Games with Gold Update

Magic 2013 - I liked Magic 2012 quite a bit so I might get around to this. It's a very accurate representation of the game, and the card game is great, but the interface isn't the best. It just plays a lot slower than a face to face game would.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas - Not for me. I played the first level, and it seems well made. Just not into military shooters.

Might Magic: Clash of Heroes - This is a pretty great game. I have it for the DS, and I'm not too keen on starting it over, but it's nice to have just the same.

Halo 3 - Great game, I have it, nice to add to my digital collection. Will probably never play it again.

A World of Keflings - This is a charming, simple strategy game that I enjoy playing with my 7 year old. Would get dull on it's own. But for some reason I get a kick out of playing these "Avatar Famestar(?)" games with my kids.

Iron Brigade - Fun and interesting, but didn't get too far into it. I think my tolerance for these tower defense games may just be low, we'll see what happens with Dungeon Defenders.

Gears of War - Same as Halo 3, loved it, probably never play it.

Shoot Many Robots - Didn't look good, didn't touch.

Sleeping Dogs - Didn't touch, have heard good things about it, but again not my genre.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light - Haven't touched, but the demo did interest me. Maybe I can get my wife to play.

Dead Island - Didn't touch.

Toy Soldiers: Cold War - Haven't played but interested. Probably falls into the action / tower defense genre now?

Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution - Played two awesome games of this, confirming Civ is great and this is a decent version (if somewhat stripped down). Probably don't need to play anymore. I have Civ V sitting unplayed on my PC.

Dungeon Defenders - I got pretty hooked on this over the weekend. Seemed pretty tough to solo, so I'm looking forward to playing multiplayer with the family.

I should also mention some free to play games that came out on the 360 recently.

Ascend: Hand of Kul - I really liked this. I played though the story and still dip in occasionally to see what's up. It's quite stripped down, but I find what's there to be appealing. I think maybe the grind is starting to kick in as I've gotten up in level, so I don't think I'll be playing this as my main entertainment, but as an occasional distraction I do like it. It's earned it's place in my 120 gig hard drive.

World of Tanks - This reminds me so much of Mech Warrior Online. I really prefer this more slow paced, one life, counter strike style multiplayer game. I'm not super into tanks though. I'll probably keep it around.

So, I'm still pleased with Games with Gold. More hits and misses still, or at least entertaining distractions.

Kudos to Microsoft then, for keeping me so engaged with my 360. Not really feeling any desire to upgrade to the Xbox One.

Wait...

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Games with Gold so far

Here are my opinions of the games with gold games released so far.

  • Fable 3 - Very well polished game. So, so very boring. Some games just aren't my thing. Some games are too difficult, or frustrating in other ways, buggy maybe. This is right up my ally, fantasy roleplay, and seems well put together. It's sheer blandness is why does it in. It's too streamlined, I guess? Got maybe 10 hours in before giving up.
  • Defense Grid - Played a few levels, not really feeling it. I think I peaked with tower defense with Desktop Tower Defense. Nothing really wrong with this one though.
  • Assassin’s Creed 2 - One of my favorite games this generation. The only Assassin's title I've completed. Loaded it up, found a few feathers, did one of the Assassin's seal missions. Still amazed at how great this game is. I probably won't play that much more, as I have Brotherhood sitting on the same hard drive. It's nice to have a digital copy though. At this point in the generation I'm sort of aggravated by having to find a disc to play a game.
  • Crackdown - I'm not the only one who really likes this game am I? I've seen a lot of snark about it. I think this is a really great game and, like AC2, was happy to fire it back up and find some agility orbs. My agent is leveled all the way up so there isn't a lot to do without resetting all the bad guys. Still it was nice to bounce around the city again.
  • Dead Rising 2 - Didn't really have much interest in this, as the frustrations I've heard mentioned with the series are exactly the kind of thing I don't want in my video games. But I fired up Case Zero just to check it out. I went through multiple cycles of hating it, being hooked, and hating it again, but ultimately I think I will try to finish it up. Probably won't touch the main game.

Overall I'm pleased with the Games with Gold program. These games are better than nothing. Even the ones I own provide the benefit of being digital.

Ironically, the program increases the value of my 360, and without backwards compatibility, decreases the likelihood of my getting an Xbox One at launch. (A small prospect anyway.)

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Games I got on Black Friday weekend

Thursday Night: Walmart: LA Noir - $10

Playing LA Noir now, not quite as good as I'd hoped, but still enjoying it. Between 3-4 stars right now.

I am somewhere in the homicide cases, and I put it down. The story has gotten interesting. But the sheen on the gameplay has really worn off. It seems pretty shallow now. The open world driving seems pretty pointless.

Cyber Monday: XBox.com: Forza Horizon - $15, Rage $10, Gears 3 $10

Rage: I kept going back to this. I understand in theory why this game should be generic and dumb. But in practice it's just super fun. The vehicle stuff is just super fun. The shooting levels are a bit too long, but they are still really enjoyable. I will finish this game. After last Friday I really didn't want to be looking down the barrel of a gun. But I'll get back to it eventually.

Forza Horizon: played a good bit of this and sorry, Jeff, not a 5. It's Forza, and I really like Forza. But the whole setting is just bland. No crashing or even damage is unfortunate. Will play in spurts.

Haven't cracked open Gears 3 yet.

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SSX Demo

Just not sure yet, which is very disappointing. I'm not saying it's bad. I'm not even saying I won't buy it and love it. But what I am feeling is that it is not SSX 3, and I'm going to have to get over that.

There is no SSX in SSX. That is, no snowboard cross. No actual racing. You know, racers slotted in to starting gates, 3, 2, 1, GO! Jostling for position, pushing people down. Groomed courses with banked turns. Crowds. Fireworks.

No trick courses? Not sure, it looked like the trick event was just down the same mountain you race down. No half pipes, no big air events. No rival events. No free roaming. No running all the way down from the top of the 3rd peak to the bottom of the 1st.

So what we do have is time trials on a whole bunch of mountains. No way to know yet what the variety is like. And the deadly descents, which look cool, but I don't know how they play.

No DJ Atomica in the demo. But why would he be there? You aren't hanging out a some awesome ski resort, you are flying around the world jumping out of helicopters. The only person around is your (based on the demo) annoying helicopter pilot.

It plays like SSX, it just doesn't feel like it. Yet. I'm going to have to follow this closely, and play the demo some more.

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XBOX Games I played in 2011

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure

Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012

Pinball FX2

LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy

Forza Motorsport 3

Game Room

Dungeons & Dragons Daggerdale

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2

Age of Empires Online

Lips

Rez HD

Gears of War 2

Super Street Fighter IV

Mass Effect 2

Doom II: Hell on Earth

Pac-Man: Championship Edition

Final Fantasy XIII

Panzer General: Allied Assault

Assassin's Creed II

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WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$

I was going to write up F-Zero and Mario Cart first, as they are the first games I fired up, and it makes for a good compare and contrast. However, I never went back to them after my inital looksie because OH MY GOD WARIOWARE, INC. Genius game of the (previous) decade. Seriously whoever came up with the idea of 3 second microgames should have secured himself a place in video game design history.

Perfect mobile game. Perfect have on hand at all times downloadable game.

Also it has a perfectly playable Dr. Mario clone embedded in it. Who knows what other wonders it has hidden inside. (Yes the internet, but I prefer to be surprised.

This game is everything good about Japanese game design. Perfect design, incomprehensibly delightful 'story'. I could write more, but then I wouldn't be playing more WarioWare.

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Let's review 10 GBA games!

So apparently the GBA ambassador games are available today. I love GBA so I'm pretty stoked. I'm going to write a mini-review of each game. Here's a summary of what I know about these games.

Fire Emblem: the Sacred Stones - I don't know what this is. An rpg? Will take a look, but I'm sorta full up on rpg's with Skyrim.

F-Zero: Maximum Velocity - Liked F-Zero on the Gamecube, so I'm interested in trying this.

Kirby and the Amazing Mirror - Never played a Kirby game. Is this a platformer.

The Legend of Zelda: the Minish Cap - I own this on GBA but didn't get very far. My wife did finish it. I'm very Zelda'd out this year, but I'll give it a look.

Mario Kart: Super Circuit - Own it. This was my second Mario Kart after the SNES. I remember liking it.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong - I don't know what this is, a puzzle game.

Metroid Fusion - I love Metroid Prime, and I love Metroidvania style games, so hopefully I'm going to love this.

Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi’s Island - Own it on GBA. Love this game. Maybe the best 2-D platformer of all time. Didn't finish it though, got hard. I'm ready to give it another shot.

Wario Land 4 - No idea, never played a Wario anything.

WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ - Very excited for this though! I recall playing it in the store and thinking it was crazy fun.

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Skylanders Part 3

This weekend's play sessions started inauspiciously with my son erasing our save game. Then his brother hid Spyro under his bed. So I had to play back through the first 6 levels. Ended up getting through level 10. Feels like about halfway through.

I have to say the boss fights with Kaos are both exciting and hilarious. They consist of alternate battles with 'dark' Skylanders and surviving a sort of magic bullet hell from one of Kaos' spells.

I'm still enjoying this game greatly. Playing with just the 3 starter figures is fine, it still feels like a whole game. I'm guessing I'll max out the guys levels and abilities before I reach the end, we'll see how I feel then.

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Skylanders Part 2

I played two more levels, chapter 4 and 5 tonight. The levels are very interesting visually and there were a few different things to do. I played both levels with Spyro, he's pretty fun with both a ranged and melee attack. He also has a fly power, which isn't really flying he just moves faster and has some more defense. I did notice that he could fly over the water areas that Gill Grunt could swim in.

I scanned in the toys I bought today but kept them in the package. Having 8 characters registered rewarded me with bonus xp.

I listened closely to the soundtrack tonight and it's pretty good. It does sort of sound like Hans Zimmer.

The plot and dialogue are pretty generic and kiddy.

The general pacing and action is a bit slow, but I'm still enjoying it.

The game is still trending toward a 4 star review.

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Skylanders

I'm going to start writing down my impressions of this game, in the hopes of an eventual review (so far there are zero on the site).

I'm finding it fascinating that the marketing for this game completely missed the game enthusiast community and we are sort have to find out about it on our own.

Personally I found out about it last week when I just happened upon the marketing display in Best Buy. I looked around but I couldn't find the game or anything there. That's when my Odyssey began...

Anyway I want to talk about the game itself, but just to get past a few things.

I think the tech is neat. I'm into new toy tech, though my son is too young to get into it.

I've never played a Spiro game, so I really have no idea about his character or the games he's in.

By the way this is called Spyro's adventure but he isn't in it any more than say the fish guy or any of the other characters.

I think the toys themselves are alright. They look good and seem sturdy. The think that makes them work with the game is embedded so I think they should withstand some abuse. The 2 year old hasn't gotten a hold of it yet though.

So the game:

I was looking for a new Lego type game to play with my son. I think this is going to fit the bill.

Basically you run around a level fighting monsters and smashing stuff to get loot. Loot comes in lots of variety but it all translates into gold, so no diablo style looting. So far the puzzle solving involves getting keys to open doors, pushing blocks around, and navigating teleporters and jump blocks.

No jumping. Controls are primary attack, secondary attack, special attack (haven't got those yet). I have upgraded my Spyro with a movement ability, I'd assume every character gets something like that.

Occasionally you have to jump into a turret and shoot at stuff. When you have a key you push the right stick forward to put it in the lock, and to open treasure chests you waggle the RS back and forward. I assume these are holdovers from the WII.

The game looks good. It has a nice Wow/Free Realms type art style. So far everything is in an outdoor 'sky islands' environment so the fixed camera isn't not a problem.

Each level has three stars or level of completion: 1 is just for getting to the end, 2 for getting through in a certain time, and 3 for finding every treasure and whatnot. Obviously you aren't going to be able to 3 star every level without getting additional figures. But I don't see any particular reason to do it anyway.

There is a challenge level for each character you have. I was able to beat the first one I tried but not the second. The challenge mainly comes from the time limit, so I think it's probably more a matter of memorizing the level than anything.

Each character has it's own unique animations and sounds. Voice acting is generally well done and charming.

Multiplayer PVP isn't bad, but is really hampered by being only 2 players.

I've only played through 3 levels, but I've done each one multiple times. Co-op with my son and then again to find secrets/grid the characters up a bit. Upgrades are all meaningful so far.

Also there are hats. Some are so ridiculous I can't bring myself to wear them (like a potted plant) but some look cool. Trigger Happy looks mighty fine with a cowboy hat on.

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