I’ve been in LotRO hibernation mode for the past month in anticipation of Siege of Mirkwood, so I’ve had plenty of gaming time to invest elsewhere. As well as ploughing an obscene number of hours into Bioware’s latest, I’ve managed to play quite a diverse array of other titles (somewhat aided by my recent PS3 purchase). So without further ado, here’s what I’ve been playing:
My interest in Uncharted was piqued earlier in the year when I played the first 15 minutes on my friend’s PS3, and so with the combination of an ecstatically reviewed sequel and me managing to land a new job, I was persuaded to open my wallet for a shiny new PS3 Slim.
The original Uncharted is a sparkling gem of an action adventure. Endearing characters and witty dialogue, beautiful graphics, engaging platform scrabbling and solid cover-based gunplay. Sure, it’s only a few steps removed from Dragon’s Lair when it comes to authored and linear gameplay, but let’s face it, sprawling open worlds with extensive player agency usually get in the way of good storytelling. As great as they were as games, was anyone particularly engaged by the main story threads of Fallout 3, GTA IV or Far Cry 2?
Uncharted was without doubt the most enjoyable game I’ve played in quite some time, and then Uncharted 2 managed to effortlessly top it in every way imaginable. It’s the most beautiful game of this generation by leaps and bounds, and every single aspect of the original’s engine and design has been given a similarly impressive overhaul. Uncharted 2 is absolutely sublime from the first moment until the last, and is easily my game of the year. Indeed, as 2009 draws to a close, it could even end up edging out Portal as my game of the decade. It’s that good.
Metal Gear Solid 4
I really should have learned my lesson after the annoying MGS2 and almost unplayable MGS3, but what can I say, I was curious. MGS4 builds unwaveringly upon the key aspects of previous instalments, i.e. frustrating controls, terrible pacing, bewildering story, senseless and archaic game mechanics. Let’s just say that coming to this straight after Uncharted 2 did not provide a particularly favourable contrast. If you have any doubts after playing previous MGSs, heed them!
Little Big Planet
I’ve only been dabbling with this one, and while I haven’t found the single player game to be particularly engaging, it all starts to make a heck of a lot more sense when you add an extra player into the mix. I can only imagine that the 4-player co-op is ridiculously fun, and I hope to experience it at some point.
I purchased the original WipeOut alongside my original PS1 way back at the UK release in, err, 1996 or something, so this was more of a nostalgia purchase than anything. The core gameplay in HD is almost untouched since that heady Brit Pop period, but it sure looks impressive nowadays. A perfect game to fill those random 10 minute sessions.
A beautiful and often moving little gem that has you waging war against industrialism with a single flower petal. With it’s languid pace and ambient soundscape, Flower is as much about creating a mood as it is about providing a structured gameplay experience. If you are in any way interested in the idea of games-as-art, then Flower is probably something you should check out if you get the chance.
A gorgeous little graphic adventure that will bring joy to any fan of the genre. Short, sweet and perfectly formed. Definitely one to savour.
Surprisingly great fun in co-op, but a little soulless as a single-player experience. Also, like the MMOs it so heavily adopts from, the levels too easily get in the way of playing with friends, which is a shame. Great concept though, and something I hope Gearbox will continue to refine and build upon.
Modern Warfare 2
Being essentially Call of Duty (2003) with 6 years of polish, a spoonful of hype, a dash of controversy, and a few more set pieces. Not much more to say, really. If you haven’t already bought it, you probably aren’t going to.
Left 4 Dead 2
Being significantly more of a sequel than Modern Warfare 2. The new campaigns are brilliant, the new special infected slot effortlessly into the mix, and how did we ever manage without melee weapons? Also, have you noticed how the game dampens voice chat during the storms in Hard Rain? L4D2 is more proof, if ever it was needed, that Valve are geniuses. Be warned though Valve, if we see L4D3 before HL2: Episode 3 or Portal 2, I’ll be sharpening my knives.