Angry Robot

The Games People Play

So let’s see here. I didn’t get past “Vaseline” yet, but in my defense I haven’t played any solo tour since I last posted. I did do some band tour with Matt, who is a Guitar Hero guy and had never tried the Rock Band drums. He did really well. It’s actually much harder to play RB drums than guitar, I think, perhaps because even on easy you have to do a few things at once. But after a few songs he was all up in the 90%s.

We did one of those mystery sets, where you don’t know what the songs are going to be. At this point I was the drummer and was doing it on hard – our success would hinge on whether I had played the song before or not. The first two we nailed, the third – “Cherub Rock,” Smashing Pumpkins – kicked my ass. I failed about four times, and Matt’s patience was waning I’m sure, but on the fifth try I managed to hobble through and finish the song despite the angry crowd.

We also played some NHL 08, a game that had been gathering dust on my shelf since I got so pissed off at the failures of the Leafs that I tuned out of hockey altogether. It’s quite a good installment of the franchise – the stick control of shooting as well as movement is a nice touch. Matt would have murdered me and then made me cry if we had gone head-to-head, so we tried playing co-op. It’s fun, and challenging, and a bit frustrating. Part of it is that the game is simply not meant to be played this way, and it shows. If, say, I pass to a player that Matt isn’t controlling, it will put this player under his control – suddenly. If he was just pressing the button to change players but he gets switched before he hits it, the new player will wind up passing in a random direction, often icing the puck. This is annoying; the better behaviour would be to switch the pass recipient to my control, more like it plays in single player.

We lost a couple games in classic Leaf manner, so I suppose it was at least realistic.

Treat of the weekend: borrowing Nadine’s PS3 and firing up Metal Gear Solid 4. The PS3 is a magnificent piece of hardware (or this is what I was thinking until last night, when problems occurred). It’s packed to the gills with stuff that Microsoft will make you pay through the nose to get as an add-on, and hey did you know it plays Blu-Ray discs?

Oh, Metal Gear. The original Solid was one of those groundbreaking games on the original PlayStation – I loved that game, and I loved that machine. I mean I don’t even like stealth games at all; I got bored of Chaos Theory a few hours in. I think I actually love MGS games primarily because of the cutscenes, which transmit an auteur sensibility like few other games. That said, I wasn’t thrilled with MGS 2 and I don’t think I played 3. Anyway 4, so far, is a masterpiece. The gameplay is deep, fun and varied – there’s actually a lot more action in it this time around, which is excellent. And Old Snake is so exquisitely captured, both in voice by Mr. Hayter and in appearance by what have got to be the best animators in the business. This whole game is best understood as a methodical raising of the bar by which games will be judged. It’s a glove slap in the face of all other developers. In what other game could an 8-minute loading screen actually be a good thing? It’s rare that I disagree with what Tycho says, but this is one of those times.