I finally finished playing Half-Life 2 last week, a year after I first bought it. When I started playing it last year, I got about two chapters into the game, and lost interest, or never really had the time to take it any further. In the two week break from work I’ve just had, one of my goals (despite setting out to achieve as little as possible in this time) was to play the game through. And it was good. Excellent, in fact. It’s tremendously atmospheric, mixing dystopian science fiction with zombie horror, with gameplay ranging from mindless all-guns-blazing assaults to physics-based puzzles. Beautiful graphics and (relatively) lifelike animated characters contribute to a feeling of total immersion throughout the game. I was glad I had long stretches of time to devote to it completely, because it tended to suck me in for hours.
I think that Half-Life 2 will probably one of the last games I will ever play on the PC, though. The PC is the platform of choice for first-person shooters, strategy games, which I don’t tend to like any more; and on-line role-playing games, for which I don’t have the time. Most of the games I really enjoy, like Star Wars Lego, the Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank series, are console games. We have four consoles sitting under our TV, and I much prefer switching on one of those than firing up something on my PC. It’s partly the games, but partly also the experience: I can sit on a comfortable sofa rather than on my desk chair, and even though it may be a single-player game, it’s more pleasant for Abi or the kids to sit and watch.
The console game that is stirring up my interest at the moment is SSX On Tour, which Julian brought up with him while he was staying with us this weekend. SSX Tricky was one of the first games I bought for the PS2, and I must have spent well over a hundred hours playing it–it’s one of my all-time favourite games. SSX 3, the follow-up, wasn’t nearly so enjoyable. I felt that it lacked character, the very thing that made Tricky so entertaining.
In SSX On Tour, though, a lot of that character is back. It’s interface is streamlined, which makes it easier to flip from event to event. It has lots of little challenges, ranging from amusing to seriously tough, that kept me coming back for more. And even though you can’t choose pre-defined personalities to play with and build up over time, the tour ranking table looked like it would provide me with a challenging long term goal to aim towards.
Jules and I played it a lot over the weekend, and I’m kinda missing it now that he’s taken it back home with him. Good thing my birthday’s on the way 🙂