The Backlog: Scribbling Sporty Beatles edition
It's been a busy week for all of us here at Silicon Sasquatch. Doug's been camping in the cold-yet-wait-it's-hot-again Oregon weather, and enjoying the rebirth of his broken Xbox 360; Nick's been playing through five or so games at once while writing, writing and more writing; I've been composing an extremely long review of Batman: Arkham Asylum in addition to enjoying a social life and trying to forge videogame industry public relations contacts.
Oh, and that feeling creeping down the back of your spine and into your pocket to make your wallet tingle with fear? Well, that's the start of the Great Game Goldrush of 2009 -- this previous week had quite the prodigious release schedule. Among the horde of games were NHL 10, NHL2k10, WET, Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Scribblenauts, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 and Need for Speed Shift.
Next week, Halo 3: ODST releases. You can discuss (your praise for or condemnation of) that fact in our comments section.
See what we've been up to, game-wise, after the break.
It's baaaaaaaack! My 360 has risen from its grave and, despite how angry I could get over the fact that this is the third time it's happened, I don't care.
I don't care that I had to re-download everything because of a license transfer, and I don't care that I had to re-set a ton of console settings; I don't care about anything else.I have my console back and all is well.
So I've started to play some 360 games again — including some demos. I'm glad to have NCAA 10 back to sate my football needs, and I'm going to go get Madden 10 as well to engage in some online shenanigans with friends. I'm also putting money down to reserve my copy of Forza 3 — all the content coming out of Turn 10 looks absolutely awesome, and the game will likely suck my soul away this fall.
Demo-wise, the two titans of soccer gaming put demos up for their new titles on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network this week. PES 2010 is an Xbox Live Gold special for the next week or so, and FIFA 10 is now up as well. FIFA feels good — like an updated version of FIFA 09. It plays well, yes, but the graphics, interface and front-end are all carried over from FIFA 09.
PES 2010, though, is something of a revelation. One of my favorite games is Winning Eleven 9, Konami's soccer game from the 2005-06 season, and that's for the deep feature set, huge amount of customization and great gameplay that creates a very different game each time you step on the pitch. The PES games on next-gen consoles, however, have lost that feeling — they've been too fast, too arcadey and controlled too loosely to match up to the gains EA has been making with FIFA.
With that knowledge in tow, I stepped back into the stage of history and downloaded PES 2010. Last year's demo felt seven shades of wrong — it was terrible enough to turn me off of the game for good. 2010, however, feels like a return to PES of old. Despite me fumbling with the controls (FIFA's are ingrained by now), the game just feels right. Passing the ball around has a heft and weight behind it that feels almost perfect, and the way players interact in the build-up feels much better than FIFA, which can sometimes feel formulaic and stale.
Watch for both soccer games this fall, but I definitely know which one I'll be scouring over reviews for — and which one's demo stays on my hard drive.
Speaking of which...anyone want to sell me a 60 gigabyte Xbox 360 hard drive for a song?
Never mind that we're 40 years late to the party: My friends and I have all been swept up in Beatlemania. Without incriminating myself, I've spent enough time with The Beatles: Rock Band to have earned 46 of the game's 50 achievements -- and I'm still having a blast. Meanwhile, I just wrapped up Guitar Hero 5, which will be getting a review soon. And nearly a year after I last played it, I managed to finish off Dead Space. Despite its minor faults, it still stands as an exemplary survival horror game; the fact that it was the first entry in a new franchise is all the more impressive.
With the majority of my backlog polished off, I've been able to return to Batman: Arkham Asylum. It's an extremely rare breed of game in that it only gets better the more I play. It was impressive from the outset, but now that I'm approaching its conclusion I'm prepared to place it on my shortlist for best game of 2009.
I also picked up 5TH Cell's charming and ambitious Scribblenauts, a game so bursting with ingenuity and cheer that even its horribly imprecise stylus-based control scheme can be overlooked. Frankly, any game that lets you apply shark repellent to yourself to swim unharmed past a shark deserves recognition.
Like Nick, I've been sucked into the vortex that is Beatlemania. Sure, the band's music has been on a variety of my playlists for years now -- thanks to my eclectic musical upbringing -- but I didn't fully appreciate the band until I received The Beatles: Rock Band in the mail yesterday, and proceeded to beat it in just a few hours. It sounds like overkill, or even tragically short, but the craftsmanship that went into the game is dripping from every pixel. Plus, there's a lot more to do after finishing "The End."
It's readily apparent that Harmonix loved working with such a historic body of work, and I only hope future band-specific rhythm games are a quarter as neat as this one is.
Aside from enjoying the lads from Liverpool, I've spent some time becoming reacquainted with my DSi. Here and there I'll play some Suikoden: Tierkreis (I promise, eventually a review will be written) and Elite Beat Agents. I'm realizing I need to purchase more games for the system, and Scribblenauts seems like a safe bet.
Otherwise it's been a low-key kind of week for my tastes. A few rounds of Marvel Ultimate Alliance with Nick and some solo singing in Rock Band 2 topped off my free time. I'm hoping that, come October with its influx of amazing-looking titles, I'll soon be busy playing, writing, reviewing and recording all about videogames when I'm able.