2009 gaming – a reflection

I have to admit that as an XBOX 360 owner, it has been a fairly underwhelming year with many big titles originally promised for this year being pushed back to 2010, namely Bioshock 2, Alan Wake and Splinter Cell Conviction.  Saying that I have still been impressed with the likes of Batman Arkham Asylum, F.E.A.R. 2 and especially Modern Warfare 2, and XBOX Live has offered up some gems in the shape of Shadow Complex and Braid.  Yet, with the exception of Modern Warfare, there hasn’t been that much anticipated title, and nothing on a par with last year’s end-of-year killer-apps like Fallout 3 and Gears Of War 2.

I even might say that Playstation 3 has had the real big hitter this year in the form of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, a breath-taking, cinematic benchmark that really shows what the system can do when in the right hands, and proving for once it really can out-wit the XBOX in raw processing power.  It’s just a shame that the majority of titles are multi-format and designed with the XBOX in mind rather than the PS3. 

My favourite gaming moments this year are as follows:  rediscovering the comic-book art and personality in Capcom’s Street Fighter 4 and loving the gameplay, even if getting my ass kicked online all the time means I haven’t picked it up in months!  The slow-motion gunplay of F.E.A.R. 2 and the tense atmosphere, even if the game is at times not much of a challenge.  The gorgeous african-setting of Resident Evil 5 and the accomplished online co-operative gameplay.  Oh yes, and the joy of navigating the crumbling locations of Tomb Raider Underworld, something that never gets old.

Yet again, as with my previous post, this year has felt like its missing that special something, like the movies that hit cinemas – nothing really blew me away, with a few notable exceptions.  So I’m playing Modern Warfare online until something really kicks my ass and re-awakens that gaming instinct.  Maybe it will be Bayonetta, of which I downloaded the demo, and was left thirsty for more – or maybe it will be discovering the PS3 at some stage and a whole new catalogue of delights.

Modern Warfare 2 – impressions

‘Spectacular’ is an easy word to throw around these days, but few times has it felt as justified as it does here.  Infinity Ward’s massively-hyped sequel to the award winning, fan-favourite first game, itself a re-invention of the celebrated Call of Duty franchise, arrives with the kind of anticipation only normally bestowed upon a Hollywood blockbuster.  But that’s exactly it … every part of this game, especially the finely tuned campaign is big-budget, glossy and packed with jaw-dropping set pieces.  Graphically its one of the finest games currently available with unprecedented detail in the environments, life-like animation from your fellow soldiers, the enemy and pedestrians, and a wealth of particle effects that enhance every explosion and burst of gunfire.  Add to this a sound design that raises your pulse to a ridiculously scary level, and the whole package is there – intense but amazing.  My only real gripe with the single player experience is the rather scatter-shot narrative, where you are globe-trotting from location to location, and their link to one another is often vague and under-explored.  Yet this is easy to ignore when every level seems so well crafted and filled with heart-in-mouth moments.  Yes it’s linear as hell (never a real gripe for me) and you’re always following someone, so exploring the environment is not only limited but often not even allowed.  The game falls into the same trappings of the whole franchise, where sometimes your squad mates are so good, they can nearly complete a level for you, but this is better disguised here compared to the last game, and the constant re-spawning of enemies until you press forward can get annoying, but is probably necessary to not make the game too easy.  Saying that I personally recommend playing it on ‘Hardened’ if you don’t want the campaign to be over in a weekend.

Now onto the multiplayer, and this is certainly the reason this game will stay in your collection for months.  It’s deep, more rewarding than before (a wealth of awards and achievements are handed out all the time to keep you playing even if you’re not getting that many kills) and the experience is customisable to a major degree, especially when you start unlocking the perks and new weapons, tailoring the game to your own taste.  This time around we also get an immersive ‘Spec-Ops’ mode which has you battling through various task based missions either single player or in 2 player co-op (!), and this is another reason to keep this game around well after the 8-10 hour story mode is finished.

So overall I’d say this is easily the best game released this year (which has been a bit underwhelming for us gamers, I think!), and has plenty of value for money.  I got the Hardened edition as previously reported, and this also comes with the original Call Of Duty, re-done in HD and on a console for the very first time – even more gameplay awaits!!

It’s my birthday!!

Well today is the day I received the veteran edition of XBOX 360 game

Call of Duty : Modern Warfare 2

Now this features the game, in a steel case complete with hardback art book, a downloadable version of the original Call of Duty, and most importantly a brilliant sculpture of character ‘Soap’ McTavish.  Here’s a pic of the statue – pretty sweet if you ask me!  My usual first-impressions of the game will be following soon!

Thanks go out to all who gave money / vouchers towards the purchase of this collector’s item and also many thanks for birthday wishes and cards etc!!!  I’m having a great day and it can only get better!!