Quickfire! A Brief Review of Three Months of Games

It's been a long time since I've blogged about games in earnest, so I decided to compile the last three or so months of gaming into one big rapid fire list that is easily digestable if you will. So since it's pointless attempting to write a succinct blog and then ruining it with an overly verbose introduction, why don't we get right to it?
Sid Meier's Civilisation V:
Man, where did the time go? It's been well documented what Civ does to the average person and turns out I was no exception. Steam says I've sunk 155 hours into that game in the past three months - and I'm not done with it. It's just spectacularly good. My only previous Civ experience was the stripped down console and handheld game Civ Rev, which I actually loved the hell out of, but this is just on a completely different level. The sheer depth and richness of strategy is mindblowing, and it's the best way to make an entire evening disappear that doesn't involve taking innordinate amounts of narcotics. I love Civ 5. I really do.
Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale:
One of the joys of a service like Steam is the potential for discovering some delightful oddities, games that you wouldn't really give two thoughts to or a similar number of shits about. But lo and behold, when the holiday Steam sales rolled around they started selling indie games in copious quantities for very small amounts of money, which led to be buying this budget Japanese PC game. Considering I probably paid about £0.50 for this game and have played it for 12 hours according to Steam, that strikes me as pretty good value. It's got plenty of charm, a fair deal of self awareness and Japanese zaniness, and the core concept is so unique and refreshing that that alone make the game stick out to me. Really the part where you're just running a shop and selling shit to random dudes was the best part of the game for me, although that was partly due to the combat, which is really rather monotonous and unengaging. Still, recommended.
Mount & Blade:
Mount & Blade is pretty much the opposite to Recettear in many respects. One is made in Japan, the other in Turkey, and whereas Recettear gets by on personality and charm but is held back by the tedious combat, Mount & Blade actually has some of the best RPG combat in recent memory but is almost completely charmless and devoid of any narrative drive whatsoever. I mean yeah there are characters and sometimes they say things, but it's neither well written nor significant in any true way. Despite its bare bones approach and truly ghetto visuals, there is an awful lot to like about Mount & Blade. Combat really is a lot of fun, and the open-endedness of it doesn't mean you don't feel invested in the endeavours of your dude (or in my case dudette) and her accomplices. Mount & Blade is a very unique experience, that much is sure, but also probably the best Medieval simulation game in the world. My new idea for a dream RPG is Mount & Blade's combat, Oblivion's open world and rich fiction and Dragon Age's extremely strong core narrative and characters.
The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom:
Man, talk about a game flying under the radar. I know that 2010 was the year of Starcraft for RTS games, but that doesn't mean all others deserve to be overlooked. Not that The Settlers 7 is your traditional RTS. Really it's more of a sim style city management game, except that the open ended and somewhat endless nature of sim games is replaced by the actual competitive nature of an RTS, against AI or another player. Maybe this boils down to personal tastes overlapping, but I love sim games and I love RTS games, and that means that this game is just right for me. It's definitely worth mentioning that the campaign is really well thought out; it which unfurls and explains the game's concepts in a very digestable and engaging way without feeling drawn out. I also like the cartoony visuals. But really, this game is just a triumph of rich complex game mechanics, and a brilliant example of the many joys of German board games. It's like Settlers of Catan brought to life, and even more so than the XBLA version of Catan (believe me and believe Alex Navarro, XBLA Catan is badass).
Oh, and the game has intrusive Ubisoft DRM, which kinda sucks. I had one occasion where my connection dropped during a storm. I didn't lose any progress, but I was invested in what I was doing and having to stop was a real bummer. Not a deal breaker, but a frustration.
Team Fortress 2
It's TF2. It's multiplayer. You shoot dudes. It's brilliant.
Dead Space 2 and Assassin's Creed Brotherhood:
So the more eagle eyed reader may notice that every game I mentioned above is a PC game. Well, that's because I've become a PC gamer, apparently. It was a very subtle and quick metamorphosis, but it was also fairly absolute. The down side is that I have a ton of great console games that I haven't gotten around to playing - or in some cases even opening. My copy of Fallout: New Vegas remains unplayed, as does my copy of FIFA 11, and I still mean at some point to crack open Batman: Arkham Asylum and Just Cause 2. The games I'm most keen to play however are Dead Space 2 and Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, but in both cases I had only really session which each and then have found it really difficult to get back into. I had an absolute blast playing through the first hour of Dead Space 2, but just haven't gotten around to seriously picking it back up again. Why? Because I'm too busy jumping between Mount & Blade, Civ 5 and TF2.
Also, since I bought my PC, my Playstation 3 has basically become a Blu Ray played that comes with a couple of downloadable games. At some point I mean to really try and get through Demon's Souls, and I still haven't cracked open Valkyria Chronicles or Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time or Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. It's kinda sad really.
Alright enough of this, time to get back to Mount & Blade.