Monday, 29 October 2012

What I’m Playing now – October 2012

It’s been a while since I posted anything about what I’m playing, partly because I was in writing dissertation mode, but partly because I was finding some trouble connecting with new games; that has changed and I seem to be all games up with not quite enough time to play everything now!  So without further ado:

I’m spending a lot of time in Guild Wars 2 at present, it is an easy game to play but they've taken a lot of bold decisions.  With a one off payment you can play everything at present and that’s quite a leap of faith.  It will be interesting to see where it goes.  I have coughed out some money for some extra bank space (although tbh you get 25 or so slots and I could have coped without it) and have some gems stored up that I’m waiting to spend.  The game doesn't force micro transactions in your face though and the model means that the designers have taken out a lot of the ‘givens’ in an MMO that they often want you to do to take up your time.  For example I can mail items from anywhere – there’s no mailbox – this means that I don’t spend that time running to the nearest one.  Equally I can deposit crafting materials at any time from anywhere, it’s a very novel change.  The game is also visually very pretty and the level of detail put into many points that very few people will see (the sewers for example) is phenomenal.  If they can sustain it then it might well be a keeper.  I am slightly worried by the whole ‘end game content’ thing issue but, having just hit 80 (the games current level cap) we’ll see how that pans out.  The leveling down system is extremely well managed [you level down to the zone level you are in] and very effective, meaning that I have successfully played in newbie zones with friends and it’s still been just as fun and almost as dangerous for both of us.  The Halloween event has been great and, for a new game it’s remarkably bug-free.  Enjoying it so far!

Next up has to be X Com which is a brilliant game.  Like many people I played some of the original material, although I don’t remember being obsessed with it.  This remake / new version is an exceptional game.  I have enjoyed every single moment playing it.  It’s hard to say more than that really!  I’ll talk in more detail briefly but if you’re in a rush skip ahead, although only after buying the game!  The game takes you into an alien invasion story and is a turn based game where you move your squad around through a series of ‘kill the alien’ variants of mission, which have some procedurally generated maps keeping things ticking over even when it’s a ‘grind’ mission.  On that subject: to build new stuff you have to collect components which sometimes means you head out to a UFO just to salvage it’s parts!  Even these missions are a lot of fun and as I player you get very attached to the personalities of your team (Emma ‘Death Dog’ is my current ‘team leader’). 

The story is nicely done and the variety of builds and load-outs including my ever newly discovered alien technology is welcome.  The cinematic shooting and running is well done giving a movie like quality to the proceedings.  It’s fast paced and keeps you wanting more.  X Com is a great game and I’m enjoying it immensely.  In case it’s not clear I think you should enjoy it too!

Moving mobile bound the first game that needs mention is Tell Tale’s The Walking Dead.  Everyone is saying (pretty much) how much they love this... I’m no exception here.  It’s described as a point and click but to me that puts me in mind of Monkey Island and clicking monkeys and wrenches to open manhole covers (or whatever).  

The Walking Dead is a far cry from this.  I’ve been playing it on the iPhone (it’s also available on the PC and other mediums).  I think it’s more of an interactive story than anything else, but it’s a tremendous example of one.  The choices you make feel like they matter and the story is woven very cleverly around characters who you support and these choices continue on to the following chapters.  I’d *love* to get my hands on the storyboard for this game and I’m playing through it again with different choices, and I still feel like there’s more I’m missing.  The artwork is very reminiscent of both comics and television series and the voice acting is nicely performed.  One of the other things that makes TWD interesting is its episodic format.  There are 5 episodes and they’re being released slowly but surely and at the end of each one there is ‘next time on the walking dead’ – which all serve to make it much more like a tv series.  Whilst I rather like this (it’s something to look forward to) I, like so many, am somewhat fractious about the waiting time.  It’s not that I mind the wait so much as I mind that it comes out on PC ages before the iPhone version, which if nothing else means that I have to rigorously avoid spoilers!  None the less it’s a great piece of work and I’m very much looking forward to episode 4.  I hope there’s a Season 2!

Next comes a guest appearance for Robot Unicorn Attack from Adult Swim and Mediatonic – I know that this is an older game these days but it’s still one I’ve only just picked up and I’m playing it from the android store.  It’s a very fun and horribly addictive side scrolling running game where for no readily apparent reason you play a robot unicorn running along to ‘Always’ by Erasure.  You have to jump gaps and spear star shaped obstacles whilst collecting bonus.  Sometimes you are joined by dolphins.  It’s really worth a look if you haven’t played it already. 

Super Hexagon has had quite a look in as well and it’s something I keep coming back to, it has the same pull factor as Robot Unicorn and is an incredibly frustrating but always keeps you trying game of avoiding shapes that spin toward you with unerring inevitability!  The sound track and voice work add to the game and make it that much more playable.

Finally I come to Buddha Finger from Lady Shotgun and here is another game you must definitely download right now.  Go on. 

 Done it?  Played it?  Good, then you know what I mean.  

For those of you that haven’t (yet) I’ll explain a little more.  Buddha Finger uses the iPhone like it should be used on a touch screen platform.  There’s no unwieldy screen based d-pads and I don’t have to drag the view around in a stilted fashion.  Instead all I have to do is press touch points in an order indicated on the screen (by a number next to the touch points).  You have to do it as quick as you can to beat up your opponent.  As the game continues you are rapidly introduced to different varieties of tapping (such as repeated tapping the same dot before moving onto the next one) – I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but suffice to say there’s enough variation to keep you interested and amused for some time.  Put this together with a fun tongue in cheek storyline which is a wonderful pastiche of kung fu movies meets gangster vibe, a beautifully fitting score and you have the makings of a classic.  I fear that the game’s innovations will lead to other people trying to copy it but the polish and style this game has will set it above cheap imitations.

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