Game Diary - November 24, 2008: 'Duty' Called

By Friday, "Spider-Man" had become too repetitious. I'm taking a break from it.

I spent a large portion of Saturday playing through "Call of Duty: World at War." It is rivaled only by "Grand Theft Auto IV," "Metal Gear Solid 4," and its series predecessor, "Modern Warfare," as the best-looking game I have seen rendered in a realistic style. The game is far from the off-year disappointment many fans were expecting from even-year "CoD" developer Treyarch.

The game was thrilling. It was also dark.

I wonder if anyone else who played it also noticed that there are moments in the campaign designed to leave the impression that the Germans, the Japanese and even the playable Soviets were treacherous and dishonorable in war -- while no such view is ever glimpsed in-game actions of the ever-valorous Americans. That matches my broad-stroke understanding of the actions on the ground in World War II, but it still feels a bit simple to see in a game that has clearly been made to shake the player up.

Fighting zombies via my 360 after the "Word at War" campaign cleared those thoughts from my head.

Come Sunday I was playing my first "Tomb Raider," the new one. It's a pretty game, but I already miss one of "Mirror's Edge"'s less heralded innovations: automatic checkpoint restarts following key but non-fatal platforming falls. It is aggravating to not just miss a major Lara Croft leap but to have Lara safely plummet to the water two stories below, forcing me to re-jump and re-climb several obstacles before reaching the key jump I just failed. Why couldn't she land on something fatal so I could get a quick restart? Or, couldn't that kind of accidental but safe deep dive grant Lara an immediate re-do. It would for Faith.

Next: Thanksgiving prep and travel is going to make this a gaming-light week until Friday. But shockingly my must-play stack is getting small anyway.