November 2012 Retrospective
Crazy days, something has to be done about the Industry and its obsession with pumping out Triple-A titles all the way through October and November. Looking back at the latest additions to my pile of shame I know that over half of them are yet to be written about, half of them again deserve to be written about, while a couple of them actually need to be played in the first place.
It is going to be more constructive to cover a few here in mini, before fleshing out a full piece if required. Beyond the link: Doom BFG Edition, Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Fable: the Journey.
Doom BFG Edition
This game should have the makings of a classic package, HD revisions of the most recent iterations and a bundled bonus of the original Doom games. However, in a nutshell the old games far outshine the newer versions, Doom and Doom II were prime examples of solid playability and thrills. Scavenging for ammunition one minute then being grossly overloaded the next. Level design and the nature of the enemies all made for memorable experiences. The new and hd-improved realisation takes all that enjoyment away, the tight corridors make for a claustrophobic environment and the way that enemies spawn-in at certain trigger points ruins the atmosphere. Weapons seem generally less effective than they used to be and there is a rinse and repeat ethic at play as you progress.
As I have pointed out, the best thing about this edition is the inclusion of the original Doom games, they still reek playability, however having battered through them on the xbox in the last couple of years I don’t feel the need to go back right now.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Frantic open world racing at its best, thrills, spills and grills aplenty as you barrel around a city designed for speeding. There are a wealth of cars instantly available, events constantly popping up and the improved Autolog is always watching, offering challenges and comparing your performance to your friends. Handy billboards scattered around the world will tease you with records set by your friends, smash them and they will find your gamertag displayed proudly in their world. Autolog has seen improvement since Hot Pursuit, but of the last three NFS outings, Hot Pursuit still has the favourite seat, probably due to the wanton destruction you could cause which has been reigned in a little here.
Some might call it Burnout Paradise 2, but it is missing some of those key burnout traits and for some reason the game is a lot more fun to play around in. Having taken a break from developers Criterion last year NFS: The Run missed its target, thankfully Criterion are back on board and the result is a solid arcade racer. Paradise for me quickly became a chore and the Crash Junctions were ruined, Most Wanted just flows so well and drags you in, hours can go by just messing around and evading police chases without ever touching an event. The only thing I can hold against it is the timing of release, when there are just so many other great games to play it is all too easy to forget to pop this one back in.
A side note goes out to Most Wanted on the iOS platform, another great looking racer which offers plenty of playability and the tilt controls are nicely implemented too. Races are selected from a main map, so no open world shenanigans, but it is a great distraction and the social factors are still in play, which add to completing the experience.
Fable: The Journey
The world of Fable goes Kinect with mixed results, being fairly open minded about Fable I am often a little more positive than most when it comes to the tech. Mixing the Fable franchise with an on-rails adventure is questionable and may well have suited a new IP better. That said, the world is very familiar and the art style of Fable is unmistakable and perhaps comforting.
The game can all be played from a sitting position, which like Gunstringer is a nice alternative to jumping around the living room, especially as I now have the console set up in a room serviced by a ceiling fan. Control effectiveness varies depending on the actions you are performing, for the most part steering a caravan by holding virtual reins works, but making quick corners can become frustrating very quickly. The combat and spell casting aspect of the game does work well, but can fall foul when there are a lot of objects on screen, suddenly the blocking, casting and pulling moves seem to get confused and even charged up shots in one hand can be let loose by the other. It is quite satisfying when it does work though and shaking a fist to create a fireball feels naturally empowering.
Overall the games lacks any character progression and is no way the next generation of Kinect killer apps that the unit needs, it does however scratch the odd magical itch, albeit for not very long.
Gameconsole NZ Reviews:
Not technically November related, but I did have a couple of contributions posted over at Gameconsole late October. Pro Evo Soccer turned up with a decent team for once, but still stands in the shadows of the giant that is FIFA. Magical stealth-em-up Dishonored also offered a melting pot of great ideas and an unusual setting, to be honest it is a great game, just not sure if it has the legs to be a franchise.
My pile of shame seems to be getting bigger and my game time is getting shorter, reviews incoming are Hitman Absolution, FarCry3 and F1 All Stars. This is of course relying very much on me not having a short session with Battlefield 3’s Aftermath expansion turning into a long one or dipping back into Halo4 or Black Ops multiplayer.
There will also be a few more mini reviews for the likes of Sesame St Kinect, Nat Geo, Ben 10 Omniverse along with a quick summary of the online games that have dropped in the last couple of months. I will also be sharing a piece on the revelation I have experienced by using some fantastic Turtle Beach headphones, having spent the last couple of years playing through the TV at minimal volume – the clarity and detail offered by a decent set of cans is astounding.