Grand Theft Auto IV: I have a bad habit of giving up and going to bed once I’ve failed a nasty quest a few times.  That’s bad because I’ll have to face it again when I reload and in this case, I just haven’t felt like it.  (These mostly involve car chases, which I’m lousy at.)

Still, it’s an intriguing game.  I like the fact that– unlike, say, Oblivion– not all quests involve killing people.  The characters are fun and the game both celebrates and satirizes vulgarity and violence.  A cute touch: if you play pool with your cousin Roman, he makes fun of you; if you go with your girlfriend Michelle, she’s supportive.

Mass Effect: Yes, #1.  I decided to replay it a) to redo the ending for ME2’s sake, and b) to see if it’s more fun with harder combat.

Futuristic winter driving

Answer: yeah, it’s a lot more challenging… I have to be careful in fights now, and use all my resources.  Mind you, the combat is still not as varied or interesting as many another game.  I hope they’ve spiced it up in ME2.

I’m a lot better at shooters by now… there was a particular fight I was dreading, since I had to try it over and over on my first playthrough.  It’s the first encounter with a Geth Armature, and replaying it is doubly annoying since it starts with an unskippable cutscene.  But it was actually pretty easy this time.  (Hint: head left into cover and deal with the minions.  Then just pick off the Armature from cover– its attacks are deadly but predictable.)

Bioshock: Also #1… hey, it’s hard to justify dropping 50 clams on a game right now.  I’d kind of dropped Bioshock after dealing with the first couple of Big Daddies.  I’ve gotten a lot further this time… fortunately I’ve learned how to handle them, and you get better weaponry and plasmids anyway.  I still run into spots where I’m frustratingly low on weapons, health, and Eve; on the other hand, that makes it all the more rewarding to finish a level.  The environment is spectacular, and they’ve taken a refreshing approach to villainy– Andrew Ryan is a crazy arrogant bastard, and yet they give him some great lines and great voice acting.  It’s refreshing to have the villain serving not eeeevil but a recognizable, real political ideology.