Friday night topic: The great PC gaming bonanza

The sheer number of high-quality games being released for the PC within the span of a couple of months, roughly centered around mid-November, has been a staggering and wonderful sight to behold.  This fall's bumper crop includes BioShock, Crysis, Unreal Tournament 3, Call of Duty 4, Hellgate: London, TimeShift, Gears of War PC, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, and Valve's Orange Box bundle of Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Team Fortress 2, and Portal.

Phew.  And I'm sure I'm missing some.

I'm currently testing video cards, so I'm immersed in many of these games to one degree or another as a result.  One of the more pleasant surprises for me has been Call of Duty 4, which is a very intense and sweet-to-play game.  Go grab the demo if you haven't yet and give it a try.  I've played a good ways into BioShock, but I stalled out with all of the new stuff flowing forth.  And I cleared Portal one lazy Saturday afternoon, which was a blast.

Another pleasant surprise to me has been Call of Juarez.  The developers shipped us a copy of this game for use in testing, and I figured I'd give it a shot since it's DX10 and looks gorgeous.  I was pleased to find out, contrary to expectations, that it's more than just a pretty face.  The game's very linear, but it has a story to tell and some great B-movie-type characters that, well, look like their personalities.  They really work.  Not many games can say that.  This game has been updated a couple of times since its initial release, and I get the sense that it's much better now than it was when first reviewed.  Might be worth a look if you somehow have the time.

TimeShift is also kind of fun, although of the mindless variety.  This fusion of Half-Life 2-ripoff setting and F.E.A.R.-ripoff combat has the most arcade-like action of any shooter since Serious Sam--maybe even more so.  It's cheesy and probably won't win many awards, but it's a guilty pleasure worth trying out for you FPS junkies.

As for disappointments, I'd put ET: Quake Wars on that list, albeit after only a small amount of experience with it.  Here's the knock: BF2142 seems clearly better.  Why bother?

Anyhow, that's enough from me.  What games are you playing now?  Which ones do you like the best from the current crop of releases and demos?  Any one of them stand head-and-shoulders above the rest?  What about disappointments?  Discuss.

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