I’ve often referred to the holiday season as “My Favourite Time of Year”, and that’s due to the onslaught of new games we’re showered with for what seems like weeks on end. But this year, I’ve discovered the joys of the down season – a time when I would normally be looking ahead to distant releases impatiently. This year has been different, and I’ve quite enjoyed these past couple months. Since reviewing games is a pretty big focus of this blog, I tend to play through them quickly so I can get my write-up online. Depending on the amount of new games being released at the time, I may or may not pick games back up to tackle achievements or play through a second time on a higher difficulty. Typically, I don’t get to spend as much time with games as I’d like.
When I reviewed Skate 2, I had gotten stuck on a couple competitions and figured I would continue to play in freeskate only. With the original game, I found myself getting insanely frustrated trying to nail some of the challenges that I made a promise to myself to avoid doing that with the sequel. I calmly put the controller down and walked away.
As more DLC was released, I returned to Skate 2 on several occasions. With the new DLC came new challenges and competitions, which sparked my desire for that sort of goal oriented task, as opposed to just tearing up the streets of San Vanelona . I jumped back into the comps I was stuck on, and managed to beat them with ease. I continued plugging away on the remaining challenges, and before I knew it, I was closing in on the last remaining items on the map. I’ve now completed every path in the game, killed every single spot, but haven’t touched theThrowdown challenges, which are games of SKATE against each of the pros. I never enjoyed playing SKATE in the first game, and it hasn’t gotten any more fun in the sequel. So that’s one single player achievement I won’t be getting, but I’m fine with that. Since clearing off the challenge map, I’ve returned to the game several times to freeskate or even re-do challenges and spots.
LittleBigPlanet is a game I intend to hang onto for as long as I own a PlayStation 3. Since so much focus has been placed on community created content, every time I pop it in there’s an abundance of new levels to play. Not to mention, the constant flow of DLC in the form of costume and sticker packs. My little sack person is currently decked out in a Helghast soldier outfit (from Killzone 2), which is absolutely hilarious!
Building a Collection
A few months ago I started re-purchasing games I had long since traded-in or sold. I decided to start a bit of a collection of games that I really enjoyed, or could see myself picking up again. I have many friends that game on a more casual basis and often come to me for recommendations. Having a decent collection, I can not only recommend a game for them, but lend them something I think they would be into. Tracking them down can be a bit of a pain in the ass (you know who you are!), but I always get them back, eventually.
One of the games I re-purchased was GRID. A game I sunk about a dozen hours into, but still had plenty of events to go. I simply didn’t have any more time to invest, since the holiday barrage seem to start earlier than usual last year. But I’ve been playing it off and on over the past month, and I honestly forgot how great that game is! The visuals are jaw-dropping, and with the event types varying as much as they do, it doesn’t seem to get stale like many racing games do.
Rejoining Delta Squad
Saturday was rainy and dull from the get-go, and I could tell my eldest daughter Hannah was a bit antsy. I felt like doing a bit of gaming, and she asked if she could join in. While thinking what we could play, she brought up Gears of War 2 – a game we had started to play co-op many months ago, but never got back to. But this time, we decided to play some multiplayer game types, locally with bots. This proved to be an excellent way for us to play, since we could work together as a team without the difficulty that Horde brings. And the quick rounds were much more fun that playing a chapter of the campaign, which I’ve already completed twice myself. Playing like this with Hannah really got me interested in Gears 2 again, and I’ve since sat down to play some rounds of Execution on my own, learning the maps and playing with bots on the harder difficulties.
For a game I never thought I would play, my family has definitely gotten our money’s worth of Fable 2. I don’t have the patience or will to go and track down all of the legendary weapons, remaining keys, gargoyles, and other collectibles. But I did go back and play for many hours after completing the main quest. The Knothole Island DLC arrived just at the right time, when I was starting to get out of the game. And now we have the second DLC pack being released tomorrow, See the Future. You bet I’ll be grabbing that and revisiting Fable 2 once more.
Notice a Trend?
With the exception of Gears of War 2, there’s a common factor with each of the games I mentioned… downloadable content. This generation of gaming has really added so much more value to games. Not only in the form of add-on content, but through title updates and reward systems (achievements and trophies) as well. Seeing what they’re doing with video games currently really gets me excited at the possibilities for the next generation.
Am I Alone?
How have you been fairing with the Spring Slump? Any games you’ve gone back to, or finally been able to make time for that you didn’t play last holiday season? I remember this time last year, I was just getting into Mass Effect. A game that is now one of my all-time favourites. I’m actually listening to the soundtrack as I write this.