Well it's six months since my last blog in May and I've logged hundreds of hours on my PS3 and none on my PC since.
Firstly, I completed replaying The Saboteur, having previously "beaten it" on PC and completd Assassin's Creed II, both to Platinum status on PSN. My first two and so far only Platinums. Both great open world games with engaging narratives and plenty of action to boot.
Secondly, I revisited an older PC passion of mine on the PS3, namely the IL-2 Sturmovik WWII air simulation franchise. My first go was via IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey (BOP) a very serviceable game with some interesting, albeit generic campaigns. Far superior was Birds of Steel (BOS), which while not using the IL-2 Sturmovik "brand" is very much part of the franchise.
BOS worked great with minimal customisation of the PS3 default controls and was a great, narrative driven journey through the Pacific Theatre coupled with a number of extended scenarios exploring the European Theatre as well. The MP aspect of BOS is alive and well and great fun and certainly lifted MP-gaming, as a genre, in my eyes. The campaign rewards you in XP which unlock various aricraft spanning both theatres and you use "warpoints" gained in MP combat and on/offline missions. Warpoints allows you to "buy" unlocked planes for use in MP matches and on/offline missions. I can heartily recommend BOS for any with a passing or major interest in aerial combat before the era of lock-on, fire and forget missiles.
BOP is a different story. The narrative and immersion is weaker but covers the interesting Battle of Britain, Mediterranean and Eastern Front air battles. The default controls for BOP are a bit of a mess and needed a fair bit of customisation, which in my case were based on those closer to BOS. The issue is that BOP uses a wingman tactical system and this uses up buttons that are (better) used for aircraft control in BOS. BOP is not by any means a bad game but if you have BOS you need not revisit it for your flying combat pleasure. Interestingly BOS has add-on campaigns via PSN which look to be the same as those for Europe offered in vanilla BOP so with both you have a comprehensive view of WWII air combat and the best available on PS3.
I gave Spec Ops: The Line a run for my modern era FPS fix but after watching the Top 100 Games episode of Good Game I thought I'd have a look at Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim which was voted number one in Australia. Despite not being a RPG afficionado or indeed a D&D player, despite my vintage having stuck to conventional hex-map wargaming rather than rolling polyhedral dice with my high school contemporaries in the late 1970s, I thought why not, maybe I'm missing something.
So once Skyrim (Legendary Edition of course) was installed Spec Ops was put back on the shelf and 120+ gaming hours later is still there. Well Skyrim is a great game and as far as open world gaming goes this is THE game. Great narrative with many interlinking and stand alone stories and quests and a reasonable combat system. This is D&D as it was meant to be with obvious nods to Tolkein in a beutifully rendered world. Skyrim meets the superlatives placed on it and its got me onto a bit of an RPG kick having bought and tested (5-10 hours each) both Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (5th Anniversary Edition) and Dragon Age: Origins (Ultimate Edition, including Awakening). Both hold up well with Oblivion feeling a bit clunky after Skyrim but I find that with most gaming franchises earlier iterations.
Dragon Age takes quite a different approach being entirely 3rd person, while Skyrim and Oblivion switch between FPS and 3rd person which given the more interactive combat is essential. Dragon Age does seem to have (so far) a deeper narrative which apparently is influenced by in game dialogue and action choices. Not as convinced about combat in Dragon Age but I'm still very much in the learning stage and am also in somewhat of a Skyrim mind set. All three games however look and sound great however with Skyrim standing above the other two RPGs.
It's interesting that my son still prefers the COD FPS/MP games and has already plonked down for the latest release, Advanced Warfare, but I think Skyrim has tickled his fancy, if only just a bit. We have a number of open world games waiting to be played and I certainly see this as the way to go in gaming as COD and the like seem way too much on the rails by comparison. Tomb Raider was I felt a good mix being more of a "semi-open world" game. I think my son would prefer it if Skyrim had guns instead of swords and sorcery!
Finally, the most important event since my last blog ... the South Sydney Rabbitohs DID win the 2014 NRL Premiership, despite the nay-sayers doubts ... you know who you are.
Anyway Skyrim will keep me engaged until well into 2015 ... there is just so much to do, places to explore and no tedious collecting of flags or feathers!
All the best to you all for the festive/holiday season and all the best for 2015!
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BTW, I did not buy Enemy Front, the latest City Interactive title, but am pleased to note it is already heavily discounted ... as I noted in the comments to my last blog, it does LOOK very nice. Let me know if you have played it.
I did play a bit (more) of The Testament of Sherlock Holmes with the family during the last school holidays. It is pretty decent and our first Sherlock Holmes mystery on the PS3 having played a number of others on PC a few years back.