Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Save the Burger World!

Like it's predecessor, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is not a very long ride, but I'd gladly stand in line again for another go. With this franchise, it's all about the total package; the multi-player, the co-op, special ops, etc. But at the end of the day, it's the story mode that has to sell the game. Soap and McTavish are back to provide some continuity with the previous installment and the look and feel are largely the same (though noticeably improved.) The missions are uber-tense and deliberately distracting to keep one from rummaging around too much for those elusive collectibles. Having said that, there is still a little something missing. . .
In Battlefield Bad Company, we were accompanied throughout the game by Redfern, Sweetwater, and Haggard and got to know them; Redfern looked forward to retirement and marlin fishing, Sweetwater planned to attend college and Haggard had his dream of owning a monster truck ("Truck-O-Saurus") We were often amused by their banter and worried for their safety during the parts of the game when separated. In CODMW2, I didn't feel any of that relationship with the cohorts. It's perhaps a minor quibble, but a matter of substance.
Still, there's plenty to love in this installment to be sure. I love a good sniper rifle and the piece you get to use in this game with the IR scope is pretty sweet. The requisite vehicle forays are typically fast and frenetic but thankfully SixAxis-Free. I don't know what it is, but except for Flower, developers just don't seem to have a good idea of how to use the Sony SixAxis as a steering device.
I look forward to the next Call of Duty venture, but next time I'd be interested in it having a little more heart.

The Groove-A-Tron: Best. Weapon. EVER!

Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time

Even though I haven’t played all the games in their franchise, I still consider Ratchet and Clank to be old friends. Up Your Arsenal was my first exposure to their story and it completely won me over. I picked up Deadlocked next at about the time I got my PS3 but didn’t finish it because the software-based backward compatibility of the PS3 didn’t work so well with this game for some reason (I intend at some time to fire-up the PS2 and finish this game at some point.) Then came Tools of Destruction for the PS3 which was simply an astonishing sensory feast. Quest for Booty I have to say was a little rough, but still enjoyable. Now with A Crack in Time, we’re back on track and the sense of wonder has returned!

It’s All About the Funny

Now of course there’s no way to write a review of an R&C installment without lavishing praise on the weapons, and I’ll get to that. For me, however, the thing that keeps me coming back is the writing, or specifically, the humor. By now, we have a very-well developed cast of characters just like some of the better television sitcoms have sported over the years. Like WKRP in Cincinnati or The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Captain Quark is back with all his blustering buffoonery intact and as was revealed at the end of Quest for Booty, Doctor Nefarious returns in full megalomanical splendor with valet Lawrence in tow. Not only the characters, but I’ve come to look forward to all the animated expository links as they been the source of some of the best whimsy in the entire franchise. An added bonus are the radio commercials playing on Ratchet’s spaceship during space missions; Rusty Pete and Captain Slag from the previous two games provide some of the snappiest dialogue.

Then there's the Groove-A-Tron. Not a new weapon, we had this in our arsenal in Tools of Destruction, but God! does it deliver! I think from a developer's standpoint, this had to be one of the more delightful challenges; how should the major and NPC characters rock-out when caught in the thrall of the killer disco ball? This is what I find do doggone hilarious. Just when the game gets as close as it can to drama, seeing a heretofore dignified character bust-a-move is just too sublime for words.

Like the James Bond brand in motion pictures, R&C is similarly a quality stamp of approval in console gaming.