Looking back at last year, 2011 was a great year for PS3 games and I think I made a good effort in giving a lot of them a go (ignoring those carried over to this year).
The year of 2011 started with me finishing off Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (uk site). I was a big fan of Ninja Theory‘s Heavenly Sword. I thought it was such a technical accomplishment for such an early title on PS3 and it’s still holding its own against a lot of other titles. I think my high expectations lead to my initial disappointment since it wasn’t as much of a graphical improvement in the years since the previous title and there was a little friction with the controls.
Trying to play through on Hard first time to avoid having to replay for the Hard trophy meant that some of the sections were overly complex, especially those against the clock. Some of the fights went on for a bit long, but I lived a lot longer after a bit of practice and learning how the robots telegraphed their moves. trying to collect a lot of the red orbs (for powerups) meant that the game took a lot longer due to all the extra fighting and detouring to find more. The climbing sections weren’t as fluid as Uncharted 2 and when under pressure, there was some aggravation while waiting for the flashy bit to tell me where to go next, dying then trying again.
As for the plot, I can’t completely recall the ending since at the time I was thinking WTF and it didn’t all make a lot of sense – reading it back on Wikipedia, I’m still a bit lost. I also didn’t get the link with the Chinese classic story and the possibly better known TV series (Monkey) – that was before my time.
Next I went back to finish off Fallout 3. I had put it to one side to play Enslaved. I had previously lost interest in the game when I realized I was wondering around in a daze and had spent 8 hours of play time and achieved nada. On my return, I took more notice of the quest notes, map and compass markers – all the stuff that’s in the game to help you keep track of this. This got me a lot further and I started to enjoy the game much more, although sometimes the compass markers did get a little off the mark.
As a first or third person shooter, the shooting gameplay is pretty poorly handled but there’s always the V.A.T.S. system which allows you to exchange slowly recharging action points for more accurate shots. This can lead to encounters literally becoming run and gun while waiting for action points to regrow and then approaching the enemy to get a more accurate shot. The weapons themselves can be a bit of a mixed bunch. I’ve never been a fan of melee combat, but the V.A.T.S. system took the complexity out of that. The guns were varied and the weapon quality deterioration system meant that you couldn’t stick with the same gun for too long leading to trying most of the guns throughout the game. Thinking back, I’m not quite sure what I expected of a gun that launches nuclear missiles, but it didn’t work well with getting near the target to get a better shot.
The other thing I loved was hoarding all of the loot and weapons found in the environment but I did have to spend a lot of time doing the weight per dollar maths to make sure my inventory was as full as possible while still being able to carry it – although I did end end the game with a pocket full of far too much cash. The RPG side, while not RPG-lite, was sufficiently well integrated to make the game more fun without having to bean count all of the stats.
By the time I got to the end I was rather fond of the gameplay, mostly for the random encounters with full action points and filling my pockets with loot. The story was interesting (I much preferred it to the sequel later on last year) and ignoring the known flakiness of the series, I made a plan to get hold of the sequel and give it a good go. As a bonus, this was the Game of the Year edition so I had some extra missions to prolong the goodness!
After the simplistic shooting, I wanted something a bit more shooty-shooty so I went for Bulletstorm. Although I’d read the mediocre reviews, it was actually the complaints about it being nothing more than shooting, combos and swearing made me think it would be a good break from the RPG gameplay.
I actually played through twice, once to unlock the very hard difficulty and once to play it on very hard. Other than the short sections of story that popped up from time to time, the game was the pure mindless shooting I was hoping for. The combo system and skillshot challenges added value to the first play through and the added complexity of very hard meant that a different style of play was required, much more based on using the leash to grab and pull enemies close for a kick in the knackers.
Overall, Bulletstorm is definitely closer to action than plot. I’d recommend it for a simple way to unwind from games with puzzles or anything that has ever made you wonder, “What do I do next?”
To be continued…
(Thanks to http://www.yourgamercards.net for listing all of my trophies to help with this list.)