Wasting Time With Neon!
Strike Suit Zero
I'm so excited for this game! Strike Suit Zero launches in one week for the PC. I believe there are 360 and PS3 versions planned as well but next week it releases on my platform. The mechanical design is by Junji Okubo who worked on Infinite Space (for Platinum Games), Steel Batallion (for From Software) and Appleseed.
The game went from a space combat sim to a mecha space combat sim with his involvement. The composer of the Homeworld games was contacted and created a soundtrack that takes musical inspiration from various parts of the world, including Japan and India.
Each time I hear the music tracks over a developer diary, when I see the lasers shooting across space, the nebulae that you fight in as this mecha pilot, I get giddy knowing how badly I want this game. Strike Suit Zero looks spectacular and I hope it ends up being as wonderful as I'm imagining it to be. It will be a damn shame if I have to wait until Star Citizen for a great space combat experience. Whatever you do Born Ready, don't let me down!
South Park: The Stick of Truth
I'm a huge fan of the show. Make me laugh across the duration of the game and you will automatically have an instant contender for one of my favorite guilty pleasures. But pair up with Obsidian and have the potential to provide a fantastic role-playing experience and you how may have had me at "High Jew Elf."
I like to give second chances. After all, I am a man of the people and so I believe in what Irrational attempted with BioShock. I just happen to know that what they attempted failed. An involving story? Nope. That had to wait until 2012 for Telltale and Yager to hit the mark. Creative use of powers for fresh combat? I suppose it worked well enough, but with braind dead AI and floaty combat mechanics it just felt off. Casting you in an underwater city where anything was possible? All well and good, if it didn't feel like you were simply playing the sewer level of any other shooter, with leaky hallway, after leaky hallway.
But I understand the potential. I see it. There were moment of greatness in BioShock that showed true promise as a genuine classic. And I believe in Irrational, that after five years, they can get it right. That they can pull off a one of a kind shooter experience. The chance to fail is high, afterall, they failed once before. But if they get it, and I think they can, we are going to be in for a treat.
The Witcher 3
It's going to be announced this year. That much I can guarantee. It's going to be announced February 5th, that much I can surmise. It's going to be f*cking spectacular. That much I know. The Witcher series is one of the great success stories of this gen and it outclasses all RPGs available.
Final Fantasy V and hopefully VI
Square-Enix has confirmed that Final Fantasy V will be releasing on mobile platforms. They followed it up by saying the mobile revolution begins or some odd marketing line like that. I take this as hope that we will receive FFVI very soon. Square-Enix did manage to release the rip-off release Final Fantasy All the Bravest or something on mobile platforms (stay away from it, it's highway robbery). But having seen how well JRPGs work with just touch controls has me ready for the guaranteed release of V and the hopefully eventual release of VI.
This is sort of an odd place to be in. I beat Final Fantasy IV (released as Final Fantasy II in the US) earlier in 2012. I found it to be one of the best experiences I've had with a game. Then Square-Enix released the DS remake to iOS at the end of the year and I bought it... and I love it again. I'm already at the underworld. And I'm loving it again.
There are a few key differences between the remake and the original release. Some boss fights, like Barbariccia, the Archfiend of Wind, are way harder than before.
You also no longer have the ability to rename the cast of characters as you did in the original release. People may remember these characters as Cecil, Rosa, Kain, etc, but you could rename all of them. That's no longer possible in the remake. The cutesy graphics of the remake are also a bit of a mixed bag compared to the significantly more badass SNES artwork. For instance, Golbez, looks like a fat Rennaisance Faire worker as opposed to a cloaked badass. Visual proof?
This is actually the part where I am in the remake right now. Kind of a fitting screen. But he looks badass.
And, oh, hey... you're not as intimidating as before....
But this remains one of the best games I have played and I guess that's likely the most compelling reason I have for revisiting it so soon. As soon as I beat this game, I look forward to Square-Enix's release of Final Fantasy V. A fresh Final Fantasy experience is always exciting, especially from the three most beloved of the 2D releases.
I also look forward to seeing how many themes carry over into FFV and FFVI. I can already draw some influences on Final Fantasy VII with the bit that I played, but I think I ultimately should leave that game on hold until after I beat FFV and FFVI. It is what lightwarrior and a few others suggested and I think I will go with that option. Already between FFIII, FFIV and FFXIII the concepts of a world above and a world below are shared between the three. I'd love to see what other entries in the series share similar concepts and which ones introduce new ones in order. So for now, I'll finish up this FFIV game, then move on to either The World Ends With You or Chaos Rings II.
At the moment, Final Fantasy IV has put on hold all other games I have in progress. No offense to Sleeping Dogs, XCOM and Torchlight II, but there's just a better game available. All three are actually excellent games and the only thing keeping them from being finished is the giggling fanboy within me.
Ultimately, whether I finish my JRPG journey this year is reliant on how quickly Square-Enix releases FFV and FFVI on the App Store, so that I can also revisit FFVII. But I do have other greats I intend on playing.
My experience with Square-Enix was at zero going into the last gen. Final Fantasy XIII was the first and I loved it. From there I played Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy IV, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana and Chaos Rings. All of them are fun games (Chrono Trigger being the best).
Kamiya was asked certain questions on Twitter and his responses were twisted to post some stupid article that basically slammed Platinum because Kamiya himself as one person has no interest in cloud gaming or PC gaming.
After asking that question, the genius decided to write this article.
Meanwhile, the writer of the piece, genius that he is for pissing off the Lord Kamiya, Master of All Things Awesome and Spectacular, manages to confuse cloud gaming and digital distribution. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice! Oh and he called Kamiya clueless. Editted out now, obviously, but that's what happens when you try to create an article full of generalizations about an entire nation based on one man's opinion from a Twitter question.
Oh, and Kamiya responds. Like a boss.
No, seriously. Kamiya, You're the man. I know I shouldn't state the obvious, but dude, F*ck Kotaku.
This braindead attempt at trying to get people's attention for poorly written crap is also in direct opposition to what Inaba had to say after Platinum VISITED VALVE AND DISCUSSED SOMETHING THERE WITH FREAKING GABEN, and he responded with this little nugget:
"Console game development budgets are really big, so we need publishing partners to create those games. I was thinking with our own money about creating a PC title for Steam. It would give us the possibility to become a publisher, which is very attractive to me."
Hey Kotaku, NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICE!!!! SO NICE!!
No, seriously, Kotaku, they're considering DOING A KICKSTARTER TO RAISE MONEY TO RELEASE A GAME ON STEAM. Yeah, Japan is so clueless about PC gaming. You guys did a great job there. Seriously.
Hey Kotaki, niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice!
One week into 2013 and I've managed to work one full day only. I'm not lazy, I'm just a motivated procrastinator. Anyway, 2013 is here and I have not announced a GotY. Why? Because I think it's stupid that everyone announces GotY in December. Why do you people do that? It's so dumb. Let the year end. Reflect a bit. Geez. Anyway, instead of boring you with what I think is the best let's talk about 2013 plans and most anticipated and crap (all game related obviously, I'm sure you folks don't care what I plan to do beyond that).
TEH PLANS FOR 2013!!!
- Final Fantasy IV- I beat it on Virtual Console and loved it. I purchased the remake however as soon as it was brought over to iOS. It's a spectacular game and well worth playing. The remake is well done, although I prefer the grittier look of the monsters and characters in the original as opposed to the remake. As of this writing I just got past the Antlion Den.
- Final Fantasy V- Final Fantasy V is what I want as the next old-school Final Fantasy title. It's the only one I figured I'd have to buy a GBA for and now I don't need to. Thanks Square! It's on a "coming soon" schedule for 2013, and I'm a big fan of Final Fantasy III's job system and everyone tells me this game gets funky with the jobs.
- Final Fantasy VI- With Final Fantasy V being confirmed and the whole "mobile revolution" crap it's time I played the game that people say is on par with might Chrono Trigger as the best game around. It'll follow FFV for certain, and it's the one FF title that gives me that "greatest game ever" vibe. I want it, but I've waited this long, I can continue to wait a bit.
- Final Fantasy VII- I purchased the PC download that Square-Enix offered. I'm still relatively early into it but I ultimately stopped playing the game as soon as the major 2012 games started to hit. It's really good though, and I will return to it again in 2013.
- Chrono Trigger- A recent chat with lightwarrior reignited our love for JRPGs. I mentioned how Chrono Trigger would destroy any game released. I'm going to replay it in 2013, go for some of the non-canon endings as I've seen the actual end. It's time to see what ways I can mess with the story and see things pan out!
- The World Ends With You- I purchased this game on sale, I'm going to play through it and see why everyone thinks it is the best game developed by Square-Enix.
- Chaos Rings II- I'm a fan of the original and I find the more involved take on Chaos Rings II to make it a better overall game. I played the first dungeon, it plays as expected, but the story is surprisingly gruesome. It's hard to imagine having to save the world by killing the people you love, so there's potential for an interesting game here. I'd like to see it through to the end and see what happens.
- Half-Minute Hero- It was on my wishlist as a game I wanted to try and Legolas sent it my way as a Christmas gift (thanks again dude). I'll be starting it up sometime in 2013.
GROWING BEARDS AND HAVING ADVENTURES APLENTY!
My time with The Walking Dead sparked an interest in interactive adventure games. I grew up playing King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder. I was always fascinated by it but could never figure it out on my own (leave me alone, I was four). I recall games like Myst, Riven, Syberia and others that I tried to play for short periods of time. Syberia in particular was interesting. But as a child my attention span always returned to Quake. But I purchased two games. The first season of Sam and Max and The Longest Journey. Sam and Max is to see the initial roots of what made The Walking Dead tick so well, although it's a cartoony comedy I still am interested in seeing it play out. The Longest Journey has been described by many as one of the pinnacles of the genre. I intend on seeing both through to the end.
TO DABBLE WITH PEASANTS!!
Many of you know that I have essentially stopped playing on consoles. I have no intention of purchasing a WiiU after using the stupid controller. I have no intention of taking part in Microsoft's harebrained schemes of hands-free controls and I have no interest in Sony's plans to either block off multiplayer from used game purchases or to straight up attach your games to one console. I also do not look forward to seeing either of these three stupid ass companies market any of these things as what I actually want.
But I still have my Wii, tucked away in a cabinet somewhere. What I need is to purchase a small TV for myself and play some games on it. How do I want to end my time with Nintendo?
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword- I bought it for $20. It was in the wrong bin. Couldn't pass it up. I need to beat it. It looks wonderful and I look forward to playing to playing it.
- Xenoblade Chronicles- I have heard the reports of how Xenoblade Chronicles is like the greatest console JRPG ever to be made in the history of everything. I just wanted to say, you have my curiousity Monolith, you have it and I shall entertain the idea that you somehow made a game that is just THAT good.
- The Last Story- I'm a sucker for Hironobu Sakaguchi. And the Gooch created this game following the stellar Lost Odyssey. I want it and I want it now. I want it more than the other two, but I guess we can do Skyward Sword first. I also tried playing the whole "I FOUND THIS IN THE $20 BIN!" act with this game, but they said no. Stupid jerks.
Priority level for this section is obviously a bit lower as it involves purchasing a TV, albeit a small one, but still, it's a purchase I don't want to make this early in the year. Probably around summer.
PRIORITY NUMBER ONE, DEFYING TEH END OF TEH WORLD!
I intend on finishing my 2012 game purchases prior to actually posting what my Game of the Year is. There's also a chance that I just won't do a Game of the Year, depends entirely on my mood. I have the sneaking suspicion no one gives a damn, but I DO IT ALWAYS ANYWAY AND NOW I'M LIKE, DUDER WHADAFUQ YOU DOING? But I still want to finish my 2012 releases. I currently have in progress:
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown (25 hours)- I love it, I'm addicted. I need to finish the campaign and then give it a whirl on Ironman mode, see how far I can make it. Without Ironman, it's a very doable experience, and it's extremely entertaining. The GotY wins at Kotaku and GameSpy are well-deserved!
- Torchlight II (22 hours)- Again, I love it. It isn't a genre-changing experience, but it does formula right, which makes it 10 times the game that Diablo III ever will be. It's fun and understands how to provide an accessible game that provides true gameplay depth within the genre. It's the finest example of a lootfest since Diablo II. Shame on Blizzard.
- Sleeping Dogs (12 hours)- I love this game too! Again, it's nothing unique, it takes concepts and ideas from games that did them first, but it combines in such a way that it feels better than any of them. Everyone knows I dislike the Batman Arkham games. And yet, this game features similar brawling to that series and I love brawling in Sleeping Dogs. And Hong Kong is so well made, it feels genuinely authentic.
The games I haven't started yet:
- Borderlands 2- I bought it for pretty cheap, installed it and am ready to go. I just need to finish the other three games before starting it. Looking forward to seeing Handsome Jack in action! And if anyone wants to coop let me know.
- Mark of the Ninja- Praised as one of the best stealth experiences of this gen AND IT FEATURES NINJAS. I mean, let's be real, I was destined for this game.
- Lone Survivor- A relatively short, 3 hour game made by one person and described to me as one of the best horror games around. Either the horror genre sucks or we're looking at a talented individual. Maybe both.
I'll go through these six to start the year off and bring an end to my 2012 line-up of purchased games.
EVERYBODY LOVE EACH OTHER, DAMN IT!!
I also intend on taking my first step into the dreaded MMO territory. Guild Wars 2 looks more and more spectacular when I see it. An MMO that based on exploration and is as fun to play solo as it is with your friends, with no additional costs sounds like a great starting place. But I'm not going to pay $60 for it. So I'm waiting for an eventual sale. It's too soon at the moment anyway to go for it, but Guild Wars 2 looks absolutely spectacular! Time giving it Game of the Year certainly caught my attention as well. And unlike the snobbish masses of this site, I actually like Time's GotY lists. For that matter, I also love Forbes' GotY lists (DISHONORED FTW BABY!!!)
THE SHEPARD OF GAMING
I beat Mass Effect 3. I loved it. You guys all know that. But I didn't beat it with MY Shepard. But after seeing how it fixed everything and gave emotional weight to the events of Mass Effect 2, I decided to go through the series again. I blazed through a Paragon trail of love and kindness for all spacekind. I kissed a blue chick on the face. I kissed her hard, man. And I tore through a Suicide Mission where things finally made sense. I didn't just beat Mass Effect 3, I sped through Mass Effect 1 (you couldn't pay me to explore those planets again, guys, sorry) and then I took my time with Mass Effect 2. I held tightly on to it, trying to see what I missed before and after 4 DLC purchases and 50 hours of space-faring, Paragon adventures I knew I was set for the finale I wanted to see. The REAL Mass Effect 3. The one that was based on MY Shepard. I wanted to see resolutions to all the story arcs I had created. And I'm going to. Because Mass Effect 3, as it is, is one of the best games available. And I say that because I intentionally played without the extended cut DLC and still loved the game.
Now, I get to see my decisions, see this extended cut play out as well. The game was already a front-runner as my favorite of the year, and that was based on the bare-bones experience. I say bring it on!
STRATEGIC WARFARE LIKE NO OTHER
I can name every Strategy game I have ever played. It's quite a short list, really:
- Age of Empires II
- Age of Empires III
- Halo Wars
- Company of Heroes (for a few hours at most)
- The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II (again, for a few hours at most)
- Dune 2000
- Total War: Shogun
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown
I would typically shy away from the genre. It just wasn't for me in many ways. But XCOM: Enemy Unknown has brought out a side in me that I never knew truly existed. And with it I want to try more strategy games.
I'll be starting with Company of Heroes, seeing as how I got it during the Humble THQ Bundle. It'll be great to play such a highly praised game for basically nothing. Another that I want to give a shot is Total War: Shogun 2. I spent hours playing Shogun as a kid. MANY hours. It might be time to give the sequel a shot, considering all of the praise it has received and my initial, enjoyable experience with the original.
Those are the gaming plans for 2013. I have no idea how many of them will actually pan out. Things always change on the fly due to situations (like work and school), or impromptu game purchases. There's always the fear that I might end up with a non-gamer girlfriend again (harder.... than it sounds.... srsly.... and by non-gamer I mean she was basically against it....). There's also a road trip we have planned and a trip to Vegas sometimes, but again, this list is focused primarily on what I want do as a gamer in 2013. I don't really buy brand new games when they release, waiting for the end of year sales when they're $30, $20, $15 whatever. So I hope to have a good chunk of this done by like November. Again, barring anything that may come up or any time constraints.
I remember when I was younger, enrolled in an AP Literature course in high school. Every week there was a new work to read, whether it was Hamlet, Things Fall Apart or Beloved. But one work in particular always stood out to me, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The day I started reading it was my grandfather's birthday. We were at a park setting up a barbeque, but I climbed up a nearby tree and as soon as I settled onto my branch I started to read. One hour later, I was four pages in. It was dense, there were people laughing and playing outside. But I shook it off and kept reading, another hour later and I was immersed in one of the greatest stories ever written.
It wasn't until later in my early college years when I saw Coppola's Apocalypse Now, a film that used Heart of Darkness as its source material. And suddenly, one of the most harrowing stories I had read was brought to life on the screen. No longer a tale of European men in search of Kurtz in the African interior, Apocalypse Now became a tale of American men in search of a rogue Colonel Kurtz as they sailed across Vietnam. But there was something more to Apocalypse Now, the imagery was romanticized. Every bit of it seemed surreal. Initially I wondered if it was because the characters believed they were sent out for a just cause, that they somehow believed what they were doing was right. But the mind always returns to that famous line, "The horror. The horror." By the movie's end, I knew, just as I knew when I finished Conrad's work, I knew the horror.
Later in 2012, there were murmurs amongst the community of a game that used the same source material. It was something that I ignored completely. This, Spec Ops: The Line, looked like any other military shooter and I have been of the belief that a videogame story is inconsequential. Characters may work, certainly, but never has a gaming story ever affected me in the way that cinema or literature have ever done. I suppose at this moment it is worth giving praise to Telltale Games and their Walking Dead game for bringing me to tears and raising emotions in me that no game has ever done before. Because of that game I chose to play Spec Ops: The Line. And it started off safe at first. The game was a cover-based shooter. It played similarly to Gears of War and featured soldiers who were always busy cracking one-liners and jokes. That was the first level at least. I wondered what the praise was for but kept on trudging. And then within the second level Yager Studios and, thanks in large part to their writer, Walt Williams, who has managed to craft one of the most gripping narratives that could only be possible through an interactive medium, created a surreal moment. And as my team barged through that sand-filled building and we heard the voice of a DJ or someone of that sort, it was impossible to tell so soon, talking down to us, I knew there was a chance for things to get interesting.
They did. Where Spec Ops: The Line starts and where it ends are worlds apart. When you begin you feel like a hero. You blaze through a trail of enemies, mowing them down and saving innocents that were clearly going to be murdered by these people. You quickly begin the hunt for a Colonel Konrad in the deserts of Dubai. You are Delta and you need to stop this man and the Damned 33rd. The setup is entertaining; the explosions are typical and expected but help provide excitement as you continue to fight. But as you reach the final act, one of the greatest presented in an interactive medium, you tire of it. This is not meant to be a criticism of the game. This is pure, unabashed praise for Spec Ops: The Line. You no longer want to kill a human being. You feel the weight of each death. You begin to question why you are wantonly destroying, why you are marching forward on a manhunt and you realize that our medium has desensitized us to death. Our modern games no longer penalize us for dying, they spawn us where we died or moments before it and we continue slaughtering again. But Spec Ops: The Line makes you feel again. It makes you feel horror that no horror game has or can ever make you feel. It raises the point that killing is murder, regardless of whether you do it for yourself or your government. It is a game that through violence shows you how war can affect the soldiers fighting on the ground. And the third person perspective helps, as you make your way through hell, literally a hell, there is no other way to describe the battlefields but the planes of hell, as it scars and breaks and tears you and your team, as it takes you each to the edge.
Never before has a game made me pause and put so much thought into the choices that it asked me to make. The choices are not there to dramatically change the experience, but what you are asked to do hold weight. And at times you are terrified of the choices you have to make. The game makes you feel dread, this is not what we have come to expect from the rabid jingoism of our military shooters, and it hits hard. And as you hunker behind cover, fighting more and more enemies, you tire, just as the characters do. They no longer want to kill just as you as a game player, you as an individual, and you as a human being no longer want to kill. But I went forward. Perhaps because I was trained that way, to see my games through to the end, particularly if I thought they were interesting. And Spec Ops held on to my interest. Normally if I were to tire of killing in a shooter I would simply stop, due to boredom. But Spec Ops was different. I wanted to stop because it was scratching at something in me. There was the same romanticized lighting from Apocalypse Now, and even then I still couldn't wrap my head around the horror. It was only nagging at me from the second act on, and by the time the third act came I wanted no more violence. I had realized what the horror was.
But it got to me. It opened up feelings I had never experienced playing a game, just as The Walking Dead did. And I stood there, with angry civilians, unarmed, standing before me. They had figurines of Konrad, who they believed to be a savior. And yet I crossed the desert to find him. I saw the atrocities he committed. I knew he had to be stopped. They only expressed hatred towards me, and what I wanted was to liberate them, to save them. Instead, I watched them hang an innocent man. They barred my way and I did what I never thought I could do, I opened fire on civilians. I was not forced to, instead there was a sense of numbness that came over me and out of my own feelings, because of what I believed needed to be done I opened fire. And like that, I was broken. I stopped and had to reflect. I had to breathe. I was broken by a game.
Spec Ops: The Line takes Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now and uses them as inspiration as it sets a new standard in gaming. No military shooter should ever be judged the same way again. No military shooter should be praised the same way again. Stories in our games need to make us question our own decisions. They need to make us question what we are being told. They need to make us question the protagonists we are controlling. Spec Ops: The Line proves that just because a game is a shooter, does not mean it has to be a power fantasy. But maybe thats the lure of the game? It starts as one, and then, an image of hell is burned in your eyes as you walk through heaps of dead civilian bodies, as you look at the melting flesh of a mother trying to protect her child from the horror that Joseph Conrad first wrote about. The same words I read as a child in high school, sitting in that tree while families played together.
You guys know I don't give a crap about strategy games. It'll take some form of divine intervention to get me to play them.
Then, there's 2012. I started by dabbling in FTL: Faster Than Light. I was hooked. Still am. The combination of upgrading your ship, the roguelike rules and watching your crew slowly get better as they meet untimely deaths in the depths of space made for one of the most compelling experiences around.
I thought of it as a fluke. Sure, FTL was awesome. A nice companion piece to my adventures in Mass Effect. And then, in a sort of daze, lightwarrior and I both purchased XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It was 50% off on Amazon (only 33% off on Steam, I know, we're cheap, f*ck you). To say that I, well, we, are both addicted is an understatement. I went a full 15 hours before even attempting to forward the story. It was just too fun to play. Reports came in from India of a similar phenomenon occuring with lightwarrior. As it stands, he's got the double the hours I do. But that's because I was busy playing Spec Ops: The Line prior. As soon as I started XCOM on December 30th I think I did a 9 hour marathon session. And it was glorious. And here I am now, having just completed the first story mission and it's spectacular. Larger in design, with more surprises than before, the game is addicting as can be. The 16 or so hours I've put into it have me very excited to see some more of it in action.
Like I mentioned, I also played Spec Ops: The Line. It's the best military shooter I've ever played. An excellent game that should be played by everyone who has even an inkling of interest in the shooter genre and it should be played even more so by people who are tired of the stupidity of the genre.
I also made some last-minute purchases off of the GoG sale.
Telltale Games are 80% off. I purchased the first season of Sam and Max after the excellence of The Walking Dead. I also purchased The Longest Journey on lightwarrior's recommendation. So those two should help me round out my experiences with the adventure genre a bit more.
I also used my $5 credit on Amazon, which I got for purchasing XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and used it towards Borderlands 2 which was half-off. So I got it for $25.
I'm also becoming really interested in Guild Wars 2. I haven't tried an MMO yet and that game is looking like a great place to start considering it literally features zero transactions beyond just buying the game. I'll be getting it sometime later in the year but first I have my games line-up to go through.
I should be getting my first normal paycheck on Friday. I haven't been paid a proper amount in months due to working internships, so my availability at work dipped. Thankfully I can save some money again for awhile. I'm gonna need it. But these sales helped me get brand new games at great prices, across GoG, Steam and Amazon. So I never really was strapped for cash, though I very easily could have been. To put it lightly, since Thanksgiving I purchased 17 games at about $200. If I were to spend $200 with LA tax I could only buy three $60 games and have enough left over for a sandwich.
It's cool though, I'm stockpiling since the first half of 2013 is going to be spent catching up on games I bought. I also made sure to only purchase games that I definitely wanted to play and not games that I sort of thought looked cool but didn't want. So I should be solid. I hope everyone had a great time this holiday season.
It ain't the holidays until Amazon, GameFly, Steam and GoG all try to one up each other in sales.
Dafuq you buy, Neon? You're all probably asking.
Torchlight II- It's a great action RPG. Really fun, especially in coop.
Spec Ops: The Line- The first military shooter I've been interested in since, ever. A lot of that has to do with all the praise I hear for how it challenges the genre's glorification of violence. It'll be interesting to see how it all pans out.
Lone Survivor- I was curious to try it, lightwarrior told me it's 2D Silent Hill on an acid trip. I bought it.
And lastly, an operatic masterwork that so many lamented my indifference towards it.
ONE SONG FOR ALL CHAMPIONS! WE GATHER NOW FOR THIS SINGULAR MOMENT! LET NO MAN BELIEVE THAT HE IS SAFE. LET NO WOMAN BELIEVE SHE CAN FACE THIS WRATH. LET NO CHILD BELIEVE HE CAN TRASH TALK HIS WAY OUT OF THIS. FOR TODAY, GLORY TO THE NINJA. GLORY TO THE LORD NEON!!!!
So.... hi.... Steam sale.
So.... I bought.... Torchlight II.
So.... I'm really..... enjoying it.
And yes.... not a type.... loots.
I have two characters, an Embermage that I use for solo play and an Outlander that I use in coop with lightwarrior. I just wanna say, Torchlight II is an improvement over Torchlight in a big way. Just playing solo and going through the world is great fun on its own. Toss in a friend (or more) and it's better than before.
Much of that fun nature of it comes from the interactions of playing with your friends. light and I are playing on the hardest difficulty level and it scales like a motherf*cker in coop. But the enjoyment came as we made our new characters and light shows up with a freaking girl.
"DON'T JUDGE ME!"
"SHOW SOME FREAKING SELF-RESPECT, MAN!"
Or when we hit a tight spot, no health and he had no scrolls but I had two left to go to town... and then I died and instead of respawning back I went back to town. So I get his whining about how he's struggling to survive and I'm rushing over to help him... until a shiny spot in the lake beckons me to it and I start fishing. 5 minutes later, there's his/her raggedy ass running over and the next IM I get I know is going to be an earful. It was one of those awkward moments, where if my friends or family caught me doing something I shouldn't be doing I'd feel really awkward and play it off. So as soon as I saw his character show up I was like.... 'oh f*ck..... hey....." in my mind.
"YOU'RE FISHING!? I HAD NO HEALTH, NO SCROLLS, FIGHTING TO SURVIVE AND YOU'RE FREAKING FISHING!?"
"I believed in you brah....." Then I cast the fishing line again......
In all seriousness, antics aside, the game on coop is harder as it requires actual teamwork. Once his Engineer, running around with giant hammers and cannons and my Outlander, running around with tiny pistols and sometimes a bow (....I know I chose the stupid class.... I DIDN'T KNOW THERE WERE CANNONS!) started working together we started to clear things out at a smoother rate.
Loot drops are still fantastic. Skills are rather deep and require actually paying attention to what you're doing as opposed to Diablo III's well, I don't know what Diablo III's excuse was for its skill system other than Blizzard thought people were stupid. But in Torchlight II you will have to specialize in certain skills. My Embermage for instance is focusing on ice spells and fire is a backup.
Torchlight II is fun to play, both solo and coop. And I love Runic's stance on the game. They say selling it digitally only led to the $20 price tag and that they're making as much on it as they would if they were selling a $60 boxed product. I don't like that a lot of digital games go for full price. I think it's a model that will disappear. The success of the Steam sales and the recent Humble THQ Bundle helped out with that.
But Torchlight II for $10 is a steal. I got it today, and with 7 hours put in, a chunk playing coop in the morning with light and then another recent chunk solo brought me to that number. But it's fun, cheap and it's a great RPG. Runic games nailed a cIassic action RPG and I commend them for it.
Hotline Miami is the greatest study of violence presented in videogame form, ever. At its core, it is a beat-em-up where your nameless character checks his answering machine for instructions on who to kill and where to kill them. But beyond the simple act of killing mob goons in 1989 era Miami, Hotline Miami's narrative focuses on the enjoyment of murder and the echoing silence that follows after the act's completion. It is by all accounts a game that is deeper than it appears to be and makes a statement for gaming as a whole, all while providing one of the most mature and excellent beat-em-up games in recent memory.
Combat is all about risk. One hit, one kill, for you and your enemies. Get killed and you restart at the last checkpoint (the start of the floor). You need to plan out your assault as you go through with it. Fire a gun and enemies nearby will hear it and come after you. Don't fire a gun and you need to get in close with a melee weapon. But if you run across a room without making sure the coast is clear and that windows don't have enemies nearby than you may be picked off by another enemy you never saw coming. Each weapon functions differently from shotguns to assault rifles to baseball bats and more. Death comes in a variety of ways and knowing which to use in a given situation will help tremendously in how you kill your opponents.
Dying is a major part of Hotline Miami. This is a fast-paced game and levels should ideally be completed quickly in the span of a few minutes. But death will have you constantly restarting as you learn from your mistakes and eventually plan out a brutal assault that with each kill brings you closer to the edge of your seat. There's a certain anguish involved when the last man standing kills you after you killed everyone else, but by then you have an understanding of how to get by. When to fire a gun, when to knock someone down with a door and then bludgeon them with a baseball bat. When to toss your gun at an enemy as opposed to firing it and then cracking their skull open to avoid getting the attention of nearby enemies. And knowing when to fire your weapon at a solid chokepoint that nearby enemies will try entering through as opposed to taking them on one by one are all keys to completing each level. But a simple press of a button returns you to the start of the checkpoint and you begin the carnage again. But playing it safe will get you lower grades on each level. Playing risky is key to getting the A ratings as opposed to the C ratings. It makes for an interesting dynamic between choosing to survive and going all out and killing every living person (and attack dog).
Much of what makes Hotline Miami so addicting to play is the intoxicating soundtrack. Hotline Miami's sound is like the movie Drive. It's unexpectedly violent, at times muted and just kicks ass when it comes to music. And it is used wonderfully through the levels. The songs are fantastic and fun to listen to, so it's great that they work when looping as you play through the levels. But it is when the game goes fully silent at the end of a chapter that you realize what happened. You murder to the sounds of amazing tunes, but when you kill your last victim, you walk back to the start of the level, passing nearly every victim that crossed paths with you. The only feeling I can liken it to is having the breath knocked out of you. You never pay attention to the fact that you are tearing people apart. Blasting their heads, cutting their limbs off, bashing their brains in and it feels like a gleefully good time, but once you leave and there's nothing but silence you realize there's more to Hotline Miami than meets the eye. And the more you play the more the sublime story begins to pick up. This is a gritty homage the 1980's and is a game that is simply badass in how well the pieces come together.
As homage to the 1980's, Hotline Miami's retro visuals make it feel like a game from that era. You play from a top down perspective in pixelated restaurants, hotels and more. But where Hotline Miami truly succeeds is its brutal depiction of violence and how easily it can make the player feel comfortable with killing and then just as easily bring a sense of unease. Hotline Miami ultimately dethrones anything created by Grasshopper Manufacture or RockStar games. This is what both of those studios have been trying to create but have never managed to achieve: a pulp homage in gaming that honors the culture that often influenced much of it and does so in a way that makes it both a fun and intoxicating experience that is deeper than anyone would have expected. Take my word, I have played Hotline Miami and it is the most badass game released yet. The. Most. Badass.
The Walking Dead has been off of my radar for years. I do not read comics, nor do I watch the television show. Yet, despite my disinterest, Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead has gone on and become a smash hit. I'll be honest, zombies have never really done it for me in terms of horror. They're in every type of game imaginable; they're slow moving and really just not very threatening.
And despite all of that, Telltale Games have gone and created a game about zombies that feels fresh and exciting, because instead of focusing on taking a shotgun to the undead hordes, Telltale Games have chosen to focus on the human side of the zombie apocalypse. I would have never believed that a point and click adventure game would make for the finest zombie game, but it does and it comes packed with one of the most memorable and heart-wrenching stories in a videogame ever. Whatever impact the comics and the show may have had on fans, the game amplifies it by tailoring the events of the game to the decisions you make.
The first season of the The Walking Dead is split up across five episodes, placing you in the role of Lee Everett, a convicted murderer. The team at Telltale wisely chose to leave your past vague however, as Lee's character is shaped by the way you play. He still speaks and emotes on his own in the game, but when it comes time to decide what happens, you guide his character. Many developers have a difficult time simply guiding a silent protagonist, but Telltale Games have succeeded in helping turn Lee into both an outstanding character as well as an avatar for the player.
The Walking Dead focuses on Lee's relationships with the characters he finds. The first, and most important of which, is Clementine, an eight-year old girl who was left home alone with her babysitter when the dead began to rise. Clementine becomes your responsibility early on and remains so throughout the course of the game. And is a testament to the team at Telltale games, particularly the writers, Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin, that Clementine became my favorite character. That I would do anything for her, that I would fight to save her even if everything else was lost. Clementine became a constant figure in my thoughts. I would cross through any amount of the dead, fight through impossible odds and put my life at risk to reach her. I would do anything to keep Clementine safe. To say that Clementine is the greatest child character put in a game is an understatement. That child became my responsibility and I would never let anything happen to her.
Keeping Clementine safe becomes increasingly gruesome and frightening. As fantastic a character as Lee is, Clementine is the star of the game. It's that feeling of responsibility for keeping her safe that drives you forward. But the story is highlighted by the actions of the other characters in your group. Some of whom were in one episode, others who were in the long-haul and everything inbetween. It's fantastic human drama highlighted by fantastic writing and direction. The Walking Dead is a game that focuses as much on the darker, horrific side of things as it does on the light-hearted moments. And it's using those two perfectly that helps the pacing, that makes you feel for these characters, they feel human, as if you could reach out and help them, but all you see is a tragedy unfolding around you.
Emotions run high throughout the game, the situation can get better, or worse and the whole time you can play however you like, whether it's choosing sides, being selfless or selfish, remaining neutral, either taking action or standing back and watching how events unfold, The Walking Dead allows you to play how you like. But spending time with the game's wonderful cast ultimately helps bring those emotions out of you as the audience. Your decisions brought you to each point, and while some moments can never be changed based on the machinations of the overarching fiction, you still go through a personal journey with a wonderful cast.
The decisions you have to make are tough, and to even go into them may potentially spoil parts of the story. But the greatest aspect of these decisions is that they are on a timer. You have to pick your responses quickly or the game will advance with the other characters questioning your silence or continuing their arguments. The choices you make through the dialogue choices are the essential core of the game, but there's more to it.
As is the case with the adventure genre, exploration and basic puzzle solving make up a good chunk of the interactive bits. The puzzles are simple and really help move the pace of the story along. But The Walking Dead features certain action sequences as well. Whether it's firing a weapon or hacking away at zombies in timed events, these moments help add panic and intensity to the game as well. There is really nothing in The Walking Dead that separates it from other adventure games in terms of mechanics. But what sets the game apart are the decisions and choices you make and how they affect you.
The Walking Dead is incredible and with it Telltale Games, not Quantic Dream, have brought the adventure genre back to prominence. It is the finest adventure game I have ever played and the best example of the genre since the early 2000's. It's an emotional journey that at times infuriates you, terrifies you and moves you forward. When a favorite character of mine died, I was put off from playing the game. I stopped and just did not want to see any more. When I marched through the street with cleaver and broken glass in my hands, cutting through waves of zombies I felt the anger that Lee felt, that I had to move forward. And when I sat playing out the final sequences of the game, with tears rolling down my face and my lips quivering I knew I was about to complete a modern gaming masterpiece. This is adult fiction at its best and all interactive narrative should strive to be this powerful and moving.
Dishonored and Mass Effect 3 are both sitting at 50% user votes right now. I can't decide which game I love more, and it seems the community can't either.
But that's exactly as it should be, because in a perfect world we wouldn't have to choose between these two games. They're the best, and it's just a pain in the ass to have to pick a favorite when both are the finest works of their respective studios and are the best in their respective genres.
Let's talk THQ for a minute.
-The Humble THQ Bundle has upped its content. It was six games and then you unlocked Saints Row: The Third. It's now six games and you unlock Saints Row: The Third, Titan Quest and Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War as well as some DLC for Red Faction Armageddon.
-With five hours left to go the bundle is sneaking up on $5,000,000. They'll surpass it within that time limit and I have no idea how people split what they offered. The traditional split is 65% to THQ, 20% to charity and 15% as the Humble Tip. Assuming everyone left it that way, THQ is looking at a little over $3 million. No clue if that's what they'll get it, but hopefully it injects enough life into them that they can stick around. I at least give them credit for taking risks with the games they publish, and what's on offer in the bundle looks like a series of excellent games (with the exception of Red Faction).
-Jason Rubin made a $10,000 donation on the page. You sort of have to feel for the guy, he's only recently been made the President of THQ and he has a pain in the ass job to deal with right now. Went and formed Naughty Dog, created Crash Bandicoot and maybe saved THQ? We'll see.
-THQ is also offering a free copy of Metro 2033 on their Facebook page. What do you do? Like the page. That's it. Like it and they give you a free Steam code and you suddenly have Metro 2033. This is clearly to build hype for Metro: Last Light, but hey, a free game, and one as excellent as Metro 2033 is not something to be passed up. So do it. Every like is a free copy of one of the most atmospheric shooters around, and it's damn entertaining too.
Let's talk game sales for a minute.
-Street Fighter X Tekken is 75% off on Steam until Thursday. It regularly goes for $50, it's $12.50 now. I'm sort of tempted to buy it, but I have other stuff to play. It just looks fun though. And obligatory inb4 lol SFxTK is teh lame or lol teh gems. I'm still considering it, I'll see. It looks like good fun and I am lacking a modern fighting game on my PC. There's SFIV but that's still regular price. But Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition is on sale for $9.99 on Amazon (with $4 shipping). It's an interesting position to be put in: SF4 for $14 or SFxTK for $12. Both look pretty fun. HELP!!
-GoG has their holiday sale going on. It's going to last until January 3 with new deals each day. They seem to be borrowing Steam's layout, but hey, whatever, it works. They're doing a new bundle deal each day as well. Nothing I want on the first day, but I'll see if anything pops up. This may be the GoG holiday sale I pass up for now since I bought FTL (off of GoG) and Hotline Miami (off of Steam) already. But if I see a good price for Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath I might pick that up. Also, as a free holiday gift everyone can download Duke Nukem 3D for free.
Let's talk Rayman: Origins and Alan Wake for a second.
-Rayman: Origins is excellent. It's one of the best 2D platformers I've played this generation. The graphics are insane and wacky. It's like watching a twisted cartoon come to life as you goofily hop around the levels. The challenge of the stages is also appreciated. This isn't some stupid cakewalk. The chase levels are fierce and fast-paced. This game is what 2D platformers should strive to be. I've been playing the Wii version for the past few days with my cousin and it is one of the most entertaining experiences I have had with a platformer in a long while. It's just goofy fun and any fan of the genre needs to play this game. I'm even considering purchasing it for myself now because it's just that good.
-I started Alan Wake. It's interesting, but I can't tell if I actually like it or not. It's really just a linear shooter with poor shooting. I'm going to try playing some more and see if it gets better in terms of story. If it can hold my interest it'll be fine. Most reviews seem to point out that they like the story and how the game steadily builds intensity. I can only hope that intensity works for me too, because right now I was just following the path and shining a flashlight on people before shooting them.
Let's talk NBA for a second.
-New York, you stole the show this season thus far. Holy crap, New York. The way they play, so team-oriented, so unselfish, this is Carmelo's shining year. These guys might be able to go the distance if they keep this up. They ditched Jeremy Lin, they're going to make Stoudemire essentially the sixth man off the bench and they're winning because of it. They're winning in a big way. They're smashing teams left and right, and the team that everyone thought was lost in mediocrity and lack of chemistry is proving everyone wrong.
-Lakers, what the hell happened? They fired Mike Brown and brought D'antoni. This was supposed to be the fix after the Lakers went 1 win and four losses with Brown. They're 4 and 7 with D'antoni. It's really not that much better. They did better with the interim coach. There's really no explanation for how a team with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard are not championship contenders, but they aren't. They're a joke, losing to average teams like Houston and then getting spanked by struggling teams like Cleveland. Somewhere out there, Kupchak has to be thinking that they should have listened to their fans because I can still hear it "We want Phil!" We'll have to wait for Nash. We'll have to see if D'antoni will start utlizing Pau in the post or if he'll completely ignore him (pure stupidity on his part, but whatever, I'm not the coach). But right now we're just waiting and if Nash is at least two weeks away then we're looking at two more weeks of losing. The Lakers need to get monstrous quickly if they want to contend.
-Derek Fisher got the call from the Mavs. What happens? They win. He takes over as their floor general and they're tougher then they were before. People do not take into account guys like D. Fish, but there he is, helping the Mavericks win. He has to guide that team until Nowitski returns, and when he does things'll get even more entertaining in Texas. You've got James Harden coming out as a true superstar in Houston, his team just needs some more work. You've got the Spurs with the top record in the West, again, and Dallas is showing signs of life until their superstar returns. Not bad at all.
Lebron James, Dexter and now Hotline? They're greedy little bastards in South Beach.
While I was away Hotline Miami went on sale and as soon as I lay my head down from the drive home I purchased it off of my phone to get that 50% off price. It's good. Really good. It's a top-down shooter/beat-em-up where one hit with a weapon kills the enemy as well as you. So it takes a bit of strategy to get things squared away. But it's really good fun. Very violent and brutal though. It'll be interesting to see where the story goes from here. I'm on Chapter 9 and enjoying myself and some freaky things are happening here and there.
A lot of people liken it to a slasher flick, but in all honesty I can only describe the way it makes me feel. And that is during the opening moments of Full Metal Jacket where I find myself laughing without restraint at the misery that guy goes through in boot camp to the silence that follows immediately afterward. And I still laugh. That's how Hotline Miami makes me feel. I'm murdering all of these guys and it's part of the game, but then afterwards it just feels, well, like that silence.
FTL and Hotline Miami are both really fun games. I'm happy to see FTL nominated for Strategy GotY by GameSpot, just wish Hotline Miami could have been nominated for something.
Speaking of the GameSpot GotY, the clear favorites are obvious: Dishonored, Mass Effect 3, XCOM, The Walking Dead and Journey are the five obvious front-runners based on the nominations. And if Halo 4 beats Far Cry 3 for Shooter GotY then it's also a front-runner. If not and Far Cry 3 wins, then the shooters this year pose no threat to the overall GotY. Same goes for Guild Wars 2 and The Last Story if they can win RPG GotY.
Awards to watch out for are the PSN GotY between Journey and The Walking Dead as well as the Shooter GotY between Far Cry 3 and Halo 4 and the RPG GotY between Mass Effect 3, The Last Story and Guild Wars 2.
And of course, the 2013 Game of the Year:
You'll see a lot of complaints by the average gamer that 2012 wasn't that great of a year. One look at IGN's list of GotY nominees and you'll notice that the usual suspects really aren't around. Halo 4 and Mass Effect 3 are the two games that return to their spots as the usual nominees. Borderlands 2, Dishonored and Guild Wars 2 round out the other major releases. And the remaining five titles? All smaller, independent releases: Journey, The Unfinished Swan, The Walking Dead, Hotline Miami and FTL.
Even Spike's VGA nominees show a distinct lack of marketing kiss ass, with Journey and The Walking Dead representing the indie crowd for Overall GotY. Dishonored representing a new IP from a major publisher while Mass Effect 3 and Assassin's Creed III make up the major series.
It's funny to see so many people complaining that 2012 has been a bad year, when the opposite is true. 2012 has been a great year. A year that's seeing the gaming landscape change and where the traditional, $60 model for gaming is being moved aside for smarter alternatives.
Torchlight II for instance is only offered digitally but rivals, if not surpasses Diablo III in terms of overall content and does so at a third of the price. Why are major releases sold for full price digitally? It defeats the purpose of it all. Seeing Torchlight II go toe to toe against Diablo III doesn't mean that people prefer a lesser game that's somehow smaller in scope. It's just made by a developer that knows where its fanbase is and what it wants.
I purchased Wizorb (which really won't be in any discussions at all) for $0.74 on Steam (it was regularly $3). I've put over 6 hours into it already. It's a simple puzzle game with an SNES RPG aesthetic and similarly retro music. It's catchy, challenging and fun. I just purchased FTL and have put in two hours without noticing where the hours went. There's an argument made that these smaller games can't compete with the major releases. I disagreed with that. When last year, Bastion won it all for me. A $15 RPG from an independent studio and the best game I played in 2011 (granted, I played The Witcher 2 in 2012, so look at Bastion as either #1 or #2, take your pick, it's still damn high). Yeah, Dishonored blew me away. Mass Effect 3 blew me away. The Witcher 2 blew me away. But what genuinely surprises me is that people can't view a game as simply a game. This $3 puzzle game, Wizorb, is a better fantasy game than Skyrim. It's addicting and fun. FTL, as lightwarrior recommended, is a perfect complement to my space-faring adventures in Mass Effect. It's been a solid year for games. Just because they didn't come in a box or didn't carry a massive amount of hype doesn't mean they aren't excellent releases.
It's about time Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty and other major releases were viewed as disappointments. You can only play the same thing every year for so long. Welcome to the time of indie releases. Where Journey is going to be the PlayStation 3 Game of the Year, where The Walking Dead is going to be the Adventure and Licensed Game of the Year, where Hotline Miami is going to be the most violent Game of the Year, where Soundshapes is going to be the Puzzle Game of the Year and where a bunch of box-hugging brats are going to mope about where all the "real" games have gone.
It's been a fascinating year in games, and GoG's rise to prominence with indie releases along Steam's massive userbase has only brought more attention to these games. Here's hoping for more of this in 2013.
I know, two blogs, hours apart. I don't give a crap. This is what happens when you're writing a final term paper: you find ways to not do it.
But brackets? Really?
GameSpot just revealed that the Users Choice GotY will be determined by single elimination voting in a bracket system.
That has to be one of the stupidest methods for selecting Game of the Year I have ever heard of. Why not just let people vote for their favorite game and the game with the most votes wins the Users Choice GotY? What the hell is wrong with the tried and true?
And why can't people vote for the other awards? You don't think people want to vote for Best Graphics? Come on, 'Spot. What the hell? A bracket system? You guys are just getting stupid. I'll be reading everyone's GotY blogs more carefully seeing as how GameSpot decided to turn User Votes into a pissing contest on a near daily basis. :/
For the sake of everyone here, I hope LEGO The Lord of the Rings wins. How stupid. There are never THAT MANY Game of the Year contenders released in a given year. Now we get pointless matchups with LEGO, Kingdoms of Amalur, and various 7 scoring games for users to "eliminate" for GotY. This bothers me for a few reasons: 1) The importance of choosing your own GotY as a representative to GameSpot is thrown out the window and 2) it's an assbackwards idea.
That is all. Now if you'll excuse, I'm going to mentally grapple with myself between playing more Wizorb or writing my paper.
Steam has Big Picture.
What is Big Picture? Big Picture just became one of the nails in the coffin for consoles in my home. Yeah, you could always play PC games on your TV if you wanted to. It's nothing new. But the whole TV friendly setup, taking all of your friends and library of games with you just means things got a lot cooler.
The way technology is moving, we're headed toward integration of devices. And that means consoles serve less of a purpose to me. Particularly with first party efforts becoming more and more lackluster compared to their third party counterparts. Why would I care if a device I buy for games lets me do what my desktop, laptop, tablet and phone all do so much better and more intuitively? The only thing people could say is, "well kicking back and playing games on the sofa is awesome!" 'Tis true. You could always do it with your computers, but it was never cool. The UI was never really designed for, y'know, sitting on your sofa. And Big Picture finally rolls out. And it's designed with controllers in mind. And it kicks off with a week long celebration sale on games that are controller friendly to get people started. And you know what? Ease of use aside, I'm in love with these damn sales.
What did I buy?
Wizorb for 74 cents.
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved for $1.
And for those looking for some controller friendly gaming, SEGA has bundles on Amazon for PC priced at AT LEAST 80% off. The best bundle is the Action Pack that includes Binary Domain, and four other action titles (I just love Binary Domain). There are cIassic packs that feature Dreamcast hits, Genesis hits, as well as the not-so-controller-friendly Total War pack that happens to feature Shogun 2.
I don't know if I'll purchase a major game or not. Picking up those two braindead arcade titles was simply because I wanted more simple distractions for wasting time without investing in an adventure. But with Skyrim being a dud, I might purchase something else. I've just got my fingers crossed that The Walking Dead or XCOM go on sale sometime. Either during the Big Picture sale or during a hopeful Christmas sale. That or I keep hearing good things about Hotline Miami from everyone's favorite Indian.
This surprises me though as well, as years ago I was in opposition of Steam and how it didn't allow games to be truly the consumers. At this point I've come to terms with it all. When I have the DRM free option I go for it (anything by CD Projekt for instance is not attached my Steam account). But those prices and the ease of use have won me over.
This thing won 2011 Game of the Year?
This thing has people pouring in hundreds of hours into it?
This was groundbreaking back in 2003 when Morrowind was around. This was cool in 2006 when Oblivion did it with prettier graphics, voice acting and real-time combat. This was unacceptable in 2008 when Fallout 3 had absolutely no sense of direction and did not address ANY of the quirks that were present in Oblivion. This was saved back in 2010 when Fallout: New Vegas showed how an open world game needs to have proper quest design and writing to remain interesting.
The only difference is that Obsidian created New Vegas. Bethesda have gone and developed the EXACT same game that they have created since they started. Their quest design and writing have not improved in the least. Is Skyrim entertaining? I suppose it's better than Fallout 3. But it's essentially Morrowind/Oblivion set in Skyrim. The country of Skyrim is interesting, better than Cyrodiil but not as quirky as Morrowind. But at the end of the day, Skyrim is not a major step up from Bethesda's previous works.
This series of random quests that have no purpose game design essentially tosses you into an ocean that's no deeper than a puddle. It's big and there's lots to do, but none of it has any depth. It's all superficial. I notice children love jumping around in giant puddles and splashing like morons. I also grew out of that many years ago. None of the characters have anything meaningful or interesting to say. There are never important details that you need to hear, only dialogue to skip (awful as most of it is) to start your next fetchquest.
There is no reason why Skyrim should have won Game of the Year anywhere. This is a sad little joke when compared to the masterful design of Fallout: New Vegas. Boo Bethesda, boo!
"Valentine, having died as she has, needs not only a priest, but an avenger. You send for a priest, Monsieur de Villefort; I shall be her avenger."
In the shadows of a dystopian city, a masked man leaves his mark and through his infamous deeds will help shape the fate of an entire nation. Corvo Attano, the former Lord Protector to the Empress of Dunwall, is framed for the murder of the woman he protected with his life. And in the same cIassic fashion of Alexander Dumas' novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, you set out for revenge. As Dunwall reels from the death of its Empress and the spread of the Rat Plague, a masked man rises, either to stand against the violence or to walk a brutal path covered in scarlet.
"You wear a mask for so long, you forget who you were beneath it."
Dishonored provides you with two paths of play. One is based on your desire for avenging the Empress; the other is based on Corvo's affection for the Empress' young daughter. You must make a choice while playing: do you murder those in your path or walk a higher road? The decision to play lethally or to avoid bloodshed directly affects how the world around you changes. But it is entirely up to you as the player. At any point in time you can change your mind and play however you want, whether its to spare all lives, kill only the guards or kill any living person. The choice is yours, and Arkane Studios wisely chose to never take that choice away from the player.
Dishonored's missions take place in huge areas, all of which are dealing with the plague. The level design in Dishonored is so open to creative forms of play that it defies the current trend of linear games that guide players down one corridor to the next. The powers you choose to unlock and upgrade give you more options. Some powers are gruesome, others useful for stealth and all are well-balanced and perfectly incorporated into the game's design. Whether it's slowing the flow of time, calling a swarm of rats to attack enemies or seeing through walls to know enemy movement, Dishonored's powers all help vary up the experience without making Corvo too powerful.
And utilizing those powers in the open levels provides excellent replayability. Whether you choose to go from rooftops, underwater, directly attacking the main entrance or finding ventilation shafts to enter, the level design provides different ways to reach your objectives and different ways to complete them. One of the earliest levels is a prime example, where you are sent in to assassinate a target and later learn of a non-lethal way to take him down. But there is an optional task of saving the life of another. Whether you save this man or not will affect how you reach your target. And there are variations on how to kill him as well, or if you choose to go the non-lethal route. In just the first mission alone four options arise and that says little about the other optional objectives that pop up throughout that mission.
"Have I ever told you, when you have done your job as a Royalist and had the head cut off one of our people: 'My son, you have committed murder'? No, I have said: 'Very well, Monsieur, you have fought and won, but tomorrow we shall have our revenge.'"
Whether you knock out a guard or kill him, you need to hide the body. But if someone else hears you or sees you there's a frantic panic that begins. You may find yourself leaping out of a window, carrying the body, only to find yourself near a group of other guards. That or you may choose to utilize your powers and take out the other guard in a hopeful gamble. Or perhaps you may choose to rampage through the area, using the environment as you please and leaving no man alive. Each encounter in Dishonored is thrilling and exhilarating and much of that has to do with all the different options open to you as the player. Dishonored succeeds not just because of the openness to the levels, but because of how flexible the game is in allowing you to complete your objectives.
Non-lethal players will rarely make use of the combat mechanics unless they find themselves in a truly desperate situation. But the actual combat itself is extremely entertaining. Corvo is a gifted fighter, in his right hand he carries his sword and in his left either a power or a ranged weapon. Whether you fire your pistol or crossbow, both of which have various ammunition types, use other forms of death-dealing tools, or equip one of your powers, combat is entertaining. The first person swordplay allows you to cross blades with opponents block and parry in real time, and having the right power or weapon in your left hand makes all the difference. Even in bloodshed, being unseen is a must, but in Dishonored, true satisfaction comes from finding your targets and punishing them in some other way. The non-lethal route is cruel. Not to the guards and civilians that you spare, but to the targets you are sent after. There is a certain pleasure in knowing the fate you have decided for those who tried to take control of the city. Whether you make your statements by punishing them for the rest of their lives or simply piling their corpses as a warning for those in your path, Dishonored is an extremely fulfilling game.
"Violence can be used for good."
Towards the end of the game where there are more enemies and guards than before, you will have access to more abilities than before and true experimentation in combat becomes possible. You can stop time, enter a room and place mines by their feet or you can call a swarm of rats to begin devouring your foes, teleporting behind them and shooting them one by one in the back of the head. Combat is satisfying and brutal, but avoiding combat is just as satisfying. Dishonored never forces a path on the player, it is entirely your choice. My choice, after seeing the early consequences of my bloody standoff in the first two missions was to become a shadow that could not be detected by the enemy.
Dishonored takes its themes from The Count of Monte Cristo and V for Vendetta. It wears its influences like a badge of honor and helps to create one of the greatest visions of a great city that has fallen under tyrannical rule and a dark plague. Whether you are infiltrating a party or a guard tower, the game provides options with how to play. If you want to toy with your enemies you may, if you want to succumb to more and more power you may, the choice is always in your hands and none of it ever feels wrong. None of it is ever preached against you. Dishonored is the game that people have been asking for and Arkane must be commended for creating such an inspired and exhilarating game.
"Until the day when God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words,- 'wait' and 'hope.'"
While playing Dishonored I felt attached to the events that were taking place in the game. The story is not bloated with plot twists that try to make you care for the characters. But in providing a simple tale of revenge, the game makes you care for what is actually happening based on your actions as Corvo. I started out as a killer and chose a high road. But as I prepared for the final showdown I knew forgiveness was no longer in me. I upgraded my weapons, bought explosive bullets and swapped out my sleep bolts for incendiary bolts. By the end I had made up my mind that there was dark work to be done. That based on the events I had witnessed, regular bullets would not be enough. I had made up my mind that in the final moments I would march up to my enemy, with a pile of severed body parts and the burnt shreds of corpses marking my path. In the chaos, I leapt from the top of a tower onto the back of a Tall Boy in pursuit of me, I wedged my blade between his neck and shoulder. And as the thirty foot tall behemoth crumbled I moved forward, saving one last explosive bullet.
"Who is but the form following the function of what, and what I am is a man in a mask."
Six THQ games are being offered in a pay what you want Humble Bundle.
Red Faction: Armageddon
Company of Heroes
Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor
And for those that beat the average paid price of roughly $5. Well, you get Saints Row: The Third as well. Soundtracks included.
I went for it. I already own Metro, likely won't touch the Company of Heroes games unless I'm desperately bored, but Saints Row usually goes on sale on Steam for $5 and along with it I get Darksiders and Red Faction? Cool.
That or go pay whatever you want and take the other six games.
That or if you've got money to spare, go drop a custom amount that blows the average out of the water. We all know how the Humble Bundles work anyway. You can split your payment up to go between THQ, the Humble Bundle team and/or Charity in three ways, two ways or one way.
Played Dishonored the past two days. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick!!
In fact, I will be the happiest little camper if this game wins 2012 Game of the Year because it's really siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick!!
As you guys know, I hate being the bad guy in games when given the choice. I'm all about that selfless, heroic nonsense and all that stuff. However, Dishonored's morality system is done through its gameplay and not through dialogue. This is not to knock against Mass Effect or any other games that do their decisions through dialogue though. In Mass Effect you have no choice but to kill. Your character is a natural born leader, he goes on Suicide Missions (emphasis on Missions and not mission) where the fate of the galaxy is at stake in an all-out genocidal war. The decisions in Mass Effect are not meant to be "good/evil" they are meant to show how far you are willing to go to complete the mission. Whether you try to walk a moral high ground or you try to get it done as quickly as possible, and it's best exemplified in Mass Effect 3.
But Dishonored is different. It's a stealth-action game. You play it either lethal or non-lethal, but the thing is, playing it non-lethal makes sense. Most people are innnocent and are only following orders. They aren't aware of the grand plans of their corrupt leaders. So I tried to do that. I tried to be non-lethal. I kept reloading and kept knocking people unconscious. And I finally had the guy I was supposed to assassinate. And I had him. He was unconscious. But one thing led to another and again, just like with Human Revolution, I shook my head, drew out my pistol in my left hand with my sword in my right hand and started a freaking massacre.
I wanted to brand that guy though. Except I couldn't find a key. So I strapped him to a chair and put a crossbow bolt between his eyes. Figured, theatrics are always cool.
You really feel like you're playing a V for Vendetta videogame with Dishonored. It's really good. I'm glad I bought it, because this is one of the most high-quality games I've played this year and that's saying a lot considering what I have played in 2012. Big levels with multiple paths, various optional objectives and more. Dishonored is a major accomplishment if only because it finally gives people what they've been asking for. It's awesome and hopefully this level of excellence can keep up throughout the experience.
EDIT- Did I say I didn't have the patience to a level non-lethal? I lied. I JUST DID! :3