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Video Game Review Round-Up

One of the disadvantages of end of semester crunch sessions is that they rob you of the time, willingness or energy to do even the most childish of things.  Like spending your days eating Doritos, drinking sugary drinks and playing video games – like I used to do back in the undergrad days.  Ahh, NHL ‘97.  How I miss playing thee….

In any case, I’ve finally gotten around to playing some of the big name sequels/franchise games of the season and got some thoughts on each of them.  Short version: if you’re a fan of any of these big franchises, you’ll like what you get here.  Here you go:

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations:  The selling point for this latest iteration in Ubisoft’s current franchise monster is that it’s the end of the road for both Ezio Auditore de Firenze and Altair Ibn La’Ahad. the avatar heroes of the previous games in the series.  As Desmond Miles, the erstwhile hero whose ancestors you play, lies dormant in an Animus-induced coma, you see the last adventures of Ezio in Constantinople/Istanbul while he tracks the keys to Altair’s Library in the ancient Assassin stronghold of Masyaf.  Let me be clear: this isn’t an even divide. The game is primarily about Ezio’s last mission with sprinkles of Altair in there and just the barest of presences by Desmond, whose path through life can be skipped altogether if you don’t feel the need for it.

If you played Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, this game will feel exactly like that one with a few different wrinkles aside.  There’s a new hook blade that lets you zipline across Istanbul’s buildings.  Desmond’s path through his own past is taken through first-person point of view platform quests that you unlock by retrieving Animus Fragments from around the city.  It’s entirely optional.  Taking over the city via the Borgia towers from the last game also returns but the towers are now Templar towers that you have take over in order to rebuild Istanbul.  The wrinkle is that you must battle every now and again with the Templars via the new Tower Defense game for control of the Towers until you’ve trained a Master Assassin’s to defend them in your stead.  Each new aspect is either hit-or-miss: the hook blade is a small enough addition but cool.  Desmond’s path is purely for the person who wants to complete everything.  The Tower Defense game can be a pain or cool depending on your view of command games.

That said, this is likely the best Assassin’s Creed game.  The story is great, the characters are always intriguing and it does a good job of propelling the story towards its inevitable 2012 conclusion in Assassin’s Creed 3.  If you liked the other games, I’d say buy this one.

Gears of War 3: Epic Games’ famous series comes to an end with this game as Marcus Fenix, Dom, the Cole Train and the rest of Delta Squad finally come face to face with Marcus’ long-presumed-dead father, the COG’s initial plans for the Locust Emergence and how the Imulsion is at the heart of everything that has happened to the fine folks on Sera.   Missions will be undertaken, heroes will fall and, in the end, the fate of millions will hang in the balance.

Much like the last two games, Gears 3 is a third-person, over-the-shoulder POV shooter.  The game flows rather fast and you’d be surprised how quickly the stages fly, even in regular difficulty setting.  The ending was a bit anti-climactic if I’m honest, but that’s likely not going to stop any fans of this series.  As is the case on any of these big franchise games, multi-player is where it’s at for the hardcore gamers.  If you’re just trying to complete the storyline, I’d say rent it instead of buying it. 

Oh and Griffin’s voice is Ice-T.  I know, I was wondering who it was too when I first heard it.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3: the current Grand Champion. The Muhammad Ali of video games.  The Ayatollah of Rock’n’Rolla of the Xbox Generation.  Activision’s beast of a series has just released its latest iteration and in 17 days it’s sold over $1 billion in games.  Even when you consider that each game costs $60 a pop, that’s a lot of product moved in just over 2 weeks.  Bravo.

That said, you know what you’re getting out of this behemoth FPS if you’ve even seen people playing it, never mind played it yourself.  Lots of missions in which you’re outnumbered by all sorts of digital opponents.  Lots of guns and ammo with which to dispose of them.  Lots of dying from grenades. (Honestly, I think the grenade indicator is just there to make me run towards the grenade!)   The story that the single player tells is better than MW2’s but that’s just because there’s a general conclusion to Captain Price’s and Soap McTavish’s war with Makarov.  It still can be completed in one night if you feel like it.

The big selling point is obviously the multiplayer and online gaming capacities.  New maps, new guns and new opportunities to team with your friends and shoot others or just shoot your friends abound and the game seems to have developed a bonus system that takes into account your gaming experience – it doesn’t penalize the casual gamer while rewarding the hardcore COD warriors. 

In short, you likely already have this by this point.  If not and you haven’t gotten a COD game in a long while, go get it.  And enjoy a gun-battle-filled holiday season!

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