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.

Skate 2

Skate 2

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

LittleBigPlanet

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

Obviously, some of these belong to my wife and daughter

Obviously (I would hope), some of these belong to my wife and daughter

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

Gears of War 2

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.

Fable 2

Fable 2

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.


Comments

I completely agree with you on Fable 2. I have yet to complete The Knothole DLC, but I think with even more content on the way, I will pick it back up again.

Although I’m still smitten for Halo 3 and Rock Band 2. No matter what we do we always end up playing one of those games.

I received GRID from Christmas, played it for a few days but when I got home I didn’t touch it again until about three weeks ago, since then its been the only thing I’ve played so much better than I remembered from the demo. The main reason I hadn’t gone back to it sooner (or the other games I got as presents) was my ‘dedication’ to finishing a full 82-game, 48-minutes per game season on NBA Live 08… which seemed to take forever

That’s nutty! I definitely wouldn’t have the patience to sit through those long games.

GRID is all sorts of fun though, eh? I love the drifting events, especially downhill drift.

I totally agree with you about LittleBigPlanet. The story levels were great, but there is just such an abundance of user-generated content at all times. Online play is buggy at best, but I’ve sunk hours into this game.

You play online with other people? I find most levels aren’t made for more than one sack person and choke under pressure. Haven’t had any problems playing solo community levels.

Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. I recently started playing online with other people for the trophies but found I end up getting so frustrated because of the incredible LAG that it’s not worth it!

I’ve been thinking the same thing recently – that I’d like to go back and play a few games I’ve already traded in or sold.

But instead of buying them back I was thinking about signing up for one of the rental services. (LoveFilm, here in the UK). Thought that way I could play the DLC when it comes out or just pick it up again for a quick rental when I had the time.

On another note, Need for Speed just came out on the App Store. Bought it last night and had the chance to play it this morning for a few minutes on the iPhone. So far, it’s looking brilliant!

Oh, good call! We have a bunch of those mail rental services here in Canada. But normally, I play games as they are released, so those services aren’t the way to go for me. In times like these, they’d work out nicely, though.

I picked up NFS Undercover for my iPod Touch a couple days ago and am having a lot of fun with it! I’ve wanted a racing game for ages, but none of the higher ranked ones have demos and I’m not about to just throw my money away. Not that NFS has a demo, but people were absolutely raving about it, so I figured it was a safe bet. I’ve cleared the first section of the city and so far, so good!

Re: rental services – yeah, the only worry I have is that the rentals wouldn’t be available RIGHT at launch. Because like you, I’m pretty fanatical about playing it on the release day : )

Re: NFS – it’s a shame Apple have been so weird about demos on the App store. Apparently, companies can create "free" versions but not proper demos. But, yeah, just saw all those insanely great reviews and made the purchase. Which might start to become a financial problem soon if quality games like that keep coming out. It’s just so easy to buy and download! : )

Not exactly a new game, but I started replaying both Kingdom Hearts again. Picked them up off a mate, really enjoying themactually, I thought the reason I wanted to play them was purely nostalgic, but they’re actually awesome games as well.

Have to get my hands on Fable 2 too at some point, it does look awesome. It’s going to harder to predict a game’s playing life in the near future due to the downloadable content. It’s lifespan will effectively depend on the quality and quantity of the content, if the game requires that. I’d like to see if they do that with Final Fantasy XIII or that style of long RPG.

I’m with you, I love this time of year. I have spent this years spring slump catching up on DS games and sharpening my skills in Halo 3, GoW and Left4Dead multi-player modes.

I’m really looking forward to the new Fable 2 content today as well.

I’ve been playing a bunch of GTA4 recently, on the ‘puter. It’s quite fun, especially as I just returned from a trip to NYC myself.

GTA4 is a game I wanted to love, but got tired of pretty quickly. Simply couldn’t grasp the combat cover system, even after 20 hours or so. And the lack of checkpoints during the longer missions drove me crazy. Dying 20 minutes into a mission and being forced to replay the entire thing = not fun.

I agree with this!

Was super disappointed with GTA4

Always enjoy reading your blog btw. Update it more! :]

I’m experiencing a mega gaming slump right now, and I’m putting it down to nothing exciting being released (with the exception of Resi 5, but I keep missing the dude I’m playing co-op with).

So I’ve started playing Infinite Undiscovery, a JRPG which was released last year. I know, I know, not your cuppa, so I won’t talk about it 😉 But I have to say, the lack of games lately has had me itching to revisit Mass Effect to begin my third playthrough. Unfortunately I’ve been banging on about that game so much that a friend is desperate to borrow it. So bring on Mass Effect 2!

Oh, and Left 4 Dead is always one I’ll happily return to.

As JRPG lover I have to say Infinite Undiscovery is a breath of fresh air, much better than The Last Remnant.

Waiting for Star Ocean: The Last Hope and Tales of Vesperia!

I have The Last Remnant, but I’ve yet to start it. I’ve heard so many bad things about it that I’m a bit worried. Having said that, most people were telling me Infinite Undiscovery is abysmal, but I’m really enjoying it! I’m also waiting for Tales of Vesperia. 360 is doing well for giving us some good JRPGs.

I’ve been quite grateful for the slump, Now I am off work for a few months with the little fella, I won’t be buying any games and I have finally started to sit down and go through my old games.

Just finished the main quest on Fallout 3, picked up most of the cheevos in skate and have started skate 2.

Must get back into GRID that game is fun!

Hey Matt,

While I usually agree with you…….I must disagree with your twitter about inFAMOUS.

I actually hated the demo…..I found it to be something I’ve seen before.

This really sucks because I was so pumped for it. It just seems like the pedestrians and buildings are all the same……..and the baddies don’t change much either.

I will say, I loved climbing and jumping around……..but overall I think I’ll pass.

I really hate when a game comes out that you’ve been waiting for and it turns from a "purchase" to a "no thanks". It’s like getting dumped.

That’s too bad, Russ. And by the looks of it, you’re about the only one who was disappointed by the inFamous demo. It’s currently scoring an 87 average from publications, and 94 from readers on Metacritic. I’m actually on my way out to pick it up now. Been a while since I’ve played a sandbox game, GTAIV was the last I believe, but I didn’t enjoy it all that much. Crackdown was crazy fun, and inFamous is like that but with Sith lightning and force push!

It actually bothers me that I don’t like it………..I should like it………….it’s my style of game and I bet I’d have a ton of fun playing it.

Alright……I’m going to rent it……….if I can get into it, I’ll buy. I owe it to myself to give it a good test before I pass it up, because as you said, everyone’s lovin it.

It probably doesn’t help that I don’t have a next-gen console, but I finally went back and finished Ratchet & Clank, and I’ve also been playing FFXII.