May 25, 2009

What I'm Playing - 5.25.09

Well, I had planned for this to be a weekly post, but I had also planned for there to be other post in between. This last week was just kind of stressful (except for these last few days of delicious vacation), so I guess I've been spending most of my time at home just trying to relax. Anyway, here's what's going on videogame-wise:
  • KoTOR II: The Sith Lords (PC) - I actually just finished the game on Friday, or I should say the game ended, though I didn't feel I was directly responsible for it's conclusion. The game has a number of strong parts, but I think it will overall stand in my head as a pale shadow of its predecessor. Maybe that's just the unfortunate postion of a sequel to a critically acclaimed game, especially when that sequel gets rushed out the door before it's truly ready. There are several parts in the game that I truly enjoyed (like getting embroiled in the mystery and intrigue of a civil war brewing on one of the planets), but I think that the unfortunately lacking conclusion diminishes the entire game as a whole. Events in the game felt like they were building to something great before it all just stopped without any great explanation or resolution. It's no Soul Reaver, PsiOps, or Halo 2 on this point, but it's still an unsatisfying conclusion. Too bad really. Still I am glad to have played it and enjoyed a great deal of my adventure.
  • Fable II (X360) - After finishing KoTOR 2, I had some overwhelming desire to play this game, and I'm not really sure why. My best guess is all the ads for the new DLC that were litered across my 360's dashboard, but whatever the reason, I've been playing it like crazy and loving it. When the game originally came out, I was neck deep in thesis work so I didn't really have the chance to play it nearly as much as I would have liked before. The game is not without it's flaws for certain, but there's just something fun about being in the world of Albion. There's a great sense of freedom to explore and just really do whatever you want. Often, I would get busy just taking odd jobs and trying to expand my real estate holdings without really moving the main quest forward at all. Other times I'd be exploring every nook and cranny looking for cool, secret areas or "phat loots." It's one of those addicitive expereinces where you keep have one "last" thing to do and before you know it it's 3 AM. As I said, the game has it's shortcomings, which mostly amount to every part of the game (combat, character development, story, etc.) being too shallow. I love the amount of freedom that Fable II just gives me to live in the world and really play a role, I just wish the expereince had deeper levels for me to explore. Still, I've been playing it almost non-stop since Friday (except for a few Memorial Day BBQs) and it's still managed to keep my interest, so I suppose I can't complain too much.
  • Saint's Row 2 (PS3) - I still am playing this only intermittently, but it's great for just kicking back and having fun. There are a remarkable number of varied things to do in any given play session. Similar to Fable II, it supports a lot of player freedom and allows me to just get in and have a good time without having to worry too much about what I should be doing. The story may be a bit weaker for it, but that really not what I'm playing it for, so that's fine with me.
I am also eagerly anticipating the release of Infamous and Red Faction: Guerilla over the next couple weeks. Both had really strong demos, in my opinion, and I am really looking forward to what both games seem to bring to the open-world genre (is that a genre?). Of course, given all the Fable II and Saint's Row 2 I've been playing lately, I'll definitely have to pace myself and maybe throw an RPG or a strategy game in there somewhere :).


  1. I just played the demo of Infamous last night. It seems decent, but I think I expected more. I feel that Penny Arcade captured it well with the news post of 5/27. The platforming elements just don't feel solid enough. I had a hard time controlling what I wanted to do and where I wanted to grab. This seems particularly frustrating coming from Sucker Punch, as they cut their teeth making great platforming. I wasn't a huge fan of the combat either. It felt a lot like if I screwed up at all when facing more then one guy I would die. I could try again right away and get past it, but it was kind of a weird cycle.

    I agree with you about fable 2. I really dug the buying real estate. Most everything else was a little weak. Shallow is a good word for it. Also the buggy-ness drove me crazy. How it sometimes takes 30 seconds for the apropriate thing to pop up over your head (income and losses). I also ran into a bug where I read one book then immediately read a second book, but only the second one had it's effect. Just seemed generally sloppy.

    I just finished Saint's Row 2. I enjoyed it quite a bit. It feels much more like an open world then GTA4. So many things to do and different directions to go. It's a good time.

  2. Hey, thanks for the comments!

    I didn't really have a lot of expectations for Infamous (I only played the first Sly Cooper and part of the second), at least not until recently, when I had a good idea of what to expect. Generally I like a lot of what they've done. I think the moment-to-moment gameplay is fun, and navigating the city is actually quite enjoyable (especially with the glide and grind powers). That being said there's probably too much repetition in the side missions, which leaves a sort of bad Assassin's Creed taste in my mouth (though I think these missions are both better and more varied).

    I agree with pretty much everything you had to say about Fable 2 and Saint's Row 2. In my opinion GTA IV was surprisingly linear for an open-world game. Fable 2 and SR2 do much better jobs of just letting you do whatever you want within their worlds and at your own pace. Without people calling you all the time demanding you take them out bowling or something.