jl8e: (Default)
So, it came out on Monday, my copy arrived Friday, and I played it some Friday and a lot today. I haven't seen all the cards in action yet, but I can give an opinion.

It's very good, better than Intrigue so far.

The primary new mechanic is "Action - Duration": an action card that sticks around and does something for you at the start of your next turn as well. They're not as immediately strong as a one-off Action card, but they give your deck consistency. It adds some bookkeeping load, but not much once you get used to it.

The overall theme of the set has been described as setting up your next turn, and it does that fairly well. In addition to the Duration cards, there's quite a few cards to manipulate the top of the deck.

None of the cards looks useless or overly specialized. (I'm sure there's another Thief in the set, but I don't see any Coppersmiths.) Treasury sticks out as likely overpowered, but it may actually be that Market is underpowered. Still, it feels like I'd be willing to pay six for it.

It plays very well. The games felt closer to plain Dominion than to Dominion plus Intrigue -- more straightforward constructive play, less screwing the other players. (Although there was still plenty of that, especially in the game with Throne Room, Cutpurse, and Sea Hag.) Things seemed to move faster, and I'd say the set is more friendly to new players than Intrigue -- there are fewer effects that are complex or require decisions once played.

It also make Intrigue better, just by diluting it. (Don't get me wrong; I like Intrigue, but it's better in smaller doses.)

The production values remain high: the art is better overall than Intrigue, though perhaps not as consistent as the original set. The tokens and play mats provided for some of the card effects are solid, and the mats are small enough to pack in my card boxes with no trouble.

My biggest complaint about the game is that it's getting heavy. I've condensed the sets down from their huge (but nicely-designed) boxes into 400-count trading-card boxes. (Three sleeved sets plus four players' worth of money and VP takes four boxes.)
jl8e: (Default)
Picked it up today, and played some with [livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen and [livejournal.com profile] akawil.

Really, it's Rock Band 1.5. Most of the rough edges are smoothed out, and there are 84 new songs in the package. (With an additional free 20-song download coming "soon".)

My biggest complaint is that it can't import your RB1 characters. On the other hand, clearer hammer-ons, bands not locked to a character, characters not locked to an instrument, the ability to pick fill-in characters so you don't get the psycho lumberjack singing, instrument-level difficulty visible while picking songs, random setlists that are restricted by difficulty (so nobody has to go through what [livejournal.com profile] lordess did, and have to tackle a top-level drum song on their second attempt), and a bunch of other improvements that I forget or haven't yet noticed.

I think it's well worth it if you like this type of game. And supposedly the instruments are better, especially the drums, which won't leave a trail of broken kick pedals wherever they go anymore. (I'm not buying new instruments unless the old ones die.)

Of course, I think everybody else who reads this and might get the game has a PS3, so you all have to wait a month. (Except for [livejournal.com profile] zrealm, who got to play before I did.)
jl8e: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] mnemex picked it up today, and I spent some time opening a can of whupass on him.

My first impressions:

This is longish and likely of limited interest to most of my friends list )

All in all, it's more Soul Calibur. I can't judge the main change to the mechanics very well, but it doesn't feel like an improvement.

If SC3 were available for the Xbox, I'd probably get that and pass on this. As it is, I don't know if I'll get it, but I suspect I will.
jl8e: (Default)
A worthwhile sequel needs to either expand on the original, taking it as a starting point and breaking new ground from there, or it has to refine the original, delivering an improved version of the original, while keeping it fresh.

Ideally, of course, it should do both.

The original Katamari Damacy was a mad, wonderful thing. Like most such things, it was pretty much complete in itself, leaving little new ground for a sequel. It combined solid gameplay mechanics with wonderfully warped chrome and a catchy and weird soundtrack. It knew what it was, and didn't try to do too much with it. My biggest complaint was that it was too short, but it probably would have worn out its welcome if it had been much longer. (And really, is leaving you wanting more that bad a thing?)

It's easily one of my favorite video games of all time.

(A quick summary for those of you who don't know the game: The King of All Cosmos, while on a gigantic bender, accidentally breaks all the stars in the sky. They need replacing, so he sends you, the Prince, down to Earth with a sticky ball called a katamari. You roll stuff up with the katamari. As you do, the katamari grows, allowing you to roll up bigger stuff. When it's big enough, he makes it into a star. Most of the time, you're trying to get a specific size or as many items of a specific type as you can in a given time limit. If you have a Playstation 2, it's well worth checking out. The sequels vary the excuse, but leave the gameplay intact.)

We Love Katamari had a hard act to follow, and it did so pretty well. It's mostly more of the same, but with some of the rough edges smoothed out, some interesting variations in the goals, and some new environments to roll around in.

(There was a version for the PSP, but I've never played it, so I'm going to ignore it here.)

Now we have Beautiful Katamari, bringing the series to the high-definition shininess of the XBox 360. Can it live up to the standards of the previous games?

To save the suspense, the answer is no. )


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