Today’s Play: LittleBig Noby Saints

A little more variation in today’s games, with a bit of LittleBigPlanet and a lot of Saint’s Row 2 added to the regular Noby Noby Boy excursion.

LittleBigPlanet

LittleBigPlanet01

LittleBigPlanet is another of my nephew’s favourite games right now, and he has spent a considerable amount of time on it getting every item, completing every level without dying, playing levels online and spending hours making his own levels and experiments.

The DLC for the game has been plentiful, but varies in value.  On the one side there’s the fantastic Metal Gear Solid pack that added the paintball gun (which radically transforms the game) and had several levels, culminating in an incredibly complicated boss encounter (that’s complicated to make, not to defeat), while at the other end there are just costumes.

Obviously customising Sackboy is a significant part of what makes LittleBigPlanet fun, but that doesn’t change the fact that costumes don’t really extend the game at all, save for making you look different while do the same old things (or play new user-created levels, of course).  It’s a little disappointing then that so far the DLC has mostly been costumes, with nothing to match the MGS pack (though there is an upcoming Ratchet & Clank pack that is said to include several levels and might be the first real successor to it).

Recently available on the PS Store is the Monster Level Kit, which I bought for my nephew today.  It differentiates itself from the regular sticker kits by including both a fun music track and an actual new level, though the level itself is little more than a ride from left to right, collecting the items on the way.  There genuinely are a lot of new sounds, stickers and accessories with the pack though, and the new level has some great examples of what they can be used for, so in that sense it serves like a condensed version of the main game’s story mode.

We also bought the new Monster costumes, which features two Vampires (Count Sackula and the Bride of Sackula), a werewolf and a zombie.  While the zombie is little more than a redesign of the existing skeleton skin, they’re otherwise all pretty good, and my nephew is likely going to get a lot of mileage out of them as he plays around with the new pack.

Noby Noby Boy

NobyNoby04

As expected, Girl reached Mars today, 93 days since the game went live.  According to stats from the official website, Girl grew by a staggering 30,679,121,387 metres yesterday, the combined effort of just 1,358 players.

The Mars levels seem suitably weird and interesting, with flying cars shaped like inverted pyramids and giant octopus-things that spit out black dots, as well as (hopefully) lots more to discover.

The multipliers we’ve been enjoying have apparently been part of “Lucky Week”, so it probably won’t continue.  However, the official website says:

★About Lucky week

Thanks to everyones effort,
GIRL has managed to
stretch out a lot!!

Still a long way to go
in reaching Mars
but we will see you in June
for the time being!

So it’s possible that this could be a regular thing that occurs once a month and helps the active players push closer to the next planet.  The next planet, of course, is Jupiter, and according to the fairy there’s about 540 billion metres to go.  Assuming each Lucky Week generates the same amount as this one did (about 90 billion metres) then Jupiter will be a few months off yet, but that seems like a reasonable amount of time to enjoy Mars in.

Saints Row 2

SaintsRow203

Saints Row 2 is an interesting game.  On a technical level it’s ridiculously inferior to Grand Theft Auto IV‘s excellent engine.  In terms of draw distance, framerate, the A.I., the level of detail, the personality of the city, the game’s ability to remember the locations of cars and people, and the overall level of polish Saints Row 2 loses every time, and yet for me it’s by far the ‘better’ game when talking about the actual gameplay and level of enjoyment.

It mainly comes from lots of little things that SR2 has that GTAIV does not.  These little things include (but aren’t limited to) being able to customise your character, the missions having checkpoints and a simple replay system, the simple system for getting allies to assist you, the constant income from territory and businesses, the way it doesn’t take itself too seriously in the main story, the sheer amount of fun and unashamed over-the-top approach to side missions, and being able to store and customise vehicles.  Essentially, most of the things that annoyed me about GTAIV aren’t present or are improved in Saints Row 2.

That doesn’t mean the technical issues aren’t sometimes frustrating though.  Case in point: The first mission I played today – protecting a warehouse from crazed addicts looking to steal the drugs inside –  was one that I attempted before, but stopped when the game froze up on me and I lost that progress.  It wasn’t a huge issue as it autosaves after every mission, but it stopped me playing for a few days.  This time everything proceeded without problems, and I ended up completing the remainder of the Sons of Samedi storyline (there is one long storyline for each of the three main rival gangs, which you can tackle in any order).

SaintsRow202

In general though the bugs and glitches fall into the same territory as those in Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, being amusing rather than frustrating or game-breaking.  One of the other missions I played today involved infiltrating a police station to get at their security footage, but no matter how I tried I couldn’t do it without alerting the police.  I think eventually you’re discovered automatically but for the beginning at least it seems like you should be able to get in undiscovered.  I couldn’t identify what was alerting the guards though, as it would sometimes happen immediately upon entering the building while at other times it wouldn’t happen until I was right inside and at the top of the stairs.  I can’t say for sure that it’s a glitch, but with Saints Row 2 it isn’t always easy to tell.

The latter part of that same mission includes something that was much more likely to be a glitch or bug.  It has a typical setup for this sort of thing: My ally, Shaundi, needed to access the cameras and asked me to protect her from approaching enemies while she did so.  Only there were no incoming enemies, and I just ended up waiting around for several minutes while she said the standard things for this sort of mission – “Almost there”, “Halfway done”, and so on – that suggested I was supposed to be frantically fighting off waves of enemies while waiting for her to finish.

If I went around exploring then it was possible to find a few enemies, but nobody seemed particularly interested in attacking.  It’s possible that Volition were trying to mock that mission trope by having a defence mission without any attack, but that seems unlikely.  Still, it made things easier and there was a $25,000 reward at the end of it, which was nice.

As a final little testament to the game’s lack of polish, the final Sons of Samedi mission involved trying to destroy the leader of the gang in his vehicle, which I won when he crashed and destroyed himself.  $50,000 well earned.

Image Sources

LittleBigPlanet Image: The Game Reviews

Noby Girl: DCEmu Forums

SR2 Cop Fight: Kotaku

SR2 Shaundi and Pierce: Daily Game


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