The drought-de-la-summer continues and so does the backlog. This week we touch on such important titles as Mass Effect 3 and Saints Row The Third. If you missed last week's article, check it out here. And away we go!
It's been a pretty dry summer so far and there have been plenty of games I have been holding on to a few games for quite a while that I have never gotten the chance to finish. I really get into the habit of starting games multiple times and never end up finishing them. With most of this year’s games being pushed back we have had a pretty big lull in the new release section so this is the perfect time to pull out some of those games on my shelf that are just staring at me and taunting me.
Mass Effect 3
Probably the most controversial game of the year and the end of the John Shepard story, Mass Effect 3 is still a powerhouse of a game. It took me a while to get into the original game but once I did, I truly believed that this series was one of the best sci-fi RPGs of all time. I’ve played through the original two games multiple times and was heavily invested in the series so I was pretty excited to finish the story but didn’t have time at the game’s release to dive in. Now that the summer has brought us few new games to worry about I’ve been able to finally put in a lot of time to Mass Effect.
- So far the game is probably my favorite of the series and I haven’t had much to complain about. The game opens with a bang and the sense of war is present through the whole thing. Even though you run into a few weird things, such as the way side missions are introduced, I really feel like everything is contributing to the overall story. I haven’t reached the ending that made the internet lose its mind but so far I feel like that one part of the game made a lot of people overlook a really great package.
- Grand Theft Auto 4
This is one game I am convinced I will never finish. I have played every Grand Theft Auto game and, like most everyone else, have been a huge fan of the series but with 4 they kind of lost me. San Andreas was packed with so much insanity that when it came between GTA 4 and Saints Row I always went with Saints Row. Saints Row1 and 2 brought me the insane gameplay I missed from GTA. After San Andreas I felt 4 was a little lacking in a lot of areas. Taking out the ability to customize cars or go parachuting (until the DLC) and just some of the other random things really took away my interest.
I have had to restart the game numerous times. The beginning of any GTA game is a real drag and that has affected my decision to play more. But I am determined to finish. I recently picked up Episodes from Liberty City so I can finally finish the game and the DLC games. While I know Rockstar has done an amazing job with these games and is telling one hell of a story with all of the chapters, I can’t help but miss the insanity of the franchise. Not to mention that vehicle control almost kills the whole game.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadows of Chernobyl
I remember looking at screenshots for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. long before it came out and watching developer videos and thinking this is the coolest thing I have ever seen and that my computer would never be able to run anything that looked like that! So time went on and I always remembered the game but never bothered to check out. I finally broke down, bought it, and got to experience it firsthand. And anyone who has played an Eastern European game can probably guess that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is pretty weird.
The game, while not taking place in the apocalypse, has an apocalyptic feeling as you are roaming the long deserted area of Chernobyl. Fighting radioactive animals, bandits and other scavengers, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is constantly putting you in danger and is full of loot to pick off the bodies of the men you kill. I really enjoy these types of apocalyptic exploration games and S.T.A.L.K.E.R., while feeling old and maybe a little dated, is actually one hell of a fun time.
If anything, I’m often more busy gaming during the summer than I am in the peak of fall, mainly due to all the titles and DLC that vie for catch-up time. This summer has been no different. In addition to playing through Shadows of the Damned, starting (and quickly stopping) Assassin’s Creed Revelations, and tackling various DLC for Arkham City, Mass Effect 3, and Borderlands, here are the three biggest backlog entries that I wanted to talk about:
Saints Row The Third
I’ve never been too enamored with the Saints Row franchise, but after all the praise this installment received last fall, and with a desire to throw THQ a bone (specifically, 50 of them), I started playing The Third to see if I could share those feelings. So far, I’m not quite ready to join its fans. I’ve enjoyed the customization options, business expansions, and “Mayhem” missions so far, but the humor isn’t my style, the driving feels lurchy, and everything- Everything -is awash in the most hideous shade of purple.
Still, as someone who often plays games to see what they can evoke besides a sense of fun, I think I’m just approaching The Third from the wrong perspective. It’s clearly engineered to stay out of the player’s way and let them do whatever they want, so perhaps I just haven’t discovered the gameplay loop that’ll get me hooked.
Bioshock 2: Minerva’s Den
I played Bioshock 2 back when it first released and found it, sadly, not very memorable, but I’ve been hearing about the follow-up DLC Minerva’s Den for quite some time. Polygon’s Arthur Gies referenced it as the best post-launch DLC he’s ever played, and that endorsement was enough to slot this into my queue. For $10, Minerva’s Den is a standalone four-to-five hour short story set in Rapture Central Computing that outshines Bioshock 2’s campaign in nearly every respect.
In addition to guiding players through an accelerated version of the main game’s upgrade path- new weapons and abilities are always just around the corner -Minerva’s Den expertly intertwines its main story about Rapture’s all-controlling computer “The Thinker” with sub-plots of a power struggle between the two friends who created it, and a love story between the primary character and his fallen wife. It’s rich in gameplay and well-crafted narrative threads; I recommend it to everyone.
All the iOS Games
I just got an iPod Touch, and am now availing myself of the last three years of iOS madness. Hero Academy, Spellsword, Squids Wild West, Infinity Blade, and Outwitters have all become quick favorites. Also, everyone needs to try an app called Zombies, Run! It’s an augmented reality game that helps you exercise by simulating a zombie attack. Get your sexy right in the geekiest way possible. Long live iOS.
And so ends another edition of the backlog. Comeback next week for Part 3, where we talk about Dead Island and Dead Space and Dead... actually I think those are the only things with "Dead" in the title. But in the meantime, are you playing anything that start with "Dead"? As always, leave your comments below.
Jonathan is the host of the DarkCast, DarkCast Interviews, and Gamers Read. He loves books, video games, and superheroes. If he had to pick favorites, they would be Welcome to the Monkey House, Mass Effect, and Superman respectively.