The Great 2011 Gaming Catch-Up Pt.2

Fuck the internet, man. Just when I start making some progress in my 2011 catch-up list I find more ways to procrastinate, i.e buying more games, many of which didn't even come out last year. In the time since my last post I've bought Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie, Beyond Good and Evil HD and Ms. Splosion Man on XBLA, and finished just one of those. Meanwhile I still have Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Alice: Madness Returns and To The Moon to complete, the latter of which I haven't even started. The worst part is I already have copies of the Banjo games and BG&E sitting around here somewhere; I'm putting off playing games I'm yet to play by re-playing games I've already completed on another system. Urgh, anyway, on to the updates!

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PC)

Twelve hours in and this game is really starting to shine. Now that I've upgraded my augmentations stealthing around is a lot more fun than before, and there's something highly satisfying about sneaking past a bunch of guards without them ever knowing you were there; escaping the pods ambush in Hong Kong was particularly enjoyable. The boss fights are still incredibly unbalanced, but I'm willing to let that slide, just 'cause the rest of the game is so goddamn engaging.

Shadows of the Damned (360)

It's a real testament to this game's qualities that I finished it in two sittings, despite it's many issues. First of all I loved the characters – the writing and voice-acting were really top-draw and added a great deal of personality to an otherwise clichéd story. Garcia and Johnson are a fantastic double act and play off each other nicely with some truly hilarious dialogue. The combat is pretty entertaining - if a little loose at times – while the environment and enemy design is kept original and fresh throughout.

Problems start to arise, however when the game deviates from it's core action gameplay. There are instant-kill chase sequences that are made more frustrating by the game forcing you to stop and do tasks along the way, leaving ample time for you to be caught up and, well, killed. There are also the sections where you play a 2D side-scrolling version of the game, which play horrifically due to unresponsive and clunky controls. Not to mention the boring puzzles, god awful checkpointing (with unskippable cutscenes), and occasionally buggy controls, e.g. firing a shot despite only aiming the gun, and not being able to move when charging a melee attack.

However, I persevered through all this shit that Shadows of the Damned threw at me and found a hilarious and fun action game that was well worth the £10 it cost. If you have the ability to look past a game's flaws then this comes highly recommended.

Alice: Madness Returns (360)

Unlike Shadows of the Damned, the personality of this title isn't really gripping me enough to look past the generic gameplay. The world and it's inhabitants are all nicely designed and fleshed out but I don't have any real affinity for them quite yet. Maybe I just need to progress into the game more (I've only just started act two) for it to kick into gear, but right now it's not doing enough to really engage me.

To The Moon (PC)

I've been off work all week, and yet despite all the free time I've had I haven't so much as double-clicked the desktop shortcut. You know you must be lazy when you can't be bothered to play through a four hour game that doesn't require much player interaction.

Hopefully I've gotten this game-buying compulsion out of my system for the time being, at least until I get around to finishing what I've got before splurging on a PS3 next month. Although that big green 'play now' button on the Trackmania 2 website is awfully tempting...


The Great 2011 Gaming Catch-Up Pt.1

And so rolls around January and along with it the traditional phase of “there's fuck all coming out”. The way I see it, until Mass Effect 3 finds its way into my PC there isn't anything – with maybe the exception of SSX – being released that greatly piques my interest. So, like everyone else I've taken it upon myself to catch up with anything major released in 2011 that I may have missed for whatever reason. There's a lot of games to cover so let's get cracking!

Gears of War 3 (360)

Besides general laziness I can't think of a good reason as to why I didn't pick this up when it came out. After all I greatly enjoyed the two previous games in the series, and was interested to a certain degree to see how the story plays out. Regardless I bought it sometime in late December but didn't get around to finishing the campaign plus Raam's Shadow until recently. All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience and I respect Epic Games' decision to end the series before it became over-saturated. However, now I've seen this series to the end and since I have no interest in competitive multiplayer, I can officially say I am done with this game and franchise in general. Thanks Epic, it's been one hell of a ride, and I eagerly anticipate whatever you decide to concoct next.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PC)

This is a case where I just wasn't interested enough to buy this at full price, but thanks to the magic of Steam sales I was able to pick this up relatively cheap. I'm currently around seven hours into it and having a great time so far, despite the game's best efforts to make me feel otherwise. Since I'm trying to go the non-lethal stealth route I, like most people doing the same, got somewhat stuck at the first boss who handed my fine-tuned augmented arse to me on a plate several times before I managed to scrape through. Before this however, I was finding most of the stealthing around to be as much trial-and-error as it was timing and patience. I often found myself forced to reload previous saves if a guard so much as got a whiff of my aftershave, knowing that in about five seconds I would be the cyborg equivalent of swiss cheese. Having said all that I am enjoying it more now I've started to invest in more augmentations and moved to a fresh new location. I've still got a while to go though so watch this space for updates.

Alice: Madness Returns (360)

The general look and tone always greatly intrigued me, and for £12.99 I couldn't really say no. It's become pretty apparent after a few hours that the atmosphere and style are what's going to keep me playing, as the actual gameplay, while serviceable, is nothing to cry home about.

And now for something completely different: some games I haven't got around to playing just yet.

Shadows of the Damned (360)

I was drawn to this for the same reasons I picked Saint's Row: The Third as my GOTY: the over-the-top violence, crude humour, and general 'fuck-it' attitude. I look forward to playing this when it arrives, because I'm willing to look past all the flaws I've heard about if it means having a great fucking time.

To the Moon (PC)

I'm saving this for my week off so I can dedicate a few hours one day to play through this story driven adventure/RPG. I've heard great things about To the Moon and I hope I'm not disappointed.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (PC)

I'm holding off on getting this 'til the inevitable mid year gaming drought, where I'm gonna have a bunch of time to immerse myself in the world and play through at my own pace.

If all goes to plan I can finish up most if not all of these before the end of the month; if that's the case I'll finally purchase a PS3 plus a bunch of system exclusives and spend February catching up on five years of games, including: Uncharted series; inFamous 1&2; MGS4; Heavy Rain; God of War III; and Ico/Shadow of the Colossus HD. Since I can now find the majority of these games relatively cheap, and since there hasn't really been any news regarding next-gen consoles I feel this is a pretty good investment right now, and I look forward to sitting down with a PS3 after all these years of neglect.

Now if you'll excuse me duders, I gotta go follow the white rabbit into Wonderland.

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