Monday, September 14, 2009

Looking Forward

I've been in a very contemplative mood lately, considering a variety of things and deciding how I feel about them, what needs changing, what should stay the same, and so on. Naturally, games are included and in particular, how I should approach the forthcoming rush of titles that will see out the rest of the year, not to mention the incredibly packed 2010.

The first aspect of this is the potential purchases I could make in the next few months and where I stand with them now, as opposed to a month or so ago. For a while I had been of the mindset that I would be buying roughly 5-6 games at the end of the year. This was a list I was happy with, after already considering it and making an effort to prioritise titles after overwhelming myself with releases late last year, something I've harped on about enough here. For the record, the games were: Forza Motorsport 3, Assassin's Creed 2, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, the Metroid Prime Trilogy and Brutal Legend. There are, of course, more games than that being released that I'm interested in and eager to play, but my line of thinking was that those chosen would be suffice and that I could catch up with the rest at a later date, much like I've been doing this year. But, in my recent re-evaluating of what's important, I realised that even that bunch of games would overwhelm me. Maybe not as much as last year, but it would still be enough and it's just not a feeling I'm keen to revisit any time soon. So with this in mind I lowered the list to just three titles: the Metroid Prime Trilogy, Forza Motorsport 3 and Assassin's Creed 2.

Sticking to just three titles will allow me to focus on each one a little more instead of trying to balance a whole host of titles at once. You will notice, however, that one title is a re-release of games that are not new; the Metroid Prime Trilogy is a bundle of all three games in the Metroid Prime series, with only minor changes and the inclusion of Wii controls. Why then, is this in the list when it's a package of old games and could wait in favour of a brand new title? Well the answer is simple, I'm a Metroid fanboy, but it goes beyond that too as I have not played the third in the series, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. This is simply because I did not own a Wii until recently, and when I made the purchase I decided to delay buying Corruption until the Trilogy was released.

As much as I'm looking forward to finally playing Corruption, the Trilogy also allows me to revisit the original two games, which brings me to the other aspect of my re-evaluation. Despite having already played through both Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes countless times before, I'm really excited to do so again. Why? Because I plan on discovering why I love them so much and then writing about it here, analyzing what makes them tick and why I resonate with that kind of experience. It will be the first time I've made an effort to really get to the core of the (my) experience and I look forward to taking on such a challenge. Metroid is not the only game that is giving me the chance to do this, however; an Xbox Live Arcade port of the original Perfect Dark is coming out soon and before Metroid Prime came along, that was my favourite game ever, so I am, of course, looking forward to playing through it again. Last but not least, the recent announcement of a new Okami game for the DS (which I might add is looking wonderful) has reinvigorated my love for the original on PS2, so I'd like to revisit it via the Wii version and again rediscover why it resonates with me so much.

Basically, my contemplative mood has seen my priorities change and as a result, this year's impending releases aren't as enticing anymore. Sure, I want to get the games as much as the next person, but I've realised that I can wait for them too. I've got plenty to play right now anyway so really, there's no rush. Going through this process has certainly been interesting and ultimately, I think anyway, rewarding. I've considered what is important in my life and now the moves are in motion to ensure that I can continue to enjoy it, instead of getting caught up in the rush and grind that can come with following the crowd. So while everyone else enjoys the awesome games that are about to hit, I'll be sitting on the sidelines playing some older titles like Super Mario Galaxy. I look forward to playing them and I also look forward to hearing about your experiences with the new games, so don't let me down. ;)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Digital Games Round-Up

Second round-up then, this time focusing on the other three digitally downloaded games I have been playing recently. I originally intended to write about each of them in separate posts, but I figured I'd lump some thoughts together in one post and then move onto the other posts I've been intending to do lately.

Wipeout HD -- I don't even know what to say about this game, I simply love it. First and foremost, it looks absolutely gorgeous. The tracks are packed with incredible detail that is largely unnecessary when you consider how fast you'll be flying past, while the environments are futuristic but realistic in that game sort of way. Put simply, it's a visual treat, but the ears also get a work out with the sound being, in a word, amazing. This is one of those games that you would use to show off your new sound setup to your friends, it's just that good. And while I don't have a decent sound setup of my own yet, I want one because of this game. Throw in an electronic soundtrack that really compliments the game's aesthetic and represents the intensity of the racing and you have a game that really plays to your senses. Thankfully, it's not just the superficial side of the game that is fantastic as it plays really well too. The racing is fast, frenetic and at times, strategic (via the inclusion of weapons Mario Kart style) and it makes for one incredibly intense experience. It's my first Wipeout game so I can't speak about the others in the series, but I have played F-Zero GX and consider that to be my favourite racing game ever. So when I say that Wipeout HD is pretty much on par with that game in terms of enjoyment, well, I think you know how much I love it. Look out for a more in depth post on it in the future.

Super Stardust HD -- It would be very easy to class this as Geometry Wars in a different skin. It plays in a similar way, is as addictive as that game is and can get insane with the amount of enemies and obstacles around to shoot, but fortunately it has enough of its own unique features to justify looking at it on its own merits as well. Taking place on a variety of planets and a spherical game space, the main objective is to shoot a bunch of asteroids that continue to land around you. Three different weapons add a bit of strategy into the mix as more points can be obtained if you use the right weapon for the right kind of asteroid. Enemies appear intermittently and are usually used as a way to finish a level. There are five levels per planet, with a boss to defeat at the end of the fifth level. The short break between levels gives you information on your score, any bonuses you may have received and of course a breather from the action. Tokens for bombs, shields, weapon upgrades and points can be obtained after breaking up the asteroids and have the ability to entice you into taking risks -- Do I go for those extra tokens over there amongst the massive rocks, or do I leave them in favour of focusing on this bunch of asteroids instead? -- keeping gameplay interesting and unpredictable. Put simply, the game is great for short, quick and fulfilling bursts but can be as addictive as Geometry Wars too, so bare that in mind when preparing to play.

Trials HD -- This fits in the same category as Super Stardust and Peggle, which I wrote about the other day. It's simple in nature, accessible and immediately enjoyable, but contains an incredible level of depth that comes almost out of nowhere. Being a physics based motorcycle game, the depth comes from the physics system and how the tracks' various puzzles use that to their devious advantage. Beginner, Easy and Medium stages are all relatively easy to complete and obtaining Gold medals on each track is a breeze, but then you get into the Hard (and then after that, Extreme) stages and it's like a completely different game. Every section of a level contains a tricky puzzle that really challenges your skills, both with the mechanics of the game and your wit in solving it, and multiple retries are guaranteed. Thankfully, it never gets frustrating. Sure, it can be annoying when you realise you're retrying a section for the 200th time, but the 'just one more go' mentality prevails over any form of anger, dissatisfaction or disgust that you'd assume such a game would have. It's very addictive.

There you have it, some brief impressions on three games I have been playing recently. The three are, along with Peggle, perfect for when you are in-between games thanks to their accessible nature, but they're also worth playing for hours on end, too and it's for this reason I can see myself playing them for many more months to come. Look out for in-depth posts on each game in the future, once I've had the opportunity to focus on them individually.