New, Used, Abused: Batman-Arkham Asylum

Posted in New, used, abused with tags , , on November 1, 2009 by Baggie

Batman has been around forever now, firstly in his comic book form where he was frequented by blatant propoganda and “POW”, “SPLAT”, and various other onomatopoeia, to the current day, where he somehow starred in a couple of really good movies (Or the first anyway, second one was pretty much Heath Ledger).

Now, games that are based around recent movie franchises or based around the movies themselves are usually not that terrific. You get some absolute golden stuff like Butcher Bay or Spiderman 2, but mostly they just fail because they often try to coincide with the movie too much rather than actually developing good gameplay or a story that isn’t just the movie retold.

Arkham Asylum is defying the odds, in that it’s actually a good game. Not just a decent game, but a well thought out story with fun gameplay elements, all rather consistent with the typical image of Batman, sort of a cross between classic saturday morning batman, and new movie “I eat gravel instead of cereal” Batman.

The game starts off with Batman driving the Joker back to Arkham Asylum (Basically where the Batman villains get locked up before they break out again, usually more than once, which is pretty impressive because it’s a sodding island with one bridge). You have a slightly slow entrance that establishes several characters, as well as some important plot lines that become more important later.

The story is mainly driven by actions from the Joker, Harley Quinn, and company, but occasionally they try to throw you off the scent, where your detective vision mode comes in handy. Detective vision is technology that lets batman see various elements invisible to the naked eye, such as tobacco traces, fingerprints, and other things in order to track people to their hiding spots. It also lets you see enemies through walls, shows if they have a gun, and can tell you if they’re scared, calm, unconscious, dead. It’s practically a straight upgrade to human eyes, the only problem is that it kind of gets boring not being able to see the impressive environments around you.

The gameplay in Batman is very solid in both its main aspects of fighting and stealth. While it’s normally difficult to pull of a seemless transition between the two, somehow they pull it off rather well. This is aided by the various gadgets batman unlocks through the game, which increase mobility, combat efficiency, and some are just plain fun, like the proxy explosive gel you can put near bodies and will explode automatically when an enemy gets too close.

The hand to hand fighting is really exceptional. In my (slightly limited) experience of fighting games, most of the time you can basically keep attacking the enemies until they fall over. While this is fun for a little while, it does get boring quickly because all the fights in the game feel the same.
Batman shines because it’s always making you adapt how you fight with different enemies, different unlockable weapons and techniques, and has this flowing combat system, which means you get more experience from chain combos, which are pulled off by consistently being in combat with no more than 2 seconds between actions, avoiding all enemy attacks. It also pulls the difficulty curve up at a well crafted pace, meaning you never get too bored or hit a brick wall because you can’t seem to hurt the bastards.
As a personal testament to the quality of the hand to hand fighting, I spent a lot of time after the game was finished in Challenge mode, trying to get better scores on the fighting challenges because it’s just so much fun.

The stealth combat is less impressive, though still rather solid. You basically sneak around a large room with a bunch of enemies walking around with firearms, and have to take them all down, using the gargoyles on the ceiling as escape tools.
Where this shines is the environmental interaction you can pull off, e.g. you can blow up walls to knock out henchmen with the rubble, string them up on gargoyles, pull enemies over railings off ledges, all the while picking off enemies that are distracted by your Bat-toys you can unlock through the game.
The main problem is though the enemies aren’t particularly good at seeing you, even when you’re hanging directly over henchmen, directly breathing down their neck, they don’t seem to notice. It does make it easier, but there could be another way of making the stealth sections doable without the henchmen having a collective IQ of 4.

Because Batman is pretty consistent in his character it takes his enemies to really define him and the story, and Mark Hamill does a terrific Job of portraying the Joker as a Wacky, Insane Genius who is constantly in communication with the entire island, changing between playing with batman and playing with his own henchmen.
This results in some absolute golden lines, which are ever-changing throughout the game as you progress and his plans begin to take fruition. There’s some appearances from classic characters like Bane, Poision Ivy, Killer Croc, and some truly excellent sections as Batman is under the effect of Scarecrow’s fear gas. Every character is rich in detail and well voiced.

There’s also a metagame where batman has to find solutions to clues the Riddler has left around the island, taking pictures of the solution to get extra character info and maps for the Challenge mode. It also relates to a lot of characters that, while not having a pivotal role in the game, are still present in some way, such as the Frozen cell of Dr Freeze, or the Goggles of Catwoman, creating a feeling of an enormous universe you’re only scratching the surface in Arkham.

In short, Batman- Arkham Asylum is a terrific game, and can recommend it to practically anyone, as  I’m convinced that there’s probably no one in the world that doesn’t like Batman.

Note: I was intending to start putting pictures on my blog, but I don’t have any handy and uninstalled the game yesterday. Next time!


Terribly sorry, seem to have dozed off for a bit

Posted in Random Rants on November 1, 2009 by Baggie

Evening one and all,
As you may or may not have noticed I’ve not updated this particular blog in… two months and one day.
I can mostly attribute this to:

-My own laziness
-A medical condition that can best be described in one sentence as “Gremlins in my cellular level”

Luckily I’m over the second so the first won’t be so much of a problem now! I’ll be posting either before the night is out or early tomorrow! Should be back on usual schedule now.



Random Rant: You’re doing it wrong

Posted in Random Rants on August 31, 2009 by Baggie

Don’t get me wrong, I love developers. They make shiny new toys for us to play with, without them we’d not have the gaming scene we see today.

However there’s a small problem in that they always do something not quite right. Whether it be a lack of multiplayer or a lack of depth, there’s usually something they could have changed that would turn the game from good into some sort of super game that people would still be playing consistently for many years to come.

While these flaws are by no means gaps in evil villan plans that could have been spotted by a 3 year old child, they are things that, while maybe not so obvious to the developer, are pretty obvious to people who actually play the game.

Therefore I present so problems that prevented games from being truely great.

Mirrors Edge

Mirrors Edge is one of my favorite games. It combines high movement control with interesting environments, and some really fun gameplay. Unfortunately they had the idea to not use the awesome backstory of the game to it’s full potential, where super athletes ran around rooftops and delivered messages to people trying to bring the evil government down.

Instead focus on it’s downfall. It’s like they decided to build this terrific world with a realistic ecosystem and all that good stuff, only to destroy it and show you the ashes. My favorite mission in the entire game is the second last one, where you’re going through this nearly abbandoned building a lot of the time, free in a construction site to play on the scaffolding. Somehow they can’t grasp that people can have fun WITHOUT being shot at.

What they could have done instead is taken it one step back, made it about what came before everything went to bollocks. Have a open world game that you run around in, delivering documents and getting in trouble with the police. I guess I’m describing a fusion between current mirrors edge and GTA, but dammit, it would be AWESOME. Throw in multiplayer and Co-op and instant Game of the Year status.

Farcry 2

Farcry 2 had this big open world to explore. I can respect that, and an African environment would be a very interesting place to explore. But the game doesn’t let you. The game instead breaks up the peaceful bliss of exploration with “THERE’S GUYS OVER THERE SHOOTING AT YOU” every 12 seconds. I don’t mind combat, but let us take a BREAK every now and then. Please? I mean even if you manage to avoid the clone-producing outposts you get the enemy comming to YOU. Who thought that constant combat throughout the entire game was a good idea?

What would have been better is a little less checkpoints, and the faction you keep doing missions for? Maybe you could make THEM you allies? What would be so wrong with that? You do it right and you end up having half the map where you can explore to your hearts content. Maybe even encourage people to replay the game to see the other side without constant gunfire ruining your body.

Fallout 3, Oblivion, a lot more open world games

There’s this problem with open world games, where you can choose a profession, travel around doing quests, joining guilds etc, that you have this one constant storyline that is central to everything you do. Why, after all the freedom you give us, do you randomly decide that you need to plonk in  a linear storyline? The entire point is that you make your own experience. While I’ve got nothing against linear storylines in a, I don’t know, linear story line game, the point of having one in a open world is kind of pointless.

The answer is quite simple, don’t put one in. I don’t want to find my father, close the gates to oblivion, etc.

Instead concentrate on the world you’re creating, make it more detailed, make a few more kilometres of open land, make another city, give the player more options for their character. Ultimately they’ll enjoy these additions far more than a campaign they’ll only play once.

In conclusion

Very briefly, you don’t need to be shot at all the time to have fun, and you don’t need elements in your game that don’t make sense to the grand style of your game. Always make sure that the game you are making is as much fun as humanly possible to yourselves and others.

New, Used, Abused: Farcry 2

Posted in New, used, abused with tags , on August 11, 2009 by Baggie

Foreward: When I bought this game at the GAME store in Bathurst, they gave me a copy of the Fortune’s Pack DLC for free, which gave me new vehicles and weapons (as well as Multiplayer maps, but the multiplayer community is dead). Woo GAME! Buy your games from GAME! I just wish they had a better name.

Farcry 2 is a game by developers Ubisoft, in stark comparison to the general formula of sequels the game actually has nothing to do with Farcry, besides shooting people really.

You start off the game as 1 of 9 different playable characters, tasked by a US Government divison to kill a chap called ‘The Jackel”, who’s been supplying arms to both sides of the conflict (I chose Andre, he had the most similar hair and name to me, always a plus.) However within your first few seconds of precious cutscene you contract malaria somehow and passout. Then you awake to find the guy you were sent to kill NURSING you back to health, though he seems a little pissed that you’ve got orders to assassinate him. He however seems like a genuinely nice guy, you know, past the psycotic arms dealer thing. He then lets you live, telling you you’ll have to find something else to do with your time.

Genuinely, I felt I wanted to keep out of his hair. For a guy you’ve been sent to assassinate to mend you up from the brink of DEATH, it seemed like the least I could do. Unfortunately I was swept up in a cascade of storyline, and was rescued from death by one of the warring factions, the ULFF. At least I THINK it was the ULFF. It was pretty difficult to tell, both sides don’t have that much difference between them.After a couple of missions I was pretty much released into the open world, to enjoy the diverse forests, barren deserts, etc.

First thing that’s notable is the game is in first person the entire time. No 3rd person cutscenes, no vehicle-cam, just straight FPS. And it’s really immersive, especially with the fully visible character body, the expressive 1st person animations of your character, and the minimal HUD. It draws you in very skillfully, which makes it pretty decent to me already.

The first couple of missions were pretty standard, go to certain place, destroy certain object/person. It’s a tried and true method. But the first thing that struck me when I left the local mission-town, the outpost I’d wiped out a couple of minutes earlier had mysteriously repopulated.

First thought was that I felt the game had cheated me somehow. Though I slowly realised that in an actual war places of strategic importance generally don’t go left alone, especially since the opposite force had proceeded to drive away at breakneck speed after clearing the place out.

Made sense, so I figured I’d do my best to stay out of the people’s way. But that was easier said than done, most of the place is contained within heavy bushland, meaning that it was more or less unavoidable that I’d have to fight some people in my travels.

Now normally I don’t have a problem with fighting. Hell, it’s why I play games in the first place, but the idea of killing enemies when they’re going to be replaced in 5 minutes just feels so… pointless. I mean in most games you can clear out an area and bam, you’ve got a safe zone. You’ve made the world, particularly this 20×20 metre square, a better place. But here, you’ve got to slog your way through countless hordes of people, and while realistic, it just feels irritiating. Of course the other option would be to have the camps stay cleared, but frankly that’d lead to me clearing the world in a couple of hours and somehow there’s a war going on after all the troops have died.

I kept on with the missions, but they had a bad case of being very similar too. I mean the objectives were different and there was always a reason for them to be done, storyline wise, but they boiled down to killing the people in the area, pressing ‘e’ on or blowing up the object in question.

This game has a bad case of what is referred to as ‘combat fatigue’ (Coined by the nice chaps at Valve). It’s when the player has been fighting for far too long, and it begins to make them feel frustrated, of course how much too long is is different from person to person. Typically you can break this up by giving the player some constructive puzzles or something similar to release the tension, but this game can’t really pull that off, being a Sandbox game. They have a fun mechanic where you can hunt for dimonds hidden around the world, and the exploration, though annoyingly limited in some areas, is very fun, but there’s a big wall for me when it comes to driving.

Africa, being a very large place, will require you to do some driving if you want to get places. I mean you can walk, but it’s probably faster to drive. While the driving is alright in itself, it makes you wait a fair ammount of time until you can get to your desination, which kind of irks me. I mean I play games to unwind etc, not to practice a driving simulator.

The storyline, is truely intruiging. I crave more, which keeps me going through this game, which at times I feel like a bit of a slogfest. The Jackel is someone that, while seemingly evil, there’s more to his intentions than initially revealed, and I can’t help but think he might be onto something. The only problem is to get to these wonderful parts of story I must go through missions that become pretty much all the same and travel that feels like I’m doing the 2 hour drive from my Uni to home. And because I want more of the story, the more I try to rush through the missions and combat, which makes me more frustrated

All this frustration and hopelessness though makes me feel like it was at least partly intentional. Maybe they were trying to illustrate how pointless war is, or emulate the feelings of the character who’s seeking revenge on the person who robbed him of his career.Though this may be silly to assume, it could equally be they thought that players like constant combat.

The buddy system is quite good, you have NPCs scattered around the world, guys you didn’t pick as your character, and guys that’re just there to hang around you. How you find them can be pretty cool, I rescued some random chick that’s plane fell out of the SKY. They can rescue you when you die, a sort of backup system, but when they’re in the world with you there’s a chance that they could die.
First they’ll go down, and call for help. From there you can choose to heal them, leave them, or put them out of their misery.
Though sometimes it’s not enough. They’re not uberhumans (well maybe they are, but they have limits), they can die. I was raiding a treasure stash with my buddy Josip, and it ended up in a massacre. They died, and he was there, crying for help. I put in 3 syrettes into him, before he passed out and died. And I felt genuinely sympathetic to his demise, which is a landmark for me personally, it takes a lot of effort into making people feel for a charcter they know doesn’t exist.

Something random I’d like to mention are the fire physics in the game. They’re absolutely stunning. I’ve never seen fire that’s been programmed so well. You throw a molotov at a patch of grass, the grass will burn down. And any trees, people, wooden buildings etc that’s in it’s range. It’s really pretty and actually serves a tactical advantage as well, the AI coming to investigate and try to put it out.

This is a really good game, and there’s so much to like about it, but personally I find I can’t play for too long without getting so bored with the compulsory travel sections and the constant fighting. The environments are stunning, and everything fuctions really well, and the storyline is really intruiging, but it’s a bit of a slog to get to the good parts. Pick it up if you can stand constant fighting and are partial to a bit of high quality storyline.

Retrospect: Why UT3 failed.

Posted in Retrospect with tags , on July 28, 2009 by Baggie

Note: Big Ol’ Wall of text.

Unreal Tournament 3 was released late 2007 by Epic Games. Unreal Tournament has been a successful franchise since it was made in 99. Since then there’s been UT2003 and UT2004, (arguably the same game except UT2003 was terrible), not to mention the incredible amount of content UT99 has been updated with. All of these games were terrific and had something new to enjoy.

Then there was this game.

It wasn’t immediately obvious to me after I first played the game what I felt, but there was something that meant the game felt a little bit wrong. It was still fun, and it looked nice, but somehow it wasn’t as good as it’s predecessors. Clearly the gaming community thought this as well, as the Games multiplayer fell to the point that more people were playing UT99 than this game. Which was quite sad, because it had real potential to be a good game, but somehow it just missed the mark.
After a couple of years, I feel I may have pinned a couple of reasons as to why it failed.

– Unreal Tournament in not a Tournament

Strangely enough, Epic decided that the Single Player Campaign, where you competed in a tournament, choosing which maps to play, which bots to use, wasn’t good enough. They instead decided that they needed to create a single player campaign where you were trying to get revenge on some undead person and to do so you’d have to fight your way through 3 different factions in a linear corridor which makes you play maps OVER and OVER again (One of my personal hatreds in gaming).

While you can argue they have every right to make a plot more substantial than a few GUIs, which is understandable I suppose, I’m wondering what’s happened to the Unreal series? They had a bit of plot, and as far as I know they weren’t shabby. They had a large story component, small multiplayer, and UT had a small story and large multiplayer. And it worked really well. But for some reason they had to spend ALL that time making terrible jokes with paper-thin characters and frankly just killing the fun. It makes me wonder what they could have accomplished with all of that time, which brings me to-

-Lack of Content on release

When I say lack of content I mainly mean maps. When the game was released it had reasonable amount of maps, but all the maps were spread in all 4 gamemodes, meaning the gamemode you happen to like will invariably be undercut in content. Combine this with Technical restrictions and you’re not going to have a bunch of content.

Technical restrictions? Well, the UT3 Engine in itself is a really good engine. So good it doesn’t have a skybox function, so good it renders textures in potentially enormous capacities.
While this allows it to make really detailed environments, it also means that maps take a longer time to develop, means you got to make the characters look that much better. Which means that to make good quality content, you’ve got to make less of it.
Good quality content would be the lesser of two evils, but they seem to have concentrated on making the environments look pretty and not making the maps fun to play. Segue into-

-Where’s my favorite gamemodes?

Warfare is a mash of Assault and Onslaught from the previous games. Both gametypes were good, and a mixture of them would only be good right?
Unfortunately Assault was a very fast paced and the objectives were quick, and Onslaught was a more slow placed vehicle mashup with slow objectives. Combine that with sluggish vehicle controls and bad remakes of previously good maps, and it sort of makes this horrible thing which nobody really wants to play, ruining both gametypes.

They also removed Bombing Run, which was a favorite of mine, and any form of Domination, again another favorite of mine. Seemingly all this game has done is taken what you most loved, and either trashed it or ruined it.

And they made 5 remakes of Torlan from UT2004, god knows why.

But what really ticked me and several other people off too was when they claimed that the community could just remake the gamemodes with their editing tools. And while, yes, you shipped with editing tools, congratulations, after a while it felt like they ruined you favorite gametype, only to seemingly blame you, the community, because you didn’t remake something they could have easily made instead of this pile of junk.

-Gameplay regression

The gameplay of UT has always been based on the predecessor, with a few improvements and changes here and there. Back in UT2004 they added in a dodge move, which could be accessed by doubletapping a movement key. You could also dodge off wall to launch yourself away, and it was all very fun and rewarding. You could also double-jump, which was basically jumping in the air to give you a little more control and height.

So Epic, continuing their path of bad decisions, decided to adjust the double-jump and dodge moves so they were clunky and unfun. Excuuuse us for wanting to be skilled at your game Epic.

-What I did like

I can’t really be negative about everything in the game though, because I never would have picked it up again if I was. To be fair, while a lot of it annoyed me the game was functional for the most part (barring vehicles), and did have some cool parts. Just, only in Deathmatch.

The Deathmatch maps are pretty much a shining example of what the rest of the game should have been. They’re in creative environments, they have a fair amount of exciting elements, and maps such as Heatray (Enormous Tripod of DEATH), Phobos (Gattling Laser on Mounted Platform 200 metres from arena) really acceled in using these elements in fair and fun ways.

The graphics are quite good, as the UT3 engine is good at, but it sort of becomes a bitter acknowledgement rather than praise because if they spent more time on the fun stuff then the game might have been just that little bit better.

-End product

The game had good parts, and was still UT, but so much of it felt like they’d ruined or left out stuff. Coupled with the netcode being pretty shoddy it actually angered the UT Community, which, as the people that pay and enjoy your games, you do not want to get angry. It was really irritating to them that the game that had looked so good beforehand turned out to be something they didn’t really want to play.

So they community pretty much died, and anyone that has a few friends in gaming tends to know when major games are flops. Now your left with a game that annoys players who would have otherwise enjoyed spent a sizable amount of time on. Which being a game so heavily revolved around multiplayer was a very bad thing.

The game eventually converted to steam and released a free, large, update for UT3, and for a while it looked like it may be revieved, but unfortunately it was too little too late, and after a couple of weeks the multiplayer went back to being a Barren wasteland.

NOTE: I also did not use the term EPIC FAIL. Because that would be too easy.

New, Used, Abused: Prototype

Posted in New, used, abused on June 18, 2009 by Baggie

Right. 3/4 exams complete, will now attempt to write about something that MATTERS. Hopefully this all makes sense.

Prototype is a game I picked up last weekend. Developed by Radical Entertainment.

It’s a rather simplistic style of game, you’re presented with New York. You are a super-human tentacle monster thing. Due to the minimal plot that’s about all I can reveal without giving massive spoilers.
You have an impressive range of abilities, from incredible aerobatics to incredible feats of strength to the ability to disguise as anyone you’ve ‘consumed’. Think incredible hulk mixed with Hayabusa with a dash of TF2 Spy. And tentacles.

First off I’ll say it’s not a nice game. There an excessive amount of gore, and if you square the amount of gore the fear series had you might be coming close. You gain powers, evolution points (EP, cause XP wasn’t good enough), health and discuses by beating the SHIT out of people and then absorbing them into your tenticle mass. There’s zombie monsters that run around eating people, covered in blood. There’s enormous infections that’s consuming most of the city. There’s corrupt private military organisations.
And for some reason they made it all SERIOUS. Sometime a little more lighthearted would have been nicer, might have intruged the player a little more. All the gore and seriousness made me wonder if everyone in the company has the sense of humor of a wallnut.
I’m wondering if the entire non-seriousness of the game is actually a subtle design choice to appear ironic or something, it’s just confusing to me that they either stumbled upon a good game design entirely by accident or they decided to make fun of the serious game stereotype.

But there’s two sides of the coin. The game is incredibly fun. So much fun that when people play it a crowd forms around them and everyone there laughs maniacally. I saw one guy play for a good 30 minutes using the ‘Body Ride’ power where you jump at a person, grind them into the ground and slide on them for a good distance while it rains blood behind you. It’s so awful, yet somehow it’s just so hilarious.
Maybe we’re just desensitised to blood and gore, I’m not sure if a regular person would find it so funny. But bravo to them for designing for their audience anyway.

The gameplay itself is surprisingly well done as far as the player character systems go. You get EP by doing basically everything, can complete side missions for EP, rain military bases for EP and upgraded weapon abilities, all of which goes towards your character’s powers. You can transform your arms into a good half a dozen weapons, all pretty awesome, and can upgrade them with new abilities and other awesome add ons.

However they screw everything up in a main aspect. While technically the game allows you to choose your own playing style, this gets screwed up by an addition to the game a couple of missions into the storyline where they add machines that can detect you in a certain radius. They then proceed to put them in all vital locations, effectively killing the stealth aspect of the game. So you’re essentially forced to go all out assault. Fine.

THEN they add a pink cloud of death which consistently damages you while you’re in it, and put THAT in practically all storyline missions. Now you’re forced to do hit and run attacks. Then they make the missions much harder and harder until I’ve stopped playing the storyline because the more I progress the worse the game becomes. This is after the initial novelty of the game wears off as well.

On a more personal note I’ve got an issue with the game on my computer that should be noted. It’s running pretty well most of the time, but after particularly hard boss battles they insist on showing some in-game cutscenes. Fine, except the game decides to crash before I can save and then I’ve got to do the boss battles AGAIN. Which means I may be being a little harsh on the difficulty curve as I have to do the hardest missions twice.

I’m pretty intrigued by the moral-system in the game, or rather lack thereof. You can kill anyone you wish, pick up cars off the street and hurl them down the road. The game even encourages this to an extent by giving you targets you can consume for EP, adding to the web of intrigue.
Speaking of which it seems like an interesting plot-development idea, when you consume a target you get their memories. This means you can learn things about the plot, which sounds like something that’d appeal to me greatly.
If it worked. Which it doesn’t for me because they’re pre-rendered movies and the video pauses for minutes at a time so I just skip these. Don’t the developers test their game on anything but high powered machines? I mean my laptop is no slouch and it still fails at these videos.

Anyway, prototype is a fun game, however it could definitely have gone with a lighter tone and better storyline progression. But the gameplay is terrifically open-world. I spent about an hour running up skyscrapers and jumping off the top to see how big a crater I could make. I made a pile of cars and then blew them up. I stalked random civilians in the street, grabbed them, ran up a building and then proceeded to EAT them. So it’s really what you like in a game that determines whether you’ll like Prototype, but it’s certainly not perfect.

Random Rants: Game release pandemonium.

Posted in Random Rants on June 8, 2009 by Baggie

Game developers are always trying to make maximum profit out of a project, it’s how the financial world works. This results in the mass release dates about a month before christmas so appropriate hype can be created when it’s needed and everyone buys it for christmas. While this normally is fair enough because most people are only interested in a couple of titles, this year there seems to be some multi-corporation conspirisy where everyone is releasing sequels to extremely well done games that have had a good thousand extra interesting features put in. All ending in ‘2’.
Bioshock 2

Bioshock was a FPS released back in late 2007. It was based on the System Shock series back in the 90’s, and blended steampunk and biopunk with moral delemas and philisophical questions, as well as having some extremely pretty environments. All at the bottom of the ocean. There were a good hundred tactical plausablilities and was extremely satifying outsmarting your enemies.

Bioshock had these roaming bosses called Big Daddies, which you could kill to get the little girls they protected so you could either save them from their horrible slavery and get a little bit of magic fairy liquid (used to buy new plasmids, which enable you to shoot things out of you hand, such as bees) or kill them to get maximum magic fairy liquid. It was no easy task though, these guys were 2.5 metres tall and either shot rivets and beat the shit out of you, or had an enormous drill for an arm to beat the shit out of you.

In Bioshock 2, you get to PLAY as a Big Daddy. Not just any Big Daddy though, the prototype that was deemed too costly to be plausable to mass produce. This comes back to a point I made earlier that what’s more fun than making the game harder by upgrading the enemies is having the same enemies, just making more of them. So you’ll be stomping around a not-quite abandoned ruined city underwater shooting fire and bees out of your arm and generally killing anyone who decides to attack you. YES.

Oh, and Coop and multiplayer, which I’m cautiously optimistic about.

Assassin’s Creed 2

Assassin’s Creed was released november 2007, and involved you parkour’ing around several different cities in the 11th century, being tasked to Assassinate a couple of templars but in general free to do your own thing as well. You had multiple ways to approach a target, could climb buildings and had a mechanised blade that you could use to do some IMPRESSIVE inhumation. It also had interesting characters and a decent storyline, however the cutscenes that could take upwards of 5 minutes and you couldn’t skip got a little repetative.

In Assassin’s Creed 2 you play as a different chap in 16th century italy, with improved parkour mechanics, combat mechanics, and you have 2 mechanised blades that are also now guns. While not much is known right now if it’s anything like the old game it looks to be quite a good deal of fun.

Mass Effect 2

The first Mass Effect was very nice, you went travelling around the universe blowing up robots and questing to your hearts content. There were several different classes all with fun abilities and had dialogue trees whenever you taked to someone. It was pretty and had an interesting storyline, and the harder difficulties were extremely fun, following the “harder = more enemies” rule. There was an INCREDIBLE amount of content, which is nice but it ends up being more of the same, with the storyline missions being vastly more fun.

Mass Effect 2, is a lot more focused on the story than the original, and has vastly improved combat mechanics where you can blow parts of people off, as well as see them try to crawl away. The characters look better, and it uses your save games from Mass Effect 1 to determine if certain characters are alive, as well as putting into effect the choices you made last game. Again, if it’s like the original it’ll be extremely enjoyable.

Left 4 Dead 2

This one’s an interesting one, suddenly I wake up one morning and valve has created a new game while I wasn’t looking. “Where the hell did that come from?” was my immediate response. Apparently it’s going to release 364 days after the original was released.

At this stage the game looks largely finished, and I’m cautiously optimistic about this game, it has melee weapons and new special infected, as well as new characters and new campaigns. I’m a bit concerned this idea is half baked though, for one it’s set in daytime now, which is a bit of a risky change. The special infected from the last game are kind of conspiuous at this stage,the incendry ammo seems cool but means the tank is now even MORE useless than before, the melee weapons are kind of overpowered, and while it’s not a finished product it seems lacking something the original one had.

It’s created a bit of a stir with customers though, there’s even a sizable movement to stop L4D 2 and have it released as DLC for the original, which confuses me to buggery, they still need to make a profit and it’s a lot of content to just give away for free. I think it’ll probably be fun, though I don’t know if I’ll preorder it as I did the last one.

The issue is, most gamers and a sizable amount of people that aren’t know about the quality of these original games, and practically everyone I know who plays games regularly has played these games. So how is it any kind of fair they release all these games within the same month? I mean I want all of them, but can’t really justify buying them ALL at the same time!
Market forces make me cry sometimes.

(Fun fact: Curiously 3 of these games were released in 2007, so apparently 2009 is the new 2007.)