Archive for May, 2010
I dreamed about this game last night. And I dreamed that you could quit the app and then come back and resume your current track. It was a wonderful dream but, sadly, just a dream.
Fantastic game, though. If it’s good enough to interrupt my usual dreams of cowboys and separation anxiety, then it must be pretty special. Also: I’ve been playing it too much.
Two things have killed me in Red Dead Redemption: animals and stupidity.
You see, if you keep your wits about you, people aren’t a problem. Peasants with guns, mostly. Use Dead Eye mode correctly, stay in cover, look for smoke and muzzle flashes and use the terrain to your advantage – do all that you won’t die. You’ll only be killed by gunfire if you run into crossfire with an empty Dead Eye meter, or if you fail to spot where bad guys are hiding. (Or, sometimes, if you go into a big, important mission without stocking up on medicine first. That definitely counts as stupidity.) Gun fights with armed humans are exciting, satisfyingly brutal and often make you feel like the coolest badass in the world, but they’re never very difficult if you’re sensible and keep your head. (Though that is, as you might expect, easier said than done in the heat of the moment.)
It’s the animals that are really dangerous. Out in the desert at night packs of wolves come out of nowhere. Cougars can pounce without warning, bringing down your horse and, if you don’t react quickly enough, you too. When you’re out, alone except for your horse, you’re very vulnerable indeed – especially at night. There’s nothing in the game that hurts worse than seeing your horse crumple to the ground when attacked by a wild animal. (Except, of course, when your horse gets hit by a bullet due to your own greed and stupidity, but we talked about that a few days ago.)
On the upside, at least when you do see off a pack of wolves you can skin them and take their hearts. That’s a pretty good way to get revenge, if anything is.
Here we have a little isometric driving game, most notable for generating tracks randomly. You chose how long you want the track to be, then try to get through to the end, picking up as many bonus points as possible. Longer tracks are obviously harder to complete, but generally offer more points. It is random, though, so a very long track might get you fewer points than a shorter, more bonus-heavy track.
My experiences with the game went something like this:
0 mins: Hmm, the review on Touch Arcade made this sound great and it’s only £1.19, I’ll give it a go.
5 mins: Okay, this is completely uncontrollable. Whoever programmed this either hates gamers or me personally. Might be a good game, otherwise, but these controls are appalling.
15 mins: Right, I’m starting to get the hang of this handling, but I keep missing the buttons. They’re just too small.
30 mins: My thumbs have adjusted and I’m hardly missing the buttons at all.
45 mins: Actually, this handling model is lovely. Skidsome in the extreme, bombing round these tracks is brilliant fun.
60 mins: One… more… go…
120 mins: My battery ran out! But I need to keep playing! Chills coming on… starting to shake… must find charger…
Which is all a long-winded way of saying that it takes a while to become comfortable – it takes a while to even be able to turn the simplest corner, to be fair – but once you start getting used to it, it won’t let go. There’s never a chance of getting stuck, because a whole new track is only a button click away.
It’s not perfect, though. The left and right buttons could do with being a little taller. I’ve adjusted now, but I can’t imagine that it would hurt the game in any way just to extend the area of control response up the screen a little. Also, the game doesn’t save tracks. It’s not much of an issue at first, but when you start on the longer tracks it’s annoying that you can’t take a break and come back to them. You can retry the same track as much as you like while in the game (which gives you a ghost of your best attempt, a lovely touch), but quit and come back and you’ll have a whole new randomly-generated track to deal with.
Still, neither of those niggles spoil the experience. I’ve not been this consumed by an iPhone game for a while. It’s really brilliant stuff. Initially unfriendly, but definitely worth sticking with.
I’ve arrived south of the border, in what may well be one of the greatest set pieces in the history of gaming. I’m not too afraid of spoilers here, but I won’t say any more than that, for fear of ruining the moment. Of course, having told you that it was so marvellous, I’ve set your sights so high that whatever happens will probably be a disappointment.
Look, just pretend I didn’t say anything, okay? Let’s just forget this post ever happened and let’s both come back tomorrow and I’ll talk more about horses, dogs and other animals. Deal?
I lost two more horses last night.
My much-loved Lucy, who I’d saved from an overly-amorous owner, died when a cougar came out of nowhere and attacked her. I shot the cougar in the head, but it was too late for poor Lucy. I couldn’t bring myself to skin her, so I wandered off and found a new horse, who my wife named Shitfire.
I blame myself for his death. As I was riding across the desert a man called out, asking for help in rescuing his wife from some lowlife varmints. We galloped across the desert together and found his wife hanging by her neck from a tree. I shot the rope before the poor woman choked and plugged a couple of bandits for good measure, then rode off when the man put his wife on his horse and thundered away. I’d left a couple of the bandits alive, but I didn’t think it would matter and I was anxious to claim my reward.
As you may have surmised, that was a mistake. We slowed to stop half-way down a hill. The man and his wife both thanked me profusely… and then the two remaining outlaws appeared at the top of the hill. Shots rang out. The man slumped in the saddle, quite dead. His wife ran screaming, straight towards the two bandits. I galloped after her, switched to Dead Eye mode and killed both bandits. As they fell to the ground, Shitfire did too, hit by one of the last bullets the bastards fired. I let the woman run into the desert as I stood by my fallen steed. I have no idea if she survived.
I should have been more careful and let caution override my greed. I didn’t think the bandits would follow us, but that’s no real excuse. I must have known there was a possibility, but I wanted to claim my reward before the husband and wife got too far away. That miscalculation led to the man’s death, the death of a good horse and, quite possibly, the death of the wife. The nighttime desert is no place to be when unarmed.
At least I wasn’t stranded. The outlaws had owned horses and one was the spitting image of Shitfire. I’ve named him Shitbiscuit. I wonder how long he’ll last?
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has just appeared on the App Store. It’s the first DS game in its entirety for the bargain price of £2.99.
I never did finish the DS version, I don’t think – I’m not sure I ever started the fifth case and I’m pretty sure I didn’t finish it – but I’m also looking forward to replaying the cases I did play back in the day.
It’s a decent conversion. The two DS screens are shown using the iPhone’s portrait orientation and, apart from looking a little small, there’s nothing to complain about, except for wishing text appeared a little more quickly. It even does a quick save when you press the Home button. Yes, I know it should, but there’s enough games that don’t to make it worth pointing out.
I’ve just spent my lunchtime playing through the first case. All simple, tutorial-level stuff, but it’s very satisfying when everything goes to plan. I remember it being slightly annoying in later cases when my brain failed me and it became an exercise in trial and error, but hopefully I’m cleverer now.
I love Grand Theft Auto IV. It’s quite possibly my favourite game of all time – at the very least it’s in a tussle with Doom for the top spot.
I also love Westerns and, more to the point, the idea of Westerns, the dream of the West. I mean, I wear a cowboy hat every day and I live in rural Kent.
So Red Dead Redemption should be pretty much my dream game, knocking on the gates to the hallowed halls of the “Best Games Ever” from the moment the disc hit the drive.
And there’s no real need for suspense. After over seven hours with the game yesterday I love it. I loved it from the first moment I walked through the doors of the Armadillo saloon. It’s everything I wanted and any minor niggles I might have with the game are so tiny that I can’t even remember them right now.
I do remember how much of a badass I felt when slipping into Dead Eye mode to shoot a bandit through the skull as he held a screaming woman in front of him.
I remember the grief I felt when some lowlife scumsucker pleaded for my help and then stole my horse when I stopped to give aid – I shot him as he galloped away, but only succeeded in shooting his hat off.
I remember how terrible I felt – and still feel – when I shot an innocent man just to get my hands on a bit of paper he was willing to sell to me. (I’ve been trying to atone for that ever since, my own personal story of separate from the game’s scripted story, but tied up with it nonetheless.)
I remember being pursued across country by men not totally in the wrong, trying and mostly failing to shoot their guns from their hands and disable, rather than kill, them.
I remember standing on a ridge watching a train puff its way across the desert below.
I remember seeing a man being pursued by men shooting after him, killing them, then realising I’d shot lawmen chasing after a criminal.
I remember seeing a prostitute being attacked outside the saloon and shooting the man trying to kill her.
I remember a duel in a dusty main street.
I remember finding a bone, a bloodstain and a shoe in the middle of the desert.
I remember tracking down treasure, helping a con-man sell his wares, herding cattle in a vicious storm, riding out of a burning building, a conversation with a good man, watching a cartoon in an early picture house, picking herbs and stealing a horse for her own good.
And I remember kicking chickens, just to see if I could.
It’s magnificent. Atmospheric, brutal, emotional, exciting. Single shots can kill. You can see for miles. The soundtrack is perfect for the setting.
It’s a game where I walk around instead of running, just because it looks and feels like I should do so. When a game gets me like that, I know that I’ve been drawn in completely.
It’s two of my favourite things in the world meshed together perfectly. And while Irish and Bonnie may not quite be up there with Roman and Brucie, at least they’re not calling me up on a mobile phone to go bowling every few minutes. There’s a lot to be said for the being alone in the desert.
Barely touched my trusty iPhone gameswise over the weekend. Saturday was spent in London, taking my wife on a magical mystery tour for her birthday. Went to the Natural History Museum, the V&A and then finished off the day at the Legally Blonde musical. (Hugely enjoyable stuff – and not just before my Doctor, Peter Davison, is in it.) Then Sunday was spent with Red Dead Redemption.
I did, however, manage to find time to keep up with my games of Words With Friends. It would be more accurate to have taken a screen shot of a solid but unspectacular move, but I just wanted to show off a bit.
Fantastic as always, but I’d love it if the game gave me a warning if I was about to create a unit that would take me above my maintenance limit.
Of course, the real problem with Slay is that once you start playing it’s difficult to stop. Those of you who’ve played it will know what I mean. And if you haven’t, it’s probably about time you started.
Okay, thanks to a helpful poster on the Touch Arcade forums (yes, people like that do exist amongst the twelve year olds still impressed by polygons) I’ve found out how to view high scores. You just leave the game on the initial menu screen for a while and they pop up. Not ideal, by any means, but at least they’re there.