Manawolf (manawolf) wrote,

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Would you believe I did not grow up with a Nintendo in the house?

I don't consider myself a ferocious gamer. But I do rip through them when I find one I like, and I've been told that I'm abnormally tenacious. Series I have consequentially beat the stuffing out of include Ratchet & Clank, Jak & Daxter, and of course Sly Cooper.

In games with a few sequels, such as all of the above, each game has it's flaws and advantages. Jak & Daxter was incredibly enjoyable, but too short. Jak 2, while taking a risk by going off in a completely different direction from the first, was stunning; however, there were repetitive shooting missions. When the programmers have a penchant for missions that are just a hair shy of impossible, it can make the entire thing frustrating.

Jak 3 was hands-down the best of the series - they fixed what went wrong and kept what went right. THAT'S game design.

Ratchet & Clank was a fine game - not spectacular, but good. Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando improved upon it immensely by bringing in great design elements, better gameplay (yes thank you for pausing while I select a weapon), and fabulous writing.

Ratchet & Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal was littered with bugs. Now I seem to have a talent for finding bugs and breaking game mechanics, but ignoring the instances where I end up freefalling into the void beyond the pixels, the fact that the vehicle doesn't interact with the water on Tyhrranosis - while Ratchet does - was a pretty impressive flaw.

I mean, the vehicle perches on top of the water's surface while Ratchet splashes along beside it, up to his knees in liquid pixels. The lack of a vehicle dismount animation (he simply appears outside the vehicle when you leave it) was a jarring omission; maybe Jak 3 spoiled me.

Boxes also hover on the water surface in the sewer level - and then there was the case of the enemy "ghosts." I had dispatched the "ameboids," yet their eye-glow effects, water splashes and attack noises kept following me. They did no damage and I couldn't hit them - they were just... there.

That was surreal, I showed it to otana. She asked how I keep breaking the game. I wish I knew, I'm almost starting to consider a side career as game tester.

The writing was also a huge let-down at the end. The crux element of the end joke with the villain was brought in quite randomly & suddenly right before the very end of the game. Now that's a throw-away gag if I ever saw one, and NOT the sort of thing you use for the final scene with the villain. And what about Ratchet's frustration with Clank's fame? Where the hell did that go? It just evaporated, leaving that entire line of character development dead in the water.

While I loved the character design of the love interest and some of the weapons were fabulous, #2 was a much better, more well-developed game. #3 seems to have been rushed to the stands without polish, and it ended on a disappointingly flat note. You can literally see the writers going "uh, okay, so he gets the girl, the movie's a hit, and bam the end! Cut, wrap, print!"

Even so, it was a good enough game for me to re-play in Challenge mode. God, I love Challenge mode. Kicking butt out of the levels with the most powerful weapons in the game is incredibly rewarding.

Now to the game I finished yesterday, Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves.

First, the ending of this game pissed me off SO MUCH that I actually started re-playing Sly 2: Band of Thieves from scratch to get the bad taste out of my mouth. I simply could not believe the end - it was honestly pathetic, and betrayed everything the first two games stood for as well as the goal of the third game (getting into the ancentral Cooper vault).

I don't even need to bitch about the change to Carmelita's voice actress, but I will anyway - where the hell did they dig up this jewel? Carmelita never had and isn't supposed to have an accent "Carmelita Montoya" aside). I thought at first the new actress was hispanic, but it gradually became clear that she was trying to put on an accent. Whether it was destined to be Italian, Spanish, French, or something else, you never found out, because it never got there.

Aside from her accent, this girl was just plain bad. Bad voice acting in games is something you generally get used to - like bad dialogue. You just get used to it. But if I had to hear that over-dramatized "Cooper! These guys have to brag, even while they're RUNning aWAY" one more time, I was going to SCREAM.

Also, I love playing as Sly. He's why I love the games! Being constantly required to play as other characters to accomplish missions in #3 really took the fun out of the game for me. Some of the RC missions actually made me severely nauseous. Never mind the dragon boss. Mind you, I was sick in the first place, but still... Despite Sly's acrobatics, I've never had that problem before.

Anyway, re-playing BoT enables me to re-discover all the cool shit that game has which they got rid of in HAT. Such as the clues, which encourage you to explore the level. Or having lots of breakable shit that you can actually break without having 13 guards swarm in on your ass. Or missions that actually make use of level navigation with Sly's acrobatic gameplay.

As for that, I swear Sly's "trigger" radius for grabbing to climbable objects is wider. Then there is the beauty of the levels - I don't think any level in #3 made me just want to sit and stare at it for a while. Not like Rajan's (first) level, with a gorgeous textured sunset sky over India.

In conclusion - the last is the best for Jak, but go for the middle child with Ratchet & Clank and Sly Cooper. Greasy sweet, you dig what I beam to you?
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