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Tycho / on Wed, Jun 29 2011 at 12:00 am

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League Of Psychotic Murderers

League of Legends is still a thing, that rare creature whose appeal slices through so many distinct strata that it can build consensus even in our fractious crew.

We’ve played against bots for ages, which is like riding a bike with training wheels on while your father also steadies the banana seat with his hand.  For the most part we’ve been content with that.  I also think there’s tons of headroom in the design for a more robust co-op thingamajig, but that’s neither here nor there.  The main thing is that the enemy selection is curtailed from the full roster, and the A.I. has distinctive quirks that you recognize and accept, like those of an old friend.

I was disconnected from a game once, some driver thing, and when I reconnected somehow live players had entered the game opposite me.  It would be hard to contain this horror with language alone, its heinous violence, its juxtapositions; it was as though the Omaha Beach landing had crashed through a faerie picnic.

We won a game last night, after we made the strip of course.  I don’t think it’s a trend.

In my ongoing effort to enjoy/understand the Nintendo 3DS, I grabbed a copy of The Mercenaries.  Resident Evil fans know all about The Mercenaries, it’s the unlockable reward you get when you win, something like a trophy you can play.  It survives the transition to the handheld pretty well all things considered, but there’s simply not enough game here to warrant a purchase.  The value it represents may be warped somewhat by the fact that it has generally been included with a marquee Resident Evil title, but that’s just my Peace Gland trying to secrete diplomacy when no diplomacy is actually warranted.  This would have been a legendary downloadable offering, something to try out on the new store.  As it stands, these simply aren’t the droids you’re looking for.  Or zombies, or whatever.

These attempts at life integration have solidified some of the concerns I have with the hardware, one being that Forty Dollars Is No Longer Curiosity Money.  They’ve pushed the price past what I’m willing to gamble on a portable title with this generation, making me more circumspect, and that’s sad.  The Mercenaries is, in this case, the First Bite in Great White’s Hierarchy Of Biting.  I was rewarded tons of times for my curiosity last time out, in a different world, where forty dollars couldn’t purchase - literally purchase - forty portable games.

On the DS, the game would almost certainly have Download Play - the ability to distribute a limited copy to a friend so you can play together.  The PSP could do this as well, though it rarely did, I imagine because (at least in part) the amount of data was too onerous for this kind of casual sharing.  Is that where we’re at now?  I can’t tell you how many games I sold people simply because they could try it.

There’s also the issue of hardware mutability.  What I mean by that is: the DS as a platform was more or less a pile of functions hooked together.  That’s what made it so difficult to predict, because from every angle it was a different machine.  This allowed for all kinds of bizarre things to happen, like Hotel Dusk, a game played entirely from a sideways orientation.  Well, the 3D doesn’t work from a sideways orientation.  And it only works from a very specific angle, so tilt controls - or even moving your body, like a human being does from time to time - ruins the effect.

The first wave of Kinect games couldn’t use the controller at all, which limited what was possible; that stricture is gone now, to the benefit of the next generation of software. “3D” on the “3DS” is almost certainly a requirement as it stands.  Will that always be the case?  Because - as a practical matter - they’ve made a markedly less versatile machine.

(CW)TB out.

all over god’s world

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