Changing it up

 Having earned 100,000 achievement points and moved out to university - studying journalism - I'm not playing anywhere near as many games as I was and I'm not missing it as much as I thought I might.
 
Look for this blog to be mainly movie reviews from here on in.

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I'd like to thank Quantic Dream for completely wasting my weekend


Heavy Rain tells a great story in an interesting way. I'm not arguing that there is no merit to it. Were it not for the technical issues I'd give it a near perfect score. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that my copy of Heavy Rain has had the audio dropping out pretty constantly in almost every single scene. During one of these I decided I'd missed so much that I popped up the PS3 menu and chose "Quit game" in the hopes of restarting the scene. When I went back into the game I found my save corrupted and the game started again. 
 
I will probably never play Heavy Rain again. Things will change drastically on my second play and I honestly can't be botherd going through that four hours or so again.
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Rapidly approaching 100,000 points.

Current Xbox 360 achievement score stands at precisely 99500. I managed to hit exactly 55555 and 77777 and I intend to hit exactly 100,000 as well.
 
I managed the most difficult part earlier today when I used Watchmen on XBLA to even up my score so it no longer ends in a 1 or a 6. Finished the first level without getting hit for 11 and while attempting that I clocked over 100 thrown enemy knockdowns for 8 more. Couldn't have gone much smoother. Thinking ahead, the only other remotely special scores on the horizon are 111,111 and 123,456. I'll think about getting my stupid 1 back when they come within striking distance.
 
I'll probably attempt to get the 100,000th point on video and I may try to have some friends help me get some 4 player guitar game achievement just to make more of an event of it. 4 vocalists on YMCA seems like pretty good video fodder, but that pops at the start of the song, not the end. I'm open to any suggestions. You guys can see the achievements I'm missing on my account Shaunage and I do have every music game and access to basically everything except 4 drum kits.
 
My main problem with hitting it exactly is going to be Mass Effect 2. It's incredible, but I'm 95% sure that there are more than 500 points between me and the end of the game, especially with 200 or more popping as the credits roll. Going to be a little frustrating stopping near the end to collect people, instruments and a video camera.
 
On the plus side, having been within a couple of thousand of him for the last few years I am probably going to beat Jeff to it. He is also dangerously close.

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Another preliminary list - 2009's movies.

This is a straight copy/paste from my Word document. The list I still need to see is almost as long as the top ten itself, which says a lot about how final anything on it might be, but here it is:
 
 

Shaunage's Top Ten Movies of 2009 in order.

Inglourious Basterds

The Boat That Rocked

Watchmen

Avatar

An Education

Moon

The Hurt Locker

The Messenger

Bad Lieutenant

District 9

It is worth noting that I have not seen the following films, all of which could merit consideration:

Up In the Air

Nine

The Lovely Bones

Crazy Heart

Bright Star

Fantastic Mr Fox

A Simple Man

A Single Man

The Informant

It's probably also worth noting that I feel really bad about putting Avatar above An Education and that on the right day I could have put An Education as high as first.
 
So.. what did I miss? A lot that seem obvious I have actually seen, I just couldn't find space for them in a top ten.

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Quick Thoughts - Early GOTY top ten contenders

I've had a quick look over everything I've played over the last year and have come up with this list of ten. In no particular order:
 
Uncharted 2
Borderlands
Infamous
Resident Evil 5
Ratchet: Crack in Time
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Assassin's Creed 2
Forza 3
Modern Warfare 2
Red Faction Guerilla
 
There are a few big name games missing, some because I didn't like them, some because I didn't get time to play them yet and some that just got unlucky because ten is a smaller number than it sounds.
 
Ratchet and AC2 are on there provisionally, I haven't beaten either yet but what I have played of both has impressed me plenty. Left 4 Dead 2 is in the mail and is a remote possibility to sneak into a slot, though this is a list of ten games that are so good I can't imagine taking any one off. 
 
No music games. That may come as a surprise to anyone who knows my taste in games, or not. The only two that are even close to making it are Guitar Hero Metallica and DJ Hero and at this point I feel that these other games just have so much more to offer. Still torn over whether or not to even buy Band Hero and Lego RB on Australian release. Probably not. They've just killed it. 15+ music games in a year is 13 too many.

Let me know if there's anything really obvious I forgot but for the record Prototype isn't on here because that game is garbage.
 
All of these games will get a thorough writeup as the year draws to a close and I'll order them 1 to 10. If you want a preview of what is almost definately taking the top slot go and read my last few reviews. The interesting part will be ordering the other 9. I'll likely do a similar feature for movies once all the good ones actually come out. Stupid end of year oscar season releases mixed with Australian 2 month+ delays on releae make it hard to know anything about the year's movies until maybe December 27th. It's entirely possible that up to 8 of my favourite 10 movies of the year aren't even out yet. Two so far are absolute locks, but those other 8 are a free-for-all.

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Change of format. Also Backlog news and Morrowind.

It occurs to me that I've been reviewing games in this blog while this fine site has a system in place to create a starred review so from here on in, anything I finish is getting the star treatment.  Tomb Raider Underworld is the first of these and you can expect reviews of ODST and Mass Effect any day now.
 
http://www.giantbomb.com/tomb-raider-underworld/61-20694/user_reviews/?review=11029
 
I've spent a little while putting the majority of my game collection (from PS2 to current day) into The Backloggery so I can keep track of exactly what I still need to play through.
 
 http://backloggery.com/main.php?user=shaunage
 
According to that I'm a little over a 50% completion rate which honestly is a little better than I'd expected. The site also includes a "Fortune Cookie" button which chooses a random unfinished game from your collection for you to beat next. I decided to start progress properly and to 100% definitely go with whatever game it picked for me first click. As if to mock me the site spits out a small slip of paper with the text "The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind"...  I said I'd go with it and go with it I have. I'm not a complete stranger to Morrowind. I spent the longest single game session of my life playing Morrowind about 5 years ago when I was only working on Saturdays. I came home from work, put the game in and started a new file and I played until I had to sleep again because I had work the next day. Six days and nights. By my maths that's a little over 150 hours. Surely I managed to finish Morrowind in that enormous amount of time? Well, no. I decided to do the faction quests before starting the quest proper. Fighter's Guild, Mage's, Thieve's Guild, Temple, Imperial Cult and so on and so forth until I had done pretty much everything except for the main quest. Unfortunately I'm playing the Xbox version of this game.
 
I'm not particularly familiar with the PC version of Morrowind but I can tell you that the Xbox version likes to crash if you make it think about too many things at once. If it has to remember where a lot of bodies are, a few too many crates have their contents changed, you've left a few too many doors open and (just for example) you happen to have finished all of the faction quests, the game will freeze up every half hour or so and becomes pretty well unplayable. Due to this ever so small bug I never went back to that 150 hour save and never completed the main storyline.
 
What I've done is I've started a clean file using the Xbox 360's backwards compatibility and so far I'm something like 6 hours into the game without a crash. Here's hoping that good luck continues through what I expect to be a relatively brief storyline run. More news and probably a review on that in the coming days. I haven't clicked the Fortune Cookie again since then because I do intend to see this thing through to the end before I start second guessing and switching out to other random games or even worse, going back to hours of guitar games every day. I do need to say this, though: If I complete Morrowind and click on the FOrtune Cookie again and it smugly sits there with something like "Lost Odyssey" on it I am probably going to break down and cry.
 
Starting this coming Thursday new releases begin to blow holes in these neatly laid backlog plans. Both Brutal Legend and Uncharted 2 are out that day and then before I can blink DJ Hero is due and  Dragon Age Origins and Borderlands and Ratchet and Clank and Modern Warfare 2 and Assassin's Creed 2 and TWO MORE easy guitar games and Left 5 Dead and GH Van Halen AND I've ordered in Demon's Souls from Play Asia which I am beginning to suspect is borderine unplayable. I might have missed something but that MIGHT be it for the rest of the year. And then in February it gets nuts again.
 
What this boils down to is that my backlog is unlikely to EVER be over a 75% completion rate but hey, I'm trying. If they'd stop releasing games and I didn;t have to work, eat or sleep for maybe two years THEN we might get somewhere near 90% complete. MIGHT. On the bright side - If I ever say "I have nothing to do" you are free to remind me that I am lying.

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Back in business

It's been a long time since I've written anything here. I'm scared to check how long exactly because it's probably almost a full year. Much of that time has been spent working a full time job - something I wasn't used to - and I've barely been managing to PLAY any games, let alone write about them. I took a week's holidays and have taken the opportunity to sit down and actually *gasp* finish some games.
 
In order:
 
Played through GH Metallica on Expert Drums.
 
It was the last instrument I needed to beat to get that 150 point achievement so that was nice. 175 points for something like an hour's work. This also marks the third drum kit I have rendered completely useless and with that I am officially resigning from music game drumming. They're so big and so expensive and they work for approximately one week before the pads all crack and they start extra hitting/not hitting. It's a shame, because I AM playing and passing most of the hard stuff on expert, but I'm getting a max combo of like 15 because the drum kit is so broken. I also managed to pull something the wrong way and wreck the connector of my $100 Destroyer pedal. Unless someone accidentally mails me an Ion kit for free I am never ever EVER playing drums in a music game again.
 
While I'm on the subject of being done with music games... I am done with music games. After the soul-crushingly easy Beatles Rock Band left me wondering "Why are we even here?" on my way to a Full Game Full Combo on the second day after release I wasn't TOO dissappointed because, hey, Guitar Hero 5 was out the next week. While the game is certainly a better experience than World Tour (not difficult) there are still enough things wrong with the menus that should have been fixed four games ago alongside a host of new problems (Why, for example, does it scroll right back to the top of the song list any time I do ANYTHING?) that it's just a really frustrating experience all around. Add to that the increasingly aggravating super easy difficulty of the entire setlist and the low quality of most of the songs chosen and it adds up to a game I'm unlikely to go back to very often from here on in - if at all. I used to fail songs. I had to learn how to play them. I LOVED that. Being forced to learn to gallop to 5 star The Trooper in GH2 is one of the most satisfying experiences of my gaming life. There just aren't any new tricks to learn any more. It's a really sad thing realising your favourite genre of game isn't fun any more. Band Hero and Lego Rock Band are both out on the same day in a couple of months and I flat out don't want them. Easier games and worse songs is NOT a step in the right direction for those franchises. Do I still want Van Halen? Probably. I'm not even sure, anymore. I will applaud ONE change in GH5 and that is that no one gets stuck playing the (usually) even easier bass part. Nine games worth of innovation, right there.
 
There is some hope on the horizon. DJ Hero is out at the end of this month and I'm hoping that, as a completely new skill set to learn, it will bring back that same experience I used to love in GH. Either that or it'll be a total wash and I'll never play a music game again. I'll let you know which in about 4 weeks.

Played through the remaining levels of Wolfenstein.
 
It's a FPS, certainly. There's a big fight going on at the GameFAQs boards about a guy who claims to have beaten this game in 5 hours. Everyone there hates him and say they spent 15 hours or so on it. I beat the game in 4:21 and I am unlikely to return to it. It's not BAD but it's a very long way from being GOOD. The rifle was very nice once fully upgraded and the violence is just over the top enough to be interesting but that's basically all I can say for the game. The only time in recent memory I have cared less about a story in a game was in Mercs 2, where I actually just turned the sound right off for the whole game. I'm hearing pretty widespread reports of the game freezing once you collect most of the hidden items and there seems to be no patch in sight. I'm only mildly surprised by that after seeing the rest of the game. This is NOT as good as the reviews it is getting suggest and if it had been any longer than that 4:21 I might not have bothered.

Started and finished Mass Effect.
 
2007 was stunning. I managed to beat many of the big name releases of the year back then (Assassin's Creed, Bioshock, Halo 3, Uncharted etc.) but there will always be a few important ones that slip through the cracks. I loved Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect is a very impressive progression from that game. The graphics are outstanding for the most part, the most obvious flaw being those awful shadows on people's faces. The important part here is the speech between characters. The voice acting is uniformly some of the best to ever appear in a game and the conversation system is outstanding. The actual content of the conversations and the story itself are also some of the best gaming has on offer. The combat works incredibly well and it's a system that I'd like to see blatantly copied in a few more games. I am glad that I waited as long as I did to play it because it's now only a few months until the sequel and I may have gone insane waiting over two years for it.

I think that's everything I've gotten to the credits of in the last few days. I have Tomb Raider Underworld in the drive right now, ready to play with intent to complete. I think I'm halfway through or further already. Also in line to be played through are Prototype, Bionic Commando, Condemned 2, Dead Space and Super Mario Galaxy, all of which I have played maybe the first hour of. My current "Sound turned off, listening to a podcast" games are Dirt 2, Red Faction Guerilla and Trials HD. Dirt 2 is very good, though the shift in stye from the first game was a poor decision. Rewind is a lifesaver, though my "reset to track" button is sorely missed. More actual point to point rally races would have been nice. 3 lap circuit races are not something I am enjoying and if I ever have to race that Ensenada track again I'm going to stop playing. I am liking RF: G for the most part. If things reset when you died, it might be literally unplayable but hey, that's not the case. Knock over a building, it falls on you and kills you, you respawn and it's still knocked down. Genius. Seriously. Trials is fun when you're getting it right but seriously WHAT AM I DOING WRONG? One of the expert tracks I had to retry so many times that it actually kicked in a time limit I'd never seen before and restarted the level after about 250 attempts at a single obstacle. I guess what I mean is that the first three sets of levels are fun and the rest of the game is an ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARE. I have gone through entire podcasts and still been stuck on the same level.
 
In non gaming news: The Boat That Rocked, Inglourious Basterds and Watchmen are the best three movies so far this year in that order. Here's hoping one or more of those sneak in to that new 10 slot Best Picture shortlist. Oh, and Up is garbage. It seems like everyone else has been watching a totally different movie than I saw.
 
Front runner for GOTY is still Resident Evil 5. The amount of fun I had with that game may come down to the fact that I have never played it in any way other than online co-op. Got the full 1000 in it, which included at LEAST three full playthroughs, maybe more.
 
According to my release schedule the next important release is Brutal Legend and Uncharted 2, both on October 15th. Basically that means that I am never going to play Brutal Legend. Sorry, Tim.
 
I'll be keeping this up to date from here on in. It's good to be back.

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Achievement Jackpot

Several months after I trawled the Orange Box for a 13 point achievement to get my score

Now, how long do I leave it this way?...
even again for my 55555 I have now managed my next goal that seemed reasonable. 77777. It's always a little bit scary getting close to one of these numbers because you need to plan it perfectly to ensure you don't hit something by accident and jump 30 points over. Scene It seemed a pretty safe bet and that's where I got it. Last achievement to get me there: Producer - answer 60 questions right and none wrong in one game - 35 points. I'll be honest here. I paused the game and looked everything up on IMDB. They were a bit generous with the final set of questions - giving a set of 5 questions about the first X-Files movie to someone who owns all 9 seasons on DVD.
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Back to the old war.

Anyone reading this knows that Call of Duty 4 was amazing - a huge leap forward for the series and honestly for games in general. Most of those same people will have been stunned to hear the announcement that World at War was going back to World War 2. Those people were right to be worried.



I don't care if it is set in Japan. World at War is a really standard World War 2 game and I was sick of it before the end. The flamethrower is great and so is hearing Keifer Sutherland scream obscenities about the Japanese. It's certainly not 'bad', I just didn't really enjoy it and found almost nothing memorable at all about the entire campaign. COD4's story progession was one of its strongest points. CoD WaW shares the same problem every WW2 game does, you just shoot enemy soldiers for 8 hours and then the war ends. I'm not going to write any more about it. This is not a negative review, it's a good game, it's just a giant leap backwards.
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A brief overview of the games of 2008. Includes GOTY.

Let's get this out of the way right up front: 2007 was an absolutely incredible year for games. I think 2008 may very well have topped it. Say whatever you want about 1998, I think these last two years have been the best two in gaming history.

The following list of games was taken from Giant Bomb's voting form for GOTY 2008. I've included everything I played, even if I only played a demo or played it for a few seconds. Here, in brief, is what I thought of these games:

Condemned 2

I was a HUGE fan of the first game, playing it through completely 3 or 4 times at least. The second Condemned didn't immediately grab me like the original did. I've played the first level and most of the second and I just don't like it as much. I still fully intend to play through it and I may love it when I do, but the fact is that for most of the time the game is just a black screen, often literally. It's not a world I want to be in and while I realise that is exactly the point, I'm just not having fun.

Guitar Hero World Tour

I have been the single biggest advocate of the Guitar Hero series including having the rare, maybe unique opinion that Guitar Hero 3 is the best music game so far. I still LIKE Guitar Hero WT, just nowhere near as much. The new guitar is fantastic and the guitar gameplay is mostly improved, though the touch pad is worthless at best and intrusive at worst. The purple notes are okay but they are overused. I'd rather have seen them ONLY used for trills and actual slide parts, instead of just any random solo, since outside of stuff you need to tap they just get in the way and make it harder to hit easy stuff. The new hold note mechanic is great where it's used, making really easy bits that much more interesting to play. My drum kit doesn't work and Kmart wouldn't take it back, even though Activision said they would. I'm going to have to buy a Rock Band 360 kit just for this game and honestly, I'd rather just not play the drums. Too much hardware hassle. This initial hardware problem coloured my entire impression on GHWT as an overall really sloppy product. The bass is improved vastly by the addition of the open note. The singing is functional mostly but again it just seems really messy compared to Rock band (RB2, espcially). The cheering crowd and freeform singing parts are absolutely worthless and add less to the song than just leaving those sections blank would have. Instrument specifics aside, the overall package - The achievements are a disappointing list, with nothing for 5 starring expert. That's really weak. Maybe a blessing though, since Satch Boogie is the single dumbest thing I have ever seen, in a video game or otherwise. Congratulations on finally having difficulty achievements stack. I'd have 1000 in GH3 if that had been there in that game. The tracklist is fine, with a few real stand out tracks in Scream Aim fire and the two Ozzy Osbourne songs, but overall it lacks the personality I found in the GH2, 3 and Rock Band 1 setlists. This may just be because of the literally hundreds of songs available in music games now having kind of worn down anything that made a song being picked a special thing. I really wish GH had stayed as just a guitar game, because honestly I think the same game with only that one instrument may have been a better game. I still play a lot of it, don't get me wrong, but it seems that my interest in music games has peaked and is on the decline. That sentence shocks me more than anyone, because I put maybe 1000 hours into GH3.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

I already wrote about this - Played it through 3 times in a row. Liked it more than I expected. Not a brilliant game, but just kept me interested for some reason.

Braid

Absolutely loved it. Played it through a bunch of times and then went back and got my last 15 points for the 45 minute speedrun. The comparison has been made to Portal and I think it's very nearly up to that high standard. I may be alone in this but the "story stuff" between worlds was probably the best writing in any game and probably doubled the impact of the game for me. That's saying a lot, too, seeing how good the puzzles were. Anyone with a 360 and a Live connection who doesn't own Braid is doing themselves an enormous disservice. Complain about the 1200 point price all you want, the game is worth more than twice that and you're making yourself look like an idiot.

Rock Band 2

I just wrote an enormous paragraph about a music game and I'm not going to do it again. All of the instruments actually work in this game, apart from gallops on the guitar for whatever reason. Also, one bad addition, the hammer on chords DO NOT WORK. EVER. Guitar is worse than GH, Drums and Vocals are infinitely better. Again, only a few songs on the disc setlist I really love, but there are over 500 songs in the game now, including some of my all time favourites (Sorrow, Toxicity) since I buy ALL DLC. You heard me, every single song. Which reminds me, the DLC in GHWT is pretty much all garbage apart from the free ones (Anything and Electro Rock) which are actually two of the game's best songs. Rock Band 2 is a very good game with a great if flawed set of modes. What happened to the single player setlist? There is no excuse for removing it. The single player World Tour and the challenges are very impressive, though.

Wii Fit

I played Wii Fit at a friend's house for about an hour. Like I assumed, this is not a game and I want no further part in it. I hate Nintendo so much for the Wii. You have no idea.

Geometry Wars 2

The original was brilliant and this is too. It's changed enough to not make the original obsolete, unlike at least two games on this list (Rock Band 2, Viva Pinata TIP). The new modes didn't all click with me, but the ones that did made the game more than worth the asking price. Pacifism. So good. I hadn't had a friend's list highscore battle since... ever, so it was great to have it there. I never finished Sequence.

Soul Calibur 4

I loved SC2 back on the Xbox, barely touched 3, barely touched 4. There's just no substance to them at all. I did love DOA4, but I am about ready to completely give up on fighting games. I was really excited before this game's release but now that I have it I just don't care at all. I can't see myself going back to it.

COD World at War

I'm playing on Normal and the game is slaughtering me. I keep getting angry enough and turning it off. Keifer Sutherland helps, but I just don't like the game much. That may change once I get further in.

Pixeljunk Eden

I don't get it. Next.

Viva Pinata 2

I wrote about this at length. Loved it. It didn't quite strike me in the way the original did, but there's no disputing it's a much better game. EXACTLY the sequel I was waiting for.

Mirror’s Edge

I liked it. A lot. A huge lot. The main complaint I see people make is that the shooting sucks. Don't shoot, then. There's an achievement for getting through it without shooting, so obviously you can. I got that achievement on my first run through the game and LOVED it. For the most part the jumping worked fine, too. Bonus points for having a credits song called "Still Alive".

Saints Row 2

When the first Saints Row came out, I didn't even intend to buy it. I played the demo and realised it wasn't just some GTA knock off, went to EB the next day and bought it. I think the original game was better than GTA 3, VC or SA. You heard me. Saints Row 2 improves on some of the first game's annoyances, doing away with the extremely hard last two levels of each activity and adding more different ones. Granted, most of the new ones are awful, but you don't have to do them for too long so they never get game destroying. GTA caught up this year, though, and that cover mechanic was sorely missed in SR2. I'm not going to say which of the two games (SR2, GTA4) I think is better, I think they're different enough that you should play both. Had a lot of fun with the story in this one, too. SR2 was an unfortunate victim of this year's amazing release schedule. Criminally overlooked.

Castle Crashers

I just... don't like it. Sorry, I don't. I got about 3 hours in and just gave up. Scrolling beat-em-ups work because they take like half an hour to beat. Too long, too repetitive, too much level grinding. No fun. I appreciate the art and character design, I just think the gameplay is awful.

Devil May Cry 4

Barely touched this one so far. I've watched the intro 20 minute-odd cutscene and the game appears to still be over the top and ridiculous. That's all well and good. I hope to enjoy this after I beat DMC3 (Should I buy 1 and 2? Yes I know everyone hates 2. Why?)

Echochrome

One of the best game concepts out there. Gameplay? I'm afraid it doesn't quite live up to it. A lot of things that should work flat out don't. No consistency at all. This destroys the whole idea of the game and left me pretty disappointed. Worth a play with and probably worth the $10 but not the game I was hoping for.

Left 4 Dead

I love zombies. The concept of a zombie apocalypse may very well be my single favourite thing. Left 4 Dead takes this amazing concept and makes it into an absolutely astounding game. I can not imagine a better zombie game (except maybe one ten times as long as this...) Left 4 dead is a very serious contender for my game of the year and if it had twice as many campaigns it wouldn't even be a contest.

Sonic Unleashed

I've played the demo through a few times and I sort of like it. Sort of. I'm torn over whether to buy the full game or not. Those werehog levels are the real worry for me. That and the downright abysmal reviews.

FarCry 2

I had no idea it was open world before I bought it. I was kind of disappointed. There's something to be said for a great looking linear FPS I can play through once and never look at again. Certainly not BAD, just not the game I wanted. Might not finish this one for ages.

Ikaruga

This is the Dreamcast game I loved but with achievements. Sure, most of them are near impossible, but I did get the A (S?) rank one for the first level. An excellent addition to the XBLA. Being able to watch leaderboard videos is a brilliant addition.

Motorstorm 2

I played the first Motorstorm for about 6 hours before deciding I absolutely hated it. Great premise, driving and crashing, not so good. I downloaded the demo for Motorstorm 2, fully ready to buy the game if a few small changes had been made. They had not. I did not. I don't like it at all.

GTA4

Giant Bomb's GOTY 2008. I liked it a lot. Probably not my game of the year, but very very good. The best GTA by an absolute landslide. Some minor annoyances (phone calls, driving to the 3 leaf clover mission 20 times or more) made up for by a very well written VERY well acted story which genuinely kept my interest for the full 30 hours it took to beat. While I didn't have the same emotional reaction Jeff and the restof the GB crew did to the game, that's a very personal thing. I don't really have to say any more than that - you all played it. You know why it's as good as it is.

Mercenaries 2

Bought mostly on the hype from right here at Giant Bomb. I never played Mercs 1. I enjoyed Mercs 2, which I did finish, but only after I turned off the sound. The game is not as funny as it thinks it is and I just don't care about the story. A complete mess of a game, but I ended up liking it more than the GB guys did, which seems a bit ironic.

LittleBigPlanet

I played a Silent Hill inspired level the other night which was one of the best things I have ever seen anyone do with anything. I've spent a long time with a friend on a blank creation screen making rockets and windmills and golf ball machineguns and... The creation aspects of this game are excellent. The character design on Sackboy and his available costumes are great, too. The music is good and very fitting. I am not liking the single player missions much at all. It's a fantastic toolset and every now and then something brilliant will be made from it. I don't want to talk mess about it but it's not even close to game of the year material.

Mega Man 9

A weird one. I love the concept of the game and I think they executed it flawlessly. I love the sense of satisfaction I got from finally beating those first 8 bosses after hoooours of thinking I'd never beat a second one. I can't beat the wily castle levels and I don't think I ever will. I wish I was one of the crazy people who could beat this game in an hour etc for the ridiculous achievements, but I will never be at that level - I didn't play the old megaman games at all - this is the first one I've ever played for more than about 5 minutes. I love that it exists.

Dead Space

Fantastic atmosphere. With a set of headphones and the lights off, intensely scary. I loved the first level, died in a room with about 8 creatures all at once near the start of level 2 and turned it off in disgust. I am likely to enjoy it a whole lot.

Prince of Persia

A great looking game. The dialog is idiotic for the most part but I enjoyed the platforming enough to let it slide. The game flat out refuses to kill you - to the point that it feels like it's apologising any time you do something wrong. It's also very forgiving with timing and aiming of jumps. Basically if the game has any idea at all what you were trying to do, it will give it to you. I loved the Sands of Time trilogy - all three games - and I thought they improved each time. Prince of Persia (which could have benifited greatly for a subtitle of any sort) is not as good as those games, but I still liked it very very much. They changed enough to make it feel completely different and, outside of a few steps backwards from Two Thrones (fighting is trash, but mostly avoidable, pole jumping had a feature removed, but had one added also) is a fantastic game all around and is a very promising start to a new series. I don't want to spoil anything about the end, so I won't say what I want to about that. Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss it. I certainly do.

Resistance 2

Untouched. I'm working through the original first, a pretty okay shooter which is way WAY too long.

Gears of War 2

I can confirm that this is the second Gears of War game. Plays very similarly but without a completely worthless driving part to spoil the overall quality of the game (the tank part included is preeeeetty good). The story has a lot more impact this time around, with some things going very poorly for characters we've grown to like. Without wanting to spoil it, I think they took a weak route with one part and they should have switched Tai with Baird. Excellent game but for some reason I feel less compelled to replay it than I was with Gears 1, which I finished at least 4 times. Also I find myself, having done the 50 waves of the excellent Horde, completely uninterested in the multiplayer.

Fable 2

It's fine, but it's not as good as everyone seems to think. Story opens very strongly but from there on in I think it's a mess. Nowhere near the impact of the first Fable's story for me. The jobs and pub games are worthless. The dog is a good addition. Molyneux lied about the fighting, surprise surprise. I don't have all that much to say. It's not BAD, but it's nowhere near the level of quality everyone thinks it is. It's a 7/10.

Penny Arcade

With no admiration for turn based RPGs and no real intention to play it I bought this obscenely priced game because I love Penny Arcade. I bought Episode 2 as well. The first 5 minutes of the first one got me laughing and that's really all that counts here.

Banjo Kazooie 3

Barely touched. I never played the originals but I'm kind of excited to get into this. Brad has sold me on it completely.

Bionic Commando Rearmed

I've played a level or two, I loved the first boss fight but I just can't get used the the swinging mechanic. The time trials are infuriating.

Burnout Paradise

Oh boy. I spent a full 70 hours in Burnout Paradise, after loving 3 and hating Revenge. I 100%ed the game. All billboards, all jumps, all races and licenses, all fences, all roads ruled, 100%. Achievement Unlocked - Criterion Elite. If I could put up with convincing people to work together I'd have done all of the challenges as well. I love those things but I just got so sick of kicking worthless players out. Want to see some crazy talk? Here it is.

BURNOUT PARADISE - SHAUNAGE'S GAME OF THE YEAR 2008

Too Human

Trash. I've talked about this at length. One of the worst games I have ever finished.

Rez HD

Playing this game with at least one controller acting as a trance vibrator, in this case strapped to my chest, is one of the weirdest gaming experiences of my life. I got stuck on about the third boss, which is a shame because I was really enjoying it.

Battlefield Bad Company

Another very serious candidate for GOTY. I believe I posted about this already.

SSBB

It's not a good game. At all. You people are insane. I want my money back, I got really excited for this one.

SSF2THD Remix

I still don't like Street Fighter. The 360 controller doesn't help.

Rainbow Six Vegas 2

This was 2008? I think I wrote about it already, incase I didn't, I thought it was very good, significantly better than the original. Don't care about multiplayer.

God of War: Chains of Olympus

Played for about 10 seconds. I want a PSP now.

Ninja Gaiden 2

I think people were very unfair to this game. It's excellent. In all fairness I'm only 2 levels in. It's still harder than I'd like.

Infinite Undiscovery

I don't play many JRPGs and I finish even less than that. I'm right at the start of the second disk and apart from one idiotic part near the start having to charm animal into unlocking a door for me, I've really been enjoying it. I will finish this one. I like it a lot more than most people but then I only seem to like bad RPGs.

Fallout 3

I loved the intro, got out into what pretends to be a fully open world only to be routed through tunnels by very linear piles of garbage blocking paths in towns, pot really angry at how much of a hard time the fighting was giving me and gave up. I then played a bunch of side missions on a friend's near complete save file and absolutely loved it. I can't wait to start this properly. People have said this is Oblivion with guns as a negative. Those people are crazy because for one that's not a negative thing and for two that's not what the game is at all.

Tomb Raider Underworld

Here is how Tomb Raider has gone so far: 1 - excellent, near flawless, one of the best games of all time, 2-5 - huge disappointments, all completely missing the point of the first game, 6 - borderline unplayable, appalingly bad, 7-8 - an amazing return to form, some of my favourite 360 games. So here we come to Tomb Raider Underworld. Tomb Raider NINE. I'm over halfway through and I'm starting to form an opinion, which may change based on the story's end. The game isn't so much "get from A-B" as much as it is working with large area puzzles, which I suppose has always sort of been the case, but it's a lot more prominent this time around. The gameplay physics and controls have somehow gotten significantly worse that Legend and Anniversary, which is a real shame. I'm not enjoying it as much as those games, but it's a long way from being bad. Carrie 1000ed this. I probably won't, though I did the last two.

Metal Gear Solid 4

I played the first... maybe 30 minutes. I need desperately to finish 1, 2 and 3 to get into this.

Valkyria Chronicles

Looks very very nice - not my sort of game at all.
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