Archive for the ‘Game Impressions’ Category

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Gaming Class of 2010

December 31, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for coming to tonight’s Gaming Class of 2010 Awards Banquet.  Let’s get started right away, shall we?

“Most Likely to Play Over and Over Again” Award
Halo: Reach
I played it through 3 times – solo and co-op, heroic and legendary – and I still would probably play it again on legendary co-op.  I’m not a multiplayer fan so I can’t get my fix that way.  It’s going to be a long dry spell until we get more Halo goodness.

“It Came Outta Nowhere” Award
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
I follow gaming stuff pretty closely.  I read all the big blogs regularly: Kotaku, Joystiq, and the like.  And I never heard a thing about this game until it was released.  All the more surprising: I played the demo and it was good!  Perhaps the only game I bought this year by virtue of playing the demo.  Not destined to win many awards, but definitely worth a pickup if you find a good price.

“Game You Should Have Played But Didn’t” Award
Alan Wake
I was tempted to give this to Metroid: Other M, but it’s got to go to Alan Wake.  This is the category that beloved gems like Psychonauts and Beyond Good and Evil belong to.  It definitely deserves a sequel, but did it sell enough to warrant one?  Remedy is not saying.  Pleeeease, Remedy!!

“Wanted To Like More Than I Did” Award
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
I kept playing and playing, waiting for that point at which I could think of little else until I completed it, and I actually finished it before that point ever arrived.  Which was no small task, as it’s a looong game.  Maybe a little too long?  Not “Castlevania” enough?  Because I suck at “God of War” style games?  I actually stuck with it to the end, which says something about it I guess, but if I had it to do all over again, I might not have even played it.

“If Only It Was Achievements and Not Trophies” Award
Final Fantasy XIII
I didn’t hate this game nearly as much as the gaming press wishes I would have.  That’s not to say it didn’t have its faults, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  So much so, in fact, that I put in over 100 hours on it.  And I got every trophy you could get in it, except the one where I’d have to buy all of the equipment in the game (and hence the platinum trophy as well).  I calculated that I’d have to grind for 6+ hours to make enough gil to do that.  If I had played the Xbox version, I might have done that, to have a complete game and 1000 gamerscore (something I’ve only done twice before).  But you gotta play Final Fantasy on the PlayStation, right?  That’s been a rule since FF VII, hasn’t it?  And I don’t care a fig about trophies, so I never got there.

“It Came Too Early To Win Major Awards” Award
Mass Effect 2
The integration with your save game from Mass Effect 1… awesome.  Nearly all the changes were improvements.  Nearly.  (I’m looking at you, planet scanner!)  It set the bar high for 2010.  But it came out January 26, 2010.  Will it garner any Game of the Year awards with the short term memory crowd, or will Call of Duty overshadow it by virtue of release date?

“Made Me Schlep To The Store With Other Geeks” Award
Dragon Quest XII: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
No, I’m not talking about a launch event.  Just look at Black Friday… people will stand in line in the cold for hours for $5 off a jacket.  I’m talking about standing around an electronics store with my DS open hoping that someone else that’s doing the same will sync a treasure quest to my game.  DQ XII has an interesting online quest sharing function, but it’s local wireless only, which might work fine in DQ obsessed and people packed Japan, but not so great in the suburban US midwest.  So I went to an event to try it out, and got a few quests that were way above my level that I still haven’t been able to do yet.

“Would People Give It Such High Praise If The Graphics Were So-So” Award
Infinity Blade
I get it. The graphics look great. But in 15-20 minutes you’ve basically seen what you are going to do in the whole game, and then you do it over and over again. Why is everyone raving about this game? Has everyone really turned into such graphics whores? I mean, I like the game in general, but The Second Coming of Portable Gaming it is not!

“Who Knew Michael J. Fox Had A Twin” Award
Back to the Future Part 1 – It’s About Time
Great Scott!  That “not Michael J. Fox” guy does an awesome Marty McFly, doesn’t he?

But enough with the silly awards… what is my top game? I only pick from games I’ve played, and the critics and I usually do not agree.  To me, it boils down to a choice between five games, and they all have their merits.

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Game Impressions: Singularity

August 9, 2010

Introduction

When you “borrow” heavily from two of the most popular and highly acclaimed games in recent history, you have to be prepared for the inevitable comparisons.  If your game does not do the things those games did at least as well if not better, your audience can’t help but notice.  So does Singularity hold up to the big boys it tries to emulate?

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Game Impressions: Alan Wake

July 27, 2010

Introduction

It’s no surprise that I would gravitate towards a game whose first spoken words are “Stephen King.”  But that doesn’t mean I will automatically like it.  Alan Wake is a psychological thriller action adventure game developed by Remedy Entertainment (aka the folks behind the Max Payne series) and published by Microsoft Game Studios.  It follows the story of thriller novelist Alan Wake, whose vacation trip to Bright Falls in the Pacific Northwest is cut short by the disappearance of his wife and the strange, supernatural events surrounding it.  So was the story a sleeper, or did I have no trouble staying A. Wake?

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Game Impressions: Final Fantasy XIII

April 19, 2010

Introduction

Of the recent main series of Final Fantasy games, I really enjoyed Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XII.  I didn’t play FF XI very long, mainly because after a certain point you were pretty much required to group with people to advance, which really didn’t suit my playstyle or available time.  Final Fantasy XII took me two years to complete, though I mainly played it in two large blocks, with years in-between.  I loved the style and most of the gameplay mechanics.

I tried to avoid a lot of news or info on Final Fantasy XIII before playing it, but it looked to be similar to both of those titles, making it a must-get game on release day.  But games like FF XIII require quite a large time investment.  You could probably play Halo 1-3 and ODST in the same time it’d take you to finish FF XIII.  So was it worth the time and effort, or will it be my Final Fantasy?  (I had to go there.  It’s over now.)

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Game Impressions: Bioshock 2

March 31, 2010

Introduction

Few games make an actual lasting impression on me.  I may enjoy them immensely at the time, and remember them fondly, but press me for details and I won’t be able to produce many.  The original Bioshock is one of those rare gems that captivated my imagination and has stuck with me.  I love the concept, the art deco look, Big Daddies and Little Sisters and madness and mayhem under the sea.  I think my appreciation of it actually rose from the time I wrote the Game Impressions on it to present.  So it was with both longing and trepidation that I approached the release of Bioshock 2.  Could the Electro Bolt plasmid strike twice?

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Game Impressions: Mass Effect 2

March 24, 2010

Introduction

I remember the gaming Fall of 2007 very well.  Bioshock came out on August 21st.    Metroid Prime 3: Corruption came out on August 27th.   Halo 3 came out September 25th.  The Orange Box came out on October 7th.  Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare came out November 5th.  The first Assassin’s Creed came out November 16th.  Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune came out on November 19th.  Finally, on the same day as the original Rock Band came out, Bioware’s Mass Effect came out on November 20th.  In the span of exactly 3 months, 9 blockbuster titles came out.  It’s enough to make a gamer shout for joy and sob on his joystick all at the same time.

Of those titles, a few had a big effect on me.  I named Portal my Game of the Year, followed closely by Bioshock at #2.  Mass Effect was #7 in my Top 10.   While that might not seem high on my list, a quick look at my achievements shows that I started the game on November 21st, 2007 and completed it on December 5, 2007.  It doesn’t appear by the achievements that I played every day, but in that 15 day span I visited every planet, completed every side quest, and finished the game in just over 40 hours of gameplay.  Given the number of games I buy and never play, or start and never get far into, the fact that I spent 40 hours in 2 weeks on Mass Effect during that crowded Fall season says something about how much I enjoyed the game.

Still, I didn’t really wait with bated breath for Mass Effect 2.  In fact, as soon as it was announced that it would be coming in January, after the holiday release season, I sort of put it out of my mind.  When January came, I saw it on the list of upcoming titles, and it came back to the forefront of my consciousness.  I started reading Mass Effect: Ascension.  I played Mass Effect Galaxy.  I got the first issue of the Mass Effect: Redemption comic.  And I pre-ordered Mass Effect 2 from Gamestop.com, with free shipping.  As the date approached, my anticipation rose and rose, until I regretted that free shipping option I picked.

Thankfully, my game arrived the day after release, and I fired it up that evening.  So do I think Mass Effect 2 is a worthy successor to the original Mass Effect?  Was my heightened anticipation rewarded?

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Game Impressions: Heavy Rain

February 28, 2010

Introduction

By description, Heavy Rain is the type of game to which I would naturally gravitate.  Developer Quantic Dream describes it as interactive drama, which smacks of my love of interactive fiction, choose your own adventures, and point-and-click games.  The game uses a unique control scheme that uses context sensitive actions and quick time events to tell the story of four characters and the mystery of the Origami Killer.  So what’s my take on this new interactive drama?

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