Typical isn’t it? You wait ages for a game that you can immerse yourself in and two come along at once!!
I’m not the worlds most dedicated gamer, but I could be a contender for the worlds fussiest. Due to personal reasons, I spent a few years away from gaming but those days are behind me and for the past 6 months I’ve delved back into a world that I was so familiar with in my teenage years. Armed with the latest generation console and an air of excitement I had not felt since waiting for the Phantom Menace to be released, I couldn’t wait to get back to gaming. However, things were not as I had remembered them and I was, somewhat ironically, left with an air of disappointment I had not felt since immediately after the release of the Phantom Menace.
I have struggled to find games that I can really get involved in, games that pull you into their world, where you spend hours that seem like mere minutes and nothing else but that TV and that controller matter for those few hours.
Games that have been heralded as great by fans and critics alike have failed to grab me. Bioshock, Borderlands, Force Unleashed, the woefully disappointing Gran Turismo 5 and even old faithful Metal Gear Solid (PS one version is in my top 5 games of all time) all failed to float my metaphorical boat. Until recently there have only been two games on the current generation consoles that have really grabbed me by the balls. Red Dead Redemption is a masterpiece, a brilliant game and definitely a contender for top 5 games of all time, and Batman Arkham Asylum – Another great game, who’s only downfall was the limited world it was set in, and repetitive nature of attacking henchmen. Apart from those two, gaming excitement has been few and far between in my household. I was beginning to think that it was me. Had I outgrown gaming? Was I incapable of enjoying gaming? I was certainly as incapable of playing games as I was before, but something was lacking.
Then came the 21st October 2011 and everything changed! An innocuous date for most people, but in the gamer’s calendar it was the release date of Batman Arkham City, a very rare day one purchase for me. I was excited and boy was I not disappointed. It is visually stunning, challenging without being ridiculously difficult, has a great balance of storyline Vs free roaming, loads of gadgets and great fighting moves. It reignited my gaming passion and was the only game I had ever had any interest in 100%ing, (not just completing the storyline but actually doing and finding everything), and I was well on my way to doing so until a little package arrived in my post box just before Christmas.
It was a little package in a brown jiffy bag and inside was a little game shaped present wrapped neatly (not by Ben or Al I suspect), with a label saying “Thanks for all your help with AMOLAG” from Ben and Al. “What a nice thought” I mused to myself. Little did I know this package was about to become a very big part of my life for the next 2 months (and counting) and add a huge amount of fuel to the small fire that had been reignited by Arkham City. This incendiary device in this innocuous looking package was Mass Effect 2.
Mass Effect 2 (ME2) was a game I heard Ben and Al talk about many times on their brilliantly informative AMOLAG podcasts. I knew it involved lots of dialogue, choices and decision making but other than that I didn’t know a lot about it. So at the beginning of January I took Arkham City out of my PS3, (apologising to it as I did so) popped in ME2 and settled in half expecting it to be replaced again by Arkham City within a day or two. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
WHAT A GAME!!! From the opening comic book style monologue it grabbed me, not just by the balls but by every sinew and it hasn’t let go of me ever since. The storyline, the action, the dialogue, the characters (Miranda is F.I.T and in the real world my Shepard character would probably have been arrested for stalking and slapped with a restraining order); I love pretty much everything about this game. It’s only let downs are that stupid hover craft thing that you pilot in side missions and the action, which can get a little repetitive. However the settings are great and the game is so uniquely clever that if I stopped to think about the amount of coding or programming involved I think my head would explode!
I’m currently 28 hours into it and cannot wait to put it on again, even her indoors likes watching it which helps with finding time for gaming (except when I spend 3 hours scanning planets for minerals but that’s understandable it’s not the greatest spectator sport) and sometimes I find myself drifting off into thoughts of what I’m going to do in the game when I get on it next. It’s an all consuming tour de force of gaming brilliance that has given me a renewed zest for gaming, welcomed me back into a world that feels more familiar and given me hope for my gaming future.
So thank you Ben and Al for this excellent present, thank you BioWare, thank you Shepard and thank you Miranda roll on ME3 and goodbye to the next 6 months of my life.
P.S. Check out for Phil’s review of this great game from this link.