The biggest news of the week is the impending release of Grand Theft Auto. I’ll be picking up my copy tomorrow and I’ll let you know how it goes later in the week. I’ve traditionally not liked the Grand Theft Auto series as much as others do but I have high hopes for this entry. I think Rockstar really put everything together in Red Dead Redemption and if this is a natural evolution of that then I think we will be in for a real treat. There are some other titles I can talk about though.
Diablo III for X-Box 360
I didn’t expect much out of the console version of Diablo III but it has turned out to be surprisingly good. The transition from mouse and keyboard couldn’t be smoother and the trademark gameplay feels intact. The auction house is also gone and rare loot seems to hit the ground at a much higher rate then I experience on the PC version. I’ve made it to the end portion of act one and I’ve all ready had one legendary item drop. That may sound insignificant but I never came across one of those rare orange items during my time with the PC version and I’ve probably got four times the hours into it (Yeah. I didn’t play the PC version much). Everything is finely tuned. I believe the console version of this title will turn out to be the definitive version. Getting rid of the auction house and increasing the drop rate for rare items doesn’t sound like much but it has profoundly changed the experience for me. I look forward to spending many more hours in Sanctuary.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II Apocalypse DLC for X-Box 360
I ended up picking up the final DLC for Black Ops II with many reservations. If I wasn’t a completionist, I wouldn’t have bothered even looking at it. I have to say that this has been another surprise so far. As I played the "new" (two of the maps are remakes of Courtyard and Stadium respectively) content I couldn’t help but wonder where this type of effort has been the entire time. I thoroughly enjoyed the maps mainly because they are bigger then the rest of the Black Ops II maps. It felt like I had room to reload after a kill without being immediately shot in the back. I particularly enjoyed Frost. It felt like a map that was designed for the original Black Ops. There were plenty of windows with overwatch positions but there were also several flanking routes that allow you to get around and behind enemies. This is the first time with Black Ops II that I felt like I was being rewarded for taking the right flanking route and ending up behind several enemies without somebody spawning behind me and shooting me in the back. Things are spread out enough that using a silencer and stealth is actually a viable option. If you are only going to buy one Black Ops II map pack then I would suggest you buy this one. It’s by far the best. I’ll take rehashed maps like Dig over new maps like Cove any day of the week.
TMNT: Out of the Shadows for PC
I used to love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I can’t say that I love the newest game put out by Activision though. Out of the Shadows is a wreck on PC. The multiplayer function doesn’t work at all. If you’re looking to buy this game to play with a friend you can skip it. Beyond the fact that the co-op function is broke the game itself is completely uninspired. The combat is basically a poor man’s version of what you would see in Arkham Asylum. Some combos also require weird joystick and trigger motions to pull off. It took several attempts to pull off on such move in the training simulator and right then I knew it was something I would be lucky to have work again yet alone be a move I could depend on. It’s bad. It’s broken. It’s creepy (the turtle characters models are a bizzare mix of reality and cartoon). It’s forgettable. A property with this much character and history deserves better. Do not try. Do not buy.
There is still a little less than 24 hours to pick up Call of Juarez: Gunslinger and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon for $7.50 each on the X-Box Live Marketplace. If you’re looking for a solid and cheap stand alone title to pass a few hours you could do much worse than either of these games.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is one of the best written games this year. If you love 80’s action movies like Commando, Terminator and the Running Man you should definitely pick this up. It's a smart satire of those kinds of films. The art direction is impressive and 80’s action icon Michael Biehn (Terminator, Aliens, NAVY Seals) voices the main character.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a first person shooter set in the old west. The main character (who may or may not always be telling the truth) recounts his run-ins with historical figures like Billy the Kid and Jesse James and the Wild Bunch. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger offers a solid campaign with a cell-shaded art direction similar to what you see in Borderlands. Skill trees and arcade mode add to the replay value. I enjoyed it tremendously and for $7.50 you could do much worse. Call of Juarez has a history of lackluster quality but that isn’t the case with this effort. It’s a great game. Skip Ninja Turtles ($15) and pick up these two games instead.