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Friday, February 11, 2011

Guns, greed, and belly laughs

I have to apologize for the lack of frequent updates to the site. Life has been extremely busy lately and this site is always the first to suffer from a disappointing amount of free time. Actually, that's not quite true. I've had a bunch of free time but I've been too busy playing games to bother writing anything. I've also spent a lot of time shopping lately which explains why my Gaming Libary continues to get frequent updates. It's hard keeping track of all my impulse buys and still have time to write about the games I'm playing.

Despite my efforts to curb my spending habits, I've failed miserably in 2011. I've purchased twenty-two games (retail or DLC/add-ons) since January 1st. In my defense, five of the games were purchased for $1 (after tax) solely for the purpose of quick resale.

In the past week, I've gone a little crazy taking advantage of some deals at that same grocery store. I picked up four games at $10 a piece (Kane & Lynch, Midnight Club L.A., Destroy All Humans: Path of the Furon, and Fairytale Fights) on Monday. I also bought a few more $5 titles a couple of nights ago: Top Spin 3, Mini Ninjas, and Red Faction Guerrilla. $5 for a brand-new retail title?! Talk about a great deal!

I made my biggest purchase of 2011 a couple of nights ago and picked up You Don't Know Jack for $29.99. I was always a huge fan of the series back in my university days. I'm happy to say that YDKJ is back and better than ever in its latest iteration. I have never laughed as hard with a game as I did playing YDKJ late last night. I was forced to pause the game at least five times because I was laughing too hard to hold my controller. I am really looking forward to playing a whole lot of You Don't Know Jack in the coming months. It will definitely be one of those games that I keep forever, along with Borderlands and Pinball FX 2. If you'd like to experience You Don't Know Jack for yourself, you can buy it right here. Go on! You will not find more value or laughs for $29.99 anywhere!

I'm also planning on popping out to a store tonight for another possible $1 sale on video games. Fingers crossed.

Now onto the games I'm currently playing...

I finished both Black Ops and the X-Men game that I was working on over the weekend. Black Ops was a solid game: lots of polish, good set pieces, great action, and some unfortunate voice acting. In contrast, X-Men: The Official Game was a piece of crap. Only since Hellboy: The Science of Evil have I felt such a desire to leave a game unfinished. The gameplay was atrocious and frustrating - even on the easiest difficulty setting.

I'm currently playing the prequel to Black Ops: Treyarch's very own Call of Duty: World at War. World at War feels very much like the earlier Call of Duty games in terms of gameplay and enjoyment. The game is very frustrating - even on Hardened difficulty. There have been a couple of missions in particular that have really tested my patience. I don't mind games being hard...as long as there are extra achievements to reward the extra frustration of a tough game. But Treyarch's take on "difficult" seems a little off.

World at War relies on endlessly spawning enemies to increase difficulty. To stop the enemy horde, you're required to push forward through the gunfire and hail of grenades until you hit a checkpoint which instantly shuts off the flow of new enemies. Strategy and patience end up taking a backseat to twitch reflexes and luck. For example, there is one particular spot in the "Burn 'em out" mission that requires you to pop four smoke grenades in a small enclosed area, lob in as many grenades as possible, and then run in guns blazing (or flamethrowers burning) hoping to stay alive while also throwing back one or two enemy grenades a second. Pretty sick and very frustrating once you hit your thirtieth attempt to clear the area.

Besides some poor design decisions, I am enjoying CoD: WaW. The voice acting, led by the voice talents of Kiefer Sutherland and Gary Oldman, has been top-notch. Graphics are not too shabby either though not as good as anything you'll see in CoD: Modern Warfare, CoD: Modern Warfare 2, or Black Ops.

I've updated both my Current Gaming Libary and Year of Gaming 2011 pages (or see below) to reflect everything discussed above.

2011 is shaping up to be a great year for video games! 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.

    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.

    UPDATE: Saved the world, shot a bunch of bad guys, and had fun doing it. Not the greatest Call of Duty title out there but still pretty good. Much, much better than Treyarch's last outing: World at War is ridiculously difficult, unforgiving, and unfair.
    [Status: Completed]

  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.

    UPDATE: Yuck - this game wasn't very good. While I enjoyed the comic book look and feel of the cut-scenes, I hated the gameplay. X-Men was long, tedious, unsatisfying, and the achievements were boring and hard to get. I'm glad I won't have to play this game ever again.
    [Status: Completed]

  9. Call of Duty: World at War: I decided to play the prequel to Black Ops right away rather than wait. I figured my time spent playing Black Ops would prepare me for the rigors of WWII combat Well - that hasn't worked out for me all that well. As I said above, World at War is ridiculously difficult, unforgiving, and unfair. Enemies won't stop spawning. The German and Japanese soldiers love throwing endless streams of grenades. And the guns I have to use are crappy WWII guns and not the cool modern guns that I've grown accustomed to in the latest and greatest FPS games. World at War is definitely a major step backwards: it is more reminiscient of Call of Duty 3 than it is of the Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare games. At least Jack Bauer is around to bark out orders.
    [Status: Now Playing]

  10. Mini Ninjas: Although I may play a little more You Don't Know Jack and Borderlands after finishing up World at War, I'd like to play something a little less serious and kid-friendly in the near future. Mini Ninjas seems to fit the bill! According to what I've read about the game, it's an easy little romp through a world filled with ninjas, animals, and some little guy carrying a big hammer. Sounds delightful!
    [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!

  • You Don't Know Jack
    Much like video game pinball, I spent a good portion of my twenties playing a lot of You Don't Know Jack on my PC. At the time, no other trivia game came close to delivering humour or style like the YDKJ series of games. I picked up the latest copy of You Don't Know Jack for my Xbox 360 and I'm happy to say that the YDKJ series still holds the title for best quiz game ever!! I'm amazed that the guys and gals at Jellyvision have always been able to meet and exceed all of my expectations of a video game. You Don't Know Jack is funny, challenging (well, the first time you see a set of questions), and unbelievably entertaining whether playing alone or with friends. This is a great game that I'll be playing for a long, long while! I find the game is a perfect nightcap for me: it gets me laughing, relaxed, and helps me forget about any troubles that might keep me up at night.

    For the record, this game is the only game to ever get me laughing so hard that I was unable to continue playing. Candlenut?! Hilarious!

  • 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.


Jessica said...

Good luck with Fairytale Fights -- I found the concept fairly cute (albeit really, really bloody), but the execution was lacking. The platforming made me crazy and I started calling our little heroine 'greasy feet' based on how often she slipped off the side. I hope you fare better!

Mini Ninjas is fun, though. TONS of exploration if you are willing to spend a lot of time exploring.

Klopzi said...

@Jessica -

After having played X-Men: The Official Game, I think I can put with quite a bit in terms of poor game design issues. As long as Fairytale Fights isn't as frustrating as WaW, I'll be okay...I hope. Got the game for $10 so I'm not expecting much.

Mini Ninjas certainly looks neat. It's nice to kick back and just enjoy a nice, easy game every know and then. At least, I'm assuming it's easy. Looks too cute to be hard but I've been proven wrong before (e.g. Blue Dragon).

Thanks for stopping by!