Friday, June 23, 2006

Need For... killing time online

Yesterday I was nursing a hangover and once mandatary work was out of the way, I had to get my mind off my sorry state. Seemed like the perfect time to learn the ropes with Rainbow Six 3 on Live. I played a small warehouse level for so long that I learned it adequately. To my surprise, I did manage myself after some time. It still does take a lot of lead to take down a Tom Clancy trooper, which explains why fragmentation grenades are the order of the day.

With the 360's headset I finally got to sample Rainbow Six 3's single player with the voice command system. Ordering flashbangs and regroups and so on is great fun, but I'll be damned if I can get the boys to move where I want to. I tried some dozen pronunciation variations of "go to" and didn't find one that would've worked twice in a row. A bit frustrating, yes, but maybe I'll feel less like a fool pointing the ground and repeating "go to" all the time (and instead just pressing A).

Oh, and I also tried out the famed Halo 2 multiplayer. Seemed a lot like Unreal Tournament without the craziness, which I'm not sure is a good thing. It was smooth and fun, but kinda been there - done that. Can't see myself playing that a lot, although I have to say the match I was given via the "optimatch" system was pants. Something team-oriented with vehicles might be another thing entirely.

Moving on to more contemporary pursuits, the Need For Speed: Most Wanted demo on Live Marketplace totally surprised me. I was so let down by Burnout Revenge that I certainly didn't have my hopes up. I've played Need For Speed: Underground a lot, but the shoddy framerate, weird handling model and unforgiving gameplay finally put me off it (Xbox version). Seeing that Most Wanted is basically an up-specced Underground (with cops), it is weird to admit that it's actually all good.

As next-gen games go, Most Wanted looks stunning. It is only let down by a disappointing framerate. It's not unplayable by any means, but I do expect better from a 360 driving game. In this respect only, Burnout leaves it choking.

The scenery is just beautiful. The fall setting, with a small-town mentality, falling leaves, flocks of birds and sunsets to die for make this one driving game setting I'd like to live in. The only problem is that the town's deserted; there are no people and so little traffic you'd think the area was quarantined. The cars are, of course, lovingly crafted. Bloom and speed blur are used with care.

What really puts this one over Burnout (based on demo versions, now) are the tracks. In Most Wanted, they're wide enough for racing. You can see the bends and forks. In Burnout I kept hugging the walls all the time. This was never an issue with my long-time loved one, Burnout 3.

The Most Wanted demo is hefty. There are plenty of tracks, game modes and cars to check out. The police chase is great fun, and speedtrap checkpoint racing is all good, too. You can even opt to disable the elastic AI, which slows down cars ahead of you and speeds them up when they're behind you - this is what made Underground so frustrating: in later levels you couldn't make a single, tiny mistake or the opposition (which you could never lose) would zoom right past you to the finish line. It was nerve-wrecking. By the by, Burnout 3 did elastic AI very well, and I never had qualms with it.

I even like the slow motion super power they've given you. It enables you to make very tight corners and generally give you a second to gather your wits in a tight situation.

This one goes on the shopping list, pronto-like.

2 comments:

Kai said...

Having played (quite a bit of) Burnout: Revenge on the original XBox, I disagree with you about it being dark. You know my TV is pretty dark to begin with, and I've had no problems except with the few tracks featuring an industrial setting. Wouldn't know about the 360 version, though.

Comparing Burnout and NFS based on raceability is actually missing the mark, I feel. B:R is definitely not a traditional racing game, as the traffic check feature creates new hazards on the track all the time. It is not so much about good handling and control, but about brutal, aggressive action. Tight, dangerous tracks keep you on the edge of your seat all the time, and that is clearly the point.

Now, if you were to ask me for the better game out of Takedown and Revenge, I couldn't answer you - at least not right away.
(The soundtrack for Revenge is better)

Joonas said...

Well, considering that I'm in the prime audience for Burnout and yet failed to feel any magic, they should have made a better demo. One meager track is likely to feel underwhelming, especially when compared to a generous demo.

Probably should take a spin in the full game of Burnout Revenge one day.