The calm before the proverbial storm, games released last week include Rebellion’s pastiche to its own earlier xenomorphic gem, Aliens Vs. Predator, and Slant 6’s pirate (and pre-owned) busting SOCOM: US Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3 on the PSP (obviously aiming to beat the record for the longest, most contrived title of a videogame ever – an accolade currently held by Capcom).
Also, with EA announcing that a number of more, shall we say, dated titles will soon see their online support unceremoniously dropped, how many of us rushed home to blow the dust of some soon-to-be archaic titles; the veritable pariahs of the gaming world? Because once those Trophies are gone, they’re gone forever, folks.
I finished BioShock 2 this week. A simply astounding ending, one which everyone should experience. Thanks to dual-wield, the combat towards the end was pure fun; especially with a particular plasmid, which I’m not going to spoil here…
My PS3 kicked the bucket. Again. For the second time in two months. Less than a month after I actually got it back. Just as life was calming down again so that I could find time to play it. The worst bit is that my Jackass 2 DVD is stuck inside it and it broke just as the film was beginning so I didn’t even get to watch any of it. They were literally just emerging from the smoke when it happened (for those who have seen it). The music was playing, and it’s that fantastic piece by Ennio Morricone – Ecstasy of Gold. I think I was almost more angry at the fact that the music had been interrupted than I was that the Playstation was dead (again).
I suppose this means I get to pay a lot more attention to my Pokemon again in Pokemon Platinum. I’ve realised that the idea of me completing my Pokedex before the release of HeartGold and SoulSilver next month is unrealistic. But I’m going to try catch as many as possible so that when I port them all over to the new game, I’ll have less of a task to complete my Pokedex over there.
Haven’t had any time for gaming this week at all. I finally got round to downloading the Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Aliens Vs. Predator and Heavy Rain demos, but only had time for a quick go on Heavy Rain. I was on a blackout about this game because I wanted to experience it completely fresh, but now I won’t be bothering as the demo has really put me off. The controls are god-awful and completely non-intuitive, which is a real shame because I want to experience what looks like a great story. I think it’d make a great movie and awesome game with traditional gaming controls, but as an ‘interactive experience’ it fulfils neither need.
Towards the end of the week I downloaded and played both Yakuza 3 and Sonic & SEGA All Stars Racing, quite liked Sonic Racing as Sumo do know who to make a playable racer. But without the creation and sharing modes which feature in ModNation Racers, I won’t be making the purchase. Yakuza 3 was awesome, and although the controls seemed clunky at first, that feeling soon faded as the compelling story dragged me in and the action increased. I can’t wait for this to be released; it really is a great and unique exclusive and one that Sony should be shouting about from the rooftops.
Since my exciting week in San Francisco last week with all of those games that aren’t even released yet, I have calmed things down with a lot of Valkyria Chronicles this week coupled with a little bit of Shin Megami Tensei Persona on the PSP. Valkyria is beautiful and far more story-led than I remember, and Persona – a remake of the classic JRPG – is every bit as addictive as the original. Some impressive cut-scene graphics for the PSP too.
Speaking of the PSP, I’ve thrown myself into the Digital Comics application with gusto. It’s a brilliantly-implemented way of viewing comics on a PSP. The pricing is decent and the quality is excellent. There are even a number of freebies to whet your whistle in case you’re dubious. It is, quite simply, a fantastic use of the PSP.
I also found myself buying Minis like they were about to be discontinued. Vector TD is still the best but Let’s Golf is a fun little blast of “big-head” golf in the same vein as Everybody’s. This is Football Management is also worth a punt if you want a speedy and accessible football manager sim and you’re not too fussy about leagues outside of England or proper team and player names.
This week I unfortunately missed the Monday Killzone 2 Boot Camp but did manage to make the DLC Boot Camp on Friday. Some of the best games of Killzone I’ve had in a while. I’m looking forward to the double XP marathon Boot Camp coming up this Saturday in preparation for the King of Killzone competition which will no doubt be fantastic to watch.
MAG received a little of my time this week as I jumped into the first TSA meet. It was very enjoyable with some brilliant teamwork from our squad in several matches. Not playing this as much I expected to, not sure why this is as it is an enjoyable game when playing with the right people.
Over the weekend I spent a good number of hours on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.his game is becoming more and more enjoyable over time. I’m improving even more with the sniper and managed to go a full match without dying. If you’ve ever played with me you’ll know surprising this was. Another game which is enjoyable with the right people.
I managed to squeeze in a short go on Prince of Persia and really enjoyed it, I’m definitely going to finish this whenever I have the time.
Finally, I had a few races on Need For Speed: SHIFT over the week – weird how a game can be brilliant yet unbelievably frustrating at the same time. Driving a great car on a good track feels superb, right up to the point where the game freezes for a split second and when it restarts you have driven head first into a barrier.
Unfortunately this last week was full of deadlines, interviews, presentations and severe illness, all of which has left very little time to actually chill out and play games. So, just as last week, I’ve been honing my FIFA 10 skills online and being thoroughly thrashed at Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Other than that, I’m on the final level of Army of Two: The 40th Day. So far it has been pretty enjoyable, but nothing to write home about.
Again, this week I was going for a certain callsign in Modern Warfare 2. It was the Hello! My Name Is one incase you were wondering. Tonight (Sunday) is the clan match and I’ll be following our hardened veterans into battle.
I also returned to Assassin’s Creed II and started the story again because Ubisoft prevented me from copying my save to my Slim. It’s still as enjoyable as my initial playthrough, and I’m going to go for the platinum.
Plants Vs. Zombies – possibly the iPhone’s best realised game to date. At least, it’s the one that has most consistently stolen bits of my life from me. Rather maddeningly, I am now on the final level which has proven problematic, but I will prevail!
Another crippling week for me in terms of free time to game, I did manage to get to play a few rounds of MAG which I thoroughly enjoyed. Something I didn’t really realise at first, but MAG is a tremendous “pick up and play” game. From PS3 boot up to when the action actually starts, thanks to a fairly robust match-making system, you can expect to be in the thick of it in under five minutes. Suppression takes (at most) fifteen minutes; and considering a quarter of an hour is sometimes all I have free on a night, MAG is a godsend when you want that quick gaming fix without having to invest hours.
Probably my best moment with the game so far (and for all the wrong reasons) was when I was fortuitously placed on a squad with three Japanese guys (Clan IchiNiSan  ganbatte!). I really wasn’t expecting to hear Japanese voices funnel down into my eardrum, especially considering none of the guys had very Japanese sounding handles. Of course, my Japanese proficiency is probably as bad as my MAG skills, so there’s little surprise that, after spending far too much time talking to the guys about random nonsense in Japanese, my kill ratio was woeful. It was still a treat to get instructions in a different language and to then execute them. Kinda. It’s amazing how you can mistake left from right in Japanese in the heat of battle.
Speaking of Japanese, I also tried out the Yakuza 3 demo. Like cc_star above, I found the controls a little clunky at first, but as soon as you get into the action it’s really slick. There’s something insanely satisfying from dodging a crime lieutenant’s katana swipe only to then brain him with a bar-stool before charging up and delivering a thundering (and quite emphatic I might add) head-butt. Or Atama totsuki if we’re sticking with this entry’s Japanese vibe. Yes, I had to look it up.
Finally, as one of those rare people affected by EA’s recent decision to turn off servers supporting their more antiquated of titles, I have shamelessly returned to a game I thought I would never play again – especially considering my mammoth back-log. Which makes you think: maybe this ploy of removing online support is just a way for EA to inject a bit of life into their flailing titles? The game in question: The Lord of the Rings: Conquest.
Hardly a pillar of gaming merriment the first time out, it does have a reputation of rewarding those who can suffer through its blandness with a fairly easy Platinum. So, I’ve tasked myself with earning the grand-prize before the servers go dark next month. Initial (re)action after returning to Mordor? There’s hardly anyone online, so I can kind of see the rationale behind shutting these games down; especially when you consider that the majority of people there are probably just like me – only returning to Middle Earth because it’s about to go the way of the Numenoreans on March 16th.
The game is really not great; its quality a symbol of the fate that befell now defunct studio Pandemic. I played a few rounds and, at first glance, I don’t know how I’m going to get this Platinum. Shoot ten people in the head as the archer? It took me about four lives to remember how to shoot the bloody bow in the first place. It doesn’t bode well, but we shall see.