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Monday, December 22, 2008

Mutants, Zombies, and Time Travel

I'm amazed at how much time I've spent playing video games lately. Of course, extra time with my Xbox 360 is coming at the expense of sleep. The question is: is my time being well spent?

My weekend started off with a little Fallout 3. I've actually gotten to the point with the game that I'm actually beginning to second guess my decision to pick up the downloadable content. Don't get me wrong: Bethesda made an incredible game here. But do I really want to sink another 20 or 30 hours into the game? Do I really want to start again at the very beginning and play through every mission again?

Before the weekend, I might have answered with a resounding "Yes"; now, I'm not so sure. I don't know if I can spend that much more time in the Wasteland. It's brown, it's depressing, and my character is so mighty that it would be pretty hard to start over from scratch. I'm going to focus on picking up a few last achievements such as finding all Bobbleheads, killing all Super Mutant Behemoths, winning another 12 speech challenges, discovering 100 locations, and finishing up a few missions.

At that point, I'll need to start another game in order to clear one last mission that I somehow missed on my first playthrough (Following in His Footsteps). Once I've finished all that, I doubt I'll want to pick up Fallout 3 again. It's a great game for the first 30-40 hours; it's not quite as much fun after you've finished off the main story and start exploring the wastes as an unstoppable killing machine.

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I spent quite a bit of time with Braid. My fascination with the game quickly turned to frustration. Braid makes me feel like an idiot. I was able to collect a good 80% of the puzzle pieces strewn throughout the game. But the last 20% are proving to be embarrassingly difficult to grab. Thankfully there are some good video guides online that can help those of us lacking in the patience department. The lack of a detailed user manual - to better describe how the laws of space and time can be toyed with by Braid's protagonist - would have gone a long way to helping me figure things out on my own. I know Braid's just a silly little XBLA game. And I'm a grown-up. And I should be able to figure these things out myself.

Honestly though! I spent two hours trying to figure out how to get two specific puzzle pieces on level 2-2. I even thought about that level while away from my Xbox 360. I had dreams of that particular level and it's unreachable puzzle pieces. After a full 24 hours of mulling things over, I broke down and checked an online guide. And you know what? I wasn't even close. I can honestly say that I would have never come up with the solution in a week's worth of serious thought and chin scratching.

It's always nice to be intellectually humbled by a video game after having breezed through much of my life with neither muss nor fuss. Congratulations Mr. Jonathan Blow: you are my intellectual superior. But can you burp the entire alphabet in one breath? Yeah, me neither...I tried once and had a horrific accident...

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The bulk of my weekend's playing time was spent with Dark Sector. Gears of War meets Resident Evil 4 meets Half-Life 2. Looks good on paper and plays well in real life. Graphics and sound are top-notch. Gameplay is pretty fun if a little repetitive. Jump scares are common and have frayed my nerves to the point where I've startled myself three times in the past 24 hours by walking by various mirrors in my house. Did I mention that I'm a 33 year old father of two? I just hope my kids get big soon so that they can protect me from the scary monsters lurking in the dark recesses of my mind...and in the basement behind the furnace. I assume that's where they hide...?

In any case, Dark Sector is almost finished. I've unlocked many of the game's cookie-cutter achievements as well as most of it's more original unlockables. I'll be glad to finally shelf this game when all's said and done. I've started playing and stopped playing Dark Sector so many times in the past few months. It's hard to imagine how my life will change knowing that I'll no longer need to play my way through a dark and diseased world as a super soldier with a metal arm and a girly name. Hayden? Really? I would've gone with Scar, Jackson, or Batman myself.

Here's a video review for Dark Sector in case you're wondering whether or not it's worth $20 of your hard-earned money. For the record, I'd say it's totally worth it and I'm not even a fan of the genre.




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Have a good one!

2 comments:

Midwest Gamer Podcast said...

kudos for reviewing dark sector. I've seen it in the bargain bin a few times but didn't really know much about it. Sounds like a decent game for only twenty bucks!

Matt (MWG)

Klopzi said...

Matt -

I've been finding that there are a lot of games in the bargain bins that are quite good. Given the number of games released over the past couple years, reviewers are bound to look over many half-decent games that most gamers would enjoy.

Dark Sector may not be the greatest game ever. But I guarantee that most gamers would like it if given the chance to play it.

Thanks for stopping by!