Monday, March 06, 2006

March Madness

This month is shaping up to be the most expensive month ever. After a near drought of 360 games since launch we have 3, count 'em, 3 titles dropping this month. They are: Burnout Revenge, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion. Let us also not forget the appearance of the long awaited DS title, Metroid Prime: Hunters or Metroid Prime First Hunt or Metroid Prime Hunt 'Em All Up, or whatever the hell they're calling it these days. I am excited for all of these titles, for reasons I shall expand upon at length. Oh joyous day for you, that you get to read the first hand account of my breathy anticipation.

Burnout Revenge
As a rule, I'm not a big fan of racing games, because I tend to crash. A lot. I also can't handle the intricate dance between accelerating and braking, drifting and sliding, caramel and noughat needed to master racing titles. I like to mash the accelerator and only hit the brake when I need to powerslide around a corner. Enter Burnout. Not only does this method work well in Burnout, but part of the point of Burnout is to crash, and cause spectacular crashes. It is as if they watched me play Forza, took pity and decided to help a brother out. I can also race in the opposing lane of traffic, thereby giving me both an accelerator and a boost button to mash on at the same time. Occasionally as I'm driving in the opposing lane, I'll do a powerdrift around a corner and catch air at the same time, filling up my car's boost bar, and my own personal glee bar to bursting. I try to resist the urge to hump my console in these special moments.

The problem, and by problem I mean I'm a weak willed, consumerized whoredonkey, is that I already bought Burnout Revenge for the Xbox. I bought it back in November, back when I also bought X-Men Legends 2, Half-Life 2 and Far Cry: Instincts. I played X-Men and Far Cry and then my 360 came. I played some 360 games, played some Half-Life 2, played some more 360 games, and all the time, Burnout Revenge wept bitter tears of abandonment. As the calendar pages kept flying off, inching us closer and closer to March, I wanted to play Burnout less and less for fear of having to do the same races all over again on the 360. Why would this matter, you ask, if the game is so good? Every racing game, no matter how good, has races that are so brutal, so odious, that were the person who designed them sitting next to you when you ultimately completed the race, you would brain them with your controller. I did not want to come across one of these and then have to do it again. Your next question, and you would be wise to ask it, is why I just didn't play it on the Xbox and ignore it for the 360? Well, the online portion of the 360 version is better, and it has achievements, but mostly, the explosions are a lot prettier. Yes, that's right. I'm willing to pay 60 bucks, on top of the 50 I already paid to play a game I already had, just because the explosions are more explodey. I'm a sick man and I need help. I was glad to see that they removed the golf-swing meter thing for the Crash Junction levels, but personally, I think they need to go back to the Burnout: Takedown Crash Junction levels as they were brilliantly executed destructo-puzzles. Like if your Sudoko board exploded in your face when you completed it.

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
Much like racing games, I usually don't play military games, as I don't do to well with the one shot, one kill mode of play. I need at least 4 or 5 shots before I figure out who's shooting me. Another 3 or 4 so I can bring my weapon around, and another 10 - 15 so that I aim, fire, and have any hope of bringing down my assailant. My understanding is that, on the battlefield, they don't usually extend you that level of courtesy. When I bought my 360, I played Call of Duty 2 and absolutely loved it, in part because even if you had just taken a few rounds in the old noggin, you could just take a nap under an overturned fruit cart and come out right as rain. I'm assuming this won't be the case in GRAW, but I'll be looking for fruit carts just in case.

I'm buying this game mostly because every single person I game with is buying it, even those without 360's, and I want a game that we can all dick around with on a Friday night, exploring maps, and having Andy lob grenades in unorthodox ways. It is also a damn pretty game with tons and tons of things happening on the screen at the same time, 90% of which I'll be ignoring as I try to figure out just how the hell someone is shooting me when I'm hidden under my fruit cart. I think it's kind of strange that when the Gulf War was happening, some people called it a video game kind of war, because most of the 'fighting' was conducted so remotely and now we have a video game title that is supposed to be a realistic depiction of future warfighting (if that's at all possible) and the realism looks like a video game. I know that doesn't make sense, but in my head I know exactly what I'm talking about. My garbage can tells me everything I need to know.

Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion
It's been so long since I played a RPG, that I've completely forgotten how to cast a proper fireball. I think that the last RPG I played was X-Men Legends 2, but that was so watered down in it's RPG-ness that it hardly qualifies. The Elder Scrolls series can never be accused of being watered down in that respect as there are combinations of skills and traits that I'm sure the developers never even thought of. I played Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind on my PC, but between the pace of the game being slow, and the travel in the game being painfully slow, I never finished it. Plus, the skill progression model was kind of weird, and I tried to make my own, custom Jedi class, and well, lets just say I have no business making Jedi and leave it at that.

From what I've read, some of the pacing has been ramped up, as has foot travel, and you can get horses which should help things immensely. Any time you can procure livestock in a game, it's a time to celebrate. The game looks pretty damn good, however I'm sure you'll be able to fix a sandwich, or build a small shanty in the time it takes a level to load, but as long as I'm prepared for such things, I'll be OK. This time, I'll try to stick to more prepacked character classes, lest we repeat the mistakes of Morrowind and I end up with someone who can run fast and make potions, but can't swing a weapon any larger than a breadstick. The game boasts a length of 200 hours should you do all the side quests, and the glittering promise of downloadable content could conceivably extend the life of this title until the stars wink out and die. We'll see if it holds my interest that long as my attention span is somewhat on the short si-- ooh! Pretty sparkly things!

Metroid Prime: Hunters
My motivations for buying a DS were equal parts Nintendogs and equal parts Metroid Prime: Hunters which makes me equal parts nerd and equal parts 8 year old girl. The first time I played this game, or the demo version of it anyways, I was unconvinced of the ability to control an FPS with a touchscreen, and as a result, I had relegated the DS into the realm of the unpurchaseable. When I finally relented, for Nintendogs and Advance Wars DS, and I played the Metroid demo with the thumb-nubbin thingy, instead of the stylus, it all fell into place. The Metroid Prime: First Hunt demo was an interesting little game, but it's so far removed from what Hunters is going to be, that I think it was Nintendo's way of saying "Relax. It isn't going to be all puppy dogs and big headed animal people."

The game looks extremely well realized now and I, for one, can not wait. 6 playable bounty hunters other than Samus, a bunch of different multiplayer modes and a single player campaign? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! The only thing that I can do without is the voice chat option. The only way I can tolerate sharing this planet with other people is by reminding myself that I only need communicate with around 1 billionth of them on a daily basis. The anonyminity that the intra-web provides gives people license to act like smacktards, and I can't be having their foul magiks tainting my DS. He's just a little console, and I don't need him hearing such language. The lack of voice in Mario Kart online is what makes me able to race against the unwashed masses and not wish to hurl myself off of a building. I'm hoping I can just turn the voice chat option off.

The only problem is that I'm smack in the throes of Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow and I fear that switching to another DS game will kill my momentum and I won't finish the blasted thing, which is a shame, because it's a lot of fun. Oh willpower, do not leave me now, when I need thee the most!

Add to these game purchases, my intentions of purchasing "A History of Violence" and the first season of "Justice League" and we have an expensive month. Oblivion has been paid for since last summer, and I sold off all of my other Xbox and 360 games to pay for the new ones, but it still hurts me in ye olde wallet. Thankfully, other than Top Spin dropping in April, Microsoft has conspired to keep games off of the 360 release calendar for what appears to be the remainder of the year. Thanks Microsoft, you're the best!


MQ said...

Good LORD! Where do you find the time to play these games while raising two humans? :)

I look forward to watching A History of Violence, but I first must watch for the 20th time, Pride and Prejudice. Awwww.

Tell me. Does your wife like to game too?

suburbanjoe said...

Linda will game with me in Burnout. She's a demon in the road rage events. My kids are in bed by 6:30, 7:00 at the latest every night, so I have an hour a night to game before I go up and watch TV with the missus. I can play my DS at work, on my lunch break, and I also play it while watching tv, but not as much, as it annoys the wife. I tend to not pay attention to the show and then ask what's going on.

As much as I lust after Keira, I can't stand period pieces. ;)

MQ said...

Gasp! Dissing Keira!

And how in the hell do you get your kids to bed by SEVEN? They must wake at like 4am?

suburbanjoe said...

We have to get them up at 6 so my wife and I can be at work by 7. Youngest only naps for about 1.5 hours and the oldest doesn't nap at all. At this age, they need about 10 - 13 hours of sleep a day, so we make sure to give them that opportunity. Besides, come 7, they, and us, are ready for them to be in bed.

k o w said...

Hunters is going to be a blast. I'm looking forward to playing it and will probably end up keeping the volume down when in the lobby.

By the way the Eagles may be interested in Arrington. I think he'll look swell in green.

suburbanjoe said...

Yikes. Well, he'd certainly know enough people on the team.

Kojubat said...

Alas, poor Justice League, we knew you well. Really unfortunate that the Diniverse is coming to a close in a few episodes.

But yeah, Burnout, GRAW, and Oblivion are my big games this month.