January 9, 2009

Relocation & Stuff

Hey all, I guess it's been a while, and I realize I've been saying that a lot lately. Once I actually get a little settled in California, I think I should be able to resume my regularly scheduled posting, or at least I'll have to come up with a new excuse. I am going to keep tonight's post a bit brief as I am rather tired since I stupidly stayed up until about 4:00 A.M. playing the World at War multiplayer and then had to wake up for an apartment survey (for the movers) at around 8:00 A.M. I am stull working on getting back to a normal sleeping schedule. I think I am still set to Guildhall time, plus all the flying around to different time zones hasn't helped any either.

I've spent most of the new year enjoying some of the best games from last year and preparing for my upcoming move to Burbank. I was in Michigan until the 4th then I came back to Texas for about a day before flying out to Burbank for an apartment search which I just got back from yesterday night. The trip went really well, and I managed to get a lot of stuff done in preparation for the move. The apartment finder service that Insomniac set me up with was great and found me a wonderful apartment in a good area at a reasonable price (reasonable for Burbank anyway). I also managed to buy a new car (if you are familiar with my old car, you probably understand why) and a new fridge for my apartment (oddly enough, most apartments in the Burbank area don't have fridges included). I will endeavor to include pictures of my new diggs (apartment, car, and fridge) when I arrive in California and probably again after I am more settled and unpacked. Everything is coming together and it looks like I will be moving to Burbank as early as next Friday.

With the time I have had to spend on games, I've been playing a little bit of everything. I've been making my way through Gears of War 2, Far Cry 2, Resistance 2, CoD: World at War, and Endwar. In addition, I've been playing a fair bit of my DS and PSP on my various flights lately, mostly the Final Fantasy IV remake (DS), Lock's Quest (DS), and Yggdra Union (PSP). I've pretty much been keeping to my "tourist" gameplay approach lately, playing whatever strikes my fancy for as long as it does. Though that may be what led me to play World at War multiplayer for around 5 hours, during the wee hours of the morning. Oh, I also played a lot of Civ IV: Colonization during the first few days of the year, while Rick was conducting a marathon of Lost Season 4 in preparation for Season 5. I picked up a number of games on sale during Steam's big holiday sale early into 2009.

At this point, I should probably say something meaningful about at least one of the games I am playing, but I seem to keep using all my good material on long phone conversations with my brother instead of here where all of you can enjoy it :P. Since I have been playing it so much recently I will discuss my experiences with World at War as of late. I didn't really look too deeply into the reviews of this game when it came out some I am not sure what the overall all critical response was, but what I had basically heard was that it was a World War II version of Call of Duty 4 and I think that is pretty much accurate. The game has the same gorgeous graphics, silky smooth frame rates, stop-and-pop gameplay, and addictive multiplayer. The biggest difference I have seen so far is in the narrative of the singleplayer campaign.

Similar to the narrative of a movie-licensed game, World at War bounces around short storylines or vignettes that fit into the overall framework of a story that viewer is already familiar with, in this case World War II. This is sort of a throwback to the storytelling from the original Call of Duty games, but in my opinion I would have preferred to see something a bit closer to Call of Duty 4 than Call of Duty 1, 2, or 3. While Call of Duty 4 had you bouncing between characters and the narrative certainly had its faults, there was an overall story that was being told and characters (both heroes and villains) that featured prominently in it. I think the franchise certainly has room to grow as far as storytelling, and World at War is a step back in this regard instead of a step forward. Also, I recognize a different company made World at War (Treyarch), but as long as both companies bear the Call of Duty title, the games will be compared whether they like it or not.

That being said, I think World at War is really very good, and my critique of the narrative approach in the campaign is my only real complaint at this point. Both the single-player and multiplayer levels are well crafted with plenty of jaw-dropping set piece moments during the campaign and excellent flow in the multiplayer maps. The multiplayer mode is almost identical to the one featured in Call of Duty 4, though the new 'War' game type is a welcome addition to the mix, and a good old round of 'Capture the Flag' can certainly be fun though it does feel a bit out of place. In addition, as you might expect the rifles and sub machine guns of World War II feel a lot different than their modern counterparts, which gives the actual gunplay a unique feeling when compared with Call of Duty 4.

I should also note I am playing the PC version of the game as opposed the 360 version (where I played Call of Duty 4) or PS3 version which may be contributing to the "unique" feel. In my opinion, since many of the weapons are single-shot or only effective in very short bursts, accuracy is of even more paramount importance than it was in Call of Duty 4, which makes the game feel more appropriate to the PC. That being said, I have greatly been enjoying my time with the game especially the multiplayer. It's not clear to me whether that's because the game truly offers something different or I just haven't played CoD4 in a while, but either way it's an enjoyable experience...despite being another World War II shooter. :P

Well, there are my basic, scattered thoughts on World at War. As I continue to have free time to actually play games, and I am increasingly unable to talk about anything I am working on, I anticipate this is the direction the blog will take, at least during the longer blackout periods where I can't reveal even what title I am working on. I hope my random musings on games and the industry continue to be interesting or at least amusing. For now, I must sleep...

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