I’ve been sick since Friday, so I can’t focus on much beyond the trivial. As such, now is probably a good time to give a review on Xbox 360 games. I’ve purchased a few games, and played demos for a bunch more.
First up, the best. Easily the winner so far is Call of Duty 3. It’s the first version I’ve played on the 360, but I loved Call of Duty 2 for the PC, or I did until it hosed my hard drive in October 2005. Three almost lived up to my high expectations. For my first real foray into next-generation graphics, the game offers wonderful art. I caught myself staring at some of the more impressive features, like the flowing water of streams.
The game play was intense, with the game opening in madcap gunfire. The missions were thought-out for the overall story, and had some fun diversity from previous WWII shooters. I probably spent 15 hours or so working my way through the game’s 14 chapters. I play cautious, so that felt about right.
The game falls short in to areas. The first problem, while minor, drove me crazy for a few minutes. On one mission, the Allies must clear out a long trench. There are corners and debris useful for hiding, as in most places on the map. Usually this allows for strategy and waiting for gaps in shooting. Unfortunately, the hero’s fellow soldiers are quite anxious to find cover and take charge. As a result, I found it impossible to fight through the initial gunfight. I had to sit back and wait for my fellow soldiers to find cover or die. Mostly, they died because they run in front of the hero’s machine gun blasts. The game is more forgiving than Call of Duty 2, but it’s still annoying to work my way to cover, only to have my team run in front of me and end the mission due to friendly fire.
Next, and more problematic, the campaign feels small. Rather than the sweeping scope of previous games, where bits of the entire war come into play, Call of Duty 3 covers one battle from Normandy. While it’s fun to see a cohesive narrative build, when I finished, I felt like I should be finishing disc 1 of a 2 disc set. A WWII shooter set in Europe should end in May 1945, not August 1944.
Also, the ending of the last mission felt like the final scene from the “Romeo and Juliet” production in Shakespeare in Love. The play stops and everyone sits in silence. Normally, as in the movie, the dramatic effect is one of breathless apprehension. In Call of Duty 3, the developer delivered more of a “We’re done, you may applaud,” ending. Not so satisfying.
I still recommend the game. I give it an 8.7 out of 10.
Next up, three sports games: Madden 07, NHL 2K7, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07. Madden 07 is what we’ve come to expect from the Madden series. Some people have complained that it doesn’t add much, other than slightly better graphics. That’s probably correct, but I haven’t purchased a Madden game in several years. Updated rosters and a few fun franchise options is enough for me. But I’m not hardcore about the game, so I’m easier to please. It’ll hold me over for a couple years. An 8.5.
NHL 2K7 is pure fun. I don’t know much about hockey, and the game has taught me what icing and offsides are. Job well done. I haven’t figured out how to pass the puck around as strategy, so most of my goals scored are little more than a bull-rush at the goalie. Whatever, I’m getting great at puck control and picking the right location for my shots. If nothing else, there’s frenetic energy. Again, this game is just fun all the way around. I’m convinced that 2K Sports is the new EA Sports. A 9.3.
Tiger Woods is also a lot of fun. I enjoy video game golf because it provides all the strategy with none of the walking. I love the walking part of golf, but to hammer away at a round in 45 minutes is great. Of note, I found it easier to score well as Annika Sorenstam than as Tiger Woods. A 9.2.
Next, I ventured out to the consumer madness on Friday for The Outfit, which Best Buy had on sale for $9.99. Even if it sucked, I could’ve gotten $10 worth from the game. Add the game’s WWII setting and cartoonish mayhem to the price, and I couldn’t go wrong. Among the many so-called drawbacks I’ve read about, the graphics fit as a first-gen Xbox 360 game and blend into the cartoonish mayhem. They’re not a problem. I agree the gameplay is repetitious, but the maps are open-ended enough that this isn’t a problem. The only drawback I can agree with is vehicle control. Driving a tank, or even a jeep, is difficult. The controls are sensitive, and quite often induce trying to drive up a hill. Annoying, but did I mention that it was $10? Not worth full price, probably, but I played it all weekend while sick. A strong 8.4.
I’ve enjoyed a few demos, which is an awesome feature of Xbox Live. I want to play more of Prey and Rainbow Six Vegas. I enjoyed Saints Row well enough, but I’ll wait for Grand Theft Auto IV instead. Based on videos, I’m looking forward to playing The Godfather, Assassin’s Creed, and Medal of Honor: Airborne.
All of that can’t begin to explain how anxious I am to play Gears of War. That’s next in the queue.