I think it's safe to say that the next-gen gaming era has me officially spoiled. Since November 22, there hasn't been a single day that's gone by where I am not actively playing my 360 for an extensive number of hours. Extensive as in seeing the sun rise; my eyes nearly bloodshot and a console producing enough heat to create its own global warming.
Perhaps I should learn to exercise some self-control? Those of you who've been following my musings over the past few months are well aware that my addiction can be traced to Team Ninja's phenomenal 3D fighter, Dead or Alive 4. Believe it or not, these days I am playing the game a lot less. I recently picked up Need for Speed Most Wanted again -- a game that hasn't been consistently played in well, weeks. I've only got two more members of the Black List to take down before the game is fully completed. For me, that's quite an achievement, since I typically tend to get bored with games rather quickly. You'd be surprised by the number of games I picked up for the Xbox, PS2 and even the DS that have never even been touched. Cassie actually puts me to shame. Not only has she played more titles in my library, but beat them to completion. The last two titles I've beat? Full Auto and GUN. Pathetic, huh?
I have to admit, the 360's achievement system has ultimately proven to be a huge influence in maintaining an active interest towards the titles in my collection. As you know, for each respective achievement you successfully unlock in a 360 game awards you with a certain amount of points. Retail titles offer 1,000 Gamerscore points and XBLA games offer 200. For all intents and purposes, this novel concept is a great accessible tool that gamers can use for bragging rights and to measure themselves against each other. Of course, it's been something of a double-edge sword and it's lead to many heated arguments within the Xbox gaming community. Take Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter for instance, where proud gamers have attacked others that took advantage of the recently released cheat codes offering abilities like unlimited ammo and invincibility. With these codes, someone could easily breeze through the game's hardest difficulty level, get the achievements and thus, inflate their score. On Dead or Alive 4, the SS glitch (which gives 40 Gamerscore points) has been a controversial debate for months, and the list goes on.
It's got to the point where some now look down on the concept because they feel it's hurt the principle and integrity of natural competition. What's the point in a gamer playing fairly and putting in 8 hours to complete all the levels of GRAW if there are those out there who will exploit the game with cheats/glitches or collaborate with friends to boost their leaderboard ranks? I am not here to judge anyone because the way I see it, players are entitled to play however they want.
In other news, I picked up Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence and surprisingly, I wasn't too excited. Which brings me back to the opening sentence in this blog session. I am spoiled. Spoiled by the beauty of high-definition which is such a huge leap over playing on the traditional TVs. To me, it's like going from dial-up to broadband, and we all know the huge advantages that offers.
I think another reason for my lack of enjoyment is mostly due to the fact that I've already played Metal Gear Solid 3 -- beat it within 3 days, and well, do I want to actually play it again? I know Kojima has tossed in a new camera angle, but I am left thinking: so what? So that just leaves the exclusive extras tossed in: Metal Gear and the MSX version of Metal Gear 2 (that's the one that never saw a release stateside). Yeah, this could be the winning elements that will keep me from posting my Limited Edition on eBay (do you know the bids right now are going for $100 - $150? Heh, I could buy TWO copies of Subsistence and work the whole e-commerce craze to my advantage). I am told the Theater Disc, featured on Disc 2 is "ok" and that didn't give me a warm, fuzzy feeling.
And what of the online aspect? It's still too early to say. I am planning to go online and play some sessions with folks from TNL, possibly this evening or over the weekend. But after my observation of a multiplayer session yesterday evening, chances are I won't be playing this that often -- especially when I've got Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter to play with. For me, Metal Gear Online is an experience that arrived too late to solidify my interest. As one person put it, the game just seems "slappy". It's just a tad average... but I want to play it extensively before I reserve final judgment. I am sure that I'll be signing a different tune should Kojima Productions release a similar multiplayer version in Metal Gear Solid 4.
Well, I've rambled on long enough (more than I expected). It's about time that I've given center stage to the rest of the team who've contributed some gaming-related musings for this month. Enjoy.
··· Chris Scantleberry