‘Rule of Rose’ pt. II

Well, I found the mermaid. She puked on me and delivered some karate chops to the dome for good measure.

Since then, I’ve been at a place called the “gingerbread house,” met the first nice person in the game and am now slaughtering walking pig creatures that like to run and bowl you over.

I’m probably not going to get the chance to finish it before AGI, but I’ve played enough to call it a good, solid survival horror game, though there really isn’t that much horror. Visually, the game amps up the tension by not giving you a lot of light to work with, sometimes putting you in pitch black areas. There’s also a grainy look to the screen that adds a “dirty” touch to the experience. It’s not really a gory title, though the blood flies when you strike the various creatures you encounter. And as I mentioned before, I got puked on.

There’s an undercurrent of fear, rather than the waves of it you get with other games. Much of this has to do with the outstanding music, which features a lot of twisted violin and piano combinations. It does a good job of keeping the player uncomfortable, even though the instances of something actually jumping out at you are rare by horror standards. The true terror comes in the cutscenes bolstered by great audio — you’ll see a creatures with no eyes look at you right as the violin shrieks; you’ll hear sinister kiddie laughter or the wheezing of the demented chubby girl as she works away on a sewing machine — lots of crazy stuff that preys more on the anticipation of what you might see rather than the fear of death.

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‘Rule of Rose’

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I’ve never wanted to uncork this much fury on a bunch of fictional children until now.

It says something about a game when it pulls out this kind of emotion out of a player, and it doesn’t have to do with whether or not you like the controls or graphics. It’s about storytelling, and this game is pretty good at it. It’s more creepy than scary — you’re more likely to go, “What the hell is that?” than scream in fear.

Right now, what stands out to me are the cutscenes. Not only are they very well made, but they do an excellent job of illustratiing the personalities of each of the characters without using a lot of verbiage. And the one thing you learn as the player is that this is a warped bunch of kids.
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Wii loves some Sam Fisher

Ubisoft announced today that “Splinter Cell: Double Agent” is going to be a launch title for Nintendo’s cutely (or stupidly) named new console. No real specifics on how the motion-sensing controllers are going to factor into this whole package, but the mind wanders: Human shield mechanics? Manipulation of spy tech? Most of the people who saw this at the Last Big E3 agreed that the game (at least on other systems) was praiseworthy. Perhaps this could help the system shake off the kiddie vibe its been saddled with — it’s not like Sam Fisher is Mr. Rogers, and it’s not like “Red Steel” is meant for the 10-year-olds either. Nice timing of the announcement, by the way.

Here’s a couple preliminary Wii shots:

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For me, I’m pillaging Rule of Rose, Yakuza and NASCAR 07 this week. I hit Yakuza first, and … blah. I’ll have more on that later.

Enter the ‘Jade Empire’ on the PC

2K announced today their intentions to bring forth “Jade Empire: Special Edition” for the PC. The game is slated to enter our lives in January 2007. Some of the special stuff includes better visuals, some new fighting styles, new monsters and enemies with enhanced AI. We’ll also get customizable, intuitive controls and an all-new art book.

So, you can find out if you’re “Open Palm” or “Closed Fist” all over again. If you’ve never heard of “Jade Empire,” shame on you — you can get the basics here.

ESPN.com, GameTap launch game channel

Looking for more evidence that video games are a growing part of pop culture? Just in time for football season comes the “ESPN Video Games Channel” presented by GameTap. It’s all sports games, all the time, and much of the editorial content is produced by folks at 1up. The centerpiece as of this moment is a virtual duel between the Manning brothers. You can see the site here.

MMO to honor fallen Crocodile Hunter

The late Steve Irwin, aka the Crocodile Hunter, is going to be memorialized during a service in “World of Warcraft.” A player by the name of BubbRubb is gathering support for the event. Check out the story here.

Here’s an excerpt of BubbRubb’s call to action:

“I would like to spell out CRIKEY with players as a tribute to his wondrous catch phrase, and then we can dance and swim in the ocean to celebrate his life instead of mourning his death.”

Uwe Boll unleashes the anger beneath the surface

Reviled game-movie director Uwe Boll once issued a challenge to fight his critics in a boxing ring. Now, you can see that challenge come to fruition. I had to see it for myself — Boll’s actually formally trained in the sweet science, whereas his opponent — as you’ll see — not so much. There’s a wince-worthy moment about three minutes in where the poor guy sort of balls up in the corner to avoid Boll’s fists of fury. The opponent is Carlos Palencia Jimenez-Arguello of the Cine Cutre Web site.

There’s a part of me that wouldn’t mind seeing Boll challenge someone, only to have it be some MMA fighter freelancing as a movie critic. But by the same token, the dude DID get in the ring with him. You’re gonna get hit.

A few ‘God of War II’ screens

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It wouldn’t be Greek mythos without the obligatory “fight the angry giant” scenario. These pics were just posted on the Sony press site. The truly skeptical might see this as a way to make people almost forget that about 400,000 PS3s are coming to the U.S., which now means you have a better chance of picking up a Holy Grail. Happy holidays in advance, everyone.

Games as social aid?

Reuters has a story about a study about how MMOGs can help players with their people skills. The study was done by Constance Steinkuehler of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Dmitri Williams of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Check out the story here.

I like stuff like this because it helps dispel the ancient stereotypes about the “lone wolf” gamer. For my part, some of the best parties and social activities I’ve been to involved games and gamers. We DO talk to each other. Really. If you want evidence, dive into the chat room at All Games. I ended up talking to someone late into the night about Transformers, for crying out loud.