The birthday dinner went well... we went to Applebee's because of the Maple Butter Blondies, naturally, and for once, I didn't eat the last bite, which always leaves me crawling home. It's the part where I know I could get it swallowed before my stomach knows enough to protest, but it sure raises a fuss afterward. So by leaving that one bite untouched, I avoided the usual overeating. The funny thing is that the server commented on how hungry I must have been because I ate my dinner so quickly... I wasn't! I just eat fast. We went early to avoid the crowds. We also found a huge pile of Wiis for sale at Best Buy. I tipped off someone who I know has been looking for them, but he wasn't home. I'll find out tomorrow whether he got the message in time.
I tried Alone in the Dark today... and I see what the reviews are talking about. I'm sure the inventory system is nifty, but it hasn't explained any of the cool stuff I saw in the tech demo. Sure, I can wrap tape around flammable bottles, throw them at enemies, then shoot them to ignite them... but how am I supposed to figure all that out on my own? If I wanted to explore mechanisms with arbitrary rules, I'd play more Myst... which I did, incidentally. As for fighting, I conserve bullets, but unlike, say, Resident Evil, where they're as valuable as gold, in Alone in the Dark, they're next to useless. If I put enough of them into an enemy, it'll fall down for a few seconds. The only way (the ONLY way) to kill most enemies is to burn them, which generally means using a blunt weapon, like an axe, to knock them into a fire. (Yes, the axe is a blunt weapon. It sure doesn't sever anything. Then again, I got fed up and plugged a few dozen bullets into the heads of my companions... and other than the blood spray, NOTHING HAPPENED.) Hotwiring cars is difficult enough without invincible zombie demons tearing you out like THEY'RE the wannabe GTA characters. And when I finally DO find something sturdy enough to swing repeatedly at them (i.e. not the omnipresent chairs), swinging it is nearly impossible. Items are controlled with the right analog stick... camera? No such control while you're carrying something. The camera just follows you as you turn. You can lock onto enemies with the left trigger to keep the camera focused, but that's clumsy, loses track, and puts items like the fire extinguisher into spray mode automatically. To swing the only decent heavy object around, you have to be in free roaming mode. THEN you have to move the stick in the direction opposite that you intend to swing it, then SNAP the stick in the direction of the swing. Move fluidly, and it'll only swing if you don't want it to. Dead Rising, this ain't. So you can take time while the building you're in is collapsing around you to rearrange furniture so you can get through doorways, and then the floor eats everyone because they're inevitably too stupid to try moving away. Really... the woman just sort of starts crying because the floor fell in (it's a drop of a few feet... Carnby's already down there waiting for her), and she sobs to herself until the fissure takes pity on you and eats her. And she's the one who's spent the whole freaking game warning everyone that the walls are alive and they need to hurry and get out of there! She must have been the extra from Tremors who died before the monster even came to town. The next woman you meet has some sense, at least... she moves into the darkness before whining about how she doesn't want to die, and as noted previously, doesn't seem to be capable of taking damage at all. (Although she complains if you hit her with the axe.) The damage system, come to think of it, is interesting... you can take a look at your wounds at any time, and if you still have the one first aid spray that the game gives you and makes you use early on, you can spray one of them. Maybe there's more spray that I just didn't find... I don't intend to go back and look, but the game DOES feature the handy chapter system that lets you replay any part you've played and many you haven't. In the end, I had SOME idea of what I did at times, but I was mostly flailing around and wishing the game had told me how to run much sooner... like while the building was collapsing and I casually walked around waiting for something to tear down a wall so I could proceed. I switched to Ratchet & Clank for most of the evening. Won't talk about that one, but I evolved a few more weapons to their fully upgraded forms, and have most of the rest on the verge of evolution... even the crappy Tornado Shooter is at level 3.
I really need to clean up my room, if only to give the new PC some breathing room once it's finished, but I didn't feel like it today.