Thursday, September 10, 2009

Treasures of the Digital Ether

Among a rich pastiche of games I've played recently, a few stick out.

I completed Uncharted last Friday night, after only my third of fourth session playing the game. It's not terribly long. It's not terribly impressive, either. I enjoyed it--in fact it was hard to put down since the pacing was so well done and just continually drew me further on, but there's nothing really new or original here, and everything it does has been done better in games like Ico, Prince of Persia, and Gears of War.

Where Uncharted does stand out, though, is in it's characters and the acting, as well as the graphics and sound. The game is presented really, really well. It's just that what's being presented is rather unremarkable--an action-heavy, puzzle-light, pulpy treasure hunter adventure tale a la Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, et al. Compounding the issue is that there is no real incentive to replay the game other than to earn all the trophies available. I hate to say it, but this is a rental, folks. I guess now I see why they decided to add multiplayer to the sequel--to give it some staying power and keep the discs in players hands and off Gamestop store shelves.

Good Old Games was having a really nice sale last week, and so I picked up Fallout and Fallout 2 for a total of $6. I spent a couple of hours with the original this week, at first trying to figure out how to play it, and then getting my first adventure started once I had somewhat gotten the hang of it. I have 150 in-game days in which to find the water chip the people in Vault 13 need in order to continue their sheltered lives, but so far I've only made it to a wasteland village and killed some rad-scorpions for it's denizens, befriending a Mad Max lookalike along the way. The whole post-apocalyptic milieu is still pretty fresh to me, and I'm looking forward to seeing where this game goes. It's a long road to me playing Fallout 3, yet.

Then, for Labor Day, Impulse was having a nice sale, and for $20 each, I picked up Demigod (pictured) and Sins of a Solar Empire, two PC games I had been interested in for a while. I haven't tried Sins yet, but Demigod is huge amounts of fun. It's a multiplayer, team-based rts/rpg hybrid based on the popular Warcraft III modification Defense of the Ancients. Each player controls one character (a demigod) who is basically either a lone titan or leader of a small squad, and with the help of many, many computer-controlled henchmen and grunts tries to capture various flags around the arena and finally destroy the enemy team's citadel, though there are other game types involving killing enemy demigods or keeping control of some amount of flags for some time period.

I had never played DotA or any other game like this (there are a few out there these days) before Demigod, so at first I didn't really know what was going on, but I am familiar enough with a lot of the game's individual mechanics to work out how they come together here. So far I've just been playing with AI teammates against a team of easy/normal AIs, familiarizing myself with all the arenas and my first character, The Rook. He is a castle keep come to life, capable of demolishing enemy buildings and raising allied ones, sapping life from structures, and doing massive damage with his huge hammer. He can also build independently aiming archers, lasers, and ballistas on the tops of the towers on his shoulders, and roll boulders into and over enemy troops.

I can't wait to play more Demigod, and maybe eventually I'll go online and play with human opponents, but more likely I'll just play against AIs until I can beat them on the toughest difficulty settings. It's just faster and easier to get in and get out of a game and not worry about quitting or living up to some random asshole's idea of what teammate should be doing.

I finished Colony Wars this weekend, too. Sorta. The game has 5 or 6 endings, and I made it to my second. The first time I every played Colony Wars was on an Official Playstation Magazine demo disc twelve years ago. I loved it, but never got around to buying the full game. Until just last year, that is, and so here I am now playing it. The funny thing is, I can't see where, on consoles at least, that the series has been bettered for space dog-fighting. Games in this genre are really rare these days, and not just on consoles.

Finally, I played a little bit of WoW this past week, going back to my warrior to try to get deeper into the Burning Crusade content. My buddy that is going to play an ally character alongside my new paladin (now 15) needs to re-subscribe and get caught up, so in the meantime I'm working on my main. Eventually I'll hit 70 and go pick up Wrath of the Lich King, and then I'll probably end up creating a Death Knight, at least just to play through their starting scenario.


Greg said...

I must admit I'm a little disappointed to hear your impression of Uncharted. This is a game I am really looking forward to playing but now I'm afraid I might find it a bit too derivative.

I picked up R6 Vegas and man, that game is pretty challenging for me on the normal difficulty level. I'm not that into it but I can see why others would be drawn. The need to be stealthy and the ease with which you can be killed creates tense moments.

I also cracked open my copy of Halo Wars for a short test run. So far, I like what I'm seeing. I'm a life-long console gamer and new to real time strategy games so it may just be that I don't know any better...

What else? I pre-ordered Halo 3 ODST from ($10 off with option for free shipping, fyi). Hoping it will arrive by Friday 9/25 so I can enjoy it during the weekend.

I checked out some of the xbox live vids on Need For Speed Shift and now that game has me pretty interested. I might just pick that one up on Tue.

Count Elmdor said...

I also pre-ordered ODST but through Amazon since they were having a promo special I found through Cheap Ass Gamer.

I want to play Halo Wars eventually, also, more just because I'm a fan of Halo in general than for a love of RTS.

I played a single-player tournament (8 games) of Demigod today, and it was awesome. That game is too much fun.