Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Clearing the Backlog...

One of the drawbacks of being a gamer, if indeed there is one, is that we often end up with more games than we realistically have time to play. This results in some games not getting the attention they should or simply not getting played at all, so this got me thinking about two kinds of games in my current roster: games that I really want to play but haven’t gotten around to, and games that everyone else loves but I have been unable to get into. The latter can be attributed to me either having put it down after playing it for a while and not being impressed, or because I moved onto other titles before giving it the proper attention. For shits and giggles, I have compiled a list of games I plan to revisit soon and hopefully I will finish or appreciate in a way that I couldn’t before.
10. The Orange Box (Xbox 360)

This was one of the first games I bought when I purchased my Xbox 360, and it’s not difficult to see why everyone loves it. I have been a big fan of Half-Life 2 for a number of years and I have been dying to play through it again, however the inclusion of the first Portal and Team Fortress are what really push the value of this collection. Despite having it for over two years, I have yet to delve into it and this something I regret. Playing Half-Life 2 on a big screen is incentive enough, but the first Portal especially interests me given the popularity of the just-released sequel and I’ve heard that Team Fortress is a fantastic multiplayer experience.

9. Resonance of Fate (Xbox 360)
A fan favorite RPG that slid completely under the radar of most gamers due to it being released on the same day as Final Fantasy XIII, and by the accounts of many, it’s the superior game in many respects. I bought this game a while back but ended up giving it away as a gift, however I have re-acquired it and I am ready to give it a go. The battle system is reputed to be ridiculously complex and one that takes ample time to grow accustomed to, but that’s the challenge and reward of the game and one that has many of my gaming brethren hooked. Being a fan of more grind-heavy RPGs with a turn-based battle system, this one will likely be a challenge for me and there is a good chance I will put it down shortly after starting, however I will give it the old college try.

8. Nier (Xbox 360)

From what I have seen in gameplay videos and read in reviews from critics and fellow gamers, Nier is a gumbo of game ideas that don’t fit together in theory but work surprisingly well in practice. A mix of action RPG, adventure and even including elements of puzzle and rhythm games, Nier has an “everything and the kitchen sink” feel to it and people I know absolutely adore this game. I purchased it on the cheap with the full intention of playing it right away, however other games have gotten in the way and this is currently sitting on my shelf. The time commitment aside, I’ve heard that this game needs to be played through at least twice in order to get the full experience. This is definitely near the top of my pile and I plan to get around to it posthaste.

7. The Dark Spire (Nintendo DS)
The Nintendo DS is a treasure trove for RPG fans and one of the most acclaimed games of late is The Dark Spire, one of the standout tiles of 2009 for most games I know and one that everyone describes as an insanely difficult grind-fest. Given that the game is all about progression, grinding , leveling up and gaining new skills and equipment, I have very little reason not to like this game and you can always count on Atlus to deliver the goods.

6. Grand Theft Auto IV (Xbox 360)
I was heavily addicted to Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City, but by the time San Andreas rolled around I was on series burnout and part IV didn’t grab me at all. I played about an hour back in 2009, put it down and have not gone back to it since. However, the endless acclaim for this title and the numerous people telling me that I need to give this another chance has piqued my interest once again. From what I recall, the missions are repetitive and progression comes slow, but this is a title I can grow to like if given the time and chance to resonate with me. Having said that, I share the opinion of many that the GTA series as a whole is highly overrated, so I don’t think I’ll ever agree with Gamespot’s 10 out of 10 rating. Time and patience with this game might change my opinion.

5. Gears of War (Xbox 360)
Another series I have always found to be highly overrated, Gears of War is a testosterone-fest of a shooter that is heavily geared towards multiplayer, with a paltry single-player campaign tacked on. However, most of my friends on Xbox Live are gaga for this game and its sequels, so I do feel like I’m missing out to an extent. I remember playing through the first two levels of the first game and being completely turned off by everything about it; the characters, the story, the controls and the fact that I kept dying at the same spot. However, time has passed and I have become much better at a variety of shooters, so I think my opinion might be different this time around. I have plenty of people who will play with me and show me the ropes, so there is really no better time to delve back in.

4. Demon’s Souls (Playstation 3)
Holy hell, if there was ever a game that I’m actually scared to play, it has to be Demon’s Souls. This is not because of the gothic horror setting, the hordes of demons you have to fight or the creepy and dreary atmosphere, mind you. It’s because of the insane difficulty, one that even the most expert gamers will admit to having their asses handed to them by it. I am not a fan of extremely difficult games and would prefer a title I can casually enjoy at my leisure, but there is something that attracts me to this game and compels me to give it a try. The difficulty means constantly dying and losing hours of progress in the blink of an eye, however people have told me that this is part of the fun and the feeling of accomplishment when you finally conquer a level is tantamount to beating an entire game. Sounds both exciting and frustrating, so I’ll have to try this and see for myself.

3. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Xbox 360)
When I was contemplating getting an Xbox 360 and I was asking around to see what games I should get, Oblivion was usually the first title recommended to me. Being completely new to the Elder Scrolls universe, I had no idea what to expect and I was very excited to see what all the hype was about. Man, I was bored to tears and I put the game down after about three hours, two of which were spent just wandering around to get to my next objective. Graphically, the game was impressive for its time but you can really see the limitations of the console, with a choppy framerate, frequent slowdowns and horrible pop-in. However, I have since been reading up on Oblivion and people are saying that it gets much better once you learn to navigate and you get a groove going, so I will definitely give this another chance. It often happens that I dislike a game when first playing it, only to go back to it years later and finding that I love it. Hopefully that will be the case with Oblivion.

2. Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360)
If ever there was a game I took heat for not liking, it’s Red Dead Redemption. People absolutely love this game and the look of shock on people’s faces when I say that I couldn’t get into it is rather amusing. It topped most “Best of” lists for 2010 and it’s one of the highest rated games for this generation, however this also carries the liability of hyperbole. A game gets hyped up to the point where it cannot meet expectations and it comes off as being overrated and underwhelming, which is what my reaction has been thus far. Saying that a game is overrated is not the same as saying it’s bad, since I see why people like this game so much. I have had a hard time getting into it and have since moved on. Like Grand Theft Auto IV (also from Rockstar), it was a lot of travelling, doing jobs I didn’t care about for characters I didn’t care about, and it just felt meandering. However, people have said that it really gets good after the first few hours, so I need to go back to this game and tough it out. Perhaps, like Oblivion, I can grow to love this game as countless others have.

1. Fallout 3 (Xbox 360)
Similar to my issues with GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption, both from Rockstar, I have had issues with Oblivion and Fallout 3, both from Bethesda. It seems that certain developers rub me the wrong way for some inexplicable reason. Fallout 3 is an open world RPG that employs some of the same aspects of Oblivion that I didn’t like, however it is placed in a setting that I love; post-apocalyptic Washington that is overrun with colorful characters and nasty creatures. For some reason, I just couldn’t get into this game and I especially found the shooting and fighting mechanics to be problematic. However, I have since gotten heavily into Borderlands and this employs a similar setting and emphasis on looting, so I think I might be better disposed towards Fallout 3 now than I previously was. This is one of those games I feel that I *should* like and it’s the first one I am going back to.

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