Tuesday, 9 November 2010

My Latest Game Comments

So on my part time gaming blog - Honest Gaming Prose - I have just written a quick assessment of the latest games I've been playing. You can read it reprinted for your consideration below -

This isn’t going to be a review of a game exactly, but instead a review of my current gaming habits, in an attempt at quickly determining what is good and bad about the titles played without troubling you with too many walls of text. Better still, I don’t have to give you a score out of 10. I can simply tell you if I think it’s worth playing. Let’s get started then!

Halo Reach:

It’s Halo! It’s obviously going to be solid. You’ve probably read loads of reviews of this, so I don’t need to tell you much do I? It was a solid, decent shooter, like any Bungie Halo game is going to be. The best of the series? Well, not really, but it certainly delivers that familiar Halo gameplay along with some nice new ideas, mainly to the pickup item system: jetpacks, armour lock, sprint, hologram and so on.

Reach really is worth a play and bear in mind it is meant to be Bungie’s final outing with the series…Well, perhaps Bungie’s, but there are still areas left for another company to come along and expand the mythos that we get to play, further.

Those who recall the true outcome of Spartan John 117 from Halo 3 will know one potential avenue for the series continuing. Another less known one is mention I seem to recall of a female Spartan still left in stasis somewhere after reach – in the Halo Fall of Reach novel that is, which was released quite some years before this game even came out.


If you’re an avid Ghostbusters fan then this game plays true to the movie series. It should do as well – check out the writing credits on it…oh is that Dan Akroyd I see? Not to mention that the original cast are back to provide voices. This game continues from the movies, showing you what would effectively have been the next Ghostbusters movie, based in 1991.

But how does it play? I have to say I think the sum of its parts don’t add up to make it a recommended experience. The difficulty level seems a bit iffy for a start. Playing it on its “normal” mode means you will incur many frustrating deaths along with restarts leaving you quite a way back thanks to the sometimes stingy checkpoints in the game. Why are you dying all the time? Well for a start, you’re playing in third person view and 90% of the time you will succumb to some off screen attack that might fell you in one shot. Delightful. You have to really listen to your team mate warnings about where an off screen ghost might be in proximity to you, but when you’re shifting about a lot, “on your right” is a perspective prone to changing before you know where you were.

When a Ghostbuster goes down, you probably should go over and revive him. However, doing so can sometimes leave you open to one of those nefarious off screen attacks aforementioned and as your newly refreshed team mate stands up, you may perhaps fall, defeated. I had a series of back and forth revivals occur several times in fact, bordering on ridiculous. He’d revive me and die – I stand up and revive him and die from being there doing that – He revives me because I’m down, but dies because he stood there doing that and so on.

Saying all of that, the easy or “casual” mode is not satisfying to play the game in either. It’s far too easy and you’ll rarely feel in danger.

Ho-hum. Well, at least the combat mechanics felt satisfying to use. Capturing a ghost looks really good, just like the movies – and you can really feel the tug of the blighter trying to get “off the hook” as it were. Superb.

But in the end I don’t particularly recommend this title to you. It’s really quite average indeed. If what I’ve told you doesn’t seem so bad and you’re a huge fan of the series then go ahead, perhaps give it a rental, otherwise, why bother when there are so many other juicy games out there to justify your shiny pennies leaving your hand.

Splinter Cell - Conviction:

Ah, Sam Fisher’s pain continues, but this time so does ours in the somewhat messed up plot this time round. We’ve seen it all before – these are your friends or are they? These are the bad guys, right? This person betrayed you at such and such, blah blah. We want to know if it plays well don’t we? Well, yes, yes it does. The gadgets are groovy like always, the combat is exactly how I recall it but there are some noticeable changes to the game elsewhere. Knock out a guard and want to carry him away? Hmmm, not going to happen from what I could see.

Another new feature is the shadows cover mode – you know? That scale that tells you if you’re in darkness or not and whether guards can see you or not. We were used to seeing a meter rise or fall the further in cover you were. Those days are gone. The developers have integrated the hiding mechanics into the gameplay now in a simple yet effective way: If you’re in the open, the game looks normal, if you’re in cover, the screen turns greyscale (black and white). This works well, believe me, but you might find yourself wishing you weren’t missing out on the full benefit from those graphics around you. It’s worth playing if you’re a devout of the series. If you just want a tactical stealth shooter on the 360, grab Splinter Cell: Double Agent first and become a fan.

Bad Company 2

Oh dear! I am about to say something that many other reviewers won’t have the guts to tell you. Bad Company 2 is rather messed up. Let’s just get something straight from the off – I am a huge fan of these four characters and don’t get me wrong, the dynamic of their comedic interaction is still there but little else that made up the raw magic of the first game has survived…Of course BC2 is good but it feels wrong it being titled as a Bad Company game. It doesn’t play like the first one.

Liked the sandbox gameplay from the first game? The way you could go about completing a level however you wish? Large areas to fight in, skipping enemy troops if you choose? All gone.

Liked the way you’d respawn back into the game if you die, as if it was a multiplayer? Gone. You now restart from a sometimes too distant checkpoint just like any other military shooter.

Liked the cool secondary gadgets from before? Gone! Before we had access to cool little things like the repair tool to fix damaged vehicles. This time around I had access to a secondary item just once during the entire game - some C4 that I didn’t even get to use.

Liked the cool air strikes weapon you had access to several times in BC1? Yeah, forget the fun you had with that, now all laser marked air strikes will be full scripted position only events, the like of which you’d find in Medal of Honor or Call of Duty. What made the magic in BC1 was that you’d have access to the beautiful thing throughout certain levels. It was great to work your way through the streets of an urban neighbourhood, getting pinned down by a guy in the top floor with a machine gun and air striking his roof behind cover so that you can advance past it. Yeah…BC2 just isn’t as much fun anymore. That’s not to say that you won’t enjoy the multiplayer experience, because I want you to bear in mind that I didn’t have an opportunity to play the MP maps so decide that element for yourselves. I will say though, the building destruction mechanics aren’t even as fun this time around – and if seeing how it works in one player mode is any indication, the unusual elements promised by it in MP may disappoint…

Alien Versus Predator:

You know what? I played this for one session. I realised I couldn’t turn the auto aim off and felt frustrated with it yanking my aim onto the enemies in a way I didn’t like – so I turned the game off and never played it again.

Medal of Honor Tier 1 Edition

Some people don’t like that this game lets you play in a real warfare scenario, that of the U.S. versus the Taliban forces of Afghanistan, but I am going to say that I’m on the side of the developers in this one. Nothing has been blown out of proportion – nothing has been unfairly portrayed – both sides are dangerous with no “weak” enemy. In fact this game delivers a feeling of realistic atmosphere that I believe pays respect to all factions involved. It’s deadly serious in the business it delivers, even though that realism is sometimes interrupted by an obvious “gamey” explosive barrel or obvious set piece. Even with that, the game delivers an enjoyable experience. The guns handle well – in fact they handle DAMN well. I love the aiming here, smooth as butter, smooth like Halo.

Reviews will tell you that Medal of Honor isn’t good, that it doesn’t work as well as it should. Perhaps, if you compare it to the likes of Call of Duty Modern Warefare 2, but I’m going to go on record saying this: This is better than Bad Company 2 in every way.

The worst thing about MOH was perhaps the annoying on the rails shooting sections. The worst offender was the helicopters. There is a particular mortar team that is mystifyingly indestructible to chain gun bullets and missiles and the only way the game registers them harmed is by your helicopter’s third (heavier) alternate munitions.

Medal of Honor Airborne:

How stupid I was even buying this. I played MOH:A for one session and I quite simply stopped right there.

Do not play this game. The parachuting sections are bizarre and give little to the thin gameplay anyway.

Running around an open map like a multiplayer experience but playing a one player war game ought to be brilliant, right? Oh dear. Fighting your way into a building to kill the enemy there, even with their cunningly positioned MG at the balcony on the stairs and prevailing should give you a sense of achievement. That was indeed the case, however it was short lived when in the same level, my new and different objectives led me back to what appeared to be the very same building just to re-enter it again, killing Germans placed in the same positions, spawning from the same places – and on look, wonder of wonders, the machine gun at the top of the stairs is populated by “Gerry” again, even though we had just been all over it, effectively capturing it…surely.

If this was the only problem I might have been able to look past it, to find some other way of enjoying the game and calling it fun, because a sense of battlefield realism wasn’t going to be it. But MOH:A suffers from some of the worst clunky controls I believe I have ever laid my hands on. You move and shoot like a slug on roller-skates – and just so you know, the shooting mechanics don’t feel very effective either, with dubious bullet hit registration in the enemy pretty much all the time.

Alan Wake:

Let me just say, the storyline is pretentious, dark and confusing. The DLC (downloadable content) was even more kooky than the game’s first six “episodes” yet it made more sense…how?

Alright, Alan Wake might be a bit of a noggin boggler and if you were to truly understand the full complexity of what was going on you’d perhaps be insane but beneath my petty slamming of this one facet in Alan Wake, the game feels and plays like a breath of fresh air.

You might say, the three evenings or so I spent playing it was the “light of my life” because light is an interesting dynamic in Alan Wake. Darkness is your enemy, light is your friend. If you’re hurt, you stand in a large light source to heal. You use your torch with its limited battery to strip the darkness from the taken so that your bullets can do some real harm to them. There is a good degree of tactical play using this. Surrounded by taken on all sides? You need to prioritise targets with the torch and perhaps shift them to halt others who might be getting too close. Too close for comfort? Drop a flare and watch the taken fall back away from it. That’s not all though. The game lets you use flashbang grenades on the taken which work like fragmentation grenades would on people, because remember light is their weakness. Most genius of all is the implementation of a flare gun with its limited ammo. You use this as you would a rocket launcher in any other game – and that works out A-okay for me, seeing as the character you play isn’t some hardened military veteran – it’s a novelist who is starting to realise that his own creations might be becoming a danger to him and everyone around him, yet his writing too may well be his only salvation…sound good? Well it actually is. I don’t really want to tell you too much more because the fun in Alan Wake is its mystery and I do believe you won’t regret getting this title.

The last point I’ll leave you on is the way each chapter begins and ends like a T.V. episode, with the next episode starting with a recap from the last – We hear the typical American voiceover of “Previously on Alan Wake” that starts it.

The music in the game is pretty good as well.

I was a little downhearted though to find that even after all of this time past its release date there are only two pieces of DLC for it, expanding by two episodes. I was led to believe that the entire game would continue on with ongoing DLC episodes into the future. If that is still the case then it would appear that their releases will be rather slow. With that in mind, I believe I won’t keep hold of the game based on a chance of more DLC. I’ll trade it in and let more accumulate if it’s going to then consider a rental to see what is new.