Plenty to discuss this week — racing games, zombies, spaaaaaaaaaaace! (warning: funny, but spoilers!), and world warriors. Oh, the world warriors!
Enough of this nonsense, on to the backlog!
I've been on a major Mass Effect 2 bender for the past week and a half. It was time for me to finally finish the review I started back in February, which was a humbler, simpler time. Ah, February of 2010...it feels so long ago. So if you haven't read the review yet, and you're into reading about games that are far removed from the normal news cycle, go look at it. Shameless self-promotion isn't something I do often, so you should all feel privileged.
Outside of gallivanting across the universe with Shepard and Co. (sounds like a wonderful manufacturing company, doesn't it?), I've had a wonderful time playing Splinter Cell: Conviction with my friend Matt. (He asked for a shout-out, so he gets one.) We completed the co-op story on realistic difficulty at 11:30 last night, and the process was extremely fast considering we've played a lot of the game lately. The cooperative experience is very satisfying in Conviction. I recommend it.
Nick and I also started Borderlands' The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned this week. We played only two or so hours of it, but what I've seen was refreshing to say the least. As much as we liked Borderlands, we didn't love it. Our review demonstrates that fact. So it pleases me to discover that Zombie Island has a radically different design palette than the core game because all of the original's browns and grays are dull and uninteresting.
Oh, I also downloaded the trial for Guild Wars. I don't know why. There's a nine-hour limit on it. Aside from timed Xbox Live demos, I don't think I've heard of such a short (read: pointless) length of time for a demo -- MMOs generally do a week to 10 day free trial, which is much more fair to the experience.
And...and...a friend gave me a beta key for StarCraft II last night. I've installed the program, but have yet to run it. Sunday is when I'm supposed to partake in online combat alongside this friend. We'll see how bad I suck in 2v2. Details to follow.
Time is on my side this week. I've been able to get in a lot of PES 2010 this week — enough to start going through withdrawals whenever I can't get a hit every four hours — and a bit of Forza Motorsport 3 as well.
I've finally wrapped my head around how to play really well in PES, and also how to find what I'm looking for in the menu structure. While I'm glad for the changes Konami's made to the game, it took a while to dig through and translate things to my existing Winning Eleven/PES vocabulary. Many of the changes have been for the better — the new scouting format is thorough and a great extension of the way one would previously find new players for your team. As well, the creation of a "youth team" to filter regenerated players into your squad is much, much better than trying to look at a "new players" page in WE9. It retains the features PES' Master League featured in the past, while adding new twists and a fresh coat of paint.
It's hard to say that Forza 3 is an old friend, but it's been around since October...which is and isn't a long time in gaming. Jumping back in to Forza, I rediscovered both how fun the game engine is, how expansive and creative the paint editor allows you to be, and how much fun it can be to race online.
Speaking of racing online, the demo for Activision and Bizarre Creations' Blur is out on Xbox Live, and it's really, really damned fun. Think Bizarre's previous series, Project Gotham Racing, mixed with Mario Kart's frantic pace and use of weapons. The "boosts" in Blur are a bit less cartoony than the Nintendo series' shells and banana peels, but just as effective; more importantly you can stock up three of them at once and switch between them at the fly. The game has real cars and glitzy circuits inspired by real locales, but — most importantly — has multiplayer modes hosting up to 10 players to race and talk shit and have fun. I played for an hour or so a couple nights ago with friends, and it was awesome.
Lastly, Nick and I headed in to downtown Portland to play at Ground Kontrol's Rock Band Tuesday this week, but I think we'll have more on that at a later time.
I can't fathom why Blazers fans are still mourning their team's loss in the first round of the playoffs. Sure, it's a tragic ending for an underdog team with so much potential, but that's in the past! Like, several-days-ago past! Everyone should be pumped to the bejesus because, as of this week, Street Fighter season is officially underway. And thanks to a stellar re-balanced reissue in Super Street Fighter IV, the series has never been in finer form. And all you holdouts and naysayers ought to listen up, because there's never been a better time to dig into one of the deepest and most rewarding fighting games out there.
With its robust matchmaking features and variety of online play modes, Super Street Fighter IV makes it easier than ever to hop online and get your ass thoroughly kicked within seconds. But thanks to a relatively simple moveset with untold layers of depth and a pretty good training mode, you'll be picking up the nuances of combat after just a few matches. You'll begin to learn how to read enemies and to get a sense for what moves counter which attacks. And most importantly, you'll get a sense for what makes a decades-old fighting game still feel so fun and fresh -- and if you're like me, you'll find the allure hard to resist.
So go grab a copy -- it's a mere $40, after all -- and hop on Xbox Live so you and I can throw down on a match or two. Feel free to send any fight requests to whymog; I'm always eager for a match.