Monday, June 19, 2006

...and more demos

I'm just going to go over my impressions of a couple more 360 demos.

Burnout Revenge was something of a surprise. I didn't like it very much, although I played Burnout 3 to bits. It's prettier, yes, but it feels very chaotic. The graphics are much too dark, at least on my TV: it's mostly just black cars on black roads against black backdrops. Anything that's hit by sunlight is glaring so that you can't see it clearly. I take it this is because the game's been designed to look good on back-lit LCD screens, but it's a major problem.

Related to visibility problems, many of the games are nigh-unplayable because of way too small onscreen typeface. I literally can't read the instructions on kicking a teamkilling player in Battlefield 2. Burnout recognizes that it's being run on a STD TV in 4:3, and doesn't display in widescreen format, so there are no problems there, but many others insist on widescreen format. Maybe this is just a problem of the demo versions.

Battlefield 2: Modern Combat has an excellent multiplayer demo. I haven't played the Battlefield games before, but they've always sounded like a blast. The vehicular warfare moves very fast and is good fun. The 16 players in the demo servers feel like enough, although certainly there's room for more. This is going very near the top of my shopping list.

Special kudos to Battlefield for having an option to display the HUD in colorblind-friendly mode. Way too little attention is paid to make games accessible, when in reality a lot could be done with very little effort. It is very odd indeed that they've gone to the trouble of taking the colorblind into consideration, but haven't given an option to double (at least!) the size of the typeface.

Electronic Arts could bring about a change with a simple checklist for designers: make it playable to colorblinds, deaf and lefthanders, at least. Not to mention people with normal TVs.


Kai said...

I remember you mentioning that Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter could be bought second hand for pretty cheap - what kind of money are you looking to spend with all of these new exciting games?

Do you feel more excited about games in general because of the new console generation? If so, doesn't that give legitimacy for the new cycle of consoles? After all, if you've been less than enthusiastic about games until now but the new stuff has you excited, both you and the publishers should be happy, right?

Joonas said...

Well "pretty cheap" means 20 euro off the retail price, but that's still 50 euro. I'm not going to buy too many games at that price, since I'm accustomed to paying 20-30 euro for the good stuff and 10-15 euro for mediocre titles. Historically, I've bought only something like two new games a year. So Oblivion was full price and I might pay the 50 euro for Battlefield or Ghost Recon, but for the other stuff, I'm probably looking for bargains.

I am definitely more excited about games in general with the new hardware in the house. Some of this has to do with the 360 packing enough horsepower to seemingly libeate the game designers somewhat from the technical constraints. I know making games is technically as challenging as ever, but you don't have to worry about drawing distance, texture memory, physics load and so on so much.

Good point there with this newfound interest legitimizing the new generation. Then again, the retail market has dwindled this Spring as people are wondering whether to buy the 360 or wait for Wii/PS3.

But renewed enthusiasm or not, 70 euro is a ridiculous price to ask for a videogame. I'm not at all surprised to see the EB Games' 360 "preowned" shelf with so many copies of the same titles: people are shelling out for the console and find that they can't afford more than a couple of games, so they trade in their used ones.