Don’t worry about the apocalypse, it’s right at the end of the year. But just in case it’s real, here are some healthy steps to enjoying gaming to its maximum potential.
1. Finish More Games
Blame the Christmas schedule or our distraction for newer shinier things, but it’s high time we finished the games we started. Especially the ones we were enjoying! Shorter games like Arkham City and MW3 were probably finished by most. But longer efforts like Skyrim, Yakuza 4, and Rage are typical of the sort of titles that may get distractedly abandoned around the 60% mark. Finish these games before buying new ones and not only will you avoid having to restart because you’ve forgotten the controls and what’s going on, your next game will probably be cheaper too.
2. Play Less Crap
The Mayans reckon this is our last year to live, so time is precious. If you buy a game that stinks after three hours, it’s not going to get any better. Remember, you’re supposed to be having fun. For every minute spent playing Kane & Lynch, it’s a minute not spent playing Uncharted 3. Online rental users will be familiar with the disappointment of some games arriving instead of others. Maybe you shouldn’t have added it in the first place; did you really need to try Rio or Kung Fu Rider?
3. Play Online More
We don’t mean play one game obsessively, don’t become a tragic news story involving playing Warcraft/COD until you’re rushed into hospital for malnutrition and chair-to-flesh-removal. Some gamers don’t play online enough though, and then wonder why they get destroyed for the first three hours of MW3. Social co-op options are appearing more often and offer a great alternative to the world of rage-quitters and campers, so try out the likes of Battlefield 3, Trine 2 and Portal 2. Not Army of Two though, that would fail the Play Less Crap resolution.
4. Play a Genre You Don’t Usually Like
Put it under ‘Try New Things’ on your regular resolutions list. Free demos are the safest bet here. You may find that a genre you didn’t care for years ago has improved or maybe your own tastes have changed. So I might convince myself to try some RTS games or maybe even MLB: The Show, which is often touted as the PS3’s best sports game. It has to be better than watching it, right?
5. Buy a PS Vita
An easy one to tick off if you can save up the cash. With the memory cards for Sony’s new handheld wonder looking to cost a small knee-capping, you could offset the price by forgoing the 3G model. Seriously, have a proper think about how much you’d use the 3G. If you don’t commute to work and have Wi-Fi at home you probably don’t need it. Buy a big memory card or an extra game instead. Plus, you’ll feel better when they release a slimmer, sexier version with 4G in a few years. Here are some links to my Vita coverage.
6. Get Fit With Motion Games
Don’t join a gym, you’ll be sick of it after two visits and still have to pay for the rest of your sentence. Buy something like Dancestar Party, Dance Central or EA Sports Active 2 for your Wii/Move/Kinect for a fraction of the price. Then sell it on when you reach peak condition or go back to the realisation you could be hit by a bus tomorrow. Well, if you left the house.
7. Have a Games Clearout
Getting rid of newer games is always best done as soon as possible, as you’ll get way better prices on eBay. Have a good rummage and be honest with yourself about whether you’re actually going to bother replaying some of the older titles as they sit there gathering dust and losing value. Selling to friends or colleagues will potentially get you more money than eBay. There’s always the trade-in option on the high-street or online. Be warned though, you’ll get robbed blind for most last-gen titles.
8. Replay the Games You Loved
If you just can’t face losing some of those titles though, you could get hours of fun out of them. We’re so spoilt for choice with decent games this generation, which leaves us little time to replay awesome games in the way we’d happily watch a favourite film. So get in touch with some old friends, have an entire weekend with the Uncharted trilogy, play through Fallout 3 as an absolute shit/saint, or maybe even drag out Pro Evo 4 for a reminder of the good old days.
9. Try Onlive
Trying Onlive’s game streaming service is free on your PC. If you have a decent broadband connection you could buy the plug-in box and control pad so you can use the service on your TV too. Being able to try any game for an hour, for free, is a great service, even if you only use it to decide whether or not to buy it on your regular platform. If internet speeds become more reliable, Cloud gaming could become huge, so don’t get left behind.
10. Be less of an Achievement/Trophy Whore
Towards the end of Dungeon Siege III last week, I found myself on a mad selling binge to get a milestone Achievement before I finished the game. I was all set to enter the final battle, but I really wanted the prize. And after an extra two hours of collecting and selling loot, I did it. My Gamerscore was now 5 points richer. Going mad for these things for a game you absolutely love is fine, especially when it doesn’t demand you complete the game on a nightmarish difficulty. But wasting hours rounding up a few for a game you’re not particularly enjoying just isn’t healthy or fun.
So folks, just try and enjoy the core concepts of gaming again. As with all resolutions, keeping up ten is never going to happen. So maybe choose from three of the above and see how it goes. What are you going for and do you have any more that you think would lead to more enjoyable gaming? I’m off to flog some EyePet games at work.