29 July, 2013

Review: Gears of War 3

written by Blain Newport on Sunday, 29 July 2013

Gears of War 3 (4 of 5)

There's a lot to recommend Gears 3.  It improves on Gears 2 in pretty much every way: graphics, gameplay, storytelling, pacing, variety.  The improvements are all incremental, but they're worthwhile. I don't really care about any of them though.  Being a simple, shallow man with NO TASTE, the thing that made Gears 3 for me was the Retro Lancer.

The Retro Lancer is a bayonet with a semi-superfluous automatic rifle attached.  I charged into so many guys with that bayonet.  And because you can't charge guys around corners, I kept the regular chainsaw around as well.  I would occasionally get to an ammo box and realize I didn't need any because I hadn't killed anyone with with boring old bullets for a good long while.  That's doing it right. :)

27 July, 2013

Review: Gears of War 2

written by Blain Newport on Saturday, 27 July 2013

Gears of War 2 (4 of 5)

This is more like it.  There's spectacle in spades.  The characterization and story are a huge leap forward from the first game.  That doesn't make them good, but they're passable by action movie standards.  And the feel of combat is slightly improved.

I'd say the game is pointlessly long, but you probably aren't supposed to play it in one sitting, so that's probably just me doing it wrong.  It could also be me getting old and having played enough of these types of games that I get bored with them easily.

26 July, 2013

Review: Gears of War

written by Blain Newport on Friday, 26 July 2013

Gears of War (3 of 5)

Gears of War is one of the last big budget console exclusive franchises.  So when I got a 360 I was looking forward to trying it out.  I'm not super into the first installment.  It's got a lot of well made parts, but none of it grabbed me.

The game and I definitely got off on the wrong foot because of it's damage indicator.  There's a transparent red gear in the middle of the screen that fills up as you take damage.  And while it's nice because it doesn't completely obscure vision and can be used as a reticule for blind firing, it's also transparent enough I had no idea when I was in real danger early on.  I'd just keel over dead and not understand what I did wrong.

Gears is known as a showpiece.  It was made by Epic Games, who's Unreal engine powers a ridiculous amount of games.  And since they make the engine, they are the first to get all the fancy new features and make their own games look the best.  But Gears is also old, so I was probably expecting too much.  It looks okay but not at all impressive at this point.

I hear people talk about the squad mates in Gears.  I guess those characters get developed in the sequels because outside of one of them being a former sports star there wasn't much to latch on to in the first game.  It's even worse because the squad is designated Delta, the same as in Star Wars: Republic Commando.  That game remains the gold standard for fun AI companions in gaming and no other game I've played has come close.  (Maybe Half-Life 2: Episode 2 on my first play through.  But Delta Squad is still awesome, and Alyx didn't hold up to repeat playings for me.)

To sum up, Gears wasn't bad.  But it couldn't live up to the hype. I'll see how much the sequels manage to improve on the formula.

21 July, 2013

Steam Summer Sale Is Basically Over and Inversion

written by Blain Newport on Sunday, 21 July 2013

Summer Sale Encore

On the last day of a Steam sale they put all the most popular items on sale again for people who missed them initially.  As I write this there's about ten hours left.  But I've gotten everything I wanted, so I'm just looking at some of the best deals approvingly.  "People who buy that game at that price and have roughly the same experience I did will be very pleased with their purchase.  What a wonderful thing a Steam sale is.  Good show, consumerism."

Inversion (3 of 5)

That's me standing on the side of a building, looking up at enemies on three different planes.  There's a blue energy field there that I think lets the player jump from this building to the upper one.  And there's a broken building floating in the sky.  At its best, Inversion is a flippy trippy take on Gears of War, with all sort of disorienting running on walls and ceilings and occasionally soaring through zero gravity zones.  Unfortunately most of the game doesn't do much with these mechanics behaving like just another shooter.  Also it crashed to desktop more than a few times.  Still, there's a germ of a much more interesting game in here.

20 July, 2013

Steam Summer Sale 2013-07-20

written by Blain Newport on Saturday, 20 July 2013

Saints Row 2 ($3.74)

Much like Magicka and NightSky, I always recommend Saints Row.  Admittedly, SR2 is a bad PC port, so it takes a pretty beefy machine to make the driving not terrible.  I'll understand if you want to play Saints Row: The Third instead.  But if you do go with SR2, go to Idolninja's site and get the Gentlemen of the Row mod.  It takes the best and makes it better.

Also, 2013's Game of The Year, Saints Row 4, is one month away.  We are not ready.

19 July, 2013

Steam Summer Sale 2013-07-19

written by Blain Newport on Friday, 19 July 2013

Civilization V ($7.49 or $12.49 with all the DLC)

I don't feel like I have time for games like Civ these days, but if you do, here's a deal.

Train Simulator 2013 ($10.99)

I don't recommend this.  But it gives me an excuse to post the following. (WARNING: Adult Language)

18 July, 2013

Steam Summer Sale 2013-07-18

written by Blain Newport on Thursday, 18 July 2013

Magicka ($2.49)

I always recommend Magicka.  It lets you be a wizard.  :o

The DLC is blah. :(

Torchlight 2 ($4.99)

It's a cartoony click and loot.  I played through it with Matthew's group and we had fun.

I've been playing a goodly amount of Rogue Legacy lately.  It's a die-a-lot fantasy platformer with a lot of clever bits.  Every time you die you choose among your three "children" who have random classes and characteristics (colorblind, dwarfism, OCD, farting) to use as your next character.  Then you can spend money to buy your children better training facilities and equipment.  Then you invade the randomized dungeon to do it all over again.  It's pretty repetitive, obviously, but as long as I earn enough money to afford an upgrade or two between generations it feels like I'm making progress.

17 July, 2013

Steam Summer Sale 2017-07-17

written by Blain Newport on Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The new Deus Ex is three bucks.  Batman: Arkham City is seven fifty.  So is Dark Souls if that sounded appealing.  Tropico 4 is six bucks if you dream of running a banana republic.  Grand Theft Auto Four is five bucks.  There's a bunch of stuff that looks like a great deal for someone else, but I can't see my way clear to recommending any of it. 

I thought the new Deus Ex was dull.  Arkham City wasn't bad, but it didn't have much to add to Arkham Asylum besides a pile of unnecessary gadgets.  I talked about Dark Souls already.  Tropico is okay, but it overstays its welcome considerably.  GTA4... I don't know.  I just don't care anymore.  I'm old and lame, apparently.  It's just all stuff I've done before.

NightSky ($0.99)

I love NightSky.  When I was feeling super burned out on gaming in general it made me feel good.  I should probably play it again, eh?

16 July, 2013

Steam Summer Sale 2013-07-16

written by Blain Newport on Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Alan Wake ($2.99 or $3.99 with all the DLC)

Alan Wake is basically Twin Peaks meets Stephen King meets video game.  That last bit means there's a lot of pointless combat, but whatever.  For three or four bucks, it's a quirky horror game with some interesting characters and nice visuals.

Mark of the Ninja ($3.74)

I didn't fall in love with it like the gaming press did, but I still respect Mark of the Ninja for doing a good job with 2D stealth.

System Shock 2 ($2.49)

At two fifty, this is basically, "I don't want to have to hunt up my CD again" cheap.

15 July, 2013

Steam Summer Sale 2013-07-15 and Dark Souls

written by Blain Newport on Monday, 15 July 2013

Terraria ($2.49)

 If you want a 2D game somewhat like Minecraft for 1/10th the price of actual Minecraft, here you go.

There a couple other games I think are pretty fun (Dishonored and Killing Floor), but two of the three people who read this already have Killing Floor.  And Dishonored makes stealth pretty great by adding a teleport ability so you don't have to wait for guards to turn away all the time.

I've been spending most of my time with Dark Souls so far.  It's another game that I can't really recommend.

This is Dark Souls in a nutshell.  I've killed at least 13 enemies to get to this point.  That enemy ahead is larger than most and I haven't fought him before.  There's treasure on a corpse beyond.  If I fail, I lose all my unspent currency and my humanity multiplier which determines how often loot drops unless I can kill all 13 enemies and get back to the spot where I died without dying again to reclaim them.

Some people find risk intoxicating and have the free time to gamble and lose and begin again.  I understand that feeling and the sense of accomplishment that comes from eventually winning out.  I don't think that's me anymore.

14 July, 2013

Steam Summer Sale 2013-07-14

written by Blain Newport on Sunday, 14 July 2013

Fallout New Vegas ($2.49)

I prefer Fallout 3 because it's less gated / linear, but this deal is pretty absurd.

Portal 2 ($4.99)

Puzzles, comedy, co-op, and a level editor for five bucks. It's also a very good deal.

13 July, 2013

GOG Summer Sale 2013-07-13

written by Blain Newport on Saturday, 13 July 2013

GOG decided to throw in a weekend long sale of their own.  If you like retro, these are my recommendations.

Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 ($3.49)

Building little parks and coasters and watching my little people run around and enjoy them was very satisfying.  (If you must have 3D you can pay twice as much for Roller Coaster Tycoon 3.  Actually, it looks like Steam will have RCT3 for $5 at some point during the sale.)

Blood ($2.09)

A tongue in cheek horror shooter in the vein of Duke Nukem, I felt Blood was so overlooked it was my second ever Video Talkthrough. The simple pleasures of setting giant spiders on fire with a lighter and hairspray, laying into cultists with dual tommy guns, and nearly killing myself with dynamite still bring a smile to my face.

There are a bunch of other great games on the list, too, but you can browse them yourself.

Meanwhile, back in the 21st century there is nothing for me to recommend in today's Steam sale.  Yesterday's recommendations are still good for 20 hours or so, but that's about it.

12 July, 2013

Steam Summer Sale 2013-07-12

written by Blain Newport on Friday, 12 July 2013

"That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die." - H. P. Lovecraft

That's my way of saying it's been a while.  I can't believe I actually kept writing this blog for so long with the hours I was putting in at work.  I still put in plenty of hours at work.  But I want this blog and doing videos back.  And I shall have them.  And I'm gonna learn basic French.  But that's another story.

I come to you now to provide a basic service (provided you read this soon enough). Steam is having its summer sale.  Here's what I think is worthwhile today, in order of recommendation strength.

The Walking Dead ($6.24)

TWD is an adventure game (not a shooter) about a zombie apocalypse and the decisions that have to be made to survive in it.  If you can stand the bleakness, it's a trip worth taking.

FTL ($2.49)

Faster Than Light is a Rogue-like (i.e. game where you die a lot) in space.  You have a top down view of your ship and try to win / survive numerous alien encounters by telling each member of your crew where to go and what to do.  And there's often a hull breach or a fire or enemies boarding your ship, so there's plenty for them to do.  Plus the graphics are so simple it runs on almost anything.

Just Cause 2 ($2.99 and $1.79 for all the DLC)

Just Cause 2 is an open world shooter with a parachute and grappling hook mechanic that turns you into a kind of reverse Spider-Man with guns. The story and acting are a laughable afterthought, but reverse Spider-Man with guns!