Okay, I’m not really sure what to do here. The Steam sales over the holidays really wrecked me. I have 75 games installed in Steam right now. At least half of them I have never even opened. I touched a few of them trying to do Steam’s holiday contest (I didn’t win anything), but that led to very shallow experiences. I’ll try to keep up and at least jot down thoughts on games I play through or through a lot of. We’ll see how it goes.
Actually, I wrote that first paragraph a couple months ago. Whoops. I’ll see if I can remember what I played.
Portal 2 – Have to start here. Without question, the best game I played all year. Perhaps in a few years. The Uncharted games get a lot of very deserved credit for their writing. They are cinematic and engaging and awesome. But his is just something else. Portal one was awesome because you had a game mechanic you’ve never experienced before. And then at the end there’s this hilarious final sequence that has you rolling. In this one, the ENTIRE GAME is the hilarious sequence. It maybe dips a little in the middle bit, but only barely. The first half had me just had me dying. It was so well written and performed, it was amazing. I must say, I don’t think the game play is as good as the first one. Perhaps it’s because the concept is no longer novel, maybe the puzzles are just as good, but not just as new. It just seemed a bit more routine, I was doing the puzzles to get to more dialogue, which is a crazy statement. The addition of the new mechanics didn’t seem that great to me. There were a few very clever solutions, but mostly it felt more mechanical to me, less creative. That being said, I haven’t had a chance to play the co-op version, that might introduce some dynamics that are amazing. Overall, still, best game of the year (keeping in mind that I won’t play Skyrim until it’s under 10 bucks), hands down.
Dead Space – Just finished this one, so that’s easy. It was a decent game. I like what everyone liked about it, the HUD-less experience. The story is a nice Event Horizon kind of creepy story. On the flip side, it’s not particularly scary. And on the bad side, the controls are god damn horrendous on PC. To get them even usable I had to google and play some tricks with the config. And even still the mouse acceleration was so jacked that aiming was very non linear. It made the game harder to play and thus less fun. But I did make my way through it and enjoyed it. I got #2 in the same deal, so that’s next.
Dead Space 2 – Second verse, same as the first! Except way prettier. Interesting playing two games separated by a few years in the same month. The second one looks freaking amazing compared to the first. They also fixed all the shit PC controls from the first game. Acting is still of good quality. The story isn’t anything amazing, kind of like the first. A decent way to spend 10 hours.
Trine – I played the demo so long ago on PS3. Got it with all the holiday sales on steam. Not much to say that hasn’t been said. It has a beautiful art style. The gameplay is fun, switching characters is a great trick. Though I spend most of my time as the thief just to her ability to get around, the wizard is a great character. He doesn’t toss fireballs and fry bad guys with lightning, he’s just a creative character. Sometimes I feel like I’m cheating because I can use his pieces to get around in ways I don’t think they intended, but it does make it fun.
Metro 2033 – This is a pretty short game, beat it in less than 10 hours. It’s good enough. It’s the modern system killer, I didn’t try to run it with EVERYthing maxed, but I got good fps out of 1080, so that makes me feel good. The game is okay. It’s not very original in being post-apocalyptic, but it is pretty original past that. Humanity lives in the old metro lines because creatures rule the surface. It’s set in russia somewhere. You do go to the surface to travel, but there’s really only two environments: dark tunnels, and snowy surface. The game looks very good, as much as those sets can look good anyway. Action wise it’s pretty average. It has a gas mask thing for travel on the surface. Some of the guns are kind of interesting, all pretty low-tech. The sneaking mechanic doesn’t work very well. You have a monitor for if you are in the dark, which works fine. But once you are discovered, every enemy within a 5 mile radius gains the power of omniscience, which is really annoying. There’s one level in particular where you are under the floor of a bunch of bad guys. It would have been SO fun to run around, popping up, shooting them, then ducking under and moving again. But instead they know exactly where you are at all times and you head is blown off the moment you approach an opening. Combat is pretty hard, even on normal setting. Humans are decent at teaming up on you, and monsters even more so, plus they move so fast and jump on you and get behind you, it’s hard to track. It is often the right choice to sneak, or to haul ass. Overall it’s a decent way to spend a few hours. Nothing amazing, but not bad.
Rock of Ages – This is a kooky little game. You roll a giant boulder down an obstacle course of sorts trying to bash down the front gate of the enemy’s castle. He is trying to do the same to you, so in between rolls, you both set up defenses – walls, catapults, fans, etc to stop the other’s boulder. The game doesn’t seem super deep, either that or I’m just not great at it. Basically always the strategy is to slow him down just enough that you are slightly ahead in the boulders-bashing-into-gates department. So your last boulder will hit before his and you win. Never did I win because I stopped him or was several hits ahead. It got really really repetitive toward the end and not very fun. Maybe there’s something more here, but I didn’t find it.
Star Trek Online – I’m actually having a lot of fun with this. It’s free to play, and what you pay for is mostly bonus. A lot of cosmetic stuff ( costumes) and also extra things, extra crew, extra ships, etc. Super unnecessary to play the game, which is great because I have no desire to pay. But the game is quite fun. I’ve been having a bit of a star trek revival lately, after an absence of many years. So it’s fun to play this game. Space combat is the best part, to be sure. Away missions are okay, but mostly an uninteresting version of typical MMO stuff, with a nice star trek wrapper. But space combat is pretty cool. Outfitting your ship with different phasers, torpedos, blasters, mines, etc. Plus special abilities like tractor beams and such makes it cooler. I had a number of ships throughout the level progression, including galaxy and whatever the enterprise-e is. The story is so so. The first was about the war with the Klingons, kind of cool, but nothing much. The second was about the Romulans and Remans, which was actually a pretty cool part of the fiction. The some cardassian arc, then some stuff about breen (wha?), borg, and undine. They are kind of cool, but kind of run out of steam. Not sure when they’ll add new content or if it’ll be interesting. Anyway, certainly for a free to play game, this is awesome for any star trek fan.
Just Cause 2 – Played this a while ago, I’ll try to remember. Mostly, it’s running around an island wrecking shit, which is pretty fun. There is a very short story, track down some dudes, kill em, etc etc, nothing new there. But destroying stuff is pretty fun. In fact, part of the reason the story was so short was because nominally you are forced to go around the island causing havoc in order to continue, but I created so much havoc just because it’s fun, that I could do a story mission any time I felt like it. There’s nothing particularly revolutionary here, but running around and shooting things, especially with tanks, helicopters, and jets, is pretty awesome. They give you a nice quantity of stuff to shoot at, both people and environment. Not a deep game, not a life changing game, but a crazy fun game.