Friday, November 21, 2008


As a follow-up to Steven's 'Changes' post, I feel it a personal duty to inform the masses of further blog-related developments. In an effort to strive for a level of professionalism, or at the very least consistency, we here at Raptured Reality have decided to impart a sort of schedule to aid us in keeping the content flowing. Steven will be posting on Mondays and Thursdays, whereas I shall be taking Tuesdays and Fridays, leaving Wednesday as a day for thought-bubbles and planning-paper, and the weekend as a sort of editorial free-for-all.

As well as this, weekly features will no doubt ground us in some level of responsibility, guilt-tripping us into contributing at least every seven days, should the schedule plan fall through. I remain fairly confident it won't though, but when has being overly cynical ever annoyed anyone?

Also under the banner heading 'future content', look forward to next week's postings including an original story penned by yours truly, combatting the very idea of time and a meta-existance therein, as well as the first in a feature series investigating The Four Arts of Gaming, detailing the core templates of gamers around the world.

Quite possibly, if we're lucky, developments may include the very next post by me not being anywhere near as pretentious as this one has become. The story will be about time and meta stuff though, I promise, just might be somewhat undercut by other, more base ideas. Even Shakespeare was smutty at times.

Life Outside The Vault: The Fallout 3 Experience

The Wastelands of Fallout 3 scare me.

Yes, it scares me. Not in the Resident Evil sense of the word nor even the Silent Hill definition, no, the reality of Fallout scares me and I honestly would not have it any other way.

The sense of peril, intensity and desperation for survival in the game is quite simply something I have not experienced in any other and I literally hesitate at times while traversing The Wastelands, wondering just what will I happen upon next throughout my travels. BioShock and a few other recent games have immersed me to the point where the games have felt real while playing, but Fallout 3 does it in a different way and arguably has more of a lasting effect as a result. Due to the way some of the game's side-quests can pan out, even walking into an abandoned shack can provide an unexpected experience. Allow me to explain.

After walking and exploring The Wastelands for around an hour, with the sun setting and my health relatively low after fighting some of the not so lovely inhabitants of the place, I found the aforementioned shack and figured that it would be wise to use it to sleep, recover health and have a break from all that walking and fighting for my survival. The next day I go to leave to continue my adventures only to find waiting outside for me three hitmen, waiting to kill me. From feeling safe to once again fighting for my life as soon as I stepped outside the door, the Fallout experience certainly keeps you on your toes and quickly teaches you to expect the unexpected.

I have had similar experiences where due to a lack of health items and ammo, I have had to be very cautious because if I wasn't, then I would most certainly find myself becoming just another hapless victim of The Wastelands. The place is tough, for sure and it is not just because you can find yourself in a situation with a lack of ammo or worse, health. Just seeing The Wastelands for yourself shows you how tough of a place it is, with a story to be found almost anywhere. A burnt down house could have a bath tub with a skeleton in it, suggesting what someone was doing before the events that changed the land; a playground in the middle of a remote town or suburb could have a whole bunch of active mines surrounding it making it dangerous to go near. It doesn't matter what examples I provide here, there are hundreds of stories to be potentially alluded to and found if you look for them and that alone really adds to the immersion and overall experience of the game.

If you can't tell already, I absolutely love Fallout 3 and I have barely scratched the surface. I'm around 25 hours in and have only done something like six quests. Most people seem to have it finished in 15 hours but most people don't play their games like I do. While they are happy to take advantage of options like fast traveling, I am happy to explore every inch of a subway system to make sure I don't miss a thing. Were I not doing this I would probably be a lot further than I am, but were I not doing this I wouldn't be having such a wonderful experience and fully taking in what Bethesda Studios have created here with the game.

As I said before, The Wastelands scare me and no doubt the fight for my survival will continue to keep me on edge in the future but you know what? I'm willing to face any fears I may have if it means finding Rivet City, helping Galaxy News Radio or anything else that can and will happen later on in the game. Life in Fallout 3 is hard, just like real life and damn it, I love it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Remember those Tidbits posts where I mentioned that I was planning on changing a few things around to hopefully make Raptured Reality more appealing?

Well, as you can no doubt already see those changes are now in effect. Blue is my favourite colour so the colour change works for me and hopefully it does for you, the readers, too. Font colours changed to tie in with the new template, as well as a few other subtle things like sections for what Chris/GTPod and myself are playing. We even started using our real names, which is kinda scary (for me at least) but hopefully it means a more personal connection than what we'd have hiding behind our online usernames.

Hopefully these small changes make the blog better to look at visually. Thanks go to my partner in crime Chris/GTPod for doing most of the changes since he is definitely more aware of how that side of things works than I am.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Space and Conquer: FallEdgePlanet Cry 09

This is Gtpod, and that sums up my November. A garbled title reflecting a garbled mess of incredible gaming that's proving difficult to keep track of. Dead Space, C&C Red Alert 3, Fallout 3, Mirror's Edge, LittleBigPlanet, Far Cry 2 and NHL 09. I don't know how far I am in each one, I don't know where the discs are, I don't know where on my HDD the PC games are, I don't know where some of them came from, I don't know if there are more on their way; all I know is, I'm f**king loving it. In fact, let's tackle them a bit, one by one - basically let's nick Nismo's "Overdue Opinion" idea, except this one's in no way belated and in every way topical.

Dead Space
Had GTAIV not been released this year, I think this would be my GotY. In terms of gameplay, I cannot fault it at all; EA have absolutely hit the mark for horror gaming, to the point where previous dissenters of the genre, such as myself, are righteously converted. A word of warning to those in this position though, if like me you were on edge playing F.E.A.R, you might want to play Dead Space in bursts; after playing several chapters in a row, I nearly jumped out of my skin when my roommate brushed the back of my chair walking past me.
It's not entirely perfect though, mostly due to graphical problems on the PC version. V-sync (a method of limiting the FPS for steadier gameplay) is entirely screwed, yet favourable in certain situations, so constant switching on and off is required. Also it inexplicably slows down in places, and sometimes starts up with a black screen; minor bugs to be fixed in the next patch I'm sure, but annoyances nonetheless (a common theme amongst PC games this year, particularly when EA's involved).

Red Alert 3
Greatest RTS series of all time? I'd say so. As someone who grew up playing RA1 on PC, the series has always held a special place in my gaming heart as the pinnacle of the entire strategy genre, and RA3 certainly didn't disappoint. The most refreshing and exciting aspect is how little EA have changed the formula from the early days; they've not at all been tempted by titles like World in Conflict and Supreme Commander to stray into more serious, straight-faced gameplay, instead sticking with the stereotypical, over-the-top action-film-like storyline and brightly coloured UI. It's exactly as epic as RA has always been, which is particularly nice to see after the shambles of C&C3 and Generals and such rubbish that so poorly plugged the gap between RA2: Yuri's Revenge and RA3. EA's second bout of perfection this quarter.

Fallout 3
Now, I must admit, I had some beef with Fallout 3, dating back to Tokyo Game Show 2008. It was late in the day, I was wandering around looking for my next title to test, when I saw a booth girl holding the most awesome 'thanks-for-playing-prize' I'd ever seen - a Vault Boy bobblehead (just like the preorder bonus). Not knowing anything about the game, having actively avoided it due to lack of interest, I queued immediately just for the prize. Two and a half hours later, I was given my ticket and lead into the booth to test the pre-release demo on 360. And I hated it. I was frustrated by VATS, frustrated by the map/compass, frustrated by the weapons/inventory; generally frustrated at what I saw to be an elaborate mod for Oblivion. Having spoken to other people who've tested alpha/beta stages of the game, they entirely agree that pre-release Fallout 3 was abysmal.
Pre-release Fallout 3 is not post-release Fallout 3. Post-release Fallout 3 is brilliant. If I had to put my finger on what the chief reasoning behind this colossal shift in our opinion is, I'd have to say it's the intro. Not wishing to spoil for anyone, but up to a certain monumental occasion in the story that occurs very early on, everything is very well explained in the common 'tutorial story' section of the game, and all events thereafter just sort of make sense. The struggle makes sense; 'struggle' referring to the Resi-like survival system (perhaps not that hard, but you get the point) of a limited inventory and scarce ammo. Similarities to Oblivion are quickly forgotten as the overwhelming story and atmosphere of Fallout is thickly piled onto the same Gamebryo engine. Not EA, but a definite Autumn success, and certain contender for GotY 08.

Mirror's Edge
Ah Faith, how long we waited for your grace to touch our hearts. My least-played game of the selection I'm talking about here, due only to the fact that it just arrived yesterday. Well... maybe not only. Oh EA, you were so so close to a perfect score for this quarter, why did you let DICE slip up like this? I'm not talking gameplay, or sound, or even atmosphere; I'm talking graphics. We all know graphics aren't everything (unless you're Ninja Theory, gg guys), but they certainly make up a part of the overall gaming experience, and in ME, this part is... I don't know... broken? I don't want to say 'lacking', the intent is all there, it's just the execution that does not do it justice. 90% at fault would have to be the aliasing problems. A pan over Edge City should be a breathtaking scene of sun-kissed skyscrapers adorned with runner routes; instead, a panoramic sight of jagged edges and screen tearing cuts through the atmosphere like a poorly aliased high-rise tower. That's not to say it kills it, but I really had to create a level of immersion to stop it from irritating me; generally, as you run from building to building, it's simply not noticeable, but in those brief moments when you stop and get your bearings or check direction, it sort of hits you, sadly. All this makes for a better looking game indoors though, as running through offices or sewers isn't nearly as graphically buggy.
An incredible game nonetheless. As I say, I'm not very far in, a little under half-way I believe, but I'm loving it. It's everything you'd expect from the demo and more, with unthinkable challenges created from the various running methods popping up throughout the chapters. On top of all that, the time trials prove a very prominent and very challenging mode of gameplay sure to extend the lifetime beyond the short story. A clear hit by EA, but it's no home run like previously mentioned games.

Speaking of hyped titles finally arriving... possibly the biggest title of 2008 is finally here, after several years of excitement, and it most certainly delivers. On a more personal level, I remain confusingly indifferent to a game I'm sure I love. Having not played it in over a week is surely only a symptom of the 'November Overload', however there may well be contributing factors I'm not all too aware of. Perhaps the creativity is just not within me whilst entertainment's being veritably spoon-fed in large doses by the several other incredible games. LBP is very much a game that's made fun by your own input; as much as you put in, you get out, and without that initial time spent, all that's left is a short story with little incentive for unlockables. I feel it's a game for the calm after the storm.

Far Cry 2
Yes, yes... Far Cry... learning from Crytek's mistake of introducing aliens into the original title, Ubisoft decided to stick with an all-human cast for the sequel, which I have accepted with considerably more warmth than its predecessor (which I refused to finish, on principal of it trying to be, but not being anywhere near as good as, Half Life). However, Ubi inexplicably decided to ignore one large aspect of Crytek's legacy, present in Far Cry and Crysis - a little thing called gunplay. Traditionally in FPSs, guns have a level of realism, and differ greatly in handling and aiming, range and accuracy and such weapon characteristics. Confusingly, Ubisoft seemed to create templates for 4 or 5 weapons, then just stick them to multiple models. For example, a rusted jungle AK with the accuracy of a western AS50 .50 cal sniper rifle, or a shotgun with the wide-angle spread of a silenced pistol. It comes as no surprise to me that a company known better for its publication of female-oriented casual DS titles than its equally-lacking-in-the-gun-department Splinter Cell series doesn't understand the intricacies of modern FPS gunplay.
Aside from this issue, however, they've put together an enjoyable game, with little else wrong. Maybe the AI's not as good as it could be, and the enemies are fairly cut-and-paste, but it's a game with a solid story and considerable side-missions that make for huge longeivty. Buy it for the experience, but don't expect anything magical on the weaponry side of things.

NHL 09
Last but by no means least, a sports title. Part of EA Sports' company-wide franchise improvement scheme, NHL like all other franchises has received a complete control overhaul. Simply put, it handles like a dream, and is that much closer to perfection, not to mention its stunning graphics and presentation. Playing team vs. team is, for the first time to date, entirely fluid with very few unrealistic hitches such as pucks not registering on blades, or players not being where they should ideally be; the AI improvements are significant, in turn adding difficulty to the same structures from previous titles, each rating being the equivalent of the one above from, say, NHL 08.
The addition of a new mode, Be A Pro, adds incredible gameplay that has exclusively taken up my time spent on the game. Taking exclusive control of a customised or ready made player, working from the fourth line of an AHL team to the Stanley Cup, is one giant leap for sports-gaming-kind, adding a level of realism never seen before. It makes the game so much more personal to be sitting on the bench, watching a period progress without you as an attacking line's sent out while you rest up, or spending 2 minutes in the penalty box, receiving the punishment both in game and in real life. Goalies hug the corners of nets, defenders sacrifice their bodies to save pucks, attackers finally complete breakaways instead of feeling obliged to pass; as far as I'm concerned, it's sporting perfection, and I just can't wait to see how EA Sports improve on it in the future.

So that's November - all of that in one month has made for the greatest gaming period perhaps of all time. On a more personal note, aside from gaming, I'm back to RR after a hiatus that can only be described as 'significant'. Look forward (I know you will) to many more editorials from me.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Realising Change

This may sound rather stupid but I think I am evolving as a gamer.

By that I mean, well, I seem to be going through a period of change with my gaming. I am still the completionist I have always been, I still have a keen interest in racing games and despite having access to Xbox Live and a whole bunch of friends, I am still generally a lone gamer. Yet this year during the typical rush of games that are all trying to release before the holiday period, I have come to the realisation that something is different. Now what that exactly is, I couldn't tell you but with every day that passes I find that I am noticing the change more and more and personally, I am finding it both intriguing and fascinating.

Take the recently released Fable II for example. Here is a sequel to a game I never had the chance to play yet as it came close to release I found myself interested in it more and more. It got to the point where I was thinking to myself that I would get it and give it a try but not straight away and after I had gotten the games I was anticipating first. The week of its release I saw it lying on the shelf of my local games store and before I knew it, I had purchased it, brought it home and had put it into my 360's disc drive ready to play. I don't know why I ended up buying it that day but after playing it that night, I was glad I did and do not regret a thing. I have barely played the game since that night, though. Why? Well no reason other than I thought it would be best to save the experience until a time when I can appreciate it more, so instead I continued to focus on the games I was playing beforehand in order to try and get them finished. That is irrelevant though; The short time I have had with the game has already impressed me and I am finding it very hard to resist firing it up each night. Of course it doesn't help when I see my friends playing it, but even so the allure of the game is compelling and again I find that fascinating. I plan on going more in-depth with my thoughts on the game in the near future when I play it more and can summarise my thoughts and impressions a little better, but in the meantime I want to point out that I think part of the reason why Fable II is alluring to me at the moment is because of how the gaming community at large has discussed the game. Reading this discussion (especially the blog posts) is, I think, presenting the game to me as an experience and when I combine that with the short time I have played, I think it is actually an experience rather than just another game. There are so many different aspects of the game being discussed and each one can inspire its own in-depth conversation from the community.

Another thing I have found interesting lately is that games I wasn't really interested in, or was not planning on looking at until a later date have now found their way onto my radar. Fable II was one of these games and another is Mirror's Edge. While I appreciated what EA/Dice were doing with the game and also the fact that it was rather original, I didn't really care for it because of a few reasons: one being that the game could go either way (success or failure), another being that it just didn't seem like it should be a priority of mine at the current time. Playing the demo earlier this week however completely changed my perception of the game and as I said, it is now on my radar and I am hoping to be able to pick it up on release. Now obviously demos are meant to be a taste of a game to give you an idea of whether you will like it or not, but the experience of playing this demo was different to how I come away from playing other demos and it did surprise me. Again I can't really pinpoint why (seems to be becoming a regular occurrence these days...) but the surprise meant that I find it intriguing.

Another EA game has also changed my perception of it recently and I think it is in part because of the gaming community. That game? Dead Space. Again while I appreciated that it was a new IP and that it was a Sci-Fi Horror game (I love my Sci-Fi), it never really seemed to be interesting until very recently when it released. First thing I noticed about it was that it seems to have a BioShock vibe about it. By that I mean atmospheric and isolated, yet almost an experience that could feel real. The other things I noticed come more from what people within the gaming community have been saying than anything but even so it is a game that went from a possible future purchase to a game that I want now.

To take this in a different direction, this Friday sees the release of Gears of War 2. That alone makes the day a good day and myself excited, but, thanks to quite a wonderful birthday I have found myself in a position to buy not one game, not two games and not even three. I am able to buy FOUR games on Friday and honestly, I can't believe it. While I am lucky enough to get the majority of games I want within a year, I don't generally get them at or near release and I definitely do not get more than one game at a time when I make a purchase. Fable is an example of that despite it being an unexpected purchase. Yet come Friday I find myself lucky enough to get four games and I almost feel guilty about it. If I weren't getting these games, I could get a Wii! Or, I could save it and get something not gaming related instead. It is definitely an interesting position to be in personally and like everything else I have mentioned so far in this post, it intrigues me. For the record the games I am getting are Gears of War 2 as I said, Fallout 3 (like Fable, another sequel to a game(s) that I haven't played) and probably Dead Space and Midnight Club LA.

The last thing I have noticed that seems to be changing and is again, intriguing me is how I feel about RPGs. Playing through Eternal Sonata recently, a Japanese RPG, has been quite a mixed bag of feelings for me. During the first playthrough of the game I found myself really enjoying it and as an overall game it was worth playing, but during the second playthrough I have honestly found it to be a chore. I don't HAVE to play through it this second time but I am because of the completionist trait of my gaming. The reason it has been a chore though is what is quite common with RPGs and that is the grind. This entire second playthrough has basically been a grind as I am skipping the cutscenes (on a side note: thank god you can - all games should have this option). That means all I am really doing is walking either to the next battle or to the next location. As it is a 'New Game +' the enemies are stronger this time around which means even more grinding to make sure I am strong enough to take them on and yeah it has not been fun at all. Because of this grind and how hard it has been to motivate myself to continue with it, I have found myself reflecting on Japanese RPGs in general and how I feel about them. In the past I could play them over and over again with no problem, my multiple playthroughs of Final Fantasy VIII in particular can attest to that, but as I have grown older my patience for these games seems to have decreased as I realise that I haven't played more recent JRPGs as much as I did the older ones and that some games were hard to even finish the first time let alone multiple playthroughs.

Now it could be a case of these games just not having a compelling enough story and therefore reason to continue playing, or it could be a case of myself going off (for lack of a better term) these games in favour of other experiences. I love a good story and RPGs provide them in the bucket loads but it just seems like I want to have these experiences elsewhere. Where? Perhaps ironically, in Western RPGs. The more I think about it the more I am realising that here I am re-assessing my interest in JRPGs while also absolutely loving the Western RPG experiences I have had. I haven't played many WRPGs but the recent ones I have like the aforementioned Fable II (although small) and Mass Effect have absolutely been brilliant and I can see that continuing with Fallout 3. Which brings me back to the whole point of this post, things seem to be changing within my gaming lately and while I clearly can't explain it or even what these changes are, it has been quite intriguing for me. The last few weeks have been very interesting for me as a gamer and what I have said above are only a few examples of what I have been thinking about. Change is afoot in the land of Nismo and what else can I say other than that I look forward to seeing where these changes end up taking me.

It's interesting though, isn't it?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Overdue Opinion

As I have mentioned in both of my recent Tidbits posts, I have been playing quite a few different games in the past few months. I went from a phase of not really having anything to play to a phase of, arguably, too much to play. Originally I intended on writing individual posts for the individual games here but as time went on (and we all know how hard I am finding it to manage my time at the moment) I realised that it would be better to just put it all in the one post and get it out of the way. So with that in mind, here are some impressions and/or thoughts I have on the various games I have had on rotation lately.

GRID - As a longtime fan of the V8 Supercars games, I wasn't sure how to approach this game after hearing that the V8 Supercars (and other championships like Germany's DTM series) were not going to be in the game. Being a Codemasters game though, I was quite confident in their ability to create something that was worth playing. DiRT added to that confidence even more and I did end up enjoying GRID. A lot.

First thing that I noticed wasn't the rather gorgeous graphics, the feel of the handling (when compared to other racing games that I am used to) or the in-car camera view; no, it was instead the small touch of having your name being called out. When you first start the game you're asked to choose your name and then at various times in the game that name will be spoken. It was nice hearing a "nice job Steven" after taking victory and it certainly added to the experience. Of course, the aforementioned graphics and in-car camera view added to it too because eye candy is always good and I feel like all racing games should have an in-car, behind the wheel camera view. Another small touch I noticed was the smoke effects and how they actually covered the car to the point where you couldn't see it. It's nothing important but most racing games have the smoke coming from the burning tyres disappear too fast. Anyway I enjoyed the game as I progressed through its career and felt the difficulty was just right too. It wasn't that long of a game either so it didn't get boring. Well actually that's a lie, it did get boring as I had to play it online for 25 hours or so until I had gained enough experience to get the two online achievements for the game. That's my own fault for being a completionist though. Anyway good game that comes recommended if you want a reasonably easy but enjoyable racing experience.

Eternal Sonata - I keep on repeating this every time I talk about the game, but, that art direction is absolutely stunningly beautiful. It was an absolute pleasure playing through the game because of this and I looked forward to seeing every new area just so I could marvel some more at the beauty of it. The soundtrack that accompanied the journey was also quite enjoyable, moreso because of the Chopin influence. Which brings me to the story. Having a story revolve around Chopin's life (sort of) was intriguing and the moments where the game played one of his pieces while detailing something that happened in his life were great. The actual story of the game however was a bit, well, weird and didn't really seem to maintain a focus. It chopped and changed a fair bit and while it wasn't confusing, it certainly took away from the experience somewhat. I am now playing through it for a second time to get the rest of the achievements I need and it is here where it has become a relative bore. I'm skipping cutscenes and because it's a 'New Game +', having to grind a fair bit so I am strong enough to defeat enemies/bosses that I had no troubles with in the first run. Again, my fault though for being a completionist...

Call of Duty 4 - I am growing tired of all of the FPS games out there. Actually, growing tired of the big focus that the entire industry seems to have with guns (not just FPS but almost all genres). That's a subject for another day though. I am also not really a fan of war games, generally steering clear of the WWII ones due to just not having an interest in the subject matter. It was refreshing then to find that I absolutely enjoyed Call of Duty 4. I don't quite know how to explain it, but the modern war games (Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter for example) seem to be fascinating to me. Others can put it better than I can but the experience of these games just seems to be worth having. They seem important even if they are just fiction and if a game can make me feel that way, then it is doing something right. There's no need for me to comment on how it looks, sounds or even plays because we all know that it is brilliant. What I will say though is that some of those levels and set pieces are amazing and if that's the sort of thing we are going to see in gaming in the future, we are headed to a wonderful place.

Assassin's Creed - Like Call of Duty 4, this game felt important while playing but I just can't pinpoint why. Perhaps it was because it was so different, so unique or perhaps it was because it was one of the only games out there that allows you to play as an assassin? I don't know. What I do know is that as soon as it was announced I was anticipating it and Ubisoft's brilliant trailers for the game only added to that anticipation. Actually playing it was something else though and like Call of Duty 4, like BioShock and some other recent games, I was quite surprised to find just how immersive it was. I think it was the setting of the game that nailed the immersion and while yes, that twist that isn't really a twist made everything even more intriguing, just playing in that era was something enjoyable due to it being quite unique to our medium. Upon completion of the game I also begun thinking about how much potential it had as a franchise and how many different directions it can go in. I'm really interested to see where Ubisoft take it next that's for sure.

Two quick notes I'd like to touch on though: firstly the common complaints about it being repetitive weren't a concern for me. I could understand the complaints but due to the way I play my games, it wasn't an issue. Secondly the complaints about the collection of the flags wasn't an issue for me either as I treat collect-a-thons like that as something that is supposed to be taken as a nice and slow experience of the game's world. Taking it slow allowed me to enjoy it and as such, it never got tedious.

Skate - It has been quite a while since I played a Tony Hawk game - the last being Tony Hawk 4 - so I was looking forward to playing this. I'm not a skater in real life nor what you could call a fan but for some reason or another I always enjoyed the Tony Hawk games and you can now add Skate to that list. In fact, despite not knowing much about the sport in real life I still found myself appreciating the more realistic approach that this game has when compared to Tony Hawk which in turn added to my enjoyment while playing. It took a while to get used to the controls (using the right control stick to 'flick' your tricks) so it did have a steep learning curve, but before long I had the hang of it and loved every second of it. It reminded me of Test Drive Unlimited actually and how I loved to just choose a car and go for a cruise in that. I did something similar in Skate where just skating around and finding a set of stairs or something to do tricks off was fun and at times more interesting than following the main game. The challenges at the end of the game were pretty damn hard though and I definitely struggled to complete it so when I actually did, I was quite proud of my effort. I'm not sure if it was a skill (read: my lack of) thing or the game's difficulty really did ramp up, but either way the overall experience was great and a nice change from the shooting and racing games that I had been playing.

Braid - Another game that felt important while playing it, however I wonder if that was because everyone else was going in-depth on what the game's meaning was (and so on) or because it is actually important. I appreciate the experience that Jonathon Blow has created though and thoroughly enjoyed playing it. Solving some of those puzzles was hard but the feeling of accomplishment afterwards was great and I can definitely see why it was compared to Portal (which I just recently started playing) as well. I'm a sucker for art direction and this one definitely had a gorgeous one that, when combined with the homages to older platformers like Mario and a nice and relaxed soundtrack made for a nice and short gaming experience and one of the best games to hit the Xbox Live Arcade so far.

Lost: Via Domus - I don't have much to say about this game other than that yes, I liked it. Sure it was short and sure as a game, it wasn't all that special but to me it didn't really matter. As an extension of the show it was definitely worth playing and it naturally ended in typical Lost fashion, posing more questions than answering them. It confuses me though that the creators of the show haven't tapped into this cross-over plot a bit more as it seems a bit pointless to ask those questions and then not follow them up somewhere with answers. Even Wikipedia doesn't really link it in with the show...

So there you have it, a summary of the games I have played in recent months and what I think of them. I didn't really say anything worthwhile or go in-depth with any of them but in a way, I don't feel like I have to. Everyone has discussed them already so I'm not going to add anything new but it is still nice to write some thoughts on them, even if it's only so I can remind myself of them in a few years time.

I haven't covered every game that I have been playing recently though and will cover games like Fable 2, Portal: Still Alive and The Darkness as I play them more and form my thoughts. Individual posts this time though, I hope. ;)