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Thursday, 8 November 2012

New Game Round-up

Well, it’s that time of year again.  The time when all the major game publishers start to poop out all of their AAA big budget titles for the upcoming Christmas shopping orgy.  I though I’d select a few choice morsels and dissect them right in from of you, spill out their gooey insides for all the world to gawk at in amazement.  Keep in mind the following opinions are just that, my ill-informed highly unprofessional, and possibly juvenile opinions.  Well, this train isn’t going to wreck itself, so let’s get started.
There have been many travesties masquerading as x-com games over the years, some have been unleashed mercilessly on the public, some have been shit canned before completion, all have been horrible.  In X-coms case, I would say that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but that didn’t happen.  For 18 years now x-com has been fucked with and mess around with to the point I never though this day would come.  Yet here we are, a game modeled almost exactly after the original, fully modernized.  Of course “modernized” is usually a euphemism for “dumbed down.”  X-com mostly escapes this curse, mostly.  The new control scheme is easy to pick up and play, and is adapted to work with a controller.  The base building segments are fun and flow nicely, but there are a few annoyances.  New recruits come completely unskilled, they can basically shoot, and throw a grenade.  As soon as they level up once, they are assigned a class, and it’s random!  Just by sheer luck of the draw, you could unwittingly end up with a whole army of snipers with little or no heavy’s, scouts, or assaults.  You need some of everything if you want to not die.  Second, you can’t shoot unless you have an alien in sight.  Now that may not sound like big deal, but what if I wanted to shoot a gas pump, causing an explosion that might give me an edge?  It strips away a layer of strategy for no discernable reason.  Lastly, when you get a shot, the game always calculates the percent chance of hit, but, and I might be wrong about this, I don’t think that percent chance includes the evasion skill of the enemy.  So if the games says you have 50% chance to hit an enemy, it’s more like 40%, and if that enemy is an advanced one, possibly less, 35% or lower.  Add this to the fact that the game is punishingly hard, there are most assuredly going to be frustrating moments, like your star soldier whiffing on a 97% chance to hit, then getting his face melted off.  The sense of achievement you get from winning is an almost perfect counterpoint to this though, well played Firaxis.
Ten years ago, Halo was a launch title for the Xbox-not-360.  The aftershock of the impact this had on the console gaming world is still being felt today.  People had never seen anything quite like it, and clung tenaciously to their comically oversized controllers, finally getting a taste of what PC gamers had been enjoying for years.  I picked up Halo for PC, I played it, I finished it, I really enjoyed it.  Aside from some tedious backtracking, it was an extremely well crafted game.  There’s very little I didn’t like about it.  After it was done, I felt a sense of closure, I didn’t really feel like the story needed anything else.  I’m not a huge fan of making sequels just for the sake of making them.  I love unique IP’s, and wish game developers would take more chances.  All the Halo’s since the first one have been safe and secure games, cash cows if you will.  I am however, going to begrudgingly give Halo 4 some deserved respect.  Considering that this is the first full Halo game that 343 industries has made, they did an amazing job.  Bungie couldn’t have done it better.  The game looks, and feels very much like it’s predecessors, and it is absolutely drop dead gorgeous.  It’s amazing that developers are still managing to squeeze new things out of aging consoles.  If you are a big fan of all the others, Halo 4 will deliver the goods. If you are looking for something fresh, keep looking.  Much like the end of the last segment, I cap if off with a salute to the developer, well played 343.
All I could think about when this game was first debuted last year was, “I can’t wait to tomawk somebody right in the fucking face!”  I was so excited, it’s gonna be like last of the Mohicans, only in a game.  Now I understand that it’s a pretty long and winding narrative path to somehow shoehorn Conner into the AC universe, but this is fucking ridiculous.  When you are five chapters into the game and you still have yet to see that signature white hooded Assassins cloak, you know Ubisoft is doing it wrong.  I feel like every Character in the game should be wearing a Scumbag Steve hat.  I like the hunting aspect of the game, if only because it fits.  I mean, If you are a native American death machine romping through the forest, you’re going to stab a bear or two in the neck, there’s no way around this.  What would be the perfect compliment to that type of gameplay?  I know, navel battles!  What. The. Fuck.  I wanted to like this game so bad, but it just didn’t want to be my friend.  To end this on a positive note, Ubisoft continues to blow my ass away with it’s game engine.  Everything looks fantastic, scenery, characters, sound effects, and animation.  Anyone who’s tried to run in deep snow knows they nailed that run animation for those parts.  Probably helps that they are Canadian developers, and that’s how they get to work everyday.  Running though deep snow with a rabid grizzly hot on their heels.
Oh my goodness!  I was pretty sure the glut of Lego games had worn out their welcome a long time ago.  Then along comes a gem like this.  Of all the LOTR games that have been released over the years, this is by far the coolest one I have ever seen.  All the dialog is ripped directly from the movie, so the voices are authentic.  Take the serious dialog, and blend it with the trademark slapstick humour style of the Lego games, and you’d think it would be a mess.  You’d be wrong.  Somehow, it meshes perfectly, and it’s delightful.  It’s funny, fun, looks great, and feels great.  I could easily recommend this game to anyone, young or old, based solely on the demo.  Also it’s co-op, double your fun kids!
There you go, a completely unhelpful, quick little snapshot of the games that will be occupying millions of gamers consoles this season.  In the immortal words of Wayne Campbell: “Game on!”
As a close, I’d like to make a special mention of two more big games this season.  That would be Need For Speed: Most wanted and Call of Duty: Black ops II.  Go fuck your respective selves EA and Activsion.

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