Monday, July 23, 2012

Games again

Ok. I've talked a lot about games and gaming lately. I've probably spent more time talking about games & gaming than actually gaming.

Last one for a while (No promises!). Steam sale is over, so it's back to peeking at daily deals. Oh and getting some value out of the games I picked up on the Steam sale. But ... I did spot a story in The Register that begs a response ... "Ten... PC games you may have missed". Right from the start, it's waving the red flag around because Jagged Alliance 2 Back In Action was not something deserving of any credit ...

But there are some good suggestions in there. Actually no ... there's not. There's a lot of trash. The only ones I'd seriously consider are Vessel and the Sins of a Solar Empire expansion. But even then - I've not picked them up despite being tempted on the Steam Sale.

What's my list ?

From the Steam library first ... and not restricting myself to stuff coming out in the last 12 months. If it's a classic, it's timeless ? Right ?

Beyond Good & Evil. I seriously need to go back into the game and do more of it. This one had me grinning from ear to ear for the whole 3 hour long initial session. And had me grabbing the awesome soundtrack too. It's backed up by reasonable mechanics too. Seriously good game. Must finish it.

Capsized. This one I bought ages ago. It's a pretty sound platformer, with the modern thing going where your character interacts with the environment to solve puzzles. Oh and there's some nasty aliens trying to eat you as well. Worth a look.

DEFCON. Do Not Buy This Game If Prone To Depression !!!! The best games rely on simple rules. The best computer games hide insanely complex mechanics behind those simple rules. This is DEFCON. It's global thermonuclear war a la that ancient movie.

Deus Ex. Either the original (which I need to do a playthrough of) or the se-pre-quel Deus Ex Human Revolution (DXHR). I've played DXHR through a bunch of times so far. It's so good that I've devoted my very sparse gaming time to that game alone. And there's some insanely cheap deals been going through on it. The only reason I haven't done a playthrough on the original is because it looks archaic. (However ... avoid Deus Ex: Invisible War)

Jagged Alliance 2. Avoid the trash which is the "Back In Action" rip off game. This one is another of those rare games where they got so much so right with very few bugs. It's a living breathing country where you're asked to go in and liberate it from its Evil Dictator Queen. There's so much to see here and it's another with those simple rules, complex hidden mechanics. The rules align with what you'd expect your people to be able to do, the mechanics make them happen.

Machinarium. Oh so charming. I'll do a proper review of this at some point. You control the central character, which is an outwardly harmless but incredibly stoical robot. He's had a hard life this fella, with his story being played out in very sad (but disarmingly charming) cutscenes. Great soundtrack too. MUST HAVE !

Civilisation. Any of them. But I'd have to say aim for Civ 4 because I know that's good, plus it should be available cheap. Strategy games need to be over a very long time in my opinion. A war isn't won by a single battle (like in Real Time Tactical games like Starcraft), it's won over a series of them. And a strategy game is of no value unless you can choose the strategy to employ over a war, not just a single battle. The Civilisation series has always been the apex for historical strategy. I'd also recommend Moo2 from Good Old Games for space strategy.

Civ 4 and not Civ 5 ? I own Civ 5 now but I've not played it yet ... plus it'll cost more. I can't honestly give an opinion on a game I've not played or seen played. So I point you towards Civ 4 :-)

Solar 2. This game is just plain Weird. You play as an asteroid, grow into a planet, absorb asteroids (as moons) to grow into a sun and eventually absorb enough mass to become a black hole. You'll play nothing like this game. I didn't play it much but it was good fun while I did.

X-Com. Oh yes. Talking strategy ? This one has a strategy layer on top of the tactical battle layer. If your soldiers survive one battle, they'll learn and improve for the next one. If they die (which happens a LOT in XCom - it's brutal) then the next battle is harder with fresh green troops.

(I only mentioned XCom because there's a new one coming and I really do hope they don't mess it up)

Ok. That's 9. As my 10th, I'll say Neverwinter Nights. It's old yes. However it's another where they got so much, so right. It's a Dungeons & Dragons ruleset game but they didn't include all of what you can do in D&D. They kept it to what would make a playable game. That's very important - some games start with great concepts but then throw it all away by being far too ambitious with what they try and include. And the ambition can break the game.

Others well worthy of a mention from what I've seen but I can't include them above because I haven't actually played them yet : Botanicula (bought, not played yet), Minecraft (great potential, £17 is not value), Trine 2, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet.

I've deliberately excluded some of the big names up there ... To be honest, DXHR is a better game than Skyrim. It's more focused with far better storytelling. And despite the massive content in Skyrim, you'd only play that through once if you finish it at all. In terms of value for money, games like Machinarium, Beyond Good & Evil, Botanicula and heavily discounted A list games like Borderlands and Deus Ex HR will give far more enjoyment for less money. Skyrim's content blends together into a seamless mush. 5 or 6 indie games for the same price give more enjoyment through better variation.

Now I just gotta find time to play the new stuff.

PS That would be "find time to play them before Guild Wars 2 comes out ..."
PS2 One way to check these games out is Let's Plays on Youtube. Anything by Yogscast, Omfgcata and the first impressions videos by Totalbiscuit will tell you whether a game is something you will find worth playing. They're worth checking out before you allow cash out of your wallet.

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