Thursday, November 7, 2013

Playlog: First Week of November, 2013

Most of what I’ve been playing over the last week is the same as the week before. I managed to get in a good, solid 4 hours of game time on Halloween, being alone at home periodically answering the door to hand out candy. Most nights I can play for around 2 hours or so beginning at about 9pm, if I’m willing to give up doing anything else with that free time. Often enough, I am.

I did make some time this week to check out a couple of 2013’s smaller independent releases, namely The Stanley Parable and Proteus. I want to be suitably informed when it comes time to talk Game of the Year. The Stanley Parable is a very clever subversive deconstruction of the typical modern AAA video game, and at times chuckle-inducing. Anyone reading this blog would probably enjoy it. Proteus, though, I’m not too sure about. It’s less a game even than Stanley or Gone Home; it is more of a ponderous exploration of a small, randomly-generated island through a day of each of the four seasons, with soothing music. There is nothing to do but wander around and take in the sights, and once per night cycle find your way to the proper location to trigger procession to the next season. At the end of winter, the whole thing ends, and you are free to play it again. Or not, as I elected.

Dragon Age II is coming along well enough. About 10 hours in, I have noticed repeating environments, and MMO-style light, almost throwaway quest design, but the world and political circumstance as well as the interactions between Hawke and crew are enough of a draw to keep me playing. The combat is either too easy or too complex, seemingly, depending on how you play the game. I have just been focusing on pointing Hawke at who she needs to stab, leaving my part mates to be handled by the AI. This works out well enough, until Hawke gets knocked out, and I’m forced to take over control of one of the other characters, none of whose abilities I am familiar with, since I’ve been letting the game auto-level them up and altogether unconcerned with what they do in battle or how they are doing it. I should probably take a little more of a hands-on approach, assuming control of the mage or fighter types here and there. I’ve had one fight versus a dragon that I might call a boss fight, at this point, and it went down pretty easily, though.

I’ve gotten to a point with Spelunky where I can more consistently get into the jungle levels and accrue around $50,000 worth of treasure before dying. I still have never made it past the jungle, though. I still need a lot more practice.

I have been hitting Hearthstone in a big way since getting access to the beta. I now have almost all of the basic card set unlocked, with 7 of 9 classes leveled to 10 or higher, and I have been doing the daily quests every day to earn more gold so that I can do more Arena draft runs. This is a really good game. The limited card variety and tighter focus on creature fights mean that games are over a lot quicker than in Magic, and while I haven’t done any scientific testing on the matter, it feels kind of like you are more dependent on lucky draws for success at the game. Then again, the removal of mana from the deck means the risk of a completely fruitless once-per-turn card draw are dramatically reduced. Either way, I am having a great time with Hearthstone.

I’ve spent a few hours playing more Battlefield 3 since re-installing it last week, and I’m still kind of ambivalent on the game. I think Bad Company 2 might have been a better game, or at least had better maps. I don’t actually feel like the jets are much fun in BF3—the maps are entirely too small to support them, even the big ones. You spend more time banking and looping trying to line up a strafing run on tightly clustered targets than you do actually having fun with them. The helicopters are a lot more fun to play with, I think. I still don’t feel like I’ve played enough BF3 to warrant the $60 I spent on it when it came out, and thus I am very wary of buying BF4 anytime soon. I need to either get more out of 3, or find 4 for like $30 for that to happen.

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