Just as I recently resurrected my weekly look at new releases and sales, I’m bringing back my chronicles of what I’ve been playing. This allows me to comment on some of the games I only spend a few hours with, or don’t feel comfortable reviewing in full. Games are listed in descending order of how much time I spent playing them, except for when I decide to list them in another order.
“LittleBigPlanet 2” (rated E, $60 for PlayStation 3): I finished up the Media Molecule-designed levels in the middle of the week and have been playing user-created stuff and experimenting with creating my own content. Gotta say, playing with the content-creation tools myself makes me appreciate all the work that goes into building even the most rudimentary user-created levels. I’ll be reviewing this in full later this week.
“Dead Space: Ignition” (rated M, $5 download for Xbox 360 or PS3): Before I fired up my review copy of “Dead Space 2,” I decided to pony up a Lincoln to play the downloadable game that served as its preorder bonus. Even though “Ignition” failed to wow me at a press preview event last year, and was the recipient of horrible reviews, the completionist freak in me wanted the hacking suit and extra items you unlock in “Dead Space 2.” Sadly, that same inner completionist freak felt compelled to keep playing “Ignition” until I’d unlocked all 200 achievement points for the game, a feat which took around four hours. The reviews are right: “Ignition” isn’t much fun. It’s an ugly animated comic with a cool branching story. Of its three simple minigames, only one can be described as satisfying. “Trace Route” is essentially a boring 2D race, while the “System Override” game seemed to require no skill or brains whatsoever. Only the puzzle-style “Hardware Crack,” which requires the player to redirect colored beams of light into receptors, was what I’d call an enjoyable challenge, and the fact that I had to play through the story four times to see every ending meant that it, too, wore out its welcome.
“Dead Space 2” (rated M, $60 for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3): It’s kind of weird to be playing both Visceral Games’, uh, visceral shooter and the ultracute “LittleBigPlanet 2” at the same time, but that’s what I’m doing. I was a huge fan of the first “Dead Space,” one of the first games I reviewed way back when I started writing about games for The Press Democrat. As for the sequel, I like it so far, but I’ve been bugged so far that I don’t feel the constant threat of death lurking around every corner the way I did with the first game. It dawned on me over the weekend that this might be because, with the first game, I chose the “hard” difficulty for my first playthrough. On the sequel, though, I’ve chosen “normal,” something I’m trying to do now for nearly all games I review. I’m finding that the decrease in difficulty, combined with my familiarity with some of the enemies from the first game, lets me dispatch them methodically and calmly, like a professional necromorph exterminator. My first encounter with the all-new Stalker enemies, though, proved fatal, however, so it’s possible there are more scares in store as I advance.
“Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood” (rated M, $60 for Xbox 360 or PS3): I messed around with the multiplayer some more in advance of my review that ran last week. I really enjoy the multiplayer, but sometimes it seems to take a while before matchmaking throws me into a game. This might be because I usually play in the middle of the night, though, so I didn’t feel comfortable dinging the game for it in my review.
“Culdcept Saga” (rated T, out of print on Xbox 360): I officially stopped participating in “Culdcept Saga” leagues and thought that’d be it for me with this game that occupied so much of my time from 2008 through mid-2010, but a group of my regular gaming buddies have gotten into it. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve played two four-player, friendly matches of the hybrid board/collectible card game.
“Fallout: New Vegas” (rated M, $60 on Xbox 360 or PS3, $50 on PC): I got home from work on Friday night and didn’t feel like playing either “LittleBigPlanet 2” or “Dead Space 2.” Instead, I wanted to lean back and enjoy a nice role-playing game. Because it launched with numerous glitches, including one that caused a friend of mine to lose several hours of progress, Obsidian Entertainment’s post-nuclear Western scared me away. Now that I’ve started it, I’m having a blast. My character is the typical high-intelligence, fast talker I usually make for these things. I’m a bit worried about choosing to specialize in energy weapons rather than standard guns, as ammo for my armament of choice has been scarce so far.
“Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers” (rated T, $10 download for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3): Just spacing out and unlocking extra cards.
“Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit” (rated T, $60 for Xbox 360 or PS3) [review]: I’m trying to fire up this game on the PS3 just often enough to seize another time or two on the speedwall.