What We’re Playing – October 21st
The weekend is upon us and it’s time to play some videogames. Here are a few games we’ve been playing away from the office this week. What’s on your agenda? Share what you’re playing!
Demon Souls was a PlayStation 3 title that I really, really wanted to play. The concept, the world, the difficulty – it interested my gaming palette, and it seemed different from anything else. I held out for an announcement that it would be coming out on 360, but it never came. I was overjoyed to hear about Dark Souls, then, especially as it looked to be very similar to its predecessor. I played a few minutes at Eurogamer and got promptly destroyed – it’s not the best environment to learn about a game like Dark Souls, let’s be honest.
I’ve been playing it for the past week now – a good 20 hours or so – and it has shot straight up into GOTY status. I expected it to be good but not this good. From the sense of loneliness, to the utter dread you feel as you creep around an untouched corner. The difficulty is hard, of course, but it’s not unreasonable. I was close to giving up after a few hours tackling the first boss, but once I’d killed him, the satisfaction I received outweighed any frustrations I had experienced before. Since that moment, I’ve not once blamed the game for any deaths or difficulty spikes. I’ve learnt that I am the catalyst for the difficulty level, and once you suss out an enemy or find their weak point, you’re already laughing, and then crying, because that sneaky bugger had a friend lurking behind you.
I haven’t played a JRPG since the original release of Persona 3. For some reason I’ve fell out of the genre, a genre which I claimed to be my clear favorite just a decade ago. Nothing had spoken to me yet this generation, that is, until I gazed upon Level 5’s Ni no Kuni. With the JRPG bug working its way back into my system, I picked up Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, thinking it’d be the perfect amount of light roleplaying I needed to ease myself back in. So far, it has been exactly that. Dark Dawn is straightforward and immediately feel familiar. Golden Sun vets will feel right at home, but anyone who’s played an early entry in the Shining franchise will also detect Camelot Software’s handiwork as well. I doubt that Dark Dawn will serve as my gateway drug back to being a hardcore JRPG player. It’s fun and it’s breezy, the perfect appetizer before Wrath of the White Witch.
Gears of War 3 has a mediocre campaign, returning multiplayer modes, an awesome reworking of Horde mode, and a complete waste of disc space called Beast mode. The majority of the entertainment value derived from the game will come from Horde mode. You must be okay with all this if you want to rush out and buy Gears of War 3 without feeling disappointed (or feeling like a chump for not waiting until the inevitable Game of the Year Edition comes out with all the maps and DLC included).
That said, Horde 2.0 is where most of the effort has been spent and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a huge success. Completing waves and killing Locust earns cash that can be used to set up outposts, decoys, turrets, and caltrops, all of which can be upgraded. It’s an involving meta-game where some strategy comes into play as well as leveling-up and earning awards. Every tenth wave has a boss or two such as Brumaks and Berserkers in addition with the rest of the Locust horde, and the horde is always different from wave to wave. It’s ridiculously fun, addicting, and has way more variety to it than even Gears of War 2‘s superb Horde mode had, but at the end of the day it is just one mode in a package of otherwise underwhelming offerings.