Sunday, March 4, 2012

Thoughts On What I'm Playing: Arkham Asylum, Dead Space 2, AC: Brotherhood, MW3

Another entry in the What I'm Playing category here on PG!

Don't we live in wonderful modern times? When it comes to videogames there are more brilliant games than you can possibly ever play. I know there are always some people being more geek than I, finishing games like Skyrim on Day 1 and stuff, but I'm not in that fortunate (? ;) ) position plus I realized it is way more economic to wait a few months with price drops banging in just a few weeks after release. All I'm saying is don't blame me for being "late" on following titles. With the girlfriend out of the house for a certain timespan I could clock in a decent regular time in front of my 360 in February. So what will follow are some personal views on the games that became my after studying-relaxation.

Batman: Arkham City

This was my christmas present (to myself) but I really just found the time to play it thoroughly in February. And I am so satisfied with this game, it is beyond imagination. Having played Batman Arkham Asylum and being a big fan ever since, I had high expectations for the title. When the first reviews dropped in, giving the game highest scores I knew it was something to look forward to. When it won Best 360 Game of 2011 over at Gametrailers this feeling got stronger. Now, that I finished the main campaign I am still thinking about how amazing the whole experience has been.

Batman: Arkham City was like a rollercoaster ride in a spook house. The characters, the story, the gameplay, the graphics, the whole presentation was pure gaming excellence at its finest. I don't know about you, but I am a huge fan of Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins/ The Dark Knight movies and Arkham City, just like its predecessor, catched exactly this feeling of authenticity to the matter. Sure, movie and game are different in their own rights, but the sincerety both approaches show are comparable. The story continues where the first title left off, Joker is sick and Arkham Asylum was expanded to a Snake-Plissken-like urban prison of Arkham City, under the direction of madman Dr. Hugo Strange, who found out about Batman's real identity and kidnapped Bruce Wayne to Arkham City. Why exactly he did that and what advantages he expected won't be spoiled here, I'm just stating that you don't fuck around like that with Batman.

Probably the most immersive thing about Arkham City was the intense story. The great cut scenes were very well crafted, like directed by an actual movie director. Outstanding voice work did its part: Especially the contrahents Batman (voiced by the guy who voiced him in the animated series, kudos to him) and Joker (voiced by the amazing Mark Hamill aka Luke Skywalker) really breathed life into this fictious world. The gameplay (FreeFlowCombat is back) with leveling up and unlocking skill possibilities drove you to battling all kinds of crime gangs (there are different factions in Arkham City, from Two Face's gang to the Penguin's gang to Joker's crew), most of the time beginning the assault from above, coming flown into the rumble like a real Dark Knight.

Anyway, you get the point that this game has made an impression on me. The good thing is that replay value is high as well. Having finished the campaign in estimated 15 hours there are still waiting hundreds of Riddler-trophies to be found, sidequests to be finished, challenge maps (both beat'em up and Predator maps) to be highscored and new game + (all your progress is imported, enemies get tougher and help lesser). Yes, I am really thinking about giving this game a second playthrough, something that has been reserved to Mass Effect 2 and the first Bioshock in the past and that's something from my account. Also I am thinking about getting the DLC characters Robin and Nightwing. This should add even more fun.  

Dead Space 2

Dead Fucking Space 2. I was really excited for this one, calling the first one the real Resident Evil of this generation and then I somehow never found the time. Happens with a lot of games for me sadly but eventually I got this game. And? Well, it is a masterpiece. The gameplay is stepped up through new terrifying enemies, amazing new weapons (found the mine thrower especially valuable) and the ability to navigate freely through gravity free areas. Story is one thing and though it is not too complex (good thing for such a type of game) I really like the new Isaac. The first Dead Space's Isaac has been a mute necromorph stomping machine, but this one has a character (and some serious mental problems). Though the game might not be that scary like the first title, which felt more like Deep Horizon, it is still a game I like to play in the daytime. Think Dead Space to Dead Space 2 comparable to Alien and Aliens. More action, bigger scale, widening the story's universe. The presentation is just insanely good from moments where you control Isaac to smooth transition into jaw dropping cutscenes and some of the most brutal execution scenes that the craft of gaming has ever seen.

I'm not totally done with this one yet, meaning I didn't finish it yet, but might well be on a good way to achieve that. There's certainly some replay value here with the New Game + mode, but I am not sure if my nerves will allow me to go through that nightmare again. Well, Dead Space 3 should be announced soon with rumors hinting at Isaac being on an ice planet, so maybe we will see some The Thing influences in the next one? I'll be hyped anyway.  

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Ouch, now it gets really "old".

 Yep, there are first screenshots of Assassin's Creed III (which I am hyped up for), and I just managed to finish AC: Brotherhood. But anyway, a good game is a good game and AC: Brotherhood certainly is a good game. Having spent about twenty hours with AC: Brotherhoods campaign (and having finished all Lairs of Romulus just to get an ugly rotten armor that could not live up to my upgraded armor) I am satisfied about the game. Sure there was a lot of micro-managing with buying all those shops and burning all those Borgia towers down and building up your league of assassins. Well, especially the last point seemed to be quite fun. It really was a game changer to get into a difficult combat situation with 12 assassins to back you up, some even on horses. And I really liked the game's scenery, renaissance Rome. Also the character of Ezio Auditore da Firenze is one of the most memorable characters for me this generation. I think it is really cool, that Ubisoft is giving him three games to cover youth, his 30s and an older age approach in AC: Revelations.

Having said that I must say that I am also very much looking forward to AC: Revelations, to finish the cycle and stuff. Just hope there's fewer Desmond in them, really don't like these parts very much.  
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Played the campaign and found it better than Black Ops, but that's about it.

Since the first Modern Warfare Call of Duty just gets down the hill if you ask me. Sure commercial success might prove me wrong, but it's still my personal opinion. The second Modern Warfare had some great moments like the snowmobile chase, but the third was just too over the top for me. I found the story just idiotic. Since when are the Russians an active thread to world peace (I'm writing this on the day Putin cheats himself into presidency again, though), that's just too Cold War for me. When making a game where showing off the American military strenght why not just fight against muslim extremists? That would've been more entertaining to me. Sure that might arouse some suspicion but don't tell me Activision wouldn't welcome this scandal for their promotion sake. Plus I hopped into Multiplayer for a few minutes. Seems to be okay, but why are the graphics so much comparably worse to the campaign? As you see, this just hadn't been my game. I found Rage the better shooter in all aspects, to be honest, but that might be an unpopular opinion.

So much for now.

What's coming for the future? Well, Mass Effect 3 is released coming week, alongside with Street Fighter X Tekken. Since I'll be on a vacation until end of March I won't get those games too soon. I still need to finish my 2nd Mass Effect 2 playthrough anyways and have another bunch of games laying around unplayed for a way too long time anyway.

I will continue the blog as regular as possible. As some of you might have noticed I now post more often again, which should be a good thing even when there is no doubts that the days of 100+ postings per month are most likely over. I'll try to blog about the important stuff at least when that is just for my personal blogging's sake. Still everyone who read this long entry to this line is given a bigh thank you from me, please come back in the future.

Best wishes, H.

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