So. Speed dating. We’ve all done it right? Actually, I haven’t, I’m not entirely sure how it works, and I’m incapable of researching it after getting IP banned from Google, so I’m going to base my speed dating knowledge on a handful of films and just what I imagine speed dating to be like. This is Good Journalism, right?
To cut a long story short, I have something like 52,034 unplayed games here and recently I decided enough was enough, I need to pick one to play. But it’s a minefield: what if I get 400 hours into a game and decide it’s not for me? The solution is to be ruthless, and give each game a brief window in which to impress me. I’ve chosen 5 minutes, and while I believe the standard amount of time for speed dating is a little shorter (I don’t know why but 30 seconds springs to mind), I’m not sure loading screens will give me a good impression of a game. So without further ado, here we go. Speed dating, gaming style. I can’t think of a better way to spend my Monday night.
[Note: This is not a valid method by which to judge a game. Do not try this at home. Unless you have nothing better to do.]
[Second note: Turns out the 12 games I had planned will take up far too much space and thus this post will now span 3 entries. Tonight’s entry, as shown above, is Xbox 360.]
Warning! This game contains graphic depictions of violence. Not the best way to start a date. Or maybe it is. Realise that I probably shouldn’t include the intro movies in the 5 minutes, or I’ll get nothing played. 5 minutes from when the gameplay starts then. I even have a stopwatch ready. As the movie plays, it crosses my mind that I’ve slightly stolen this whole idea from Lewis Denby. That’s how gripping Vampire Rain’s intro is. I’m thinking about Lewis as it plays. It’s all very dramatic.
“That’s what happens when you let pencil pushers run a country!” a man screams, after slamming his fist on the desk. “I’m sorry about your family sir,” his subordinate replies. “So am I, son, so am I,” the commander says unconvincingly. I’m emotionally invested already, and I haven’t even clicked ‘start’ on the stopwatch yet. Now here’s some of the worst voice acting and dialogue I’ve ever heard, and I recently played Hydrophobia so that’s saying something. Main character is called Lloyd. Last game I played featuring a guy called Lloyd was pretty good. Okay this is promising. Gameplay time.
Kind of like Splinter Cell with vampires then. An NPC just showed up whining about people going missing, and now some cops are standing around nonchalantly. “Things are getting rougher than expected,” said my commanding officer, in response to this event. If this is his idea of rough, I’m not sure how he’s going to cope when the vampires turn up. Maybe that’s the plot! Bit hard to tell if it’s actually any good yet, as all I’ve done is climb up a drainpipe, then down a drainpipe, before the cops got in the way. Timer’s at 2 and a half minutes.
Now I’m climbing back up the same drainpipe I climbed down just minutes ago. This is Tactical Espionage Action alright! No vampires yet. At this point I’d even settle for Edward Cullen. Anything for a break from the drainpipes.
The whining NPC is back, and now he’s gone again, having driven away in a van. I’m glad the game showed me this. It seems very relevant. Sneak forward a bit and there’s some graffiti, which the game repeatedly points out has been drawn with blood and HARDENER. Walk across a road, around a corner, another member of my squad goes to show me how to open a gate and… TIME UP. No time for any vampires. Didn’t even see so much as a bat. Interest piqued though. I was expecting this to be rubbish and… well, it kind of is, but rubbish I could get behind. I sort of kind of maybe am looking forward to going back to it properly.
Ninety Nine Nights II
Or N3II as it’s colloquially known. I was a huge fan of the original N3, so this has a lot to live up to. I even 1000G’d it, something I only bother to do if I really enjoy a game, or if it’s an easy 1000 points, or if I’m trying to outdo @GZ_Dave. But N3 fit into the first category. So let’s see about its sequel.
Wow, the manual’s printed on surprisingly high quality paper, perhaps the best I’ve seen in many years. Konami deserves some credit for that, at least, even if the game ends up rubbish. Too many manuals are awful these days. Don’t have time to read it though, on a tight schedule.
One of the game options is simply labelled ‘N/A’. Is this some amazing unlockable, or an options slot they forgot to remove? Or maybe 3DTV support. TO N4G! Or something. Notice it has the option for Japanese voices. Kind of off-putting that the audio playing while I’m in the menus is that of a guy being hacked apart, then gurgling as he dies. To the game proper.
Nice. Enemies. Press LB and Y. Cheevo. Press B. Cheevo. This could be good. Blood, limbs and weapons fly everywhere. I cut through my foes like they were made of butter. MAYBE THEY ARE. Maybe there’s a cheevo for that. Music’s cool. Like Pendulum and a Gregorian male vocal choir got drunk together and fell into a recording studio. Menu tells me the criteria for being defeated is ‘being defeated’. Thanks for that.
1000 hit combo. Cheevo. Did that without breaking a sweat. Predict the combo counter goes much, much higher. There definitely are ONE MILLION TROOPS on screen or at least 50 or 60 or something. This is very mindless but a lot of fun. Timer shows one minute left. Must destroy the second summoning tower before then. It is my destiny.
I managed it, but at the expense of killing a battalion of enemies who instead I ran past. Time ran out as I was in mid-hack. Don’t really want to stop. Have to, because I am totally pro. Farewell, sweet N3II. I will play you again most definitely.
Medal of Honor
The box has been sealed quite excessively. A Game product seal, shrink wrap, Microsoft product seal. Guess you can never be too careful these days. Notice that an advert on the 360 dashboard is promoting a movie called Frozen with the quote “A masterclass in tention” [sic].
Game requires an update before I can play. You wouldn’t get this on the PS- oh wait. One of the game options is ‘Collect Anonymous Telemetry’. I don’t know what this means, but I’ve set it to ‘On’ as I’d quite like Medal of Honor to collect my anonymous telemetry, thanks. Decided to play the single player instead of multi. Don’t want to spend my 5 minutes in a matchmaking lobby or however this game handles such things. Plus that dude’s beard is the second best beard I’ve seen in the last 7 days (and that’s not a Monkey Island reference for once). Been told this game is best experienced on Hard. Follow advice. Hope I don’t live to regret it.
Moody intro that sets the tone of WAR IS HELL and also some shots of space and satellites and stuff. Then the convoy has been held up by goats. I predict danger. And hopefully some gameplay. DRAMA. Timer.
Shooting’s solid. Fun. Threw a grenade by accident, then threw one on purpose. Got a few headshots. Took out a guy with an RPG. Didn’t headshot him though. The guy with me likes to talk a lot. We’re trying to meet up with Mother. 2 and a half minutes gone already. Turns out war is pretty engrossing.
Looks like I can’t open doors and instead have to rely on Talky Man to do it for me. Rabbit is kind of a rubbish soldier then. Not sure how he made it through basic training, or even managed to get into the building to train.
Oh, apparently he can KICK doors, but only if his partner tells him to. I guess they showed up to boot camp together. Switched to a shotgun, and thermal imaging. Took out a room of guys with the smoothness of a ninja, then died just as the timer hit zero. I’ll pretend it was deliberate. Yes.
Seems fun if a little exactly the same as every other FPS I’ve ever played ever. But it doesn’t matter, as I’ve saved the best till last. A game which the very mention of its name will instil jealousy in those reading this blog. That’s right…
Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad
I bought this for £7, which is pretty much the bargain of the century. I’ve been saving it for a special occasion, and this occasion is pretty special. There’s not even a title update. A warning briefly flashed on screen, but I didn’t catch it. One of the menu options lets me set the blood to pink. Another is called ‘Dress Up’. Already I can tell this game is going to be an experience.
I can choose to play as a cowgirl in a bikini, or a schoolgirl. I go for the cowgirl. Intro is a wall of scrolling text which is barely readable due to there beingnospacesbetweenthewords. Why. Don’t think I can even be bothered to read this. Now a jerky cutscene, with some of the worst screen tearing I’ve ever seen. A shower scene. The schoolgirl has burst into the shower shouting something in an alarmed manner. Now the cowgirl is running around her apartment naked as news of a zombie outbreak is shown on TV. Classy.
Chapter 1 is ‘The third zombie incident’. I can only assume the first and second incidents are dealt with in the Wii game. Time to hack up zombies (who inexplicably seem to be able to summon fences to contain the action).
Camera seems more concerned with showing off Cowgirl’s body rather than the in-game action. This is why we can’t have nice things. Run around, hack up some zombies, pick up coins (probably used to buy other bikinis), watch as the undead explode in showers of blood and limbs. Take a zombie’s head off by throwing… something. A shuriken, maybe? It’s hard to see because the game seems to be layered with a filter designed to make it look like… what? I don’t know, maybe it’s just bad graphics.
Accidentally switch to Schoolgirl. Quickly switch back as I find that character a little unsettling. Every attack is now causing my sword to get stuck in the zombies’ midsections. Turns out I need to clean it. Obviously. A giant creature has appeared that looks to be made entirely of zombie skin. Nice. Has a giant health bar too. Fight him for a while. Can barely see him as he’s quite tall and the camera is still too focused on Cowgirl’s body. Forced to switch to Schoolgirl after being knocked down one too many times and losing a fair bit of health.
Kill the corpse monster thing, not that I can actually see him die properly as the camera’s now stuck on a zombie. Pick up a yellow orb which takes me to a level up screen. Increase health. Chapter complete, just as the timer reaches zero. Can’t say I’m disappointed. Didn’t even get a cheevo. Kind of never want to play this again, ever, and not just because it’s the videogame equivalent of a man in a dirty anorak (which, when the game was subtitled ‘Bikini Samurai Squad’, was hardly a surprise). It’s just plain bad, rather than the ‘so bad it’s good’ I was hoping for. Vampire Rain is ‘so bad it’s good’. Onechanbara is so bad it passes through bad, good, then goes back to bad again, jiggling its boobs in an exaggerated manner as it does so. Also; N3II felt like a much better hack and slash title, and that’s why, for the Xbox 360 leg of the Speed Dating, Ninety Nine Nights II is the chosen winner. But how will it compete against the undisclosed PS3 and Wii games? Find out next time, where MOTION CONTROL makes its début appearance in the form of Playstation Move, shaking its thing alongside big stomping robots, slightly differently animated robots, and little people in cars.