Evening Reading: A Night Without the Net

By Garnett Lee, Oct 06, 2010 5:00pm PDT Last night I get home from work, flick on the TV, and get a "searching for satellite" message on the screen. "Hrmm" I think, "Well, no big deal. I'll just get on the Net, maybe stream the next episode of BSG on Netflix..." Uh, no, my Internet was out too. Suddenly, I felt like I'd entered the dark ages. Pretty amazing how completely I take these conveniences for granted now--and how dumbfounded their absence left me. Don't tell me those freaky sci-fi movies fueled by paranoid futurists are right!

Ah, who cares if they are so long as I've got more than thirteen channels of shit on the TV to choose from.

Here are the highlights from the Shack's feed today for you to chose from:

And for something completely different:

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  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

    The demo kind of made me think I bought a dud.

    My fears were largely unfounded.

    Early impressions in reply.

    Thread Truncated. Click to see all 6 replies.

    • If a mashup of God of War, Shadow of the Colossus, and Castlevania: Rondo of Blood is what you’re after (without quite being as good as any of those), it’s good stuff. It’s pretty rough around the edges—hitches in framerate, odd gaps in the sound that don’t affect gameplay, uneven aliasing, a few unflattering textures, models and animations, Patrick Stewart’s overacting—but the core of the game feels really solid. It’s one of those “scrappy contender” type games, like a team of really enthusiastic, talented, but fairly green game makers got a budget and license way bigger than they were ready for.

      The combat has a great sense of impact, though it’s not as polished and smooth as God of War, Ninja Gaiden, or Bayonetta. The roll-dodge goes on just a split-second too long, and block-cancels seems to be fairly situational. But then the enemies aren’t super-ultra aggressive either, so it seems balanced. It’s all very satisfying and meaty, despite it sometimes being difficult to get a good read on when enemies are attacking in order to perform the split-second “sync block” moves. I get the feeling those will be important later…

      A lot of the environments look awesome, and are full of cool details—one room was simply an upward dirt spiral curling around a waterfall for a short distance, but it had this awesome rainbow mist and ornate carvings in the walls. VERY pretty!

      The camera is totally out of the player’s hands so you can’t quite look around and take it all in, but the camera direction is decent for showing off. It’s not as good for combat though, as there are a few spots where I’ve taken cheap hits from just-slightly-off-screen foes. So far it’s just a minor annoyance, but I wonder if it’ll keep up deep into the game when the full difficulty is in place.

      The game has a thick coating of really cool pencil art to compliment your journal entries on all the characters and enemies, and the move upgrades all have these simple, cool, hand-animated drawings showing what they do. A very nice touch!

      The game’s story knows it’s a game story, but that works for it more often or not so far. Robert Carlyle’s performance stands out as particularly good, even if his accent doesn’t match everyone else’s. Even Stewart does well, though there’s a bit too much “I’M OBVIOUSLY PATRICK STEWART” going on for him to really blend in.

      So far, about 3 hours in, I’m really digging it. The reviews saying 7 to 8 feel about right. If you aren't a fan of the God of War style of game, it won't convince you, but if you are you'll enjoy it.

      Also, just for grins I tried the demo on both the PS3 and 360. PS3 definitely has the upper hand—cleaner visually, and fewer framerate drops.