Category Archives: Free Time

All kind of things I do in my free time

Game of the Month: Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time

Although Ratchet & Clank is a long running series of computer games I had never heard of it before I saw Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time in my friend Stefan’s trophy list. Based on his recommendation I decided to buy the game.

A Crack in Time is a 3D Jump ‘n Run and Shoot’Em Up game. It reminds me a bit of Nintendo’s excellent The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess but features less puzzles and more action. While the concept of the game isn’t novel it excels at overall design:

  • All the characters are beautifully animated, superbly voiced and overall very well made.  They would be worthy of a cartoon feature film.
  • The game is sometimes difficult but never unfair. There are a large number of save points which prevent frustration if you have to master a particularly hard challenge.
  • Between the main missions it is possible to roam around the galaxy as much as you like. You can complete little extra quests, search for treasures or fight in a tournament as a gladiator.
  • The game features a large set of weapons that Ratchet can use to fight the scores of enemies. In addition to pretty normal stuff like a blaster, grenades and a shot gun there are crazy things like a flying robot companion which will not only shoot at your enemies but also insult them. You can also throw a disco ball to force your foes to dance or feed them to a monster with tentacles named Fred through a dimensional portal. But the darling of the public is of course the Ryno V which unleashes hell on your opponents while playing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture .
  • When playing as Clank you have to solve complicated temporal puzzles which is mind boggling and great fun at the same time.

Overall Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time is wonderful crazy game. I really enjoyed playing it from beginning to end.

The Gaming PC Madness

A few days ago I read a review of a high-end graphics card in the c’t magazine. The card featured nVidia’s latest and greatest GPU and a very elaborate cooling system which was required to reduce the fan noise to acceptable levels. I was shocked by the price of the graphics card. At €510 the graphics card was more expensive than our PlayStation 3 including most of the games.

That reminded me how happy I am that I don’t own a Gaming PC anymore. It was just a waste of money and time and on top of that frequently very frustrating: the noise, driver problems, hardware incompatibilities, and so on and so forth.

The quality of the graphics produced by the PlayStation 3 might not be state of the art anymore. But they look good enough for me. And I can actually focus on playing games instead of faffing around with the system.

Game of the Month: Super Mario Galaxy 2

Last month Nintendo released Super Mario Galaxy 2, the highly anticipated sequel of Super Mario Galaxy. As I greatly enjoyed playing the first game I had high expectations.

So the pivotal question is whether Super Mario Galaxy 2 is as good or even better than the first part:

  1. If you have played Super Mario Galaxy in the past the intro and the first two levels will look very familiar.
  2. The space ship which serves as the base of operations is a bit dull compared to Rosalina‘s observatory in the first game. And the Luma in charge of this space ship is somewhat annoying.
  3. Fortunately things get better from here. In the second Galaxy your character Mario encounter’s Yoshi, a tame dinosaur, which he can ride on. Riding on Yoshi provides the player with a lot of new abilities. Yoshi can jump higher, eat enemies or swallow projectiles and fire them back at your opponents. By eating different kind of berries or hot chillies Yoshi gets even more astonishing powers like floating or super speed.
  4. Mario himself can also acquire new powers e.g. by eating magic mushrooms. Among Mario’s extra powers are creating and walking on clouds, drilling holes or squashing his enemies by transforming into a rolling rock.
  5. The design of the levels is as brilliant as in the first part. Checkpoints are now clearly marked by Bowser flags which Mario needs to touch. Some of the levels are however frustratingly difficult. You frequently wish for more checkpoints or more time.

All in all Super Mario Galaxy 2 is fun to play just like Super Mario Galaxy. But it somehow doesn’t have the special touch to it that made the first part a real masterpiece. It is nevertheless one of the best Wii games I have ever played.