My wife and son are out of town visiting my in-laws this weekend, so I am playing a lot of games. If the connective tissue of the preceding sentence does not bother you when coming from a 42 year-old man than you have issues as well. It could be stunted emotional development, it could be my tenuous grasp on reality, but when left to my own devices, I will lock myself up in a darkened room, turn on the surround sound and stare into my 55" Hidef window to the world of "not my reality."
I decided to pick my head up from hours and hours of Call of Duty 4 multiplayer and see what else is out there. It could also be the feelings of inadequacy engendered by the sound of pre pubescent voices standing over my dead COD soldier yelling "got you motherfucker" . . . a lot . . . and often. . . while I notice their rank is much higher than mine and time committed is orders of magnitude lower.
I dug into a pile which included Turning Point, Devil May Cry 4, Army of Two, Frontline and Turok. Even though some of these were maligned by the critics, and none of them scored even within radio distance Call of Duty, I came to the conclusion of what may be the defining characteristic of the next gen - do we get to call them current gen yet - consoles. 360 and PS3 games are like pizza and sex. Some games may be an awful lot better, but they are all fun.
Turning Point is not Call of Duty. The critics have made the point more than clear. But could it ever not be fun to shoot Nazis? Especially Nazis in New York. I like the flip to third person grapple moves. Did you see the guy falling of the side of the building on the first level? Planting bombs is more interesting than in the MOH series where you are asked to do the same thing. Sure the Nazis aren't so smart, but did you play Airborne? Sit back, shoot some Nazis and stop complaining.
Devil May Cry is an excellent torch bearer for the franchise. The haunting melody sung at the beginning, the slaughter of really cool looking whatever they ares and good battles in a church. The character designs are amazing and drew me in quickly. Who could not like playing a game with Gloria. Battling demons in her low cut, Brittany Spears inspired panty missing, stick to her body all over and cut out up the legs outfit in the middle of the snow. Just in case we don't get the full picture, she flips upside down, spreads her legs in battle and then scoots her backside across the camera in mid air. Gaming, semi hentai goodness wrapped up in an action game.
Army of Two, not a critical darling either, but also doesn't suck. I really like the feeling I get when I go back to pull my buddy up through the hole in the floor. It is not what some game execs characterize as "drag the bitch" escort missions. I really got the feeling we were working together. The distracting fire is a great trick. A bit too effective in the distraction, but should be fixed in the sequel. Finally, could anyone not smile the first time they high fived their buddy. It could get old after a while, but the head bonking is not old to me yet.
Frontline tried really hard and succeeded enough to make me happy. It feels like they tried to be COD and Battlefield all wrapped up in one game. By trying so hard, they got enough of both to be enjoyable. Admittedly I did get a bit tired of running around after smoking cans of whatever those smoking cans were full of, but the missions were well laid out and balanced. I really liked being able to use the RC cars ad helicopters to go after stuff.
Finally, a touch of Turok. Another title which did not make the critics dance with joy. Turok is a very pick up and playable FPS. Despite all the bashing, the game is solid. The mini games did not feel bolted on. They kind of hit like a turn based RTS. When sitting in surround sound and walking through the high grass I could hear creatures sneaking up behind me and it is spooky. When I turn around see the grass moving it creates very real tension. Isn't this why we play games.
I guess from reading this you can see I am not the typical gamer. I play them and just think they are fun to play, not find fault. I could easily write about the aiming problems with Turning Point and Turok, or Dante's continuous running animation which keeps going even when he is against the wall or on the side of a cliff, Army of Two's AI which probably took the short bus to AI school or any number of other issues. I play enough games to see them all. Hell, some of them were even present in Bioshock. But it is more fun for me to just put the game and enjoy it. Why should I ruin my own fun. I have the critics for that.