360 Retail Good and Bad Bits

Haven’t been posting a lot, so here’s a few retail games I’ve played in the last few months and a few good and bad parts of each of them.

Final Fantasy 13

Good Bits: Once it gets going, gameplay is unique and exciting; captures the feel of raiding (a la WoW) in a single player experience; surprisingly sympathetic characters; many challenging late-game side quests

Bad Bits: Takes a long, long time to get going; uninteresting antagonists; linear areas with little exploration until near the end of the game; character customization often doesn’t feel very customized; item purchasing and crafting systems are way more work than they are worth until the very end of the game

Bayonetta

Good Bits: Awesomely over-the-top main character that even my girlfriend can love; dodge button also gives a sweet slow-mo effect, which is the foundation of better-than-Devil May Cry gameplay; perfect difficulty curve that invites multiple replays; easy to replay stages and try for higher scores

Bad Bits: Hardest difficulty strips out all the fun game mechanics; occasionally frustrating enemies, though maybe that’s the idea; token obnoxious young guy character

Assassin’s Creed 2

Good Bits: Hilariously adorable Italian accents; much less repetitive than AC1; beautiful setting and wonderful environments; cool and often wild combination of sci-fi, historical setting, and conspiracy theories; combat has a lot of options and variety, especially for a stealth-based game

Bad Bits: Modern day segments are lame and poorly acted; some weapons, like the smoke bomb, make combat too easy; money and villa development are cool at first but run out of tricks halfway in; still has inane collectibles that are impossible to find without a guide

Red Faction: Guerilla

Good Bits: Destructible buildings really bring out the “Tim the Tool Man” grunts; one of those games you play on Easy mode and never look back; laying into a dude or a pillar or a wall or a vehicle with the super sledgehammer; weapons provide radically different ways of approaching most missions

Bad Bits: Combat isn’t actually any fun on higher difficulty levels; pretty repetitive; failing missions is often a huge time drain; really corny plot, voice acting, cliche characters, wasted subplots (though these are missed opportunities rather than knocks on the enjoyment of the game); vehicles often feel way too vulnerable and dangerous

Borderlands

Good Bits: Full blown RPG-style features in a shooter; fun and funky take on a mad max world; guns have much more variety than usual games; DLC adds whole areas and new features; occasionally genuinely hilarious and quotable

Bad Bits: Weak story and poor characterization of main characters; quests after quests can feel like the worst parts of World of Warcraft; keeping track of quests in multiplayer is difficult; hard to find people at a similar quest level online; although weapons are interesting, grenades and shields seem like wasted opportunities

Wolfenstein

Good Bits: Solid shooter gameplay with a variety of guns and special powers; easy to replay missions to look for new secrets; fun upgrade system for weapons; well paced level design with a good tension between all-out action and sneaky segments

Bad Bits: Laggy, buggy multiplayer that has a ton of missed opportunity; non-story, blank main character (actually reminiscent of GTA3′s protagonist), etc; the basic machine guns are strong enough to make the other, scarce weapons feel marginal; it would be nice to get some help finding the obscure secrets after finishing a level; cliche super-fast mutant enemies are obnoxious to fight; boss fights devolve into “shoot the glowing spot”

Halo ODST

Good Bits: Cool weapons and fun weapon achievements; the low key story is a good contrast to the “save the world” of normal Halo

Bad Bits: Celebrity voice acting is absolutely wasted on awful dialog and one-dimensional characters; having “stamina” and “health” instead of “shields” and “health” is confusing and leads to way too much red screen and panting hurt dude sounds; weapons only have a few clips and enemies take entire clips to kill, which leads to constant weapon scavenging; still has those occasionally cheap-feeling sections where tanks one-shot vehicles or several brutes pile on and once, causing instant death

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