What videogames have you been playing recently?

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I've been really enamored with Mass Effect as of late. I may have bought my Xbox 360 so I could play Halo 3, but Mass Effect has been getting way more time in the 360. Great plot, characters, and role-playing aspects -- but then I'd expect nothing less from BioWare. It's not perfect, though. The gameplay could've used an extra round of polish before the game was released, and there are some graphical bugs that, while not as annoying as some would make them out to be, are noticeable. And then there's the morality system, which I wrote about at length here.

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    I've been playing City of Heroes, as usual. I quit for about half of a year (financial reasons), but now I'm back. They've added some really neat stuff with the past few "Issues" (free game content updates), including a totally optional--but incredibly captivating--invention system. The superhero I play almost exclusively these days is American Apollo, a Silver Age archer that shoots lots of trick arrows (like oil slicks that I can set on fire, or arrows that freeze guys). Lots of fun, and thankfully NCSoft is really going out of their way to make the game more fun.

    I bought Hellgate: London not too long ago. It's made by the same team that created Diablo and Diablo II. HG:L is basically a first-person version set in near-future London...post-demon invasion, of course. I put it on hold because they game is bugged beyond belief. Also, it's a twitch game--I want more substance in my games, and even if shooting hoards of monsters with rocket guns is fun it only works in small doses.

    I bought the insanely well-reviewed BioShock a few weeks ago, but haven't installed it yet. The developers, formerly known as Irrational Games, created my favorite video game of all time: System Shock 2. I'm looking forward to playing this, but I need to install my new power supply first.


Edited by Jason Panella

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I bought the family Katamari Damacy for Christmas (we are still in PS2 land). Who thought up this game? What a crazy idea! You are a little prince pushing a round a katamari and picking up things the more things he picks up, the bigger the things are he can pick up. If you make your ball big enough the King of the Cosmos turns it into a star. My daughter and I have found it addictive. it makes my wife nauseous.

I also got Kingdom Hearts which my daughter seems to like.

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My brother -- who is a major gamer -- downloaded a bunch of demos to his PS3 that we checked out over the Christmas holiday. My favorite had to be Burnout: Paradise. Alan commented on how much his daughter loved to crash cars in Burnout, and I concur: we spent most of the night trying to cause the most spectacular collisions that we could. Especially sweet was when the collision would play in slow motion, and you could watch the crumpling, shattering, and sparking in all of its glory.

I finally got to play Super Mario Galaxy, which was a real trip. Incredibly clever and very, very enjoyable throughout.

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QUOTE (Alan Thomas @ Dec 28 2007, 07:50 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I was thinking of getting Beautiful Katamari for Xbox360 to play with my daughter. Hmmmm. How old is your daughter?


My daughter is 12, almost 13 (in February). She stills goes back to Crash Bandicoot games. They have enormous replay value, especially Crash Bash. How old is your daughter?

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I recently picked up--for the second time--a copy of the PC game Vietcong; I had lost one of the install discs a year or so ago, and saw it in Half Price Books for a few dollars. Bam.

It's not a perfect game by any means. It's a first-person shooter set during the Vietnam conflict. But what it does right it does exceptionally well. Some action games I appreciate for their realism. Vietcong was such a game. You could set it so you had no 'read-outs,' as in, you had no idea how much ammo you had in your gun, and if you wanted to aim you had to pull the iron sights up. There wasn't much in the way of health bars, either. You couldn't survive more than one or two wounds.

The jungle and rice patties are beautifully rendered, unlike some other attempts to make games set during the same conflict. There is a lot of attention to detail that many games lack completely; sunlight spilling through leaves, small streams that actually work like streams, the fact that you can't really carry more than one gun (and guns using different ammo types). And so on.

And one of the most fun aspects was playing the multiplayer maps with friends a few years ago. The most fun is when all of the players are on the same team, and they have to face off against the other side (you could play as American soldiers or VC). I've never seen a game force people to work together like this - one of the players could be equipped with a radio pack and call in air strikes, and other players would really have to cover each other basically save each other's bacon constantly. Crazy fun.

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I'm always playing World of Warcraft. It prevents me from doing much else, but since I'm on vacation for the holidays I've been forced to play other things. So... I'm checking out:

Fable... a bit of an oldie. I picked up the Xbox 1 version for $10. It's a pretty rich game... they really took the "you can be good *or* evil!!" thing a bit too far, maybe. But it's a big world and there's lots to do in it, and it's amusing how much Overlord (a 360 game I've liked for a while) borrows from it.

Puzzle Quest... I bought the Nintendo DS version of this pretty cheaply. If you're not familiar with it, it's an RPG that uses a gem-matching puzzle variant for all of the combat. We played the Xbox Live Arcade version quite a bit at work (it's free for developers... sort of) and it's simultaneously a very addictive and frustrating game. Still I find myself picking it up and playing a lot, and I've nearly beaten it across a few days of playing.

I definitely do not like the control scheme they've chosen for the DS version. It uses the stylus almost exclusively, when other platforms used a different scheme that worked quite well. The game penalizes you for illegal moves and I find myself mis-clicking a lot due to the stylus. Losing health (sometimes battles) because of this is really very frustrating.

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I do not know if it counts as a video game, but since March 2002, I have been the Cincinnati Reds owner of an online OOTP league. The league started in 1949, and we have simulated, ahistorically, and we are currently in the 1975 season.

Also, since January 2002, I have been an active PBEM (Play By E-Mail) Diplomacy player. As you might be able to tell, I tend to like games which are low-tech, with a major long-term commitment. A typical PBEM Diplomacy game lasts a minimum of six months.

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Wii used our Christmas money to get a second controller for our Wii and two games:

WiiPlay and Super Mario Galaxy.

WiiPlay is a mix of nine games, some of which are a blast (Shooting range, Charge! and Tank Battle) and some of which are dreary (Find Mii). But for $10 (in a package with a second controller ($40)) it's a good deal. In Charge! you race and jump cows, trying to knock down scarecrows. Mrs. CrimsonLine and I laugh hysterically while we play it.

Super Mario Galaxy is a lot of fun, with bright, beautiful graphics, and cool action. I like that Player 2 is helping Player 1, and not competing against him. That's great for my son, who cannot beat any adult at the games in Wii Sports or WiiPlay, but still wants to play on the Wii. Here, he is an asset to our team effort. It's a bit perspective-warping as you are running and jumping around these tiny planets, and are often running upside down or on the sides of the planets. At times, it's tough to remember how to run, and in what direction. Lots of fun.

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Build-a-lot - A Lot
Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2 - With the boys

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QUOTE (CrimsonLine @ Jan 6 2008, 03:52 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Super Mario Galaxy is a lot of fun, with bright, beautiful graphics, and cool action. I like that Player 2 is helping Player 1, and not competing against him. That's great for my son, who cannot beat any adult at the games in Wii Sports or WiiPlay, but still wants to play on the Wii. Here, he is an asset to our team effort. It's a bit perspective-warping as you are running and jumping around these tiny planets, and are often running upside down or on the sides of the planets. At times, it's tough to remember how to run, and in what direction. Lots of fun.

I played this at my brother's house over Christmas, and yes, it's pretty trippy and mindbending -- and yet, with the Wii control, it somehow feels natural and makes perfect sense.

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QUOTE (opus @ Dec 29 2007, 08:52 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
My brother -- who is a major gamer -- downloaded a bunch of demos to his PS3 that we checked out over the Christmas holiday. My favorite had to be Burnout: Paradise.

After playing the Burnout Paradise demo for most of an evening, I preordered it from Amazon.

It finally came in on Tuesday and I've been playing it at every opportunity. Great gameplay, a H U G E virtual world (I'm still discovering major streets on the map, not to mention all of the hidden roads, tunnels and unusual connections), and great effects.

This is easily the best game I've played in years.

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My brother-in-law bought my wife a PlayStation 3 for her birthday -- mainly because we were talking about high-def players and the fact that the PS3 is the only current Blu-Ray player that isn't already obsolete (due to the imminent switch from 1.0 to 2.0 profiles, or standards, or whatever the technical term is).

So ... now I have a game console, and I have nothing to play (except for the Motor Storm package that came with the PS3; we haven't opened it yet). What should I be looking for? Are there PS2 games I should avoid because they don't work on the new machine? (I noticed the Star Trek: Conquest PS2 game at the grocery store the other day -- it's only 15 bucks, in contrast to the other games that go for anywhere from $30 to $45 -- so I'm wondering if maybe I should start there... Or is that game so cheap because it sucks? and would it be incompatible with the PS3?)

Or maybe I should just avoid games altogether, lest my almost-two-year-old twins try to join in, and thus get hooked. It's bad enough they want to watch DVDs so often, already.

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QUOTE (Michael Todd @ Dec 30 2007, 03:11 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Also, since January 2002, I have been an active PBEM (Play By E-Mail) Diplomacy player. As you might be able to tell, I tend to like games which are low-tech, with a major long-term commitment. A typical PBEM Diplomacy game lasts a minimum of six months.


I too play Diplomacy but online (http://www.floc.net/dpjudge/). What a great game, it is like chess only times 7! I wonder if there might be 7 of us here on A&F and we could do a private game?

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QUOTE (Thoreau @ Jan 27 2008, 09:34 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Michael Todd @ Dec 30 2007, 03:11 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Also, since January 2002, I have been an active PBEM (Play By E-Mail) Diplomacy player. As you might be able to tell, I tend to like games which are low-tech, with a major long-term commitment. A typical PBEM Diplomacy game lasts a minimum of six months.


I too play Diplomacy but online (http://www.floc.net/dpjudge/). What a great game, it is like chess only times 7! I wonder if there might be 7 of us here on A&F and we could do a private game?




I've been playing Madden NFL 2009. After a hard day, it helps take the edge off. cool.gif

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I've been playing a lot of a game called [i]Demon's Souls[/i] recently on the Playstation 3. It's a medieval style action RPG with some unique online elements. The game's mechanics are partially based around... well... dying. You can play either in spirit or body form. Spirit form does more damage, but playing in body form allows you to summon other players as spirits to help you complete the game. But you can also be "invaded" by another player when you play in body form, setting up some 1 vs 3 PVP.

This game has gotten a lot of hype because it's very challenging. The game uses "souls" as currency, which you get by defeating enemies. Souls are used to upgrade weapons, buy items, and increase your character's stats. But if you die, all of the souls you've accumulated get trapped in a "bloodstain" near where you died, you get sent back to the start of the level, and all of the enemies you killed respawn. If you manage to make it back to your bloodstain you can recover all of the souls you lost, but if you die again along the way they're gone forever.

As challenging as it is, there's a lot of help along the way when you play online. Players can drop "messages" on the ground to warn other players of danger or give strategy advice on how to handle particular enemies or situations. Also you can click on any other player's bloodstain in the world and see the last 10 seconds of their life. This is often enough info to give you a clue as to how they died and avoid the same fate yourself.

People are loving this game, and it's getting a lot of "game of the year" buzz even though it hasn't sold anywhere near as many copies as other GOTY contenders. Part of it is the game's depth, and part is the amazing atmosphere of the different zones.

IGN review [url="http://ps3.ign.com/articles/103/1033437p1.html"]here[/url].

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Starcraft II will be released in 8 days. I've been in the beta and have been spending almost every free moment playing this game, including some 5+ hour sessions on the weekends. It's great, although very addicting. And I'm bad at it... I lose quite a bit but still want to play.

Starcraft is a tried and true RTS formula and the sequel only builds on it. Plus there are pretty extensive tools shipped with the game that allow people to make their own custom gametypes, even with a potential revenue stream for the creators of popular mods that seems to resemble the iphone app store a bit.

I think this will be the game of the year on PC, but it probably has very limited appeal outside of the hardcore crowd.

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[quote name='theoddone33' date='19 July 2010 - 04:56 AM' timestamp='1279529794' post='227621']
I think this will be the game of the year on PC, but it probably has very limited appeal outside of the hardcore crowd.
[/quote]

That said, the hardcore crowd is pretty huge. (Even not factoring in the seemingly national addition that South Korea has toward the Starcraft franchise.) My love for RTS games has vanished almost entirely over the past decade, for some reason, but I still do enjoy playing them on single player mode just to see what sweet buildings each race/faction can get.

Over the past month or two, I've been playing a lot of Battlefield 2142. The Battlefield series is pretty popular, but this is one of the few entries that seemed to get ignored. There's still a hardcore group of people that play it online, and man, is it fun. I'm slowly becoming better at the game, and the unlock system (and ability to be awarded a wide variety of medals) is addictive.

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Who among us plays WoW? Or has?

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I played for a week, if that counts. (I also played Everquest for three years and City of Heroes for three.) Do you play, M.? If so, what do you like about it?

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I play off and on. I usually poke my head in to see what each expansion is about. There are several things I like about it:

1. It is the most visually rich and well-narrated mmo world out there (some parts of the geography are actually... beautiful).
2. In previous expansions it was the greatest concerted/social gaming experience out there (most end-game content was ridiculously complex and at times required 25 people all performing minutely detailed tasks with split-second timing over the course of a 10 minute boss fight).
3. Its grind/reward ratio is very well balanced.
4. You can ride around on dragons and stuff.

If it were entirely populated by mature players, it would be the perfect game.

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One of my co-workers was a hardcore WoW player for a long time, but he left because of several disagreements he had with how Blizzard had updated the system. That being said, he's a huge [i]Starcraft[/i] fan and even warned us that he'd be getting the new version at midnight (and presumably taking some time off to play it).

I'd like to play it myself, but my game-playing time is at an even higher premium than my movie-watching time. I did finally play [i]Portal[/i] a few weeks ago and found it really clever and enjoyable.

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[quote name='M. Leary' date='29 July 2010 - 05:01 PM' timestamp='1280437316' post='228612']
1. It is the most visually rich and well-narrated mmo world out there (some parts of the geography are actually... beautiful).
2. In previous expansions it was the greatest concerted/social gaming experience out there (most end-game content was ridiculously complex and at times required 25 people all performing minutely detailed tasks with split-second timing over the course of a 10 minute boss fight).
3. Its grind/reward ratio is very well balanced.
4. You can ride around on dragons and stuff.
[/quote]

The first three were reasons that kept me playing Everquest as long as I did. Part of me still wants to pop back in and check it out.

About two years ago, I did trial subscriptions for a dozen or so MMOs. Some impressed me, like Dark Age of Camelot and WoW, but not enough to subscribe. (And some, like Star Wars Galaxies, were pretty sad.) EVE Online was particularly fascinating, but I realized to get into the game as much as it requires, I'd have to spend tons of time playing.

That said, I've recently been playing Dungeons and Dragons Online quite a bit. Reasons?
1) It's a nice mish-mash of things I like from other MMOs.
2) I'm familiar with the D&D 3.5 rules (for the pencil and paper game) used for DDO.
3) The game is FREE. You can spend small amounts of money to buy additional story arcs / special gear / etc., but that's totally optional.
4) It's geared around a party dynamic; while soloing is very doable, the various classes work best augmented by teammates, and require some planning.

The whole no subscription fee thing is just fantastic, too. I might re-try Anarchy Online again too, because it uses a similar model.

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Cory Doctorow's latest book, [i]For The Win[/i], is all about near-future mmo economies and labor forces. It can be read for free at craphound.com, and anyone that has had any gaming experience will really dig it.

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So my gaming time has been greatly enhanced by my iPhone. One game that I've been impressed by is [i][url="http://www.epicgames.com/infinityblade/"]Infinity Blade[/url][/i]. The plot is non-existant -- your character is the latest in a long line of warriors attempting to overthrow the tyrannical God-king -- and the action is pretty repetitive, but I've found it compelling and entertaining enough. For one thing, the threadbare plot does have one interesting hook -- each time you're killed, you restart the game as your descendant. This isn't really expounded on, but I found it a clever method for continues. Also, there are some interesting twists at the very end, which could make for an interesting sequel. And the gameplay, though repetitive as all get out, is pretty fun, and I've certainly lost hours attempting to accumulate various weapons, items, and whatnot. But the most impressive thing about the game are the visuals... sweet mercy this game is [b]gorgeous[/b], and all the more so considering that it's running on my iPhone. Some of my Xbox 360 games would kill to have graphics this pretty.

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