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Monthly Archives: March 2014

4290622577_553eee3945_oAs a keen gamer and someone who tends to horde digital media and then not actually get around to using it, the idea to complete four games from my Pile of Shame was a highly tempting one. As is the way of such things, the games I ended up playing and finishing bore little resemblance to my planned four. Initially, it was my intention to complete Metal Gear Solid 3, Demon’s Souls, Assassin’s Creed and Mirror’s Edge. Whilst I did play all four of those, not one of them was completed.

Starting with Metal Gear Solid 3 I had high hopes. I’d loved MGS 1 and 2 and heard 3 was the best of the lot. However, I must confess to being disappointed. Admittedly it’s been a good while since I played an MGS game, but I didn’t remember the controls being so bad. Perhaps this shouldn’t be too surprising for a game that’s a decade old, but I’d been spoilt by the Halo Anniversary edition where the gameplay has aged incredibly well. Unfortunately for MGS3, despite a new lick of graphical paint, playing it is a torturous experience. It’s not helped at all by some frankly terrible dialogue and some OTT misogyny (I mean seriously, pressing R1 to stare at some woman’s tits. Really, Konami?)

I then moved onto Assassin’s Creed. I’d managed more progress on this game than I had MGS3 before getting distracted by something else. However, again I found poor gameplay let down what was otherwise a decent game. Whilst the free running is very enjoyable, as soon as you enter into a fight you stop being this agile and nimble assassin and instead lumber around as though you’re wearing concrete boots. Compare the combat to something such as the Arkham games and it really comes across as being half-arsed and frustrating to deal with.

So with two games put back on the pile of shame, I was at a loss for what to attempt next. Thankfully I remembered my Playstation Plus subscription and started playing Spec Ops: The Line again. Now that’s more like it. Whereas the gameplay in this was nothing new, that wasn’t a problem. A tried and true third-person mechanic allowed you to concentrate on what is a great story. An abandoned, sand covered Dubai makes a great setting and whilst I doubt the geography is remotely accurate, the sense you’re working your way through this devastated city was incredibly atmospheric and gave a real sense of purpose. It helped being a massive Apocalypse Now fan as the game takes a lot of inspiration from the novel Heart of Darkness. Plus, hearing Bruce Boxleitner’s voice is always welcome.

I then went from the sublime to the pretty shit and managed to complete Rage. Rage is a fairly odd game. From the makes of Doom and Quake, it’s certainly got pedigree. Unfortunately it also has a whole host of health problems like you’d expect from something with said pedigree. Whereas the tried and true method of gameplay benefitted a game such as Spec Ops, in Rage it just feels old and creaky. To give id Software some credit, they managed to make a very interesting world and lore but utterly failed when it comes to basics such as gameplay, characters and plotting. It’s almost as if they’d seen Fallout 3 and excised the bits that made it good. Despite that, I did actually manage to have some fun with the game. The weapons are good and driving around the wasteland firing rockets never gets old. However, it’s a game that suffers from obviously being rushed. The final mission that the game had been building to is a massive anti-climax. There’s no challenge, no culmination of the plot and no sense of accomplishment.

The final game I completed is a little bit of a cheat in that it’s Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition. Now technically I’d not completed this. However, I did complete the original Halo about a decade ago on the PC. But considering I’ve not got a Game Completed achievement I think this counts. One thing that’s remarkable about this HD update is how much the gameplay hasn’t aged. Compared to something like MGS3, which feels like it’s from the Stone Age, Halo Anniversary barely feels as though it’s aged a day. The gameplay itself feels largely untouched and the graphical overhaul is remarkable. This is made all the more apparent by the ability to swap between the original and updated graphics. In my memories, Halo still looked fairly pretty. Those memories were promptly blown out of the water by a couple of taps of the back button.

With one game left to complete my Four in February, I resolved to trying to complete one from my original list. As I’m not insane I decided against Demon’s Souls and plucked for Mirror’s Edge. My understanding was that it was a game you could blitz through in a couple of hours. Unfortunately it turns out to be a 6-8 hour game and as a consequence just feels too long. The running is good platforming fun and the first person perspective really brings you into the environment as you leap among the rooftops. However, combat is a complete pain in the tits. When you do manage to disarm a guard, the aiming is slow and unresponsive and you’ve no idea how many shots you have. Whilst I appreciate that the aim is to run and avoid combat, sometimes there’s no choice or it’s simply easier to take the guards out than try and dodge them. In spite of these flaws, Mirror’s Edge is a game I can see me returning to when not rushed for time. It’s got a fairly decent story and it’s nice to play as a strong female protagonist for a change. It would’ve been very easy to have made the character male and no-one would have batted an eyelid.

Overall, whilst I wasn’t able to complete my entire Four in February I’m pleased with the three I did manage to finish and just the sheer quantity of games I’ve managed to play. I’m over halfway through Halo: Reach, almost finished Halo 4 again, nearly done a full season on F1 2011, reached Level 38 on Simpson’s Tapped Out and on the last level of Bioshock Infinite on Hard difficulty (more like Impossible). Considering how much I’d put gaming on the backburner recently, it’s been really nice to settle down and get back into my PS3 and 360. Here’s hoping it’ll continue now I’m back at work…