Sorry for the lack of decent content lately (Just kidding, our content was never decent), lately I've been plugging away at a few games that are consuming the majority of my free time. I had intended to write about each one individually, but first of all I'm lazy and second of all those Scoia'tael ain't save themselfs. So this is what you get instead. I'm sorry.
Shadows of the Damned
I picked this up for $25 a few weeks ago and really like it so far. I'd say I'm around 2/3 of the way through it, and while it might not re-invent the genre, it's still one hell of a good time. See, I said that...because...hell....and the game...nevermind. The core mechanics are good, not stellar, but still fun. Shooting and moving around feels somewhere between Resident Evil and Dead Space. Levels are linear with some light puzzles, and boss fights are fun even if they drag on a bit sometimes. It's the game's excellent presentation and bizarre sense of humor that set it apart though. This depiction of hell is truly twisted and grotesque, while the banter between Garcia and Johnson (His transforming penis-gun) adds a layer of goofy humor to it. Despite some annoying sections and having to sit through a loading screen when you die, the game moves along pretty briskly and it's kept me wanting to play more each time.
Overall, I really enjoy the game because of how bizarre and entertaining it is. But for a game of this length without much incentive to replay, I still don't think it would have been worth $60 to me. At $25 however, it was a Damned good deal...haha....because...the name.....moving on.
Bought this one on XBLA for 1200 points. It's a side-scrolling shooter, which I'm not usually that into but after playing the demo I enjoyed it enough that I picked it up anyway. People have said that this is the best shooter in recent years, and I am inclined to agree mostly because I don't even remember any other shooters from recent years. The action is pretty standard. Weapon power-ups, super weapons, big bosses at the end of each level. You can slow down time, but you get so little of that power that you pretty much have to save it for emergencies.
The story is pretty interesting for a game like this. It's very dark and emotional at times. Sadly it's too hard to follow, which causes it to lose a lot of it's impact. Having all the voice-overs in Hungarian, while cool, doesn't do it any favors in the sense-making department. Overall, I had a good time with this game but I don't know if it was worth 1200 points. 800 would make it a must-buy though.
Also got this one on XBLA, for 800 points! At this price it is definitely a must-buy. If you like platforming, or exploring, or just quirky fun games that don't involve shooting nazis then you should play Fez. It looks great, is easy to learn, and some of the later puzzles will make you feel like a fucking genius when you finally solve them. The only thing I am not big on is the soundtrack. I'm sure they were going for 'catchy', but to my awful tasteless ears it's kind of grating and I have to turn the volume down so it doesn't annoy me too much.
The Witcher 2
I picked up the enhanced edition of Witcher 2 on 360 after hearing Jaison bitching about how he couldn't make it work on PC. I'll be honest, I didn't really like the game at first. The combat is clunky and frustrating at times, and I didn't know what the hell was going on or why I should care. After soldiering on for a couple hours, the game finally got its hooks into me and I started enjoying it a lot more. I'm not even really sure why.
The story is starting to make more sense, and while I won't pretend the writing is good, it's entertaining enough that I can just go with it and enjoy it. Some of the banter between characters is pretty hilarious. Apparently these games are based off books, which makes sense as the world actually seems pretty fleshed out. It sort of reminds me of Game of Thrones in that there is more focus on political intrigue and conflicts between ruling families than saving the world from dragons or The Dark Lord.
I also appreciate the sort of neutral stance the game takes on morality. There's no good and evil meter, karma points or other contrivance to reward or penalize you based on your actions. Killing someone might result in a greater reward, while leaving them alive may come back to bite you later on. Seeing these moral quandaries play out is incredibly entertaining and very much affects the way you play the game. There are some very difficult choices to be made, and you will often find yourself second-guessing them.
There are tons of quests in the game, and while a lot of them are pretty standard "Kill the monsters, clear the dungeon" ordeals, there always seems to be enough of an over-arching goal that it doesn't bog you down too much. There are so many things to craft, and equipment to buy that is actually useful. Combat is hard enough that you'll actually want to get the best items and weapons you can before taking on that next boss monster.
In the end, Witcher 2 is still pretty rough around the edges; with bugs, clunky interface and some of the worst save checkpoints ever devised. If you can tolerate that, it's fantasy junk-food at it's finest. Like a never-ending bag of black pepperjack doritos. It may leave you with the shits, but it's worth every minute of it.