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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Guns, explosions, Nazis, and Australians

Since finishing up Red Dead Redemption's Undead Nightmare DLC, I've been fighting my way through Call of Duty: Black Ops. I was originally planning on playing Black Ops on the Recruit difficulty setting. Call it ego or an constant desire for achievement points but I ended up tackling the game on Hardened difficulty. I would have gone for Veteran difficulty were it not for the number of forum posts advising me against just such a line of action. From every account, Veteran difficulty is near-impossible and not very fun for those without self-masochitic tendencies. I'm just a Dad who plays games so Hardened is good enough for me.

I am enjoying Black Ops quite a bit. I like the story, set-pieces, and the gameplay feels "right". I'm not a big fan of Sam Worthington's "American" accent though. I guess I have a thing for actors attempting to portray a certain nationality and failing miserably (see my comments on Enslaved). There have been more occurences of Alex Mason sounding Australian than not. Sam Worthington makes Mel Gibson performance in Lethal Weapon seem 100% American by comparison. Seriously - there must have come a point when Black Ops' director finally said, "Ok Sam - whatever. Forget the American accent. Let's just get this done."

I think I'm getting close to the end of Black Ops. Were it not the increased difficulty in certain areas of the game (e.g. Kowloon), I'd have probably finished the game by now. I'm planning on finishing it up today if I get the chance.

What's up next? I really haven't decided. I could finish up X-Men: The Offical Game...but it's not very fun. Maybe I'll revisit Borderlands for a bit. I still haven't fully completed any of the DLC besides the Zombie Island stuff. I hear Mad Moxxie's Underdome is not very fun but can be easily finished by using a second controller. I've also had a bit of hankering for a good old-fashioned RPG: Mass Effect 2, Infinite Undiscovery, or The Last Remnant might be nice too. I've got a few too many options right now that I can't decide. Take a look at my current game library and let me know what you think I should play after Black Ops (Fallout New Vegas is off-limits since I'm waiting for all the DLC to be released before starting).

I've updated my 2011 Year of Gaming list below to reflect the games I'm playing right now. Of course, I may update the list based on my readers' suggestions. Have a great day!

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.

    UPDATE: Finished Iron Man in record time and the ending could not have come fast enough. A mindless slog through hordes of mindless enemies trying to pound Iron Man into submission with random gunfire, energy beams, and missiles. This a true movie tie-in game, nothing more, nothing less.
    [Status: Completed]

  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...

    UPDATE: I finished Undead Nightmare. Overall, I'm happy that I played it. It's definitely one of the more substantial DLC offerings I've ever played in terms of quality and length. I am getting a little sick of zombies but was happy to spend a little more time with John Marsten.
    [Status: Completed]

  7. Call of Duty: Black Ops: The more recent Call of Duty games have really changed my mind about military shooters. I think Infinity Ward and Treyarch are both pretty good at delivering intense action and incredible set pieces. I'm looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about with Black Ops. I'll likely focus on the single-player campaign and leave the multiplayer to younger and more competitive gamers. I just want to shoot some bad guys in the head and save the world.
    [Status: Now Playing]

  8. X-Men: The Official Game: I'm only playing this game because of it's subject matter. I like the X-Men. Hopefully I'll feel the same way after finishing this game. From the trailer and the reviews, it looks like I'm in for a unrewarding grind through a borind game. If this game is any good, I'd be astonished.
    [Status: Paused]

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.