Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Week in Gaming: An Awful Lot of Running to Do

This week I have been playing quite a lot of games, and while I could probably manage a post about each one, they’re different enough that I thought a bit of comparison would be interesting.  It’s been a very Xbox-heavy week, and I’ve finally gotten to play 3 games which I’ve wanted to play for a while.  My time has been spent divided between Left 4 Dead 2, Fable II, and Assassin’s Creed II.  A group of sequels, all of which are a lot of fun.

I played Fable the least this week, so I’ll start there.  Most people by now are familiar with the format of the Fable games.  Take a young hero through an epic quest where every decision is a moral one.  The nicer you are, the more saintly your appearance becomes.  The more evil you act, the more demonic you appear.  It’s a very impressive game series, and from what I understand, the story is quite compelling, and the good people of Lionhead have made the morality of the tale highly questionable and difficult to necessarily find the right path.  I’m enjoying the game so far.  The combat system flows well and is fun to play whatever weapon I’m using, although magic is just spectacular.  The lack of MP costs means that magic is cheap, easy, and really, really cool.  It’s a fun game to play, but I’m not sure that it bests the other games I’ve played this week.

Left 4 Dead 2 never really appealed to me.  I’m not so into the whole zombie genre, and things like House of the Dead and Resident Evil always slightly repulsed me.  However, the pure fear that comes from playing a Left 4 Dead campaign, the surging adrenaline and shiver down your spine as you hear the weeping of a witch far too close to you, is truly gripping.  It’s a tough game, where you have to work very closely with your small group of survivors to continue to be survivors and not more victims.  One of the cool innovations in the game is that all of the particularly dangerous zombies have their own sound that you can hear as they approach.  While this early warning system is very useful, it does add to the terror of the experience as you spin around wildly looking for the threat you know must be close.  This is an adrenaline-packed challenge, as you fight through hordes of zombies (which move MUCH faster than you expect them to) in the hopes of finding an escape from the menace.  The AI is pretty decent, both on the zombies and your allies, and it allows for some very clever tactics.  Though the game isn’t so much to look at, it grips you by the lungs and leaves you breathless throughout every level.  The moment when the door is closed on another safe house, you suddenly realize that you’ve been forgetting to breathe.  No matter what the actual game was, the effect it has tells you all you need to know.  Epic.

The third game I’ve finally played this week has been Assassin’s Creed II.  I’ve watched a fair bit of Brotherhood being played, and I liked the look of it.  Of course, the Assassin’s Creed games have been a desire of mine for a while, because how could it not be?  Running across rooftops and jumping off buildings is just a fantastic way to spend your time, even if you’re ignoring the main plot.  The games are just fun to run around.  The combat is moderately tricky, but certainly feasible, and fairly impressive to see.  Climbing and free-running is intuitive yet still a solid challenge, especially some of the sub-levels, like the Assassins’ Tombs.  I’m even told that the story is, at least in parts, historically accurate, which is fun.

Basically, Fable II is a very pleasant game to play, and you can get a lot of entertainment out of it.  Left 4 Dead 2, however, is far more exciting.  On the other hand, it is also a fairly draining experience with all of the adrenaline it gets pumping.  Perhaps Fable is a good game to relax with after the terrors of the zombie apocalypse.  Assassin’s Creed II is a bit of a mix of the two.  It has a lot of the excitement and thrills of Left 4 Dead, but never the same gripping fear which is so exhausting.  Instead, even when half the city guard are chasing you down the back alleys of Florence, you’re still relatively relaxed and enjoying yourself, rather than panicking and firing wildly as L4D2 tends to prompt.  All 3 games are definitely great fun.  It’s just a matter of what you’re in the mood for.  For once, I’m actually impressed at the range of games available on the Xbox 360.  My opinion of it is officially raised.

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