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The Grind – May 29, 2013

This past weekend I wrapped up a long JRPG I had been chipping away at – Final Fantasy XIII-2.  The story was practically nonsensical, but the gameplay itself was a blast.  I had so much fun with it, that I kept playing until I had earned the platinum trophy.  But after I finally wrapped it up, I had no desire to jump back into another long game.  So instead I’ve been checking out some shorter, less involved games.  Most of these have been sitting in my backlog with one obvious exception, the newly released Call of Juarez: Gunslinger.  So I thought I’d give some impressions of them here.

Call-of-Juarez-GunslingerLet’s get Call of Juarez: Gunslinger out of the way first: it’s awesome, it’s cheap, you should go buy it.  What, you want more?  OK, it has the production values of a full-priced game.  In case you’re not familiar with the series, it’s a FPS set in the Old West.  Their last game strayed from this formula, and everyone seemed to hate it (I had no interest in even trying it since it was such a departure).  This game comes off as a sort of apology.  You play the role of a bounty hunter who is in a saloon recounting his adventures.  He manages to place himself into the starring role of nearly every famous Western story you know.  As you’re playing, he often adds or changes details which directly impacts what you’re seeing in the game – it’s an awesome mechanic that feels like a natural expansion of the narrator idea from Bastion.  The game looks incredible, definitely nothing like what you’d expect from a budget download (did I mention the game is only $15?).  In addition, it is an absolute blast to play with great shooting mechanics, a cool “bullet time” mode that lets you pick off bad guys in slow motion, and skill points to earn & spend in one of three categories.  What’s not to love?

Forza-Horizon-LancerNext up was a demo for Forza Horizon, a game I’ve had my eye on since it came out last year.  Unfortunately it came out about the same time as Need For Speed: Most Wanted, and that was the racer I went with.  That was a mistake, because I found that game to be a huge letdown.  After that I was sorta soured on racers in general and just forgot about Forza Horizon.  Well something jogged my memory this weekend so I decided to grab the demo, and I have to say it was a lot of fun.  The handling is excellent, it looks great and it has a nice “drive around and discover events” setup that works really well.  Basically, I’m sold on it now – just waiting to find it at my price somewhere, which given how long it’s been out is about $20.  I’m patient.

n3-ii-ninety-nine-nightsStaying on the 360, I next popped in an older game that I’ve been wanting to play for a while – Ninety-Nine Nights II, or N3 II as it’s also called.  This is more or less a fantasy-themed Dynasty Warriors knock-off, but it’s one of the better DW knock-offs that I’ve played.  They manage to incorporate a good bit of strategy to the hack & slash formula and even mix in some indoor exploration levels that come across as more than just adjoining rooms filled with people to kill.  Although there are still tons of people to kill, make no mistake.  The plot is ridiculous – something about an evil army of legend that’s about to kill us all.  In one level I was playing as the princess of the land, and I fought my way through what I believe to be my own troops in the dungeon in order to free a prisoner to fight with us (the third playable character).  By the end of that level, I had massacred over 1,200 of my own troops to free a prisoner.  Crazy.  But fun!

katamari_foreverLastly, I played some Katamari Forever on the PS3.  It’s true that if you’ve played one Katamari game you’ve basically played them all, but that doesn’t bother me because the formula is just so fun.  It’s very relaxing to roll your little ball around, watching everything in the world stick to it until it grows big enough that you’re picking up people, cars, boats, buildings and even whales.  All while being berated by The King of All Cosmos, who sounds like a record scratching.  Oh Japan, you’re so silly – that’s why I love you!

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