Well, it’s almost Christmas, so lets take a look at some games that Santa might bring you if you have an Xbox 360 – and you’ve been a good boy or girl. These are, in my opinion, the pick of the bunch at the moment. Obviously lists like this can change, but they’ll top quality so even if you pick one up post Christmas you’ll still love it. I’ve also included a ‘booby prize’ game which I’ve added to the very bottom of the list.
There’s not much I’ve said on Gadzooki about The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, and at least part of the reason for that is that there’s not a lot I haven’t said on my own site about it. For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, Oblivion is an epic first or third role-playing adventure, where you have a main quest, but the freedom to do almost anything in a hugely expansive world.
There’s any amount of ways to play the game – from combat to magic to sneaking, and everything in between. The cool side quests can range from a mystery (who did the portrait of the dead Count?) to all out combat. Whilst the duplicate levels within each Oblivion Gate may let down some, the sheer scope of the game as you buy a house, trade, barter and fight allows for a truly compelling gameplay experience. With over 200 hours worth of gameplay, Oblivion is an essential purchase.
Gears of War
This years’ big release was Gears of War. It’s a much-hyped third person shooter with an emphasis on tough enemies, and cover use rather than run-and-gun ballistics. I found Gears to be a very rewarding experience, with the action being explosive and intense. Some have complained about the lack of variety, but the amazing visuals and sheer excitement of the game should keep you coming back for more. A lot more!
A much hyped and quite interesting proposition was Dead Rising earlier this year. Based on a similar concept to Dawn of the Dead, your character Frank West is in a mail, and there are zombies on the loose. As Frank is a photojournalist part of the gameplay is taking pictures and scoring points. The real fun is had however in belting the hell out of the zombies with anything you can find. Everything from cash registers to guns to Servebot heads (!) can be used to full effect against your stumbling opponents.
One aim of the game is to find out exactly what has gone on to cause the outbreak of the game. However this is at odds with the other victory condition – to rescue the other survivors. As such, it’s not possible to do both in one sitting, so choose one or the other and then keep on the straight path. An interesting element of the game is the action-RPG styled stat increases after killing zombies and achieving certain win conditions. Go buy it, there’s nothing quite like it.
Test Drive Unlimited
There’s something very unique about Test Drive Unlimited – that is it is the first M.O.O.R. What this means essentially is that the game objective is to get a garage full of enviable motors, as well as the best house, and then race people online, show off etc. An amazing technical feat of the game is the reproduction of 160 miles of Oahu Island – the biggest Hawaiian Island, as well as seemingly the one most populous with car dealerships and fast motors.
I’ve played the full game as well as the demo quite a bit, and the racing is pretty top notch. Admittedly you can’t really trash the cars, but there’s something thrilling about driving along a great looking coastline and just giving a quick headlight flash to tell someone you want to race, then earning credits to get your next motor. Interestingly, there’s even a GTA style element where the cops will bust you – though this is limited to fines that remove some of your hard earned cash.
Rainbow 6: Las Vegas
This is of course the latest in the long running Rainbow 6 series (Tom Clancy has certainly got the hang of these), and Las Vegas certainly holds up the quality of the earlier games. Cover is easily used by ‘sticking’ (holding) the analogue stick in the direction you wish to seek cover. Weapons handle well, with a wide variety depending on the mission. The later missions (when things go wrong in the storyline) get even more impressive, with good use of the swat style abseil and Special Forces tactics. Visually, this game is also a treat, with well thought out settings and realistic looking indoor and outdoor environments.
Ninety Nine Nights
Although generic in setting, NNN has an interesting storyline with some moral decisions to make along the way. Sadly the gameplay does not match up, proving to be similar to the myriad Dynasty Warriors (and various clones) add infinitum. Hack and slash (and walk) is the order of the day in this play-by-numbers game. I don’t recall Gauntlet being so dull, but I suppose it must have been back in the day.
I guess there’s nothing inherently wrong with Ninety Nine Nights, which makes it all the more disappointing. If it had some sort of fatal flaw that you could pin down the game’s mediocrity on then it wouldn’t be so bad. Instead, it’s just plodding along with a bit of magic attack, a bit of X/Y button mashing, and little else. Ironically though you’ll want to see the whole thing just to find out who dies and whether the humans were right. A game that could have been so much more than it was sadly.