The complete lack of recent updates comes from me deciding to game rather than blog when I have the spare time. That Xbox Live throws free games at me every month means that I have a steady supply of titles on top of my existing backlog – a situation that actually means I’m buying fewer games, yet the backlog grows.
Games finished since the start of the year:
- Charlie Murder (X360): Finished this twice on Normal difficulty. The next difficulty level up – Chaos – is not fun at all and I’d be playing the same game again. Plus the matchmaking service is terrible. Anyway… it was fun for as long as it lasted. The ‘bad’ ending puts an interesting twist on the in-game narrative.
- Saints Row: The Third (X360): I’ve also just finished this. It may have been the weight of expectation, that I’d heard for so long about how this title took a GTA-like world into satire / parody, but having played it, I don’t think this is really true past the first few missions. After that point things settled down quite a bit and I didn’t find much funny with it.
- Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 (X360): This took me back to my misspent youth, which involved M:tG from about The Dark expansion through to Ice Age. It was nice to go back to the game for a bit, but I was also reminded of the frustrations with the game that saw me stop playing.
- Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (X360): An interesting isometric title involving Lara Croft. Controls were a bit wonky at times, but overall it was fun enough.
- Deadlight (X360): Slightly frustrating level design was offset by the overly melodramatic characters and b-grade in-game narrative. Yes, it’s the odd things that I’m amused by.
- Dungeon Defenders (X360): This game had by far the least friendly online community I’ve seen for a while. I’d try to join a public game and get kicked in about 5 seconds. As such, I soloed this multiplayer title on Medium difficulty and didn’t really enjoy it.
- BioShock: Infinite: Buried at Sea DLC (X360): So I didn’t like BioShock: Infinite, but the DLC’s return to Rapture improved the gameplay quite a bit by reducing amount of space you had to fight in. However, the DLC reframes (and in my mind actually reduces) the narrative of the original BioShock. That’s quite a feat for some DLC.
- Alan Wake: American Nightmare (X360): Combat wasn’t a strength of the original Alan Wake and American Nightmare is really all about the combat, which is a bit of an issue. But I like Alan Wake for its metanarrative of writer versus world and also appreciated the sociopathic Mr Scratch as an adversarial character.
- Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (X360): Sure, the twin-stick game mechanics were interesting (if a bit mind-bending at times) but I really resented the emotional manipulation contained in this narrative.
- Sleeping Dogs (plus Nightmare at North Point DLC and Year of the Snake DLC) (X360): Pretty much every corrupt cop genre cliché appeared in Sleeping Dogs and the Hong Kong police seem unconcerned in the long-term about how many people you run over while undercover. As a bit of a *SPOILER*, there’s actually an interesting sub-plot you can uncover that the lead character was picked for his undercover position because he potentially murdered the drug dealer responsible for his sister’s overdose, but like many things in Sleeping Dogs, it’s not really explored in any depth.
- Portal 2 (X360): I picked this up cheap in a sale. Although the characters of GLADoS and Wheatley are well acted and there is some great dialogue, the narrative was a bit flat and I felt the gameplay outlasted its welcome – it would have been a better title if it was shorter. Also, I can’t accept the attempts to merge the Portal universe with the Half-Life universe – they are too different and combining them weakens both.
- Brutal Legend (X360): This title deserves every mixed review it received. The characters and narrative are great, the music themes fit into a uniquely crafted world, but the combat starts to get very dull, the stage battles are either way too easy or much too hard and the different game mechanics don’t really fit together that well. Plus the game ending just kind of … happens. A lot of unrealised opportunities here.
- Toy Soldiers: Cold War (X360): A game like Toy Soldiers is very much suited to these kind of lists, because it’s a title that I’d forgotten even playing until I looked back over my last 6 months of gaming. An interesting mix of third-person combat and tower defence, but nothing exceptional. It also didn’t help that a lot of the Games for Gold released in this period were also tower defence titles, so I was possibly a bit worn out on this genre by the time I got to this.
- Defence Grid (X360): I finished the campaign levels and a few of the optional challenges. To damn it with faint praise: it was good for what it was, but I’ve got no interest in the sequel, whenever that comes out.
- Prototype 2 (X360): I can’t think of many franchises that turn the hero of their first game into the villain of the second. The narrative of this title is a mess – Alex Mercer has apparently chosen James Heller as a ‘special one’ in the game according to a number of secondary characters, but no real reason for this is ever presented other than because the script said so. At the very end of the game the finale cut scene threatens to do something interesting *SPOILER* by having Heller’s long sought-after daughter reject him for being a monster (who’s murdered a New York-load of people by this point) but that lasts all of 5 seconds before the inevitable reunion. Still, I’m a bit sad to think there won’t be another Prototype title, which is very Nietzschean in its “man destroyed by superman” theme and a sandbox franchise I liked.
- Shoot Many Robots (X360): Yes, you do.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution – The Missing Link DLC (X360): I enjoyed going back into this world, sneaking around and generally causing trouble. This DLC was short but still meaty enough to feel worthwhile.
- Batman: Arkham City – Harley Quinn’s Revenge DLC (X360): On this other hand, this DLC was way too short. Plus Harley Quinn never comes across as any kind of criminal boss that would last more than 5 minutes without the Joker protecting her in this version of the Batman world.
Sitting in my current backlog is:
- Dead Island (started tinkering with this, but not past the first Act yet)
- Dead Rising 2: Off the Record
- Rayman: Legends
- From Dust
- Beyond Good and Evil
- Lollipop Chainsaw
- The Darkness 2
- Kinect Adventures
- Just Dance 4 (I mean to go back to this)
- Deepak Chopra’s Leela
- Spec Ops: The Line
- Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition
- Civilisation: Revolution
- Fable III
- Dark Souls
- Assassin’s Creed 3
Games I want to play are:
- Gears of War 3 (for the sake of completeness, really)
- Psychonauts (because I’ve never played it but am intrigued)
- Alice: Madness Returns
- To The Moon
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown
- The Walking Dead
- Far Cry 3
- Assassin’s Creed 4
- Dead Space 3
XCOM is an excellent remake. As a fan of 90s titles I was worried the attempt would fall flat, but it’s remarkably good. And it’s not as hard as original if you don’t want it to be.
I agree on Portal 2, I don’t like short games in general, but Portal 2 should be cut earlier.
Regardless, I found that after 25 years of gaming, either I saw it all or it’s all crap out there. I’m bored within 15 minutes by almost all new games today (Skyrim being the last case). I also find grinding of any sort unacceptable, so all MMOs out there do nothing for me, even though I actively played LotRo for ca. 2 years as a Tolkien fan. In effect I’m becoming more of games collector than player, which makes me sad.
Or maybe I’m just getting old and should find a new hobby. 🙂
Yeah, it’s easy to get old and grumpy about gaming. However the good thing about that kind of experience is that you learn you can fish through the bargin bins and find titles that you think might be interesting to play even if no-one else is. There’s so much choice available that there’s no point in listening to game hype any more (or if you do, taking it with a big grain of salt).
Currently I’m playing through the Xbox Megadrive Collection and it has reminded me about what I thought was awesome once (and I still have a soft spot for 2.5D scrolling fighters) versus how they play now. They’re still fun, but I’m no longer feeding coins into the machine to keep playing them and some of their game ‘tricks’ have aged badly.
I’ve also picked up XCOM since.