Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Still Alive

Postnihilist, gamer.

At the advice of a friend I'm going to attempt to do smaller posts more frequently. Since it has been more than three months since my last post, attaining the latter portion of that regimen should pose no difficulty.

At any rate, here it is.

I have lately been playing SPaZ (space pirates and zombies), MBwFaS (mount and blade with fire and sword), E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy and I'll say a few words about Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. The last I haven't played in over a month, but I got through most of the game since my last post, so. In order of mention.

SPaZ is a cheap fun little game. It is around 120 megabytes, so no big strain on... anything, really: neither your wallet nor your machine. Though it does support 1920x1080, which is my native, so that's good. The game progresses a tad slowly; we're talking a serious time investment to get into the meat of the game. I'd say I played for over 10 hours before the zombies were a real part of it, which is surprising. You go from star system to star system, collecting data to go up levels and acquire research points (allowing you to upgrade your ships) and REZ, the galaxy-wide currency. Some kind of mineral. They put some work into the backstory, and it's coherent and moderately interesting and not poorly-written, so why not read it (coming from a guy who often skips these). The characters are immobile portraits with text beside them, so not a lot of characterization. You blow up enemy ships to acquire blue-prints to reverse-engineer them so you can build them. You also buy or steal (by blowing up) new ship parts from either civilian or, well, Federation colonies (the game calls them UAF or something like that but the idea is ubiquitous). I recommend the game. It's cheap and fun. If you don't much like it, it doesn't take long to get your money's worth. And if you stick with it, going from a tiny fleet of shit ships to being kind of a badass who can roll into town and fuck up a space station to get free tech for your fleet, well, that's a good feeling.

Mount and Blade with Fire and Sword is a powerfully simulationist game, concerning a location in space-time that is medieval Eastern Europe. There are guns, but primitive ones, so at a guess I'd call it the mid 1600's (the day someone e-mails me a correction on something I've blogged about will be a very happy one). You start as one guy with a horse, a cheap pistol and a sword, and after many, many hours of playing, you can work your way up to be a medieval lord. I've sunk surely over thirty hours into the game, and possibly over thirty hours into this one character, Nihil Ist, and I still can command only 100 troops in battle and my fief is a small village. The biggest army I've seen was about 300 troops. Hopefully I'll get to that point, but we'll see... the game is such a time hog. In terms of what you need to know to decide if you want to play it: it's very user unfriendly. The UI is awkward and opaque, with certain integral functions a mystery. The very method of advancing your character and yourself in the game is quite obscure. I spent a tremendous amount of time just trading to make money before I realized that having a fief, even a shitty little one, makes you tons of money and you don't have to do anything to get it. The in-game combat is awkward, but not buggy - they've designed a certain kind of system, and they've made it work as well as it can. Like it or lump it. And as the combat system goes, so the game goes: this game is for nerdy or weird people willing to obsessively play a game until the juice comes out.  Of the game, not the person. The juice is tasty, but how hard are you willing to press the fruit? I'm going to drop that analogy now.

E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy is a very stupid game that I've put a lot of time into. In many ways it is what Crysis or Crysis 2 should have been. If these two companies could team up they could do justice to the concept underlying Crysis, but since one company has produced a game with a titular acronym that refers to nothing, and the other company has a budget the size of the previously mentioned bloated metaphor, they will never talk. Also, E.Y.E. can't have been made by English speaking people, at least not native English speaking people. The dialogue is weird and ham-handed in many places and there are simply lots of grammatical errors. It's technically an FPS RPG, though with less RPG elements than Deus Ex. I'm not sure why the ability to customize your character's advancement instantly designates a game as an RPG... it has little to nothing to do with playing a role. Though I suppose people don't call D2 an RPG. I digress. E.Y.E. cost me 20 bucks and I played it for more than 20 hours. I do play games obsessively, apparently, but this game is great if you're after a fun combat sim with some seriously crazy capabilities. It's nothing more than a combat sim I would say, though several missions do require surprisingly close attention and thought to solve. That's an indy game for you I guess. If you do play it, remember that the heavy non-silenced sniper is the strongest gun in the game, and it is the only way you will ever kill a Deus Ex Machine or a 'Copter. 

I don't want to talk much about Dark Messiah. It's an old-school game, with an old-school interface. Imagine a Morrowind-style interface: you point your eyes at objects to highlight them and interact with them. The combat is awkward bordering on brutal, and this coming from a guy who plays most games on the highest difficulty from the get-go. It's just not fun in many cases; you have to redo fights again and again because you're dying from enemies who hit harder and faster. You can get the hang of it, but ghouls are always just death walking. The physics is pretty awesome. You can kick guys off ledges easily and it's rewarding to do so. You can kick 'em into walls too. It's wise to do so. This is a combat-heavy adventure game. There are puzzles and secret areas. If you can pick it up for 5 bucks or less and you have a taste for nostalgic adventure games go for it, but I haven't beaten it and will probably not pick it up again. Although the plot bears special mention as being, in many ways conventional and predictable, but in a crucial way quite divergent. I guess the title gives it away a bit. I had fun with it; you might too.

Brevity! One last comment. I've been playing Darksiders. It's fun, but the combat is rather repetitive. This is a game I sort of want to see through. You play as the apocalyptic horseman War, and you kill lots of demons and some angels. People compared it to God of War extensively, but since I played much more Ninja Gaiden I'd say it's more like Ninja Gaiden. That plus Zelda, Ocarina of Time or any of the iterations past that point. It doesn't take much more to describe it; if you know those games you know this game. It's not very hard, but it's pretty fun. Ninja Gaiden is better, but then Ninja Gaiden is awesome, so there you go. 

I have the intention of updating again before September 15th, but I'm going back to school full-time, so I don't even know how much gaming I'll do. I started this blog talking about Baldur's Gate, and I may some day finish the erratic train of thought I started there, but don't hold your breath. (I'm also going to write something about metaphor soon, for my own pleasure. Count the metaphors in the preceding non-parenthetical sentence!)

Postnihilist out.

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