Sorry for the lack of updates; after I finished AC2, time get away from me.
So, here's what's been cooking lately:
1. Finished both halves of the God of War Collection. God of War 1 was very good, albeit excruciatingly frustrating in certain sections; I nearly broke my controller in half throughout several areas in the 2nd half of the game. God of War 2, on the other hand, was absolutely phenomenal from top to bottom; the HD upgrade looked fantastic, the combat was just as crisp and bloody, the locales were varied and gorgeous, the sense of scale was much more epic; I am now fully on board for God of War 3.
2. Dabbled a little bit in The Saboteur. I have a soft spot for Pandemic; I was bummed to see them dissolve last week. And I knew that the reviews weren't really all that kind; I still figured I'd give it the benefit of the doubt. The reviews, unfortunately, were right. The game is glitchy as hell, and the free-running/wall-climbing feels awfully stiff, especially after playing AC2, which nailed it so well. It's got interesting ideas; it's just shabbily executed. Sad to say that this was becoming par for the course, as far as Pandemic was concerned; they peaked with Mercenaries 1.
TANGENT - It occurs to me, in the wake of The Saboteur, that game criticism has a unique set of criteria that other media don't generally have, i.e., technical proficiency. An album can be recorded with shitty microphones and yet it still kicks ass, almost because of how lo-fi it is (Guided By Voices); film can work in much the same way. But a videogame's technical shortcomings are never done on purpose, and they are nearly always detrimental to the player's experience. No game has a shitty frame rate on purpose; screen tears and physics glitches and bugs will always be annoying. And these sorts of anomalies don't really have similar counterparts in movies and music. Sure, a close listener can spot a rough overdub, and certainly there are continuity errors in film, but that's not quite the same thing as hitting LB and X to perform a stealth kill in The Saboteur and having nothing happen, over and over again, until the Nazi you're trying to murder turns around and then stands in one place shooting at you. The closest thing I can really think of is CG in movies, especially with a movie like Avatar - are the effects good enough to fully suspend disbelief? [I need to expand on this idea, I think; it's early in the morning as I write this and this is isn't as well formed as it could be.]
3. Played through the first stage of PixelJunk Shooter last night. It's pretty good, actually; it's got a great visual style, the music is terrific, and it has a really nice feel to it. You don't necessarily realize that you're actually playing a puzzle game instead of a dual-joystick shooter, and that's probably the most impressive thing about it.
The next thing you'll see on this site, aside from impressions on the new Zelda DS game, is our 2009 Games of the Year. And soon after that, we'll post our Games of the Decade.