No Pain, No Game

Yup...this is dumb

In the middle of June, I woke up at 3am with a pain so unbearable that it woke me from a dead sleep. I couldn't walk, barely breathe, began throwing up and I was sure that something was incredibly wrong. I gathered the strength to stand up but again to make it to the bathroom but the pain crippled me and I fell to the floor. I crawled on the floor back to my room towards my cell and called my girlfriend for immediate extraction to the hospital.

After 2 days, a CAT scan, several shots of morphine, four different "specialists", a full panel blood test, a lot of people touching my stomach in very painful ways, an upper endoscopy, and some procedure where they shoved a tube down my nose to my throat (twice); I have had zero positive results.


Feeling well enough after a couple of days in a hospital gown, I needed something to do other than hunch over in pain. Since I can walk a few steps at a time and I don’t have to work for a few more days due to illness, I went to my local GameStop to find something to occupy my time. It was my favorite kind of day. It was Buy two preowned games and get a third for free.  “I’m going to be home for at least four more days,” I thought to myself, “Treat yourself to some relaxation and play through your wish list, man.”

Now bear with me ladies and gentlemen because my backlog will be games that 99% of the general gaming community will have played but I have a full time job, music, and a relationship so some games just get skipped.

Gears of War 2, Gears of War 3, and Splinter Cell Conviction are first grabs. I was in pain and I wanted these little polygonal figures to feel my pain too. Upon approaching the counter with payment and PowerUp card in hand, I’m informed reward members receive an additional Buy Two/Get One. Back to the wall I go.  “Bulletstorm? Uhh…yeah.”

I should stop buying games for my roommate now. I’m a nice dude but not that nice. To the PS3 wall I go. I have two more games to get so I reach for Homefront and Resistance 3. All six games are violent and violently fun games (feel my paaaaaiiiiin).

That is where it started and it continued from there. I won’t bore anybody further reading and probably thinking, “Cool story, bro. Where are your mini reviews?”  Sorry folks! Disclaimer: all screenshots taken from IGN, GameInformer,and their affiliates and are not my property. Here they are and in order of play through:

Gears of War 2 (Rent It)

Great action sequences and tight controls make for a great experience although the color palette and storyline failed to impress.

Gears of War 3 (Buy It!)

Holy crap. Graphical upgrades and a story that screams desperate times for the COGs made this journey one of my favorites of my 21. Finally, a color palette made of more than 3 colors!

Splinter Cell: Conviction (Buy It!)

Sam Fisher…Oh how I love thee. Nothing more satisfying them getting the drop on five or more enemies in silence and the last guy left is wondering what the hell just happened.

Bulletstorm (Buy It!)

A forgettable story with responsive controls, arcade style point and upgrade system, with comedy that often had me laughing (in pain) out loud but sometimes made for awkward living room conversations with my roommate…who’s Asian…and his Asian son…about the term “Sushi d***”.

Vanquish (PS3 Buy It!)

W…T…F..? I should’ve played this earlier or bought it on day one. This game lacked absolutely zero in everything but the story. Oh Japan, I’m cheering for you but your stories are atrocious.

Homefront (PS3 Rent It)

Look, I wanted to love this game. The story was pretty damn good but poor graphics, an annoying cast of characters, and graphical glitches (including one that rendered the game useless to me at one point), and a cliffhanger ending that felt unnecessary, combined to make a not-so-fun time. I heard the online was fun but the game froze on the end credits and never worked again so I can’t tell you much about that.

Shadows of the Damned (PS3 Rent it)

This game and it’s d*** jokes man, I swear. Suda 51 is a sick and twisted little man. I highly enjoyed the style and aesthetic of the game as well as the light puzzle solving. Very, very light puzzle solving. The nod to one of my favorite movies of all time is enough to give the score a boost but the controls were enough to make me cringe at times.

Resistance 3 (Buy It!

I’m a big fan of the Resistance trilogy. The story gets more and more depressing with each installment and that’s not in any way a bad thing. Now knowing this is the last iteration from Insomniac Games is depressing because the ending….oh the ending. I wanted so much more.

Catherine (PS3 Buy It!)

By far one of my favorite and most memorable of my 21 games of summer (I don’t know what else to call it). The puzzles are difficult.  I mean really freaking difficult at times. I played it on Normal difficulty and many a control hath been thrown. In the end, the story is where this game grabbed me and didn’t let it’s little sheep hooves off of me. Warning: playing with your significant other around may start mild arguments.

The Darkness II (PS3 Buy It!)

The acting in these games has always been very well done and Quad-wielding has given me new meaning to feeling powerful in a game. A lot of fun. Also, “Assecution”. Yup. That happened.

Deadlight (XB Live Buy It!)

The art style is absolutely fantastic but the cheap deaths and the entire sewer section of the game were just too annoying and frustrating to warrant a second play through but worth the first one.

Alan Wake (Buy It!)

There were some genuine moments of tenseness and chills from being in a dark forest for extended period of time that made this game a wonderful experience. The story, including presentation, was my favorite things. I loved the story from start to finish. On the other hand, the control mapping was crap.  I am, however, a fan of Gods of Asgard.

Crysis (PS3 Buy It!)

This game was a hell of a lot of fun. So much so that I went back after finishing a couple other games to get the Platinum trophy in it with a second play-through. Stealth in an FPS done right ladies and gentlemen.

LittleBigPlanet 2 (Rent It) 

I couldn't get into the sequel as much as it’s predecessor, but I can still recognize the genius of Media Molecule for what they are able to accomplish with every touch. They don’t need a story in these games and for good reason; their stories are not their strong suit.

Starhawk (Rent It)

I talked this game over with my friend who let me borrow it and came to a conclusion. This story was dumb. The concept and execution were incredible. He says the online is fantastic but I wasn’t able to play it due to the fact that he wanted it back to play online. He says it’s that fun.

Journey (Buy It!)

This game is so damn good. There are some scenes that will evoke emotions in you that you had no idea you had. I’m a 6 foot tall bearded man built of 100% man, but this game almost made me cry from the beauty. I’m serious. Take my man card and I’ll happily hand it over.

Sleeping Dogs (PS3 Buy It!) 

More like Sleeper Hit, am I right? OK that was a bad joke, but Sleeping Dogs was not a joke in the slightest. It was a wonderful compilation of action and great game mechanics that were weaved throughout a story with fantastic acting. This game sets a bar for the anxiously anticipated GTA5 that I’m sure gained Rockstar Games’ attention. A bit of advice: don’t walk too close to one of the “stores” that isn’t open because they just look terrible.

Stacking (PC Buy It!)

Stacking drew my attention a very long time ago with its adorable concept and art but I could never gather enough time to purchase and play it. Thanks to my terrific stomach (/sarcasm), I was finally awarded with an experience that I knew Double Fine would provide. I went for every Steam achievement because I was having that much fun. Kudos Mr. Schafer. Kudos.

Rayman Origins (PS3 Buy It!) 

When I first saw this game demoed on YouTube, I immediately had to have it. I’m 30 years old and I still love cartoons. Is that sad? Not to me and not when it comes to this little gem. I played through most of this game with my girlfriend and couldn’t have had more fun. She’s not a gamer so to find a game that we could both enjoy was great. Then the difficulty spiked and she had her first rage quit. That was also great…for me at least.

Sniper Elite V2 (PS3 Rent It)

X-ray shots of a large sniper bullet traveling 180 yards to shatter a skull into fragments: priceless. Well at least the first fifty times. After an eight hour campaign, I was over it. Actually, I was over it by the third hour. The controls outside of being zoomed in were just plain bad and the story was boring. Give me Enemy At the Gates the game. Please.

Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One (Buy It!)

Right out the gate, I want a R&C weekly cartoon. The comedy was great in this installment of our favorite Lombax and the gameplay was tight as ever. Compared to A Crack in Time, it didn’t quite deliver, but the co-op mechanics were a lot of fun. For review, I played with a couple 20 somethings and a couple of 10 year olds. Kids gave it an 11 out of 10 because my friend’s child is horrible at math. Needless to say, they liked it a lot.

I can’t say I’m entirely happy with my situation. My stomach is a mess and my hospital bill is insane. I will say that with the combination of good friends bringing over games, Playstation + free games and discounts, and the multiple B2G1 deals at GameStop, 21 games came into my life during a time where I was, and still am, at my weakest. I’m still sick over 90 days later and doctor’s still have no idea what’s going on, but my hobby has turned into the best kind of therapy. 

Originally written September 2012 .

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