The current economic downturn affects us all in different ways. As Gred wrote last week (in SFTC's 100th post, no less), 1up got bought up by UGO and killed EGM in the process. It's hit me as well; I'm definitely more aware than ever of what I'm spending my money on. If there's any good to be had out of this situation, then, it's that this is a wonderful opportunity to re-explore all the stuff I'd already bought and never finished. I bought a lot of music last year, but I still haven't listened to all of it; similarly, I've got a stack of books next to my bed that I am going to force myself to finish instead of buying anything new. And, certainly, I've got a few games in my library that I never finished, and now is as good a time as any to get my money's worth.
It is true that there are some big titles coming in February (Street Fighter 4, Killzone 2), but there's also some notable DLC coming as well - Fable 2 arrives this week, GTA4 arrives soon after and the Fallout 3 stuff looks so interesting that I'm going to pause my progression until it comes out. (Not sure if the Burnout Paradise car pack qualifies as must-have DLC - the car models are cool, yes, but it's not like it dramatically changes the experience).
Anyway, I spent some time this weekend getting reacquainted with some of these games; I found a super kick-ass sword in Fable 2 which will hopefully come in handy, I did some achievement hunting in GTA4 (finally finishing Jacob's deliveries and the LCPD most wanted missions), and did a tiny little bit of screwing around in Fallout. But mostly, all that GTA4 action reminded me that I really ought to get back into Saints Row 2, which happened to sort-of win Zero Punctuation's GOTY.
[Ed: I just went back through the STFC archive because I know I've written about SR2 before and this next paragraph was starting to sound familiar, and sure enough, I've already written pretty much the same stuff twice (1, 2). But I'll say it again, because it's still true.]
Goddamn, that game is fun. It's also a little broken; I'm currently bogged down in a mission where the shit gets so crazy that the frame rate pretty much just gives up. But the point is: the shit really and truly gets crazy, and I salute it for being so committed and going so completely balls-out in that direction. GTA4 is the superior game, there's no doubt about that, but what I love about SR2 is that even though it's gleefully insane, it's also oddly powerful.
One particular cutscene that I came across last night took me very much by surprise - and without giving away too much, it makes me wonder just how many reviewers even watched it because as far as I know, nobody talked about it at all and yet they all made a pretty huge deal out of a notable, similarly-themed cutscene in Gears of War 2 (i.e., the scene with Dom). Granted, Gears is a somewhat higher-profile title than SR2, and so it was big news that Gears even bothered to put a story in the game at all, but still - this same kind of moment is in SR2, and it works, even though (or maybe especially because) the game surrounding it is totally bananas. SR2 is in many ways the anti-GTA4 because of how purposefully ridiculous the story and the characters are, and yet it still manages to have some heavy shit tucked away where you least expect it.
I need to try some SR2 online co-op; this is definitely the sort of sandbox - even moreso than GTA4 - where you would be saying "HOLY SHIT DID YOU JUST SEE THAT" over and over again.