Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Uninstall: Doom & Doom II

These are bona fide classics, none will object, but it was time to put them away. I've never played all the way through to the end of either of them, and if I'm honest, I never will, at this point. But I have played quite a bit of them, and enjoyed the hell out of them  in the mid '90s.

I was so into Doom back in 1995 that I read the two novelizations that were out at the time. And I liked them. I was 14, and I liked Doom, Final Fantasy III (as we knew it, then), and Magic: The Gathering better than just about anything. Sorry, I fell down a nostalgia hole for a second, there.

I got tired of looking at all these old Doom games in my backlog and decided to boot them all up for a few minutes at the very least. I had never tried Final Doom or Master Levels For Doom II. Talk about a jolt of '90s--load one of those up and see what a DOS interface looked like again for the first time in a while.

This was in part spurred on by the recent re-release of Doom 3 in the BFG Edition. It was enough to remind me of the Doom franchise. I own Doom 3 and it's expansion, but have yet to ever try them. I'll get around to them at some point, probably before Doom 4 comes out.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Raven Of Dunwall

I had just begun playing Dishonored when I blogged last. I have finished it now, playing stealthily all the way through, and only purposefully killing four guards in the prison escape. One other unknown person somehow died in the first real mission, completely unknown to me until the mission summary card. I loved Dishonored. I had a great time playing through it--a  24+ hour long journey full of many quickloads and much tinkering and exploring of the available scenarios and pathways. I can't really imagine playing it any other way. I practically never used many of the weapons and powers available to Corvo, but I still feel like I had a very satisfying time with it. I spent much of it Blinking around rooftops of the plagued city, which I'm told is rendered in an Edwardian fashion, sneaking up on guards and leaving them unconscious and stashed in dark corners. If I some day do a replay, maybe I'll try another approach. I do highly recommend the game, at whatever price you're willing to pay for a very-well-executed immersive sim (the label I've see applied to Deus-esques, as I term them).

Otherwise, I've just been playing a smattering of several things: continuing my campaign in X-Com (classic, still), which I've decided to take an Ironman approach to; playing a few random matches of Dota 2, trying to pick back up my game of Half-Life 2 (same art director as Dishonored), and trying to gain some experience with and within The Temple of Elemental Evil.

I've been busy and doing some more reading over the last several days. I'm working on Cloud Atlas at the moment, which strikes me as surprisingly complex and fantastical for something I assumed to be mainstream. Is it, though?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions

I bought both Dishonored and XCOM: Enemy Unknown this week, fully intending to play both. So far, I've only had time to play Dishonored. Hell, the new Walking Dead Episode 4 was out last night, but I went ahead and played Dishonored more because I knew I only had a couple of hours and didn't think I'd get through that in one go. The Walking Dead will probably be on tonight's docket.

Dishonored is great. It's very much like Deus Ex, thus far, with a Bioshock-ian clearly vision-inspired world and cohesion of art and atmosphere. It has other similarities to Bioshock 2, in particular, in its supernatural abilities, the way those abilities scale, and its dual-wield-by-default setup. It's great fun, and like the games I've compared it to, it lends itself to experimentation and playing with its systems. It looks great, too, in terms of both graphical quality and art direction. The characters are dressed quite snappily, too, I might add. I wonder if the developer might do more in this universe, because it seems very well realized and fleshed-out for what I'm guessing is a game of maybe 12 to 15 discrete levels around one city. I've seen big maps of the seas of the world with archipelagos and such that leads me to believe there is a much larger world outside of the city of Dunwall. I'm about 5 hours into the game, taking my sweet time. I'm only on the first assassination mission, so far.

Last week, something possessed me, and I plowed through the brunt of Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising, right through to the end. It was more good fun in the vein of the base game, with a twist in squads being able to be corrupted by Chaos, and the addition of wargear tailored for units on either end of the Purity/Corruption spectrum. By the end of the game, you will lose one of your valued squadmates, whom you've brought up with you through two full campaigns to that point, and that kind of hurts, but altogether the story puts a nice cap on this little saga. Retribution, the next expansion, takes up the Space Marines' story some years later, with a few new faces, and some old ones having moved on, apparently.

I've begun playing Retribution, as well, but only The Last Stand mode, for now. I just finished the book Know No Fear, about the Ultramarines being ambushed by the traitor Word Bearers legion at the beginning of the Horus Heresy, and so I felt like suiting up in blue and gold and spilling some blood in the name of the Emperor. The Last Stand is a suitable stand in for a match of Dota when I don't feel like trying too hard or only have 15 or 20 minutes to kill, plus it has persistent unlocks, which are always fun.

On the subject of space marines, I also took a brief look back into Space Marine, specifically the multiplayer, and was surprised to see people playing it. It probably helps that there was a big THQ sale on Steam this past weekend. I may hop back in that from time to time, as well. We're not likely to see another good game like it (or a sequel) anytime soon.

I played a good bit of X-Com: UFO Defense (the classic game) over the last week or two, as well. I've finally gotten a handle on the tactical interface and overall movement of the game. I feel like I now know how to play, and the next step is just getting good at it. Surprisingly, I don't think the new game is going to make obsolete the old one. Sure, there are a lot of similarities in the two, but I think the classic one remains distinctively different; enough to make sure I'll keep it around for a good while longer. I'd love to eventually beat it, one of these days.

Lastly, I played a few more minutes (a few more stages) of Dustforce, though there's not much to say about it. It's a difficult platformer, but still nice to play. And of course, I was able to get in a couple of matches of Dota 2, busy as I have been. It's becoming a perennial favorite, even if I do not focus a lot on it some weeks.