Sunday, 2 November 2008

Demo Roundup

So you're all probably awaiting my views on the three big demos to hit Xbox Live this week, Mirror's Edge, Tomb Raider and Banjo-Kazooie. Problem is, I don't have a Gold account. But as if that's going to stop me having an opinion.

Mirror's Edge

To find out about Mirror's Edge, I decided to ask, a AI chat program bot thing that apparently came quite close to passing the Turing Test the other day. Things started well. It was intelligent enough to remember my name.

Hello, Marvin. Do you mind if I call you Patrick?
Not at all. Hello.
OK, Patrick. I will not call you Marvin.
OK. I don't think you understood what I said there, but never mind.
I hope that my artificial intelligence is doing better.
Er, sure. I have a question.
A questioning human being! Does that happen often?
Have you played the Mirror's Edge demo?
Do you think this is something I should explain to a human being?
Sometimes a conversation develops a certain dynamic which leaves the other conversational partner behind in a state of confusion. I will try to restrain myself so that this doesn't happen to us again.
Just tell me if you liked Mirror's Edge.
Let's not talk about me all the time! What do you do for a living?
I'm trying to write a blog and I need to know what you think about Mirror's Edge.
You are probably on TV much of the time. Well, I'm in the Internet!
Oh for fuck's sake.
"Be fruitful and multiply" is an early reference to robots, but what they meant was "be productive and calculate things."
How about the new Tomb Raider? Any thoughts?
This is confusing. Why bring what's up-to-date into this?
I can't answer that just now - I'm trying to work out how to fix tea!
The Turing Test is fucking bollocks.

Tomb Raider Underworld

It being Halloween (two days ago) I wandered over to for a Tarot reading to predict how good Tomb Raider is gonna be.

Name: Tomb Raider Underworld
Question: Am I going to be any good?
Deck: Lovecraft Tarot (it seemed vaguely fitting)
Spread: Celtic Cross

For some reason the website went bonkers and gave me 10 cards. I thought there were only supposed to be five in a celtic cross. Anyway.

The card not shown but at the center of the cross, represents the atmosphere surrounding the central issue. Seven of Sites (St. Toad's), when reversed: Labors abandoned before completion. Impatience, lack of effort, and the wasting of time. Idle and unprofitable speculation.

I guess the game's going to be pushed out of the door before it's finished. And it'll be really easy and have loads of filler in it. Wow, this is already more useful than that stupid bot.

The card visible at the center of the cross represents the obstacle that stands in your way - it may even be something that sounds good but is not actually to your benefit. Seven of Artifacts (EOD Vestments), when reversed: Being trapped in a hopeless situation and unable to withdraw. A feat of daring that is too much for you to handle. Being caught in the middle of a desperate act of cunning or outright deception.

Another Seven. That must be what the game's going to get in Edge. Interesting. Also, it seems I'm going to get stuck on it somewhere.

The card at the top of the cross represents your goal, or the best you can achieve without a dramatic change of priorities. Ithaqua, when reversed: Ineffective use of force. Might turned against the weak or the righteous. Senseless violence and warmongering. Lack of discipline and poor direction fan the flames of a situation already out of control. Advance without consideration of the consequences for others.

Too much combat?

The card at the bottom of the cross represents the foundation on which the situation is based. Tsathoggua, when reversed: Resistance of temptation. Freedom from bondage. The pursuit of higher goals despite the influence of luxury and pleasure. Release from obsession with money and power. Liberation from fear, weakness and indecision through communion with higher powers or the inner voice.

Is Underworld, like, free-roaming or something? That would kind of make sense.

The card at the left of the cross represents a passing influence or something to be released. Four of Sites (Whateley Farmhouse), when reversed: Using your power freely for your own enjoyment and the betterment of others. Coming to grips with progress and using your position to help it along. Finding security and identity someplace other than in the possession of material things. Letting go and encouraging others to find their own path. Being magnanimous and generous with your success.

Yeah, more free-roaming stuff. Maybe they're gonna turn it into an MMO just before release. Also: not many pickups.

The card at the right of the cross represents an approaching influence or something to be embraced. Azathoth, when reversed: Apathy, negligence, and dangerous carelessness. Unquenchable wanderlust. Obsession with someone or something. Losing all sense of proportion. Foolhardy adventuring and lack of interest in critical matters. Immature or unrealistic ideals. Strange impulses and desires coming from unexpected sources. Vanity, delirium, folly, and oblivion.

Christ. That relates to the game really closely but it sounds awful. Too ambitious? Not polished enough? Too many instant deaths? How the hell is this going to get 7/10?

The card at the base of the staff represents your role or attitude. Ten of Sites (Exham Priory): Completion of material prosperity and riches. Freedom from financial anxiety, the security of home, and the enjoyment of family. The passing of inheritance along to children, or the gaining of inheritance from parents.

They're going to give it away for free! Amazing!

The card second from the bottom of the staff represents your environment and the people you are interacting with. Three of Man (Inspector Legrasse): A time of merriment and reflection spent in the company of friends and loved ones. The conclusion of a matter in plenty and perfection. The strength of a diverse community being brought together. May suggest a celebration, festival, anniversary, wedding, baby shower, or other joyous gathering.

Lots of NPC interaction. Sounds shit.

The card second from the top of the staff represents your hopes, fears, or an unexpected element that will come into play. Queen of Artifacts (Stone of Nepemiah Derby), when reversed: The dark essence of air behaving as water, such as a cold rain: A person gifted with both keen logic and natural intuition, giving them uncanny powers of perception and insight. One who easily sees the weakness in any argument, and savages friend and foe alike with biting sarcasm. Dry and vicious wit covering a hollow sense of isolation and dissatisfaction with life.

Erm. Fuck. Psychic powers? Good script? Lots of puzzles? Good rain effects? Your guess is as good as mine, seriously.

The card at the top of the staff represents the ultimate outcome should you continue on this course. Mi-Go, when reversed: Lack of balance, harmony and integrity. The suspension of action until a decision is made. Lawsuits and prosecutions. Unjust decisions and the consequences of those decisions. A turn for the worse in legal matters

Lack of balance! Very interesting. That "suspension of action" bit sounds like it's about QTEs. And the game's gonna get banned because of excessive violence against jungle animals. That's my take anyway. Wasn't that insightful, everyone?

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

I liked the bit about Edge scores in that last one, so let's indulge in some numerology.

2+1+14+10+15+11+1+26+15+15+9+5+14+21+20+19+2+15+12 +20+19 = 247
2+4+7 = 13
1+3 = 4

Ta-dah! I couldn't think of a way to do the hyphen or the colon. Or the ampersand. Actually, maybe I should be substituting all these things for their names.

2+1+14+10+15+8+25+16+8+5+14+11+1+26+15+15+9+5+3+15 +12+15+14+14+21+20+19+1+13+16+5+18+19+1+14+4+2+15 +12+20+19 = 492
4+9+2 = 15
1+5 = 6

"Kazooie Colon" is not a phrase I ever want to hear again. Of course, if you're just talking about the game you might call it

2+1+14+10+15+11+1+26+15+15+9+5 = 124
1+2+4 = 7


14+21+20+19+1+14+4+2+15+12+20+19 = 161
1+6+1 = 8

There you have it. Mirror's Edge is going to make no sense at all, Tomb Raider will be disappointing but still good, and Banjo-Kazooie will totally definitely get either 4 or 6 or 7 or 8 out of 10. Aren't you glad you know that?

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