It's been too long since my last post. Rather than my usual philosophy, how about a simple rundown on some games I've played over the past month?
Currently, I'm creeping through a borrowed copy of Rainbow Six: Vegas 2. I've only played the single-player campaign mode so far. It's a good tactical shooter, with more emphasis on action than strategy on the medium difficulty setting. I haven't played a Rainbow Six since the first game, which required thorough planning before starting a mission. V
egas 2 lets me jump right into the action. The level design is mostly linear, but there's a lot of freedom in weapon selection/customization and directing the AI companions (I often send them out as decoys, like the heartless commander that I am). When limited health means I have to replay a checkpoint several times, enemy actions are generally predictable, so I'm encouraged to try different strategies.
I downloaded Deathspank weeks ago, but didn't get far into it. I plan on playing more, but never feel in the mood. The heart of the game is its humor. The dialog is by turns hilarious and stupid, and sometimes both. But it's the item descriptions that I love most. The hack-and-slash gameplay is simple but well done. There's a good amount of choice in outfitting my character and use of weapons. One reason I decided to buy it is that it seems like the sort of game one of my non-gamer relatives could enjoy.
I traded in Dragon Age: Origins after at least 20 hours of play. I came down a little harsh on Mass Effect years ago because I had expectations going in (expectations created by Bioware's marketing, mainly concerning exploration) that were not met. Since then, I've played through Mass Effect 1 and 2 more than a few times. They're good games. But I went into Dragon Age after having ignored it for many months and remembering little other than that it's more focused on story than on action.
Well, that last part's an understatement. The two words that best describe my experiences with Dragon Age (as a male dwarf warrior untouchable and a female elf mage) are bland and tedious. The dialog drones on with a slew of uninteresting choices without even foreshadowing of lasting effect. Aside from the race backgrounds, the story strikes me as run-of-the-mill fantasy. The graphics are ugly and dated. As fervently and widely as the game has been praised, I have no doubt that the story improves further in and that I am simply not the sort of gamer Dragon Age was designed for. Even so, I'm extremely skeptical of the extraordinarily high marks it has been given. I'm looking forward to Mass Effect 3, but not Dragon Age 2.
Then there's Crackdown 2. It's difficult for me to come to a definite conclusion on that one, but I'll venture to say it's slightly better than the first Crackdown. It's better in some ways and worse in others. I really miss the gang variety. That alone makes gameplay a bit redundant after a while. But additions like agility orbs and gliding are great, as is plowing through mutants with a vehicle at night. I haven't tried much co-op yet.
What really makes the sequel stand out is multiplayer. Crackdown 2 has fragfests like you simply can't experience anywhere else. Once, I glided completely across a map to land on and crush an unsuspecting player, then shot the player who had been running toward him for a kill. It's blissful chaos. Half the time, a player is chasing another while being chased himself, then yet another player enters the fray from the side or above.
I recently traded in five games to pick up four others, so I'll make another post like this soon. Honestly, I have more games right now that I can fully explore -- always a good thing!