Thursday, 29 November 2007

Christmas looms

As much as I hate to admit it, Christmas seems to be approaching at a disturbingly fast rate, and people are bugging me on what I want for the festive season. If I tell them the obvious, 'games', then they immediately find themselves lost in waters that they do not care to understand. For this reason, I tend to make their shopping lists a bit more precise and just write down the odd few titles that have caught my eye that I fancy trying.

This year however, I suddenly found my list which usually has some form of novelty of gadgetry scribbled on it, largely populated by games. This winter has been a gift from the games industry, as the Christmas line up actually looks very good.

At the top of my list was this wonderful offering of Crysis, the latest shooting sensation from Crytek. My first thought upon hearing this game was that I hope they don't make it go off on a weird tangent involving mutated monsters, like they did in their previous offering of Far Cry. Reading on I found out that the protagonist has a skin tight suit that gives him super human like abilities. This I had to try out as it sounded rather awesome (yes, there are varying degrees of awesomeness). Since I was under instruction not to treat myself to anything other than basic rations, in order to leave people things to buy me as gifts, I was not able to purchase it.

As a compromise I got the demo and all I can say is wow. I never thought that a game would offer so much random fun. It has all the properties of an amazing shooter and it looks stunning, but that's not even the best bit. The twisted delights of this game kept me hooked on the demo for hours. I was picking up Korean soldiers and throwing them into houses which then collapsed like cardboard boxes. I was turning my cloaking device on and sneaking around guards, making them shoot their own shadows. The attention to detail is phenomenal!

Another request on my list to Father Christmas is Gears of War for the PC. It looked so good on the Xbox 360, that it really made me consider getting one. Thankfully, Epic Games decided to bring it to PC with everything improved and even added sparkly new content. This means that I can now look at Xbox 360 owners with a smug grin and laugh at them because they had the stunted prototype version whilst the PC gets the advanced offspring.

As far as the game looks though, even on the Xbox 360, the most appropriate word that comes to mind is 'cool'. The graphics look crisp and have had a lot of detail put into everything, from the main characters armour, to the arch ways you run under. Also the camera angles look quite interesting in some shots where you can control it to give the you the most tactically sound view of the carnage that is happening around every corner.

The other big title on my list is one that I am a bit skeptical about. Call of Duty 4 looks like a great game, and from what I have heard, has outstanding multiplayer. One thing that bothers me is how can the heroics portrayed in the world war two story lines of the first three games possibly be translated to urban combat in an unspecified region in 'the middle east'. This game will need to tread carefully through a mine field of political correctness, as the recent conflict in the middle east is a bit of a touchy subject at the moment.

Going back to the point about heroism, its one thing in a world war two game to sneak into an enemy compound, and against all the odds, blow up some anti air defense to allow allied planes safe passage. Surely the same 'hero' factor will not transfer to strolling into the line of sight of said compound, and nuking it from orbit via strategic use of a laser pen. Maybe that is a bit of an extreme example, but I have not played the game yet, and with the focus being on 'modern warfare', these elements could well have snuck in.

This being said, it still looks like an enjoyable romp which will leave behind it many limbs and body bags, just what you need to de-stress yourself after a day of university/real work.

You may or may not have guessed from the games listed that I am a PC gamer rather than a console junky. I don't have anything against consoles, I just don't have the money to buy one. Luckily for me I have friends who do though. Everybody wins (especially me).

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