Ben's Week In Review: December 28
Christmas is over and we're all still recovering to some extent, but we're definitely looking forward to a great 2009! So, moving on...
Prince of Persia inspires controversy
So I have the Limited Edition sitting behind me (currently unwrapped as I opened Gears of War 2 first), but I played a lot of Prince some time ago when I did the review, so I know what it's all about. However, after a recent interview where the game's producer said not enough critics recognized some of the finer points of the title; that we didn't acknowledge the risks the developers took, I noticed the Comments. It's a common debate around the Internet, actually: because you can't really die in PoP, some people say this erases the challenge, and hence, a lot of the appeal. I'm on the fence when it comes to this issue. On the one hand, I can understand those who say it loses a lot of its "thrill-potential," because there's no real threat...no real fear. In short, you don't have to worry so much about the consequences of your actions. But on the other hand, what is dying in video games, anyway? They rarely punish you for dying these days. Think about it for a second...
With the addition of hard drives and checkpoints, sprinkled generously throughout most great games, all you really do is re-try a certain small section if you die. But other than that, there's almost never a direct consequence of dying. So in one game, you fall and die, reload, and run quickly back to that point to try again. In PoP, you fall, you don't have to reload and run back, and you can try again from where you fell. So in all honesty, I really don't see much of a difference, and the non-existent deaths in PoP don't bother me in the slightest.
Finally time to make choices, RPG fans
In some ways, it appears as if the dark days of zero next-gen RPGs are over, so the question is, which RPG released in the past few months do you choose? We already turned you onto the mostly unrecognized greatness of Valkyrie Chronicles, but there's also a legitimate Game of the Year candidate in Fallout 3 and another top-notch role-playing experience in Fable II. As I have played none of them just yet, I think it's a good idea to see what people think; which RPG would you recommend? And please bear in mind that I don't have a huge amount of time, which may immediately eliminate Fallout 3, if it's as long and epic as I hear it is. I'm still mostly in the dark regarding VC - after reading reviews, I just can't get a clear picture of the gameplay - and I'm fairly certain I'd like Fable II as I enjoyed the original. But right now, I just think we should recognize the fact that a few RPGs have indeed showed up, so perhaps the fans aren't allowed to complain quite as much.
I don't mind complaints, but as far as I can tell, three fantastic next-gen RPGs released in the span of only a few weeks, and of course, we can all look forward to the likes of Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII. I still mourn the loss of the traditional turn-based RPG, but I suppose we have to take the bad with the good when it comes to advancement of any kind in any industry.
Personal gaming update
As you read above, I've started Gears of War 2 and it's just about as kick-ass as everyone says it is. I loved the first one and the sequel so far (after a few hours of play) is just as good if not better, although I've seen a couple cut-scenes freeze right up for a second or two, and I still think things get a little herky-jerky when dashing forward in that crouched run. But other than that, there's very little in the way of flaws and errors, as far as I can see. The graphics are amazing, the sound is excellent, the environments and detail is unbelievable, and the pacing and storyline are both very good. I'm sure I'll have a blast with it, and then I'll move on to Prince. After that, it's a matter of picking up either Left 4 Dead or LittleBigPlanet (or one of the three RPGs I just listed), so I'll have to make a decision within the next few weeks. Thankfully, it doesn't seem like there's anything giant on the horizon until Killzone 2, and that's two full months away. So I got some time.
As for the drama that ended with a dude in a tree, I'm still not sure what to do. She clearly wants back into the main fortress, and I'm just standing in front of the door, wishing we could go back to the barn for more guilt-free, fun-filled romps in the hay. Sadly, it's all going to have to end soon, I guess...
12/27/2008 Ben Dutka