I had a rare Saturday off over the weekend, so I used that as an excuse to skip the weekly What to Play roundup. I’ll fold the handful of new games, including the excellent downloadable game “Limbo,” into this week’s roundup. But I still like to talk a little bit about what I’m playing as I’m playing it, instead of waiting until I finish each game. So here are a few words on each of the games I played last week, in rough descending order from how much time I spent playing them. (Apologies for What I Played’s late arrival. This was supposed to go up late Monday night, but I arrived home to find my neighborhood engulfed in a blackout that lasted until 2:30 a.m.)
There’s a ton of stuff in here because I spent all of last Tuesday at Electronic Arts’ headquarters in Redwood City playing a bunch of upcoming stuff.
“Red Dead Redemption” (rated M, $60 on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3): I’m using the lull to dive back into Rockstar Games open-world Western, which sits atop a lot of folks’ early Game of the Year contender lists. So far, I’m liking it, but I’ve hit a couple of irritating bugs. One of them caused the game not to give me any Y-button prompts, which meant I couldn’t mount horses, skin animals or loot the bodies of people I killed. It was kind of annoying since I killed a bunch of deer for a challenge and hopped off my horse. Once I found I couldn’t skin any of the animals, I also couldn’t get back on my horse, and I was stuck in the middle of nowhere. Eventually, I just had to make John Marston commit suicide and start over. Luckily, the glitch wasn’t tied to my game save and I resumed without a hitch. Phew.
“Culdcept Saga” (rated T, out of print on Xbox 360): I won my first three matches in the league I run, so I’m feeling pretty good about that. It’s a little ridiculous that I’m still playing this two-year-old hybrid of card and board game, but there’s nothing quite like it and I’m pretty good at it. Still, I think I’m about ready to hang up my Devil Wings for a while. Finding time to play isn’t so hard, but finding time to build and experiment with decks is.
“Dead Space 2” (rating pending, out Jan. 25 for Xbox 360 and PS3): I waited about an hour to play this upcoming horror shooter for about 40 minutes at EA’s headquarters last week. It was worth every minute. I previewed the game here.
“Rock Band 3” (rating pending, out Oct. 26 for Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3): Also at the EA event, I tried bass on The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” keyboards on Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian” and vocals on Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I’ll post a preview pretty shortly here.
“Dead Space: Ignition” (rating pending, out Decemberish as a download on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network): At EA’s event last week, they showed off this game, which is sort of an animated comic broken up by a few minigames. Players of “Ignition,” which is planned for release in the months before “Dead Space 2’s” release, will be able to unlock cool stuff they can use once they pick up their copy of “Dead Space 2.” Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, and the EA rep I talked to wouldn’t confirm that “Ignition” will be a free preorder bonus for “Dead Space 2,” but it wouldn’t surprise me if this followed the same price model as Microsoft’s “Fable II Pub Games” — free to those who preorder “Dead Space 2” but available separately to those who don’t. I played one of the three game types, which was basically a simplistic racing kind of game.
“Shank” (rated M, out Aug. 24 as a $15 download on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network): I tried out the co-op mode for this side-scrolling action game at EA’s media event. Think of it as being a bit like “Double Dragon,” but with guns thrown in. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Erick Wong and I marched through the levels, beating up dudes and shooting them. The overall art style is reminiscent of hand-drawn games like “Alien Hominid” and “Castle Crashers.” Looks like a good game to play with roommates and spouses, though maybe not little kids. Despite the cartoony art style, there’s a lot of blood and you quaff brewskis to restore health.
“Spare Parts” (rating pending, out this fall as a $10 download on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network): This downloadadble buddy game, however, looks like the perfect thing to play with kids. “Spare Parts” is a two-player, platform-jumping/action game that reminds me a lot of the Lego games (“Lego Star Wars,” “Lego Indiana Jones,” etc.) but without all that gameplay that’s started to become a little old hat. You and a friend will play as a couple of robots, Mar-T and Chip, who’ve been stranded on a strange planet. You’ll travel around together and salvage parts to repair your ship and escape. The game will have a little bit of a “Metroid” feel in that some of the parts you find will open up new areas to explore. The bulk of the game revolves around collecting and solving simple puzzles and beating on stuff with your, but I thought “Spare Parts'” projectile attacks were adorable. Instead of shooting a gun to attack from a distance, the robots simply pull little gears and stuff off their bodies and chuck them at foes. I also liked the way players will have access to a variety of special co-op moves, such as double-jumping in tandem for a small health boost.
“Medal of Honor” (rating pending, out Oct. 12 for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3): I still stink at this game’s multiplayer. EA had it up and running at their event, but it quickly became clear I was playing on the PlayStation Network in the online beta, against people who’ve been playing it for a while. I got my butt handed to me over and over and opted to go chat with a producer on the console version of “The Sims 3” instead. Preview of that forthcoming.