Epic Necromancy, the Wii, and you

So, yeah.  It’s been months since I posted here; life’s been pretty busy for me, with a divorce and moving to a new location.  “Nuff said.

Anyhow, I took a few months off from gaming (gasp!) but have started up again.  Since I’m moderately burned out on existing MMOs and await the next batch – which involve bright costumes and superpowers – I’ve been getting my gaming fix through my new Nintendo Wii.  It’s a decent little system.  The graphics aren’t overwhelming, but they’re decent, and the controller allows some very unique gameplay options.

The games I’ve enjoyed the most thus far are Ókami and The Godfather.  I know, I know, these aren’t new games, but they’re new to me.  Ókami is set in feudal Japan, and the protagonist is a wolf-avatar of the sun goddess Amaterasu.  The wiimote is used for conventional movement and camera controls, but also and more engagingly as a Celestial Brush, which allows one to e.g. repair damaged features like bridges or windmills; create wind; cause wilted plants to bloom; etc.  It’s an engaging fantasy MMO with a unique tone, but I will say it does have one drawback – I’ve found it to be quite easy to defeat more or less every foe I’ve come across.  The character customization is also a bit lacking… basically you can increase your health, Celestial Ink pots (which allow use of the brush techniques), food bags (which serve as extra lives if you ever die, which hasn’t been an issue for me), or the size of your gold purse (which increases the maximum amount of gold you can carry; again, not an issue for me thus far).  You gain points to customize your character by gaining Praise, which comes from healing the plants, feeding the animals, and defeating the demons that plague the countryside.  It’s a decent enough mechanic.

The Godfather is an excellent translation and extension of the basic storyline of the first movie.  Virtually all of the actors from the movie are doing the voice work for their characters, so e.g. when Tom Hagen talks to you, you hear Robert Duvall’s voice.  That makes a substantial difference in the immersion of the experience, especially if you love the movies as much as I do.  The game is a sandboxy action-RPG, a bit like GTA or Saint’s Row, with a lot of freedom to do what you want in New York, and a linear storyline you can pursue or ignore as you wish.  You get reminders from time to time to head out and meet Clemenza and the other members of the Corleone family, but you’re free to take your time in getting there – meanwhile spending time extorting money from businesses and taking over rackets.  There’s a fairly decent level of customization available; you gain Respect by doing missions, bribing cops, performing contract hits, taking over businesses, etc. – and then spend it to increase stats like firearm accuracy, movement speed, negotiation skill, etc.

The sequel is coming out in a few weeks, based on The Godfather II, so though this review isn’t terribly timely, it’ll lead to one that’s moreso.

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