Given that Vondur did a roundup of his favourite albums for last year ages ago, I thought I’d do a similar thing but with games… and more a rambling waffle than a nice neat list. So where do I begin…
Test Drive Unlimited (Xbox 360 – Gamespot) – I’d not played any of the 14 other Test Drive games before but I thoroughly enjoyed this. I spend many, many hours, aimlessly driving round a fairly good recreation of the Hawaiian Island of Oahu (well as far I know, I mean I’ve never been there…). The game is always online so you have other players whizzing past you until you decide to do an SP mission, at which point all traffic is computer controlled. During free play however, if you flash your headlights at someone else that’ll start a race with them. Its pretty nifty, but I tended to get my ass kicked on that.
The aim of the game is very simple and is what I enjoyed most about it – win races to get cash to build a collection of exotic cars, motorbikes and houses. The downsides of it, are that isn’t much of looker compared to the best (looked previous gen to me), the car “handling” isn’t the greatest (it’s almost comedy like, a bit like driving in lard I imagine) and there’s no car damage. Still, it is fun!
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade (PC – Gamespot) – I’m not entirely sure why I bought it since I’ve never managed to get a character past level 30 and its level 60+ content… all I can say it about is that changed the login screen from this:
Not really worth 25 quid. Although… I wonder what the login screen will look like in Wrath of the Lich King?
Crackdown (Xbox 360 – Gamespot) – This was something I was not expecting to like, however after playing the demo I was totally addicted. I found its like GTA but much more fun (or should I say it’s actually fun, the last couple of GTA games for me have been feckless boring lumps of turd). Anyhoo, you’re a genetically modified police officer who can gain some truely superhero worthly abilities. That combined with the pretty vast map (no loading screens either) makes it a riot to play as the game cranks on and you can cause a level of carnage that just aren’t possible in any GTA game.
The story is dead simple. There are three islands all controlled by different gangs. Knock out the underling bosses first then the main island boss, rince and repeat three times and wait for the twist at the end. Top stuff! Hope there’s a sequel.
Halo 3 (Xbox 360 – Gamespot) – Yaaaaawwwwwwnnnnnnn. I loved the original Halo, hated Halo 2 and as it turns out Halo 3 is somewhere between the two. I’d not played multiplayer Halo before since I didn’t have an Xbox Live account for the original Xbox. I tried the Halo 3 multiplayer demo and that’s all the multiplayer I’ve played. I know that’s where it’s meant to be at for Halo 3, but it just doesn’t appeal to me (multiplayer FPS’s only work properly on the PC).
So, the core of my experience was with the single player game which was a repetitive pile of ass. Halo has always been like that, but 3rd time round it was starting to grate. I’d go as far as to say it was a rehash of the original Halo with marginally better graphics (not a patch on Gears of War which was out in 2006!). It even ended with a crappy driving sequence just like the original. And had a terrible ending.
But it must have done something right if I managed to finish it (I lasted an hour in Halo 2). I’m kinda puzzled by it really. On the one hand I dislike it but on the other, it can be fun at times. I think it comes down to me having huge expectations of it being a great finish to the trilogy and it just wasn’t.
Forza Motorsport 2 (Xbox 360 – Gamespot) – I’d not played the Xbox original but like Crackdown, was impressed by the demo. It seemed to offer almost Gran Turismo levels of realism and car tweakage but without the stupidly tough opponents. Well, the first part of that is true, but it does get rock hard as it progresses… which is pretty much where I left it. I got stuck and gave up. Graphically its great, the handling is realistic without being too hard to control, you can go nuts on the car modification (strip weight from it for an easy win!), but it gets too hard too quickly for me :(
Colin McRae’s DiRT (Xbox 360 – Gamespot) – I’m a big fan of the Colin McRae series of games (I’ve played them all) and so had high hopes for this. And I wasn’t disappointed. It looks superb, probably the best of any racer on the 360, screenshots don’t do it justice, you have to see it running. As always the handling was just what I’d expect, spot on. No other series of racers I’ve played seems to have the same level of feedback that Codemasters games do. Plus, this is only game I’ve got the full 1000 points for on my Xbox.
You’ve got various stages set round the globe from Japan with its damp tarmac to the rough dirt tracks of Australia. One of my faves of which was the full Pike’s Peak run. You have to really concentrate to do a full successful run of it.
Things that didn’t work so well were the buggy and large truck races. Its akin to Project Gotham Racing 4 where they felt the need to add bikes, it’s not needed. The core rally driving is what makes it. The buggy driving was a bit too random thanks to the bumpy terrain.
As an aside, I hope even after Colin’s death last year, they keep on making games with his name because as far as I’m concerned, its synonymous with rally.
More Brain Training (Nintendo DS – Gamespot) – Repetition, repetition, repetition. Its fun for a couple of weeks until you’ve opened up all the games and then realise only the first few are any good. I do however love the Sudoku puzzles. I still occasionally play it for that.
Project Gotham Racing 4 (Xbox 360 – Gamespot) – Like the Colin McRae series, I’ve played all of Bizarre Creations racing games right back to Metropolis Street Racer on the Dreamcast. So for PGR4 the main improvement are the weather effects. They’re pretty damn convincing. The way puddles and pools of water form across the tracks when there’s a heavy down pour really spices things up. You’ve got to adjust your braking points and really take the conditions into the account. The Nurburgring under snow is a laugh. The fastest lap replays round there take the strangest of lines.
The other new addition are bikes and they’re a waste of time. You have to ride them a few times in order to complete the game, but I really wish they hadn’t. I think the problem lies in the handling. In Test Drive 4 bikes are easy to ride, here they’re just too fidgety and fiddly.
All in all though, it is just more of the same, just shinier. I’m kinda wondering though what the future of the PGR series is now given that Bizarre have been bought by Activision and Microsoft own the rights to PGR… good way to finish though if it’s the last one!
Brain Academy (Nintendo DS – Gamespot) – Like Braining Training but with better presentation and harder, more annoying games. Played it 3 or 4 times. Bleh. Even Kate doesn’t like it.
Part Two shall appear later on in the week (and contains only one more racing game).