Welcome to EGM’s Weekend Play, a weekly account of what games the editors of EGM are currently playing, and an open conversation with you, the reader, about what you’ve been playing.
For the next few months, leading up to the launch of Titanfall on the Xbox One and inFamous: Second Son on the PlayStation 4, the EGM Crew will be attempting to play some of the very best PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii games they never got around to and chronicling their adventures here. So join us, if you will, on exploring Last Gen’s Best and share your own progress in the comments section.
First of all, let’s dispense with any pretense. With the NFL playoffs starting this weekend, it’s highly unlikely I’ll be playing anything at all—especially with the Niners and Packers facing off in sub-zero temperatures in Green Bay and the Bengals and Chargers doing battle in the freezing Ohio rain. That, my friends, is football the way it should be played. If I were NFL commissioner, I’d ban domes and turf and look into research to create artificial snowfall for every game…even in California and Florida! (See? You already like me more than Goodell!) If I do play anything, it’ll likely be on the Wii U thanks to the Off-TV Play option—and it’ll probably be that excellent retro-game challenge collection, NES Remix. It’s an old-school throwback game for an old-school throwback pigskin weekend.
So far, I have done a terrible job with my resolution to catch up on games over the holidays. I keep sitting down to play a bit of Blue Dragon or whatnot, only to find myself binging on episodes of Orphan Black or The Returned. When I have been playing games it’s mostly been Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag which I have been enjoying tremendously, or some LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, both of which I’m tackling on the PS4.
I did manage to finish the Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition, so perhaps that counts for something. It is an excellent old-school PC RPG, though I must admit that I have been spoiled by more modern fair. Blue Dragon is still calling to me though, so perhaps this weekend I can make a dent in it.
I am also going to be playing a bit of Forza 5 this weekend, as I have been challenged to a few hours of racing by some friends who fancy themselves regular Andrettis. We’ll just have to see how that one plays out.
I wish I could say I was already hard at work on something new and exciting to kick off the New Year, but I can’t. The industry is just starting to come out of its winter hibernation and the last thing on anyone’s minds for another couple weeks still is new games. And everything that wasn’t NHL 14, I played and beat in no time over the course of our holiday break. So, in honor of yet another amazing Winter Classic game this year (you can’t beat an outdoor hockey game in a snowstorm that ends in a shootout), and my personal anticipation of the New York Rangers’ Stadium Series against the Devils and Islanders at the end of the month, I’m still going to be playing NHL 14. I like sports. Deal with it.
OK, so I haven’t quite beaten Demon’s Souls yet—weeklong trips across the country tend to wreck my gaming productivity a wee bit—but I’ve made some serious progress. I’ve found a nice set of armor and a weapon that gives me a fighting chance in combat. I’ve built up my stats to the point where I can actually take a solid few hits from bosses. I’m getting more confident at navigating the world, even if it’s never easy to tell which route is the right way and which route is full of fire-breathing death geckos who want nothing more than to murder you and steal your dreams. If I had to guess, I’d say I’m about halfway to three-quarters of the way through the story, and I owe it all to one thing: cheating.
The first two times I died, I manned up, trudged back to my death spot, Cling Ring on my finger, and reclaimed those souls with gallant ease. The third time—in which I attacked too close to a cliff, slipped and fell down into a lake of fiery deathlava—I ragequit by powering off my PS3 and walking out of the room. But when I booted back up the next day, I realized the game hadn’t saved my progress. Instead, it had reverted me to a checkpoint right before my unfortunate accident.
And then I knew. The genie was out of the bottle. Sure, I could play the game like they wanted me to, truding back to the site of my demise with the challenge of reduced health and the risk of losing a big chunk of souls. Sure, I could conceivably not cheat. But it was too tempting. Just this once, since I was in the middle of a boss fight and I might die before I can get back around the arena. Just this once, because I was really far into the level and I don’t want to retread that much ground. Just this once, because a Black Phantom just invaded and the game is probably so old by now that everyone is way better than me. Just this once, because my finger slipped and I didn’t mean to use that Full Moon Grass. And so it went until now, when I can’t remember what it felt like to not be a degenerate cheater.
This weekend, I think I’m finally going to beat Demon’s Souls. And I won’t deserve it. Not even a little.
Plans to play Skyrim and Fire Emblem: Awakening were very much disrupted come Christmas day, when Josh handed me a copy of Fallout: New Vegas and waved goodbye. I’ve pretty much been nips-deep in the Mojave Wasteland since, juggling that and Ys: Memories of Celceta when settling in for bed or waking up but disinclined to climb out of the covers.
I had always been told by other ardent fans of Fallout 3 that New Vegas just wasn’t up to snuff. Nothing outwardly bad about it, I was told, it just didn’t have the special ingredient that gave Fallout 3 its unique flavor—whatever that unknown variable is. I’m here to report, however, that those claims are a 100 percent false. I reckon this is an instance of personal taste, east vs. west coast, perhaps, or a matter of what game you aligned yourself with first (Fallout 1 and 2 or Fallout 3). As far as I’m concerned, they’re both equally strong entries in the franchise that both do something the other doesn’t and is thus valuable in its own way. But man, once you reach the Strip in New Vegas it delivers more memorable story beats and moments and writing than Fallout 3 ever did. I’m not saying it blows its predecessor out of the water—just that the writing leaves a more lasting impression.
My hunger for more Fallout may have proven too ravenous, unfortunately. A little over a week later, I’ve explored most of the Mojave, broken the main game’s level cap courtesy of DLC, and more or less have wrapped up a large amount of what there is to do in the Strip and its surrounding region short of the last few main story missions. So that, honestly, is what I will milk over the course of the weekend before finally closing the book on my Courier’s journey and moving on to the next last-gen gem I never got around to.
In a slight change to the norm, this weekend I’ve opted to complete a game from the last generation, instead of starting one that I missed out on. In all the next-gen excitement I simply didn’t have the time to complete Grand Theft Auto V, so this weekend I aim to put that mistake right with a good old fashioned marathon. I managed to get well over the half way point, but I’m now eager to see how all the pieces fit together in the end, and what better time to find out than during the gaming drought that is January.