Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 Sea Chart to Success

I have a hell of a lot of RPGs (very loosely defined) that I want to play. I hope to visit some of these lands in the next year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Game of the Year & Recap

It's been a good year for video games. Aren't they all, though?

My Game of the Year: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Honorable Mention: SpaceChem

My GOTY/HM for past years:
2010: Mass Effect 2/Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
2009: Demon's Souls/Red Faction: Guerilla
2008: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots/Gears of War 2
2007: BioShock/Halo 3

Before 2007 there do be a great sea of FFXI which does divide the present from the past, a time for which there is no recorded 9 Parsecs history...

I managed to complete a surprising number of games in 2011, given the appearance of a wild baby in early July. Here's the tally, 21 games in all:

Fallout 2
Assassin's Creed Revelations
Demon's Souls
Dawn of War II
Space Marine
Kill Team
Deus Ex
The Witcher 2
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
Portal 2
Assassin's Creed Brotherhood
Prince of Persia (2008)
Uncharted 2
Assassin's Creed II
Metro 2033
Halo: Reach

Past years' totals:
2010: 23
2009: 19
2008: 26
2007: 15

I'm not sure what I'm going to set as a goal for 2012, if anything. I'm fairly content with the amount of money I've been spending on games, which has gone down a good bit... I think. It's hard to keep track of all the little purchases. At any rate, I spend more on coffee than games, I'm certain. That's probably what I need to cut out in 2012: trips to Starbucks. Aside from that money sink, I want to trim the Pile o' Shame. It's really been growing like a weed due to insane holiday sale deals and indie game bundles.

For now I am still rolling with the 2 out, 1 in token system, for games over $25 out of pocket.  That may be a tad lenient, considering my buying habits these days, since in all of 2011 I only spent that amount (not including credit from trade-ins) on 7 games, and I currently have 3 and a half tokens banked. I should also probably refrain from buying games in series that I'm not caught up on. No Arkham City until I've played Asylum, no Dead Space 2 until I've finished the first--that sort of thing. That would really get BioShock 2 off the pile for good, wouldn't it? I'll update later with any new parameters I think of to set on my game consumption.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fallout 2 Finally Finito

Yes, I have finally finished plowing through the first two Fallout games! And fantastic games they are, too. They're extremely playable for being nearly 15 years old, and they really don't even look that bad, owing to the fact that they're rendered in pixel art rather than primordial polygonal 3D like a lot of games of that era. I really like how they're playable with just the mouse alone; they're simple once you get used to the interface. I would really only use the keyboard to choose dialog options and to ESC out of inventory screens and such.

In broader strokes, they play like an Elder Scrolls game, only with a narrower focus, an isometric perspective, and a turn-based combat system. Much of what else is present in the one of the two series has a direct analogue in the other. Most people reading this will probably have played Fallout 3 and/or New Vegas. I would imagine those games are even more like a combination of the two, which of course makes perfect sense given who publishes them.

I'm aware of the rich history of RPGs on the PC, so it shouldn't come as such a surprise to me that a game this full of possibilities and freedom to role-play was possible in '97 or '98 (the original and the sequel, respectively), but it does. It's probably my console gamer roots showing. Contrast these games to the biggest RPG of the day on that side of gaming, Final Fantasy VII, and... yeah. Different schools, of course. Maybe it's just that the content presented here appeals to me at this age more than replaying FFVII.

I had a blast with both Fallout and Fallout 2. Functionally, they're nearly identical, though Fallout 2 is a larger  game and features some slight refinements. I would heartily recommend playing both. Few games integrate as well into a series with what has come before as Fallout 2 does. It is set about 80-90 years after the events of the first game, the main character is a descendant of the original Vault Dweller, the regions of the Fallout world explored in both games overlap. Fallout encompassed a region of California from south of LA to south of SF, and Fallout 2 overlaps that in the south, extending north up into southern Oregon (Klamath Falls). There are several shared locations to visit in Fallout 2, where you can see what the passage of time has done to them, and people throughout the wastes refer back to the deeds of the Vault Dweller from time to time. It's very interesting, and it does a lot to reward player investment.

I'll be excited to explore more of the world in Fallout 3 and New Vegas. I have Fallout Tactics, too, though I'm not sure what to expect from that. I'll give it a go sometime after the new year. It feels good to have these two classics under my belt. They're incredible games to this day, and now I'll be able to go into the modern incarnation of the series with a trained eye.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Nehrim Done

I finally polished off Nehrim last night. The 60 hours I put into this game bring me up over 200 total in The Elder Scrolls IV engine, easily. I've had a ton of fun playing this and Oblivion, but I can't say I'll miss these systems, mechanics, assets, and art. I hope the Bethesda-published Fallout games feel different enough.

Nehrim was great. I'm astonished that such a game could be made by such a small team, and put out into the world entirely free of charge. You could tell in spots that it was a J.V. effort, if you will, but in several ways it was an improvement on Oblivion. Standing on the shoulders of giants, I suppose.

I'm not sure what I want to polish off, next. RPG-wise, it's got to be Fallout 2. But thinking of my games as a whole, I'm not sure what I'll concentrate on next. I want to revisit some of the 2011 titles I have on my short list for GOTY considerations, and there are a ton of 2011 games I haven't played at all. I don't think I'm going to buy them and do so just to have them available for consideration, though. There's something about that idea that doesn't ring true.

I played a little Brink this morning, as it had a free weekend on Steam. It was fun, and easily worth the sale price of $5, but even so, I don't know that I'll buy it. How many multiplayer online shooters does a guy need? Does the world need? It's such a crowded marketplace. Not that sales success tells the full story, but just look at the fact that it's selling for $5 only six months after release. Yeah. I think I'd rather play Section 8 or Battlefield or TF2 or Red Orchestra or Counter-Strike or....