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Gaming: May 2011’s Games

Far later than intended, we have the May round-up posts, where I write a little about all the media I consumed throughout the month (June’s will hopefully go up next week, but haven’t been worked on at all yet). I’ve already published the posts for television, film and books, so we finish the set with the month’s gaming.

I like to include a comment for these portraits but don't really have anything to say beyond saying that I have nothing to say.

Image sources: York, Trip, Jack, some creepers and Rey. The combine comes from a personal screenshot.

The absence of certain games in the above image – Dragon Age: Origins and at least one out of Fallout 3, The Sims 3 or Left 4 Dead 2 – should be an indicator that I’m still not back into the routine I devised at the end of March, even though I played slightly more games than I did in April. That means I’ve still only managed it for one week in the past two a bit months, and haven’t actually done it for a single week since I decided to do so, which is daft. Oh well, onto the round-up:

Deadly Premonition (Xbox 360)

I’ve been looking forward to playing this for a while. I started it towards the end of the month, mostly just getting through the opening sequence in two brief sessions. The Twin Peaks parallels are obvious already – the beautiful young woman murdered in a small town in an unusual way, the eccentric FBI agent brought in to investigate and who monologues to an unseen contact – and in fact I stopped playing it because I wanted to get through Twin Peaks first so I’ll be able to recognise any other things Swery65 has included as a little homage to the series. Already the character you control, York Morgan, has endeared himself to me with his pop culture discussions while you drive around the town and I’m looking forward to getting back to it.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (Xbox 360)

I finished this in May and blogged about it in two posts, That’ll Do, Pig and Free.

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean Demo (Xbox 360)

I always play the demos for these games with my nephew even though we know by now how they’re going to play out, and there were no real surprises here. Traveller’s Tales have done what they can to make some characters stand out despite them lacking the obvious variety of Star Wars or Batman, but they’re very comfortable in their formula right now. It’s something I’ll get at some point because there really aren’t that many games that support co-op through the whole experience and that are also suitable for me to play with my nephew. However, we still have LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 to finish off and then LEGO Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars to buy before we get to this one.

Minecraft (PC)

I was still playing this through the first half of the month, which probably explains why I didn’t get these round-up posts out on time and why the blog went quiet. I had intended to post about what I was doing in the game in the same manner as my Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and Dragon Age: Origins post(s), but time not playing Minecraft was time wasted. I still have plans for the game, but right now I’m taking a break from it.

Synergy - Half-Life 2 (PC)

I had a few more brief play sessions of this with my nephew, working through Half-Life 2‘s campaign co-op through the Synergy mod. For whatever reason the mod is designed to bring you back from death with the starting weapons, no shield and low ammo and health, so certain points are a real slog. In the end I activated the server cheats so I could top everything back up after death because it was just less fun as it was.

We were at the lengthy canal section where you’re travelling in the boat. The mod gives you one boat per player, but after you die it respawns you at the map’s beginning instead of beside the other player so that you can get a fresh boat, essentially adding corpse runs into the game, which again makes it a little less fun. In fact my nephew was clearly losing interest and I can’t blame him for that as I felt the same the very first time I played this part of Half-Life 2 and actually left it at that point for a long time. There’s so much coming up that he’s going to love though so I’m going to make sure we stick with it.

WWE Smackdown Vs RAW 2010 (PlayStation 3)

Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage died in May, and I eventually blogged about his significance to me the following month. At the end of May I saw a tribute video on YouTube that had him created in WWE Smackdown VS RAW 2011, which I don’t own, but I decided to do the same in the version I do have. I’d forgotten how limited 2010’s create mode is though (with restrictions that never existed in past entries) so I didn’t do a great job.

In the end I also made a bunch of my favourite creations from past Smackdowns, but at this point the create-a-moveset mode is so bloated with choices that actually setting up their moves takes far too long. Something needs to be done about it, perhaps introducing collections of moves (so you assign general sets to each direction instead of four separate grabs) or something, so you can still make them distinctive with finishers and signature moves but don’t have to go through so many choices for every option if you don’t want to. However, being an annually-released series means major changes don’t come easily, as well as essentially ruling out proper DLC or patch support. That’s not likely to change while people keep buying each version (which doesn’t include me, as 2010 is the first version I’ve bought in years).

*****

May Verdict

QualityWWE Smackdown Vs RAW 2010 is probably the weakest of the bunch, but even that’s not bad. Everything else was great.

Quantity – I spent plenty of time gaming. Maybe not quite as much as last month when Minecraft dominated over all other things, but still plenty.

TimelinessHalf-Life 2 is the oldest again as a 2004 release but everything else is no older than last year, and some of them are 2011 releases (or demos of them).

Platform Bias – Lots of PC again, some 360, a little bit of PS3 and no Wii.

NewnessWWE Smackdown Vs RAW 2010 is the only thing that I wouldn’t qualify as being in any way new. Everything else I was either playing for the first time (whether from the start or just at the point I had reached) or in the case of Synergy is me playing something old but in a new way.

Goals – I had a few goals for May:

  1. Restart my recently established schedule (two of every four non-work days on a new game, one on Dragon Age: Origins and one on timesinks Fallout 3 or The Sims 3)Failed
  2. I’d like to finish Enslaved: Odyssey to the West in May as I likely don’t have that much more story to go. Achieved
  3. If I do get my schedule back on track that means I could do with getting one new game to fill the gap. Failed

Goal three was kind of dependant upon goal one so it’s failure was inevitable once I failed to meet that, but they still count as two separate failures. Both of those goals roll on into June, and goal three is particularly worth making this time because I achieved goal two, so have a gap in my to-play list while I wait to continue with Deadly Premonition. That will do, I think, because it’s again dependant on me achieving goal one. In fact it annoys me that I failed to get my routine back on track as it only lasted a week and really would have worked well for me, so hopefully I can manage that in June.

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