17 October, 2008

Keepalive: King Kong, Lego Batman Demo, Condemned

I did try a little King Kong after yesterday's post. It had some very nice moments, but now it's locking up. I don't understand it. After I installed the AMD Dual Core optimizer, the game ran great, even without setting it to run on only one core. What have I installed since Sept. 14 which would make it start locking up? Skype? MS Security fixes? That's the downside of PC gaming. Save early. Save often.

Heck the Lego Batman demo didn't even install, which I am personally grateful for. I played enough of it at PAX to know I didn't want to play any more. But I figured I should at least give it a shot. Now I've made the effort and don't have to touch a lego game ever again.

The first Lego Star Wars was great. It took the unbearable films and made them fun. The second Lego Star Wars was decent. It wasn't as good as the films, but there was still some nostalgia glow, and the gameplay wasn't broken. Lego Indy's was, and I'm guessing Lego Batman's is too. All the comments one of the developers made about "games for kids can still be good games" ring completely hollow to me.

It all comes down to defense. The Star Wars games allowed you to defend yourself. If you were a Jedi, you blocked with your saber, feeling clever if you could block at just the right time to send the shots back at your attackers. If you were a blaster character, you jammed on the button to dodge and return a little fire. It felt like you were working harder than the Jedi to get the same results, but that made sense. Jedis are awesome. If you were a non-combatant, you were either ignored or expected to dodge like crazy and still probably take hits because you were playing the wrong character.

Lego Indy and Batman don't have these things. Every character has to dodge like crazy and still takes hits. Other people don't seem to care because it's for kids and the penalty for death isn't too big. But for me, the simple but fair combat was the only thing the games had going for them. The platformer bits were often difficult to judge, and the puzzles were, at best, a nice animation to watch between fights. Take away the decent combat system, and there's really nothing to like about these games aside from watching Legos move about. They're exactly the kind of pretty nonsense that gave children's games a bad reputation in the first place.

Unfortunately, Condemned is looking like it's pretty nonsense for adults. But I'll save that for another post.

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