Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Release Date: November 1, 2011
System Reviewed: PlayStation 3
What's Great: Absolutely fantastic video game. Story, visuals, gameplay, the way our voice/motion-capture actors portray their characters...everything comes together in a fantastic experience.
What's (Not So) Great: It doesn't surpass Uncharted 2 in terms of quality. Don't get me wrong, this is still a fan-fucking-tastic game. It's, simply put, not as good. It may just be me, but my expectations may have been set too high, considering how much better Uncharted 2 was than the first. It could be that Naughty Dog felt that they were riding on the curtails of the previous game, and could skirt a few things here and there. Whatever it is, I feel Naughty Dog should take a break and focus on a new IP. Oh wait, well, hello there, The Last of Us! How are you?
Bottom Line: The Uncharted series, in my eyes, is something that should be experiences by the masses. Just because it's not better than the previous game doesn't mean you should skip it. Play this game.
Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection
Release Date: November 8, 2011
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
What's Great: A fantastic way for those raised on first-person shooters to play some fantastic stealth games that changed the industry's view on action games. You get Metal Gear Solid 2 (meh), Metal Gear Solid 3 (oh yea), and Peace Walker (s'alright), games that are foundations in video games. And, and, this is a great way for Xbox/non-PlayStation owners to be able to play Snake Eater and Peace Walker, as, up until the 3DS release, was unavailable to anyone else.
What's (Not So) Great: Sons of Liberty is still the low-point in the series. Peace Walker is a deviation I can see many, who's first playthrough of the game may very well be from this package, will not be fond of, considering how radically different the inventory management is (although I still love Fulton Recovering the shit out of anyone and everyone and playing house back at base). Snake Eater is still a phenomenal game, I only wish they had fixed menu navigation and made the camo menu a quickly accessible sub-menu to make switching your patterns on the fly.
Bottom Line: We're repeating history here: these are games that should be played by anyone. Considering that Peace Walker was only on the PSP until this re-release, this is the first time that, not only are non-PSP owners getting to play this, but Xbox-only kids getting their paws on the aforementioned, as well as Snake Eater. There may be a few hiccups - Achievements/Trophy whores will be disappointed to hear that Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater share a master list, whereas Peace Walker has it's own list - but these are great games.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Release Date: November 11, 2011
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
What's Great: Before I start, I have to say this: I've never thoroughly enjoyed any Elder Scrolls game. I dabbled with Morrowind on the Xbox way back when, and I got about 5-6 hours in Oblivion. When Skyrim was announced, I didn't think much of it. The only reason I started playing it is because I noticed a "buy two, get one" deal at Best Buy close to Christmas and told my mom to get on it as my present: GoldenEye 007 Reloaded; Metal Gear Solid HD Collection; and this beauty. I didn't start playing this game until early February, but I was easily sucked into it, and between the start and early May when I had to put it down when starting my new job, I easily logged 90+ hours and barely scratched the surface. The whole fucking game is absolutely fantastic, hands down. I won't droll on about semantics, but I feel as if baby unicorns massaged my eyes with their manes when playing this game.
What's (Not So) Great: It's too easy to become distracted in this game. Your in-game compass will show a black icon for a nearby location within, what seems like, 5 miles that you will end up deviating from your main quest-line path and end up doing anything but fighting dragons. "Ooo, an abandoned shack! Loot all the ingredients!" or "OH SHIT! A castle! Kill all the bandits!" were common thoughts throughout my explorations, and about 75 hours were probably spent on leveling, crafting, looting, plundering, pillaging, maiming, alchemy-ing, stabbing, blasting, and any combination of the sorts.
Bottom Line: An easy time-suck. And I was afraid of playing World of Warcraft, fearing for my life...
Assassin's Creed: Revelations
Release Date: November 15, 2011
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
What's Great: It's a great conclusion to Ezio's story, the new hook blade introduced brings some pretty cool twists to combat and exploration (there's a reason why there's an achieveable for parachuting from a building, dropping onto a zipline, and assassinating a guard on a rooftop), and for a brief period of time, we were all able to sing along to "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" once again.
What's (Not So) Great: This game is only marginally better than the original Assassin's Creed, probably because they were running short on ideas with the third sequel to Assassin's Creed II. To be quite frank, the subtitle itself is incredibly misleading, as there isn't much revealing happening. Oh, and bombs. I hated bombs. I laud the fact that they tried to do something different, but I feel it falls short of being a useful tactical option.
Bottom Line: It's still a fun game, don't get me wrong. However, in this case, I do know that my expectations were set high, considering how well-fucking-crafted Assassin's Creed II and Brotherhood were.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Release Date: November 20, 2011
System Reviewed: Wii
What's Great: "ZOMG, Zelda!" That's basically how I was going into this. It's a brand new Zelda game; it takes precedence, canonically, over every other Zelda game; and it reveals the undying connection between Link, Zelda, and (eventually) Ganon (for those who still didn't play it, no, Ganon is not in the game). New foes are incredibly weird, but the further you get involved with the clues, they become a little less annoying.
What's (Not So) Great: The goddamned forced motion controls. Holy fuck, why are we forced to use the motion controls? Most of the time, when you need to be precise, they're not. When you need to do something incredibly imperative, it doesn't work. Why can't I hook up my Classic Controller and run amok that way?
"Because you won't be able to swipe in certain directions!"
Hey. Look! Ocarina of Time is here, reminding you that you were able to do that on the goddamned Nintendo 64; depending on the modifier, you were able to swing your sword in different directions. Sure it was clunky, but that was 14 years ago. Make a modifier key on the controller, and when you need to swing in a certain direction, hold the modifier (shoulder button?) and attack while tilting the control stick in the direction of the swing.
"But don't you need to move around when attacking?"
Who here was flailing their sword while running like a dick? Your attacks need to be precise, and that's pretty hard to do when you're moving about...
Bottom Line: Just because I'm giving Skyward Sword's motion controls shit doesn't mean it's a bad game. I still had fun. The additions to the Zelda universe mythos is much welcomed, and how everything is fitting together at the early beginnings of the timeline is starting to make sense. Now if Nintendo didn't half-ass their timeline...