That title will probably be better than the update itself...
So, yes, it's been a long time since I've made any substantial updates to my blog. That's not to say I haven't been playing any games, I simply haven't felt motivated to put fingers to keyboard and write something. I'm going to try and go back to the once a week updates that I did for a while late last year. Hopefully I'll at least be able to keep that up!
Anywho, what have I been up to in the world of video games? Well, my brother bought me Halo: CE Anniversary for Christmas. Before this all I had really played of Halo was a demo of the PC version of Halo many years back, and tiny bit of Halo 3. I've gotta say, I really enjoyed it! I powered through the campaign in about two weeks, which is very impressive for me. With my lack of free time it normally takes me fucking ages to complete games.
Apart from the Library level, which was a monotonous slog, I really enjoyed the whole campaign. Bungie really nailed an almost perfect gameplay loop in Halo. Enter a new area, encounter baddies, clear the area of baddies, move on the next area and repeat. This sounds pretty basic when written down, but in practice it is incredibly addictive in Halo due to the fantastically balanced shooting mechanics and enemy AI. I'm quite keen now to get in to Halo 3 and Reach, especially because by all accounts these improve on the first game substantially.
In other shooter news, I've been playing through Half-Life 2 again on the PC with the latest Cinematic Mod installed. This really bumps the graphics up impressively, although it's not quite on par with current games. It also replaces most of the gun sounds so they really pop! I have to turn my volume down because the machine gun sound is almost deafening. To make things interesting, I'm playing the game with an Xbox 360 controller. Luckily the game has native support for gamepads so it's really easy to get into. The game itself has withstood the test of time very well, I must say. The gameplay is still a lot of fun, and the bleak atmosphere that Valve created for the world is captivating. One thing the original game didn't have, which the Cinematic Mod adds, is iron-sight aiming which is brilliant. I don't think I could do without it now.
In regards to my backlog of games, I finally finished X-Men Origins: Wolverine last weekend. I got a bit bored of the game a while back and just stopped playing, but I figured I may as well go back and complete it. It only took another few hours before I finally polished it off. Overall it was actually a really fun game. A bit repetitive, but the fighting mechanics are enjoyable and quite versatile. It's definitely one of the better film license games you're likely to find.
In more offbeat gaming news, I recently bought Dear Esther on Steam. I've been keeping an eye on this game for quite a while now since reading about it in Edge magazine last year. Although it's definitely not for everyone, I thought it was fantastic. One of the most important parts of any game for me is the atmosphere created by the world that you're exploring, whether it be a light-hearted atmosphere or something more dark. Dear Esther is definitely in the "dark" category. The last time I became this engrossed in a video game world was when I played the first S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl.
The Hebridean island that you explore in Dear Esther is really the main character of the game. The narrative, which is provided by semi-randomised voice-overs, is delivered as you explore the island and gradually a very sad and rather depressing tale comes to light. Although the narrative is well written and delivered with feeling by Nigel Carrington, simply exploring the island is a joy in itself. It's hard to believe that the game is running on the aging Source engine. Everywhere you look in Dear Esther there is a breathtaking view to behold. The third chapter in particular, set in a series of underground caves, is simply stunning. It's quite possibly my favourite video game location ever.
So, yes, I loved Dear Esther. Like I said, it's definitely not a game for everyone. In fact, it's hard to really call it a game in the traditional sense. It's more like an interactive novel, so if you go into it with an open mind and curiosity to explore the world it presents to you then I think you'll enjoy it.
That's about it! I've just started playing The Darkness on the Xbox, and I'm planning on finally finishing L.A Noire on the PS3 soon. As usual I just have too many games to get through! Also, I'm planning on buying a PS Vita soon to add to the pile. Yay!
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