Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Week In Gaming - 1-20-13

The Witcher 2 (PC)

So I finished The Witcher 2. It's a really good game! I'd recommend it in a minute to any RPG fans.

There are a few caveats, of course. The stealth sections, for one thing, are really, really terrible. Geralt can't seem to decide whether he wants to jump into cover, or dance around cover for a few seconds, which can lead to you getting screwed over pretty badly in certain sections. The save system is also very strange. You don't get access to any files of any kind, you just get the option to save, and it makes a new file. I'm a little unclear on just how it works, sometimes it would save over old files, other times it wouldn't.

Also, the game gives you some items early on, gives you no indication that they'll be important (beyond one of them being a really nice upgrade for the point you get it), and then if you hold onto them until near the end, you get the best items in the game. So that kinda sucks.

But overall it's got an interesting, fun combat system, a really good storyline with lots of political intrigue (although it can sometimes be hard to keep all the kingdoms and empires straight, I imagine having read the original Polish novels would probably help with that). One thing I like about it is that, for the most part, the monsters you encounter aren't the typical orcs and goblins you'd expect from a fantasy RPG, they're weird things I've never heard of, like Nekkers, or a Kayran. I don't know if those are inventions of the series, or monsters I'd just never heard of (possibly from Polish fiction?), but it's an appreciated change.

So yeah. Bring on The Witcher 3, I'm ready to see what's next, especially with such a cliffhanger ending.


This game is pretty cool. It's a 2D indie platformer (I'm surprised no one ever thought of that before), with the "hook" being that you can take pictures of items within the environment, and move them to different places to solve puzzles. It seems pretty awesome so far, I'm about halfway through the first world.

Life Is Magic (Android)

So this is a pretty neat phone game. It's a lite-RPG, but it uses the GPS on your phone to map the area you can explore, and fight monsters in, as the real-world area where you are. You also buy items and gain "influence" with nearby real-world shops (for example, I have a nearby weapon store which is a Wal-Mart). If you get enough influence with a store to be the top person, you get a discount on it.

What makes it work though, is that it's actually a really fun game. It has a turn-based combat system, and you can earn mana by casting spells, in order to use more powerful spells (or power up ones you can cast). This is a slightly different take on turn-based combat, closer resembling something like Magic the Gathering than Final Fantasy, which is a very nice choice.

That said, there are negatives to it. It features a Farmville-style "play for so long, then pay a dollar to play more now, or wait an hour for energy to recharge" system (though it's not nearly as bad as Farmville or Mafia Wars), and I do wish it explained a bit more of how it works, as a lot of what I've figured out about what makes the game fun is, well, stuff I had to figure out. I also wish it leaned more heavily into the actual RPG mechanics, as thus far "levels" only seem to be arbitrary barriers on what spells you can cast, and what items you can equip. I would really have liked a talent system, or some sort of point-allocation system, to give you more interesting choices.

With those minor complaints out of the way, this seems like an incredibly solid phone game so far. I quite like it.

Dead Rising 2 (PC)

Man, there is some truly outstanding stuff in this game, it's just a shame there's so much awful mixed in. A mediocre, by the numbers zombie story, some of the worst boss battles this side of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and an absolutely grueling endgame all make it hard to enjoy the genuinely fun bit where you're running around, duck-taping things together and cutting through large swathes of zombies to get through them, and saving all the crazy survivors around the Fortune City strip.

Look, I'm not looking for every game to make the same choices. There are plenty of games out there, and there's plenty of room for games to take chances. I actually love the 3-day-cycle idea (and for that matter, Majora's Mask), and how it's implemented here, but a lot of the things they do in this game just don't work. The psychopath battles are terrible, and not because they're hard, because they're unfair. Most of the psychopaths have abilities which straight-up stunlock you. I appreciate that they're there to be fought at higher levels, on your third or fourth cycle, but even then they just don't work very well. They aren't fun, they're unfair.

That said, the stuff that I like about that game, I really really like about that game. The combo weapon designs are all delightfully crazy (IT'S A WHEELCHAIR, BUT THE CHAIR PART IS A LAWNMOWER!) and there's just something delightful about all the various things you can kill zombies with in the game. The good stuff is good enough for me to overlook the bad stuff, but if the bad stuff weren't there, or were actually well done, then this game would be outstanding.

Super Hexagon (Android)

And as a counter to those who may think that I dislike the psychopath fights in Dead Rising 2 simply because they are hard, I give you Super Hexagon, a game which is extremely hard, and at the same time, fair. This game is outstanding. It's incredibly simple, but exceptionally well executed, and unlike Dead Rising's fake difficulty, when you lose, it's because you screwed up. It's a skill based game, and an extremely well done one at that.

Also, the music is pretty great.

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