Monday, February 21, 2011

In Rotation, January/February 2011

Although I've neglected to tally them here until now, I have managed to play a surprising number of games these past few months. Without further ado, here's the Winter 2010-2011 edition of In Rotation:

XBOX 360
  • Finished up Just Cause 2. Well, the story, anyway. After 50+ hours I'm still only at 55% complete. Wish I had picked it up when it first came out - it's become one of my go-to games. Wrote about it a few weeks back.
  • Also polished off the main story of Red Dead Redemption and maybe half of the main questline in the Undead Nightmare add-on. I'm a bit RDR'ed out, I think, although I do plan to finish the DLC, which I'm digging. The final act of the main game left such a weird (not bad - just uncanny) taste in my mouth that I'm not quite sure how to reconcile it all. Without getting into too much detail or trespassing into spoiler country, let's just say I remain baffled by why the final act wasn't the first act.
  • Singularity. Discussed that one already.
  • Dante's Inferno. Ditto.
  • Rock Band 3. A great selection of tracks, although I confess I haven't spent as much time as I'd like with it yet; still waiting on the twice-delayed MIDI adapter attachment so I can hook up my keyboard.
  • Splinter Cell: Conviction. Okay, so now I understand Fisher-Fest 2010. I don't really have much to say about this game other than that playing through it was like idly half-watching a rerun of Commando on TV while killing a bag of Jax on a lazy Sunday. It is what it is. And you feel vaguely guilty afterward.
  • Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker. Well, it's more Mass Effect 2. And, um, remember Mass Effect 2? That was awesome.
  • Two Worlds II. Honestly, I was rooting for this one. A few critics I admire spoke highly of this B-movie fantasy title, and knowing my predilection for somewhat broken yet charming games, I thought this'd be right up my alley. Nope. In the few hours I played before I gave up - and I hate giving up - the combat was just far too broken. At least my frustration prompted Mrs. JPG's suggested review title: "Two Worlds II: Drop This Deuce."
  • Cthulhu Saves the World. Check out my review of this old-school indie gem at Kill Screen.
  • Ilomilo. This brain-twisting puzzler is extraordinarily well-made and unrelentingly adorable. I'll have a lot more to say about this one once the wife and I finish our co-op playthrough, but for now, please enjoy this image of our friendly "thumb-creatures" enjoying a nice cup of tea.
  • Puzzle Quest 2. Although there's no doubt the presentation, role-playing elements, and puzzle variety are much improved over the original, the battles are freakin' interminable. I wonder if the scaling system is broken; at level 37, I don't feel significantly more powerful than my adversaries. I like the addition of "action points" gems and the search, disarm, unlock, and loot minigames, but I feel like I'm treading water in the story.
    • Amnesia: The Dark Descent. A few hours in, I'm still wondering when this gets scary. There have been a few tense and cool setpiece moments - the monster's footprints in the water come to mind - but my primary reaction has not been fear but annoyance so far. It's difficult for me to parse which elements of the game world can be interacted with and which are static; for example, I wasted two oil canisters trying to escape a room by jumping through a hole in the ceiling when all I had to do was move some rocks. That'd be a "duh" moment except for the fact that the rocks I'd encountered earlier, in other rooms, were immovable. I do have to praise Amnesia for its audio design, though - one of the best examples of ambient sound in recent memory.
    • ...But That Was [Yesterday]. I also reviewed this one for Kill Screen; very worth the 15 minutes it'll take you to complete.
    • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War. I LOVE IT. SHUT UP.


    1. Hey, I admire your work too! Let us wallow in our mutual admiration, my good man:)

      I also loved the shit out of ilomilo. It was the first and only time I've given a game 5/5 at X-Play. Still have a couple bonus levels in the final chapter to beat. They're deliciously taxing.

      I need to play Just Cause 2. I tested it out when trying the Onlive beta and it was definitely more fun than I would've expected. Grappling and gliding are two of my fave things to do in a third-person shooter, so combining the two sounds wonderful.

    2. Thanks for the kind words! I did read and enjoy your review at G4.

      I don't think in 3D very well, so ilomilo is extra-challenging for me. Add the complications of spousal co-op (whoa, that sounded weird) and it can get frustrating. I have to say, though, that their solution for communication between players (hold X to make the drummer signal a switch of control, hold Y to signal the other player to zoom out/in) is incredibly elegant and endearing. The soundtrack is lovely, the environments are gorgeous, and the use of space is so, I dunno, clean? The game just oozes charm.

      I'm surprised at how into Just Cause 2 I've been; I usually have a hard time getting into big open-world games with no story. Red Faction: Guerrilla was fun for a while, but I had no desire to go back and collect supply crates or whatever once I powered through the main questline. By contrast, I'm still jumping into JC2 every so often just to tool around. I think the prettiness of the environments, the expansiveness of the map, and the fun of traversal all have a lot to do with it. I'd highly recommend picking up a copy - should be decently low-priced by now.

    3. Is that what the musicians were for? I just thought they were a cute thing for the benched player to do. Is this code apparent anywhere in the game or just something you and Mrs. JPG thought up?

      Looking forward to hearing the rest of your thoughts on it once you wrap it up.

    4. We never thought of it otherwise. On occasion one of us will hold down the button just for fun, we we have to explicitly state "just playing!"