Welcome back fellow joystick jostlers to the second instalment of Video Games Odyssey 2012, the chronicles of one man’s ventures in the virtual world of gaming. In the last edition we covered a throwback from Sega’s glory days, a charming and addictive IOS real time sim, a top notch skateboard sim and an all out sandbox rampage. Parts 5-8 see us head into not one but two epic journey’s across the galaxy, blazing fury across the industries most popular battlefield and a sweltering, simmering, hard drinking, pill popping blow out in the streets of Brazil.
GAME FIVE: MASS EFFECT 2
FORMAT: X BOX 360
Mass Effect 2 (as the numerical addition would suggest) is the sequel to Bioware’s science fiction RPG Mass Effect. Despite having a rich and well fleshed out history with both this particular genre and setting, for me with Mass Effect, Bioware had created a reasonably good game riddled with flaws. It’s successor however not only fixes the issues I had with the first game but improves on them greatly. The story see’s Shepard left for dead after the Normandy is attacked by a dangerous species known as the collectors. With the ravaged remains salvaged by a human splinter group named Cerberus, an organisation led by a figure known only as The Illusive Man. It’s up to Shepard to lead the charge against the collectors and stop them before it’s too late. The gameplay in ME 2 is much slicker and much more fluid than before, with a redesigned interface and health system the in game action moves with much more grace and momentum. The set pieces are bigger, better and more involving than before and the upgrades system is much more streamlined. Not to mention in between missions the side quests and mini games like mining planets for resources add much more to the whole experience. But the true beauty of this game lies in the story and the way in which you mould it through the in game decisions you make. The way you act and react to characters and scenarios you encounter not only shapes the outcome of your character but also your story. It’s deep and detailed immersion sucks you in and impresses greatly.
GAME SIX: MASS EFFECT 3
FORMAT: X BOX 360
After taking on the collectors Shepard and the rest of the universe now face a new threat in the form of the reapers, who have returned to destroy the galaxy. It is up to Shepard to mend broken ties and form new alliances in order to build an army strong enough to save Earth. Most of the gameplay mechanics from Mass Effect 2 are booted over as are the games core elements, sure the settings have changed and you have a new direction but for the most part the game feels a lot like it’s predesscor. The story isn’t as tight or as interesting as that found in ME 2 and the games ending….well the less said about that the better. But despite this for the most part the closing act in the Mass Effect trilogy is a great final addition to a compelling saga.
GAME SEVEN: CALL OF DUTY MODERN WARFARE 3
FORMAT: X BOX 360
The latest instalment of the worlds leading First Person Shooter is something I initially put off playing. Since around the release of COD 3 I had been a fan of the series, but as the franchise continued it became less appealing. With repetitive gameplay, no real change in execution and an online experience that at points became simply unbearable I grew increasingly distant from the series. But I guess despite my separation there will always be some kind of curiosity with each new release, I think this is what led me to picking up the pad to play Modern Warfare 3. But after finishing the linear, all too similar campaign and even investing a few hours into the games multiplayer I feel no different. I still somewhat feel jaded towards the series, the problem being that really is more of the same rehashed formula over and over again. Sure shooting things can be fun but it can also be very limited and thats exactly how I feel about this title after emerging from the other end of it.
GAME EIGHT: MAX PAYNE 3
FORMAT: X BOX 360
Call me a fanboy if you must be anytime Rockstar has something in the pipeline I cant help but get dangerously excited. They’re like the Christopher Nolan of Video Games, they know how to make big, robust games that are on a truly epic scale yet they’re content and story telling is always captivating. Their latest release see’s them hark back to a character last seen shooting all guns blazing in a gritty run down New York city. Max Payne 3 see’s the hard boiled ex cop turned tortured soul and therapeutic substance abuser, swap out the cold climates of the big apple for the sweltering, blistering heat of Brazil. Hired as a bodyguard for a famous family, Max is given the chance to live out his days in sunny south america, if only it was that simple. After his bosses wife and brother are kidnapped it’s up to Max to get them back, by any means necessary. Hands down Max Payne 3 has one of the best narratives I’ve seen in a game, the story is slick, hard hitting and it moves with such great pace thanks to Max’s gritty and insightful noir like narration. Sure the gameplay might be somewhat linear, but with a rich captivating story, fleshed out characters and more bad ass action than you ask for Max Payne 3 is easily my favourite game of the year so far.