As far as the video game part of my life goes, last week was all about Dead Space. Well, I also finished up the original Metal Gear Solid (After the credits rolled, my mostly non-gaming wife aptly summed it up as "very Japanese.") but I digress. I rented the PS3 version from Blockbuster and played it steadily through the week until finally beating it on Sunday night. My wife was actually backseat for the entire duration, so props to her for sticking it out.
While I wouldn't consider Dead Space a truly great game, I do think it's a very good one. The graphics and sound are top notch, the zero gravity gameplay is quite cool, the story is decent (enhanced by watching the six downloadable video comics), and the game as a whole just does a great job of delivering the scares. Oh yeah, and I really dug the way the game handled being in a vacuum with no sound. Rather than talk about that stuff, however, I'd like to focus in on something that really stood out to me about Dead Space: the absence of a HUD.
According to Kotaku, EA has announced that its popular survival horror game Dead Space is getting some premium upgrade packs. Like all things EA, expect these new "enhancements" to cost you (to the tune of nearly $30 if you wanted them all--which is half the retail price of the entire goddamn game...) and that some of them will be useless "graphical upgrades" as opposed to things that would actually warrant shelling out cold hard cash. In their defense, there are some upgrades that change the game experience--upgrading weapon power, mostly--and no one's holding a gun to your head to force you into shelling out cash for these things. Your copy of Dead Space will still work just fine without them.
I just finished Fallout 3 a few minutes ago, and I've got to say that it's miles ahead of the competition when it comes to picking what's going to be my game of the year. It's a pretty fantastic title, and if you haven't played it yet you should run out and get a copy immediately...
With that out of the way, the wife and I ran through a few of the demos and clips I had downloaded onto the 360. Here's a few words.
Game Description: A worthy successor to Saints Row, the first open-world title on next-generation consoles, Saints Row 2 features all new customization options, including player's: gender, age, voice, crib and gang. In addition, the sandbox just got larger with a totally transformed and expanded city of Stilwater, offering all new locations to explore with new vehicles, including motorcycles, boats, helicopters and planes. Saints Row 2 will be playable online in 2-player co-op through the entire singleplayer campaign or in the all new open-world competitive multiplayer mode never before seen in the genre.
HIGH Blowing up people and vehicles from inside the safety of a helicopter never gets old, does it?
LOW Actually, it does. And surprisingly quickly, at that.
WTF For some reason EA refused to include any licensed characters as a fun secondary skin. Sure, they don't have access to Lucasfilm characters the way the first game did, but aren't they making a James Bond game right now? Meanwhile, the Sean Connery skin is just lying around in a mainframe somewhere, gathering dust.
Game Description: Mercenaries 2: World in Flames is an explosive open-world action game set in a massive, highly reactive, war-torn world. When a power-hungry tyrant messes with Venezuela's oil supply he sparks an invasion that turns the country into a war zone. But for you, international crisis is all upside: You are a mercenary, and you profit from chaos. You are not a soldier. You don't have to play by anyone's rules. You have your own code: you will fulfill the terms of the contract, no matter what. If you see it, you can buy it, steal it, or blow the living crap out of it. Play your own way, or play with the help of a friend in the new co-op multiplayer mode.
The last few days have been absolute hell on my productivity. Fallout 3 was just released, and pretty much everything else going on has been put on indefinite hold while I make my way through the irradiated wastelands.
To be brutally honest, the game didn't make a strong first impression with me once I actually had the disc. I wasn't the biggest fan of Bethesda's Oblivion, and the first day or so spent in post-apocalyptic D.C. is guaranteed to seem like nothing so much as Oblivion with guns.
A case study conducted by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and published in the October 2008 issue of the American Physical Therapy Association's journal found that when a teenage boy with cerebral palsy played Wii Sports as part of his regular therapy, "there were positive outcomes at the impairment and functional levels," according to the abstract.
While I couldn't find a full-text version of the article, SpecialKids.com reports on the study in more detail:
[T]he patient was a 13-year-old male with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy. In a school-based setting, he participated in 11 training sessions, over a four-week period, using the Wii while continuing to receive physical and occupational therapy. The sessions were each between 60 and 90 minutes long and used the Wii sports games software, which offers boxing, tennis, bowling, and golf. He trained in both standing and sitting positions.
“ 'Improvements in visual-perceptual processing, postural control, and functional mobility were measured after training,'” the researchers reported.
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