Back to the Future: Episode 4 (PS3): COMPLETED!

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Escaped the alternate 1986, with a “new” DeLorean, and went back to 1931 again to try to fix things. All seemed to be going well, until the final scene, where it all seems to have gotten beyond fixable. Oh well!

Sadly, I can’t play Episode 5 as although it was due to be out today, it isn’t. Well, it is in the US, but it has been delayed in Europe, on PSN, for reasons unknown. RAGE!

Back to the Future: Episode 3 (PS3): COMPLETED!

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So 1986 is totally ruined, completely the opposite of the second film’s interpretation of 1985, but somehow worse. And I had to fix it, except I couldn’t in 1986 and had no DeLorean with which to return to the past and put right what once went wrong (© Quantum Leap).

Managed to at least get to see Doc, but no time machine yet…

Back to the Future: Episode 2 (PS3): COMPLETED!

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It’s not easy to say what I’ve been up to in this episode without ruining the plot, but things went a bit wrong at the end of the last episode and at the end of this one things went even wronger…

I’d come back to 1986 to find Biff was back to being bad, or worse, so had to nip back to 1931 again to fix things. Of course, I did – and caused some new problems in the process.

The game had the same issues as the first episode (controls, mainly), but the story is holding up well and making me want to keep playing!

Back to the Future: Episode 1 (PS3): COMPLETED!

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Expect a small flurry of these over the next few days, as they’re not very long episodes and I have three of them (with a fourth downloading, and a fifth out soon).

I had hoped to get Back to the Future on the Wii, like all the other Telltale Games I’ve bought (Monkey Island, Sam & Max, Strong Bad), but sadly they’ve axed that version. They’ve also gone all quiet on the XBLA version, with the Xbox logo now missing from the game series on the website. Of course, I could play them on the Mac, but I don’t play games on my Mac, and I’m not sure I’d bother if I got the iPad version either – I don’t play iPad games – so the PS3 version it had to be.

Firstly, some issues. There are glitches, stuttering, and out-of-sequence conversation problems galore. At one stage in the game you’re asked your name and you choose one of three false names, yet later on I’m referred to at least twice by a name I didn’t choose. The controls, due in part to being a PS3 game and in part due to being a point-and-click game on a joypad, are horrific. You sometimes walk off the screen pressing, say, right, then in the next scene right now makes you walk up. Rubbish. Choosing which object or person to interact with using the right stick is inconsistant (pressing right doesn’t cycle left-to-right, for example – items are selected seemingly randomly) and sometime you have to move away from an object before you can select it. In addition, pressing Square brings up your inventory, and you select an object. Then, the onscreen prompt suggests you press Square again to use it, but no – it’s X or Circle or some other ridiculous hieroglyph.

But thankfully, due to the nature of the game (nothing is timed, you don’t need to be quick at any point, and there’s no penalty for doing the wrong thing), it doesn’t actually matter too much. The joy is in the story and the puzzles; the former being amazing and the latter being clever and not obtuse (like many of those in Sam & Max). The episode was about 4 hours long, and certainly left me wanting to play more!

Little Big Planet (PS3): COMPLETED!

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By “completed”, I mean, I’ve finished all the story levels and beaten the end boss. I know there are more challenges, and 96898621504588 user made levels, and hidden stuff, and things to collect and all that sort of thing, but no – I’ve had enough.

It wasn’t terrible, but as a game (rather than a tool), it was all a bit lacking. The into and out of the screen moving, the strange jumping physics, the wonky collision detection, and the getting-stuck-in-scenery bits all just combined to frustrate. The game stopped being fun right near the beginning, and by the end it was a chore punctuated with occasional “wow!” sections and giggling. And the controls? Bleugh.

I did try out the highly rated user made ICO “remake” level, which was quite interesting, but sadly still suffered from much of the above. Oh well.

InFamous (PS3): COMPLETED!

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This was one of the two games I got free from Sony by way of apologising for letting evil internet terrorists have access to my personal details. Sadly, it’s not that great.

For the first three or four hours, I just couldn’t shake the fact that this was just Crackdown in slightly ill-fitting clothes. Then, as I realised that going vertical and running across rooftops was a better way of playing, I found myself comparing it to Assassin’s Creed as well. It’s nowhere near as good as either of those games.

The main things I disliked were the repetitive missions and Cole’s gluefingers. The former due to having to do sewer substation run after sewer substation run, or “find this thing – oh wait, find 4 more”, or “blow up X – hang on – there’s 3 more of them”, and the less said about the repeated side missions the better. It doesn’t help that all three islands in the game look virtually identical, and there only appear to be about 6 different buildings in the entire game, all copied and pasted across the map.

The other issue was how Cole grabs everything – poles, overhangs, cables, windowledges, trees, phone boxes – all the time. If you’re trying to get away from a baddie, or even just veer slightly in the wrong direction when jumping, you’ll grab something. Or, as it feels more like, it grabs you. And holds you. Still. So you’re a sitting du–oh look you’re dead. Having a button to hold down to say “yes please, I want to grabs things” would be much better.

Bizarrely, there are some things you’d think you could grab (like market stall roofs or some windowledges and shop facias) that you can’t.

Thankfully, it wasn’t all this bad. As the game progressed, and more powers were unlocked and others upgraded, it became more fun. With the rail grind and glide moves, leaping around the rooftops and chasing things down became brilliant rather than tedious, although if you ever drop to ground level (as you often need to for objectives) the climb to the roofs again is jarring and slows the game down.

There were minor complaints (controls, mainly due to the controller as usual, inconsistant framerates, texture pop-in at close range – especially on the big tower in the middle of the second island, and the overall easiness of the game), but nothing gamebreaking on their own. My only other major complaint is with the twist at the end – it’s rubbish. It’s like they got to the end of the writing and pulled it out of thin-air. It doesn’t help that it’s now created a paradox. Sigh.

Overall score: 3/5 Must Try Harder.

Games I’ve Played In The Last Week Or Two

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Haven’t had an update post in a while, and I’ve been trying out lots of different games over the last couple of weeks and not made mention of them here, so here’s a roundup:

Say What You See (iOS)
A series of pictures with hidden clues to game titles, films, etc. Like a cross between Where’s Wally? and a cryptic crossword. There are number of “canvases”, and I’ve been playing the Arcade Games one. Completed it, but some of them were a complete pig. Like, which arcade game is denoted by a picture of a goat’s head on a piece of paper? No idea? Exactly.

Super Mario All-Stars (Wii)
I got this for my birthday. Yeah, it’s a bit cheeky being nothing more than the SNES Mario All-Stars cartridge on a Wii disc, but it is a collection of some of the best platformers ever. So there.

Little Big Planet (PS3)
One of the free “Sorry our security was crap, everyone – here, have some old games for free ‘cos everyone has stopped buying them now anyway” games from Sony. It took three thousand years to download, and I’ve played the tutorial level and a couple of other levels. Thoughts: it looks nice, but controls horribly. The into and out-of the screen moving (especially when jumping up) is rubbish. Sackboy’s physics feel wrong. The pop-up menu to access stickers and stuff is annoying, particularly when the camera zooms into your face meaning you can’t see where on the playfield you’re putting your stickers. I might get used to it all, but, y’know, I still have the woeful PS3 controller to contend with.

James Pond 2: Robocod (PS1 on PS3)
Free for the duration of my free month’s worth of PS+. And an utterly horrible, bastardised version of one of my favourite platformers ever – it’s even worse than the DS version. I never want to play it again.

Street Gangs (NES on Wii)
It’s like playing a retro version of Scott Pilgrim! 🙂 Lovely game. Not far in though.

Muscle March (Wii)
Why didn’t I get this not-gay, manly game for manly men a long time ago? It’s like Hole in the Wall, only less camp! Amazing.

Lasercat (360)
The ugvm people recommended this Indie game as a sort of Jet Set Willy-alike. I can see what they mean, but the sparseness of the rooms (many of which are completely devoid of, well, anything) and the lack of things to collect (only 20 keys), in addition to the silly trivia questions, put me off a bit. I think I’d have enjoyed it more if JSW hadn’t been mentioned. It’s not bad, but not what I wanted.

Contra (360)
This XBLA game was on offer at 200 Microsoft Moon Points a few weeks ago, so I bought it. Never really was a fan of Contra (or “Probotector”, as I always knew it), but it’s fun, if totally impossible. Managed to get to the boss of level 3 before I ran out of credits.

Katamari Forever (PS3): COMPLETED

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My first completed PS3 game! Oh wait – you didn’t know I had a PS3? Uh, one fell into my house. I’m keeping hold of it for a friend. I won it. $random_excuse[‘PS3Owner’].

Er, anyway. So Katamari Forever then.

It’s another Katamari game. Like all the others I’ve played. In fact, in many ways, it is all the others I’ve played. The game is split in half, with The King of All Cosmos giving you requests that are basically remakes of previous game levels, and RoboKing giving you requests that are similar to previous game levels (that is, they use the same areas, but you’re a different size, collect different things, or whatever). There are a few totally new levels, but not many.

It doesn’t matter though, as it’s Katamari only with much shorter load times and new fancy graphics filters. And a crap controller to play it with. I managed though, and so it is complete! Hurrah!