Nick's Gaming Blog

Whater ya playin’?

Welcome to what will likely be the first and only installment in the “Whater ya playin’” series. If that title seems odd…just imagine the merchant from Resident Evil 4 saying it. And if you haven’t played Resident Evil 4, begone with thee!!! *Beckons toward the door* If you’re wondering just what goes on in this series, the pithy statement “it is what it is” comes to mind. Leaning more towards the “stream of thought” style blogging is more known for, I’m simply going to write just what I’ve been playing lately, why I’m playing it, if I plan to keep playing it, and how I feel about it in general. This may branch out to sentiments regarding gaming in general, but I’m not certain at this point.

*Looking back over the past paragraph* Well, while that somewhat reeks of self-indulgence and a heightened level of self-importance, I’m going through with it. The last thing I want to add to that list is to have the qualities of a “quitter” as well.

What have I been playing, exactly? I’ve been occasionally dabbling in The Secret of Monkey Island: SE, for Xbox Live. Why do I say occasionally, you wonder (or not…if you happen to have a life that can successfully revolve and exist outside of knowing my every move). Because apparently you HAVE to have online access wherever you desire to play the game, as it requires logging into Xbox Live. I understand why, like, I totally get it. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a pain. I don’t have any of the ethernet ports in my room, and I didn’t shell out whatever ungodly amount for that expensive wi-fi receiver. That being said, I can only play when I’m at a friend’s house. Perhaps it would be less of an issue if I actually had LIVE, but because I actually get my ass out of my house, I play with other people.

Minor ranting aside, The Secret of Monkey Island is a perfect port of the original Lucasarts PC title. Well…it can be. You have the option at ANY time of freely switching between the original game and the HD makeover that its received. Please note the word “makeover.” While this old boat’s been given a new coat of paint, the gameplay, the puzzles, the dialogue, the storyline, all of it is intact…and untrammeled by developers that would be tempted to tweak things. I’ll get into it more in a full scale review, but its safe to say this this, for ten dollars, is a bit of a steal. One of the best adventure games ever, intact in its original format, as well as the new look, and with all the dialogue fully voice, with the cast of The Curse of Monkey Island nonetheless.
There’s just a much more epic sense of scale and teamwork in Gearbox’s title. Not to mention that one actually begins to care about their ally compatriots. Something that CoD and MoH have never been quite capable of capturing.

Other than that, I’ve been dabbling around with a much more large-scale, yet linear title: Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway. If you haven’t heard of it, the sheer flooding of the shooter market between the Medal of Honor and Call of Duty series have left little room for other series to inventively enter the genre. What I’m getting at is that there have been a couple affordable alternatives that are vastly inferior to the aforementioned franchises, but none have offered anything other than a poorly emulated experience, and most importantly, addressed the gaps and flaws that these two have presented. Specifically, Brothers in Arms offers an amazing story that isn’t afraid to focus on the exploits of a single battalion/correct name for group of soldiers led by Matt Baker. You’ll connect with each one of your squadmates, learn their fears and dreams, and see the effects of war on individuals even when they’re not being peltered with mortar fire.

The gameplay is a bit of WWII meets Gears of War, with the grenade and cover mechanics looking eerily familiar. However, I find the cover system here to work a bit better, and is generally more responsive. The graphical engine is quite good, utilizing a modified variation of the Unreal Engine 3, and provides a semi-cartoonish/exaggerated style to the characters, making it easier to distungish who’s who. The only problem I’ve encountered so far is that the story’s strength hinges on one’s knowledge of the two previous installments in the series. Apparently I’m visited several times by a ghost (or have nightmares of such, I’m not entirely sure WHAT he is at this point) of a long dead squadmate, but the importance of such relies on the knowledge of this character in previous games.

What’s on the horizon? Looking at starting up Bionic Commando and maybe a couple rounds of Sid Meier’s Civilization. But, more importantly, what are you playing?

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