I’ve bought a couple of new games. For the Wii I got Guitar Hero Metallica, which is awesome. It’s a lot harder than World Tour and has a better song collection. Besides all of Metallica’s best songs it also features tracks by Queen, Foo Fighters, Motorhead and many more. On the Xbox I’ve completed Need For Speed Undercover and am now playing Mirror’s Edge, another great game. It’s basically a combination of a racing game and a RPG-game like Tomb Raider and Grand Theft Auto. It’s not about shooting as many enemies as you can, but on finding the quickest way around them. And I finally got a racing wheel to enhace the experience of playing Forza Motorsports 2 and Race Driver Grid. At the moment I’m still a lot slower than I was playing with the regular controller, but I haven’t found the right set-up yet and it’s still a lot more fun.
I don’t usually pre-order things. If I really want something I’d rather just go and get it, so I’ll know for sure I’ll have it and can use it right away. But for Guitar Hero World Tour I made an exception, because they offered a free extra guitar with the super bundle. I’m glad I did. Not that they actually delivered the extra guitar, but I’m glad I didn’t have to carry the enormous package around town. As you might now, Guitar Hero World Tour doesn’t only include playing guitar, but also consists of a microphone and a rather extensive drum kit. All plastic of course. ‘Real instruments are for old people.’
The drum kit is awesome. I’ve always wanted to play drums, but unfortunately I was blessed with less musical, rhythmical and motor skills than a dry roasted peanut. This game is the perfect solution. You just follow the pattern on the screen and with a little imagination it feels like you’re actually playing in Dream Theater (although it definitely doesn’t look like that from the outside). Playing guitar and bass hasn’t changed from the previous edition (Legend of Rock), although medium and hard seem to be a bit easier. The addition of vocals I could have lived without. I’ll leave the singing duties to people who can actually hit a note. The set list is pretty eclectic, with amongst others Muse, Interpol, 30 Seconds to Mars, Michael Jackson, Metallica, Bon Jovi and even Anouk.
I didn’t just watch the Olympics, I also played the official video game Beijing 2008 (Xbox). Where most games like this are just a matter of destroying your controller by hammering away on the buttons, this one also has some trickier events that require coordination and timing. At first the difficulty level is frustrating, but once you’ve got the hang of it, after hours of agonizing pain in your arms and hands, it becomes challenging and even enjoyable. I got about half the achievements, but then I unfortunately had to return the game as I had it on load. Once it ends up in the discount bins I’ll probably pick it up again.
Grand Theft Auto 4 (Xbox) has also become less aggravating. I’m getting better and better at the missions and I’m finally involved in some more interesting criminal activities, including blowing things up and huge shoot-outs (although I’m not a big fan of those, as I suck at shooting).
I also got a couple of new games for the Wii. Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 was only ten euros, so even though I don’t really like soccer I couldn’t resist the offer. It’s actually a pretty nice game. It takes a while until you get used to the controls, you have to point at the screen where you want to go, but the tutorials guide you through this process.
To prevent myself sitting on my lazy chair playing video games all day I also bough Wii Fit. This adds a so-called balance board to the wireless controller that registers your motions. The board not only measures your weight, it also calculates your BMI (after you’ve manually entered your height and date birth) and registers the pressure you apply with your feet. This makes for some highly entertaining balance games. My favorite is the ski jump. However there are also yoga, aerobic and muscle exercises. It looks totally silly, but the training does actually work and you even get tired. Which might also have something to do with my poor stamina. Although my Wii Fit age is pretty much equal to my actual age and my BMI is said to be ideal.
Because we gave our parents a Nintendo DS for their anniversary I had a chance to check that portable system out as well. It came with Brain Training, which is fairly entertaining. I got my brain age down to 21, so that’s not bad. We also got March of the Penguins, because we liked the movie. I had no idea what to expect from the game, but it’s basically a kind of Lemmings where you have to guide the penguins from one end to the other by overcoming obstacles and creating escape routes. Didn’t take long to complete the game, although some parts were quite tricky.
And finally, I’m proud to say I’ve also finally completed the adventure game Tomb Raider Legend (Xbox). On the easiest level of course.
I’d pretty much given up on Tomb Raider Anniversary (Wii) when I got stuck in one of the first levels. But when a friend asked me to demonstrate the game, I finally discovered the (very simple) solution to my problem and advanced in the game. It lifted my spirits and I continued playing the game for quite a while, until I got stuck again. However I was still in the Tomb Raider-mood and decided to give Legend (Xbox) a try. This turned out to be a much easier game and I even managed to complete a couple of levels without the help of a walkthrough. I even passed the midway point, but then a parcel arrived with new games and there are only so many hours in a day (most of which are consumed by work and sleep).
I started off with Race Driver: Grid (Xbox), a very sweet racing game. The graphics are incredible, the crashes are awesome and the driving is a lot of fun too. You don’t have to worry about setting the car up right, it’s just a matter of pedal to the metal and fighting your way to the front. The best thing about the game is that is has a flashback option, which you can use to go back in time after a crash or an error to have another go, without having to start all over again. You can do this five times in each race. The racing is divided into three areas, the US, Europe and Japan. The US has mainly street circuits, in Japan there’s a lot of drifting and racing on mountains and in Europe are a couple of famous tracks, like the (new) Nürburgring, Spa-Francorchamps, Istanbul Park and Le Mans. You can even drive the 24 Hours of Le Mans in real time! I prefer the version in 12 minutes though.
Since everyone’s talking about Grand Theft Auto 4 (Xbox) and saying great things about it, I felt I was missing out on something. After playing it for a couple of hours I still feel leek I’m missing something, because I can’t really understand with the big deal is about. The game looks great, the attention for detail is huge, but the game play itself isn’t that great. It’s probably because I’m still in the beginning of the game and I’m not very good at it, but the way it’s going I don’t see myself reaching the part where it gets really interesting.
A game I enjoy playing a lot more is Top Spin 3 (Wii). A regular tennis game, but very addicting. Unlike the tennis game in Wii Sports you have full control over the player and the strokes are a lot more accurate. You can play drop shots and lobs and aim where you want the ball to go. Even playing against the computer is quite challenge. But like almost all games, it’s the most fun when you’re competing against friends.
The Nintendo Wii has reignited my interest for games. Because of the lack of decent racing games for this console, and because I needed a new dvd-player anyways, it has gotten company of a Xbox 360. Reason enough to add a new category to this weblog. I’ll start with a brief summary of my current games collection.
Wii Sports The Wii console came with Wii Sports, a collection of mini-games (tennis, baseball, bowling, golf and boxing). Very fun to play, especially with friends and family.
Rayman Raving Rabbids Rayman Raving Rabbids provides hours of fun as well hours of fun with it. It’s a collection of party games, where you basically have to wave your arms around ridiculously. It also contains a shooter element, where you have to eliminate rabbids with plungers and a dancing sequence, where you have to keep the beat by shaking your left and/or right hand.
BrainAcademy Another nice game to play with company is Brain Academy Wii Degree. The aim of the game is to calculate the size and shape of your brain. With small puzzles in different categories it measures your strengths and weaknesses. According to my latest test result, my brain weighs 1856 grams (the average is supposed to be 1200 grams).
Mario & Sonic at the Olympics Former rivals Mario and Sonic are united for the first time in the official Olympics-game for the Wii. Along with all their friends, like Luigi, Yoshi, Shadow and Dr. Eggman, they compete against each other in various sports and disciplines. My favourites are of course the track and field events, swimming and trampoline. I’m not too keen on skeet shooting, archery and fencing. Like most Wii-games it’s most fun to play with a group of people.
RTL Winter Sports I had to order it from a German webshop, but I simply had to have this game, because it includes curling! Unfortunately the controls are a little off and you can only play with four stones per team, but at least I get to virtually play one of my favourite sports. Other events that are featured in the game are alpine skiing (very hard), speed skating (doesn’t make much sense), cross-country skiing (boring), figure skating (tedious), ski jumping (not bad, although I’m not very good at landing), bobsleigh, skeleton and luge (fun). Unfortunately biathlon isn’t included, because that’s such a popular sport in Germany they made a separate game out of it.
Cars I basically only bought Cars because I wanted a racing game and this was the cheapest one. That it's primarily targeted at kids is only a bonus, because that means I could actually complete it without too much trouble and aggravation.
Madden ‘07 That can't be said about Madden NFL 07. I have no expectations of ever making it to the Superstar Hall of Fame. But that doesn't mean it was a waste of money. It's actually a very good investment, because it will take me a lot, a very lot, of time to master all the required skills. The nice thing about the Wii version is that it has lots of tutorials and the movements actually make sense. I've tried the same game on a Xbox once and gave up after ten minutes because I didn't get it at all. This time can already notice some improvements, just slight, but I'm actually completing passes, making tackles and even scoring touchdowns.
Guitar Hero III This game rocks. Literally. It looks a bit silly, holding a plastic guitar, with coloured buttons, but it’s awesome to play. You almost really get the feeling you’re a rock star. Except they probably wouldn’t get stuck after a couple of songs on the hard level. Easy is truly easy, at least when you get the hang of it, medium is a bit more challenging with the addition of the pinkie finger (and I also had some motor skill problems going from blue to red), hard is just one step too far for me and expert is insane. I’d have to practice so much that it would probably be easier to learn to play a proper guitar. But like South Park said ‘real guitars are for old people’.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary A remake of the original Tomb Raider game that was such a huge success ten years ago. I’ve played it on the pc, but spent more time on the sequel. Thus far I haven’t gotten very far with the Wii-version. Partly because other activities and games have occupied me more and partly because I’m not very good at it. Especially the shooting is rather complicated.
Tomb Raider: Legend Haven’t played this one yet at all.
Forza Motorsport 2 Very addicting. Mainly because of the huge amount of races. I’ve almost completed the Career Mode, but it’s getting to be a bit too much of the same. Unlike the amount of cars, the number of tracks in the game is pretty limited. But overall it’s a great racing game. The handling of the cars is very good and seems to be very realistic. Although I’ve got to admit, I’ve never driven a McLaren F1 on the Nürburgring in real life, so I can’t say for sure. At least you can really notice the differences between various cars and set-ups. One of the very few things that annoys me is the allocating of penalty time when you go off the track. When you run wide, which isn’t really an advantage, you sometimes get more penalties than when you cut off a corner.
NHL08 I love ice hockey, especially now the Penguins are doing so well again, so I’m also a big fan of hockey games. I started with NHL97 and even in the period that I hardly played any games, I still had NHL04 and later NHL06. So when I bought the Xbox I immediately picked up the latest version. But because Forza Motorsport turned out to be more interesting and time-consuming than I thought I’ve only played one game. I still have to get used to all the controls (one of the reasons why I stopped playing games, until the Wii arrived), but I’m confident I’ll get the hang of it eventually.
Lost The perfect game for me. Not only is it based one of my favourite television shows. It’s also extremely easy and very short. After just a couple of days I’d already completed the whole game. And with a little help from a walkthrough I even managed to score the maximum achievement points. In the game you get to play one of the survivors of Oceanic flight 815 who has lost his memory and you have to recollect it by taking pictures and solving puzzles. The developers have succeeded to create the same kind of atmosphere as a regular Lost episode, including flash-backs, cliff-hangers and conspiracies.
With my new chair in place I’m also ready for the new batch of Wii-games that are coming out. I’m especially looking forward to Guitar Hero III, Mario & Sonic at the Olympics and Rayman Raving Rabbids II. I got the first part with 50% discount and have had hours of fun with it. Especially with friends and family it’s a great game to play. Or games actually, as it’s a collection of party games, where you have to wave your arms around ridiculously. Another nice game to play with company is Brain Academy Wii Degree. The aim of the game is to calculate the size and shape of your brain. With small puzzles in different categories it measures your strengths and weaknesses. According to my latest test result, my brain weighs 1856 grams (the average is supposed to be 1200 grams).
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