August 15 - August 19

This week is most clearly defined in my mind as being the last week I have to sit around waiting for Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and so by extension it is ostensibly the last week until the kick-off of the fall gaming glut.

It's been nice having a few weeks away from the old The Week Ahead game, in part because it's nice to see someone else get yelled at for picking the wrong game for a while and also in part because the past few weeks have been dominated by such nothingness that I would have been inclined to seek out Falcor and Atreyu to come help fight it. This week isn't exactly oodles better, but at least it does have something on the docket worth a modicum of attention.

Age of Empires Online is an interesting prospect to me. Having played some of the beta, the game remains a relatively faithful and at the very least competent implementation of the basic AoE game. It is also a natural extension of Age 3, which implemented a kind of RPG-like leveling up system for your race, except now the system has been warped into more of an MMORPG kind of form and includes loot drops that can be applied at your home base like equipment on a character. If AoE Online were a martini, the MMO trappings would be the vermouth. While I think the beta suffered from some balance and pacing questions -- 5 hours in the game still felt both trivially easy and too slow -- the core game felt surprisingly well implemented. Hopefully the past few months have been spent balancing and fine tuning, but assuming that there is a good matchmaking system within the release for player-vs-player, there may be some meat on this bone worth enjoying, at least until all the other games you've been waiting for come out.

If, however, RTS gaming in an MMO space isn't your cup o' tea, might I recommend a glance at the official release of Space Pirates and Zombies. If the words "it's kinda like Star Control" mean anything to you then this is definitely worth at least a glance. After a dozen hours with the beta, I can honestly say that it is a refreshing and fun diversion that provides more than its money's worth.

PC
- Age of Empires Online
- Bastion (download)
- From Dust (download)
- Hacker Evolution Duality (download)
- Space Pirates and Zombies (download)

Xbox 360
- El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron[/url]
- Toy Soldiers: Cold War (XBLA)

PlayStation 3
- El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
- No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise
- Altered Beast (PSN)
- Breath of Fire IV (PSN)

Wii
- Jerry Rice and Nitus' Dog Football

Nintendo 3DS
- Blockado: Puzzle Island (eShop)
- Zoonies: Escape from Makatu (eShop)

Nintendo DS
- Puzzler World 2
- Blockado: Puzzle Island (DSiWare)
- Zoonies: Escape from Makatu (DSiWare - $5)

Comments

I am interested in hearing more about El Shaddai. That looks like a crazy game, but beautiful.

Welcome back to your weekly front page article, Elysium. Certis really made a mess of things.

El Shaddai is looking mighty fine to me. Beautiful cell shaded art? Check! Quirky story trappings based on religious mythology? Check! Crazy action-based combat a la Devil May Cry and Bayonetta? Check and mate!

SallyNasty wrote:
I am interested in hearing more about El Shaddai. That looks like a crazy game, but beautiful.

Same here. I only had room in the budget for one pre-order of an "Oh, you so crazy Japan" game this summer, and that honor went to Catherine (worth every penny, BTW). So someone else is going to have to stick their neck out for this one.

I already did. :blush: I'll be getting it tomorrow. I don't know how much I'm going to get played before PAX, though.

momgamer wrote:
I already did. :blush: I'll be getting it tomorrow. I don't know how much I'm going to get played before PAX, though.

The populace demands a front-page article!

Shane Bettanhausen sold me on El Shaddai on this week's Weekend Confirmed. I'll have it tomorrow, and the girlfriend might have plans tomorrow, too.

Welcome back, Elysium!

Minarchist wrote:
SallyNasty wrote:
I am interested in hearing more about El Shaddai. That looks like a crazy game, but beautiful.

Same here. I only had room in the budget for one pre-order of an "Oh, you so crazy Japan" game this summer, and that honor went to Catherine (worth every penny, BTW). So someone else is going to have to stick their neck out for this one.

I was very interested in it until I played the demo. It's beautiful, as advertised, and "oh, you so crazy Japan" in spades, but the combat is incredibly unsatsifying. It has none of the smoothness and finesse that makes something like Bayonetta so much fun to play. Unless some select people here get pretty excited about it, I'll probably pass or wait for a big sale.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
Minarchist wrote:
SallyNasty wrote:
I am interested in hearing more about El Shaddai. That looks like a crazy game, but beautiful.

Same here. I only had room in the budget for one pre-order of an "Oh, you so crazy Japan" game this summer, and that honor went to Catherine (worth every penny, BTW). So someone else is going to have to stick their neck out for this one.

I was very interested in it until I played the demo. It's beautiful, as advertised, and "oh, you so crazy Japan" in spades, but the combat is incredibly unsatsifying. It has none of the smoothness and finesse that makes something like Bayonetta so much fun to play. Unless some select people here get pretty excited about it, I'll probably pass or wait for a big sale.

See, that doesn't discourage me. I would actually prefer if the combat were simplistic and easy. I am interested in it solely for aesthetics and atmosphere. If it is easy and straightforward - my interest levels go up!

SallyNasty wrote:
See, that doesn't discourage me. I would actually prefer if the combat were simplistic and easy. I am interested in it solely for aesthetics and atmosphere. If it is easy and straightforward - my interest levels go up!

It wasn't unsatisfying because it was simplistic and easy. It was unsatisfying because the character's movement was clunky, the attacks lagged behind my button presses, and blocking didn't seem to do a damned thing. I didn't feel like this was a situation where I was expected to learn the system in order to excel, as is the case with something like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry, and I just hadn't gotten it yet; it felt like it was system that was just bad.

Man, it's good to have a highly anticipated JRPG for me to completely ignore my first week back. It's just like old times!

Elysium wrote:
Man, it's good to have a highly anticipated JRPG for me to completely ignore my first week back. It's just like old times!

IMAGE(http://images.icanhascheezburger.com/completestore/2009/4/8/128836668419438143.jpg)

Elysium wrote:
Man, it's good to have a highly anticipated JRPG for me to completely ignore my first week back. It's just like old times!

Too bad it's not a JRPG. Good try, though.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
SallyNasty wrote:
See, that doesn't discourage me. I would actually prefer if the combat were simplistic and easy. I am interested in it solely for aesthetics and atmosphere. If it is easy and straightforward - my interest levels go up!

It wasn't unsatisfying because it was simplistic and easy. It was unsatisfying because the character's movement was clunky, the attacks lagged behind my button presses, and blocking didn't seem to do a damned thing. I didn't feel like this was a situation where I was expected to learn the system in order to excel, as is the case with something like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry, and I just hadn't gotten it yet; it felt like it was system that was just bad.

I agree. He's not just clocking.

Considering the heinous quality of recent demo releases, and how badly they relate to actual game conditions (I'm talking to you, Catherine and several others), I'm willing to see what the actual release code can do before I harsh on it.

Plus, Bayonetta's controls annoyed the crap out of me, and don't even get me started on Devil May Cry 4.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
Elysium wrote:
Man, it's good to have a highly anticipated JRPG for me to completely ignore my first week back. It's just like old times!

Too bad it's not a JRPG. Good try, though.

Breath of Fire IV on PSN? Good try, though. (OWNED. Maybe.)

I did have the same reaction to the El Shaddai demo as you though. Looks fantastic, but the combat was really lacklustre. What it really did was serve to remind me that I've barely cracked Okami.

Sadly, this pretty much represents a return to form for me.

Elysium wrote:
Sadly, this pretty much represents a return to form for me. :(

If it makes you feel better, Xenoblade Chronicles (which *IS* most definitely a JRPG) is out for the Wii in the UK on Friday.

I'm with you. this week is pretty much all about waiting for Deus Ex. And working on sliders in our NCAA 12 Dynasty.

Speaking of, did you get a chance to play the Madden Demo. I think it looks like it is going to be really good. And I don't say that about Madden much.

stevenmack wrote:
Elysium wrote:
Sadly, this pretty much represents a return to form for me. :(

If it makes you feel better, Xenoblade Chronicles (which *IS* most definitely a JRPG) is out for the Wii in the UK on Friday.

And never, ever out in North America. I would take all the Elysium JRPG barbs in the world for that one.

"Jerry Rice and Nitus' Dog Football" is possibly the singly-most random sentence I could possibly imagine. It led me to watch a four-minute video preview of the game on G4, and I could not be more confused.

Jerry Rice? Dog football?

Elysium wrote:
Sadly, this pretty much represents a return to form for me. :(

I am sad you weren't here to hate on Catherine. Certis tried, but it just wasn't the same, y'know?

Elysium wrote:
Sadly, this pretty much represents a return to form for me. :(

Welcome back Sean; we've missed you.

Oh Wii, you make me sad.

Oh, who let this hack back onto the front page?

The other guy was too damned lazy to do it anymore.

MilkmanDanimal wrote:
"Jerry Rice and Nitus' Dog Football" is possibly the singly-most random sentence I could possibly imagine. It led me to watch a four-minute video preview of the game on G4, and I could not be more confused.

Jerry Rice? Dog football?

Come on, "Fur-st Down!" Get it? Strangest game ever, this even beats that game Shaq put out in the early 90s. Jerry, what are you doing? Dog football?

Watch this be the best game ever. That still would not change the fact that the guy talking in that youtube video is the most annoying marketeer ever.

From Dust is already out, so El Shaddai is pretty much the only other game I care about this year.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
I was very interested in it until I played the demo. It's beautiful, as advertised, and "oh, you so crazy Japan" in spades, but the combat is incredibly unsatsifying. It has none of the smoothness and finesse that makes something like Bayonetta so much fun to play. Unless some select people here get pretty excited about it, I'll probably pass or wait for a big sale.

I got pretty into the combat in the demo. I had some issues with my attacks flying off in the wrong direction (way too accustomed to DMC's lock-on), but I figured out the mechanics of the charge up moves and the air attacks after a bit and was throwing out combos. Simplistic, yes, but the demo got me thinking that by the end of the game there could very well be some depth and complexity hidden there.

I've barely cracked Okami.

Okami is awesome, and you should play it. All the way through. It really only has one grievous problem: nonskippable dialog until the second playthrough, which is terribly frustrating. In all other respects, it's wonderful.

It doesn't play quite as well on the Wii as it did on the PS2; it's hard to draw perfectly straight lines with your 'brush', where it's very easy with the PS2, and that can give you problems.

Traditionally, I love me some Age of Empires (I preferred AoE II to AoE III, though), however I'm afraid I'm not all that excited for this online version. Going by their website today, it looks like you can play for free, but if you want all the upgrade gear, buildings, etc. for one race, it's $20. That means, if you want the Greeks and the Egyptians, you have to pay them $40.

Moreover, if you want to get a "season pass", giving you everything for the next 6 months, you need to pay them $100.

I guess I'd be more excited about it if they gave you two races for free up front, plus two additional ones for $10 each, or something like that. I don't like the idea of only having 2 races available to me, and further requiring that I pay $20 for each of them that I want to use to their fullest extent.

There was a time when $60 gave you a full game. In this model, it gives you full access to 3 races in an RTS game. Not sure I'm sold on that.