Wednesday, March 19, 2008

French Snow and Adventures!

Yes, I did say 'French Snow'... more on that in a bit.

David 4.10 and I went for a little walk to the local video store last night. Funny how a little walk that can take about five to ten minutes by myself can turn into a half hour hike with a four year old! Anyway, we had fun throwing snow at each other and picking up random branches at desiccating imaginary snow-monsters, so the time it took to walk there was definitely put to good use. So we were having all kinds of fun, and I noticed something interesting when David is talking: certain words coming out of his mouth are heavily accented the same way I speak. You may think that statement requires and obvious ‘duh!’, but I was still both floored and pleased by that. You see, since French is the primary language we speak at home and I’m essentially a relocated Quebecer, I haven’t yet assimilated the local accent, even after 15 years or so. So as David and I were talking about the snow (which is ‘neige’ in French), I noticed that he repeated that word exactly like I say it and not like the locals pronounce it. It’s really difficult to describe how different the word actually sounds to a non-French speaker, but the best explanation I can come up with is that this eastern side of the country pronounces the word much more softly than their southern Quebec counterparts: there’s definitely an emphasis put on the middle syllable that’s lacking here with the general population. Not that one pronunciation is better than the other or anything, it’s just a neat little detail I hadn’t noticed before, and I thought it was cool how David had adapted (for the moment anyway) my method of saying that particular word in comparison to what he might here from other people around him.

So we went to the video store and David was extremely pleased to pick up a Scooby-Doo DVD, which we watched together for a bit before his bath time last evening. Since I finished ‘Ratchet & Clank Future’ over the weekend (more on that in a bit) and I was interested in renting something else for the PS3. I ended up checking out ‘Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune’. I played for about half an hour last night and here are my quick impressions:

1 - It’s gorgeous: Needless to say that the PS3 can adeptly push pixels, but the art direction, animation and general look of the game is excellent.

2 - Excellent Pacing: Granted, I’m not very far in the game, but the pacing so far is excellent and really makes me want to push forward and play some more. Personally, this definitely seems due to the intuitive level design and writing, which I bring up in point number 3.

3 - Good Writing: I’ve heard arguments that, taken on its own, the writing for the game is the equivalent of what you’d find in an airport paperback novel. It sounds about right in my book, since it’s well know that most videogames aren’t all that big on writing, so the fact that this game really had some thought going into the story and the characters does put it above much of the mediocrity that make up the medium. The main character, Nathan Drake, comes across as an interesting mix of one third Indiana Jones mixed in with two thirds of Malcolm Reynolds, and it comes across well on the screen due to his dialogue and his actual animation. From what I’ve seen so far, I’m impressed.

So yes I rented the game, but I just found it used locally online for peanuts, so I think I’ll end up buying this one in order to see properly through to the end.

Finally, even though I mentioned finishing Ratchet & Clank earlier, I’m far from done with the game. You see, like every other Ratchet & Clank game, once you complete it for that first time, you unlock a ‘challenge’ mode, where the enemies are tougher and you take more damage as you get hit. But that’s not really what’s so compelling: what manages to hook me into a second go at the game (something I do very rarely) is that you get the opportunity to continually upgrade your weapons as you go. It might not seem like much, but that little mechanic has managed to ensnare me to do the game over one more time, and seeing the bolts fly all over the screen has this little ‘je ne sais quoi’ that I find oh so satisfying.

2 comments:

Daniel said...

Just a quick comment on R&C. The weapons max out at the VX (or V 10) level. The second time through the game my oldest son and I upgraded all the weapons except the locked blueprint weapon to VX. I'll quickly explain how we did it.

Towards the end of the game on the last level where the crogmite enemies are going through the forcefield on Fastoon, the Lombax home world, we used all the ammo for a few weapons then dove into the ravine and started that part again until all the weapons were upgraded and using the weapons dealer nearby to upgrade the weapons. It took us about 3 hours to do it.

Also by that time we were at 999 for our health/nano tech, not to mention we were above 2 billion bolts by that time so we could get the golden Grovytron dico ball.

Also, what's your favorite weapon?

Let me know some more on how you like Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. I am looking for a few other games to play on my PS3.

-Daniel

Ben said...

That's an awesome tip Daniel, thank you! I already have the Omega Whip maxed out, and personally I just love that weapon when dealing with small, landbased foe. My favorite weapon would have to be the RYNO IV though (also known as 'the blueprint weapon'). It's insanely powerful, and it's like 50,000,000 bolts to upgrade it to Omega status, but oh my how pretty things explode when using it. I'm about halfway through the Challenge mode and I'm still having a total blast with the game. My only regret is that the next Ratchet & Clank game is still about a year and a half away. :/

I'll let you know more about Uncharted as I play it. So far, I call it 'Gears of Persia', which should give you a pretty good idea of how it plays. :)