Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Adrift On A Dead Calm Sea

I've been pretty non-committal since finishing up Brood War. I've been using my precious free time to catch up on a few other things, such as sleep, season 2 of the HBO Game of Thrones adaptation, and even a tiny, tiny bit of reading.

I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but I've been reading a book called Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon. It's well written, but not all that interesting, to be honest. It's not terribly long, though, so I figure I'll finish it in case something crazy happens. I want to get on with reading something cooler. This book is all about normal people and their normal lives--boring. I'm planning to read a book about people living on Mars next--not boring. I even began, Cloud Atlas-style, a nested re-read of an old favorite, James Clavell's Tai-Pan, the story of the swaggering Scotsman and merchant prince Dirk Struan and the founding of Hong Kong. So much for contemporary fiction.

As for what I have been playing, I plowed through some monsters playing my Diablo III barbarian last night. His name is Orda (Khan) and he's just level 15, so far. Oh, while I'm here, I uninstalled Titan Quest again, too. Space constraints on my hard disk being the main reason, but it is kind of funny that I am still here playing Diablo for the Nth time, and I still have never been able to pull myself past the threshold of Act II in Titan Quest.

Dust 514, the free-to-play massively multi-player online first-person shooter (F2PMMOFPS), is now in open beta on PSN (still an odd choice of platform, I think). I decided to check it out, hoping for the best. As of this writing, it is no good. No good at all. I have a list of technical things I think are wrong with it, but I'll focus on the main problem--it is very clearly a second-tier shooter. No one would ever play this over Battlefield if they are at all concerned with how well the game plays. The only reason I can see to have interest in this game is in the theme. You either are interested or in some way already connected with EVE Online, or way into the sci-fi aesthetic and sick of the modern military thing. Which--OK, fair enough. Dust 514 will not hang on to anyone through the fidelity of its play, though. Not without some major changes from Beta to final release.

I picked up Metal Gear Rising, and played it a couple of nights. It's really an uphill battle to get into this kind of game, for me. Not even the Metal Gear-ness of it is compelling me to sit down with it again. I didn't get the parry system during my first session, and kept getting killed by the Blade Wolf miniboss. For my second session, I had been informed how to actually parry, and so was able to kill the thing fairly simply; but I only played another 10 minutes or so after that before having to go to bed. I guess I'll play more, sometime.

With the release of Heart of the Swarm and my finishing Brood War, it was a great time to start Starcraft II. Being a grizzled old hand, I'm playing the Wings of Liberty campaign through on hard. I'm only three missions in thus far--still in the beginning tutorial stages. There are a lot of new units to learn in SCII, and more in the campaign than in the multiplayer modes, I'm told. Old, familiar units even have new capabilities. I barely was able to finish the third mission after two or three failures because I didn't know barracks now have add-ons you have to construct in order to train medics to heal your marines. I didn't find that out until after the mission while I was looking up strategies on how to get the harder achievements for the mission, one of which requires you to venture out and kill 4 of the 8 zerg hatcheries on the map.

There seems to be a lot of cool stuff to dig into in SCII, even just in the single player side of things. I'll eventually dig into multi, too, probably with Heart of the Swarm once I pick that up. For now, it's just on through the campaign, checking out how it's done, now, and seeing the infamously bad writing for myself.

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