Ah. So. It’s the last quarter of 2007. Once again is the time of year when all the major software publishing giants unleash their newest and greatest games onto the market. The market is awash with new games, each being hailed as the biggest thing since Pong. I’ve only been able to play a few myself, what, with Christmas presents to buy and… wait a second? All these games flood the market at the same time people would be buying their loved ones Christmas gifts? Hmm. It’s like they’ve planned it all along! Treachery!
Anyway, like I said, I’ve tried a few, namely Crysis, The Orange Box, the new Supreme Commander expansion, Forged Alliance, and the newest Age of Empires III expansion, The Asian Dynasties. Only a small slice of the pie, but I’ve been far too concerned with discovering Sid Meier’s Pirates! to be bothered getting anything else.
Crysis is…. okay. I mean, my beast of a system handles it okay on medium, but with the scripted scenes where the control is taken away from the player, intense moments of FPS drop were experienced. It’s a fun game though. For example, you can Cloak, sneak up to a North Korean soldier, switch to Strength mode, and pick him up and throw him at his chums, preferably off high areas. However, the story and the characters aren’t really fleshed out enough to make you care. It’s like playing through a high budget well anticipated B movie plot. I mean, around half way through the game (possible spoilers ahead), a massive mountain begins to fall apart right in front of advancing US marines and tanks. But does anyone even comment that what’s underneath is huge and spikey and glowing blue? No. Not a word. I mean, seriously, even when the thing later freezes half the island it’s like nobody saw at least something coming. Madness!
The new expansion pack for Supreme Commander is quite decent, I suppose. It adds a fair amount of new units, and a new side, and a new campaign. But the story suffers the same as above. There’s no real characters. Just a bunch of floating heads telling you what to do that hate the other guys. It just has that “IT’S JUST AN EXPANSION PACK” feeling.
The Asian Dynasties. Another add-on for AOEIII. I mean, how many parts of the world does Microsoft want Ensemble to explore before moving on to Age of Empires IV? Most games out now completely dwarf AOEIII’s aging engine in graphics and scale. Sure, there’s a new story, a few new sides, and a new resource gathering methods. But big whoop. It’s still just AOEIII under the bonnet, and AOEIII is ooooold.
Now. The Orange Box. This is really the win. What’s Inside the Orange Box, you ask? Well, several things. The original HL2 and Episode 1 are chucked in free for starters, and you can give them away to others if you own them already. You then get Episode 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2. I love all three. Portal can’t be faulted. It’s brilliant. Team Fortress 2 is an excellent multiplayer game. Games can quickly turn around from a loss to a win in mere seconds. It’s fast paced, and easily for new players to get into with minimal fuss. My only complain is that the maps are a bit bland. I mean, there’s a choice of farmland, or industry, which most maps seem to be based on (a mine, some factories, a hydroelectric plant, or grain silos). If I had to pick a favourite map though, it’d be Gravelpit. Half Life 2 : Episode 2 is great too. The storyline has been advanced a lot now, and it looks like we’re leaving Eastern Europe in Episode 3.
So there you go. Some personal thoughts on some recent games. I really am that bored right now. Team Fortress 2 anyone?