With having a new baby and recently going back to freelance work, my schedule/routine has been thrown off quite a bit. It’s pretty tough to plan… anything, actually. Let alone, setting aside some dedicated time for gaming. I’ve basically just been parking my ass on the couch whenever it’s free and the baby’s either sleeping or occupied by someone else. Surprisingly, I’ve been able to get in a bit of gaming every other day or so, which is far more than I anticipated. But as you can tell by the frequency of my posts lately, there isn’t much time left over for other things. Since Christmas, I’ve played a ton of games, but only written about a handful of them due to time constraints. Here’s a summary of those that slipped through the cracks, and a recap of others I’ve been playing in chronological order…

Project Gotham Racing 4

I played the crap out of PGR3, but wasn’t overly excited about PGR4. It could have been the timing – it was released on a few months after Forza 2 and around the same time as so many other huge titles. Regardless, my local video shop had a 2 for $40 sale on previously played games, and PGR4 was too good to pass up.

I played it for a couple weeks and had a lot of fun with it. I really enjoyed racing the bikes, which was surprising. The revamped career mode is much more fun than the previous iteration, although it was frustrating losing an event (like an invitational) and having to wait until the next season to try it again. I was also surprised by the Achievements – PGR4 basically just hands them out like candy for the first few hundred. In my first sitting, I was over 200 points. I’d like to get back to it and finish up the career, but not sure when that will happen.

Tomb Raider Anniversary

A Christmas gift from my wife, Deanna – she got me Lara! Tomb Raider Legend was the first game in the series I played through entirely, and was really looking forward to the Xbox 360 version of Anniversary. Since I never played the original game (Anniversary is a loosely based remake), I was stoked to have the opportunity to check it out without having to resort to playing the original 10 year old game.

It’s built on the Legend engine, so it looks pretty nice. That also means there’s all kinds of slow-downs. Even worse than Legend, I’m sorry to say. But the gameplay is great, and fighting dinosaurs is more fun than shooting humans. Some of the puzzles are absolutely massive and take over an hour to complete, and I found myself having to resort to a walkthrough on more than one occasion. It took longer than I expected to get through, but in a good way.

Halo 3

While Hannah was on Christmas vacation, the three of us (Deanna included) played a lot of Halo 3 multiplayer. I’m not huge into online gaming at all, so it was pretty cool getting a fair amount of hours in. I even got my XP up over 100, which I never thought would happen.

We haven’t been playing much recently at all, but I have a feeling we’ll get back into it when the Legendary map pack is released.

Rock Band

About two weeks before Addison was born, I got all stoked on Rock Band and ordered it. I played it nearly every day leading up to the birth, as I figured there wouldn’t be many opportunities to rock out once the baby was here. Which is true, to an extent.

Anyway, Rock Band is ridiculous fun! It tops Guitar Hero on every level, hands down. Especially when it comes to content. There have been at least 3 new songs added to the Rock Band catalog every single week since the game’s launch. In some cases, a band pack is released consisting of 5 or 6 songs. And best of all, nearly every song is a master recording – hardly any lame covers. But of course, the additional instruments is what really gives it the edge. Playing drums on hard or expert is amazing! It’s nothing like guitar on the harder difficulties, which doesn’t resemble anything even remotely close to playing guitar. Drums are beat-for-beat, how you would play the songs on a real kit. Granted, you have more things to hit than four pads and a pedal. They really did a great job of making the drums fun and as close to a simulation as possible.

Half-Life 2: Episode 2

When I picked up The Orange Box back in October, Episode 2 was the first thing I played… after Portal, of course! The original Half-Life was one of the games that really got me into gaming back in the day. And Half-Life 2 raised so many bars, I can’t help but get excited when there’s a new installment.

Episode 2 was probably my favourite of the series to date. The story just seemed more captivating, and the dialog between the main characters has definitely come a long way. And that’s saying a lot, as it’s always been great! My only beef is with the vehicle controls. The car in particular is so frustrating with a controller. Acceleration, brake and steering is all done with the left analog stick. Not fun! I put the game down for a few months at the last battle (where you’re off the Striders), as I swear I was pretty close to throwing my controller at the TV. One day I decided to pick it back up, and I finished it after only a couple tries. Fantastic ending!

As usual, I’m super eager for the next episode. I loves me some Half-Life 2!

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Having played the ever loving shit out of Lego Star Wars 2, it was inevitable that I would pick up The Complete Saga. Since I had already played through Episodes 4-6 countless times, I wasn’t overly stoked on doing that all again. It took me a few weeks to make it through Episodes 1-3, but I had a lot of fun doing so. Mind you, I pretty much just blew through them without worrying too much about the collectibles. A couple months later, I picked it back up on a lazy Saturday morning and started playing through the rest. I’ve finished them all now, but basically just the bare minimum. I doubt I’ll go back for all the minikits and power blocks at this point. It’s a keeper, though.

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2

Somehow, I never wrote about GRAW2 when I first played it. The campaign is one of the best I’ve ever played! So intense and chalk full of suspense. I revisited this game recently after picking it up on the cheap. I totally forgot how much I enjoyed it, and ended up replaying a handful of missions the afternoon I brought it home. Another one I’d like to keep in my collection.

I managed to talk Deanna into playing it, and while I thought she might have trouble with the complex control scheme, she picked it up pretty quick and was fully into it. She actually came down to my office a couple times to update me on her status after beating some tough missions.

Army of Two

Admittedly, I fully thought Army of Two was going to be a huge let-down. And I guess it was, for some. Me on the other hand, I quite liked it! I played through the campaign solo, which was a bit frustrating as your partner isn’t the quickest bunny in the forest. It’s definitely more fun co-op. But it’s still a lot of fun! It’s not Call of Duty 4, and it’s not Halo 3. It’s a bit slower paced and dudes take quite a few bullets to take down. It seems like a lot of editors got caught up on those factors in their reviews, hence the low(er) scores.

After renting it and only making it about half way through the campaign, I returned it to my video store and bought a copy. I’ve since finished the campaign and plan to replay it on hard with a co-op partner. There’s still lots of Achievements within reach, too.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

I’ve had a mixed relationship with Samus over the years. I absolutely loved Metroid Prime on the GameCube. MP2: Echoes, not so much. I only put a few hours into that before trading it in for far less than it was worth. MP3: Corruption, though… holy hell, what a game!

Finally, a Wii game with a stellar control scheme! But not only that, it’s a great game as well. I find it to be a lot more grounded than the previous games. And what I mean by that, is that it’s closer to home – easier to relate to and has a story you can follow. Which is probably why I’m enjoying it as much as I am. I’ve only put about 5 hours into it, and am currently stuck on a boss fight. Since I have so many other games to play at the moment, I moved on and will get back to it eventually.

Unreal Tournament 3

I really haven’t spent much time playing UT3 since I wrote about it. I only have a handful of friends on the PS3 and there’s no more than 2 or 3 online at a time – none of which seem to ever be playing UT3. And I much prefer playing with people I know than randoms.

But anyway, I did fire it up last week when a big update was released, along with a map pack and some killer community character models. I immediately fired up a bot match as Master Chief, while the bots were the Locust horde. Was it ever cool seeing those ugly fuckers in UT! Blowing General RAAM to pieces with the rocket launcher was funny and satisfying every, single, time.

Gears of War

Having got my taste for Locust blood back, I popped GoW in and passed a controller to Hannah. We started playing through the campaign and she’s doing great! Not so hot with the Hammer of Dawn, but I’ve been handling the Berserkers for her. Another fantastic campaign!

It feels good playing Gears again, and I’m even more stoked for GoW2 now.

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction

Another one of those October/November releases I simply couldn’t get to, but finally have. I never owned a PS2, so Tools of Destruction is my first adventure with Ratchet & Clank.

I’m having a lot of fun with it, despite it being insanely easy. The visuals are superb – it totally looks like an animated movie, and it runs smooth as butter. The characters and dialog are pretty amusing and the gameplay is top notch. Lots of platforming and puzzles, and a ridiculous arsenal of over-the-top weapons, all upgradable.

27 Comments

I recently picked up PGR4 when Radio Shack had it for $20. Great game, though the motorcycles aren’t really balanced enough to make them worthwhile but they are still a blast to drive.

Rock Band was also a recent purchase at $123.21 (very proud of the deal i got). The game is amazing, though my only complaints are 1. the strum bar is…ugh, if there are a lot of consecutive notes, good luck. 2. no online world band tour is something that could have made this game a perfect 10.

Is Army of Two passable if you aren’t going to play co-op? It looks interesting but none of my friends have the game so i’ll likely be solo-ing the single-player.

That is a good deal on Rock Band. I payed over $240 for mine with shipping and all. Ridiculous.

Is Army of Two passable if you aren't going to play co-op?

Yeah, definitely! Your partner is about as intelligent as any other you’ve played with in other games. Dom from Gears of War is a complete tool, but you hardly ever hear anyone complaining about him. Remember in Act 2 when he wouldn’t stop going into the dark spots and repeatedly getting hacked apart by Kryll? Yeah, not the smartest dude ever, that’s for sure.

As a fan of Guitar Hero i’ve been waiting for Rock Band to come out over here in the UK, and its interesting you say $240 is ridiculous…

Just announced for May 23rd release, £180. Thats £140 for the kit and £40 for the game (yes you have to buy them separate) so thats over $350… what a joke.

I’ve only played about an hour of GTA in my entire life. The previous installations just never caught my interest…but GTAIV…man, this game is going to be amazing. At least 15 multiplayer modes, and a single-player that is going to deliver countless hours of fun, i can’t wait. So envious of the sites that have had hands-on time with the game.

I’m looking forward to GTA IV as well. I never played San Andreas much – was a little too over-the-top for my tastes. GTA III and Vice City were great, though.

Not sure how Haze will do. I’m just hoping it’s not another Lair, but I have a feeling it will be around the 7.5-8 mark. Did you pick up a PS3 Garrett?

Hi Matt

Long time no speak, I haven’t had *that* much time to play my PS3 since I got it. I would have to be honest and say that my spare time when gaming is pretty much consumed by EVE Online which is by far the best game I have ever played.

So far on the PS3 I have probably enjoyed bouts on Guitar Hero III the most, Unchartered was quite good fun but I never finished it.

Warhawk is cool but again I never get time to sit and play it as much as I would like. I am really looking forward to the impending redesign of the PS Network as currently it sucks. I get jealous every time I see the blade interface on a 360.

Army of Two I have rented on LoveFilm.com and am *semi* enjoying it. Perhaps we could hook up and do a private co-op?

I guess a deciding factor in my TV time is that I just got Sky HD so have been enjoying watching stuff on my new 42" TV. I just watched Blade Runner on Blu-Ray which was very cool.

Anyway man, just thought I would drop you a line and say hi, you are one of my few contacts on my PS3 and yes I am not on very often. I will try and hook up withj you for a game soon.

Take care man.

Alan

Indeed, it has been a while Alan. Good to "see" you again.

I am really looking forward to the impending redesign of the PS Network as currently it sucks.

I just saw some screenshots for the Store redesign, but that’s all I’ve heard about. Are they redesigning the entire XMB UI?

Army of Two I have rented on LoveFilm.com and am *semi* enjoying it. Perhaps we could hook up and do a private co-op?

I’m playing Army of Two on the 360, not PS3. Sorry dude.

I just watched Blade Runner on Blu-Ray which was very cool.

I tried to watch Blade Runner over the weekend for the first time, but was unsuccessful. I just couldn’t do it. It’s simply too dated. It was mostly the music that made it feel archaic, but also the setting – 2019 is only 11 years off and clearly the planet will not look anything like that. I do hope umbrellas have glowing handles, though. 😛

Aw man… I can’t believe you didn’t like Blade Runner! I hav ebeen working my way through classics that have been fully re-mastered and it was on my *must watch* list.

Shame you aren’t playing Army of Two on PS3, I guess we could have some 1 v 1 action in Warhawk?

I have actually started trying to play Calling All Cars again as the game play is just frickin hillarious.

Anyway, I have to run just now as I have a conference happening in less than 48 hrs so I need to get shut eye and a good start tomorrow.

Take care man and hopefully you will see a bit more of me now that I have a new site up and running.

Your list has reminded me to pick up Half Life 2 for the 360. There were so many games this past Christmas that excellent releases like HL2 had to be missed.

I played it originally on the PC and it’s one of the few games I’ve played straight thru to the ending.

But saying that, I’m counting down the days until GTA IV, which will consume all my free time : )

I played it originally on the PC and it's one of the few games I've played straight thru to the ending.

Same here. It definitely consumed me for a good while. I started replaying HL2 on the 360 after finishing Episode 2 and will continue to do so during dry spells. Such a great game!

First outing with Ratchet and Clank!?! That is really surprising. I’ve been a huge fan since the first game. I never thought a kids game would be so enjoyable

Dan

I’m glad you enjoyed TR:A. It was one of the more enjoyable games I played last year. Will you be trying the Time Trials? They look pretty impossible so I’m steering well clear.

Rock Band has yet to hit the UK, but even when it does I’ll be hesitant about picking it up because of the cost. It just seems ridiculously expensive for a video game. I know, I know, it’s a ton of fun and you get numerous ‘instruments’, but it’s still a video game! I can’t shake that! Spending £70 on Guitar Hero was bad enough for me. Still, I’m really glad to hear the drums are more realistic on the harder difficulties than the guitar ever was.

Off on a tangent, but I can’t see the ‘record a video comment’ option anymore?

Will you be trying the Time Trials?

Nope! I tried some of them in Legend and yes, they’re impossible.

It just seems ridiculously expensive for a video game.

How much is it listed at in the UK? Given the amount of accessories and just how great the game is, it’s a pretty good value here. There’s gotta be around 100 DLC songs now.

Off on a tangent, but I can't see the ‘record a video comment' option anymore?

I decided to remove it. I didn’t see myself keeping it around for the long haul, which would mean a bunch of broken comments down the road when I inevitably disable it. So I ditched it while the ditching’s good. 😛

Actually, we don’t even have an official release date yet, but I’m just assuming it will be between £100-£150. Presuming you mean the downloadable tracks are free then that does give even more value for money.

Yikes, no release date yet? The DLC tracks aren’t free, but they’re much more reasonable than the GH DLC, and they don’t force bundles on you. At least 3 individual tracks every week, for about $2 a pop. I’ve probably spent about $50 on DLC so far.

Well we have now got an official release date along with price. It’s a 360 timed exclusive and, off the top of my head, will be released May 23rd (ish) for us. However, I won’t be buying it because at £180 a pop the price is quite frankly ridiculous!

I’m glad that you actually enjoyed TR: Anniversary as much as I did.

"Some of the puzzles are absolutely massive and take over an hour to complete, and I found myself having to resort to a walkthrough on more than one occasion."

"It's simply too dated. It was mostly the music that made it feel archaic"

Like Alan, I find it hard to believe you didn’t liked Blade Runner… It has to be put into perspective that this movie was shot in between SW: Empire Strikes Back and SW: RotJ… As for the music…I still think Vangelis was at his best during those days!

I made myself finish watching Blade Runner over the course of a few days. When it was finally over, I said the words, "That’s it?!" out loud. Definitely one of those movies you have to have seen and loved back in the day to be able to appreciate it now, me thinks.

Grats man, it is not the most action packed movie in the world but the concepts and storyline are I guess what makes the film great.

I wanna read the book it was all based on but then I am a bit of a geek.

There is also a really good screen saver called electric sheep which is organic in nature and actually evolves…

Argh… the geek in me shows through once again.

Oh btw, I just bought UT III and am enjoying it although PS3 controllers and FPS games just don’t seem to mix. That is one thing that M$ got right with the original Xbox controller, Halo just felt right, I can’t comment on the 360 but the PS controllers just feel un-natural 🙁

I really really enjoyed Army of Two… I usually get sucked into reviews, but I chose to ignore the low GameSpot score that it received, and I was glad I did so… I have played Co Op once locally with a friend, but the split screen just doesn’t do justice for me. So please if anyone is up for some Live Co Op, it would be great if you let me know!!

I haven’t had a chance to get back to Army of Two yet, but I definitely want to play it through again on Professional over Live. I’d be down, but not sure when at this point.

I just rented the Orange Box through GameFly and wow, each one of those games are amazing. Portal is an instant classic, Team Fortress 2 is hugely entertaining, and Half Life 2 is epic. I do have to agree, episode 2 is by far the best. Also, I agree again, the car driving is pretty bad.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’m just now finishing Portal. It’s absolutely brilliant, and I just have to finish off GLaDOS tonight when I get home.

The wife and I also love the hell out of Lego Star Wars: TCS on co-op. It’s so much more fun that way.

I also need to finish up Gears. I’m only about half way through. Can’t say I ever really took to Tomb Raider, however.

Tell me Jake, how much did you love the song over the credit roll? "Still Alive" has become this cult hit and I can’t get enough of it. Not sure if you have Rock Band, but it was just released as DLC last week. So good!

Man, that was just fantastic. I downloaded the Rock Band track, but haven’t had a chance to sit down and jam through it with the wife yet.

That final boss battle in Portal was just epic, and not for the same reasons as most final bosses usually are. Trying to maintain enough concentration to manage double-portal high jumps while listening intently to GLaDOS’s insane ramblings was a challenge in and of itself.

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