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Confessions of a Backlogged Gamer, Weeks 38-39: It’s All In The Timing

This may not seem like a new or surprising assertion to anyone else, but *I* think it’s interesting, and this is my column, damn it: I actually play a lot more games than my backlog numbers may seem to suggest.  It’s just that so many of the ones I compile are RPGs falling somewhere within the forty- to ninety-hour range that the time I put in seems a bit paltry by comparison.  When I play games of an actual “reasonable” length, however…. well, they actually get finished.  Who knew?

With so many new shiny games staring me in the face right about now, you’d think that I would sit down with one of them.  Instead, I decided to power through Batman: Arkham Asylum, which I’ve been ignoring for far too long.  I picked it up right after it was released on the strength of the demo, but then it sort of got pushed aside until now.  I know a lot of people really got into the challenges and solving all of the Riddler’s clues, but the only ones I really did were the ones that I found along the path of the main story.  Arkham is a very cool setting, but I just didn’t find it compelling enough to wander around with all of the bad guys gone.  Without going much out of my way, I finished the game at around 65% completion, meaning that there’s plenty more to do for anyone who finds themself wanting to continue, but at 8-10 hours, I felt like I got what I wanted out of it.  I really enjoyed thrashing ridiculous numbers of enemies at once, although a few of the “armed dude” rooms were a bit frustrating (I’ll never get tired of stringing up baddies from gargoyles, though).  My one real complaint with the game was the points, particularly near the end of the game, where the travel seemed to be artificially lengthening the gameplay.  I understand that in some parts, it’s necessary to the storyline to have you travel through the same areas more than once, but I think the addition of some kind of (even limited) quick travel routes would have been nice.  Overall, I had a really good time with this, however, and I’d recommend it without hesitation, particularly if you’re a Batman fan to begin with (or if you watched the 90’s cartoon, from which several of the voice actors are used).

In a second sitting, and with the help of my trusty comrades Elaine and Dan, plus Chris “Lefty” Brown of The Married Gamers,  I finished ODST this week as well.  On Heroic!  I have achievements and everything!  As you can tell, this is sort of a big deal for me, having only experienced my Haloz on the easiest setting thus far.  I’m still not very good at shooters, but that’s why co-op gaming is so great; I get to play with my friends, and I don’t have to be very good at the game, just good enough that I don’t get everyone killed (and maybe shoot some manz myself every once in a while).  With SOME PEOPLE setting OTHER PERFECTLY INNOCENT PEOPLE on fire with flamethrowers, I don’t think I was the most dangerous player on the field anyway.  In a sort of related vein, I started playing Borderlands last night with another group of friends, and even though things were moving a bit fast for me due to the fact that they’d all played before, I still had a lot of fun.  Honestly, I’m not so sure I’d like Borderlands if I tried it single-player, but co-op is making it ridiculously awesome.

Yet another game that I finished this week (I know, right??) is Uncharted; let me get this out of the way and say that yes, I did think that the “twist” I’ve heard so much about is pretty fucking dumb.  If I wanted to be playing Resident Evil, I would be playing Resident Evil.  I didn’t hate it so much that it ruined the game for me, but I really would have had a more favorable impression overall if the gameplay had stayed more consistent and not gone off to Crazytown just when I’d finally gotten the hang of things.  As soon as I can pry the second installment away from one of my friends, I’ll be playing it, and if what I’ve heard is true and it really is better than the first, I really can’t wait.  I know it sounds trite to say that it’s like playing a movie, but that’s really what it was; the story is fantastic, the characters are relatable, and the whole thing is beautiful to watch.  I’m glad I let myself be badgered into this one.

When frustration finally drove me to put down Scribblenauts (probably for good), I picked up Professor Layton and the Sack of Oranges…. er, sorry, the Diabolical Box… instead.  It’s…. well, it’s more Professor Layton.  Different setting, different puzzles, same annoying little fucker of a sidekick that I sort of want to punt over the side of the train.  Anyway, my addiction to the first round of Layton’s adventures is pretty well documented, and even though I’ve only put about two hours into this one so far, I can already feel the sickness seeping back in.  I welcome it, actually.

Current backlog total: 100

Now playing: Borderlands (360); Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box (DS); Shin Megami Tensei: Persona (PSP)

New games added: Borderlands (360); Ratchet and Clank: A Crack In Time (PS3); Cooking Mama 3: Shop & Chop (DS); Nostalgia (DS); A Witch’s Tale (DS)

Games completed: Halo 3: ODST (360); Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3); Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (PS3)

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