Year in consumables: 2006 games

Gears of War boxPromises, promises…

You know, I said I’d have this posted by March first, but things got out of hand at work this week due to Daylight Savings Time. You know about that, right? Well, work got in the way of proper sleep, television viewing — ‘cept Lost and Heroes — and blogging.

So, I won’t bore you with the details of that, but instead bore you with the third and final installment of my 2006 Year in Consumables series. You can read the music and movie posts in the archives.

By my count, I have rocked se7en games on the 360 this year. Okay, it was really ten, but demos of Contra and the tarted up Pac-Man from the XBL Arcade and Hexic HD do not count. I even wrote some reviews — really more like impressions I guess — of four of them. The knowledge that this post would be pending, and general laziness, had me waiting on the other three.

Anyway, I’m going to go ahead and dispense with picking a top five and just rank what I done played:

  1. Gears of War
  2. Splinter Cell: Double Agent
  3. Tomb Raider: Legend
  4. Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
  5. Kameo: Elements of Power
  6. Call of Duty 2
  7. Perfect Dark Zero

Since I don’t want to double your displeasure, I won’t write about the ones already impressed in the archives. You prolly already read them if you were interested, so I’ll just jaw on about the other three.

Gears of War
Looking upon this list, it wasn’t much of a contest for the top spot. The game was pretty solid in gameplay, but slightly lacking in story. Better put, it is no Halo, but then, that’s the gold standard for an Xbox game, yeah?

The game introduces a new concept of “cover,” because, you know, in any other game where folks shoot at you, you tend to get Civil War on their ass, right? Okay, okay… we are introduced to a cover button, how about that?

Does it force you to not be stupid? No.

It does force you to take your time… I guess.

If you can’t tell, I’m still not sure why this was forced upon us, but it was, and you use it, and all is well.

The graphics were probably the best to date on the 360, or at least for the games I have played. The chainsaw animation as you tear into an enemy is priceless… as is the act itself. What is annoying is how easy it is to throw you off your revving before you get the animation started, which would normally result in a quick death.

Torque Bow sucked. Hard. Hammer of Dawn was an interesting concept, but a little too rigid in usage and availability. Really only switched off the Lancer when I needed to snipe someone.

Anyway, if you want to read a real review of the game, check out Jason’s. He talks more about the story so that I don’t have to, because I’m in agreement there. I played thru on the first two difficulties, but I’m hoping to do Insane with Mistah Plow some day via XBL co-op.

If you own a 360, you need to play this game. If you are Mookie, you can’t play this game because you didn’t get the man-parts required to do so…

Splinter Cell: Double Agent
I think this game was pretty good, but not the strongest in the SC family. I was initially scared it was going to suck because I heard things became a frag fest real quick. The reality was you could do that if you weren’t patient or gave in to the little devil on your shoulder, but you didn’t have to.

No, if you stuck with your patient angel side, you were good to go. I ended up only having to dispatch two enemies, which were directly ordered by the CIA, so I was on the side of the angels when doing it. In hindsight, I could’ve gotten away with not terminating them and still kept high marks on the trust meters for the CIA and militia, but I didn’t know that at the time.

The knock I will give the game is you are penalized a bit too much in the stats for some acts that were encouraged in past games. I also didn’t always have a good idea of what caused certain penalties, but then again, it only counts against your stealth percentage, which had nothing to do with Achievement points, so whatevs.

Visually, it was well done, but not any more than the previous gen Xbox. Hopefully with the next one, Ubisoft will squeeze out more of that eye-candy for which they are known.

If you dig sneaking around and a good forearm to the back of an enemies head, you play this game. If you are Mookie, you play Viva Pinata.

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
I started in on this way back in June, but gave up on it because everything was just too damned small on the 27″ HDTV. I can’t even imagine how crap this was on a regular telly, but once I booted it up on the 46″ HDTV, things got a helluva lot better.

Again, not the strongest in the GR family, but pretty good. I feel like the choice in weapons was severely lacking in this game, but at least your squadmates were pretty smart and the interface to control them was easy enough. I still miss having two squads and the detailed control from the first game. Oh, and the ability to switch between your ghosts was always cool too. Now we are just stuck with whatzisface all the time. Vehicle control and air strikes were pretty well done too

The story wasn’t all that engaging, but they gave it a shot. Not sure how much it matters in the GR game as long as I believe it is possible to be fighting in the scenario presented. It was mostly believeable.

The sequel comes out real soon… like, this month, so I’ll be picking it up, but I think I have to play another Tom Clancy title first; Rainbow Six: Vegas. One of those two will be the first game I play in 2007.

I recommend you play this only if this game is your bag and you own at least a 40″ HDTV.