Thursday, May 17, 2007

Alternative RTS action

I’ve pretty much decided to wait until later this year for a PC and at that time get the cheapest of the new Direct X10 cards available. I'll just survive with my office laptop if/when disaster strikes my home PC. My hope is that by the Fall, such a rig can be had for the magical $1000 or less mark. My fingers are crossed very hard.

In case that doesn’t materialize, I looked over the RTS landscape for consoles and (gasp) handhelds. The outlook is pretty darn good actually. The big headliner is of course Halo Wars, but that is probably not coming out till holiday 2008. In the near term, Tom Clancy’s End War sounds promising and Universe at War could be good too. There are rumblings that a port of Warhammer: Mark of Chaos will be announced for the 360 soon. Even less reliable are grumblings that Relic is preparing a RTS for consoles. Whether that’s a new IP or a port of Company of Heroes or the Dawn of War series, I would be a happy camper either way.

On the less traditional RTS front, we have Grim Grimoire for the PS2. If you can believe it, GG is a side-scrolling 2D RTS. Wild. Though not scheduled for US release yet, Shining Wind for the PS2 is also lurking having just come out in Japan this week. Then there is FFXII Revenant Wings and Heroes of Mana both for the DS.

So whatever happens, my RTS cravings should get satisfied.

The power of demos
I downloaded Area 51 Black Site the other night and was completely taken by surprise. I had heard relatively good things about the last FPS Area 51 game, but could not have cared less during that period. Having played through the fairly short demo level of Black Site, I can safely say that a purchase of the full game is highly likely. Correction, a purchase “was” highly likely until the release date of Halo 3 was announced a few days ago. A scant two weeks after Area 51 hits stores. If money is tight that month, it will be no contest. Sorry Area 51...again!

The other demo I checked out was Forza 2. Admittedly, I’m not the core target for this game. I like racing games, but favor the arcade-style affairs. I was definitely impressed with the smooth car handling, and I really like the visual brake assist arrows. Even so, the graphics whore in me just could not get past the visuals. I haven’t played with the Gran Turismo HD demo since it was released, but I have been downloading the time trial and car highlight videos from the Japanese PSN store. There is just no comparison. Forza looks like a shiny, too brightly lit “game” and GT HD looks like real life. I mean really, really looks like real life. Stunning is not an understatement.

A demo that I do constantly boot up is Ninja Gaiden Sigma. It’s great that you have access to multiple weapons and difficulty to help hone your skills till the game comes out. Perfect use of a demo to keep your fans happy I'd say.

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