Drowning in choices - the all video game edition
Thursday, January 10, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
This Christmas Santa was very kind to me. Very very VERY kind. I got almost all the video games I asked for. The few I was planning to buy (that didn't make the initial wish list) then promptly went on sale the day after Christmas. I was, of course, compelled to buy them (when a $59.99 game goes on sale for $37.00 you don't hesistate).

To recap, below are the games I just got and my impression of each one:

1) BioShock (Xbox 360).

Wow. Just.... wow. This game deserves all the game-of-the-year honors heaped upon it by all the reviewers out there. The visuals are amazing - from the flawlessly rendered water effects to the 1950's art deco sci-fi environment, the game is a treat for the eyes. The world is so well fleshed-out - all those little touches, like the retro propaganda posters, the 50's style music, the voice-overs, etc. It really makes you feel like you're there.

The gameplay is sharp, with an intuitive control system. Real time combat is intense and gives the player several routes to choose from. Are you a hack and slasher? Bludgeon your enemy to death with a wrench, or charge in with your shotgun a blazin'. Prefer something more stylish? Utilize one of several impressive powers like electric bolts or the fireball. Or maybe just summon a Big Daddy (the fellow in the diving suit pictured on the cover) and let him do your dirty work for you.

All of this is great, but where the game really impresses is in its epic storyline. It's like playing an interactive movie. I'm completely hooked on the story - I agonize over every choice, wondering where the story might go, I obsessively comb through each level to make sure I've picked up all the cassettes (one of the devices by which the rise and fall of Rapture is documented).

So far, I'm totally in love with this game. I'm excited to get through it - one podcaster talked about how the story ending actually made him tear up, so it'll be interesting to see how this all concludes.

2) Super Mario Galaxy (Wii).

Inventive and fun. I haven't gotten too far in the game yet, but I like what I see so far. I was a little nervous about the Wii control system working well with a platformer style game, but I shoudn't have worried. The control system is fun, and easy to get the hang of.

3) Call of Duty 4 (Xbox 360).

When they say the game is "photo-realistic", boy are they not kidding. It's nice to see the franchise finally leave WWII behind and get with the modern era. I haven't played much so far, though the Boy seems to be enjoying the single player mode. My friends have raved about the online portion. All I know is, it's very disappointing that you can't do 2-player co-op missions, nor does it seem possible to play online together using the same console. That was a bummer.

4) Gears of War (Xbox 360).

Gorgeous graphics. Again, not too far along in the game, though early on it has shades of Starship Troopers going on. I do appreciate the fact that you can do 2-player co-op story mode. The duck-and-cover system is sweet. It's a toss up between this and CoD4 for my attention once I get through BioShock.

5) Dead Rising (Xbox 360). This game is pretty much a videogame version of Dawn of the Dead. And I'm completely alright with that. Being able to literally mow down zombie using a push lawnmower is hilarious. I like how the game allows you to use almost any item you find as a weapon. It does show signs of being a first gen game for the system, as the graphics don't compare to later offerings, and there's a weird lack of voice acting in certain parts.

6) Wii Zapper w/Link Crossbow Training(Wii). Really, this is almost a hardware purchase, since the game is just thrown in as a freebee. The Zapper is really nice - it's just a piece of plastic that holds the controllers, but the contours feel good and the Wii remote and Nunchuck fit perfectly. My one complaint is that if you've upgraded your battery pack to a rechargeable one, such as the Nyko battery pack, the Wii remote no longer snaps into place. I was playing Resident Evil using the Zapper and my Wii remote literally flew right out of the holder.

Link Crossbow training is a fun little diversion. It has 3 styles of games: a shooting gallery mode, a mode where you move through a level using the controllers, and a mode where you are automatically moved along and must shoot at things as they pass by you. My sister and I liked the competitive mode which allowed us to compare scores, etc etc.

7) Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles (Wii). A nice jumping on point for people like me who haven't played older versions of the Resident Evil franchise. It pretty much walks you through an abbreviated re-telling of the older games. Fan Favorites from the past show up (Jill Valentine, etc). It plays so far like a traditional arcade style shooting game. The Wii Zapper made this game a lot of fun, and I look forward to playing it more.
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