My games-funding dry spell was finally over the other day, and circumstances involving getting a bunch of random games for Wii and DS from a relative (for free!) meant I had a load of trade-in value just waiting to be spent. This meant I was able to go nuts and buy a bunch of games that I’d have no time to play. I certainly didn’t see that as an issue, though, and in the last week and a half, I’ve had three big games to play all at once.
First of all, I pre-ordered Mafia II and Kane & Lynch 2 for my 360, despite not being particularly blown away by the demo’s for either of them, but I was convinced they were going to be worth it, both getting a fair bit of hype and having decent predecessors. When I finally got my games in the post, I went away for a week for my birthday, which meant I had no chance to play them. Disaster!
When I got home, though, I was instinctively drawn to play Mafia II for some reason, so I whacked it right into the console. I only just finished it yesterday evening, so I won’t say too much about it here. The game is definitely playable and had enough to offer to keep me interested to the end of the game, but it also has its fair share of things that bring it down. I’ll go into more detail in my upcoming review of the game, but it’s definitely safe to say that Mafia II held my attention first and foremost over the other games I have waiting to be played.
Because I’ve been so focussed on getting Mafia II finished over the last week, I’ve only had a little time to try out Kane & Lynch 2 so far, on which I’ve played co-op and done about three missions. I loved the first of the series, so I was highly anticipating the release of the new one ever since I finished it. My first impressions of it are fairly positive, in that it appears to be devoted to a system of non-stop action and shootouts, with very little time given to cutscenes and story related moments in between the action. In fact, it might even be possible to suggest that K&L2 and Mafia II have a really huge contrast between their gameplay and storytelling priorities, despite being pretty similar third-person-shooters.
The controls in K&L, though nothing new and slightly clunky feeling, are easy enough to get used to right away. It’s basically your standard third-person shooter, with a cover system, a shooting system, and a movement system. I did say it was basic and standard! That’s about it so far, but as dull as that might sound for a modern game, it’s actually working very well for me so far, and I only have a few small issues, and one slightly larger issue with it. My main issue with it is that the shaky, home video camera effect they’ve tried to go for during their cut scenes and throughout gameplay just damn well doesn’t do it for me. In all honesty, I haven’t even been able to look at it for very long without feeling a little bit sick (likely because I’m a giant wimp in many respects), which meant I had to turn off the in-game camera effects after a while. This is a big shame, because it seems to be one of the key focus points of the game’s style and delivery, since all the trailers and teasers and such things have strongly emphasized the ‘recovered footage’ look about everything, and it should have worked better. But, again, maybe it’s just me. The smaller issues I mentioned in passing are mainly the simple but irritating problems with the AI sometimes acting inexplicably odd, but I’ll go deeper into this in our review of the game soon.
Third and finally, I used some of my in-store credit at Game to buy Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the Wii. I’ve always been a sucker for Mario games, so despite having not played the first Mario Galaxy – and generally not liking most Wii games – the countless positive reviews about it meant I just had to get my hands on it. Again, I’ve only put a small amount of time into it due to my gaming priority lying with Mafia, but from what I’ve seen and played up to now (about 3 levels worth) I’m absolutely loving it. The controls are fluid and easy to pick up, the visuals are beautiful – especially for a Wii game – and the gameplay and style for the whole thing is simply outstanding. I’ve never played a game with such a crazy idea involving running around tiny little planetoids before, and in all honesty I’m glad it was a Mario game that pulled it off this well.
I don’t want to be lynched for this, considering I haven’t heard a single bad word said about it so far, but my one niggle with SMG2 so far is the checkpoints. Now, they aren’t really bad, and there’s not a lot of ground to cover between them per level, but when you spend a fair bit of time running around collecting coins, ‘star bits’, extra lives and ‘comet coins’, it’s SUCH a nightmare when you get knocked off a ledge into space and die, causing you to lose pretty much all the coins and star bits you collected up to that point. Sure, I could just be more careful and play a bit better, but I just get really annoyed when I spend time collecting stuff and then lose it all because a Goomba bumps me off the ledge, or because Mario didn’t do the spinning jump when I asked him to. In retrospect though, I can hardly blame that it’s the fault of the game; the enemies aren’t there to give out cuddles and an easy time, they’re there to push me off the ledge and make me die. So you know what? Forget I even complained about that.
These games are doing a great job at keeping me busy in the gaming world right now, but I’m going to have to finish them damn quick, because there are so many other things due out soon that I can’t wait for, and I’m not going to be able to juggle more than three major titles at the same time whilst also being able to fully enjoy them all too!
Bring on the rest of the year’s games!