Tag Archives: LEGO Indiana Jones

Gamestuff: The Next Generation

My Xbox AvatarIn reality, the “next generation” of gaming consoles is whatever the folks at Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and Infinium Labs ((That’s a joke. Infinium Labs, now Phantom Entertainment, announced what promised to be the end-all, be-all of video game consoles way back in 2002. Many were skeptical of the rather bold claims made by Infinium, especially given that technical detail was entirely non-existent and the only “prototype” of the console appeared to be a computer-generated mockup. It came as a shock to almost no one when Infinium missed their announced launch date of January 2005, and the aptly-named Phantom console never appeared.)) have up their sleeves for 2010 (or maybe 2011). Despite the fact that the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii have both been on the market for two years and the Xbox 360 had its third birthday over a month ago, the phrase “next-gen console” still gets bandied about in relation to all three systems. Well, if that’s the way it’s going to be, then fine: The next generation of console video games has arrived at the International House of Johnson.

That’s right, my final Christmas gift—acquired on 02 January 2009—was an Xbox 360. That handsome fellow to the right (or above left, if you’re reading this in an RSS aggregator) is my Xbox avatar, the closest I could approximate how I look when I arrive home after a grueling day at work, ((Understand that I am using a very generous definition of the word “grueling” here.)) ready to kick back and play some LEGO Indiana Jones with my young apprentice. ((Kyle originally called the game “cowboy hat Star Wars”, as his favorite game on the Xbox classic was LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy.))

Xbox 360My budget allowed for the Xbox Pro console, an extra wireless controller and a 12-month Xbox LIVE Gold membership, but there wasn’t much left over for games, which typically cost $50-60 new. Thankfully, both the console and the extra controller came with games, roughly 40 of my Classix Xbox games are compatible with the 360, and I have some very generous friends with some fairly extensive Xbox 360 game collections. As a result, here is what I’ve been playing for the past week:

  • LEGO Indiana JonesLEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures. Included with the console, this title has definitely gotten the most play. Kyle and I both loved the LEGO Star Wars games, so making the jump to Dr. Jones was a no-brainer. The “Original” part of the title means that there’s no Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but I’m okay with that.
  • Kung Fu PandaKung Fu Panda. The second game included with the console is surprisingly enjoyable given that it’s a movie tie-in. I think I’m a little less than halfway through this one and I’m having a lot of fun with it. Unfortunately, it’s only a single-player game and a little complex for Kyle to handle on his own.
  • Hexic HDHexic HD. The final game included with the console was pre-loaded on the hard drive. Hexic HD (I assume HD stands for “high-definition”, though my television is incapable of confirming this) is a puzzle game similar to the insanely popular Bejeweled. Simple, fun and very, very addictive.
  • Viva Piñata: Party AnimalsViva Piñata: Party Animals. This one was included with my second wireless controller. It’s bright and colorful and Kyle likes the way it looks on the screen, but the gameplay is a bit out of his reach right now. Like most party games I’ve played (Fusion Frenzy, Kung Fu Chaos), Party Animals features a variety of short, fast-paced games, ideal for a quick pick-up game with a group of friends.
  • CarcassonneCarcassonne. The one game I did purchase separately cost me 800 Microsoft points ($10 US) on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace. It’s an adaptation of a tile-laying game by the same name that Laura and I both enjoy. We’ve only played one game together, but I’m hoping for many, many more. Why play this on a console instead of a tabletop? One word: scoring. Having the computer handle the final scoring is much simpler than tallying it up by hand.
  • Gears of WarGears of War. Until the sequel was released last year, this was one of the must-have first-person shooters for the Xbox 360. I don’t mind being a version behind, because this game is so blasted cool and the graphics are like nothing my Xbox Classic could ever dream of achieving. Gears of War is on loan to the International House of Johnson from Miscellaneous G™.
  • Assassin's CreedAssassin’s Creed. Another title courtesy of Miscellaneous G™, Assassin’s Creed is a third-person, over-the-shoulder action game featuring lots of sneaking around and parkour. I’ve heard that the game can get rather repetetive, but I’m still in the “Holy crap, that looks so awesome!” and “I can’t believe I just did that!” phase of our relationship.
  • Call of JuarezCall of Juarez. The third title brought to me by Miscellaneous G™ is a Wild West shooter. My first impression of this game isn’t terribly favorable. I wanted it to be like Gun or Red Dead Revolver, or even Dead Man’s Hand, but the interface feels clunky and there are visual elements that make the game feel like it was rushed to market. I’m going to give the game another shot before I declare it a dud, but it had best turn around quickly, or we’re never going to get out of the “Holy crap, that looks so not-awesome!” and “I can’t believe I had to do that!” phase of our relationship.
  • Duke Nukem 3DDuke Nukem 3D. The classic first-person shooter and predecessor to the long, long, long awaited Duke Nukem Forever ((Any day now.)) has not been updated to take advantage of the exponential improvements in gaming technology. At all. And yet, it’s still a heck of a lot of fun to play. This one is courtesy of a free download code, provided by one of the hosts of The Video Game Show.
  • Aegis WingAegis Wing. An action-shooter in the same vein as the classics R-Type and Silpheed. Aegis Wing was a free download from Xbox LIVE. It’s really meant to be played with multiple people, with Voltron-style hook-up action, and the single player missions (sans up-hooking) are rather difficult.
  • Dash for DestructionDash for Destruction. I feel a little guilty that I racked up 190 Achievement points ((More on Achievements in a later post.)) playing what is blatantly an interactive advertisement for Doritos, but there you have it. Dinosaurs chase Doritos delivery trucks; play as the dinosaur or the truck. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

I’ve also been taking advantage of my Xbox LIVE membership to play a boatload of game demos, including Braid (which has an excellent soundtrack), Rocketmen: Axis of Evil (the title is far cooler than the game itself), LEGO Batman (want!), and UNO (also want!).

Because the Xbox is connected to the Intertubes during play, anyone with a little know-how can find out what I’ve been playing recently. My Gamertag badge displays my current Gamerscore and the five games I played most recently, while 360voice uses the very same information to create a daily blog for my Xbox 360. A recently-added feature allows me to log in to my Xbox account from anywhere and queue up downloads of free content or even purchase games on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace, which will automatically be downloaded the next time my console connects. Pretty slick.

Yeah, I’m gushing a bit, and about two years too late, but that’s the way it goes around here sometimes. Tomorrow, Microsoft will announce the Xbox 720 and a year and a half from now I’ll be the only person I know still slumming it with the 360, but it should be a pretty cool year and a half—until the inevitable Red Ring of Death, that is.

Video Game Roundup – Summer 2008 Edition

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about video games, largely because I was going through a bit of a dry spell in that arena. That all changed about a month ago when, after about three years of nagging from a friend, I reinstalled City of Heroes. ((This is not an exaggeration. I had characters that were inactive for well over 1200 days.)) Well, technically, I installed City of Villains, but the fine folks at NCSoft bundle the subscriptions to both, so “upgrading” to City of Villains got me 30 days of free play on both games.

Now that I’ve got my game on again, I’ve taken a belly flop into the pool of pixelated entertainment. Here are the games I’ve been playing over the past couple of weeks:

  • City of Heroes (PC)City of Heroes/Villains (PC) I’ve only played three Massively Multiplayer Online Games, ((The other two: Earth & Beyond and the original iteration of Star Wars Galaxies.)) but City of Heroes is by far my favorite. A friend at work has been trying to get me to join the cult of World of Warcraft for several months, but elves and orcs don’t appeal to me as much as capes and cowls. I meant to create a few villains during my 30-day “trial” period, but was having so much fun with my cadre of heroes that I never bothered.
  • Destroy All Humans 2 (Xbox)Destroy All Humans 2: Make War Not Love (Xbox). Long-time readers of this blog will undoubtedly know that I’m not especially good at completing video games. I once lost a bet because I couldn’t finish two games in a year. Every once in a while, though, a game grabs hold of me much in the same way a crocodile siezes a wildebeest, its jaws clamping down on the unwary ungulate’s throat until the final twitch is twutch. Destroy All Humans 2 had all the elements necessary to be that game, plus I began playing just when Laura and Kyle fled to Florida for a week, leaving me free to play and play and play some more with no one wanting to watch The Wonder Pets! or (worse)The Closer. ((Seriously, Kyra Sedgwick’s accent drives me up the wall. I’d much rather hear Ming Ming duckling say “this is sewious” than listen to Mrs. Kevin Bacon drawl her way through another interrogation. That’s why she’s so good at what she does: five minutes in a room with her is enough to make even the most hardened criminal confess to anything as long as she will just shut up, fer crissakes!)) The story takes place in 1969 and follows Cryptosporidium-138, an alien invader who (in the first game) managed to infiltrate the White House. Now, however, the Russians have destroyed his mothership and he’s out for revenge, uncovering a vast conspiracy (and meeting a dangerously enchanting female KGB agent) along the way. The dialog is amusing (rife with innuendo and not at all appropriate for young kids), the missions are challenging but almost never frustrating, and the variety of weapons that Crypto acquires for himself and his flying saucer as the game progresses make destroying humanity fun for the whole family. Except the kids. And probably wife.
  • Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC)Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC). I own this roleplaying game for both the PC and the Xbox, ((But not the Game of the Year edition that includes both the Tribunal and Bloodmoon expansions. No, that would be too convenient.)) but I’ve never really taken a character beyond Seyda Neen (the village in which the hero begins the game). Once upon a yesterday I named Morrowind as my “Island Game”, the single title I’d take with me if I were stranded alone on an island and somehow miraculously had both a computer and the electricity necessary to play games all day (instead of building a raft or a signal fire, I guess, which seems very typical of me). I’ve heard so many good things about this game (and even better things about Oblivion, its successor) that I’m determined to play it through, come hell or high water.
  • LEGO Indiana Jones (PC)LEGO Indiana Jones (PC). Having enjoyed both LEGO Star Wars games immensely on the Xbox, I was disappointed to learn that LEGO Indiana Jones would only be available for “next generation” consoles. ((Please, for the love of Adam Sessler’s anime-inspired hair, stop calling the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii “next generation consoles”! They’re here, for cryin’ out loud! They’re current generation! Just…knock it off…really.)) So, when I was wandering through Best Buy and found myself reading the system requirements for the PC version, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my aging desktop computer met those requirements. Alas, the recommended system specs were considerably higher than the minimum specs, so the game ran rather poorly, at least until I upgraded my PC. Even so, the keyboard-based control scheme in the PC version is sadly inferior to the Xbox controller setup; so much so that I may put this game aside until I can buy an Xbox 360 controller. ((For those who may not know, wired Xbox 360 controllers are USB devices and compatible with Windows.))
  • Homeworld (PC)Homeworld (PC). I blame Sam Chupp for this one. He casually mentioned that he couldn’t stop playing Homeworld and I suddenly developed a nervous tic that wouldn’t go away until I dug out the install CDs for not only Homeworld, but Homeworld: Cataclysm and Homeworld 2. This 3-D realtime space simulator has everything: beautiful graphics, compelling story, intuitive interface, engaging gameplay, and some of the best sound effects and music I’ve ever heard in a video game. Very few games have been able to pull me so completely into their universe, but Homeworld is definitely one of them.
  • Command & Conquer Generals (PC)Command & Conquer Generals (PC). Ah, the alphabet. Because I have my games arranged alphabetically, I stumbled across the Command & Conquer Generals discs in my hunt for Homeworld and then next thing I knew I was installing the game. Generals never really ran well on my PC, but it’s beautiful now that I’ve upgraded. I have never finished an RTS (though I came close with StarCraft and Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos), but there’s a first time for everything, or so I’ve heard.
  • Freedom Force (PC)Freedom Force (PC). Now here’s a game I have finished. In fact, I finished the sequel (Freedom Force vs. The 3rd Reich) in about a week, which was (at the time) entirely unprecedented. I need to scratch my superhero gaming itch, and this is definitely the game that’ll do so. The first time I played through I was only concerned with completing the story, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Destroy All Humans 2 it’s that completing one hundred percent of the game—leaving no stone unturned, no objective unaccomplished and no shiny ungrabbed—is immensely satisfying. My goal with Freedom Force is to complete every secondary objective of every mission; no mean feat, as usually the secondary objectives are only revealed after the mission is complete.