Alright, I’ve been playing lots of games lately so get ready for a long read. Sometimes, I get really deeply engaged in one game and I play nothing else for a while, other times, I get a little gaming ADD. Both of these states are great in their own way. Being fully immersed into an experience is a fantastic feeling, while jumping from one game to another feels like Christmas, you just got a bunch of great games and you don’t know which to play first. I’ve divided my list into three sections: Games I’ve been playing, Games I want to play, and Games I Should be playing. Let’s get started.
Games I’ve been playing:
About a month ago, a noticed that a friend of mine had been playing an awful lot of Plants vs Zombies on XBLA. I had heard of this game, played the demo on Steam, but that was all. I wasn’t sure how it would work on XBLA because on the PC version, the mouse is used to click on and collect the sun that you need to build your plant army. As it turns out, the controller works very well. I played through the entire campaign as well as a bunch of the mini games. I highly recommend this game. Even if you have never heard of or played other tower defense games, this is probably the most accessible tower defense game I have played.
I usually pick up XBLA deal of the week content and sit on it. If I’ve started a long game like a Final Fantasy or Fallout, I like to stick with it until it’s over. I’ve been sitting on Mass Effect 2’s Overlord and Kasumi DLC for about a month so I fired them up a couple weeks ago. I have to say, I wasn’t crazy about Kasumi. It was about an hour to an hour and a half long, which would have been fine if it was 160 space bucks, but it wasn’t. Even at the Deal of the Week price of 400 space bucks, it’s kind of a hard thing for me to recommend. Overlord, however, I enjoyed very much. I’m a sucker for story and immersion, and Overlord has both. I was genuinely scared as I felt the presence of the “ghost in the machine” watching me as I made my way through the mission. There is also a pretty good reveal when you discover what is really going on. I don’t want to spoil anything but it reminded me of Edea in FFVIII…
Sometimes I look at my Wii and I say, I’m sorry I never play you, I’ll give you a try. Sometimes my Wii surprises me, like when I finally fired up the Metroid Prime Trilogy that I bought on launch day and Played through all of Prime in a few sittings. Sometimes, my Wii makes me remember why I put down the controller the last time I played it. I love New Super Mario Brothers on the DS. I was very excited when the Wii version was announced. When I played the game at an event in Kansas City before it was released, I was surprised that I didn’t really have any fun. I’ve heard from people “Oh it’s a game that you have to play with other people, It’s designed that way. I played NSMBW with 3 other people and I can guarantee that no fun was had by me. I decided to give it one last try because there have been several other occasions where it took me several tries to get into a game, but they eventually did because games that I love (e.g. Gears of War and Wind Waker). After playing through about 10 more levels, I have come to realize that while New Super Mario Bros Wii may not be a bad game, it is just not for me. It has been added to the list of games that a lot of other people love that, for the life of me, I just cannot get into (e.g. Metal Gear Solid 3, Final Fantasy IX).
I have been playing EA sports hockey games since NHLPA ’93 on the Genesis. For a long time, EA was the only hockey game on the market. Somewhere between 1999 and 2003, EA got a little lazy and lost their focus. When I heard the sound of a cannon booming as I took a slapshot, I couldn’t believe it. The worst was when I scored a goal, the crowd erupted and the color commentator said “AHHH I spilled hot coffee on my legs!” It wasn’t too hard for 2K to swoop in and steal the crown for a few years, and I am SOOOO glad that they did. It forced EA to actually focus on making a better game. Over the last few years, they have refined their NHL game to near perfection. I fire up NHL 11 every week or so and just play a game or 2 before I hop to something else. My only complaints: During Be A Pro, when you call for a pass, you tap your stick on the ice. This delays the pass by about a second or so. Last year, when you presses LT to call for pass, the pass left your teammates stick right when you pressed it. I can understand that the change is to increase realism, but it makes executing complex passing plays much more difficult because it throws the timing off. It would have been great to have this feature be an option that the player could toggle. My other complaint is related to the achievements. I know that some people love them and some people hate them and I’d love to hear your thoughts, but I happen to love them. Almost all of the achievements in NHL 11 are online multiplayer cheevos. I personally prefer to play with people that I know, as I think most people do. I don’t want to play 250 ranked matches for several reasons, one: I don’t have the time. Two: I want to be able to change up the gameplay options, and on ranked, you cannot. Three: I WANT TO PLAY WITH PEOPLE THAT I KNOW!
Music games are great. They might not be the money making juggernaut that they were a couple of years ago, but I still love having people over to my house, having a few drinks, and playing Rock Band for a few hours. About a week ago, I had my sister and a close friend over to play some Rock Band 3. It fixes a lot of the issues that plagued the previous titles. Every player can sign in and out individually so no more yelling at everyone to not press buttons because one button press can set you back 5 minutes. If you are playing guitar and want to play something else, just grab that instrument and choose swap, and your profile is moved to that instrument. You are finally able to rate songs. This is awesome. My system of rating is 1 star-I actively dislike this song, 2 stars-I don’t have it, but I probably wouldn’t choose it in a set list, 3 stars-I like this song, 4 stars-I really like this song, 5 stars, I really like this song AND it is a blast to play in Rock Band. When everyone is all set to play I sort by rating and drop the one and two star songs and we are left with the awesome. Pro Keys will take me a while to get good at, even though I played the Piano for years when I was growing up. I am hoping to get the 3 cymbal upgrade kit for Christmas to get started on Pro Drums. After Rock Band 3, we switched over to Beatles Rock Band. The combo of RB3 and BRB is the only pair of music games you need… That and a whole bunch of imported songs and DLC.
This brings me to the last game I have been playing recently. A good friend of mine recently recommended Picross DS. After playing it, I realized why he is a good friend. Picross is an amazingly simple and addictive game. You start with a blank grid with number on the perimeter. The numbers tell you how many squares need to be filled in that particular row of column. There is absolutely NO guess work necessary. Every puzzle can be solved by thinking logically. I simply cannot put this game down. I wish I had a flight to Australia so that I could just keep playing it.
Now on to games I want starting with Burnout, I mean Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. I played the demo and thought it was pretty cool. I don’t feel like demos really give you an accurate feel for most games. I tend to listen to friends with similar taste and what my Burnout gang is telling me is that this is a Burnout game. I also am dying to play Assassin’s Creed II Brotherhood. I loved AC2 and I can’t wait to play more. I have also been hearing some very good things about RDRs Undead Nightmare. As far as games I should be playing, I purchased the latest Borderlands DLC-Claptraps Robot Revolution. I don’t have fun in Borderlands unless I play with a group and I don’t have too many XBL friends playin Borderlands these days. I also purchased Fallout New Vegas. As a huge fan of Fallout 3-my pick for game of the decade, I couldn’t wait to get started with New Vegas. I have put it down after playing it for about 6 hours. When the bugs are gone, I will return. That’s about all for now. Any thoughts? Anything I’m missing that shouldn’t be missed?