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[Gamer Diary] – What I’ve been playing… January 2012

2012 February 13

I have decided to ape some of the monthly features of gaming print mags and introduce a “What I’ve been playing…” summary post.  Sometimes I can play very few games and other times I can get through quite a bit; more to the point, there’s always something to say but often it might not be strictly in the feminist vein, or there might not be enough to develop into a full article.  So this post will be a bit of a test run – I know we’re in February now but I’m looking back at the completed month of Jan here – let’s see how we go, shall we?

Batman: Arkham City

Batman logo with the words "Arkham City" in red beneath - on a white background.

There were ‘issues’ with Arkham City (as you can read in my previous article), but there were still some good things to say as well.  The styling and the graphics were great (as they were in Asylum), and I enjoyed the noir feel that they went for, although it didn’t feel as gritty as the first game.  I suspect that may be because once you’ve seen something for the first time it loses its special impact.

City felt a bit too big coming after Asylum without the storyline longevity to really back it up.  There’re a lot of side quests and other bits to do and investigate, so the game has expanded in width as opposed to length.  Personally, I tend to let the side quests fall by the wayside as I power through the story.  It was a fairly competent and engaging(ish) story until the ending (I won’t spoiler but it sucked) despite the near ‘deus ex machina’ way in which they ended the stories of four key characters.

Playing as Catwoman was novel to begin with, but in the end wasn’t a big enough plus as one might have hoped.  Adding to the boiling pot were even more gadgets and even more complicated combat moves that you had to remember in order to beat certain baddies.  Overall, I think they over-complicated a sound concept that could’ve done a lot better.  If you played the first game and are thinking about getting City, wait until it comes down in price first or until they release a copy with the DLCs included.

Assassin’s Creed II

The image feature a man in hooded robes facing forward with two blades coming from contraptions on his wrists. The title reads "Assasin's Creed II" above him.This may seem an odd choice considering Revelations came out at the end of last year, but I played Brotherhood before AC2 so I had a whole 22 years of story to catch up on before I went on to the newest instalment.  This is another game series I was late getting into, as evidenced by me still not having completed the first game(s), but I enjoy it nonetheless.

The graphics and world design are always fantastic with these games; they build entire cities before your eyes.  The characters are ones that you can invest in; ‘sandboxing’ can be just as fun as the main story; the controls aren’t always the easiest (on PC) but you can get there in the end.  This game is super fun, and now I’m clued in on Ezio’s pre-Brotherhood story I can look forward to Revelations.  My only quibble is that there are only so many times I can listen to passers-by shouting “He’ll break something, the idiot!” (or any of their repetitive comments) before I’ll consider risking desynchronisation just to kill a few civvies.

Machinarium

The picture sees a towering city in the background with two main figures in the foreground climbing over a mound of discarded rubbish. Two small robots and a robotic bird are making their way across the scenery and two other robots look on from further away.

A cute little indie puzzle game, Machinarium was a little bit of a distraction in between Arkham and AC2 to cleanse the palette of my brain, as it were.  It’s a clever little offering set in a robot city, in which you have to stop some bad robots from killing the King robot and free your girlfriend from the evilbots’ grasps.  Various puzzles and stages lead you all over the city until you finally save the day.  Artistically it’s simple but charming and my only issue was the overused-in-indie trope of saving a damsel in distress.

Other gaming from January 2012

Those three are, admittedly, the only three games I have completed, but I’ve been dipping in and out of others too! Serious Sam 3: Before First Encounter has so far been good nostalgia-laden fun, but my brain really has been in Open World mode recently and my FPS-ing has suffered as a result.  Sonic Generations on PC has also been providing me with some chilled gaming – apart from when I get stuck – as it is bright, colourful and cheery, even in the face of a big baddie who is destroying time.  Finally, not one I have been playing, but Skate on Xbox 360 has been my favourite Let’s-Watch-Someone-Else game as I curl up on the sofa and watch my partner switch nollie heel something-or-other around San Vanelona – it is a good game, but the controls can be a bit pesky for a PC purist, and the complete and total absence of any female boarders is a bit dull.

Plans for February

So far, I don’t have any hard-and-fast plans on games; I might revisit Brotherhood as I enjoyed AC2 so much (and I lost my Broho save game).  I may also stretch to buying Revelations as I would like to make sure March is clear for Mass Effect 3.

What has everyone else been playing so far in 2012?

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Russell permalink
    February 13, 2012

    I consider myself to be an AssCreed “fan” but have never played the first one; as I understand it’s far inferior to the later games (The Ezio trilogy, you could call it) in terms of gameplay and not really necessary in order to understand and enjoy the story (Desmond recaps what was going on in his time at the start of 2 if I remember correctly). Regardless, the PS3 version of Revelations came bundled with 1, so no doubt I’ll get round to it at some point.

    • wererogue permalink
      February 13, 2012

      I played Brotherhood first, then 1, 2, Revelations. I’m definitely glad I played 1, though. It’s not nearly as bad as its reputation, in my opinion.

      The biggest complaints I’ve heard have been: it’s repetitive, and combat is too easy/boring.

      However, when you look at it, it’s not a lot longer than Shadow of the Colossus, and has much more variation in gameplay types. Most of that is skip-able as well, if you’re not a completionist, since you only need a few of the research missions to unlock each assassination mission.

      The combat is definitely simplistic compared to the later games and other offerings, but I never really minded it – it’s akin to AC2’s combat when everything is going smoothly. Since I was just burning through to pick up the story, I wasn’t really looking for a challenge.

      On top of that, the graphical quality is leagues ahead of any of the other games. When making AC2 they traded bigger and more interesting environments for the beautiful rendering and detail of AC, and it’s worth messing about a bit in AC1 just to see the levels.

      Pretty much all of the relevant story comes at the end, and yeah, it’s recapped, but being walked through it gave me a deeper understanding than I think I’d have had with just the infoburst at the start of AC2.

      The two things that hurt the game for me were the poor voice acting for Altaiir (they changed his voice actor for Revelations, and it’s a big improvement) and the superfluousness of the fetch quests – I was tempted to hunt down all the flags, but I checked and they don’t unlock any kind of reward; they’re just there to collect.

      • Rai permalink
        February 15, 2012

        At the moment I think what doesn’t help my impetus to get through the 1st game is that my partner has played it and I can, at the end of the day, just ask for a run-down of what happens (that’s what I’ve done so far). I’m sure I will get round to it eventually but probably not this month or next.

  2. February 14, 2012

    Saving up March for ME3? That’s a good idea, how about April as well? :)

    • Rai permalink
      February 15, 2012

      I’m hoping I can get through it at least once by the end of March so that I can review it for BadRep; but if it takes longer then so be it! Looking forward to see how it’ll turn out :)

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