Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Playlog - last week of March 2009

I played a bunch of different things lightly over the last week, spending some time in TF2 playing on the new (to me) Egyptian-themed map, and messing around with the two Peggle variants on my system (a demo and the Half-Life themed one).

I also finally got a chance to play some Far Cry 2, having picked it up for the nice price of $15 on Steam.  I pretty much love that service.  I only played with it for a couple of hours, but it seems pretty cool so far.  I started out as the Irishman, but I think I'm going to go back and choose the black guy instead.  I like his suit.  I want to get more into this one soon.

I accidentally purchased Aurora Feint II: The Beginning on iTunes (clicked the wrong link).  That's cool, because I probably would have bought it anyway.  It's a tile-match puzzle game with a sort of meta element where you earn crystals and then can purchase character upgrades and stuff.  It's sort of like Puzzle Quest, but only in that it's a puzzle game with a little something else to it.  This is more of a Tetris Attack/Puzzle League game than PQ's take on Bejeweled.  Also, you can apparently battle with other players.  You might have to buy the more expensive version, though.  This one was only $1.99.

The two games I played the most in the last 7 days were WoW, and Half-Life.  I got my Warrior up to almost 37, and did a crapload of quests in the Thousand Needles zone.  I downloaded an awesome mod for the game called ArkInventory which lets you pool all your inventory bags and then have stuff autosort into different columns.  This should totally have been in the game from the beginning.  I can't fathom why after what, 5 years, it isn't, other than the fact that futzing around with your bags is another form of timesink, which we all know MMO developers would sacrifice their very souls for the sake of.  Which reminds me, I need to check my auctions.

So, Half-Life is the game I made the biggest strides in this week (relative to game size, of course, since I played WoW for much longer).  This is an extremely long game, by modern FPS standards.  I remember the days of Doom and Quake, and those were long games, to be sure, although I'm not sure they were this long.  Those games were neatly divided up into levels and chapters, though, so they may be easier to wrap your head around than Half-Life.  I made it from some part just after Gordon gets ambushed and left for dead with no weapons to another part after killing a helicopter and fighting my way through an alien/paramilitary conflict.  I think I'm on chapter 13 or 14 of 19--around 60-70% of the way through.  I got stuck once where I needed some ammo to set off some of those laser-triggered mines in a crawlspace.  I had used it all up sometime in the previous 20 minutes since, and I really didn't want to replay that stuff, so I looked up how to cheat and made the game give me a clip of 9mm ammunition to allow me to clear my path ahead.

Half-Life continues to surprise me with how unique and novel it feels compared to modern FPS.  Valve created these situations and scenarios for you to work through, totally unconventional for the time (and indeed, now), and trusted that you'd find your own way through.  Contrast this to the clear and unmistakable indicators of modern games and that most blatant man-behind-the-curtain phenomenon, the quest arrow--used even in titles so lofty as the mighty Bioshock.  It's not that I feel like a genius for solving Half-Life; it's that I don't feel like an imbecile who needs to be led around by the hand.

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