Friday, May 06, 2005

Byte: Bricking it

Sorry, I couldn't resist that pun. I've been playing Lego Star Wars, obviously (as anyone who's seen my MSN login name in the last week will know). And despite being a game very much tailored for kids, it's really rather good. Certainly one of the best looking Star Wars games to date, and very easy to pick up and play. It also manages to entertain without patronising it's audience, which is no mean feat for a kid's game. Only a slightly erratic 3D camera and controls a little too imprecise for their own good prevent a 9/10. On charm and presentation alone, it'd easily warrant one.

The reason it's been so quiet around here lately hasn't just been because the pressures of work, but also because I've been plugging all my free time into the sublime Jade Empire. Most people will know of my all encompassing love of Bioware's previous opus, Knights of the Old Republic (400+ hours, completed 8 times, etc)... Well, this might surprise you, coming as it does from one of the biggest Star Wars fanboys ever to have walked the Earth, but Jade Empire is BETTER, and I don't say that lightly. If you're into the whole Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon aesthetic, or you simply love chop-socky flicks, then this is your game. The characters are great, the combat's far better than the stop-start of KOTOR and the story moves quickly from start to finish, throwing in a few surprises along the way. I don't think I'll play a better RPG all year. The cameo from John Cleese is worth the entry fee in itself.

I've been getting some good reviews from Pro-G lately - my latest is Silent Hunter III, which I'm slowly getting into, thanks to the Course Plotter's inherent inability to tell you if the course you've plotted intersects the harbour wall or not.

"Captain! We're taking damage, sir!"
"But we've not even left port yet!"

Not very impressive... neither was the installation. The CD key is printed on the CD, meaning that you have to write it down before you can install the game. What was wrong with it being written on the back of the manual, eh? Ah, well. At least the game looks good. It's going to take me hours and hours to review, though.

In the meantime, I'm going to go back to bricks, and do a preview for Pro-G of Meteos, a DS game I had Charles, my friend from NTSC-UK (and, ironically, team leader at work), import for me. It's a crazy Japanese twist on Tetris, where you have to line up blocks of the same colour into rows of three or more, whereupon they turn into rockets, and blast the blocks above them up into space. It's absolutely manic in two player mode, and not much calmer in single player. Even with Japanese menus, it's fairly easy to navigate around - well worth an import from Play-Asia if you don't want to wait a couple of months for the US version to come out. (A release in Europe hasn't been confirmed yet) It's definitely one of the DS's killer apps, though absolutely lethal on the touch screen. I put a screen protector on just yesterday, and it's already scratched completely to hell, after just a couple of hours' play. Crazy.

In other news, after the excitement of the weekend before last on the M25, we decided to stay at home to redo the bathroom, in the calmness and relative safety of the flat. Of course, spending three days in a 4m by 4m room with tins of paint, huge bottles of white spirit and no ventilation possibly wasn't the best idea I've had lately. Two days off sick, and about two million lost brain cells later... still, at least the bathroom looks great. I may have lost 10 points off my IQ, but hey. It probably explains my decision to give World of Warcraft another go, too. I wonder how long it'll take them to screw up the billing *this* time?
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