Holiday Video Gaming Round-up

I did quite a bit of gaming in the time between returning from our pre-Christmas cruise and now. I’d received several games from my wish list for the holidays. I figured I’d share my thoughts on the titles I’ve been playing lately.

  • Fallout: New Vegas – It’s really an expansion of FO3 more than its own game, by all reports, and that’s fine, because FO3 was a really good game. However, I started getting through the main questline way too quickly, so I double-checked a walkthrough. Sure enough, just like FO3 started out, you can’t continue in New Vegas after completing the main quest. So, I’m now doing side quests. It feels like it happened too fast, though. I’m not sure how much of that is because I know the system now and how much is that it’s just a much smaller game. Also, I found New Vegas itself to be disappointing. FO3 was filled with real landmarks done in post-apocalyptic fashion. Just from going through the game, I know DC geography better. I suppose I recognize that they couldn’t do that with Vegas for obvious reasons, but it’s not even close. I suppose I wish that they had just picked a different location if they couldn’t do Vegas properly. All of this is really a nitpick though. It’s still an addictive game where you are enveloped in the story from the beginning. And btw, fuck the legion. (Hilarious bugs persist, too. My favorite was after I respawned in Nipton and the scene was setting up, the villagers were walking up to their crosses and hopping on, essentially self-crucifying.)
  • Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two – It pains me to say this, but it’s horrible. Okay, the first Epic Mickey had some control issues with the third person camera. Not only are those issues still present, the game is practically unplayable in single player form. Instead of letting you switch back and forth between Mickey and Oswald, the tried and true method for handling single player in a co-op game, they make you cope with AI Oswald, and the AI is horrible. Also, Oswald is lame compared to Mickey, which I suppose he had to be, since you can’t make the challenges very dependent on him because the AI is so bad. I’m still very early in the game, but it feels like it’s lacking the playful nostalgia from the original. Also, the EM1 storyline was really good. It really captured your attention. They made you care about the characters. EM2…it’s just kind of blah. It’s like any one of the issues would be forgivable but poor story + bad single player + bad controls = bad game. I’ll probably still play it through, because I’m dedicated, but it’ll be on the backburner.
  • Kinect Disneyland Adventures – Okay, this is surprisingly awesome. It really does feel like you’re in Disneyland. As far as storyline, it’s kind of Fallout-esque in the sense that it’s quest-based, with side quests and a main questline. Mostly, you’re just visiting Disneyland and doing stuff there. You can explore freely, or you can follow the quest path. The controls are all Kinect-based, which has pros and cons. To run around, you put an arm out and basically point toward where you want to go, or bend your arm toward you to turn around. It’s intuitive, but after a few minutes of running around (which can feel painfully slow…did they really need the realism of a crowded park?), my arm was getting tired. When you encounter characters or rides, you wave to interact, and then you have gestures that apply once you’re in that interaction. For example, to get an autograph, you hold out both hands, palms up, and say, “Autograph.” The rides are all mini-games based on the ride, rather than a ride-through. But, this game has what I would expect from a Disney title: attention to detail. As you walk around, you overhear other park guests talking about what they’re doing that day. Yes, some of it is PR (“Wow, this popcorn is amazing!”, “Dad, can we come back tomorrow?”), but it’s also a nice touch that some games would have skipped. The tutorial is fairly complete without being tiresome, and the game has lots of ways to help you out gently if you seem to have forgotten how to do something. Most of all though, it feels like you’re having a day in the park. I can see it as being a great way to tide you over between visits or to help a younger child understand what the park is like before their first visit. Also, if you’re a WDW person who can’t go to Disneyland, this lets you tour a virtual version of the iconic original cheaply and easily.
  • Just Dance 4 for Kinect – There’s not a ton of gameplay difference here in this one versus Just Dance 3. It’s got the same kooky animations and the same overly forgiving scoring system. Just like previous versions, you have to play to unlock features that really should be present out of the box, like playlists. However, the Kinect experience has been thoroughly improved. The tracking seems to be much better, and we were able to play with four people in a less-than-ideal space without too much issue. Also, they added video capture which has lots of potential hilarity. But, overall, you’re basically just buying a new playlist of dance songs.

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