Home > Gaming, Monthly Report (Gaming), Personal > Gaming: January 2011’s Games

Gaming: January 2011’s Games

 

When I needed a small character image for Dead Rising 2 there was really only one choice.

Image sources: Predator, weird pred-alien thing, Slappy, Harry and Sackbot.

I think I’m still trying to find a decent for rhythm for when I play games. I’d still say I don’t have time on work days and am happy with how I make use of those few hours of free time, but I think the days I’m off work still need some adjustment. As it stands gaming is how I finish off the day, which means if one or more of the things that precede it take up more time than they should then I play less, and a lot of the time I won’t start playing anything until two or three hours before bed. That still means completing an average eight-ten hour game in a few nights but is far removed from the time I used to spend gaming (and which I’d like to again).

It’s something I’m still thinking on, so here’s what I managed to play in January:

Aliens Versus Predator (PlayStation 3)

Progress: Completed all three campaigns (actually finishing the final one on February 1st). Played no multiplayer.

I still intend to make a full blog post about this and find a place for it in the ongoing Game of the Year 2010 list (along with the other 2010 games I’ve played recently but not blogged about). To summarise I’d say that it felt like the game spread itself too thin by having three separate campaigns with three (theoretically) different styles of play, something that just isn’t workable in a big-budget release like this. Almost every location is used again in all three campaigns, aspects of the melee combat appear in all three species (allowing the marine to get into a fistfight with an alien and win), and none of the campaigns are as deep as they needed to be.

The marine plays like any generic sci-fi shooter and playing as the alien has the unavoidable disorientation that comes from playing a creature who can scale walls and ceilings, and while it wasn’t too bad it wasn’t good either (not least because of how fragile the alien is, rather than being a relentless killing machine). The predator campaign is the closest thing to being the game’s saving grace and is a fair representation of a character who is both a solid fighter and a master of stealth. It’s in the predator campaign that the melee system has the most depth and makes the most sense, but it’s still more shallow than it needed to be because of the need to try and make three distinct campaigns for the same budget other developers have to make just one.

I think the best approach would be to do what SEGA have already done with the upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines from Gearbox Software, focusing on just one campaign and giving it the focus it needs. Rebellion could probably spin a decent game out of their predator ideas that would be similar to something like the Riddick games (which is still currently my third favourite game of 2009) and I think that’s a much better idea than persisting with this triple campaign idea (I’d abandon the idea of playable aliens altogether).

 

Aliens Versus Predator Classic 2000 (PC, Steam)

Progress: Played a bit of each campaign but ultimately abandoned all three. Played no multiplayer.

My original plan was to play through the classic game before playing the new one to get a feel for how far the games have come, but I think they may actually have come too far for me. The game has limited save slots (which I dislike in almost every game that isn’t Hitman), no auto checkpoints (potentially losing a whole level of progress), I often didn’t know where I was going (I think the handholding of modern shooters has ruined me), in the marine campaign facehuggers are instant kills if they catch you (which happens a lot), you die really easily, and compared to modern shooters it’s just so fast. Throw in the disorienting alien campaign and a predator campaign that isn’t as stealthy as I remember (though it’s still good, by far the best of the three) and I refreshed my memory of the game as much as I needed to.

 

Dead Rising 2 (Xbox 360)

Progress: Completed multiple times and achieved the best ending. Played no multiplayer.

This is another one that I need to put up a full post for before I forget everything. Dead Rising 2 has two major problems. The first is that its release was preceded by Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, which for many people demonstrated that the core concept of the series – not worrying too much about failure and relying on repeat playthroughs to eventually see/do everything and achieve the best ending – is something that works better in a shorter game than it does in Dead Rising 2 itself, where restarts mean running back through many hours of story content over and over. The second problem is that the game sticks very closely to the formula established in the first game to a much greater extent than most sequels. There are many things that appear in the sequel seemingly just because that’s how things were in the original, for good or bad.

That said, Dead Rising 2 does improve on many of the first game’s issues and it’s a better game for it, giving players this playground full of zombies and all sorts of toys to use on them, with less of the awkwardness that frustrated players of the original. Now that Blue Castle have demonstrated to fans (and to Capcom) that they understand Dead Rising I’d like to see a Dead Rising 3 advance the series more than this first sequel managed to, because as it stands Dead Rising 2 is a good game but a very familiar one.

 

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (Playstation 3)

Progress: Only played a little in local co-op.

With the LEGO games I’m always Player Two, assisting somebody else with their save and playing at their pace, which is why I didn’t manage to play this for very long in January. Initial impressions are that it’s much better than the previous game, LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues, where Travellers Tales made some notable updates to their established formula but didn’t quite succeed in making a good game out of it (which is why it currently sits at the eighteenth spot on my Game of the Year 2009 list). I would need to play it more to get a proper opinion though.

 

LittleBigPlanet 2 (PlayStation 3)

Progress: Only played a little in local co-op.

I’m not normally so timely any more with game purchases, having long since become comfortable with not being on the expensive cutting edge of new releases. The reason I had LittleBigPlanet 2 pretty much on its release day is because my nephew absolutely adored LittleBigPlanet and must have sunk many hundreds of hours into it over the past two years. It was pretty much guaranteed that he would get at least as much out of the sequel so there was no question of the game not providing value for money. I didn’t play it much myself in January as my time with it was only in local co-op with my nephew, like the Harry Potter game above, but my initial impressions are certainly favourable.

January Verdict

Quality – Nothing I played was bad, but Aliens Versus Predator Classic 2000 has some issues because of its age and the newer Alien Versus Predator is mostly just mediocre.

Quantity – I’m not so sure about this one. Games can vary wildly in length depending on the genre. Dead Rising 2 took up two thirds of the month by itself whereas Aliens Vs. Predator only took a few days, so while I only finished two games and spent a little time with a few others I was still playing a game on every day I wasn’t working, and with there being less television to watch in January I spent a lot of time gaming. So I’d say that in terms of time spent gaming the quantity was okay (but as I said in the opening paragraph I think there’s room for improvement), but in terms of actually playing a lot of games it clearly wasn’t.

Timeliness – Everything was a 2010 release or later (even Aliens Versus Predator Classic 2000 was released in 2010), and LittleBigPlanet 2 was bought and played very close to release, for whatever that’s worth.

Platform Bias – I played at least something on the 360, PS3 and PC, but the Wii (my least played system of 2010) didn’t get touched. By far the most time was spent on the 360 because of Dead Rising 2, whereas the PC only got a couple of play sessions.

Newness – These were my first playthroughs for every game except Aliens Versus Predator Classic 2000, which I had played before both in its original form a decade ago and in the new version when I bought it last year.

Goals – As with the other January reports there can’t be any goals set for February because I’m writing the post too late.

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