Friday, February 3, 2012

Loose Ends: The Tie-ening

Well, I did finally finish Bioshock 2. It was a collection of levels strung together with some semblance of a plot, and an interesting mix of weapons and plasmid abilities. That was all middling to good fun, but I question the decision to include the little sister protection mechanic. It slows down level progression with a situation where the player is forced to be reactive to oncoming attackers, and to concern themselves with fortifying and defending an area from splicers while a little sister extracts ADAM goo from corpses in the environment. Rapture is a pretty unique and interesting environment, still, which is good because the city and its design aesthetic are half or more of the fun of Bioshock.

More remarkable than Bioshock 2 itself is its DLC standalone expansion, Minerva's Den. In that, a wholly separate 2-3 hour Bioshock campaign, you are again playing as a big daddy (Subject Sigma, now, as opposed to Delta in the main game), on a mission to Rapture Central Computing to help Dr. Tennenbaum (a side character in Bioshock 1 and 2) bring up to the surface world the powerful experimental computer that runs all of Rapture, called the Thinker. Minerva's Den is like a more condensed version of a Bioshock campaign. All of the weapons, plasmids, and gene tonics are there, but the progression is sped up dramatically--it all takes place over two and a half levels the size of the ones in Bioshock 2, where there are more like six or seven. There are loads of new art assets and environments, as well as new weapons and plasmids not found in Bioshock 2, proper. I thought the story was much better, as well, and benefiting from a shorter run-time and thus less padding.

So, with Bioshock 2 off the pile for good, Max Payne came to mind. I had completed the first few hours last spring and set the game aside, not really sure if I wanted to play any more. Well, I'm given to understand that it's a pretty short game, and because it is very simple but still fun enough, and has a cool film noir sensibility, plus the fact that a Max Payne game is seeing the light of day this spring, I figured I would hop back in and work toward adding another skull to the pile. If it goes well, I might even play Max Payne 2 sometime in the next.... while.

Prior to a couple of weeks ago, I would have ranked both Dead Space and Batman: Arkham Asylum higher in my list of half-finished games to polish off, but I went and sold both of those; I had PS3 copies of each, and I've decided I'd rather own and play both on the PC, instead. With Batman, it's no big deal, since I was only a couple of hours in (though I will need to repurchase the game next time it's on sale on Steam), but with Dead Space I was about halfway through the game, so that's a significant chunk of time lost. Fortunately, I thought it was a pretty good game, and on my second time through the first half, I can make different decisions about where to spend my upgrade points.

I had a very nice session of Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising this past Sunday. The baby was soundly taking an almost three-hour nap, and the wife was similarly asleep on the couch behind where I sit at my PC. I was lost in  the cacophony of war coming from the shitty iphone earbuds I use at my PC, owing to the fact that I don't want to wear my noise-cancelling Sony headphones in case I need to hear something my wife says to me or the baby crying in the other room. Anyway, it was great. I played through three or four straight missions, killed tons of Chaos Space Marines, and collected much wargear in service to the Emperor of mankind.It was glorious.I hope for a recreation of that experience this weekend, sometime.

Oh, I began this post with the intent to discuss the betas I have been playing of Diablo III, Dota 2, and Tribes: Ascend, but those will have to wait for another day. I still need to write that Guild Wars post, as well.

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