Late to the party - Yakuza and God of War

First a quick note on Too Human... I've put about 28 hours into it over the past couple of weeks, and while it was very enjoyable for that time, it's very apparent to me that I won't be spending the kind of time with it that I did with PSO. It's flawed and frustrating in a number of ways, but not enough to prevent it being a worthwhile and fun experience. However, the compulsion to grind for loot that I expected to be there after the buzz of clearing the campaign a couple of times has failed to materialize, and I can't see myself returning to it much in future. I will certainly still be keen on playing the sequels should they ever appear, but for now it remains a decent 30-hour dollop of entertainment.

The curious thing it did though, was to launch me into a craving for third-person action / adventure games. Specifically ones where you thrash your way through tons of enemies. After a fun enough time spent with Viking and Conan I found myself with God of War, a game that has managed to pass me by completely. Oh, I knew of it, knew it's solid critical reputation and commercial success, yet despite my strong fascination with mythology and history I never even bothered to try it until now.

Suffice to say I'm a bit angry at myself for that. I really need to give more things a chance rather than slavishly sticking to a handful of known quantities. If I'd never tried Tomb Raider Anniversary out of boredom I wouldn't be excitedly anticipating Underworld as one of my potential games of the year right now.

Back to GoW though. It's magnificent visually and aurally, and the controls are just the right side of loose, forgiving enough with an auto-lock without being sloppy. Combat can be immense fun, and there's plenty of variety and scale in the environments to keep things fresh. My only criticism of it is that sometimes the combat can become frustrating, especially when fighting multiple enemies that repeatedly knock you over, or that won't allow you to finish off combos as they simply go through their attack animations regardless. It's relentlessly entertaining in every other way, with a few rudimentary puzzles here and there to break up the action. I've already got my hands on the sequel - and now I have a genuine must-buy for the PS3 when the third one surfaces.

Speaking of things finally surfacing... Yakuza 2 just came out in the US, and I think it's out in the UK this week. I had tried the first one not long ago, and while I was enjoying it I didn't get far because the PS3 backwards compatibility wasn't up to scratch on it. The colours were very washed-out for one thing. I gave up on it and forgot about it for a while.

The release of the sequel and the announcement of a third instalment on its way for PS3 compelled me to order a US copy of the first to play on my PS2 (I don't own a PAL PS2). I'm only a couple of hours in but I'm completely in love with it. It does go out of its way to earn the Mature rating, with copious and amusing amounts of swearing, but the story is already gripping and the recreation of the location is very immersive (though of course to me it could be anywhere, I just mean that it feels alive). The main character controls a bit clunkily, and the combat system takes a bit of adjusting to. You really have to keep in minds its shortcomings when fighting. Despite that, it is a lot of fun and I never get tired of being interrupted in the street by some punk cruising for a bruising. At one point I was using a sofa as a weapon, swinging it around with aplomb. By all accounts the game gets sillier as it goes on. I can't wait, and I've already ordered the sequel.

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