I got four so far, and I haven't exchanged gifts with my brother yet who went traveling abroad so maybe there will be more. Some initial thoughts:[PC] COD Black Ops 2 - Well, it installed on my machine okay. So far I haven't played it, but this is basically exclusively for multi-player.[PS3] Assassin's Creed III - I've only gone through maybe an hour or two of this, still sort of going through the tutorials and learning the controls. I haven't played the others, but it's pretty decent so far.[PC] Dishonored - I'm through maybe five hours or so of this. It's probably a perfect game for me. Some killing, mostly sneaking and puzzle/mystery solving. This game is brilliant.It's FPS in an olden-city environment, though there are some mech aspects where technology seems to be ahead of the time in which it takes place. You have a knife in one hand, and a gun/crossbow in the other, or use special abilities/magic against your enemies.The game is extremely well executed in every aspect except graphics. My PC is only a couple months old and has mostly new components, so it's not a limiter, the graphics are just pretty poor compared to some of the games out there like BF3. But the gameplay is so much fun that it's very easy to get over quickly. The powers you can have are very inventive. And the design of the game is just amazing in that it allows you so many different aspects of how to accomplish things. Example: One of the first tasks after the basic tutorial and set-up is to get past an invisible electric wall. You have several different ways you can accomplish this:- Rewire it so that it doesn't hurt you but does hurt enemies.- Possess an animal to get through tunnels around it.- Find back alleys, ledges, pipes and other ways to get around it.- Find the fuel box and disarm it.In other words, there are multiple ways to manage it, and handling your tasks in different ways can lead to different outcomes (for instance, finding a back-way around the wall will result in your meeting a character you may not have otherwise met, and get side quests you may not have received otherwise). I highly recommend this one, it's very well done. Borderlands 2 - I'm several hours deep into this game, and loving every minute of it. I really enjoy the open world FPS/3PS (this is FPS) games where there's a strong RPG aspect to it. This game focuses less on leveling up and more on weapon/equipment improvement to advance and become more powerful, though leveling up does provide its own benefits. I played some of the first one and really enjoyed it, too; I just didn't get far enough through it to beat it before this one came out (yes, was late to the party).If you haven't played it before, there's a bit of back-story to give you the baseline, but really there's none needed. You can choose one of five character classes, and each seems to have some variety to it. I'm playing the sniper/melee class which has been a blast.If you're familiar with the first, I love what they've done in the second. It's not wholesale changes, but there are enough tweaks to really make the game more fun. Weapons seem to "fit" their people better (for instance, the stability of my assassin using an SMG is terrible, but he handles a sniper rifle like a mad pimp). The skill points now have multiple trees to give more options for how to customize your character. And they have a new Badass Rank system where you complete side-challenges (deal X burn damage, kill Y enemies with a vehicle, etc...there are seemingly hundreds) in order to redeem tokens which increase various aspects of your character's abilities. You can now use fast-travel to get places. Every change they made has enhanced the experience.The story-line is mediocre, but this isn't a game you really play to get a great story. It's all about the game-play execution, and having fun finding newer, more powerful weapons and completing crazy quests (main or side).I have a couple minor gripes. The AI isn't really that great...too often and too easily I lose enemies or get them to "forget" I'm there by ducking behind a rock 25 yards away, stuff like that. Also, the vehicles, at least now, are very OP. Often I can incite a bunch of guys to chase after me, jump into my car, then mow them down with no difficulty. Combine the two and it's actually a major fault in the game-play... I can go up to a camp where I can't drive into it, I have to explore. But enemies can't come out after me. So I can walk into town, trigger a bunch of enemies to come chasing after me, run back to my car just outside the barrier, they don't come out after me, I hop into the car and mow them all down in safety. I can literally clear entire camps like this.But I don't have to play it that way in any area if I don't want to, and most of it I don't have the opportunity to do so, so the gripes truly are minor ones. I'm playing this game a lot, and really having a blast with it. Another highly recommended one.These four should keep me busy most of the year.- C -
Dishonored - I'm through maybe five hours or so of this. It's probably a perfect game for me. Some killing, mostly sneaking and puzzle/mystery solving. This game is brilliant.It's FPS in an olden-city environment, though there are some mech aspects where technology seems to be ahead of the time in which it takes place. You have a knife in one hand, and a gun/crossbow in the other, or use special abilities/magic against your enemies.What I've read and seen sounds like it'd be up my alley as well (a little Assassin's Creed meets Bioshock meets Thief), but something about the theme/feel turns me off a bit. The weird mask and the possession and the "imbued with dark powers" and revenge angle just feels like it hugs the "anti" part of "antihero" too closely for my taste (I pretty much play Lightside/Paragon/Good-guy in every game I play - I think I got about halfway through a Renegade playthrough of Mass Effect back before ME2 came out, that's pretty much it). How prevalent is that whole side of it in the overall feel and the details/story?Borderlands 2Also, the vehicles, at least now, are very OP.If it's like the first one (which I did play solo all the way through plus two of the DLCs), there's a massive XP difference when on-foot vs. in-car. To me, the cars were there to give you a bail-out or an easy-button when you needed it, but you were going to level up verrrry slowly if you just went around using it for everything.If you're familiar with the first, I love what they've done in the second. It's not wholesale changes, but there are enough tweaks to really make the game more fun. And they have a new Badass Rank system where you complete side-challenges (deal X burn damage, kill Y enemies with a vehicle, etc...there are seemingly hundreds) in order to redeem tokens which increase various aspects of your character's abilities. You can now use fast-travel to get places.The first had the challenges but they were just worth generic XP that would speed your leveling. How's the token-redeeming thing work that makes it functionally different? And the first had fast-travel once you fixed the system as part of Act 1 - or does the second change how it works, like it's fast-travel from anywhere rather than having to reach a "station" first?JT
I'm playing Dishonored as well and also recommend it for anyone who likes stealthy games. The player can choose to be sneaky and resolve most quest objectives peacefully or be bloodthirsty and mow everyone down. Similar to Deus Ex: HR in that regard but without the ridiculous boss fights.
How prevalent is that whole side of it in the overall feel and the details/story?Well, the guys you're taking it out on seem pretty clearly to be bad guys. I don't get much of the "anti-hero" feel just based on what happens in the opening act. The mask you never really get to see (you never see your character's face...at least, I haven't as of yet), and functionally it make a difference because it's what allows you to zoom.I'm not usually a fan of this genre (olden times). I'm giving Assassin's Creed a shot as well despite never really having gotten into that series, and it hasn't really sucked me into it (though I really am not far into it yet). This one did, though. The game-play is simply fascinating.If it's like the first one (which I did play solo all the way through plus two of the DLCs), there's a massive XP difference when on-foot vs. in-car. To me, the cars were there to give you a bail-out or an easy-button when you needed it, but you were going to level up verrrry slowly if you just went around using it for everything.I dunno if it's just me, but leveling feels super slow even outside of the car. I feel like I've played 20 hours and I'm only level 14. Maybe I'm using the car too much, but I don't think so. I'm using it to get around, and I use it to kill everything I come across when I do. But there are many areas I can't use the car, and many others I don't. It just feels like I get very little experience when walking around and killing things.The first had the challenges but they were just worth generic XP that would speed your leveling. How's the token-redeeming thing work that makes it functionally different? This doesn't speed leveling per say. You don't get experience points for killing 25 guys with the vehicle turret, or for collecting 250 white color items, or whatever. You get "Badass Tokens." Then you redeem those tokens. Each token you redeem gives you five random options for increasing your attributes for one of them. For instance, you redeem one token, it will give you the choice to improve your:- Maximum Health- Firing Rate- Shield Recharge Speed- Melee Damage- Elemental Effect ChanceYou pick which of those five you want improved. Next redemption will have five different ones. Etc.There are something like 20 attributes which can be improved, and each token you redeem gives you a different set of options to choose from. The first time you improve an attribute, it improves 1.0%, second time 0.7%, then 0.6%, and every one after that 0.5%. You get the tokens fairly quickly, so you can improve your characters quickly by doing so. Apparently these attributes translate across all your characters, such that if you start a new game, your new character will have those same bonuses. Because of that, I'm generally trying to go well-rounded with my token redemption. But because there's tons of attributes, and you get them randomly when you redeem, this is sort of forced on you anyway.And the first had fast-travel once you fixed the system as part of Act 1 - or does the second change how it works, like it's fast-travel from anywhere rather than having to reach a "station" first?Well, I hadn't opened the fast-travel station in the first one. I like doing pretty much every side quest before doing the main quest, so I hadn't gotten through much of the main story. I remember I'd killed Sledge, but that's I think as far as I made it in the main quest in the first one. Same thing in the second, I only just rescued the Firehawk in the main quest.- C -
Dammit, sorry for the formatting issues...
I also got Borderlands 2 for Christmas and I'm enjoying it so far, albeit playing it in the small chunks of time currently available to me. (I played the first one through to the end, as well as the four DLCs in the Game of the Year edition, although only on one character type).So far I've tried Siren and Gunzerker classes. I'm avoiding the turret guy since I played soldier in the first game and wanted a bit of variation, but might try the Assassin at some point. Siren has been changed a bit from the previous game, with the action skill immobilizing an opponent rather than the damage/teleport effect it used to have (I suspect the Assassin has picked up some of this, although I've yet to confirm). Talent trees are healing/support, elemental damage, and mobility/control, but I'm not far enough in to see how they play out yet.The Gunzerker is quite interesting - a big beefy guy whose action skill involves shooting two guns at once while laughing maniacally. On paper this sounds like a lot of fun, but in practice it takes some getting used to. Having played mostly the soldier class previously (which is all about fighting tactically from cover) charging in with guns blazing is a very different style of play for me. It also requires you to put a bit more thought into your gun slots based on how well they will work together. I find that my play style tends to be dictated by my weapon, so for example if I'm using a sniper rifle I will play quite differently than if I'm using a pistol. Based on that, trying to fight with one of them in each hand feels... odd. I'm sure that once I had a better feel for the style and learned which gun combos I prefer I would be fine, but for now the Siren seems to have less of a learning curve.Overall it feels very similar to the first game so far (a good thing in my book). One interesting touch is that the playable characters from the first game seem to play key roles in the plot - I've met two so far, and I wouldn't be surprised if the other two are out there somewhere. Scooter is also back and as entertaining as ever. The game is still pretty tongue-in-cheek, but does feel a bit more bloodthirsty than the previous one. In one scene Marcus has you test elemental weapons for him by shooting captive bad guys, which is meant to establish his character as a hilariously amoral arms dealer, but the player participation element feels a bit creepy. In general the humor seems to have a bit more of an edge - the bosses are still funny but seem meaner, there is more midget abuse, the psychos get more screen time, and so on.I'm still early so we'll see how I enjoy the rest of it, but so far so good. I haven't noticed any issues with leveling speed, although I did notice that my second character went a heck of a lot faster than my first (I think some of this is my FPS skills taking a while to return).
+1 recommendation for Dishonored. I've not played many video games in the past 5-7 years, but I received this for Xmas and fired it up right away. It is a great game and the variety of ways you can play (as previously mentioned) are endless. I've even gotten to the point of clearing some objectives of the game one way (usually stealth), save the game, and then go back and try to do the same section by kicking butt if there are a lot of targets to be had. Kicking butt is difficult but there are lots of cool weapons/powers/items you can use.
Total haul including gifts and the various sales on Steam, GOG, GMG, Amazon (going back to Thanksgiving): Assassin's Creed 3 Batman: Arkham Asylum GOTY[PC] Batman: Arkham City GOTY[PC] XCOM Enemy Unknown[PC] The Walking Dead[PC] Max Payne 3[PC] Teeth of Naros DLC for Kingdoms of Amalur[PC] SOL: Exodus[PC] Velvet Assassin[PC] Galactic Civilizations 1 & 2[PC] Syndicate (the original)It'll be interesting to play the two Batman titles on two different platforms. If I find it rough to switch to the keyboard/mouse setup of the latter I may actually pick up a Windows gamepad/controller.My boys made out like bandits, it was a Lego Christmas; besides various building sets: Lego Lord of the Rings (360 & DS), Lego Batman 2 (360 & DS), Lego Harry Potter 2 (360), and the lone non-Lego title, Force Unleashed (DS).JT,will be busy for quite some time...Also picked up some stuff on fire-sale that I already had on disc, for the ease of installing on Win7: both KOTORs, all three Thiefs (Thieves?), Jade Empire (switched from XBox to PC Special Edition)
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