Wednesday, August 15, 2012

. . . Xbox LIVE Arcade Gamer Points, Skateboards, and the end of the Summer Doldrums

It came a little earlier this year than it has in past years, but as far as I know, nobody who is not clinically insane has complained...  I am talking about the Summer Doldrums of course -- that dry period of roughly two-and-a-half-months during which no new games are released.  I did not actually grow up calling it the Summer Doldrums - having lived in Australia for all of the formative years of my life the "Summer Doldrums" arrived in the middle of the Winter -- and we had our own name for it - the Winter Freeze.

Whether you call it the Summer Doldrums or the Winter Freeze, what it is in simple terms is a drought of no games, which forces gamers to either replay their old games or mine through the games of previous years for titles that they never had the chance to play and so are new to them even though they are old to the rest of the planet.  Personally that was how I always preferred to do it since there were, often enough, some really great games that I did not get to play.

-- The Summer Doldrums 2012 --

 This year was different.  The same period over the course of the past few years was filled with non-gaming activities, so it was not like I was actually bored, but still...  The Summer was filled with taking the kids to the beach, slowly rolling through antique shops and tag sales looking for bargains, and then there was the week we spent as Boy Scout Camp, with my Son as the Scout and my wife and I sharing the week as adult supervision.  I would not want my son to know this, but I suspect that the adults actually had more fun than the kids in many respects, as Summer Camp was a chance for us to -- for the most part -- get away from literally everything.

No Summer Camp this year -- my son needed to make up a class that he had too many tardy marks in, so it was Summer School for him and that meant no Summer Camp.  Sigh.  There is also the point that I had to work since we did not take off the week of Summer Camp for holiday but that is besides the point...  The games that I chose to fill in for the lack of new titles were as follows and in no particular order:
  • Gears of War (The original)
  • G.R.A.W. (A disappointment but more on that in a bit)
  • Assassin's Creed (Revisiting the original)
  • Mafia II (Revisting)
  • Dead Island (Revisiting)
  • Madagascar 3 (Shock!  A new game release!)
  • Toy Soldiers: Cold War (Revisited)
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Dawnguard (Work Game - I wrote the guide)
  • Doom (Revisited)
  • Minecraft for Xbox 360 (Revisited)
  • Modern Warfare 3 (New to Me!)
  • Scrap Metal (Revisited)
  • Battlefield 3 (New to Me!)
  • Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed (New to Me!)
  • Age of Booty (Revisited)
  • Call of Duty Classic (Revisited)
  • Crackdown 2 (Revisited)
  • Hasbro Family Game Night: Sorry (New to Me!)
  • Kung Fu Strike (New LIVE Arcade Title - for work)
  • Puzzle Quest (Revisited)
  • Wolfenstein 3D (New to Me!)
  • Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII (New - for Work)
  • Jane's Advanced Strike Fighter (New to Me!)
  • Risen 2: Dark Waters (New release for work)
  • Zuma (LIVE Arcade Revisited)
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD (New LIVE Arcade Title for work)
  • Final Fantasy XI (MMO, Revisited, it turns out you CAN go home again)
You may have noticed that I ended up playing a LOT of different games...  Well, the ones that are marked Revisited I actually owned already so that is not such a big deal...  There are a handful of new titles for work, but hey, that is for work, it does not count...

Tom Clancy's GRAW was a major disappointment and even more so because I was really looking forward to playing it -- but it turns out that after the second mission it is so badly bugged that it is not playable -- hence the disappointment.  I think if it had not been bugged I might have spent a few weeks on that game alone -- as I like that series and genre.

Crackdown 2 was a good revisit -- and a great game though you have to pace yourself and not get too much time in at any one session because it is a tense sort of play...  The Achievements for it are really brutal too -- I have owned my copy for something like two years, and I have only unlocked 12 of the 70 Achievements!

-- The End of the Doldrums --

Yesterday was my birthday and no fewer than five new games were released -- the two most notable being Sleeping Dogs and Darksiders II, both of which will factor as important games in the first half of the new gaming season I am convinced.  A glance at the release calendar shows that from here on out things only get better, so yeah, the Doldrums ended early this year, and that is reason to be happy!

I am going to go be happy now...  If you are a gamer on Cape Cod and a regular reader of the paper's game review section and blog, NOW is the time to start emailing your review requests -- so you know, go do that?


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