Friday, 27 August 2010

Just a quick gaming fix?

Going on holiday is always fun because it means you get to leave the worries of reality behind you. This is also a reason why I like really getting into a game sometimes, when you can get completely absorbed by it and not notice the daylight turning to night around you until some un-thoughtful sod ruins the atmosphere by turning the lights on.

I certainly don’t feel an urgent need to take games on holiday with me, but it can be a nice time waster. I remember in the past having fun with the Pokemon titles, when just about everyone that was my age who I encountered also had a copy, allowing for trades and battles galore. Just lately however, I personally feel that the handheld market has been missing something, and I’m not entirely sure what it is.

I’ve had my clunky, unstylish original DS since they were first released(ish). It was originally purchased to help cope with a 25 hour coach trip to Italy, with my friends having had similar thoughts allowing for many hours of Super Mario 64 DS multiplayer.

Since then I had only bought two other games, Mario Kart and New Super Mario Bros, both being alright, but nothing that I would pick up and play if in any situation other than a long journey. The levels of New Super Mario Bros just felt boring after the third run, with the crippling linearity of 2D meaning there was only really one direction to explore, with the occasional branch in the path taking you up or down, but not in a drastic way.

I’ve never been a huge fan of using the stylus as the main control method which is exactly why I never braved either Zelda DS game. Perhaps it’s me being closed minded but tapping and scribbling on the screen with the tenacity of a toddler with a crayon never really appealed.

I was pleasantly surprised on the holiday just past. On a whim I decided to buy Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars before I departed and I’m still playing it now. I have a stigma surrounding on the go gaming, that it’s just for a quick gaming fix and offers no really substance to get into. Chinatown Wars shattered this train of thought by incredibly being both a dip in and out casual affair and a decent, immersive game that could kill an hour or so. As it turns out, virtual drug dealing is almost as addictive as some of the very more-ish powders you can sniff or shoot (maybe).

With the 3DS hopefully seeing a release in the next six months, will this trend of engrossing games continue to appear. I don’t mean to use this word with disrespect to games on the current generation of DS, but it looks like we will start seeing some ‘proper’ games on Nintendo’s next handheld. A port of Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater for a start will definitely keep you hooked, with Hideo Kojima’s movie game fetish probably shining through that title.

Perhaps I’ve been too dismissive of handhelds as of late. Chinatown Wars has shown me what the little machine can do, so who knows what else I’ve missed on Nintendo’s little grey clam shell. Maybe I will look into Zelda after all.

Monday, 23 August 2010

I don't care what you say, I like it

Having just come back from holiday, I was going to regale you all in a fantastic tale about unexplained absences and gaming abroad. Instead I came back to what seemed to be an odd mix of critics either hatefully spitting or gleefully licking the experience of Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days.

This game appears to be some form of explosive Marmite, with the love it or hate it mechanic shining through the internet. It gives the game an annoyingly misty Metacritic score because it has almost as much praise as it has damning. Having enjoyed the demo and hated the first game, I decided this was a day one purchase just to see what the almighty guff was all about.

I can honestly say that I like it. Okay, it’s a slightly average shooter that’s too short with a liberal sprinkling of glitches and a plot that ends in completely the wrong place. It’s definitely functional though and a hell of a lot better than the craptastic heap the first game was pressed together from.

I must admit that I find it quite irresponsible and just a bad thing to do to award this game one out of ten, like Destructoid decided to. Okay, it is nowhere near perfect and you can pick it to ribbons if you like, but even then it is definitely not worth that much of a dismissal.

Perhaps I found it more fun because I played it through on co-op with a mate, but I really found it to be genuinely enjoyable. I felt that it missed some of the more innovative ideas for levels that the first game pulled off, as mentioned in the Destructoid review, but from a gameplay experience it is a million times more playable.

A one out of ten score, pitching it as “the lowest of the low” is horribly misleading. Seriously, has the writer ever played the joys of Ninjabread Man? That terrible turd smudge of pixels and unhappiness deserved every one out of ten (and lack of review) it got. Kane & Lynch 2 would still be better than that game if it contained subliminal messages encouraging you to evacuate your bowels onto your hands and finger paint “10/10” all over the walls of your living room.

I know this post can be boiled and evaporated down to the salty remains of “I disagree with X reviewer” but in this case it has particularly wound me up. Destructoid prides itself on ‘brutally honest game reviews’ but I fail to see how this is honest. It’s brutal sure, but I feel the review possibly ran away with how fun it is to be a bastard. Even reading the review, the one out of ten rating comes as a shock at the end. Okay, the article doesn’t beam sunshine out of a whole created by a thousand children smiling, but the rating at the end seems like it went straight for the jugular at the conclusion of a thumb war.

I really enjoyed Kane & Lynch 2. It has an interesting presentation with gunplay that feels fun and gritty. If you liked the demo, then you know what to expect. Not a perfect gem essential to all collections, but it certainly isn’t the steaming pile of fail that some reviews are claiming it to be.

It also has a fantastic level played in the nude that definitely tops Metal Gear Solid 2’s adventure into the naked protagonist experience.