A Collection of Games.

So before I flew out to the States, I spent about a month playing too many video games. 3 of which I want to talk about in this post; Mass Effect 2, Portal 2 and Flashpoint: Dragon Rising.

First off, all 3 shared something in common. They gave me a nice break from black ops. Should you have visited my YouTube channel ( ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) you’ll have noticed how much of a COD fanboy I really am. Judge all you want, but I do love it.

Anyway, it seems logical to start this blog with the game that can be related most to COD: Flashpoint, Dragon Rising.
This game had one of the best starts to any single player game I have ever played. That’s a huge statement given what game we are talking about. A game that most casual gamers may not have heard of. The opening cinematic sets the pace of the game perfectly along with clearly explaining what is going on at the moment. What the game does brilliantly is how it doesn’t give one solitary poo about what the papers may say about it. The characters openly talk about terrorism, Al Queada, Osama and Iraq among other things.
I was immediately reminded of the Konami fps that never surfaced (the name escapes me) after the Daily Mail deemed it “too much” and “too close to the reality of the situation”. In essence, the game followed a real life attack on a terrorist base in Iraq.
What helped make Flashpoint so good was this “I do what I want attitude”. That said, the writers still managed to convey this in a way that was not cheesy, nor too ‘American’. I use the word American lightly here, but you know what I mean. It didn’t seem like Chuck Norris had written the script. It was intellectual, funny and true, setting the tone of the game very well and getting me very excited before I’d even lined up my first terrorist for that Headshot trophy.
However, this glorious opening was very quickly forgotten as the gameplay began. The bottom line is- Two bullets, you’re dead. One bullet, and you’re wasting ten seconds as you have to hold circle to patch your bullet wound and stop the bleeding before you pass out. Yes, it’s horrifically realistic. Yes, this is a bad thing. Tony hawk is a prime example of this. The original ‘button bashing’ games were fun because they had an arcady feel to them. The latest instalments along with the ‘Skate’ franchise fall short because they are too realistic. Don’t get me wrong, realism can be very good in games, but not in Flashpoint. You become terrified of peeking out of corners from the fear of the screen instantly being covered with your blood. The opening mission sees you raid an Afghanistan village. Quite a simple affair considering the lack of enemies. Still, what should have taken 2 minutes, took 20. The number of times I had to use that bloody medical kit…….
I read reviews of the game that explained how the shooter had become less realistic, along with how the fear of insta-death had gone away. If this is the case, I should play the original games to see just how bad they were. In the end, it’s not a great game. If you want a shooter that isn’t COD to occupy yourself for a while, buy Homefront.

I now want to talk about a game that far exceeded my expectations. A game that should win ‘best underdog’ of the year trophy….should there be such a thing….Portal 2.
First thing’s first, Steven Merchant turns this game from a 7.5 to a 9.5 out of 10. His voice acting and witty lines bring a welcome element of comedy to the game. It’s very similar to his humour from Extras and the Ricky Gervais podcasts.
However, more importantly, the storyline is ace. Anyone who knows me is aware that, for me, the most important part of a game is the storyline. That is why Metal Gear Solid and Zelda remain my all time favourites. I bought Portal 2 under the assumption that it would be a fun distraction from COD. That along with the fact that Hutch told me to…
Yet the puzzles are crafted brilliantly as each time you progress, the puzzles get slightly harder. The game also eases in the new elements (blue goo….cubes…..light paths) in a manner which doesn’t overwhelm you, but makes you excited to play around with something new.
The fact that the autosave screwed me over at one stage, leaving me having to repeat the whole of chapter 9, should be evidence enough that it is a thoroughly enjoyable game (because chapter 9 is so very long).
The buzz you get when you suddenly realise how to solve a puzzle that you have been stuck on for the last 30 minutes is second to none.
Furthermore, the fact that the game comes with a co-op storyline, completely different to that of the single player, should leave you with plenty of game time. The co-op is one area I have not tried yet, so should anyone feel the need to play through it, feel free to add edpenn on psn.
The bottom line is- Portal 2 is a terrifically simple game based on a simple idea. Yet the feeling you get as you progress past each puzzle is enough to keep bringing you back for more every time.

Mass Effect 2 is the final game that I competed before my expedition to Pennsylvania. I have saved this game until last for one reason- it’s the best game I’ve played this year. I’ll tell you now, if a storyline is what you’re after then keep reading. However, if mindless action is what you’re after…..then keep reading. Both are brilliant in Mass Effect 2.
The plot sees you, Shepherd, captain your own sexy spaceship as you build your own crew from scratch. The mission is clear, kill the Collectors (who can be defined as angry, ugly alien things).
In my opinion there are three things which make this game so good.
1) Your creation of Shepherd. You can choose to make a he or she. From here, you can change every feature from the ear lobe size to the depth of the nostrils. Mohawk or mop-head, it is worth taking as much time as necessary to get your creation perfect. I put over 40 hours into this game. That’s a long time to be looking at the same character. Still it brings a personal element to the game immediately.
2) The dialogue wheel. During cutscenes, you get to choose what Shepherd says, what questions he asks and what actions he takes. This is an incredible feature that far more games should implement. Should you have played Alpha Protocol, you may understand what I mean. That had no right to be a decent game, yet the ability to constantly choose what your character did and said, made it incredible.
This feature makes you concentrate more during the cutscenes (since you have to understand what is going on in order to answer properly) and ultimately allows you to get into the game more because you are more aware of what is going on.
3) The romance. Throughout the game, whether your character is male of female, there are plenty of love interests that you can pursue. Whilst a few end with a mere dinner date, there are others that can go further. They don’t offer much as to unlocking new weapons or upgrades but the thrill of the chase is enough to keep you excited during the lull between missions.
The shooting engine is also brilliant. There are few games that have managed to successfully pull off a decent 3rd person shooter, but Mass Effect 2 does this expertly.
Finally, with Mass Effect 3 coming out this year, the developers integrated a system which allows the player to carry on from Mass Effect 2 during the new game with all relationships still intact. Players that died during your playthrough will not return. Thus this personal element I was talking about earlier is reinforced.
It’s quite simply a brilliant game that will occupy a lot of your time. But you won’t think any of it is wasted time.

Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/edpenn13

YouTube- http://www.YouTube.com/edpenn13

8tracks- http://www.8tracks.com/edpenn13

You get the idea…

Location:Pennsylvania

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