I’m back on the wagon, writing about some popular and not so popular titles. Two pieces of my recent work are available now at the evolving and improving Crispy Gamer.

The first is a review of Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. Going into it, I really wanted to like it more than I did. It’s decent fanservice, but maybe not all it could be. I think the lack of a proper traditional Sonic title in the last like ten years really hurts the novelty of a Sonic RPG. That it also hews pretty close to the design of previous Bioware RPGs mixed with some Mario & Luigi also makes it a little less than it should be. It’s not offensive, but it’s also not really notable.

The second and so far final thing I’ve done for the holiday season is a review of Sony’s SOCOM U. S. Navy SEALs: Confrontation. What a mess. If you’re the type that left PCs because consoles were easier to use and didn’t feature bugs, crashes, troubleshooting and beta-like releases, you’re in for a rude awakening with SOCOM. Clearly released to meet a deadlline and not because the game was actually complete, this one’s not worth the disc it’s printed on. The fanbase will tell you that “it’s great when it works!” but I’ve kinda heard that way too many times over the last ten or fifteen years to care anymore. With so many games being published in 2008 and most of them working 99% correctly out of the box, there’s just no room for  SOCOM’‘s brand of broken anymore. Sorry Sony, but as much as I really do like your system, the games you’re releasing right now are just a mess. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue didn’t thrill me either, and for some similar reasons.

Eventually Sony will find their way out of this malaise they’re in, but I have a feeling that’s going to be much later rather than sooner. I’ve enjoyed the little bit I’ve played of Resistance 2 so far, but I don’t think it’s going to set the world on fire any more than the first one did. And while the hardcore are obviously excited about LittleBigPlanet, I’ve said my piece on that here before and I just don’t see it really igniting many people’s fire. Xbox 360 is clearly the hardcore “winner” right now and the Wii just keeps on appealing to everyone.

All that said, the games I’m looking forward to most this holiday season are on PS3 and PC respectively. The first is Valkyria Chronicles, a strategy RPG from some of the folks who made Skies of Arcadia, which is frankly one of the best Japanese style RPGs of all-time. Even if Valkyria is only 2/3 the game of that one, it’s going to be brilliant. Japanese reception for it was good, but we tend to love our strategy even more over here in the western world, so I expect big things from it. The artistic style alone is enough to make me do backflips. Can’t wait.

The PC game is Valve’s Left 4 Dead. Those who’ve known me for a long time know I was never a big fan of Steam early on. I’ve since come around and do very much appreciate the power of Valve’s delivery system. I’ll be buying L4D that way and playing as much as time allows. I’m ready for something cool and a little different in the first person shooting genre, and lots of wacky co-op zombie action should satisfy. If you’re going to Steam it like me, it’s currently $5 off if you pre-order. I’ll be doing that this week.

Other than those two, I’m not sure what else I’m looking for this holiday season. I have reviews coming up for games that aren’t very high profile except among their specific audience, and those will probably keep me away from the likes of Gears of War 2 and Fallout 3 and the stuff people seem to be playing now that includes Far Cry 2, the new Midnight Club game and Dead Space. Really though, none of this stuff is all that exciting to me right now. I’m tired of the all the numbers behind most of the current hot games. Sequels can be great, and it sounds like Far Cry 2 is far more than just a “2” type of game, but then maybe they should’ve called it something else? I really want more stuff like Left 4 Dead. Games that surprise and challenge you with all new settings and gameplay concepts are what makes this industry so cool. Innovation can always be right around the corner, but slapping a number behind an old name actually makes me less excited about what’s coming next. Also, less brown and grey please.

Hopefully I can update again sooner than this. Enjoy the reviews.


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