5. Rainbow 6: Vegas 2 (360/PS3/PC) – The rainbow 6 franchise for me always makes me a little bit sad, because I’ve been playing it since the first one was released on the PC. The old R6 games were very strategy heavy and very realistic (well, for the time). As the series pushed forward it’s moved away from the strategy and more into trying to be an interactive movie type thing which at times is over the top. Now, don’t get me wrong, R6V2 is still a tactical shooter, it’s not an arcade game, but the series certainly has been dumbed down over the years (and during that dumbing down the sales have gone up… so who can blame them?). But, once I got over that disappointment I found a very engaging single player game (well, actually, I played it co-op with a friend, which only added to the fun) and a decent MP game as well.
Bitches: Well I’ve already been over dumbing down of the series, so i’ll move on from that… the MP suffers from not having uniform game modes. Most people (on the 360 at least) play in games with respawns, which goes against every fiber of my being with this type of game. But when i can find a good server that has respawns off it’s a top notch shooter. It’s just harder to find these games than it should be. Also, they included an RPG wrapper on it where you level your character up like COD4 (and to be honest, Vegas 1 had this also, before COD4) but the problem is that it doesn’t do it as well as COD4, so the carrot on the stick isn’t nearly as appetizing.
System comparison: I’ve only played it on the 360 and it looks decent (definitely not great) and plays well. Early reports from the PC version was that it was bricking systems something fierce… though Im sure that’s been patched by now. Also on the PS3 forums I troll the general consensus is that it’s a crappy port. So the 360 version is probably the way to go here.
4. Bioshock (360/PC – PS3 version to be released this fall) – Bioshock is the highest shooter on the list that includes absolutely no multiplayer, something I (and most people) feel in an int regal part of the shooter experience. But that’s just how good the single player voyage is, it plays out like a giant, creepy mystery as you explore the world of rapture. I won’t even touch any spoilers, but the plot takes many turns and the game play remains solid through out.
Bitches: I can’t really get into them because they are all spoilers in one way or another, but needless to say they are all minor.
System comparison: I’ve only played it on the 360 and it was beautiful and played without a hitch. I did download the demo on my PC and it looked better, of course. But it’s just preference as to how you want to play it. Because unlike online skill based shooters, playing a story driven game can be a lot more fun sitting on a couch with a controller in your hand instead of being huddled over your keyboard.
3. The Darkness (360/PS3) – As stated previously on this blog The Darkness was my favorite game of 07. The Darkness is one of those rare games that, for me at least, accomplishes just about everything it sets out to do (minus the MP, which I will get to in my Bitching section). It tells a very intricate and complicated story of a mobster that is thrust into a story of revenge while simultaneously battling demons inside of him. The story is constantly moving forward, each fire fight you get into makes sense. You will get attached to certain characters and love the setting(s). The whole world just sucks you in and doesn’t let go until it’s over. And what a crazy ride it is, you end up traveling through time (or maybe just into your brain, it’s hard to tell). But it feels like you are living out a David Lynch movie. The voice work is amazing, whoever cast Mike Patton (Faith No more among other more eccentric music projects) should get a raise and maybe promoted Mayor of the Universe. The game is compelling, at times completely bizarre, it plays well enough (it’s not the tightest shoot you will ever play but the controls are serviceable). You will also end up completely shocked. This is about as good as story focused shooters get… and, unfortunately, the public at large ignored the game.
Bitches: For reasons I’ll never understand they decided to tack on multiplayer to this game and it’s just complete crap. The servers lag like hell, the game play is very simple. There is simply no reason to play it.
System comparison: I only played it on the 360, but from all reports both games are nearly identical, so whichever way you go you are bound to have a good time.
2. The Orange Box (360/PS3/PC) – I don’t even know what can be said about the orange box that hasn’t already been said, but I have to say something so here comes some saying. The Orange Box is quite simply the best $60 you will ever spend. It includes the wonderful furthering of the single player Half Life Series with Half Life 2 with Episodes 1 and 2, all of which are amazing (episode 2 being the better of the two). Then there is Portal which will change the way you think about video games and what the future of the medium holds. Someday I will write an ode to Portal, but I just don’t have the space to do it here. But, if you haven’t played Portal yet, GO DO IT RIGHT NOW! And then, of course, there is Team Fortress 2 which is one of the best team/class based multiplayer shooters to ever exist. The balance of the classes, the map design and the art style all tie together to create a shooter like you’ve never played before. It is very newb accessible, but there is a ton of room to become really elite within its gaming systems.
Bitches: The PC version looks better on all fronts (and by fronts I mean games). That’s not to say the 360 or PS3 versions look bad, but you can just get more eye candy with the PC version if you have the rig to handle it. But, that’s not an issue in itself (because it’s true of any game that comes out for the pc and consoles). The issue is that in Team Fortress 2 the PC version has received tons of updates, including two new maps, an updated class, many balance tweaks, performance tweaks etc. The ps3/360? Nothing. Supposedly valve is waiting till they have a large amount of content (they are currently going through each class and adding tons of stuff) and *then* they will patch the ps3/360 versions. But as of now, if you have a console version, you really only have like 75% of the game.
System comparison: Well, my bitching basically covers whats here. I have owned the 360 and PC versions, so I can’t comment on the PS3 version, but from all accounts the PS3 version has more frame rate issues than the 360, but it’s still highly playable. And, of course, the PC trumps both if you have the rig to run it.
1. Call of Duty 4 (360/PS3/PC) – COD4 wasn’t the first game to put an RPG wrapper on a shooter, but it did it the best and it still hasn’t been surpassed. And as much as it’s gimmick, it’s a gimmick that works and would probably keep you coming back even if the game sucked. But, as we all know, the game doesn’t suck. The single player while not remarkable, is very good, and has some very interesting stages and a narrative that has enough hooks to move you forward. But the star of the show is the multiplayer. While not perfect or perfectly balanced, the game play is very solid. The addition of a replay cam of how you got killed will change the way you play the game (and make you wish it was in every other shooter you play).
Bitches: While the RPG wrapper on the game gives you a constant carrot on a stick to keep you playing, it also means when you are starting out not only do you not know the maps, but you are underpowered. Also, the perks aren’t balanced at all, some are fairly useless, others are overpowered. And certain aspects of the game are luck based. Like, for instance, you get 3 kills in a row and you get a radar – this is all fine and dandy. But once you get to five kills you get to call an airstrike in. While this is fairly skill less at least you are placing where the airstrike goes (and in some game modes this is a powerful tool when used correctly). But once you reach 7 kills in a row you get a chopper that flies around and basically acts as roaming bot for you to rack you up more kills. So basically the rich get richer, and each thing your kill streak gets you gives you a powerful and non-skill based tool than the one before it. Personally, i prefer everyone to be running around on a level playing field, so these things bug me. But, it obviously doesn’t bug me enough to take COD4 from the number one slot.
System comparison: The xbox 360 and ps3 versions are nearly identical so it’s a wash there. If you have the rig to run it the game looks A LOT better on the PC. But the balance in the PC version is further skewed by not only being outgunned, but also going up against people with better PCs (ie higher frame rates, better pings, etc). I started playing the game on the 360 and then moved to the PC and just recently decided to grab it for the PS3 (one of my main justifications for this was to get used to shooting fools with the PS3 controller as my beloved Socom is coming out in September). Of the three versions, I do best on the ps3, the player base just seems to be worse at the game. Which to my mediocre ass is a bonus.
Notable exceptions: Halo 3(360) – I don’t know, I am just over this franchise. I enjoyed the single player (well, co-op) but I played the multiplayer for about a week and it did absolutely nothing for me. Halo 1 MP was amazing at the time, Halo 2 kicked it up a notch with its great party system and its ability to match you up with players of the same skill. But Halo 3 doesn’t do anything new, it’s just more of the same… and I think I’ve moved on.
Warhawk (PS3) – There was a time when I was really, really into this game. I just love how it flowed. But now, whenever I throw it in, I just can’t get back into said flow. It just feels like a sloppy shooter. I don’t get it, why did I love it, what am I missing now? I dunno, but it feels merely average at this point in time, even with the new expansions they keep releasing.
Socom 2 (PS2) – Faithful readers know that this is my all time favorite multiplayer shooter, and I pop it in from time to time all these years later. But even I must admit its time has passed. But come September we will have a new Socom on the PS3, and hopefully it will shoot right up to the top of my list. Get it… SHOOT RIGHT UP!??!? HAHAHAH I’m good! Oh man.