Friday, December 31, 2010

End of the Line

I'm sorry to say that Be Attitude for Gains is being put on indefinite hiatus, which is a fancy way of saying that it's all over. You may have noticed that posts have become less and less frequent (and of lower and lower quality); it's not that I've run out of things to write about, I had quite a few posts I wanted to write, the problem is that at the moment I barely have any time to even play games, let alone write about them. I started this blog as a sort of creative outlet while I was unemployed, but I write very slowly and at the moment I just don't have time for it.

According to Blogger I've written 55 posts (not including this one) in the 18 months since I started, and I like to think that some of them have been quite entertaining. I want to say thank you to everyone who has been reading the posts. It's been fun, and maybe at some point I'll be able to get back to it.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gray Matter

I remember reading about Gray Matter, the next graphic adventure from Gabriel Knight creator Jane Jensen, many years ago when it was first announced (in 2003, I believe), but after hearing nothing for so long, I assumed it had slipped into development hell, never to return.

It seems, however, that if Duke Nukem Forever will actually be released, then nothing is impossible, and Gray Matter is on track to release on February 2011, on the PC and Xbox 360 (it is interesting to note that the 360 seems to be receiving a lot of games from small European publishers in the same way the PS2 benefited from the then-prolific Japanese industry). What's more, there is a demo available now on Live (in the European region).

I downloaded the demo and played through it, and the most striking thing is just how much it feels like an old school graphic adventure. I was worried about how modern shiny 3D graphics would suit a game like this, but it uses 3D characters on hand-drawn backgrounds (necessitating fixed camera angles), which really works well on a large, high definition display.

The game design also feels more like that of a past era. The Telltale adventure games, while amusing, were not particularly challenging and for the vast majority of the game you knew exactly what you had to do next, where you would get the required object and what you would do with it. In the demo for Gray Matter, there was a more inference and less outright instruction, which makes you feel more like you're solving the mystery yourself, but would open up the risk of being stuck not knowing what to do next. I guess you can't have it both ways, but I managed to get through the demo without having to resort to online assistance.

Of course, nobody played graphic adventures for the item combination puzzles or the wondering as to who they need to talk to next, they play them for the plot (or the jokes, depending on the game), and Gray Matter definitely has a similar feel to a Gabriel Knight game, with the demo showing signs of Jane Jensen's trademark blending of fact and fiction. Despite a male lead who doesn't have even a fraction of the charisma of the schattenjäger from New Orleans I was left wanting to know more when the demo ended.

It's not awful on the 360, either. The radial highlight menu all but eliminates pixel hunting (although you still need to do a bit of it when inspecting items close up), and the load times between screens are negligible (the demo runs off the console hard drive, but the full game can be installed). It's a testament to the convergence of the modern console and PC that a game like this doesn't really suffer with a gamepad. I can't see a lot of people dropping full AAA console price for a game like this, but it probably will be released at a lower price point and I hope it does well.

Gray Matter will be released on PC and Xbox 360 in February 2011.