Sparky's Shorts - Games Galore

Shit, it's been a while since I wrote an honest blog.  Thanks to a change in my personal situation, I was able to procure a few games during Amazon's Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales.  And while I haven't had a chance to get really in-depth with all of them, I've played enough of a few to give you some brief thoughts.  I know, you're slathering at the bit to read my thoughts on cheap ass games that came out quite a while ago, but hey, that's what I do, babycakes.  
 
Oh, and uh... no editing tools available on this one, kiddos.  No idea why the editing bar isn't showing up, but it isn't.  Not like my writing on here was ever all that tidy anways (damn you, lists and buttons). 
 
ENSLAVED: ODYSSEY TO THE WEST 
 
I didn't much care for what I saw in the Quick Look of this game, which thankfully didn't keep me from picking it up.  The level demonstrated in the Quick Look doesn't quite do the game justice, as it's definitely the most generic bit of the game I've encountered.  The rest of the early missions are fun, have some memorable sequences (I cannot stress how much I really liked the opening level), and lay out the groundwork for the rest of the game admirably well.  It never tries to really break the mold, but what it does, it does really well.  And what is that, you ask?  Well, the platforming is actually entertaining and easy to do (think inFamous's excellent controls, but on more of a guided path).  The combat is fairly simple but promises more complexity as the game goes on.  The alternately beautiful and haunting atmosphere gives the game a sense of style, and the environmental graphics are great.  The two leads have an interesting dynamic and some solid dialogue, though the character models themselves could use a little bit of work.   Alone, either character would seem sort of like your basic game archetypes of warrior and damsel in distress, but the two mesh together both in terms of the story and gameplay in effective ways. And while I'm still just scratching the surface, the story seems relatively intelligent and drives the game forward at a nice pace.   The idea of a wrecked American city feels quite a bit like The Time Machine's future portions, but that's actually a positive thing, as you really get the idea that in the hands of a clever writer, this could be a fantastic homage to that novel as well as the work it's actually based on.
 
Like I say, none of that isn't anything we've seen before,   But give it a chance if you can.  I hope you'll find it as pleasantly entertaining as I am. 
 
BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM 
 
I know I'm way behind the times here, so I'll just quickly summarize.  Arkham Asylum is superb.  I really like the combat, and the fact that stealth is mostly optional really makes me enjoy it all the more.  I'll freely admit I'm playing it on Easy, but I full intend on playing this one through multiple times.  As a long-time comic fan, it's a joy to see something so cleverly written and fun to play.  Joker's insanity and violence are almost shocking to me here, and that image of the guard in the visitor center with the monitor where his head should be is pretty damn striking.  Looking forward to spending more time with this one when I can. 
 
SMACKDOWN VS. RAW 2011 
 
Everything that was said in the Giant Bomb review of this was absolutely correct.  It's a lazy half-assed "update" of a tired game franchise that owners of last year's game should avoid like the plague.  Very little from last year has changed, and even at the discount price I bought it for ($20), I don't think it's worth the money.  Now, if you haven't owned a Smackdown vs. Raw game since before 2010, you might be interested in the file-share content, which is easily the best part of the game.  But seeing as how that was available last year and (I believe) the servers are still up for that one, you'd be much better off buying the prior game at a discounted price.  As a long-time fan of this series, it's time I say enough is enough, and I won't be buying another one until they make some sweeping changes to the series.  The animations need to be completely rebuilt from the ground up, as there are tons of clipping issues, weird hiccups in move animations, and a frustrating lack of new movesets and entrance positions.  This shit has been recycled for years, and it's time I stop supporting that kind of bullshit with my dollar bills. 
 
AND THAT'S ALL, FOLKS 
 
I guess that'll do it for this one, folks.  I used to do a question of the week type deal, so I'll throw a random ass question out there for you.  Since you've been a gamer, which year do you think has been best for gaming?  Keep in mind, I really only want personal opinions here, so don't list something that's before your time.  I really believe this year has been my favorite year in terms of gaming, and I intend on writing an end-of-the-year blog on that topic soon, so I thought I'd get your opinions. 
 
Anyways, take care, folks.  Enjoy your holidays, stay warm, and keep on gaming.

3 Comments
3 Comments
Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

Shit, it's been a while since I wrote an honest blog.  Thanks to a change in my personal situation, I was able to procure a few games during Amazon's Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales.  And while I haven't had a chance to get really in-depth with all of them, I've played enough of a few to give you some brief thoughts.  I know, you're slathering at the bit to read my thoughts on cheap ass games that came out quite a while ago, but hey, that's what I do, babycakes.  
 
Oh, and uh... no editing tools available on this one, kiddos.  No idea why the editing bar isn't showing up, but it isn't.  Not like my writing on here was ever all that tidy anways (damn you, lists and buttons). 
 
ENSLAVED: ODYSSEY TO THE WEST 
 
I didn't much care for what I saw in the Quick Look of this game, which thankfully didn't keep me from picking it up.  The level demonstrated in the Quick Look doesn't quite do the game justice, as it's definitely the most generic bit of the game I've encountered.  The rest of the early missions are fun, have some memorable sequences (I cannot stress how much I really liked the opening level), and lay out the groundwork for the rest of the game admirably well.  It never tries to really break the mold, but what it does, it does really well.  And what is that, you ask?  Well, the platforming is actually entertaining and easy to do (think inFamous's excellent controls, but on more of a guided path).  The combat is fairly simple but promises more complexity as the game goes on.  The alternately beautiful and haunting atmosphere gives the game a sense of style, and the environmental graphics are great.  The two leads have an interesting dynamic and some solid dialogue, though the character models themselves could use a little bit of work.   Alone, either character would seem sort of like your basic game archetypes of warrior and damsel in distress, but the two mesh together both in terms of the story and gameplay in effective ways. And while I'm still just scratching the surface, the story seems relatively intelligent and drives the game forward at a nice pace.   The idea of a wrecked American city feels quite a bit like The Time Machine's future portions, but that's actually a positive thing, as you really get the idea that in the hands of a clever writer, this could be a fantastic homage to that novel as well as the work it's actually based on.
 
Like I say, none of that isn't anything we've seen before,   But give it a chance if you can.  I hope you'll find it as pleasantly entertaining as I am. 
 
BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM 
 
I know I'm way behind the times here, so I'll just quickly summarize.  Arkham Asylum is superb.  I really like the combat, and the fact that stealth is mostly optional really makes me enjoy it all the more.  I'll freely admit I'm playing it on Easy, but I full intend on playing this one through multiple times.  As a long-time comic fan, it's a joy to see something so cleverly written and fun to play.  Joker's insanity and violence are almost shocking to me here, and that image of the guard in the visitor center with the monitor where his head should be is pretty damn striking.  Looking forward to spending more time with this one when I can. 
 
SMACKDOWN VS. RAW 2011 
 
Everything that was said in the Giant Bomb review of this was absolutely correct.  It's a lazy half-assed "update" of a tired game franchise that owners of last year's game should avoid like the plague.  Very little from last year has changed, and even at the discount price I bought it for ($20), I don't think it's worth the money.  Now, if you haven't owned a Smackdown vs. Raw game since before 2010, you might be interested in the file-share content, which is easily the best part of the game.  But seeing as how that was available last year and (I believe) the servers are still up for that one, you'd be much better off buying the prior game at a discounted price.  As a long-time fan of this series, it's time I say enough is enough, and I won't be buying another one until they make some sweeping changes to the series.  The animations need to be completely rebuilt from the ground up, as there are tons of clipping issues, weird hiccups in move animations, and a frustrating lack of new movesets and entrance positions.  This shit has been recycled for years, and it's time I stop supporting that kind of bullshit with my dollar bills. 
 
AND THAT'S ALL, FOLKS 
 
I guess that'll do it for this one, folks.  I used to do a question of the week type deal, so I'll throw a random ass question out there for you.  Since you've been a gamer, which year do you think has been best for gaming?  Keep in mind, I really only want personal opinions here, so don't list something that's before your time.  I really believe this year has been my favorite year in terms of gaming, and I intend on writing an end-of-the-year blog on that topic soon, so I thought I'd get your opinions. 
 
Anyways, take care, folks.  Enjoy your holidays, stay warm, and keep on gaming.

Moderator
Edited by Claude

My nephew has promised to get me Batman: Arkham Asylum for Christmas. I promised I wouldn't buy it when the price dropped. I can't wait to dive in. 
 
I really can't remember what my greatest year of gaming was. I like to play older games too, not real old, but older. But 2006 was pretty awesome with Oblivion and the Wii being released. 2008 was pretty hot for me, played some damn fine games that year. 
 
But I'm with you. Actually, I think I've completed more new games this year than any year in the past. Dragon Age: Origins was released at the end of last year, but I completed it, the first time, this year. I beat Assassin's Creed 2 early this year. Endless Ocean: Blue Word, Red Dead Redemption, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Tiger Woods 11 on the Wii, Mass Effect 2 and GoldenEye 007 all have followed. Yeah, good year indeed and that's not counting the older games I bought and played. 

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw
@Claude:
I remember I was on the fence about buying a 360 until I saw Oblivion on my brother's monster 60' plasma TV.  The minute I saw the sweeping world and how damned beautiful the environments were, I knew I was hopelessly sold on a 360 and that game.  Any year a Bethesda-based RPG comes out is an awesome fucking year for me, and a large part of why I think this year is the best yet is New Vegas (whcih I know is Obsidian's project, but let's face it, it's very much a Bethesda game).  I really hope we'll get some new info soon on a possible sequel to Oblivion. 
 
And this too has been a year for me to catch up on older games.  I'm going to have a hard time coming up with a "best of 2010" awards blog because so much of the shit I played was from years past.  Might have to change it to a "best games I played in 2010" awards thing.
Moderator