Getting close to wrapping up my second time through Mass Effect, and since I almost never replay games, it's been an interesting experience. A friend asked me today how it was going through again, and to be perfectly honest, it wasn't nearly as fun as it was the first time. Don't get me wrong—I'm not saying that there's anything the matter with the game itself, it's more about the kind of player that I am.
One can very reasonably argue that religion does not play a role in most video games (other than those which are "edutainment" or pointedly religious to the point of proselytizing, ala the Left Behind series) for the same reason that many cultural and ethnic factors do not: It's just not part of what we look for in an avatar. You don't really see a "Buddhist" slider in the Elder Scrolls character creation screen, after all. But is that really the case? That games remain pleasantly ignorant of religion and ethnic culture because we will them to do so?
Big surprise, I know. Uncharted 2 will inevitably rack up countless Game of the Year honors and will be forever remembered as a crowning jewel in the PlayStation 3's game library... but it will deserve every glowing remark, every spot of praise. While I was similarly fond of the first Uncharted game, Uncharted 2 expands upon the successes of its forebear with even more stunning graphics, breathtaking set pieces, and some of the best voice acting and writing in the business.
I should note that by "underrated," I mean under-appreciated or overlooked by the media and public. These are games I feel deserve just a spot more attention than they initially received, or sold very poorly relative to their quality. Similarly, my selections for "overrated" games are not necessarily massive hits or top-tier critical choices, but I do feel each one undeservedly dominated a specific part of the gaming conversation at some point or another this year. They're not bad games; just not as good as they could have been.
Still working my way through Mass Effect again in preparation for the January release of Mass Effect 2. I have to admit, I'm very pleased to see that the game holds up in all the areas that made it such a favorite of mine. Even better, this time around I consulted an FAQ (I didn't previously) and thanks to the diligent work of some dedicated fans, I've seen some side-quests and alternate paths that I didn't know existed. Even two years after release, it still impresses.
In my opinion. If I've learned anything from countless flames and attacks by trolls during my time on the Internet, it's that prefacing highly subjective statements like "Most so-and-so" with "In my opinion" usually dampens some of the aggression. In the next few posts, I will be going over what I feel are the most disappointing, overrated, underrated, and downright best games of the year. Naturally, this is just one humble blogger's take on a rather eventful year, and I will be more than happy to receive any disagreements, diatribes, words of encouragement, non-sequitors, and excoriating rumors regarding my manhood in the comments section. Just please remember to keep it somewhat civil.
I've already posted my take on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's now-(in)famous "No Russian" chapter. I was not content to simply post my own thoughts on the matter, however. Given the uproar and truly interesting commentary that has sprung up around the game sequence, I wanted to survey a few of my fellow bloggers regarding their own opinions and experiences. I received a handful of responses to my request for commentary: Some authors had played the sequence in question, some had not. Some felt quite strongly in the positive, others in the negative. Some responses were longer pieces, others were short remarks or pointed me towards an existing blog post.
What compels us to spend 25, 40, 50, even 70+ hours on a single game? We think we've figured it out. Join us for conversation about Dragon Age, Assassin's Creed 2, Way of the Samurai 3, Torchlight and Borderlands DLC. With Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, and Tim "Yes, I Like Borderlands Now" Spaeth.
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