Obscured View

A few chosen words on the world of video games

Archive for January, 2009

Counting on the chaos in Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead has a delightful secret to it.

It’s not some crazy conspiracy level secret, but a fun one, a specific one that makes it a great multiplayer cooperative game… and at the same time, just an OK solo player one.

So what’s that secret? Read on for the dirt.

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My favorite character of the SF series… and he won the Japan SFIV tournament?!  I thought that honor was only reserved for Ken / Ryu clones!  Just goes to show you how much better SFIV’s balance seems to be than previous games.  Let’s hope almost everyone is competitive this time around!

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Sticks & Pads

The only fighting games I’ve ever been a real player of are the Street Fighter and Virtua Fighter series.  I gave up on the VF series somewhere around 3 or 4 however, so the only series I’ve kept buying over the years since was the Street Fighters.  I have to say I miss the arcades just for the social aspect of the game, where people would talk about strats and new techniques, talk smack, or elaborate on the other player’s “tells” (i.e. when they fall into patterns).  It got rather deep and had a nice psychological angle to it all… and it was social.

So here comes Street Fighter IV, and lo, there’s some new peripherals out to give you the arcade feeling that we in the U.S. can’t get at all any more.  But are they worth it?  How many times have you been excited about a new joystick or peripheral just to have it be plastic junk when you finally get to use it?  Ok, that sounded wrong.  But anyway…

Madcatz has two new joysticks and one new pad (with 5 variations) coming out right around the time of SFIV’s release.  For the joysticks, there’s the FightStick($80) and the FightStick Tournament Edition($150).  I got to (very) briefly play with them at CES yesterday (IGN is somewhat annoying, let me get that out of the way), and I can say that they feel very solid, the buttons have nice response / feel, the unit is heavy so it won’t slide around, and best of all, the high-end one uses all Sanwa parts, completely m0ddable by the end user.  You can open it up and everything inside is labeled and ready for mods or replacement parts / kits.  I don’t know if the case is powerful enough to run a Happ perfect 360 if you wanted to put one in instead, but the option is there to do it without a lot of case-bashing.  Also, both sticks have 11 ft. wired cables, since purists will complain that wireless has millisecond delays in transmitting time that can impact the game.

So what about the FightPad?  I didn’t hold it, but watched the IGN guys use it and the madcatz guy explain it.  It’s a disc-based pad, has turbo for all the buttons (if desired) and you can set whether the pad is the left, right, or d-pad in terms of output to a game.  They looked pretty cool, and they’re cheaper than the sticks ($40), but the 360 one is only available wired, while the PS3 versions are available wired and wireless.  IGN just flailed around with it, so I have no idea how good it was.  By their test, it looked like… well it looked like they didn’t know how to play street fighter, really.

Seems like everyone in the office is getting a bit more into the hype for SFIV, so we’ll have some competitions in house and get some people beating up on us via LIVE as well.  Hopefully Dhalsim can compete.  I’ve had enough Ken / Ryu clones to last me a lifetime… and there’s what?  5 of them now in SFIV?! (Ryu, Ken, Sakura, Gouki, Akuma… blech.