Game of the Month - November 2008

Some of you may have noticed the blog has changed. If you haven't, I hope it's because you're a new reader and not suffering from long-term memory loss. Either way, welcome to the blog, which has recently suffered an aesthetic update.

As it's now the first of December 2008, I figure it's time for me to decide on my Game of the Month for November. If my memory serves me well, November has been a great month for my gaming pleasure.
I'd like to mention that I'm going to include a game or two that was released late October, as I didn't have a chance to play them properly in time for October's GOTM.

And so, the winner of October's GOTM is:

Gears of War 2

This is probably going to aggravate a lot of people, but let me explain myself.
Gears of War was a great console shooter, refreshing the clich
├ęd console shooter market. The cover system was one of the best ever seen and the gameplay was action packed and sustained. Multiplayer was entertaining, assuming you were playing with friends.
Gears of War 2 is one of the greatest sequels of all time, holding onto all the fine aspects of the first and building on them. The increased scale means that there is more to shoot at and more scenery to absorb.
The storyline, while not very original, actually felt like it developed the two main characters a little further, even if the new characters felt stilted. A particularily moving speech during the first act also sets the scene nicely, and gives the feeling that you're part of a bigger conflict.
The graphics are much the same as the first, but there are some stellar moments where we paused to observe. I won't say too much, but there's a particular lake with a particular fish in it. Very impressive.
Multiplayer has had a slight addition - Horde. It's a simple but enthralling gamemode where players work together to survive increasingly difficult waves of enemies.
This game gets a massive thumbs up. Actually, more like ten.


A special mention goes out to:

Left 4 Dead

A simple and awesome concept built on the Source engine - kill zombies, play with friends and play as zombies. Amazingly good fun, this game has very few flaws.
Its biggest problem is that there isn't much variety... you can play five minutes of each chapter and have experienced the environments, as well as the range of enemies and gameplay elements.
This is countered by the great co-operative play, and powered to infinity by the ability to play as the "super zombies".
Zombie killing. With friends. Make purchase now.


Fallout 3

This is one of those "I'm actually an October release" titles, but she's a beauty.
Bethesda's last game, Oblivion, is loathed by many. Said many also feared that Bethesda would tarnish Fallout with their strange ways.
Fortunately, it seems they haven't. The game still holds the feel that Oblivion did, the feel of a world not quite alive... the only thing is, it works this time around.
Regardless of what you thought of Oblivion, you should buy Fallout 3. Or borrow it off a friend - there's no copy protection on the PC version.



A resounding "eh" goes out to:

Call of Duty: World at War

I rushed to the shops eagerly on the day this was released, intent on savouring the gooey delights of another Call of Duty title. Perhaps I should've been a little more worried when all the advertising I saw for the game featured "built on the same engine as CALL OF DUTY 4: MODERN WARFARE" in the same size font as the game's title.
The campaign was interesting - I've never played a Pacific Theatre game before, so it was nice to experience something new. Although, as I said many times while playing, if the real life Japanese soldiers were as frustrating as their AI counterparts, I can fully understand why America resorted to nuclear weapons. The Russian campaign was hit and miss - a couple of missions that felt generic, as well as a few absolute masterpieces - the first Russian mission is a copy-paste of Enemy At The Gates, which is a good thing, and the last mission involves storming the Reichstag, ending in a very memorable cutscene.

Unfortunately, the fun ended there. My friends and I tried to play four player co-op LAN on the PC version, desperately wanting to attempt the unlockable mode at the end of the campaign (think Left 4 Dead and Gears 2 combined), but found that the game refused to connect all four computers. Sadly enough, we found a fix for this bug (which turned out to be a recurring problem throughout the PC community) on a website devoted to pirating games.

So, back to the store goes the broken game, whose entertainment value has passed.


A dishonourable mention goes to:

Fable 2

I'm sure I said nice things about it last month, but now that I got around to finishing it (that is a bad sign), I have something different to say.
In the first Fable, there were plenty of items of clothing to pick from, as well as a variety of weapons, many of which were still useful even when compared to the secret end-game weapon.
In Fable 2, there are less than ten different outfits, unless you count their counterparts for the opposite gender. The great range of customisation comes from the various dyes you can find and use on your clothing and hair. Unfortunately, many of the dyes look almost identical, and your hair will only change to natural hair colours. There are two weapons to BUY in the game, one ranged and one melee, which are more powerful in every facet than any other weapon. There is no uber-weapon at the end of the game.
Speaking of the ending, I have had failed relationships that have ended better than Fable 2 did.


Mirror's Edge

"Best Original Game Concept of E3 2008" is emblazened on the case. A bold claim, given that most of the games at E3 this year were sequels.
Mirror's Edge is a parkour (or free-running) game in which you play as some chick with a sister who jumps around a big white city delivering messages that never appear. All of a sudden, said sister gets framed for killing some important guy. To be honest, I didn't care enough to pay attention. By the time the story had kicked in, I was getting sick of the game.
Most games capture many players through their "'wow' factor", the intial wonder of the game's experience. Mirror's Edge attempts a different approach, immediately trying to aggravate you with a tutorial that loads to the beginning of the last portion every time you make the tiniest mistake (which is frequent, as some of the mechanics are unreliable). From there, the game proceeds to send you scrambling across incredibly linear rooftops, heading for an objective.
One great thing about this linearity is that when you do get killed/fall to your death, you can follow the exact same route as before, but with a prior knowledge of the path. Combined with linearity, this is Mirror's Edge's biggest downfall. It can be very difficult to figure out exactly where to go, as some items and obstacles pass in and out of interactability.

Remember Assassin's Creed? It had this simple yet effective parkour system that combined well with a third person view that let you see your awesome climbing skills and figure out a path before you were jumping over it for the third time?
Buy Assassin's Creed (or play it again if you still have it), choose a city, and run around the rooftops pretending to deliver packages to certain buildings in the game. It will be much cheaper and, more importantly, more fun.



Morgan

P.S. Guitar Hero World Tour is fun with friends. Until the drum kit broke.