Sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day to do all you want to do, and so it’s handy when you’ve built up almost a month’s worth of holiday to just take a Friday off, sit back and play games.
This was a much needed day-off, as in the prior 24-hours Shadowrun, Colin McRae’s Dirt and Forza 2 had all come through the post: when was a man supposed to find time to play all of these, otherwise!?
Forza 2 was always going to be the also-ran for me amongst this collection; I’m not a big fan of racing games as I find them far too repetitive and generally, especially in full simulation games like Forza, one mistake means that the next five laps are meaningless and a procession (F1, anyone?).
As expected, I felt no love for this game. I could appreciate how well it’s been put together, the depth within the title and why others would lap it up, but nothing sparked for me. The one portion of the game, however, that I did enjoy dabbling with was creating custom paintjobs for my cars. Some images of my BIGsheep logo and accompanying sheep are included below but this thing has real depth if you have the time to sink into it.
The exception to my apathy for racing games has always been rallying. I took great pleasure from Rallisport 2 on the original Xbox and the beautiful looking Dirt didn’t let me down.
In my opinion, racing round and round a track is tedium when compared to haring along a dusty track or damp woodland with your co-driver yelling out the course up ahead. You may get to learn all the corners and perfect your apexes on a standard course but I love the rush and panic that unknown corners and bends can bring as you find yourself sliding round the British countryside at 100mph.
Not only that, but it suits my gaming driving style a lot better, too; I’m all for a bit or argy-bargy in games as you contest position and that is seemingly frowned upon in PGR/Forza. I’m not that great with my aforementioned apexes, either, so handbrake turns and drifts are much more in my realm.
Last up, from my day of gaming decadence, is Shadowrun, which has surprised me greatly. To put it simply, I love it. There’s even a small part of me who is enjoying it more than the Halo 3 beta, but the rest of me is assuring that the small part saying such things is mad and it’s only because Shadowrun’s something new that it’s enjoying it and he’ll get over it soon.
Shadowrun is basically Counterstrike but with magic and bio-tech in addition to the more traditional weapons. Resurrection, teleportation and dropping down healing trees make up some of the magic skills whilst wired reflexes and enhanced vision fall into the tech category.
For me it is the numerous combinations of characters that these extra abilities can create that makes Shadowrun such a draw. You can roll a troll character who can absorb damage and fit him with a huge mini-gun and the ability to drop down the game’s equivalent of caltrops for when you’re on the defensive, a speedy elf with a katana and teleport for some hit and run action, or a human medic who resurrects fallen comrades and patches up the wounded: so many choices.
Admittedly the actual modes and maps are limited, but when you find a team that plays like a team and are backing each other up and all jumping through walls at the same time to surprise the opponents, the gameplay feeling cannot be rivalled.
Shadowrun may have reviewed poorly in the mainstream press but I think it is greater than the sum of its parts and I really do urge people to give it a chance. New players are going to find a steep learning curve if they jump straight in online and so they should check out a series of handy tutorials that not only guide them through the basics of this cyberpunk world, but give them a sense of empowerment right from the start.