Sunday, September 30, 2007

Halo & Sonata

In my copious free time, I finally beat Halo 3. Ah, the lunch break marathons.

Anyway, it didn't disappoint me. Neither did it surprise me. It was exactly what I thought it would be, including the length. It was a fun shooter, although half the time when I shot out a spider-mech core, I would instantly be flung 1400 feet sideways and into the air, then left to fall to my death outside level limits. Also irritating were the number of "oops, you're dead!" moments. I like to earn my complete failure, thank you. Arbitrarily killing me is pointless.

Overall, though, worth playing.

Unfortunately, I think Halo 3's life span is limited, because it's not top dog.

The fact that many people are disappointed with Halo 3 is not Halo 3's fault. It is a victim of its own success. The only way Bungie could have kept everyone's eyes popping is to radically change the game - we're talking change the genre - with each installation. Otherwise, "more of the same" is what an IP will bring. At least it didn't devolve, like Sly Cooper.

After Halo, I spent a little time today playing Eternal Sonata. Which is the prettiest RPG in... um... ever. It beats out Valkyrie Profile in both tone and quality, which I honesty didn't expect to happen for at least another... um... ever.

It also has a fun battle system involving light and dark areas. This is the first game I've seen since Disgaea which uses terrain in an interesting way. It's not nearly as complex as Disgaea's colored land system, but since the battles in Eternal Sonata take less than two minutes, it doesn't have to be. I think - I haven't gotten very far.

The game is largely cutscenes, which I would normally be irritated by. Except that it's so damn pretty. And the voice acting is generally excellent. Sometimes the translator decides to use a big, modern word when they shouldn't, but by and large it is quite a solid writing job, too.

I haven't finished the game yet, but on the strength of the prologue, I recommend it highly.


Olick said...

Hey. Been reading for about a month now. What do you think about the multiplayer in Halo 3? I've heard that there are some new tricks to be had, that gives some interesting tactical choices and problem solving. Or is it still essentially maverick gameplay, and with teams its maverick "team" gameplay (like counter strike)?

After playing Team Fortress two for.. about 2/3 of a day cumulatively, and listening to the commentary, its not hard to believe it is in fact better than Halo 3. I know Bungie has had hundreds of beta testers in their beta testing.. factory, but listening to Valve's commentary really reveals how developers can turn out something really amazing.

I can't wait for the rest of Orange Box to come out.

Craig Perko said...

My Halo 3 multiplayer experience is pretty limited.

The core problem with games like the Halo 3 multiplayer is that guys like me can't compete with the teenage twitchers. In Halo 3, the only thing I can do "competitively" is drive vehicles. Even then, I get killed by some clever little sniping bastard.

On the other hand, in Team Fortress 2 "old" guys like me can play medics, scouts, engineers, spies. When we get sniped, we respawn as our preference, without having to run around trying to find a useful vehicle or weapon.

IMO, you're likely to see a larger number of "mature" players in TF2, and that appeals to me. I like coop, I like it when teams are actually teams.

But don't take my word for it.

Olick said...

Yeah. That was a big thing with the TF2 Designers that newbies and inexperienced players don't get completely destroyed by someone with an AK-47, precise aim, and knowlege of how to hit properly.

The heavy is a good example (and indeed an example the developers give). The heavy doesn't rely on precise aim or high speed. He relies on knowing where to be, and guessing where your opponent is going to be. A tactical challenge, rather than a skill one.

Eliminating one hit kills really assists this experience. There are only 3 weapons that are sure one hit kills in the game and they are the demoman's sticky bombs, the sniper rifle, and a spy's backstab. But all of these require some setup in order to actually kill in one hit, you can't pop around the corner and one shot anyone. Again this means your own deadliness comes down to the decisions you make, rather than your pure skill. This helps greatly against the feelings of helplessness that can ruin the game for unskilled players.

Craig Perko said...

It's not just unskilled players. Back in college, I was pretty good. But in the years that passed, I haven't kept my reflexes at top notch.

On the other hand, I've gotten much better at team play and strategy. TF2 has more of that than Halo 3.

Anyhow, the heavy is an interesting example. My coworker loves TF2, and he played the heavy almost exclusively for several days. Then he decided to try a few other classes on for size and now he's all about the scout.

TF2 is going to be a really interesting game to look at in terms of what classes various kinds of players prefer at what skill levels... it may turn out that the heavy is a "gateway" class that is only rarely used by experienced players. We'll see.