I haven’t played a multiplayer FPS in some time, but Destiny looks awesome:
I’m about ready to wrap up my first* playthrough of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and you’ll be happy to know that Earth has been saved from the alien menace.
Firaxis’s update makes XCOM play a lot like Valkyria Chronicles;** your soldiers can move and then shoot/defend/item/grenade/etc. Different classes (assault, heavy, sniper, medic) use different weapons and have different special abilities. This makes it a lot easier to keep track of who does what – in X-COM, I had to change the characters’ names to indicate what they were best at, which led to soldiers like Col. Wolfgang Krauser 70TU 80AIM.***
The strategic layer is more streamlined, too. I would have preferred being able to have multiple available teams (if you build multiple Skyrangers) so that you don’t have to choose between missions. More UFO attacks wouldn’t hurt, either. As the game progresses, it seems like you do a lot of waiting at the geoscape for something to happen (whether it’s an abduction, a terror mission, a council mission, or a UFO). In the original X-COM, the longer the game went on, the more frequent the UFO attacks became, until you ended up getting overwhelmed.
I know 1994 was a different gaming era, but I think that really added to the tension.
Taken as a whole, the updates are generally good. The game is still hard, the aliens are still unforgiving, and your soldiers still die heroic (and sometimes, unheroic) deaths. I’ll probably play Classic next, and then I might even give Impossible a try.
You know, when I have copious free time (which means I can pencil it in for December, I guess).
*For certain values of “first.” I restarted my Classic difficulty Ironman game several times while trying and failing to get a grip on the changed systems, before finally caving in and dropping the difficulty back to Normal (though still Ironman).
**Which played a lot like Sakura Taisen, which in turn played a lot like X-COM: UFO Defense. The circle is now complete!
***Yes, I know Wolfgang Krauser is an SNK character. It seemed like most of the random soldiers I got ended up being German with random German names, and this was all I could think of.
Here’s a video of Jake Solomon, the lead designer for XCOM: Enemy Unknown, trying to convince people in a game store they should buy his game:
I’ll post my review of Taken 2, and the post that would have been here but for my hunch that I’d say something I might regret, this weekend.
If you want to watch a sport with the pace, play, and violence of basketball, watch basketball. Don’t make football over into basketball lite. I tend to think the clash of football gets us right in the part of our collective psyche that makes us prefer the clash of heavy infantry to lone warriors dueling, but maybe I’ve just read too much Victor Davis Hanson.*
Buying experiences is a good way to find happiness? No wonder the video game industry is kicking the shit out of Hollywood.
Speaking of video games, Microsoft has decided to sell their Xbox 360 & Kinect via the cellphone model. They’re not doing it right, though; if they were serious about this, they’d screw the customer even more.
The second series of the BBC’s Sherlock started airing on PBS Sunday (with episodes 2 and 3 to follow next Sunday and the one after). If you missed it, you can stream it here. (If you missed the first series, those three episodes are on Netflix.)
I only played part of the first Assassin’s Creed, and skipped the trilogy set in Renaissance Italy, but I might have to pick up Assassin’s Creed III. With that cover art, and the news that the people you’re sent to kill all died when you were sent to kill them in real life (that doesn’t parse quite right, but you probably know what I meant), it looks amazing. Especially in this teaser video:
*I played football in junior high and high school on the offensive line, so that might color my opinion a bit. I think it just means I’m more right, though. For more, see Open Blogger’s post at Ace of Spades.
To celebrate the news that Valve’s Portal 2 will be (finally) getting free downloadable content next month, I’ve chosen the ending theme to that game for today’s track. If you’ve not played it, consider yourself warned; spoilers follow!
Like Still Alive, Portal’s hit ending theme, Want You Gone is sung by GLaDOS (and written by Jonathan Coulton).
I think it’s a better song all around; Still Alive was good, but since they knew they had to top that for the sequel, they pulled out all the stops.
Portal 2 was great, and hopefully the DLC will be just as awesome.
Microsoft has been promoting their Xbox Live Arcade games this summer with what they call the Summer of Arcade; five games released over five weeks.
I’ve only played one of those games: Bastion. You control a silent protagonist referred to by the narrator as “the Kid” after he wakes up following a horrible cataclysm.
What follows is the Kid’s journey to meet everyone, discover what happened, and rebuild the world. Along the way, the narrator comments on what the Kid is doing and what you see on the screen; sometimes he’ll talk about the area, sometimes about NPCs, and depending on how you play, sometimes he’ll comment on the Kid’s actions.
The gameplay is pretty solid, the graphics are nice, the narrator is entertaining, and the music is pretty good; it’s worth the 1200 MS points it costs (especially if you plan on playing it to death; after beating the game, you can start a new game+ to continue).
It’s very much in the style of Double Dragon, River City Ransom, and other beat ’em ups of the ’80s and ’90s, right down to the retro graphics and music.
The enemies even drop money when after you defeat them (sure, it’s Canadian money, but money is money).
Another Winter plays during the first stage, where Scott and co. make their way down the snowy streets of Toronto. Anamanaguchi’s chip tunes are excellent, as usual.
Will it sell?
The metacritic average reviewer score is 83, and the average user score is 9.1. People like it, but the box art doesn’t exactly clue you in to the kind of game it is.
I’m tempted to buy it now instead of waiting for it to come down in price like I’d originally planned; if it’s as good as most of the reviewers say, then not getting a sequel would be a shame. I did like the demo; I just don’t know if I liked it well enough to pay full retail price at the game’s launch.
I’ll probably just wait; if Catherine had dual audio instead of just the English dub, I’d be more inclined to buy it now. It doesn’t, so I’ll bide my time.
Ah, Mass Effect. Bioware’s magnum opus (I guess?).
I hated it.
Actually, hate is too strong of a word. I thought it was very mediocre. The setting was boilerplate SF, complete with blue alien chicks, evil robots, and annoying alien councils that hate and look down on humanity.
I’m convinced that Bioware has a template they use when they plot out their games; it played out almost exactly like Knights of the Old Republic did, only with different cardboard characters plugged into the nondescript SF (and without lightsabers, of course).
The loading times were atrocious; you regularly had to wait more than a minute between areas for everything to load, and instead of fixing this in Mass Effect 2, they actually managed to make some of the load times worse (in my defense, I bought ME 1 for $20, and ME 2 also for $20; after Jade Empire, I resolved never to pay full price for a Bioware game again. After quitting ME 2 because of the load times, I’ve resolved never to buy a Bioware game again.).
The music was okay, though. Good thing, too; if I’d had to listen to awful music while waiting for planets to load, I’d have snapped the disc in half.
I haven’t played it yet (hopefully I’ll have put some time in by the end of the week), but Nier is that rare beast in today’s console gaming market: an original property!
When games cost millions of dollars to develop, produce, and market, coming up with a new IP is a big risk; it received mediocre reviews, but apparently sold well enough that Square Enix is considering a sequel.
I figured for $20, it was worth a gamble; the NYT claims that it resembles the Legend of Zelda series, only targeted more towards adults instead of children.
If it’s half as good as Zelda, it’s definitely worth $20.