The Unplayed Gaming List – December 2013

The last few weeks have been just insane in terms of how busy I’ve been, but with the New Year just ahead I thought it worth recapping what I’ve played since February.

Dispatched

  • The cover art to Mass Effect 3 that everyone recognises because it has the male Shepherd.

    The entire “no-one in authority believes the lone hero about an upcoming threat” doesn’t work so well in a high-tech setting, where everything Shepherd experienced could have been recorded through a visor camera. (Image sourced from: Mass Effect Wiki)

    Mass Effect 3 (plus all extra story-linked DLC: Leviathan, Citadel, From Ashes, Omega and the Extended Cut) (X360): For a title that attracted so much controversy at launch about the nature of its ending, I didn’t find much outside of what I was expecting. Some people have imbued the Mass Effect series with a sophistication I find undeserved – it’s a decent third-person cover shooter backed by a narrative that provides the illusion of choice. It’s also a series that holds fast to the tropes of the RPG genre – Shepherd might be one of the best trained special operatives in the galaxy, but people still ask him / her to find the stuff they’ve lost and s/he locates it for the extra XP (and has to mostly deliver it by hand rather than have one of the dozens of underlings on the Normandy put it in the future-equivalent of the mail). Gripes aside, it was nice to wrap up my character’s story.
  • Vanquish (X360):  I’d read somewhere that this was an overlooked gem of a title. It really wasn’t. The sliding mechanic was fun, but the narrative was absolutely terrible and filled with pretty much every video game writing problem you can think of. However, it is a title that had me watch the credits by including a shoot-some-asteroids mechanic, which was a great touch.
  • LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (X360): Had its cute moments, but I can only play one LEGO game a year because the gameplay mechanics are so same-y.
  • The Gunstringer (X360): An interesting mix of gameplay types and stylistic elements that fall a bit short of working together. The Kinect controls weren’t as smooth as they needed to be. Also, I get the feeling that TwistedPixel want to be DoubleFine so bad they can taste it, but they fall a long way short.
  • Iron Brigade (X360): On the subject of DoubleFine, Iron Brigade (pka Trenched) was a fun third person shooter / base defence mix – you control a mech-like vehicle fighting evil televisions in an alternate World War II-type setting. Quirky and not long enough to overstay its welcome. I only wish it didn’t drop out as much when playing multiplayer games.
  • BioShock: Infinite (X360): I AM DISAPPOINT.
  • Hitman: Absolution (X360): Only really starts to get fun when you understand how the developers thought you should finish a level. Before that point you are simply banging your head against something hard. And yes, the nunsploitation element was completely gratuitious.
  • Mirror’s Edge (X360): First person platforming is an awful gameplay mechanic. Mirror’s Edge gives it a good shot at trying to make it fun, but doesn’t quite get there.
  • Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (X360): The title is a bit misleading, since there are hardly any revelations in this game, but I can forgive that weakness since it ended up giving Altair – the original Assassin’s Creed protagonist – some actual personality and ended Ezio’s narrative. However, it also has awful, awful first-person platforming bits, which aren’t now and never will be fun.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution (X360): I really enjoyed this game and spent a lot of time sneaking and knocking guards unconscious before hacking systems for their sweet, sweet data. DX3 unfortunately showed me how dated the whole Cyberpunk aesthetic has become, but as far as the game goes: really fantastic. The boss battles weren’t even that much of a negative for me.
  • A screenshow from Mark of the Ninja, where a dart is being aimed at a light.

    Mark of the Ninja: by breaking the light, all those guards in the highlighted circle will be distracted. And then the fun begins. (Image sourced from: Internetfreaks.org)

    Mark of the Ninja (plus Special Edition DLC) (X360): This is a puzzle game where sometimes it is best to pull out your katana and stab the puzzle until it goes away. Once you learn how to use the sound-based mechanic and how to play with the AI of the guards, you can end up causing some pretty enjoyable waves of rolling bloody terror (or sneak past so that no-one knows you ever there, I guess).
  • Truth or Lies (X360): An hilariously bad lie detection game.
  • Red Faction: Armageddon (X360): An okay title that is just stretched out for too long to be fun by the end. It also includes a rainbow-farting unicorn as a hidden weapon, which I don’t know if I should count as a minus or a plus.
  • Dust: An Elysian Tail (X360): I started this game as a bit wary about how I’d find it – the first boss fight thumped me hard – but once you’ve got a fuller range of moves and attacks you become a screen’s worth of destruction. It’s got a Saturday morning cartoon quality narrative though and although I found the times it broke the fourth wall (such as making fun of the main character stuffing a sheep into his inventory) such moves also end up pointing out how silly the whole narrative is.
  • A World of Keflings (X360): One of the free Xbox Live Gold games. It was fun to use my Live avatar for something and the gameplay was simple enough, if a bit shallow.

Looking back at about a year’s worth of gaming, I’m actually pretty happy having finished that many titles. Also: apart from firing up Star Trek Online and Neverwinter Online at a few points in the year, I barely spent any time playing MMOs. There’s probably a connection there.

Unwrapped

  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Missing Link DLC
  • Batman: Arkham City – Harley Quinn’s Revenge DLC
  • Dishonoured
  • Dead Rising 2: Off the Record
  • Rayman: Legends
  • From Dust
  • Beyond Good and Evil
  • Outland
  • Prototype 2
  • Brutal Legend
  • Lollipop Chainsaw
  • The Darkness 2
  • Kinect Adventures
  • Just Dance 4 (I mean to go back to this)
  • Deepak Chopra’s Leela

Unplayed

  • Dark Souls
  • Gears of War 3 (for the sake of completeness, really)
  • Catherine
  • Portal 2
  • Psychonauts (because I’ve never played it but am intrigued)
  • Alice: Madness Returns
  • To The Moon
  • Hydrophobia
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  • SpecOps: The Line
  • Sleeping Dogs
  • The Walking Dead
  • Far Cry 3
  • Assassin’s Creed 3 (but the bugs, the bugs…) and 4
  • Dead Space 3
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