LTTP: January '09 (Bioshock, Too Human)

In January, I chipped away at my "catch-up" list. Unfortunately, I keep finding out about more awesome games that I want to play. Here are some quick "Late to the Party" thoughts about the games I played.

Bioshock - Very interesting game. The story is well-told, with possibly the best twist I've ever seen in a game. Not because it's unexpected (although I didn't exactly see it coming), but because it plays off of both the philosophical themes in the game and the gameplay itself. The ending is disappointingly typical, but the experience as a whole is top-notch.

The hacking mini-game gets old after 40 or 50 hacks, and in fact, I haven't replayed Bioshock yet because I dread having to do that minigame another 30 times. In addition, the game is probably too easy: there is no death penalty, except a quick run-back, and you are rewarded with ~60% health and mana upon reviving. That's right, you get a death reward. At least there is an achievement for beating Bioshock on hard without dying, which will require a bit of thought and frequent saving for me to get. Still, the game is entertaining (functionally, you are a wizard with guns) and it was quite thought-provoking.

Verdict - - Story and atmosphere are top-notch, gameplay is entertaining but marred by a death reward. Replay value is a mixed bag: hacking is extremely repetitive and boring, but the challenge to beat the game on hard without dying will probably see me coming back to this in the near future.

Too Human - Apparently Too Human had been in development, in one form or another, for 9 years. Unfortunately, the game actually feels unfinished. There is a lack of content, the cutscenes are horribly written (and voiced poorly), the interface and mechanics are unwieldy, and the enemies and player classes feel like they should have been retuned to allow more diversity in tactics. The other disappointing aspect of the game is Cyberspace. You'll occasionally have to enter an alternate reality where you have to solve a "puzzle" to advance. Unfortunately, there really isn't any puzzle at all, ever. It's just a simple-time waster.

Still, this game is a load of hack-and-slash, loot-grabbing fun. Dealing with a room full of enemies with different abilities, and coming out on top without dying is very satisfying. You have two weapons: a melee weapon and a gun. There are two tactics available, most of the time: kiting with the gun or sliding in and popping enemies up into the air with the sword, then finishing them off.

Verdict - - Great off-the-wall reimagining of Norse mythology, but horribly executed. The actual gameplay is very fun and has replay value, despite minimal diversity in tactics and only 4 dungeons to run through. Various parts of the game feel unfinished and rushed (unwieldy menus, untuned enemies and lack of puzzle-solving in cyberspace, among others).  I highly recommend downloading the demo off of XBL and trying Too Human out a couple of times. I enjoyed the demo, and I've found the full game to be quite fun, warts and all.

Grand Theft Auto IV -
This was the other game that I played in January. I'll post my thoughts on this later.


Catching up in 2009...

In terms of video games, 2009 will be all about catching up for me. I bought an Xbox 360 this October, which was my first platform I've owned since a PS2 that I had 2001-2003 (technically, my brother owned it.). I've done a bit of PC gaming throughout the years: SimCity, Total War, Civilization, Hitman, etc. I focused on World of Warcraft, though. I recently discontinued my subscription to switch to console gaming, and I've been enjoying it greatly.

This introduction is for anyone else who happens to be reading this post. However, the main reason I'm posting this is for my own benefit. In a year, I'll see how many of these games I actually got through, and how many were worth my time.

Games that I want to play (and complete) in 2009:

2008 releases:
-Grand Theft Auto IV
-Fable 2
-Gears of War 2
-Left 4 Dead
-Prince of Persia
-Banjo-Kazoozie: Nuts & Bolts
-Far Cry 2
-Civilization: Revolution
-Too Human
-Rise of the Argonauts
-Burnout Paradise

Older releases:
-Assassin's Creed
-Call of Duty 4: MW
-Gears of War
-Splinter Cell: Double Agent
-Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
-Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2

2009 releases:
-Alpha Protocol
-Splinter Cell: Conviction
-Skate 2
-Resident Evil 5
-Total War: Empire (ok, it's PC-only, but I couldn't leave it off)

anndd I'm sure there will be many more that aren't on my radar yet. That's a grand total of 25 games. It's very close to one every 2 weeks, and so I'm guessing some of these will have to be rented.