21 August, 2011

Variety Pack

written by Blain Newport on Sunday, 21 August, 2011

It's been a busy week, gaming wise.

Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath

Stranger's Wrath is a western on an alien world. I played it on the original Xbox. I wasn't a fan. There are definitely some bugs with the PC port, but I was lucky and only had a few graphical glitches. I don't know how much was the improved controls and how much was the fact that I'd been through the game and knew what I had to do, but I had a lot more fun this time than previously.

Here I am hiding in the bushes, preparing to ambush three guys. I stunned one with a lightning bug and tied the other two up in spider webs. By the time I'd finished capturing the first two, the third stood up, just in time to get punched in the jaw and go right back down.

I also think Stranger's Wrath has my favorite regenerating health system since regenerating health was invented. You have a stamina bar you use to jump, melee, and heal. If you're injured, you take cover and press your heal button to shake it off. Managing my stamina and choosing when to heal felt like I was managing resources and making choices, as opposed to Halo's hide and wait method which felt like forced time outs.


Bastion also feels like an alien western, albeit with a more steampunk, anime vibe.

Bastion's claim to fame is a narrator that talks about what you do as you do it. It's novel and well done, but doesn't make the game. I can see the clever bits in the story and storytelling, but with such a desolate setting and empty archetype characters, there's little reason to care.

The combat is also a little bland. There are a bunch of weapons that can be upgraded multiple ways, but the combat situations don't vary much, and any weapons are good enough, so I never felt like I'd made a clever choice and done the job right.

It's a good first effort, and the art and music are nice. But there's room for Supergiant Games to improve. (I initially wrote grow, but that was too punny.)

Star Wars: Battlefront 2

Dune Sea is a great map, maybe even the greatest map.

The sarlacc grabs characters and small vehicles and eats them.

I dubbed this vehicle the Party Skiff, and the name stuck so well that one of the players changed his Steam name to Party Skiff. As an assault vehicle, it's junk. It's flimsy. The passengers are fully exposed to small arms fire, and the sarlacc can eat it. But when you've got three gunners zooming across the landscape firing wildly like stereotypical drunken hillbillies, it's a quality assclown experience.

Plus Tie Tanks. I don't know if a modder made these up, or if these exist in some novel or comic book I never saw, but they're so ridiculous that I can't help but love them. They're actually pretty good at running over people, too.

And last, but not least, there are proper flying vehicles in the map. The map makes is pretty cramped for flyers, but outside of Hoth it's the only place I've seen armor, air, and infantry all going at once, making it the battliest battle in Battlefront. Hooray for Dune Sea!

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