Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Summer Gaming Recap

After beating every available inch of Pokémon White, I turned my attention back towards my PS3 which I had neglected since December of last year after Platinum-ing Final Fantasy XIII. Determined to rectify that the only way I know how - binge gaming - I've gotten through six and a half games...

Ramblings after the jump.


Now that I'm here, I'm not quite sure what to say. I suppose I'll start with a quick plot summary. Taking the role of Detective Cole Phelps, you work your way from department to department working to solve various cases that never fail to involve some kind of wacky adventure. Eventually, little clues picked up here and there tie into a greater conspiracy (shock!) that reveals itself towards the conclusion of the game.

It's important to note the story because that's clearly the strongest element at play here. Not that the gameplay isn't fun. At a fundamental level it plays like any other Rockstar game except without the freedom and minigames of those other titles. 40's Los Angeles is brilliantly realized and detailed but there's not really much to do outside of defined plot points other than sightsee. The story is engaging and as you make connections and catch perps in lies, you'll feel very satisfied with yourself.

I want to support games like this which use the medium as an advanced storytelling device and the inclusion of practically everyone who ever appeared in Mad Men was very cool. The fact it was a slow burner didn't bother me, sometimes that's the kind of atmosphere required. However, there was something that felt missing in this otherwise very polished game, almost indescribable, but some kind of soul. Maybe I'll reference it again later. In any case, developers Team Bondi went bust this week so they won't get the chance to rectify any of this any time soon.


I spent far too much time playing this game given I wasn't really in love with it. I know there's no part of it that's meant to be taken seriously, but still I couldn't help feeling all the while, "That's NOT how you play football!" As rookie superstar Kid Franchise, you defy the wishes of the Blitz Football League commisioner to join the expansion L.A. Riot in favor of signing with your home town (Portland, in my game). This really annoys him as the Riot are his pet project and would be 'face of the league' and he is determined to either break your will, or break you period.

Perhaps I've spent too much time playing NCAA and Madden but every time a WR of mine would get bounced out of the way in the secondary I would be on my feet screaming "Pass Interference!!" but of course that's not how it works in the ultra-violent world of Blitz. We've heard a lot of whining in the real world lately about how the NFL is being wussified with all the rule changes to kickoffs, big hits, etc. but when you play this game, where the emphasis is almost more on causing gruesome injuries than winning, I wonder is that really what people want? It's pretty tough to take and the injuries in this game are horrifically graphic.

The controls can be unresponsive too and there's little about the movement of the players or even the challenges the game sets you that feels particularly organic. It's an ok game and there's some pretty nice imagination that went into it but also a lot of overbearing false bravado. More for the frat house crowd than for me.


These two games for fairly short and straightforward but with a decent level of challenge too - As a player created character, your house is destroyed by a giant fruit molesting robot and you encounter a pair of private investigators from the Startling Developments Agency named Gabe and Tycho. While the humor and many references from the comic are present, the tone is also a little different with a somewhat serious plot.

I had a good time with it, but it was fairly short. The combat was fun and strategic but after a while a little unvaried. There was also deceptively little to do other than that beat on enemies that got in your way. It was a good weekend distraction though, kinda like a gaming snack, and it's too bad it likely won't be completed as I do love PA.


Niko Belic, a hardened criminal from the Balkans touches down in Liberty City, USA, and strives to make enough money for himself and compulsive gambler cousin to survive - by any means possible. You probably didn't need me to tell you that, but I felt I had to anyway as a prelude to declaring - What a game. What a game. Maybe I'll talk a little more about what I liked about it later on but apparently this game was a magnet for criticism. There was of course the usual hysterical complaints from people who never game about how violent it was which we can ignore. There were people complaining about the darker, more serious tone the game and its story operated under. Personally, I loved it. There were some really cool themes throughout and memorable scenes too. I also both sympathized and (perhaps strangely) empathized with Niko which is not always a given even in very good games. In any case, hate for this game mostly seems to spring from resentment. As universally acclaimed as it is, people figure they want to be contrarians and come up with moronic whiny columns and comments like this. But this game really is just that good. It's easily on my top ten list of all time and one I will replay some day just for the fun of it.


Much maligned as this game is, I have been really enjoying it and am still playing, now making my way through the damn hard Professional mode. Veteran B.O.W. slayer Chris Redfield arrives in the obscure African nation of Kijuju on the trail of an arms dealer wondering whether it's all worth it following the apparent death of his girlfriend partner Jill. There he stumbles upon a much graver threat which could devastate the world as we know it. I never played through Resident Evil 4 so I didn't engage in the original uproar about the change in style to a more action-oriented type of game, but it didn't bother me as much as it obviously does others. There are also a lot of complaints about the story and setting and how it supposedly ruined FOREVER the series. Key to note that a lot of these people seem to be Leon Kennedy fanboys. As the linked article notes, anytime a successful franchise tries something different, adds or streamlines features, innovates, it's the worst thing that ever happened.

Right. Sure. I'll say this; I think characters like Chris are often underrated when people discuss their favorites in a game, tv series, and so on. On the surface, he's nothing special, just the typical lead with a broad, rounded personality. People like the snarky guy with all the one-liners or the one with cold, dead eyes who could snap your neck and shrug his shoulders about it. But none of that works without the control, the one who reacts in the way a regular person is supposed to react. If your cast is entirely composed of characters rather than people it can get very shallow and limited very quickly, all style and manipulation. But in RE5 when Chris remembers his devastation or feels anticipation and struggles with decisions, I feel right along with him. It's something lacking in a game like LA Noire where not one of the characters is relatable.

I have enjoyed the game too as I mentioned. It's intended to be played co-operatively with a human partner and there has been a lot of whining about the AI controlled Sheva but actually, having tried both ways, I find the AI to be remarkably good. If you have someone you know and can communicate with to play with though, there is sometimes nothing better.


I'm about halfway through this game and am ready to place it in the same tier as GTA IV. Just as in that game, and unlike LA Noire, you never have to hurry, you can take your time and just savor your surroundings. Missions are exhilirating, both set and spontaneous and there are lots of other activities to engage in which end up sucking up hours away at a time. That I find, is the best way to play this; with the knowledge you can lay back and immerse yourself. The one negative and it's not really a negative because the old West, cowboys, etc are cool but I did enjoy the modern urban setting of GTA IV a little more. If you love gaming, there's no excuse not to have tried this. That's how I feel about it.

I have a whole bunch of other gamesthat I still have yet to get to, including some I promised people I would play and still haven't! When I am done with RE5 and RDR I will probably move on toYakuza 3. Or possibly, Infamous, Episodes from Liberty City or Dragon Age Origins. If only I could somehow play them all at once...

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