Sunday, May 22, 2011

Weekend Edition - What I'm Playing

The year-long video game release schedule is one that is constantly in flux and confusing to me. Not all of it is so alien. Games released during the months leading up to Christmas are logical. This year’s holiday schedule is so jam-packed that it’s a wonder if we’ll have enough time to play the same game for more than a week. This year we’ll see Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Battlefield 3, Twisted Metal, Batman: Arkham City, and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, all in this year’s fourth quarter. That's a lot of heavy hitters in a short amount of time. The months after the holiday make sense as well. People that received money as a gift want to go out and spend it.

However, it’s the months in-between that confuse me. Summer is a great opportunity to release a game. Kids are out from school sitting at home with nothing to do. Some families taking vacations during the same time yes, but from my own experience, the number of people who stay at home outweigh the number of people who go on vacation. So what games are released during the summer? In June we’ll see the finally finished Duke Nukem Forever and Alice: Madness Returns. July is the release of the North American version of Catherine, and that’s it. Of course there are also the multiple releases of downloadable titles on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network, but that’s not really a concern to someone who doesn’t own a console (or owns a Wii). As we move into fall we’ll see releases begin to ramp up starting with Dead Island and Deus Ex: Human Revolution in August. So what am I going to do during this scorching drought?

There’s always World of Warcraft. I slowly stopped playing until the beginning of last April when I cancelled my account. Not because I didn’t like the changes that were coming or because of problems with raiding or gear, but because the game is boring. After nearly six years playing, I became less interested in doing content or building up my character. It’s still fun to play, but only in short sessions and only every few days. When Patch 4.1 released, I re-subscribed to try out the new versions of the Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman instances. They were fun the first few times but I increasingly became bored with them due to completing them several years before, and frustrated with other players who couldn’t comprehend simple mechanics. My subscription will expire on May 28, but I’ve found ways to pass the time.

Since the release of Dragon Age 2 back in March and The Witcher 2 just last week, I’ve wanted to play a long RPG that I can sink plenty of hours into. I started Fallout: New Vegas near the end of April and vastly enjoyed it more than Fallout 3. Coincidently, Fallout: New Vegas is on sale right now at GameStop for $19.99. Fallout 3 had fun mechanics, but the story was arduously boring. It felt like the video game version of “Are You My Mother?” Fallout: New Vegas, however, has the same mechanics, better story, better writing, and a more interesting setting. This time, it felt like The Book of Eli the video game.

The downside, though, is that the developer was Obsidian Entertainment, a company notoriously known for bug-ridden games. The stability of Fallout: New Vegas tested my patience to say the least. The controls were slow and often wouldn’t respond at all. Entering new areas would lock-up the game, to the point where I had to restart my system several times. After about 20 hours of suffering through this, I uninstalled and shelved the game, putting it off to later in the year when more patches and bug fixes will be released.

I said earlier I wanted to play Dragon Age 2, mostly because I wanted to see for myself if the grievances of players were true, but in order to truly enjoy a sequel I needed to play the first game. So Dragon Age: Origins is on my list of games to play this summer followed by its sequel. The Witcher 2 also just released, and as before I did not play the first game, so currently I’m making my way through it.

I’m hoping these titles will keep me busy until August or September. I’ll also be busy working on Darth Hater so if you’re interested be sure to check over there for my work. We’ll be in Los Angeles the first week of June for E3 checking out Star Wars: The Old Republic so if you’re at the show, be sure to say hi.

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