Part of my extended blogging break involved playing some new video games, and an old one. First up is Portal 2, which I bought Jenn for her birthday. We started with the cooperative mode, wherein you play two Wall-E-like robots in an abandoned, post-apocalyptic research facility. Using “portal guns” to open doorways in the dilapidated, maze-like buildings, you’re directed by a sardonic female robot voice through a series of puzzle-solving tests, utilizing various silly technologies to navigate the tricky corridors and reach the end of each level. It’s loads of fun, a great two-person game combining eerie dystopian atmosphere, brainteasers, and a quirky sense of humor. We’ve only just sampled the single-player mode, which is very funny and quite different from the co-op mode. Great game!
My folks got me the latest EA Sports hockey title, NHL 12, for my birthday. I’ve been a fan (maybe addict is a better word) of this series for going on seventeen years now. (Holy shit, has it been that long?) So far this version looks like yet another improvement to an already great game, and I’ve finally found the sweet spot between too easy and infuriatingly difficult. The new physics engine rocks, and the game’s never felt more realistic and unpredictable. I’m playing both the “Be a Pro” mode and “Be a GM” mode, and both are fantastic. In “Be a Pro” mode you can create an avatar of yourself and join your favorite team’s roster, just playing that one player’s shifts. (I’m wearing #13 for the Sabres at the moment.) “Be a GM” mode is the classic franchise mode, where you can control an entire team: everything from drafts and trades to line combinations and strategies to the gameplay itself. Yep, still loving the NHL series, and loving that hockey season is back!
Finally, I got a great, throwback nostalgia gift from Jenn: Call of Duty 2, a World War II FPS that I was hooked on before I converted to Mac. I ended up giving my PC versions away, but the Mac version runs great on my new desktop, and I’m having fun replaying this one’s familiar missions — this time with smoke effects that don’t disable my computer. (The later, PS3 versions of this game, even with improved graphics, have never held the same appeal for me as the earlier mouse-and-keyboard CoDs; I’m planning to re-grab the original Call of Duty and the United Offensive expansion too.)