Beyond Good and Evil

Oooh! It has finally happened. I've been waiting for this ever since it was announced:

Beyond Good and Evil (HD) has landed in the Xbox Live Arcade.

I played this game back in the PS2 era, and it was excellent. Beautiful graphics, a wide variety of game play style, and a combat mechanic that was well forward of its time.

Combat in BGE is very fluid, particularly in the multiple-opponent case. Push the stick in the direction of who you'd like to give the smackdown to, press the attack button, and Jade flows her combat moves over to that opponent. A brilliant set of animations and an easy and direct flow to combat. In modern games, this is best demonstrated by Batman: Arkham Asylum, and how Batman fluidly moves from one opponent to the next.

The game just appeared on XBLA, and is still downloading. I didn't need a trailer or a demo or anything. Bang! MSP 800 away, and the game is mine. Of course, I really should play the damned thing before recommending it, but I will say this is a game you should take a look at.

Driving Skill

If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you'll know that driving games are one of my favorite genres. And that I tend to like "arcade-style" racing games rather than "simulation" driving. In short, give me Burnout any day, over Project Gotham Racing or Forza Motorsport.

A few months ago, I received a 6-month Gamefly subscription as a gift. This was very cool, but also has some drawbacks (and as I write that, I think a future blogpost is coming up). But with this subscription, I've had a chance to rent two driving games so far: Blur and Split/Second.

I saw Blur a long while ago, and it sounded very cool. The trailers looks great. I got the game in the mail and popped it in the Xbox. Sigh. It was back in the mail two days later. Why? Simply put: your driving skill doesn't matter whatsoever. You are totally subject to random events. You fly past your rivals, taking every turn with precision, and then what? ... a freakin' bomb drops on your ass, and you fall back to 3rd place. Did you have any way to avoid it? Nope. It Just Happens. The game is just a frustrating exercise of avoiding random encounters with your opponents, hoping they don't take you out. Sure, you can work your wonders and get the Right defense powerups, but in the end? It doesn't help. You run out of defense much, much faster than the cars behind you run out of shit to throw at you.


Today, I received Split/Second in the mail. I'd played the demo, and it was great fun. Stuff blowing up all around you, making you dodge at the last second. But you can dodge. Your driving skills actually matter in this game. It isn't about a roll of the dice, but about you. Crap blows up around you (awesome!!) and you need to scoot around it. I'm just starting on the game, but it is already apparent that it has got some great fun, and that I need to learn more. If I bring down a bus on a rival to take him out, then I need to be very careful to dodge that same bus! The game lets you know when you've beat yourself down!

Split/Second is going to stay here for a while. After playing for a while, I'll decide whether to return the game (after sufficient play), or to send the game back quickly (to get the next one) and order myself a copy to keep. Regardless of that outcome, this is a fun game, without the defeatist gameplay of Blur.

Try it out! Download the demo, and see what you think.

Plants vs Zombies

This week, there is a sale going on for Plants vs Zombies. I highly recommend this game. There is a lot of replay value in its mini-games, survival modes, and even the gentle Zen Garden. It is quick to pick up, fun to play, and will keep you going to unlock all of the play modes.

Another alternative to downloading the game from Xbox Live Arcade is to purchase a disc with the game. The disc has Plants vs Zombies and comes with Peggle and Zuma. It is just $20 from Amazon, and can be sold off on the secondary market when you're done with it (unlike the download).