By dankempster 6 Comments
It's been far too long since I last wrote anything for this blog. Truth be told, it's been far too long since I last wrote anything at all. Work has kept me stupidly busy these last couple of months, but that's really only part of the problem. The biggest obstacle I'm trying to overcome is lack of motivation, a feeling that's caused more than just my writing to suffer this summer. To try and combat these high levels of disinterest, I'm going to commit myself to spending just a small amount of time to write shorter updates on a more regular basis. Hence the title of this blog post - 'A Little, More Often'.
Because it's been quite a while since my last Giant Bomb blog update, I've got quite a few things to talk about. I won't spend too long on any one subject, and my writer's mind is a little rusty, so I apologise if the thoughts below seem a little disjointed or undercooked. All I ask is that you bear with me, and hopefully it'll all come good in the end. The first item on my blogging agenda is:
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
I spent most of August playing the third instalment in the core Assassin's Creed canon, reaching the end of Ezio's adventure in Rome on the first of this month. I was seriously impressed by the ways in which Brotherhood built upon Assassin's Creed II, most notably in the form of the Assassins Guild content, which ended up dominating most of my time spent with the game. It was almost a given that I'd get drawn into that stuff, considering how much I enjoyed similar mechanics implemented in games like Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. While AC: Brotherhood is a strong enough adventure in its own right, it struggled to live up to my appreciation of its predecessor. I'm convinced this was mainly due to the approach Brotherhood took with its story, replacing the second game's focus on the development of Ezio's character with an isolated 'Assassins-versus-Templars' narrative centred on the Borgia. I appreciated the fleshing-out of Desmond and his companions outside the Animus, but felt like more could have been done to advance the overarching plot running through the whole series. The game certainly ends with a bang (or rather, an 'UH!'), but overall the story stuff in Brotherhood felt underdone and left me feeling a little dissatisfied. Even in spite of those shortcomings, though, the gameplay holds up, with further mechanical refinements ensuring Brotherhood is the best Assassin's Creed game I've played purely from the perspective of its gameplay. I'll no doubt be picking up AC: Revelations later this year (when the release of Assassin's Creed III drives its price through the floor), with a view to witnessing the conclusion to Ezio's tale some time in 2013.
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4
Ever since I finished Persona 3 back in February, my sister (who served as a spectator for most my run through) has been pestering me to pick up its sequel. I finally caved a couple of weeks ago, and since then we've been dedicating a little time every evening to finding our feet in Inaba. We're about nine hours in so far, so it's really too early for me to pass a definitive judgement about anything in the game, but so far it's felt like a logical evolution of the mechanics of its predecessor. Being able to control every party member is a huge improvement, removing the element of doubt that came with relying on the AI to make the right choices in P3. What I've seen of the story so far has been interesting enough, although the characters' need to state every single plot point several times is already wearing pretty thin. The cast of playable characters is shaping up to be just as memorable as that of P3, and I can't wait to really get stuck into the Social Link side of things to see how they compare to those of the previous game. Watch this space for further updates on our journeys into the TV.
Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee
I've long been a fan of the Oddworld franchise, and have previously written at length about just how great the original pair of 2D puzzle-platformers are, but up until now I'd never played either of the 3D games released on the original Xbox. That changed this week when I booted up the Steam version of Munch's Oddysee. Now I'm around halfway through, I feel like I can comfortably say that it's very much a game cast from the same mould. Gameplay is still centred on platforming and the solution of puzzles through a mixture of GameSpeak and enemy possession. Probably my favourite thing about the game so far is the 'duo dynamic' that comes as a result of having two different playable characters. It's a lot of fun exploring each level, using both Abe's and Munch's strengths to find the solution to the puzzles standing between them and the exit. Unfortunately, the transition to three dimensions does rob the gameplay of some of its finer aspects - platforming is naturally more difficult - and the nature of the solutions to some of the puzzles can turn what should be fun and rewarding into an exercise in tedium and laboriousness. Thankfully, those moments aren't so frequent that they detract from the overall experience. Personally, it's just nice to be back in Oddworld.
That's Yer Lot
I think that's everything I've got to say on the subject of video games at this point in time. I'll probably try to push one of these out next week as well, when I'll hopefully have seen the end of Munch's Oddysee and moved on to something else. There will also no doubt be some more expanded thoughts on Persona 4. Until next time, thanks very much for reading, and I'll see you around.
Currently playing - Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee (PC)