Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Playing Too Many Games is Bad for Your Health...

...and if that is the case, I am screwed.

Anyways, I have played a bunch of computer games since returning to the US, building a new desktop, and registering with Steam, Valve's online game distribution system.  Here are a few femto-reviews on games I really, really liked.

The Witcher 2: The Witcher 2 is dark, grimy fantasy, with a badass protagonist, interesting Eastern European-inspired takes on fantasy monsters, and meaningful choices that come back and haunt you later in the game.  The story is strong, the visuals are very good, and the overall feel is a nice departure from your bog-standard CRPGs.  5 out of 5.

Bastion: An action game produced by an independent developer called Supergiant Games, I picked up Bastion on a whim.  The gameplay is great (different weapons give you different abilities, but you can only carry 2 at a time), the narration actually follows what you are doing in-game, and the soundtrack is fantastic.  The thing that stands out most is the style.  4 out of 5.

Elder Scrolls V - Skyrim: I will preface this by the fact that I barely played Morrowind, and even though I bought Oblivion, I played it for a couple of hours and just stopped.  What Skyrim has going for it is an incredibly rich world, both in terms of landscape (climbing to the top of mountains at night, when the sky is clear and the Northern Lights are out, is just ridiculous), NPCs, and quests.  Now many of the quests become boring, but I did not find the open world approach in Skyrim as paralyzing as the previous games.  There are still some hiccups in terms of bugs, and the leveling system can encourage some gimmicky min-maxing, but the world of Skyrim pushes all those small problems to the background.  4.5 out of 5.

Batman Arkham City: Arkham Asylum was another game I bought on a whim on Steam, after hearing many rave reviews about the game.  It was tremendous, and I have been looking forward to the sequel ever since.  Basically, this game lets you be Batman.  Like, in every way -- stealthily taking out criminals, crushing a dozen thugs in hand-to-hand combat, gliding from rooftop to rooftop, and extricating yourself from trouble using an array of gadgets (the game even calls them Gadgets).  My only complaint about the game, compared to Arkham Asylum, is that the main plot is a bit more forced, and has perhaps a few too many twists.  On the plus side, the side quests and the open nature of Arkham City itself makes this game more interesting to explore than its predecessor.  4.5 out of 5.  

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