Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening. A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight. Walking in a winter wonderland … still at least we can wrap up warm inside and play our video games. I’ve been doing a lot of that through November with quite a chunk of reviews going up on site. Buzz: The Ultimate Music Quiz, Gran Turismo 5, The Shoot, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, Crazy Taxi, SingStar Dance, Time Crisis Razing Storm, Start The Party, Madden NFL 11, Fable 3 and Arcania: Gothic 4.

Madden NFL 11 was certainly a different experience – the game had sat around for weeks with no one wanting to review it, mostly because it’s one of those games you really need to be a fan of to produce a quality review. I can’t say that the experience was awful as there’s a lot of meat to the game, but without really understanding the rules there’s no way you’re going to get the most out of it.

No such worries with the quick arcade fixes that are Crazy Taxi and Pac-Man CE DX. Looking around at other reviews, we seem to have scored Crazy Taxi quite highly compared to other sites. Whilst it’s lost the original soundtrack and the visuals have aged, it is still a fun game to play just as it was on the Dreamcast. It’s not a game that’s playable for hours at a time, but it’s one you can dip in and out of for a quick blast every now and then. This equally applies to Pac-Man CE DX which is an absolute blast to play. A bit easier than CE I think which broadens its appeal, but equally as addictive in the score chasing antics. Well worth trying out if you haven’t already.

Of all the games covered this month, I’ve put the most time in to Fable 3 and Gran Turismo 5. Fable 3 I really enjoyed, but there seems to be less and less reason to return to Albion once you get to the post end-game stuff, unless you’re a completionist. Gran Turismo 5 seems to blow hot and cold too; the racing is fabulous, especially with a wheel, but I’m always running up against the game design – I really hoped that Polyphony Digital would have tried a little harder with improving game progression, rather than stick with the very tired way it’s been done in every past title in the series. It’s a love and hate thing with the less said about the online play the better – something PD really need to patch up to get it anywhere near the quality of Forza 3.

We seem to be past the new release snowball now, with very little of note coming out in December, with the exception perhaps of the new Donkey Kong Country on the Nintendo Wii and Deadspace 2 from EA. Still, at least that gives everyone a chance to catch-up with their pile of shame and do their Christmas shopping. Maybe I’ll use the lull to grab Need for Speed Hot Pursuit.

Look out for the new podcast which should be up later this week and I’ll see you in the new year.

Marty Greenwell

Marty has been gaming since the heady years of the ZX-81 and still owns most of the gaming systems purchased since those days, including the Atari 2600, ZX Spectrum, SNES, Jaguar, Dreamcast and GameCube. Being a collection junkie (or more accurately, hoarder), he buys more games than he can possibly play, far too many of which are still sealed in their packaging. Marty favours RPGs and Driving games when it comes to genres, and is possibly a little bit too addicted to Disgaea. When not gaming he’s out frightening OAPs on his motorcycle, clad in black leather.

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