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Tycho / on Fri, Feb 20 2004 at 4:30 am

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High Employee Turnover

The new Official Xbox Magazine just arrived at my house, and clearly ninja stock is up.  The new Tenchu is on the coverdisc, very nice of them I thought, but like so many others I’ve been craving the chance to finally play the new Ninja Gaiden that’s on there.

Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you won’t.  I wouldn’t say it’s clear cut.  It’s not super runaway awesome, and there isn’t so much game available on that disc that you’re going to feel as though a genuine assessment could be made.  I’m not sure why I expected the sky to rip open and liquid gold to pour out as I played it, though the hyperbole that permeates every mention of this title might have contributed to that gleaming vision.  I found it (in demo form, at least) to be a moderately attractive action game with fast-paced combat, interesting weapons, and a camera that makes navigating the environment somewhat more difficult than it needs to be.  I certainly see myself picking it up, but I doubt it’s going to get rubbed on the front of my pants.  That’s the kind of situation we’re talking about.

There was this secret door in one of the demo rooms that amounted to a sort of ninja spigot.  You’d pop in there, and low level (I guess) associate ninjas would constantly emerge.  Since I kept getting lost, and thus kept returning to this room, they kept coming out - maybe some of these new guys hadn’t seen what I just did in there, so perhaps a demonstration was in order.  I jumped off of one guy, turning in mid-air to hurl great handfuls of shuriken before beheading five men with a gaudy, golden weapon that is part scythe and part sculpture, housing a red jewel that snares light and flashes like the wild eye of a caged animal.  The henchman work ethic never fails to amaze me.

Just a few short days ago I lamented the fact that the copy protection on Massive Assault was so effective at reducing piracy that it even halted my attempts to play my own legitimate copy.  Clearly, such vigilance is a laudable virtue.  Within twelve hours of the most recent patch, however,  a fully functional crack was released that let me play the game in peace - and it really is a treat. 

Reviewers really seemed to enjoy the game, pausing in their praise mainly to describe the withering, unstoppable assaults visited upon them by the A.I. opponent.  I must emphasize that these men do not exaggerate the sadistic tendencies of this implacable foe.  This is not the sort of artificial intelligence that goes the long way around when it comes to eradicating humanity, sending a series of robots back in time to engage in car chases and abortive assassination attempts.  It deals maximum damage every turn, punching holes in defenses and lacerating exposed flanks.  Months after release, the developer completely re-tuned the game, adding a three tier difficulty gradient which (in my experience) amounts to being either kicked, stabbed, or shot in the balls.  Personally, I love it.  I came to play, brought my A game, etcetera.  I’m just saying you might feel as though you’ve been mugged when you lock horns with this thing.  Like Advance Wars, none of the individual elements of the game are needlessly complex.  But when campaigns rage across multiple continents, money is tight, and your geographical neighbors are revealed to be enemy sympathizers, a matrix of simple factors can produce scenarios of genuine sophistication.  So yeah.

Every time I walk by the funeral parlor down the street, I’m almost overcome by the smell of maple syrup.  Is there something about corpses I don’t know?

(CW)TB out.

reasons wont come


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