written by Blain Newport on Saturday, 16 July, 2011
Dead Space 2
While there were a couple slow sections in the middle, overall I'd say Dead Space 2 is a high four, if I were still putting scores on things, that is.
The combat is still not my favorite. It's good to back yourself into a corner so you don't get surrounded, but the third person camera goes squirrely when you do. And there are occasionally sections where you're probably boned until you've been through it once or twice to know when and where bad guys spawn. But once you know, the fights often becomes trivial.
My favorite thing about the combat was that EA's unlocking system doesn't work right and I got a bunch of nice guns from the very start of the game and for free, letting me experiment more than I otherwise would. I do plan to play through the game again at some point, but that's because it's a good ride with some variety, a decent story, and good production values, not because of some manufactured compulsion to own / max out all the guns.
Top Tier Blues
I feel bad for the top tier developers, in a way. Mark Twain supposedly said golf is a good walk spoiled by a little white ball. I suspect as the writing and production values of games approach Hollywood quality, we'll hear more people saying games are good movies spoiled by difficult, confusing, and tedious interaction. It's taken incredible leaps in technology, billions of dollars, and lifetimes of work to get games to a point where people can say "That looks cool except for the game part." That's probably frustrating.
It's a simple turn based RPG with some nice window dressing.
You can design your own male or female faery and as you upgrade them, you change their appearance even more. For me this made for some strange decisions. I chose my main attack element based on which wings looked best. But I stuck my faery with some pretty ugly antennae because I wanted a specific ability.
Anyone who's played Mass Effect will find this conversation interface strangely familiar. I don't think choosing "renegade" has a big effect on the game, but some allies will let you choose a special ability for them if they like you enough. There's even a potential to make a certain amount of romantic choice in the game, although it also doesn't amount to anything gameplay-wise.
The game itself is pretty much fetch and fight, but you can choose which you want to do sometimes. I felt it more realistic for an eight inch tall creature to lean toward diplomacy rather than violence. :)
While it's probably too simple for RPG fans and too complicated for most kids young enough to want to play with faeries, it's got nice music and visuals, decent writing, and a nice flight model / camera that makes the getting around feel pretty good (tight areas excepted).
Tower Defense Failures
While I did write down a list of the annoyances I found in many tower defense games, it all boiled down to giving the player enough info to make good choices and making the feedback clear enough that mistakes are obvious. If either is lacking, success and failure feel random and meaningless.