Lots of stuff

Regarding difficulty

I’ve been playing more Perfect Dark Zero and Oblivion. Both have proved to be challenging. PDZ’s (default) Secret Agent difficulty has me retrying levels a lot, which I don’t mind, but the stealth sections are beginning to grate. I like the multiplayer DarkOps, in which you play several rounds of a given gametype and get money to buy equipment with between rounds. Infection and Onslaught are my favorites. I’m wondering whether the map pack would be worth its price on the Marketplace.

I’ve got the collector’s edition of PDZ. The bonus disc is utterly useless, but the tin can is sweet indeed.

In Oblivion, as I have levelled my character (I’m at level 11 12 13), trolls have cropped up everywhere and they’re so much tougher than the wolves and the like I’ve had to deal with so far. Will o’ wisps are also a pain – empty magicka on low-damage spells, run away to recharge, repeat around ten times… Of course you get better at casting spells while at it, but still.

I do like the way the new threats make you think and evolve. Last morning I had to retrieve some items from a burial complex. The faded wraiths patrolling the place are far too hard for me, so I took off my boots and sneaked through the grave barefoot (it’s easier to sneak without shoes) and upon discovery, legging it. It was fun, and I improved my sneak skill by quite a few points.

Nevertheless, Oblivion is still very good. Only the conversation system has proved to be utterly pointless – once you figure it out, it’s no more engaging than hammering away on the A button.

There’s quite a bit of things to do in the game. I only realized today that you can apply poison to your weapons!

Speaking of hard games, I tried my trusty old Ninja Gaiden on the 360. It works just fine, but the Hurricane Packs proved way too hard for me; I can’t even reach the first boss! I guess I have to complete the basic game again (fourth time) to pick up my skills for the new challenge.

Next gen rising

So far the biggest next-gen vibes I’ve got are coming from the recent demo of Dead Rising. It’s simply… fun. I like everything we’ve been hearing about the game, the first reviews are very positive, it looks good, it plays great, it’s an absolute laugh. Its looks aren’t really anything you could not achieve on an Xbox, but there are hundreds (hundreds!) of zombies on-screen, all moving smoothly. Bodies and blood splatters don’t disappear anywhere – indeed, your clothes get stained rather convincingly as you plow through the horde. I’ve played the demo quite a few times, looking for new weapons (bowling balls, gold clubs, cash registers…) and comedy opportunities (cream cakes). You can even spit at the undead. I really didn’t expect a basically very simple “zombie game” to be this good.

Capcom looks like it’s got its next-gen development in capable hands. In addition to Dead Rising, their Lost Planet is very promising. I trust that more stuff is on the way.

Random observations

As a geek pursuit, I like checking out what Google searches people are coming to my site from. Yesterday one guy was looking for whatever the King Tut mask is for in Animal Crossing Wild World. Nothing much, really, but it looks awesome!

I’m also getting back into tabletop gaming after a dry summer. Miniatures, too, especially Heavy Gear (check these out… I’m salivating here), but also Warhammer 40’000.

So they chose a director for the Halo movie. Interesting! That short movie he’s done is quite something else. I’m getting more and more positive about the whole endeavour. The new comic book seems like it’d be worth the (little) money they’re asking for it.

[Edit: so cool! In addition to the rather neat short movie above, the Halo director has also done this excellent Transformers-alike Citroën film, which would be first of the three car commercials I can recall from the top of my head.]

I got a new portable music player yesterday. The 512 MB Philips I had was not only lacking in storage capacity, it’s bugged, unreliable and cumbersome to use. My wife’s Creative Zen player seems like the right stuff, so I got a Creative Zen Nano Plus (white, 1 GB). I would’ve liked a black one instead, but what’s with charging +5€ just for the color? I haven’t used it much yet, but initial impressions are good.

Update: since someone’s been Googling stuff on faded wraiths in Oblivion, I finally found something that works: an ehchanted sword which does fire damage (15 pts) on strike. Unfortunately, it runs out of charges pretty quickly, but you can follow up with damage-dealing spells to conserve charges. I cleared a ghost ship I’ve been trying some dozen times with this. These swords started dropping from looted enemies at around level 14. If only I had the strength to carry several!

Also, after some more use of the Zen Nano Plus, I can say it rocks. It’s very well-designed and the battery life is impressive, compared to the pitiful one of my previous Philips machine.

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