Three is a magic number

As Christmas hurtles ever nearer like giant red and white boulder rolling down a tunnel decorated with garish lights it’s a busy time for assorted wassailing, leaving not so much time for gaming, which is a shame, what with 98.73% of all games being released in December. My City of Heroes characters are at least working towards Day Job badges as they remain un-logged-in (must remember to at least move them somewhere else after 30 days), but I’ve barely managed a round of Left 4 Dead in the last couple of weeks (apologies for the continuing failure to hook up with other Soupy Twisters), Fallout 3 continues to sit, shrinkwrapped, on the shelf, and The Jackal remains at large in Far Cry 2.

When I do get the time, three games are really standing out for me at the moment. Guitar Hero World Tour continues to be a lot of fun, the separate guitar/bass/drum (and, if feeling particularly masochistic, vocal) careers should keep that going for a while yet just with the on-disc songs, on top of that the EU Wii version has finally caught up on downloadable content with a nice selection of songs and more on the way. Just in case that wasn’t enough, 2009 should be an even harder rocking year, with more details emerging on Guitar Hero: Metallica, looking brilliant if moshing is your thing. Also, joy unbounded, Harmonix bring great seasonal cheer at least in my house by announcing “…we can confirm that [Rock Band 2] is compatible with other existing instrument controllers available for Wii for both guitar and drums. Even if you’ve picked up another full band game, you can grab Rock Band 2 in its standalone software format…”.

Over in the MMO-o-sphere, the war in WAR is really picking up. Our server seems to have a decent balance, as zones are regularly changing hands; over the weekend, Order were making a big push, I landed in the Chaos Wastes just as we locked them down and joined the assault on the Chaos fortress in the Maw. Substantial Destruction defence and the inevitable lagfest meant we weren’t able to capture the fortress itself, and a couple of days later Destruction obviously mounted a counter-attack as I turned up in Praag to find it locked and Reikland under attack. The open RvR also has a positive impact on scenario availability, as things like Howling Gorge and Reikland Hills actually pop up so a spare half hour and a scenario queue don’t inevitably mean Serpent’s Passage Part MMXCIVVIXCXXMICWTF, and there are PvE quests aplenty around the nine Tier 4 zones to relax a bit after some full-on PvPing.

Finally there’s Grand Theft Auto IV. Installing it was pointlessly tedious, there’s time to make a cup of tea as it starts up, performance hovers just the right side of “acceptable”, but, and it’s a great big rocket-propelled strontium-edged “but” on skis, damn, it’s a good game. I’m not very far in at all, still on the first island, so perhaps haven’t fully experienced some of the annoyances people have picked up on apart from the handling of the cars being a bit awkward compared to previous games; I am, as they say in the adverts, loving it. On top of all the usual running/jumping/standing still/carjacking type fun, I’m actually caring about the protagonists, which is a rare thing in games.

So, Santa, what I really, really want for Christmas is an extra week to be inserted into the calendar between travelling around visiting the family and going back to work. That would be lovely.