It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these What to Play posts, or much posting in general, so I figured I might as well explain what’s up.
In general, the What to Play posts are probably the most labor-intensive posts I do. Because I often work Fridays and Saturdays these days, I save the posts for Friday and Saturday nights. A couple of weekends ago, however, I fused “Grand Theft Auto IV” and “Cabela’s Big Game Hunter” on my way home from work and plowed into a deer on Highway 101. While I wasn’t hurt in the wreck, I didn’t feel much like blogging over that weekend, and rather than write the What to Play post for the 9th to 11th, I spent my free time on the phone with various insurance, body shop and rental car people.
The following week, I subbed on one of my days off for a flu-stricken coworker, and I just didn’t have the energy to post. I don’t have a whole lot now, either, but I’ll do my best to catch up on the past few weeks of new releases. If I’ve inadvertently overlooked your favorite new release or downloadable content, feel free to sound off in the comments and set me straight.
“Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” (rated M, $60 for PlayStation 3): In the couple of weeks since this game has released, it’s established itself as a firm Game of the Year contender. I’m one of the few who chose to play “Brütal Legend,” which came out the same week, first. (Give me a new intellectual property over a sequel any day.) But expect a review down the road. In the meantime, rest assured that this “Indiana Jones”/”Tomb Raider”-style adventure looks like about as close to a no-brainer video game buy you can make. If you’ve got a PS3 and this game isn’t on your radar, you need to, uh, fire your radar guy.
“Brütal Legend” (rated M, $60 for Xbox 360 and PS3): Because Tim Schafer, the guy behind this game, is a Sonoma native, I wrote a fairly extensive preview of the game a few weeks ago. Everything I said about the game still stands. I’ll be reviewing the game soon, but the short version is that I love it, warts and all.
“Demon’s Souls” (rated M, $60 on PS3): What, you thought a game with a name like “Demon’s Souls” would be rated anything other than M? This hardcore, punishingly difficult action role-playing game’s become a huge sleeper hit and is already quite scarce, thanks to the game’s U.S. publisher, Atlus, not realizing they’d have a critical darling on their hands when the Japanese game made it to the States. Rest assured, they’re working on making more.
“Borderlands” (rated M, $60 on Xbox 360 or PS3, $50 PC version due out next week): This co-op, open-world shooter lets up to four players online or two players locally on split screen team up to hunt treasure in an apocalypse-riven wasteland. It’s got a cool, cel-shaded art style, and the randomly generated equipment you find throughout the game world ensure no two people will have the same playing experience. Really looking forward to trying out this shooter/role-playing game hybrid. Half the gamers on my Xbox 360 friends list are playing this one.
“Wii Sports Resort” (rated E, new bundle for $60 includes two Wii Motion Plus): Back when I reviewed this game, I said that I enjoyed it, but that Nintendo ought to have made bundles of the game that included more than one Wii MotionPlus at a discount. Well, apparently someone else had the same idea because Nintendo came out with this bundle that includes the game and two Wii MotionPlus attachments for $60, or $10 cheaper than it’d cost to buy box with the game and one MotionPlus, plus another MotionPlus separately. Great move, Nintendo. Now make a family bundle that includes four MotionPlus units for $80, and we’re talking.
“Magna Carta 2” (ratedT, $60 on Xbox 360): It’s got nothing to do with the British legal document, but this Japanese-style role-playing game with manga-inspired art ought to help tide fans of the genre over until the arrival of “Final Fantasy XIII” early next year.
“A Boy and His Blob” (rated E, $40 on Wii): It’s not every day we get a loving remake of a classic cult game, but that’s what we’ve got in Majesco’s sleeper of a game for the Wii. The budget-priced title tells the story of a boy who’s recruited by a cute, jelly-bean-eating blob to help liberate the land of Blobolonia. You’ll team up with the blob a lot in this side-scrolling puzzle platformer that foretold the game mechanics for future titles like “Ico” and “The Last Guardian.”
“FIFA Soccer 10” (rated E, $60 on PS3 or Xbox 360, $50 on Wii, $40 on PlayStation Portable, $30 on PS2 or DS): Judging from reviews, this year’s installment in EA’s annual series is the company’s best effort yet. They appear to have left their rival, Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series, lying on the pitch, clutching its shin.
“NBA 2K10” (rated E, $60 on Xbox 360 or PS3, $50 on Wii, $30 on PS2 and PSP, $20 on PC), “NBA Live 10” ($60 on Xbox 360 or PS3, $40 on PSP) or “NBA 10: The Inside” (rated E, $30 on PSP): 2K’s basketball franchise has ruled the NBA roost for the past several seasons. Judging by reviews, this continues to be the case, although 2K is reportedly working on fixing a bug that causes occasionally slow frame rates in the Xbox 360 version of the game. To Electronic Arts’ credit, it’s “NBA Live” series appears to have closed the gap with 2K this season. Sony’s “NBA 10: The Inside” is worth a look if you have the PSP.
“NHL 10” (rated E10+, $60 for Xbox 360 or PS3) or “NHL 2K 10” (rated E10+, $50 for Xbox 360, PS3 or Wii, $20 on PS2): While 2K reigns in the world of hoops, EA’s game dominates in hockey, which is too bad, given that the guys at 2K have been using Snoopy’s Home Ice for their motion-capture sessions. “NHL 10” adds some new features over last year’s game, which some critics hailed as the best sports video game of all time. 2K’s series is catching up. It’s also worth noting it’s the only option for a licensed hockey game if you’re playing on Wii or PS2.
“Fallout 3” (rated M, $60 on Xbox 360 and PS3, $50 on PC): The recently released Game of the Year edition adds all six pieces of downloadable content for Bethesda’s role-playing game, plus the original 100-hour RPG. In other words, you can buy this edition of the game and never play anything else for a month.
“Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers” (rated T, $10 Xbox Live Arcade download): This Xbox 360 version of the popular collectible trading card game has been out for a while. (I reviewed it here.) It finally received its long-overdue first expansion set this week. “Duel the Dragon” ($5) adds a handful of new decks, new opponents, new challenges and some new cards. A must if you’re still playing this game or looking to add some variety to online play.
What I’ve been playing: As I said above, I’ve been a little busy. When I’ve found time to game, I’ve been making my way through “Brütal Legend.” The game’s been getting mixed reviews, but I have to say when I write mine I’ll most likely end up at the extremely positive end of the spectrum. As folks who read my column and blog regularly know, I put a premium on well-written games as well as games that offer up experiences unlike anything found in another game. “Brütal Legend” isn’t perfect, but as I tool around its album-cover-inspired game world in my ridonkulous hot rod, I’m in gamer heaven. I’ve also sneaked in a little “Halo 3: ODST” and “Culdcept Saga,” plus sampled the downloadable content for “Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers.” I’ll likely finish the single-player part of “Brütal Legend” tonight, then it’s on to “Uncharted 2” and “Borderlands.”