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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Case Closed

I don't care what the critics say: I love those CSI games! I've played CSI: Hard Evidence, CSI: Deadly Intent, and CSI: Fatal Conspiracy and I haven't been disappointed. I should qualify that statement though. First off, I really like watching CSI and CSI: NY with my wife. More importantly, my expectations are generally low for Ubisoft's budget CSI titles. It's not hard to impress me when I come in to a game not knowing what to expect.

The CSI games are all superbly weak in terms of graphics. Controls are pretty mediocre as well. However, I've found that the voice-over work has gotten progressively better in each subsequent CSI title. I've been most impressed with Robert David Hall (Dr. Al Robbins), Paul Guilfoyle (Capt. Jim Brass), and George Eads (Nick Stokes). It's rare to find TV actors with the necessary skill to do voice-over work. I certainly appreciate the extra effort they give to make the game sound less like a bargain gaming title and more like an episode of CSI.

Another strong point of the CSI series of games is the writing. Each case plays out like an episode of CSI. I find myself earnestly trying to solve each case. There's something satisfying about presenting the correct piece of evidence to contradict a supect's testimony. There may not be a Phoenix Wright-style "Objection!" but it's funny to watch a suspect squirm once you've pointed out their obvious lie.

If you're a fan of CSI, murder mysteries, or point-and-click adventures, you would probably like CSI: Fatal Conspiracy (or any other CSI game). Go in with an open mind and below-average expectations and you'll come away happy!

I've updated my 2011 Year of Gaming list below with some new games and trailers. Have a good one!

Current and Completed Games

  1. Portal: Still Alive
    When I first picked up Valve's Orange Box back in 2007, I was only planning on playing Half-Life 2. I knew nothing about Portal. It was only after a friend's insistence that I gave Portal a shot; I'm glad I did. Portal is an incredible puzzle game that really forces you to change the way you think about time and space. There is no better feeling that coming up with an elegant solution to a seemingly impossible puzzle using nothing besides your wit...and the portal gun!

    Still Alive was a great return to Portal for me. Although the main story took me very little time to complete, I still enjoyed matching wits with GlaDOS again. The 14 new advanced chambers were quite enjoyable to play. Not quite as difficult as Portal's original 6 advanced maps - which is not a bad thing. Trust me. I still had to take a quick peek online to remind myself of how to beat some of the advanced maps.

    I'm now really looking forward to playing Portal 2 when it arrives sometime this Spring!
    [Status: Completed]

  2. Darksiders
    I never played any of Sony's God of War series due to some of the more "adult" themes in that game (i.e. breasts, sex, breasts and sex, and so forth). Darksiders seemed like a good alternative and I'm happy with the game thus far. Voice acting and graphics are very good. The story gripped me from the very beginning: I'm a sucker for the whole Heaven vs. Hell thing. And I am loving the amount of gore and over-the-top violence in this game. It's guilt-free violence too because I've only been asked to kill zombies, demons, and some pretty vicious angels. Darksiders seems like it will be a fun, gore-soaked ride and I'm on board with that!

    UPDATE: It took me a solid 17 hours to finish off Darksiders. Boy oh boy, what a great game! I don't remember much about my time spent with Zelda but I'll certainly remember Darksiders. Everything about this game exhibited a high level of polish and care by the developers. The game gave me the sense of being War, all-powerful Horseman of the Apolcalypse, while also giving me suitable challenge from start to finish. Amazing action-adventure game! I can't recommend Darksiders more highly! Buy it right here, right now!
    [Status: Completed]

  3. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
    I never got the chance to play Heavenly Sword for the PS3. I guess I could go back at any time to play the game but I don't see any point now that I've got Enslaved. I'm a sucker for great graphics, story, and voice-acting and these are the areas where Enslaved excels. I can't wait to join Monkey, Trip, and Pigsy on their odyssey. I'm hoping to start Enslaved on or before my birthday later this month!

    UPDATE: Enslaved was a fun little adventure game with some great highs and some unfortunate lows. Read my mini-review here.
    [Status: Completed]

  4. CSI: Fatal Conspiracy: It's hard to describe to another gamer why I'd spend my time playing Ubisoft's CSI games. Although the easy 1000 gamerpoints is a big plus, I'll admit that I like pretending I'm a CSI and solving cases. Graphics and voice acting are not the greatest. But the stories and characters are all fleshed out enough to keep me coming back for more.

    UPDATE: Solved five cases, put a drug lord, and had lots of fun playing detective. Graphics sucked but the writing and voice acting easily made up for that one glaring sore point in an otherwise well-done budget title.
    [Status: Completed]

  5. Iron Man: I'm a sucker for a good super-hero game. I'm also a sucker for terrible super-hero games. Either way, I'm looking forward to playing Iron Man. I just finished re-watching Iron Man movies and I really like what Jon Favreau did with the license. Here's hoping that I'll get some enjoyment out of this latest Marvel movie tie-in game.
    [Status: Now Playing]


  6. Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare: I loved playing Red Dead Redemption last year. Rather than focus on controversy, Rockstar put their efforts into making a gorgeous and beautifully crafted world filled with interesting characters, intriguing plots, and incredible action! I can't wait to jump back into Red Dead again. Of course, the zombies should change things up nicely. I'm really looking forward to running into a zombie bear or two. Those things look horrifying...
    [Status: Next Up]



Secondary Games
Rather than list multiple titles under the "Now Playing" category, I figured I might as well create a separate category for "secondary games". These titles are primarily skill-based games that I'll play off and on throughout the year. What distinguishes these games from the games listed above? These are games that I'll likely not finish or sell because they are too good to give up or too hard (yet rewarding) to complete on any sort of timeline. These are also games that I highly recommend to most gamers looking for some highly replayable and rewarding fun!
  • Pinball FX 2
    Pinball FX 2 is the best pinball game that I've played in a long while. I love the table themes! I love the ball physics! I love the online leaderboards and friendly competition with fellow pinball junkies. And most of all, I love the low price of 200 MS points per table. I'll be happy to keep buying tables from Zen Studios whenever they see fit to release more. All in all, Pinball FX 2 is a tremendous game that I think anyone should enjoy!

  • Borderlands
    What can I say about Borderlands that I've not already said in the past? Borderlands is this generation's Diablo II. Buy it, play it - 'nuff said. I'll be playing Borderlands off and on over the course of the year. I'm hoping to to pick up most of the achievements that I've missed. After that, we'll see if I can get my Siren to level 69!

    UPDATE: Just picked up a copy of Mad Moxxie's Underdome for 400 points on XBLA! I love these weekly sales that Microsoft keeps throwing at us!

  • Trials HD
    An addictive yet frustrating puzzle game featuring an unnamed rider, a customizable motocross bike, and absolutely insane tracks. I tend to play this game in short spurts because it gets damned near impossible at times once you hit the hard and extreme tracks. I look forward to challenging my reflexes and sanity with Trials HD over the next twelve months.


Coming Soon
I love to think about the games I've finished, the games I'm currently playing, and the games I'm hoping to spend some time with in the near future. I've put together a little list of titles that I'd like to play before 2011 comes to a close. I've tried to order these games according when I'll play them. There are factors that may affect a game's order or inclusion on this list (e.g. retail pricing, review scores, gamer reception, etc.). Look for this list to grow in the coming months as my resolve to conserve money gives way to my desire to bathe in my unbridled greed.

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