The gaps between my blogs have been growing recently.Sorry about that.
Ah January, such a beautiful month.Full of hope, optimism, and a new student loan. I actually tried to quit drinking for this most precious of months, fearing that the onslaught of New Years Eve and the Mass of Christ (Coming soon on Xbox 360) would leave me a hollow specter of my former self. It stands to reason that a month of alcohol = a month of hangover. That's maths, and cannot be argued with. Do you know what happens when you argue with maths? Horrible, horrible things.
I bought Mafia 2In the Steam Christmas sale for about £5, which seemed reasonable. I'm slowly working my way through it, in a kind of "I'm going to take my sweet fucking time" kind of way. I enjoy each chapter as an almost episodic product, each sequence of events presenting me my daily fix in a bitesize chunk. This has actually come to replace my daily episode of whateverthefuck i'm currently watching. Ever since I finished The Wire I have been struggling to find a suitable replacement for my quiet (ha) evenings at home. I'm trying to watch Mad Men at the moment, which seems to work well alongside Mafia 2 as they are set in the same era - but it's just so damn slow.
THE MIDDLEWhilst many supposedly found the Mafia 2 campaign too linear, in this scenario I actually like being told exactly what I should be doing and who I should be shooting. The missions give an excellent selection of classic scenes from generic mobster movie X, balanced with some traditional everyday mafioso shenanigans. Every mission provides something new to see and do, and I have to give credit to the versatility of Mafia 2's game design. Mafia 2 frequently ventures off the beaten track, a particular example being when Irish goons burn down your house halfway through the game leaving you with no money or clothes, and forcing you to run to your buddy Joe's house in your underwear. It's not as good as that bit in Kane and Lynch 2 (I can't believe I just said that) but it's pretty good nonetheless.
The game begins in Europe in WW2, there's a whole sequence inside a prison (Including a short episode in the shower room where... well... you drop the soap. That shit is slippery.) and lots of unique hotels and warehouses which provide really memorable gunfights. The weaponry gives a satisfying punch, and the destructible environments make firing the Tommy Gun completely badass. The writing and characters are all pretty good as well, believable voice work, with that slightly edgy Mafia charm that implies they could flip at any second and cut your fingers off.
The game isn't perfect, thoughPerfection being a tall order after the sensational Grand Theft Auto franchise nailed Liberty City so successfully in it's latest installment. Being unable to shoot whilst driving is a noticeable problem, as is the inability to hail a cab - frustrating considering the city is so saturated with them. The designers also seem especially proud of their fighting system, a relatively simple punch'n'block charade into which you are repeatedly forced. Sometimes this feels appropriate (in the prison, for example) but there are times when it feels labored and I just wish I could pull out my gun and shoot the fucker in the face.
Mafia 2 also boasts an impressively anal traffic system, characters shouting discomfort at your nonchalance for red lights, speed limits, and pedestrian lives. Just like in real life, however, the police are equally alert, and it's pretty frustrating being constantly badgered by the local constabulary for going slightly over the speed limit. The driving in Mafia 2 is robust and it can be tolerated, though not excessively so. The game can't expect me to actually obey the highway code at all times... right? That's getting way too real, way too fast.
Possibly my favorite thing about Mafia 2 is it's fantastically accurate portrayal of 50's America. There aren't many radio stations (only 3?) but each blares some pretty exemplary music, along with advertisements for the latest new fangled technology, at which one cannot help but laugh. I'm generally really enjoying the post-WW2 vibe, the cars, the clothes, everything. It's like exploring Fallout 3 before the nukes went off and the land was covered in feral ghouls, something of which I am constantly reminded. The general population does a good job of just lounging around, getting on with their lives, talking, spying on their neighbors, having sex - the random stuff you can overhear and see if you explore gives a lot of life to the city. I also quite like the bizarre selection of interactions available within any domestic building. I can turn on the faucet, pick up the phone, open the window. What gameplay purpose do these actions serve? Absolutely fuck all. There's something quite surreal about it... i'm suspicious of their inclusion, as though i'm expecting to have to turn on the faucet at some pivotal moment in the campaign. What does it mean?
PENULTIMATELYThat's pretty much all I have been playing this month, in relatively small doses no less. Oh yeah, and World Of Warcraft, though in similarly small doses. I'm level 69 (shh) and just got to Howling Fjord, having trudged my way through the pathetically redundant quest design of Outlands.
AND FINALLYI'm not sure I like Bulletstorm. It seems to be trying slightly too hard to be over the top. That works when you have a genuine sense of humor, like Borderlands or Duke Nukem for example, but fails when your jokes primarily concern dick and fart jokes. I don't understand why a game which will undoubtedly be rated M is being marketed in such a condescendingly crude manner. HEY LOOK GUYS, YOU CAN SHOOT THIS MONSTER IN THE BALLS!! LOL!!!
Using the word "fuck" repeatedly doesn't make you big and cool. Unless you are a sentient cheeseburger.
Having said that, the EPIC edition comes with Beta access to Gears Of War 3. So i'm buying it. Don't fucking judge me, it's not like I had any principles anyway...
Thanks For Reading