Reviewsday – Video Games

This could be fun… Y’see, I’m not really a hardcore gamer; I couldn’t tell you the history of the Zelda games from their first outing on the N64 or the GameCube or whatever. I only recently started thinking of myself as a gamer. So, similarly to last week’s story of how I got into ferret-keeping, I figured I’d tell you a bit about my gaming history, then give you a review of the games I own/play.

A very quick trip through my gaming history actually starts quite early on. It all started on the PC with Disney platform games – I particularly remember Aladdin and the Lion King as being particularly great. After them, Mum used to buy computing magazines (I don’t know whether it was personal interest, because she worked in computers, or a bit of both) which had free game discs on the front and contained a ton of free demos. One of the best games I can remember was one called Tyrion, It was just an up-scrolling spaceship-flying and shooting game, but you could modify your ship, and you could pick up all manner of weaponry. (And I wonder why I turned out to be such a geek…!) Next up came Theme Hospital (which I still think is a fantastic game), Theme Park World, Zoo Tycoon, Lemmings 3d and Sim City (not sure which one) which then led to The Sims, The Sims 2, The Sims 3, Age of Empires, Age of Mythology and a few others along the way. So you get the point – I was always a gamer, I just didn’t realise it!

My break from the PC came in the form of the original bulky GameBoy. My brother had the grey one and I had the yellow one (Donkey Kong edition) and so I found Super Mario Bros (which I had played before – our childminder had a Nintendo console so we’d played games on that on occasion.) and eventually Pokemon.

Moving through time to uni I treated myself to a DS… this may have been because I was working in a Virgin Megastore and I had a little crush on my colleague who usually ran the games section. The DS came with Nintendogs, but my time was mostly wasted on Mario Kart!

After uni I bought my first console – the Nintendo Wii. Yeah. The least gamer-y games console. I didn’t know then that it was all about Playstation vs Xbox. I just knew I wanted a Wii Fit, because it would totally make me thin.

It didn’t. But the Wii did prove to be rather amusing. I had my beloved Mario Kart, not to mention a couple of musical games; Guitar Hero 3, Rock Band, and a particularly addictive game called Kororinpa, where you have to guide a marble around a track using the motion-sensitive wii-mote. It was fun, but I wanted something more.

Something more came at the end of November 2011, in the form of a super shiny Xbox360. I didn’t even consider the PS3; my co-Gaveller and her husband had (still have) an Xbox, and so I’d already been treated to some multi-player (co-op) first person shooters (FPSs) with them, as well as some throat-damaging games of Lips (which we still indulge in to this day – I’m particularly proud of my operatic abilities on songs from Phantom of the Opera).

And that is how I got to where I am today, so let’s get to the important bit;

The Games
(These are probably in the order I got them, but that’s going by a rather shaky memory…)

1 – Fallout New Vegas
This came with the console, and for a long while was the only real game I had (with the exception of the demos/arcade games which came pre-installed…) and came highly recommended. My fellow Gaveller, Charli, is a fan of the Fallout games, and so I expected to enjoy it. Sadly I just didn’t get it. I figured out how to move the character, how to shoot things and how to interact with people, I just didn’t get on board with the story, and compounded things further by managing to open a door into a corridor full of badguys where the game autosaved. I died over and over and over… It was not a good moment.
I’m sure if I return to FNV at some point, now I’m a year and four months into gaming, I’ll probably get on with it a bit better.

2 – Dragon Age : Origins + Dragon Age II
Ah, Dragon Age : Origins, anoher game which came highly recommended by my good friend and cousin. This time, however, I was not disappointed. Confusion at how a grown woman could become lost for days in a video game suddenly became understanding. My favourite thing about the two Dragon Age games (plus downloadable content (DLC)) is that you can do what you want; follow the main quests or faff about with side quests, but it wasn’t so big that I felt I was getting lost/wasn’t really sure what the main plot was, as with FNV. An added bonus is the sheer variety of characters you can play; each with their own starting point and personal drama. You could play the game half a dozen times and have a different experience each time round. It’s magnificent!
Dragon Age 3 is on its way, and I’ll be there on release day, eagerly awaiting my Mage’s staff or my Warrior’s two handed battle axe, or my Rogue’s bow and arrows.

3 – Mass Effect 1 + 2 + 3
Following my enjoyment of BioWare’s Dragon Age games, Charli’s husband recommended I give Mass Effect a go. This was around the time the third installment was released. I played all three games pretty much nonstop, whenever I wasn’t at work – and I think it’s fair to say I loved them a little bit more than I loved Dragon Age. Why? The single character through the entire trilogy was wonderful. Ok, your DA:O character was mentioned in DAII, but it’s not the same as taking the same Commander Shepard (male or female, it’s up to you!) through three games, with mostly the same companions. It just gave so much more satisfaction when you got to five-minutes-before-the-end. (We don’t talk about the last five minutes. They were shockingly awful, and almost enough to ruin the rest of the trilogy… but the internet is full of people explaining why the end of ME3 is so terrible. The end of ME2, however, is perfect on SO MANY levels!)

4 – Enslaved
I wish I could talk more about this. The premise is fascinating, the character looks like a bulked up Puck from Glee and the game play is both exciting and fun… I just had other games to play, so haven’t really gotten too far with this yet…

5 – Halo 3 ODST + Halo 4 & 6 – Gears of War 3
Once more I have to point the finger of blame at Charli and her husband. I played a fair amount of co-op GOW (1 or 2… maybe 3) with her husband over the years, and so when I got myself an Xbox Live Gold membership and I had to get something with multi-player so we could go on gun-toting space rampages from our own living rooms. This quest led to both GOW3 and Halo 3 (except I accidentally got the ODST version, which seems to be something quite different to actual Halo 3!) and, more recently, Halo 4. I’ve not really played any of them on single player due to the next game on my list, but GoW3 has provided some great team battles in its Horde setting; the three of us against wave after wave of enemy aliens. Great stuff!

7 – Skyrim
I bought Skyrim for two reasons. One – Charli loved it, and she’s occasionally right about these things. Two – Toby Turner (you might remember him from my top 10 youtube channels, or from my review of the comedy charts) was playing it on his TobyGames youtube channel, and after watching a couple of hundred ten-minute videos of someone playing a video game, I began to wonder whether I could do better (not better, but probably not worse!)
After my rocky start with Bethesda’s FNV, I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to play Skyrim. I liked the comfort of Dragon Age and Mass Effect; it wasn’t just a case of getting from A to B, but there was a plot and an ultimate goal. I was wary that Skyrim would be as massive and bewildering as FNV. Now, I didn’t get so far in FNV, but I can tell you Skyrim definitely is massive. It’s an entire world, and more than that it’s an entire world and you can get to pretty much every part of it. And yeah, it’s a bit bewildering; there isn’t just one main plot with random side quests; the random side quests spawn off some fairly hefty sub-quests which can divert your attention completely from the main quest. You can do as I did in my current playthrough and blitz the main quest before you reach level 14, then saunter around all filled with bad-assery following up every other quest (and killing dragons left, right and centre) to your heart’s content, or you can take Charli’s latest route and nonchalantly leave the main quest until you can be bothered with it. Either way – the options are endless. With Skyrim you’re in it for the long haul. In a recent conversation with a Game store employee I declared Skyrim to be un-completeable; not because it’s impossible, but because there are so many re-spawning events (dead dragons/giants are replaced by new ones, there are always bandits and wolves out for your blood) and the top level (81, I believe) is so far away from my current standing in the early-mid twenties, that I still have so many skills I need to improve!

8 – Portal 2
My most recent purchase is another Toby Turner inspired move. (Yeah, it’s the guy in the games department all over again; equally as unattainable, albeit a little further away!) It may seem a bit silly; buying a game I’ve already watched someone else complete, but I actually really like this game, and it’s a good balance against Skyrim. With Skyrim I know I’m anchored to the controller until the batteries die or I realise I have to be up for work in five hours. With Portal 2 it’s a series of puzzles, so there are regular points where I can save and step away. Even if I wasn’t a puzzle addict, the ongoing commentries of GlaDos and Wheatley are incredibly amusing. The former hates me for destroying her in Portal (which I haven’t played) and the latter, voiced by Stephen Merchant, seems to be trying to help me. Between them, and my trusty orange and blue portal gun, I’m working my way through some sort of delapidated testing complex. Much fun!

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