GerbilMechs 070 : A Vicious Cat

18Nov03 (Monthenor): So now I've played a lot more of the Diablo II patch. The new synergies have really changed some skills up...elemental Druids are still crap, but Necromancers are looking better and better each day. I've been taking one through Normal, and come level 18 he became well-nigh invulnerable. Diablo was having his way with me last night, but between Act II and Act IV nothing really laid a finger on me. All thanks to a little skill called Confuse...all glory to the Hypnotoad! BROOOOOM!!

The other game that got played this weekend was Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup. Fifteen minutes into the game, I was ready to write up a scathing review of exactly what orifice EA Sports was penetrating. Thirty minutes later, I was warming up to exactly what the game would and would not allow. Three hours later, I realized I should eat something before it got too late.

So you have to give it some time to work past all the tutorials. The basic structure isn't much different from a hockey game: you have some wingers and a goalie and attempt to put the doohickey through the goalamabob. I was initially incensed that I couldn't control my altitude with the second joystick -- I wanted to fly, man -- but a couple of real games showed me that such control would have been too much to handle. When you start working within the confines of the game, and especially when you start unlocking the special moves and GangBangs, the game suddenly shines as a brilliant translation of the chaos of Quidditch. In the beginning you might as well be playing half-court Quidditch, for all the defense the computer has. Once you unlock the highest difficulty you're faced with an opponent that is your equal in every matter, and it all comes down to the Snitch. In fact, EA does the books one better by actually making your scoring and passing performance affect your ability to grab the Snitch. Sure, it's still way overpriced, but if you want to beat the other Seeker you better know your combos.

Speaking of combos, I did not choose the term "GangBang" lightly. Ostensibly known as "Team Special Moves", the GangBangs are the ultimate demoralizer: they don't influence your score all that greatly, but they set the other team back quite a bit in the Snitch race. The first time one was inflicted upon me, I could only watch in horror as a cutscene detailed exactly how the American team was kicking my ass. After every member of their team had a turn doing fancy moves with the quaffle, they punched one of my players off their broom just because, and tossed the quaffle for one goal. I felt like a damn tool. But let me tell you that inflicting your GangBang on the other team is something I never tired of watching. Especially Ravenclaw's, as their Blue Angel move beats up two opponents for no good reason and scores three times. That's how Quidditch is played in tha hood, biatch.

I don't know if it has enough appeal for a purchase, but it's a mighty good rental. It comes close to a classic party title like Mario Tennis, but is ultimately hampered by making you unlock all the best moves through an interminable season mode. Playing teams round-robin for 18 games isn't fun, even when your opponents don't score a single point in ten straight games. A sequel with twice as many teams plus more indiviual special moves would sell me on it, though.