By Atlas 4 Comments
It's finally time to dust off this old relic and give blogging another go.
I started this blog with the hopes of it being a regular thing, but then a number of circumstances, including a two-week visit to Egypt, derailed those plans. But I'm gonna get back on the horse, and since I have plenty to say about videogames at the moment, this seems like the best time to start. So, without further ado:
- Been playing a fair bit of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved recently. That game is so awesome. That's extremely addictive, fun and challenging, and it's so simple that it's really easy to just jump into a game and have fun. It's also how much better you get at the game as you go; when I was starting out, I was lucky to get past 50K, but today I set my new high score, which was about 520K, which unlocked two achievements (get 500K and survive 250K), which I was seriously stoked about. It's been a while since I've been so pleased with myself after setting a new high score in a game. That just goes to show how challenging and rewarding Geometry Wars is. That game does very intense at times, especially when bad geometry dudes start coming at you from all sides, and I love the added strategy of when to use your bombs. It's just such an excellent game, easily the best downloadable game I've played yet. I intend to get all my money's worth out of Geometry Wars, then I'll buy and jump into Geometry Wars 2, which I now have very high hopes for.
- I've focused a lot more recently on arcade and more casual games. I really like the idea of putting a proper arcade that I can access at any time from my Xbox, and Live Arcade does have plenty of good stuff that provides such fun. Other games I picked up include Golf: Tee It Up!, which is sorta cool I guess for a downloadable golf game. It's not much, but it's fun. I also finally bought Uno, which I've been playing quite a bit of and is seriously fun and addictive
I also bought Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, which I haven't spent much time with, but Street Fighter is completely new to me, and I'm seriously bad at it right now because I haven't really worked out how it works. I may never learn, as it takes quite a bit of time and dedication to get good at Street Fighter. Still, it's there, and every now and then I'll give it a shot. But for when I want a fun simple blast of fighting action, I've got the original Soul Calibur. Now Soul Calibur IV is one of my favourite games of all-time, and Soul Calibur may have much less content and may not look anywhere near as good, but it still features SC's superb and fun fighting engine, most of the characters I know and love, and still packs a hell of a punch. It's an awesome downloadable alternative to the full-disc version.
I also noticed that there was a gap in my arcade for a true blooded arcade racer, which led me to download Burnout 3: Takedown from the Xbox Originals space. Having spent a fair bit of time with Paradise, which was my first experience of Criterion's arcade street racer, I expected to like it, but Takedown really is an intense thrill ride, and is so much fun to play. It's a lot more tight and focused than Paradise, and despite the graphics not being quite so sharp, it still has a completely amazing frame rate and a tremendous sense of speed. It's just a ton of fun to play. Finally, I also dusted off a couple of old puzzle games, including Zuma, an old favourite, Jewel Quest and Bejewled. They're still fun. I also should really spend more time to see if I can get at Ikaruga, and find time to finish off the last couple of levels of Rez. Both of those games are awesome, but haven't quite drawn me in like Geometry Wars did.
- So enough about downloadable games, let's get to the full-disc stuff. I did mention that I was more interested in casual fun gaming at the moment, which led me to fall back into playing Rock Band. That game is still a laugh riot, whether playing by yourself or with other people. Used it a fair bit over the Christmas break whenever we had people over, which led to some good times. I also managed to get through the solo guitar tour on medium, so now I'll see if I can move up to hard. I also at some point really need to spend more time with the solo drums hard mode. I can actually play the drums to a fairly good standard, and I think I could complete the game on hard with some patience and practice. That aside, the game is still extremely fun, the song list is still very strong, with only a couple of real duds. Most of the bad songs are at least fun to play, and there are still some killer cuts on there, like Nirvana's "In Bloom", "Learning to Fly" by the Foo Fighters, and my favourite "Welcome Home" by Coheed and Cambria. Unfortunately, my mic is busted, so I can't play through the singing mode, which is really annoying me because singing is really fun in Rock Band, and I'd like to get those achievements as well. Maybe I'll send it back to get a replacement or fix, or buy a new one. I'm also torn between whether I should buy the new Rock Band game. One of the problems is that I've also got my eye on the new Guitar Hero, which I am to understood is inferior to Rock Band as a game, but does have a killer song list. The fact that Guitar Hero has At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta is really helping to steer me towards GH. It's a good question; just what is more important in a music game, songs you know and love, or better gameplay? Can I sacrifice my loyalty to Harmonix and superior gameplay in order to rock out to some great songs, or should I just forget about ATD-i and stick to the superior Rock Band?
- To go back to the slightly more serious games, I completed Dead Space yesterday. That game is a lot of fun. It took me about ten hours to play through the story on medium difficulty, and despite an occasionally bland and confusing story, the gameplay is completely solid. There were times when I was pulled out of the experience and felt like I was playing a video game, but at other times the game is very atmospheric and immersive. So in that respect, maybe you could call Dead Space inconsistent. I've also heard people say that the game is too repetitive and bland. I don't necessarily agree with that. Sure, you will spend a fair amount of game time with the same weapons effectively doing the same thing, but the levels, and in particular the enemies, are so well designed that it doesn't really become too much of a detriment to the experience. It also helps that the game concludes really well; the difficulty curve progresses nicely, and there are plenty of "oh snap!" moments along the way. I did find the last boss a little bit of a let down, but that really didn't detract too much from what was a fun, completely solid, atmospheric and entertaining ten-hour game. I wouldn't give it Game of the Year, but I can totally understand why some people would, and it still a hell of a lot of fun.
- Finally, today I plugged in Grand Theft Auto IV to begin what feels like my twenty-ninth attempt to try and get through. In the story I only just got to the second safe house, but that game is so frustrating, stodgy and bland that I always feel like putting it down after spending a mere 30 minutes with the game. I hate the way the game makes you repeat levels when you fuck them up, especially when you've got to follow a dude for 5 minutes only to get shot by his cronies after 5 seconds. There are just lots of time when GTAIV, Giant Bomb's 2008 GOTY, just isn't fun for me. But today I've been trying to spend more time just having fun that game. I spent most of my time running down pedestrians, dodging the cops, playing darts with Little Jacob, doing jobs for Brucie, going bowling with Roman and screwing Michelle. I can definitely see why people didn't like the sandbox-style chaos and destruction gameplay that the GTA series is known for in this game, and maybe Saints Row 2 or San Andreas is a better game to experience that. But messing around in GTAIV is still fun, especially if like me this is your first sandbox crime game. It's still funny and charming, although there are times when the game seems to try too hard to be edgy and funny, which just falls flat. But I think there is still a fun game here, and my plan is to try and play through the story, and whenever I get stuck or frustrated, I'll just go on a crime spree or whatever to inject some of the fun back into the game. If this doesn't work, I may just have to conclude that GTAIV just isn't for me, so maybe I'll sell it and use the money I get for it to buy San Andreas on Xbox Live Originals.
- So now there's the question of what to do next. Dead Space is done, and GTAIV may take a while to really get into, so I need something else to keep me going. My new arcade has been serving me well, but after the fun I had with Dead Space I think I want a more story based game at the moment. I've been waiting for Far Cry 2 to be patched before I really get into that game because I don't have to get several hours into it only for my game to be erased, which I am led to understand can happen. I also really need to spend some more time with my Nintendo DS. I've got that collection of new DS games I haven't touched, and I think I could have a lot of fun with them, especially Final Fantasy IV, The World Ends With You and the new Pokemon game. I've had some fun with Harvest Moon DS, but maybe it's time to give up on that one and move onto something else. Or maybe Chrono Trigger will be the game that really gets me to use my DS. That game isn't released in the UK for a couple more months, but it's definitely one I've got my eye on.
I also really want to get Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, mostly because it seems to be Giant Bomb's darling of 2008, and it does sound like a really fun game that I could enjoy playing. I've also had my eye on Project Gotham Racing 4 (because I love racers), The Orange Box (because I love Valve and achievements), and Madden NFL 09 (because I love football), but I'm not exactly loaded with cash at the moment, so since the upcoming releases isn't exactly stacked, there'll be plenty of time to get to those games. There's also quite a few games I've played recently and loved, but would like to spend more time with or play again. I'm waiting for their DLC to be released before I get back into Fable 2 and Fallout 3, probably my top two games of 08, and I'd also like to spend more time with Burnout Paradise, or maybe even Pure.
Of 2009's new releases, there's only really a few I've got my eye on. Street Fighter IV sounds really good, but I'm only going to get that if my time with Turbo HD Remix goes well. I really want to play Tales of Vesperia, which has been out in Japan and USA for months but doesn't get released here until like April. I also have some interest in playing Resident Evil 5; I've never really spent too much time with a RE game, but it looks like it could be good times. And then there's a few games I've been looking to rent recently, including Mirror's Edge and Prince of Persia. And finally, just like GTAIV, there are a few games I've had for a while but haven't really spent enough time with. I loved the first six hours I spent with Viva Pinata, but haven't touched that game since, and maybe I should make another attempt to get into Mass Effect and Gears of War, two games which I didn't really like on first impressions and so put down and haven't really picked up since. So there are stacks of games I could be playing, or will be playing in the coming months, but I'm not sure just what game I want to get into right now.
This might be one of those weeks of putting in like 10 games and trying to see which one sticks. It started today with GTAIV, maybe I'll plug in Mass Effect next. Or I just my rental copy of FIFA 09, so maybe I'll spend some time with that. We'll see. Regardless, I'm having a ton of fun with my games collection at the moment, hence why I decided to retry this blog. Not sure how often I'll update it - couple of times a week - so, yeah, stay tuned