Over the Easter bank holiday a good friend paid me a visit. We ate, we drank, we were merry. Unlike me, he was gainfully employed throughout 2009 and he had bought many games that came out in that period. He left me with ten games and an arrangement to meet again at the start of June.
Since that visit I’ve ploughed through a number of games and as observers of my “Recently Completed” column on the right may have noticed, I’ve beaten almost all of them. Here’s a quick summary, in sequence, of my findings:
Uncharted 2 (PS3)
A lot has been said of this title that I don’t need to repeat here. I enjoyed the first game and expected greatness from the sequel. What I got was a supremely well put together piece of entertainment that was consistently very very good. It was surprisingly light on truly memorable moments and set-pieces though. Perhaps it’s an sign that I prefer peaks and troughs in my gaming experiences as opposed to a steady stream of quality. [4/5]
X-Men Origins – Wolverine (360)
It’s perhaps a little harsh to call a game based on a spinoff-film based on a franchise based on a comic series derivative but that’s the word that seems to spring to mind with this one. The production quality is very good but there was more content than the gameplay could support. Too many levels, too much unnecessary long-windedness, not enough variety overall. Wolverine fans will get the most from it. [2/5]
Zelda gameplay meets chunky comic-book stylings. I had really enjoyed the demo to this game and the full title lives up to the demo’s promise. Minor quibbles with the responsiveness of the controls doesn’t dampen the striking visual style, engaging theme or rock-solid gameplay. A reasonable amount of challenge combined with grand spectacle kept my playing right through to the open-ended climax. They even threw in some Portal-style gameplay too! [5/5]
The Darkness (360)
Going back before 2009 here but a game I’d been recommended nonetheless. Reasonably solid FPS mechanics laced with some special powers of the dark set this apart from regular fayre. The game succeeds in making you feel most comfortable in the shadows but some powers are poorly explained leaving the player to fumble around arbitrary gameplay spikes. Good back then, not so hot now [3/5]
Killzone 2 (PS3)
Pretty and featuring a more varied palette than many naysayers would lead others to believe. Like its prequel, it starts out quite clumsy and throws you into battle without giving you a proper preparation. Once over that hurdle a solid-feeling FPS awaits. All the elements are there along with some interesting efforts at character development. Rico sense of judgement being an unexpected turn in particular. [4/5]
Spiderman – Web of Shadows (360)
Better and more fun that it has any right to be. It’s goofy and its characters, particularly the peons, are a little off but its heart is in the right place. Some of the signature characters look superb. The development of side-missions is very poor – merely upping the numbers in a challenge and nothing else. Crucially, web-slinging your way around the city is a delight in itself – effective transport and true to the character. Absolutely worth checking out. [4/5]
Another pre-2009 title and it shows. Not just in its graphics but across all its presentation. FPS mêlée is novel but too limiting to support a full game – even a relatively short one as this. The narrative carrot being dangled in front of the player never becomes a true reward and the slog through relentlessly grim environments awaiting attack or a grisly discovery was something I failed to find entertaining in any way. [1/5]
Batman – Arkham Asylum (360)
A big 2009 title and by far the finest Batman game in decades. Great visuals and voice-work (though a patchy script). The gameplay is solid and makes great use of the Batman legacy for gadgets and characters. Combat feels superb with the player feeling empowered and confident when surrounded by a dozen thugs. Great execution of item-hunting, giving hints without being too explicit. Bags of fun. [5/5]
Finally, a game with a good excuse about why water should kill the protagonist! Far more climbing than I expected. Solid but not exactly thrilling third-person combat makes up the bulk of this game. Variation offered in the side missions where skills other than shooting are put to the test. Great comic-book style cinematics pace the game well though don’t quite fit the in-game visuals. Good, but room for improvement. [3/5]
Condemned 2 – Bloodshot (360)
Given my feelings on the prequel I didn’t even start playing this game.
All of the above have certainly done wonders for my gamerpoints and trophies. A shame then, that I don’t care for either. Final Fantasy XIII has had a viewing but it’s too early to give a verdict – it is what I expected it would be so far. Mario Galaxy 2 drops in a few days and, by then, I’ll probably have another 10 titles to go with it courtesy of the same generous friend.
Looks like I won’t be going outside for a while!