>Darksiders / Bayonetta

>Finished Darksiders this weekend, and after that I played as much Bayonetta as I could, before it started driving me completely insane – this was right at the beginning of Chapter 5. And then I gave Brutal Legend one more chance, and crammed in a bit more Mass Effect (1).

But first things first. Darksiders is, for lack of a better word, solid. (Which is ironic, considering the constant screen tearing.) It’s got a simple but effective combat system, some interesting and challenging puzzles, a wide variety of environments to explore, and a story that was just engaging enough to keep me motivated through the end, with one of the best set-ups for a sequel I’ve ever seen.

That said, it’s so derivative that it borders on litigious – as you’ve no doubt heard by now if you’ve been paying any attention to its reviews, it’s basically the dark Zelda game that Nintendo will never make, with the Portal gun thrown in, for some reason. So it feels somewhat uninspired – it has a great story set-up, but it doesn’t really do anything special with it. I said before that there are a wide variety of environments, but they’re not really particularly interesting; there’s a lot of dead space to cover in between combat arenas and puzzles, which gets tedious. (You do eventually get a horse, but it can only be ridden in certain areas, and you don’t get it until you’re already at least halfway through the game.)

Still, it’s certainly worth a rental; if it’s derivative, at least it’s stealing from the right places.

Bayonetta, on the other hand, is pure, distilled lunacy. Picture Devil May Cry as a perpetually horny, unintentionally racist teenage boy that’s taken 3 tabs of LSD followed by 20 cans of Red Bull and you begin to approach Bayonetta’s plane of existence. Unfortunately, I don’t do drugs anymore, and I’m not very good at games like Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden, so after getting my ass handed to me repeatedly at the beginning of Chapter 5, I came to the realization that no amount of curiosity as to what could possibly happen next was going to outweigh the frustration of not being able to kill whatever the hell was trying to kill me. I’m not entirely sure how what I’d already seen could possibly be topped, even though I’ve been assured that each chapter gets even more insane. Oh well; my loss.

I had lent Brutal Legend to a friend of mine, but his 360 died shortly thereafter and so I got it back. I’d been meaning to give it another shot; I felt terrible that I couldn’t get into it, as if it were somehow my fault, and being that the game is so short I figured I might as well try to get through it. But you know what? It’s not my fault. I hate the Stage Battles. I hated them when I was first learning how to play them, and I hate them now, long after I’d forgotten what the hell I was supposed to be doing. Everything else about that game is fantastic – even the side missions, as repetitive as they are, are fun enough. But GODDAMN I hate the Stage Battles. They are totally unintuitive; the controls are absolute garbage; I get no feedback as to how I’m doing or why I won or lost. I’m so bummed.

And so, then, I’m trying to finish my third playthrough of Mass Effect before ME2 shows up next week. I don’t know that I’ll ever get up to Level 50, as I’m still 80,000 XP short, but that’s not really the point; I just want to make sure that I can start my first playthrough of ME2 with the right story elements in place.

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