November 17th, 2007
Its been a very fruitful few weeks for the gaming industry, with release after release of the year’s most anticipated games all in one very short time span. Its been a very interesting time for us gaming enthusiasts. During this time period I’ve been using websites like Game Rankings to find out which games are hits and which games are misses, and what makes them good or bad.
I have to say its been an interesting race for the best game of the holiday season. With most of the major games out the way, I think that its a good time to analyze the situation. So lets run through some of the big games. Here is what I’ve discovered over the past few weeks.
Major Disappointments and Surprises
I want to start off with Assassin’s Creed; 2008’s most ambitious game title with it’s unique go anywhere, climb anything game mechanics. Now Ubisoft definitely delivered in this field but they unfortunately slipped up in a number of important areas. If you’ve been following the game’s progress, especially over E3 then you’d be familiar with some of the game’s bugs and glitches that occurred during presentations and also during hands on with the game. ‘m talking simple things like some unresponsive AI etc. Unfortunately these errors still exist in the final build, in fact when taking a closer look it appears as though the game in some ways might have been a little rushed out the door. The other main problem is that the gameplay remains fundamentally the same throughout the game; find intel and then assassination a person of importance, rinse and repeat 9x and you get the idea. This game is currently scoring about 82% on GameRankings which isn’t bad but its seen some average reviews from IGN (7.5/10) and 1up(7/10). Also the GameTrailers review, despite talking criticism thought out gives the game a 9.1/10.
Now while Assassin’s Creed was a little disappointing, Super Mario Galaxy came out and surprised a lot of people. At the moment its sitting on a strong 97.4% with 18 reviews. The game is pretty much what you would expect, the plumber reinvents himself in a space like environment. Each planet that Mario traverses has its own respective physics which make for some interesting platforming environments. Presentation wise Mario Galaxy hands down is the best game on the console, sugary coated goodness.
Just What We Expected
Overall the majority of anticipated games all turned out like you’d expect, generally its because most of them are in some ways safe bets. So its a bit hard to mess up. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is a kick ass “dude raider”-esque game with perhaps too many pirates, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock relies on the same formula with a few new elements such as boss battles to not make it feel stale (but don’t worry thats Rock Band’s job ;)). Crysis is a stunner with its graphical prowess it removes some of the annoying gameplay elements that were in Farcry.
Battalion Wars 2 for the Wii was as you’d expect another decent Wii adaption of a Gamecube franchise. Most of the motion control works although there are a few issues here and there. Naruto: Rise of a Ninja for the Xbox 360 is your above average anime affair that makes use of its lisence well. A simple battle system drops it down a peg.
Call of Duty 4 is a fantastic rush, Infinity Ward has heightened the intensity of the game’s scripted battle events. In a way these events and the game’s length can be seen as slighty problematic but the authentic combat look and feel easily brush these aside. Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles is a game made for fans of the series. Although the motion controls aren’t perfect and the game can be a little finicky with enemy weak points its still a good, lengthy arcade shooter for any one interested in the genre.
For the portables, Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness was pretty much an ungraded version of the original PS2 game, nicely rounded into a PSP title. Both Castlevania Dracula X Chronicles and Contra 4 are as tough as nails which is a real set back for newer players. Contra limited itself by sticking to a safe, conventional design while Castlevania had a few platforming quirks.
Just Plain Average
Out of the bunch there were a few titles there were pretty meh; Clive Barker’s Jericho failed to live up to the horror author’s name and was pretty average. The same applied for Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games was pretty much what you’d expect, a mini game romp with some mildly interesting Wii mote games.
Putting things into perception, safe bets are still financially secure for developers with games like Guitar Hero III. Franchise favorites like Mario or Call of Duty continue to move the industry forwards with expansions on tried and true gameplay. And games are still being hyped beyond potential and no matter what the end result gamers everywhere are disappointed.