I thought I'd write a bit about what I've been playing this week. So here we are.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
You know, while at first glance, the free-to-play option for SWTOR looked like a pile of garbage, I've actually taken a closer look, and found that it is, in fact, a pile of garbage. But a slightly less trashy pile-of-garbage.
Most of the features of the game which you have to subscribe to get, or buy separately are actually achieveable through gameplay in an interesting way. When you buy the unlock off of the in-game real money store, you actually get an item which you can use to unlock stuff. The trick is, these items are not bound to you, so you can sell them to other players for in game money. That means that, if you're willing to grind out some credits on a level 50, you can actually unlock most of the stuff you'll want through normal gameplay. Of course, the one thing you can't unlock without subscribing is an unlimited credit (or other currency) cap, which means you can't buy anything worth more than 350,000 credits. It's not perfect, but it works.
I did actually get my second level 50 in the game over the course of a few weeks. It was an Imperial Agent, and let me just say... Wow. The gap in quality between the storylines is never more evident than when you play the IA storyline. That content is absolutely the best stuff I've seen in that game, and I've played a whole lot of it. The Consular story (my other 50 is a consular) is... Well, it's not very good. It's ok, but none of the companions are particularly interesting, and the story itself doesn't feel very consequential, or interesting. The IA storyline, by contrast, is awesome, and all the companions are super interesting.
It's a really rough problem. The IA storyline is absolutely great, it's just kind of a shame that the best parts of it are hidden behind hundreds of hours of middling-to-good world content. Perhaps I'm just tired of that style of MMO, I don't know.
The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition
I played 11 hours of the first Witcher, which sounds like a lot, but is actually hardly anything, considering the game could reach something like 50-60 hours if you were trying to complete all the side quests.
So now I'm a good way into The Witcher 2, and aside from a weird crash-to-desktop issue I'm having (I think it has something to do with the memory in my computer, I'm not sure), it seems to be a better game across the board. The overall storyline is actually something I care about, the voice acting on Geralt isn't intolerable this time, the graphics are outstanding, the game feels more cinematic, it plays better... It's not all that dissimilar from the jump from Mass Effect to Mass Effect 2.
I'm very fond of the first Mass Effect for a lot of reasons, but none of them are the part where I have to actually play it. The shooting had some good ideas (which I wish they hadn't dropped for the sequels) but poor implementation, the interface was godawful, and the conversations all had a very going through the motions feel to them, and even though the story was outstanding (I still think the reveal about Sovereign is the best twist in the entire series), it felt very rough. Then Mass Effect 2 came along, made the shooting better, gave us a usable interface, and actually had the conversations and cutscenes animate something other than a person shaking their hands forward, or rubbing the back of their neck, and it was amazing.
So yeah. The Witcher 2 ain't half bad.
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
Oh Professor Layton, you're just so charming. There's just so many things to love about you. From your gorgeous art style, to the way you always talk about being "a true gentleman," to, of course, the way everyone in your universe is completely crazy about puzzles.
This game features a mob who rules London with an iron fist, by making anyone who crosses them solve puzzles! That's not something I made up! That happens! There is a line of dialog which literally says "I'm going to have to teach you a lesson the old fashioned way, by forcing you to solve this puzzle!"
Least intimidating street gang since the Jets and the Sharks.
Super Mario 3D Land
Yep, that sure is a Mario game all right. Turns out they can still make a pretty good one of those.
So that's what I've been playing this week, and a few brief thoughts on everything. I hope you enjoyed hearing my insane ramblings, and maybe I'll do this again sometime.