After my New Year's week off grid, I was able to put some real quality time into my gaming, and achievement-gathering. Here are the games of note:
1 - Left 4 Dead 2
2 - Transformers: War for Cybertron
4 - Kirby's Epic Yarn
5 - LEGO Rock Band
I'm going to run through these backwards. I've been doing that every week, but I haven't specifically been mentioning it the past couple months. Hopefully that hasn't been confusing to anyone.
I'm loving the LEGO Rockband. The song selection is inferior to RB3, but the visuals and low-pressure playstyle are just a blast. I've been trying out the "short version" option - it seems to fade the song out after the second chorus or so. Sometimes that saves you a lot of play time, and sometimes it's not very significant. I'm just about to unlock the Teleporter, and I have only 13 achievements left to go! Apparently the marathon and "endless" setlists are only 15 and 30 songs each - that's cake compared to RB2!
Kirby's Epic Yarn
I bought this a couple months ago, but have been holding it as a Christmas gift for my kids. We finally opened it up, and I let my kids have the first run at it. The visuals are fantastic, as you've probably heard, and the mechanics are nicely varied. I'm a bit afraid that it's drinking a bit too much from the fountain of Modern Nintendo Platforming, which I'm a bit tired of after New Super Mario Bros and New Super Mario Bros Wii. I'd really love something a bit more focused on replaying stages, like a Mega Man X game. When will we be getting that?
CityVille is providing about 90% of my blog traffic, so I thought I should keep at it. It's been pretty mechaincal, though I did do a nice reorganization of my city recently. But I play the game for about 70-90 minutes a day, so it certainly belongs on this list!
Transformers: War for Cybertron
I played this game co-operatively with some friends a few months back, but one evening they started without me, so I never actually completed one level. That was keeping about 7 achievements from registering, so I went back and played that level. I'm still missing 3 single-player achievements, but I think I'm done playing this one offline. I'll see how long online can keep my interest - I'll at least get level 5 with something, for an achievement. I'd love to "win" the escalation mode as well...
Left 4 Dead 2
My weekly group played this one the past Monday, and we finally finished the last campaign. I followed that up with an hour or two of achievement grabbing. I think Left 4 Dead 2 really built nicely on the original. A great interview with Gabe Newell (of Valve) talked about how owning their own distribution channel allowed them to try all sorts of things pricing-wise. Release a zillion free add-ons to a game? Done. Release a minor update as a full-sequel? Done. Release 4 games together, and then release them individually? Done.
Left 4 Dead 2 was an interesting experiment from the consumer's perspective, because it's really not very "different" from Left 4 Dead. But as a developer, I totally get why it was so appealing to re-sell a version 1.2 of their original game. Without the push for significant new features, they could deliver something really polished and well thought-out. I absolutely prefer this second version to the first one, and that's really saying something.