Wednesday, May 28, 2014

2014 Play Log - Memorial Day Weekend

Long weekends mean one thing - getting things done around the house! Welcome to my new Home Improvement Blog! (Just kidding, but I'll bet I had you going there for a bit.)

No, long weekends are great opportunities for gaming and I got time in on three titles (plus I really did get some stuff done around the house.)

Stick it to the Man! Image Stick It To The Man - Chalk this one up on my list of Games I Finished in 2014. (Ok, it's a short list, I admit.) This was a very fun game that kept my interest and never got progressively harder. I did get stuck once and had to consult the forum pages on Steam for it. (Little side note - indie games don't seem to inspire people to write walkthroughs for GameFAQs.) There I found a post from someone who had the exact same problem I did! (Made me feel a little better about getting stuck, even though I probably should have figured it out myself.) Not sure if this has much replayability unless I want to collect cards on Steam, but it certainly put a smile on my face.

Tearaway Image Tearaway - I finally got a chance to sit down with my Vita and give this one a try. It's been called a critical success, but a commercial failure, partly because the Vita has such a small install base, but also because it's so hard for a new IP to make it in today's video game market. What I heard about Tearaway was that it was charming, inventive, and unique. Yup, that pretty much sums it up! Everything in the game looks and works like paper. I think there were times that I forgot I was playing a game on a screen and thought I was moving around a diorama. The developers used almost every feature of the Vita from the back touch panel, to the motion sensor, to the cameras. I'll try to stay the course with this one (HLTB rates it around 7 hours) and see if I can deliver my message to The Sun (which is me!).

Wolfenstein: The New Order Image Wolfenstein: The New Order - Ok, this is going to probably get lengthy and, in case you need warning, spoilery. On a whim, I decided to pickup the new Wolfenstein game in time for the long weekend. My time with Wolf goes all the way back to Wolfenstein 3D, the first FPS (even though the term wasn't even coined back then). I do remember the 2D, real original version of Wolfenstein, but if I played it, it was for a very short time. It reminded me of an Epyx D&D style game, Temple of Apshai and had more in common with our present day stealth games than shooters. Since those no-Y-axis days, I've played the newer Wolf's, even if only briefly. (I remember being amused by the effect of shooting flags in Return to Castle Wolfenstein and watching them break apart like glass!) I played some of the game that was released a few years ago, but not very much. (Not sure why I stopped. I thought the blue lightning effects were pretty cool and reminded me of the opening scene from Hellboy.)  This new one is a whole new level of stunning visuals and, surprisingly, dramatic themes. You can't just make a FPS anymore that doesn't have cut scenes, I guess. If I have anything to complain about, it gets tangled up in this aspect. A game like Wolfenstein is primarily a shooter, of course. While there are sections of story, when the talking stops, it's back to the same thing - in this case shooting lots and lots of techno-Nazi's.

Case in point (and here be spoilers): The game starts with you in a plane headed on a mission to kill the top general for the Nazis's war planning. Everything at this point screams, "This is the prologue, look for tutorials, and there's a good chance you'll die/get captured, but that's ok because THE GAME HASN'T REALLY STARTED YET!" I don't have a big problem with this, but it should have been a shorter segment. You spend a lot of time shooting Nazis after Nazis as they run out from doorways, appear at the end of halls, etc. After you've been captured and then brain damaged during a daring escape, there's a rather well done cut scene where you see time pass (14 years in this case) while you "recover" in a mental hospital in Poland. You even begin to develop an attraction to a very kind nurse, the daughter of the doctor running the facility. However, the bad guys show up with a "your services are no longer required" notice attached to a magazine of bullets and you have to "wake up" and get back to your Nazis killing ways in a hurry. Granted, the developers give you a moment or two of blurry vision, but it passes pretty fast for someone who's been in a 14 year coma. Then, you end up shooting Nazis again while they do the same dance - doorway, hallway, end of hallway, repeat. Now don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying this so far, but I've turned the difficulty down to "Can I Play Too, Daddy?" since I don't want to die a lot. I appreciate the amount of story that has been injected into what could have been a simple shooting gallery exercise and I'd like to see it develop without restarting a couple thousand times.

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