Friday, May 06, 2005
Ever since I picked up Logitech’s snazzy Playgear case for the PSP, I’ve felt a quiet comfort knowing that nothing can accidentally crack the screen while I’m sleeping or otherwise preoccupied. I do wish it had some extra inner padding for greater “drop shock” absorption. The odd thumbpad placed on the PSP is an item I bought in Japan many moons ago to cover the D-Pad of the original PlayStation controller. Maybe I have sensitive thumbs, but the Sony four-button/D-pad always bothered me over extended play periods. With the intense pressing Ridge Racer PSP requires, I had to break out old faithful so I could once again play in comfort. The problem is that the Logitech case won’t close properly with the thumbpad attached. Hopefully I can find a more compact solution the next time I go to Japan.
So E3 is right around the corner and another trip soon after that. To prepare for such jetsetting, I had to do some hard thinking since traveling light is preferable. If I take the PSP, I’ll need to buy an extra power source of some kind for sure (the second trip involves a 10+ hour flight). Maybe I should just pack the DS or GBA SP? I’ve been meaning to start Fire Emblem and the release of the sequel is a good excuse to get to it.
I found a good deal on an official replacement battery so that problem was quickly solved. I’ve been able to hold off on getting overly deep into the two PSP games I own, Ridge Racer and Luminees, so those should be enough to keep me busy. I may get one more just in case. Perhaps Metal Gear Acid or WipeOut Pure. Although it’s gotten bland reviews, Untold Legends might be more palatable on a long haul flight. I should probably just wait till I get back home and play Bard’s Tale to scratch my dungeon crawling fix.
I’ve attended every E3 show since the first and this will be only the second time I’m not jam packed with meetings and be mostly clueless about what’s going to be shown. It’s quite exciting since I’ll be able to walk the show floor and be totally surprised again. There is a slight chance alternate plans can change my schedule radically, but at this point I’m just looking at the solid things ahead.
As a HD geek, I’m psyched to see and play anything Xbox 360/2/Next. From the sound of things, it’ll be the only physical next generation item on the show floor. It’ll sure be interesting to see if Microsoft can keep current Xbox owners happy. I know several friends (non-hardcore gamers) who just bought the system with Halo 2 this past holiday. Backward compatibility or no, how do you not make them feel good about their support of the Xbox?
I have a gut feeling my current Xbox is on its last legs and will need to be replaced by year’s end so you can bet I would love backward compatibility. Then again, I’m not so attached to the majority of the Xbox titles I own that I would feel the need to buy another Xbox if the 360/2/Next is not backwards compatible. The games I would like to keep would be no good anyway on another system. My save files for Ninja Gaiden and DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball can’t be copied to another hard drive without some sort of hacking (thanks a ton Team Ninja!). I just need my current Xbox to last until I can find time to finish Bard’s Tale, Phantom Dust, Shenmue (!), and Kingdoms Under Fire (and probably its sequel too).
Speaking of finishing Xbox games, finally my long delayed two cents on Jade Empire. It’s all spoiler free and bulleted for your convenience.
- Did I like the game? Yes, it’s as good as I thought it would be, but it didn’t blow me away as I had hoped. It certainly didn’t inspire me to make another food creation.
- I love that one play through doesn’t take 80 hours. My first time through was about 25-27 hours and that’s taking on as many side quests as possible. Definitely makes you want to try the game with different characters and test various paths.
- The new combat system is very cool, but there are lots of things that could be improved upon. In short, everything that deals with weapons is cool, but the hand-to-hand stuff feels and looks weak. A modified version of this combat system would totally rock with KOTOR. Oh mama, the lightsaber battles would be insane.
- The normal difficulty setting is very forgiving. I highly recommend switching to hard, even on your first play through.
- Portions of the game are extremely buggy. I ran into three bugs that required me to start back at a previous save point. Thank goodness I save a ton.
- The load times are ridiculous. I basically had a magazine handy or switched to picture-in-picture to watch TV whenever the frequent loads occurred.
- The story is just okay. There are many similarities to KOTOR, but that’s understandable given the restrictions under a “choose good path or evil” structure.
- At times, the game gave me Mulan flashbacks. It’s obvious great effort was taken to ensure aspects of Chinese culture were authentic as possible, but that can detract from expressing a new vision. Although Jade Empire takes place in a fictitious version of ancient China, I felt I had seen it all before. This comparison is not a knock. I happened to enjoy Mulan as a well done piece of entertainment. I just have this gut feeling that the main audience for Jade Empire are the people on the look out for something different. I do hope sales charts prove me wrong.
So there you have it. Now back to work.
Posted by Wataru Maruyama at 9:38 AM