One of the coolest parts of the new Xbox 360 incarnation of Xbox Live is the free downloadable demos.
Recently, a bunch of demos hit the network, with Electronic Arts releasing Battlefield 2: Modern Combat (BF2:MC); Ubisoft posting Ghost Recon Advance Warfighter (G.R.A.W.), and Eidos dropping the Xbox 360 version of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend.
I keep getting sucked back into the Battlefield 2: Modern Combat demo (the full version ships today). The game is a visceral, intense, absolutely huge, and less-serious war game ripe for "That's what I'm talkin' about!" moments. For example, me driving a tank over a bridge I know is out, as a guy on a rooftop takes aim at me with a rocket launcher. I drive the tank over the edge of the bridge, but not before I jumped out, rocket whizzing over my head and missing the plummeting tank, as I swap to a sniper rifle and cap the guy on the rooftop. He'd just been served.
The BF2:MC demo is buggy as all get out, so I'm hoping the retail version fixes some of the glitches. Seriously, the demo makes Oblivion look good (don't get me wrong -- Oblivion is a beautiful, engrossing game; but it's glitchy, and I can't currently play it because the "fragmented disk cache fix" isn't working).
The Xbox 360 version of BF2:MC has the content from the Xbox version (prettied up), plus the three new maps and four new vehicles from the Xbox “Warsome Booster Pack” released in December.
A more serious (and much more gorgeous) demo is Ghost Recon Advance Warfighter (G.R.A.W.). This game is intense, and for the less-experienced player, pretty unforgiving. This game plays more like a war version of a chess game (where you're an shootable chess piece), and can be pretty frustrating until you get the hang of the controls and different game play style. I jumped into this after playing BF2:MC, and had to seriously adjust my "who can take more bullets" game style.
Also, this game is a totally different game than the Xbox version of the game -- developed by a different studio, and with a much higher level of quality and overall game play.
In a previous blog, I passed on info that the demo wassn't going to have co-op. But last night, a buddy and I fired it up and were able to co-op -- though he hit that steep learning curve pretty quickly, and didn't enjoy his taste of the game.
Finally, I downloaded and played Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend. I'm warming up to this, and admittedly, I'm not a big non-2D platformer fan, but my issues with the game aren't with it being a platformer -- it's that it doesn't feel next-gen.
The game is fun, and things like the water are fairly impressive. But there are some jaggies, and when Ms. Croft stands on a downed tree, for example, her feet are set apart as if she's standing on a transparent, flat surface -- which looks wonky.
If I'm playing a next-gen game, I really want the physicality of an object to be apparent. I want her feet to land roughly more where they "should" land on a tree trunk.
But I did say the game was growing on me. Lara's got some new moves, and the God of War inspired grappler is a nice addition, and I think swimming handles better than it has in the franchise.
I should play it again, and see if it grows on my some more.