15 September, 2013

Tomb Raider, The Walking Dead

written by Blain Newport on Sunday, 15 September 2013

Tomb Raider (3 of 5)

I feel a bit bad giving Tomb Raider a low score.  It's got art.  It's got spectacle.  I saw a gazillion gals cosplaying the Lara Croft depicted in this game at PAX, so I know it's resonating with a lot of women. But it never really grabbed me.  A fair amount of the time it feels like the game is beating the hell out Lara for no good reason.

I heard that the makers wanted to make the player feel protective of Lara.  But I think that's missing the point of what games are.  Plus it leads to suspension of disbelief breaking tableaus like this.

Don't click on it if you're squeamish.

Otherwise it's a game.  You shoot some guys.  You move on.  Repeat until credits.  The moving on is supposed to be made more interesting because it involves more daring types of traversal.

But because these are mostly automatic actions, they felt like killing time until the next fight or cut scene, neither of which were interesting enough for me to feel they needed to be "earned".

The Walking Dead

Replaying the whole thing to rebuild my save file, there were interesting bits.  I heard some dialog that changed my perception of some of the characters and might have changed the choices I'd made the first time.  But I also found that keeping my mouth shut was the best way to move the game along.  When I finished replaying the main game and tried playing the 400 Days "bridge" episode to the upcoming sequel, it felt like the best way to play the game was generally not to play it.

Combine that with the fact that I know that my choices will only make cosmetic changes to the outcome of the story, and I'm finding myself indifferent.  I feel like I've seen enough dumb people make enough dumb choices in that universe.  It's the same reason I never watched Caprica. :P

13 September, 2013

Keepalive - Metro: Last Light, The Swapper, Saints Row 4, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, The Walking Dead

written by Blain Newport on Thursday, 12 September 2013

I have recovered from post-PAX depression and been playing some games. :)

Metro: Last Light (3 of 5)

I feel like there's no going back from Stalker.  There's nothing quite like exploring those worlds.  The Metro games feel like the amusement park versions.  I respect that a huge amount of polish and art goes into them.

But those type of worlds feel so much more amazing when I'm exploring them for myself.  The linear story is never going to be as good for me personally.  I'm the guy who stopped playing Fallout 3 when the big climactic end battle started.

I think I'd play Stalker: Call of Pripyat over any open world FPS at this point.  Well, maybe Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon if I felt like something light.

The Swapper (3 of 5)

I don't know why I keep playing puzzle games.  I don't care about puzzle games.  I'd heard very good things about the trappings of the game, it's premise and atmosphere.  I didn't care.  There's no investment in any of it.  Again, I admire the craft, but there's nothing enduring there.

Saints Row 4 (4 of 5)

I don't really feel like reviewing Saints Row 4.  But I guess I can't avoid it.  It's fan service to the Nth degree.  Some of it was pandering to the point that it made no sense, but I appreciated most of it.

Saints Row 2 will always have the best stories.

The super hero aspect works.  It's silly fun.  The most unique element is the ability to run through a GTA style world at absurd speeds.  I recommend never buying the Tornado upgrade, as it makes weaving through traffic less fun (and you can't turn it off).

Prototype is probably my favorite open world super hero game, which is sad because Hulk: Ultimate Destruction with an upgraded engine would probably instantly take back the crown.  Open world super hero games haven't come very far considering how big super heroes have been in pop culture.

Other Stuff

I got bored enough with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow that I'm not going to bother playing through it.  The boss battles so far have been awful Shadow of the Colossus rip-offs, total wastes of time.  And the premise of killing the evil masters to gain their powers just reminds me how much better Soul Reaver is than this game, hell how much better Mega-Man 2 and 3 are than this game. :P

I can't seem to find my old save game for The Walking Dead, so I'm playing through it again, repeating my decisions.  It's interesting to pick up some different conversations that I never heard the first time.  I find myself seeing other characters in a different light more than I expected to.  I intend to stick to the decisions I made the first time through, but we'll see how I feel when the times come.

03 September, 2013

PAX 2013

written by Blain Newport on Tuesday, 3 September 2013


Shadow Warrior

Shadow Warrior was probably the worst of the big three Build Engine games (which also included Blood and Duke Nukem 3D).  But I still liked to turn it down to easy and kill all the enemies with a sword.  The new version gives you crazy magical powers and a scoring system to reward flashy play.  Plus the earlier game's racism and sexism and main character are basically not present, which is fine.  Lo Wang was a one joke character anyway.  But I'm probably still going to talk in his silly voice while playing. :)

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

This looks like one for the folks at work.  Everyone controls a character inside a spaceship, running from station to station to use various thrusters, weapons, and shield arrays to avoid obstacles and fend off enemy ships.  So it's FTL meets Space Team, and it looks like Monaco.  Yeah.  They dug all those games so they'll probably be interested.

UPDATE: It's only two player local co-op, so it's probably much less of a thing for the work crowd.

EDF 2025

I will be playing this game.  But I feel a bit bad for the gal who had to demo it.  She apparently had to demo an earlier version right after the earthquakes in Japan and part of the fun of the game is knocking down buildings with reckless abandon. :(

Dying Light

I liked Dead Island even if it did wear out its welcome after a while.  Dying Light is Dead Island plus parkour plus the slow Romero zombies you fight during the day turn into freaky 28 Days Later run for you life zombies at night, which could be very exciting.  They actually dedicated a button on the controller to "activate slo-mo and look behind you" so you could fully appreciate how scary the things chasing you are.

Oculus Rift

Speaking of looking behind you, the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset was available for testing, and more than a few of the booths were using it to display their games.

The Oculus Rift is a fine piece of tech.  Even with the current low resolution development version, you can get an impressive sense of a space simply by moving your head around.  It seemed a little shaky with quicker motions, but the simple fact that the world pretty much goes away when you're wearing it is initially impressive.  And in games where you go to high places, simply looking down feels like an adventure.

The problem is that modern games are designed to have your viewpoint locked to a gun.  When it's not, you're aim isn't going to be as great.  Even sim junkies that play Arma and combat flight sims won't want to use it because Track IR and a high res monitor will always give superior target acquisition versus a Rift.  So games using the Rift will need a different vocabulary than normal games and no one will want to dedicate that much effort to tech with such a small install base.

TL;DR - good tech, no place in the current market

Other Stuff

  • I got a tiny bit of hands on with the XBone and none with the PS4.  There weren't any games on them I'm excited about.
  • I got to fist bump with Legion from Mass Effect 2.
  • I got to play Zombie Dice with a couple guys from Valve while waiting to see the Oculus Rift.
  • I got to watch a particularly silly installment of Acquisitions Incorporated.
  • I got to see the GM of said installment driving around in an SUV in full skull makeup over three hours after the event.
  • I played human scale Tsuro.
  • I had travel snafus and accommodation snafus, but I met a man who had to miss two days of the con to be on a dialysis machine, so I'm not complaining.