September 22, 2011
What is it about realism and video games? For some games that portray a realistic world it can be easy to suspend belief about how things should operate and play along because a mechanic is fun, like with Driver: San Francisco. What about when games portray a partially realistic world but contain elements that make it hard to go along with? Well that’s my issue with Red Johnson’s Chronicles, an otherwise stellar adventure game.
Red Johnson’s Chronicles is a downloadable game released this past week for the PlayStation Network, developed and published by French studio Lexis Numerique. It’s a puzzle-based adventure game following private investigator Red Johnson. I controlled him and was introduced to a few additional characters pretty quickly.
As Red was sitting in his office, a rotund police officer entered. The two obviously have a past together and Red helps out by investigating a murder. I was swept off to a shady area of town and soon I was moving my cursor around the screen looking for objects I could interact with. There were no witnesses of this murder but a security camera surely caught the perpetrator. After a few puzzles I was finally able to access the camera.
The camera however didn’t have power, which is odd because to reach the camera I had to find a power grid to operate a ladder right next to the camera. It turns out the circuits inside the camera are not in order, forcing me to arrange them correctly. This begs the question, if the camera was on when the murder was committed, who climbed up to the camera, took it apart, rearranged the insides, put it back together, and left it? If it was the murderer, why wouldn’t he just destroy the camera or take the videotape?
So that’s my major complaint with Red Johnson’s Chronicles. The game looks really nice, I mean considering most of it consists of still screens, but it had an interesting art style blending realism and cartoons. Going along with the art style, the game’s characters seemed straight out of a cartoon with their overdramatic acting. I couldn’t get past that one unlikely puzzle however so I’ll probably miss out on an otherwise stellar adventure game.
August 14, 2011
To recap last week, I published my review of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP and my demo impressions of Driver: San Francisco. I liked pretty much everything in Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, except the point and click gameplay and I thought the Shift mechanic in Driver: San Francisco as at odds with the realism I thought the game was attempting to portray, but I still enjoyed it.
This week I return to college as my fall semester is beginning! I’m not sure how it will affect the frequency of my writing yet, but my homework load will be the determining factor.
I’m still playing Grandia Xtreme. I know I’m close to the end, but I’m not sure how many hours away from it I am. I should hopefully be done by next week, or the week after next. That’s all I’ve been focusing on, but I did go out and purchase Halo 3: ODST last week which means I finally have all of the multiplayer maps for Halo 3! I’ve been playing Halo 3 multiplayer every now and then with a friend, but I don’t expect to write about either Halo 3 or Halo 3: ODST having beaten both ages ago.
I don’t know what’ll get posted this week, but keep watching!
August 10, 2011
The demo for Driver: San Francisco was just released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and I had the chance to play through it today. It’s not my first exposure to the series though; I played some of Driver 2 way back when on the PlayStation. Driver: San Francisco had me resuming the role of Tanner, but this time with a bizarre ability.
Tanner and his partner Jones have pursued long-time bad guy Jericho to San Francisco. While attempting to catch him Tanner gets in a wreck and enters a coma. Upon waking from this coma Tanner realizes he has the ability to shift into other people’s bodies. So even though everything else in the game is attempting to purvey something similar to the real world, Tanner has this unrealistic, albeit fun, ability.
The demo has three missions, the first titled Prove It. In it Tanner explains to Jones his ability. Rightfully so Jones thinks he’s full of it, so, Tanner proves it. As Tanner I had to get close enough to someone driving and shift into them. After pressing the shift button the game slowed down and I moved a cursor to select the car I wished to shift to. I then did a few stunts that Tanner told his Jones he would do.
The second mission was Team Colors. Tanner was assisting a father-daughter racing team, helping them to finish in first and second place. Early on it seemed like it would be difficult to get a one-two finish because the person I wasn’t controlling drove noticeably slower. However, in the back half of the race, my opposition had wrecked, each at least once, making it easier than I thought.
The final mission, I believe Escapist, had me possessing a driver working for Jericho. Tanner’s plan was to have this driver progress up Jericho’s chain of drivers, aiming to gain knowledge from the passengers this driver was transporting. I pretty much had to outrun the police and get to a rendezvous point within a time limit here. I failed the first time I attempted it, but found a few cheap methods of losing the police the second time around. During the mission Tanner chatted up the passenger, who wasn’t interested. The dialogue between the two became annoying since Tanner kept prodding, and the passenger kept getting annoyed.
While I have no knowledge of the streets of San Francisco, I can attest that the city and the game for that matter looked fantastic. The different vehicles I drove seemed to handle differently, and they were all modeled nicely, and for the first time in the series, after real vehicles. I thought the concept of shifting was ridiculous especially in a game attempting to recreate the real world, but it was fun and could be put good use when Driver: San Francisco comes out on September 6, 2011.