Here’s a look at what games I’ve been playing, ranked roughly from most-played to least-played. This allows me to offer some thoughts on some titles that I may not devote a full review to, plus sound off on some ideas that might not have made it into full reviews of the games I play. Games are listed roughly in order of most- to least-played, with assistance from my Raptr profile.
“L.A. Noire” (rated M,$60 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3): After I finished playing “L.A. Noire” for my review, I went back in and mopped up all the street crimes I didn’t finish when I played through the main story. Up until I hit the vice desk, I had been doing most of them, but it seemed like the game kept wanting me to drive further and further out of my way to complete these tedious, optional missions, so I eventually said, “No, thanks,” and finished the story first. I found a lot of the street crime/car chase/shootout stuff to be antithetical to what “L.A. Noire” was supposed to be, even though I loved the game. Apparently, I’m not the only one. Here’s a long-form piece by Tom Chick that explores that same issue. Also worth a read, if you’ve finished the game, is Kirk Hamilton’s review over on Kill Screen.
“Bulletstorm” (rated M, $40 on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3): Now that it’s mid-June, I think I can safely say that I don’t think anything is going to unseat “Bulletstorm” [review] as my favorite game of the first six months of 2011. A couple of friends and I keep returning for more Anarchy Mode, and I haven’t even really started to explore the score-attack-style Echoes Mode, or gone back to play the campaign on higher difficulty levels. This game is a blast, and way smarter than it gets credit for being.
“Brink” (rated T, $60 on Xbox 360 and PS3, $50 on PC): For a game with a Metacritic score in the upper 60s, “Brink” provided a tremendous amount of satisfaction and enjoyment in the 30 or so hours I spent playing it. I’ll happily get back to it at some point, I hope, but for now my multiplayer sessions are being spent primarily with “Bulletstorm,” “Portal 2” and games I’m hoping to review.
“Motorstorm Apocalypse” (rated T, $60 on PS3) [review]: I still feel a bit guilty for liking this loud, dumb racer filled with unlikeable characters, like one might feel if they secretly liked the John Travolta movie “Swordfish.” But sometimes the right piece of entertainment happens to come around at the right time in your life, and “Motorstorm Apocalypse’s” dumb vehicular mayhem was just the thing I was looking for after finishing “L.A. Noire’s” plodding drives to crime scenes and canned car chases.
“Outland” (rated E10+, $10 download on Xbox 360 or PS3): I’ve been enjoying this little downloadable platform-jumping/action game from Housemarque Games in between whatever retail game I’m reviewing at the moment. The fact that it’s only a $10 buy makes it a no-brainer buy for fans of “Metroid”/”Castlevania”-style 2D games or for people who just like games with awesome art styles. I dug this enough that it prompted me to claim two other Housemarque games, “Dead Nation” and “Super Stardust HD” as my two freebies from the PlayStation Network’s “Welcome Back” program.
“Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds” (rated T, $60 on Xbox 360 or PS3): I bought this game at retail and also snapped up a pricey, tournament-edition fight stick after attending a launch party for the game and falling in love with the visuals. Unfortunately, I’m never on Xbox Live at the same time as my friends who have it, so I’ve largely left it unplayed. Finally, on Friday I stumbled across one of my buddies on Live late at night and played a dozen or so games. I’m awful. The only character I can reliably play well is Chun-Li, and it’s asking a bit much for a noob like myself to chew through all three of my opponent’s fighters with one of mine, so I only won one of the games I played. The strategy guide I bought with the game reads like a foreign language, with its talk of “cancels” and “hyper combos” and whatnot. But I’m convinced I can get better if I keep at it. This is the first fighting game I’ve really put any time into since the original “Street Fighter II” back when I wasn’t even a teenager yet.
“Duke Nukem Forever” (rated M, releasing Tuesday for $60 on Xbox 360 and PS3, $50 on PC): It’s pretty crazy to think this game was announced in 1997 and we’re just able to play it now. So far, though, it appears that one fact is the most extraordinary thing about “DNF.” I’m not far in, but the experience has been unremarkable. This’ll probably be the next title I review.
“Portal 2” (rated E10+, $60 on Xbox 360 or PS3, $50 on PC): I hooked up with Swiller (who comments on here sometimes) to run through some of “Portal 2’s” co-op levels. I was a bit bummed when some of the PSN trophies didn’t unlock for me, but I play for reasons other than trophies, so I suppose I’ll cope.
“Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies” (rated , $35 on DS): This year-old role-playing game is the only game I played on my 3DS during my trip down to E3. It got about a half-hour of play time on the flight home. Wait, does swapping Miis via Street Pass and unlocking puzzle pieces count as a game? Because I did a ton of that at E3. I went down there with three or four Street Pass Miis and returned with more than 150. I probably could’ve done even better if I’d realized the most Miis you can capture in a single session is 10. After that, you have to accept them all and clear your queue before you can earn any more. The coolest Mii I got was someone purporting to be Yuji Naka, the lead programmer of the original “Sonic the Hedgehog.” Considering he was a the show and his Mii plugged “Ivy the Kiwi?” a fairly obscure game, I’m gonna naively believe it was Naka.
“SpongeBob Squigglepants” (rated E, $30 for Wii, also available for DS) and “uDraw Studio” (rated E): I messed around with uDraw and SpongeBob for a column sometime back. I’m kind of glad I did, because it was one of two things I thought of when Nintendo unveiled the Wii U at E3, the other being the iPad.