Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Perfect Dark Zero (Xbox 360)

I got an Xbox 360 this morning, and have been playing Perfect Dark Zero.

Granted, I'm early in the game, and haven't had a chance to jump into online multiplayer, yet, but I'm thinking there's a reason Microsoft hasn't allowed a review of this game.

It's OK, but so far, feels a bit underpolished. There are some great textures and clever graffiti, but the nightclub scene has got some ass-stupid AI, and it plays for me like a poor man's version of the "NeoTokyo, 2019" level from TimeSplitters 2.

The soundtrack is top-notch, though, the intro is cinematic slick (flipside sexy James Bond-esque), so I may need to give the title more time.

So far, though, not a must-buy-an-Xbox-360-title.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Bible Game (Xbox)

I picked up The Bible Game from Crave Entertainment, because it's sort of a freak of nature on a few fronts for the big black 'box:
  • It's a budget game ($19.99 MSRP, but most places seem to be selling it for $14.99).
  • It's a budget party game.
  • It's a budget religious party game.

Crave is a small budget publisher, but there are a dearth of party games for Xbox (uh, Whacked!?).

Remember my "Christians got game" post? I also had a brief exchange with Chris Morris about it and his "The greatest story never played" column over at CNN. Religious gaming is a nascent niche genre, and the game is a (mostly) right-shaped peg for that hole.

The game's not bad, is largely a four-person, Old Testament trivia game, with 7 variations. There are also mini-challenge games, which surprised me for their variety and for being entertaining (mostly; the creation of the world mini-game to me seems inane, and the "false idols" and "Pharaoh's snakes" challenges are kind of pointless -- for the game play; I'm not disparaging the principals). Some of the challenge games are pretty gosh darn entertaining when played against multiple human opponents.

So the title is a middling offering, but gets some of those points because (a) it's a niche title, and (b) does a fantastic job soundtrack wise (with contemporary Christian artists (most of whom I haven't heard) like Newsboys, Kutless, and FM Static.

Overall, kudos to Crave for meeting a niche need, and the game is a solid foundation for potential future titles along the same lines, which I hope we get to see, in light of Crave's recent aquisition by Handleman Company

I may alternate play sessions with this game and DOOM 3: Resurrection of Evil, for irony's sake (I kid; RoE on Xbox isn't the game Doom 3 for Xbox is).

Graphics: Not bad, but nothing to write you about. Moderate avatar selection (6) with no customization.

Sound: Pretty good, both due to the above-mentioned soundtrack, and good voice-over work for the "Justin Warren" host character (which suffers some serious detraction due to repetitiveness throughout the game; I do not need to hear "Let there be light" at the beginning of every flippin' challenge).

Game Play: Surprisingly good variety, and fairly solid mechanics. Points deducted for trivia questions repeating (come on, if you have 1,500 O.T. questions, I expect a little less repetition), some lame mini games, and for making some basic game development mistakes. On this last one, regardless of genre, I get ticked if a game doesn't save your character settings (expecially with the current Xbox's built-in hard drive), and party games should be playable, and fun, and fully challenging with any combination of one to the supported number of players for the game; this title is not.

Score (non-scientific): 7 out of 10 (because I gave it a point for meeting a niche game need, and because I have an aversion to lightning. I'm just saying ...)