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Current Topic: Games

RE: Demon's Souls (PS3)
Topic: Games 4:15 pm EST, Feb 12, 2010

I'm still playing this game. I played the Chinese version all last Summer, and I've been playing the North American version since September 2009. After two Platinum trophies and doing everything there is to be done several times over, it's still addictive. It feels like I'm back in the early 1980s and playing Adventure (Atari 2600) over and over. I keep waiting for it to get old.

Stefanie wrote:
...the English dubs and subtitles are relatively well done, although some of the descriptive text suffered a bit in translation (such as item descriptions in your inventory). Hopefully, that will be tweaked for the North American release in October 2009 (currently available for pre-order).

I meant to get back to this sooner. Atlus did tweak some of the English subtitles and menus, although only about 10% are helpful tweaks that actually clarify things; the rest being a matter of style, such as renaming weapons ("Keel Smasher" is now "Dragon Bone Smasher"), spells ("Soul Light" is now "Soul Ray", etc. However, Atlus did offer a limited "Deluxe Edition" of the game, including a strategy guide, and pre-orders included an art book and a CD soundtrack.

I won't say that Atlus' release was perfect, but the company has done some cool things to promote the game (which Sony failed to do). Demon's Souls incorporates a tendency system, in which the tendencies of the five worlds, as well as the tendency of your character, can be anywhere from Pure White (enemies = weaker, you = stronger) to Pure Black (vice versa), depending on whether you're being good or evil. Normally, the servers for the online mode set the worlds to Neutral when you log in, with slight variations. Atlus turned the American servers Black during Halloween week, White during Christmas week, and there's currently a poll to vote for the world tendencies during St. Valentine's Day. Nice touch.

Anyway, if you have a PS3 and you still haven't played this game, you really are missing out on quite possibly the best game of the entire Seventh Generation. I now have four all-time favorite games: Adventure (2600), Zelda (NES), Tomb Raider (PS1), and Demon's Souls (PS3). It's that good.

RE: Demon's Souls (PS3)

Dragon Age: Origins (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
Topic: Games 12:32 pm EST, Nov 17, 2009

I'm still in the early stages the game, but Dragon Age: Origins is an easy game to recommend, for RPG fans. Whereas another recent release, Demon's Souls, is more of a Zelda-style action-adventure game, Dragon Age: Origins is more of a traditional RPG, in the style of the Final Fantasy series. The combat action is more laid back, but there's a complex story involving history, politics, religion, sex, romance, and of course, war; and your actions determine the course of the story.

There's a lot to keep track of, including the various members of your party (you can take with you three at a time) and many side quests. You can choose to play as one of six race/origin combinations for your character (Human Noble, City Elf, Dalish Elf, Magi [Human or Elf], Dwarf Commoner, or Dwarf Noble), and one of three classes (Warrior, Mage [Human or Elf only], or Rogue). You begin the game by designing your character, choosing gender, physical traits, vocal style, makeup, facial tattoos, etc.

It took me a little while to get used to the menu and the combat system, and there are a lot of skills and spells that I still haven't learned, but I'm enjoying the game so far. The history is detailed, and the dialogue can be very entertaining at times. I have the PS3 version and I'm happy with it, but if you like the idea of using player-created content (see the Tool Set), or if you simply prefer using a mouse and keyboard, you might be better off with the PC version.

Dragon Age: Origins (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)

Demon's Souls (PS3)
Topic: Games 1:48 pm EDT, Jul 28, 2009

So far, Demon's Souls has to be the best game overall that I've played on the PS3, and that includes Grand Theft Auto 4, Dead Space, Resident Evil 5, Metal Gear Solid 4, and Bioshock, among several others. It's part adventure game, part action RPG (third person perspective), and it's all business. It's the most difficult game I've played since the PS3's launch, mainly because it's painfully unforgiving of mistakes. If you want a grownup version of Zelda, here it is.

If you die in a given level, you go all the way back to that level's beginning, and you continue playing as a disembodied soul (with only half of your hit points) until you earn back your physical body. If you accidentally (or intentionally) attack a friendly NPC to the point where you piss him off, he will continue to attack you until one of you dies. If that character happens to be someone useful, like a blacksmith, merchant, or magic teacher, you're screwed for the remainder of the game.

The game doesn't tell you very much in the beginning, and you have to learn many lessons the hard way. The game constantly autosaves, and you don't have multiple save slots per game; which means if you arrive at a proverbial fork in the road, you can't take one path, see how it works out, stop the game, and restart at the save point to try the other path. All of your decisions are permanent. It's so brutal, that there's not even a pause button. The motto here is "Get good, or die!" Oh, and the second playthrough is much harder, even though you get to keep all of your equipment and skills from the first game.

You get to choose your character's class and gender, and you can fully customize the character's physical and facial features, and later in the game, the armor/attire. The class determines only how you begin the game, but after the first level, you can customize your skill set any way you want. You can focus on spells (magic and miracles), melee skills, or a balance. There are several different types of ranged and melee weapons (bows, swords, axes, etc.). You collect souls from the enemies that you kill, and use those souls for both currency and increasing your skill levels.

The game has a lot of depth, and there are some side quests aside from the main quest (beating the bosses of five worlds, then the final boss). There's a good variety of enemies and bosses, the graphics are beautiful, the character motions are smooth, and in the Asian imports, the English dubs and subtitles are relatively well done, although some of the descriptive text suffered a bit in translation ... [ Read More (0.1k in body) ]

Demon's Souls (PS3)

Flower (for PS3)
Topic: Games 3:42 pm EDT, May 11, 2009

If there's an exact opposite to the game Dead Space, it's Flower. Aside from the fact that I enjoyed both of them, and that they both look beautiful, they couldn't be more different.

You start each level with a single flower petal, and you control the wind to blow the petal into other yet-to-bloom flowers, causing them to bloom. Each time a flower blooms, you pick up another petal. As shown in the picture at right, you eventually have a stream of petals following the original one, making it easier to bloom large patches of flowers as you swoop across the countryside. As you progress through the stages, you get closer to a rundown city, and the weather gets progressively worse. Basically, your ultimate goal is to revitalize the city by making flowers bloom.

The graphics aren't groundbreaking, but they're still very good, and the pretty scenery alone is worth playing the game. The music is simple and soothing in the first level, beginning with a solo guitar (think "Brokeback Mountain soundtrack") for both music and sound effects, and in later levels, the music will build, as other instruments are introduced. I know it seems rather... pleasant (O.K., boring) for a video game, but it's actually a fun game, and it's nice to see something so completely different turn out to be interesting. It's not very long, nor is it very difficult, but it's only $10.00 (Playstation Store download).

Not that I'll be giving up my M-rated games anytime soon, but Flower is a welcome diversion. If you own a PS3, I recommend it.

Flower (for PS3)

Dead Space
Topic: Games 9:27 am EDT, May  8, 2009

How often do engineers get to save the day in video games?

If you have a PS3 or an Xbox 360, you might want to consider playing Dead Space. It has a nice, creepy atmosphere (like the first Alien film), very smooth motion, and beautiful 1080p graphics. The hero of the game is an engineer, and the two antagonists are a computer systems specialist and an insane physician, who's a member of the "Church of Unitology" (which closely resembles Scientology). Yes, you do run around and kill a lot of scary things, but there are enough unique elements to make it stand out from other action/adventure games. It's a pleasure to play because so much attention was paid to details and making the game flow the way it should. The zero-gravity sequences (of which there are several) are a lot of fun. The PS3 has a free demo available for download, and I assume the Xbox 360 does, as well.

The linked Wikipedia article does contain spoilers.

Dead Space

Levon Aronian wins 18th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament
Topic: Games 6:19 pm EDT, Mar 26, 2009

It's good to see Anand looking sharp. He placed fourth at Linares earlier this year (one point behind), but only two points separated first and eighth places. Anand didn't play in the Corus tournament, and neither Topalov nor Kramnik played in either one this year. We're still waiting for the official dates for the World Chess Championship 2009 between Anand and Topalov.


Score after Round 11


1. Aronian 7
Carlsen 7
Kramnik 7
4. Anand 6½
Morozevich 6½
6. Leko 5½
Topalov 5½
8. Ivanchuk 5
Radjabov 5
10. Karjakin 4½
11. Wang Yue 3½
12. Kamsky 3


1. Anand 7
Aronian 7
Kamsky 7
4. Kramnik 6½
5. Carlsen 6
Karjakin 6
7. Topalov 5
8. Ivanchuk 4½
Leko 4½
Morozevich 4½
11. Radjabov 4
Wang Yue 4


1. Aronian 14
2. Anand 13½
Kramnik 13½
4. Carlsen 13
5. Morozevich 11
6. Karjakin 10½
Topalov 10½
8. Kamsky 10
Leko 10
10. Ivanchuk 9½
11. Radjabov 9
12. Wang Yue 7½

Levon Aronian wins 18th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament

Bulgaria to host Kamsky - Topalov match in 2009
Topic: Games 10:20 am EST, Nov 19, 2008

Vesela Lecheva, Chairman of the State Agency for Youth and Sports, supported the bid of the Bulgarian Chess Federation to organize the semifinal match for the world championship title between Veselin Topalov and Gata Kamsky, Radio Gong reported. Having in mind the importance of the competition and its complex preparation, and in order to provide optimal conditions for the players and the media, Bulgaria suggested this match to take place from 3rd to 15th February 2009. Possible hosts are Sofia, Plovdiv, Veliko Turnovo and Bansko.

In a letter sent to FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Ms. Lecheva stressed that all necessary financial guarantees are ready. Meanwhile, Bulgaria is surprised with the change of financial parameters for the match, which expanded to 300 thousand U.S. dollars, without clear argumentation.

Bulgaria to host Kamsky - Topalov match in 2009

World Chess Championship 2008
Topic: Games 5:43 pm EDT, Oct 23, 2008

With a draw today, Anand leads Kramnik 5.0 – 2.0 with five games remaining. As sharp as Anand has been playing, it's doubtful that Kramnik has a chance to come back.

Game 5 will probably be considered the point when things got out of hand for Kramnik. After 29. Nxd4??, White can't prevent eventually being pinned in by Black's Rook and e-pawn. Granted, it's a pretty bad blunder for a GM, time trouble or not, but Anand deserves credit for being agressive and keeping the pressure on Kramnik.

Official Website (not quite as easy to navigate as the Wikipedia article)

World Chess Championship 2008

New model Nintendo DS to take pictures and play music
Topic: Games 11:00 am EDT, Sep 30, 2008

Murad Ahmed wrote:
All in all, I'm pretty happy with anything that can play Mario Kart.

New model Nintendo DS to take pictures and play music

Silent Hill: Homecoming
Topic: Games 5:20 pm EDT, Sep 16, 2008

Some of the main PS3 games I've been waiting for are finally being released. September 30 = Silent Hill: Homecoming (Amazon). :)

Homecoming's story follows the nightmare turned real life of Alex Shepherd, a war veteran returning to his hometown of Shepherd's Glen to investigate the sudden disappearance of his kid brother, Josh. From Shepherd's Glen to the foggy streets of dreaded Silent Hill, Alex must face the darkest of horrors in order to find his brother. Struggling with his own grip on reality, it's here that Alex must unravel the mystery behind his nightmares, discover the truth behind his brother's disappearance, and confront the evil that takes hold of his own flesh and blood in the process.

Also, Wipeout HD is supposed to be available for download on September 25. After these, the next two are Tomb Raider: Underworld (November 18, 2008) and Resident Evil 5 (March 2009).

Silent Hill: Homecoming

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