligent anime TV series that I’m going to be recommending to many further friends.  Not going to say anything further about it, to avoid spoilers.  (Notice how I didn’t mind spoiling the final fight in Forgotten Sands?  Funny, that)

Half-Life 2: Episode 2

I actually bought this along with Portal/TF2/etc way back when the Orange Box first came out.  On the XBox 360.  I know, I know, sneer at my naiveté.  Anyhow, I played it right up until the final challenge (which plays a bit like an extremely unfair Unreal Tournament “Assault” map), and gave up because it was simply too difficult, particularly with the 360 controller instead of a proper keyboard+mouse combination.

When Steam recently began supporting the Mac, I bought the Portal/TF2/HL2:E2 combo on Steam, mostly because I was curious to try TF2.  But today I played straight through Episode 2, and.. well.. I finished it.  It was mostly inoffensive, which isn’t bad for a game that I’d already mostly played through before.  But I still felt like that final challenge was way too difficult for my skill level.  (at least, it is when I’m feeling ill.)

The ending pretty much matches the endings of most Half-Life games, in that it eschews traditional narrative structure.  Instead of ending on a resolution or a cliff-hanger, this one ends smack in the middle of some Olympic-level scenery-chewing following a bizarre Diabolus Ex Machina (warning: tvtropes link)

With no clue of when (or even if) the third episode is due, it’s kind of difficult to recommend.  But I think it’s a good deal better than Episode 1 was.