Tuesday, May 06, 2014

2014 Play Log - Playing Catch-up

Yeah, I sort of dropped off the blogsphere for a bit there, didn't I. It was a combination of needing a break and having a bit of a vacation. But now that I'm back, I realize that I miss this, so here's what I've been playing lately:

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Image Hearthstone - This is a free-to-play, encourage-to-pay game for the iPad that bears more than a passing similarity to Magic:The Gathering, a game I dearly loved, but never had many people to play it with. It's more entertaining than Solitaire, but not much deeper. The one thing I like about it over previous versions of M:tG computer games is that you have to build up your card collection. The Magic computer games I played gave you any cards you wanted at the beginning and then there wasn't a sense of collecting - and that was due to the fact that back then, they didn't have micro-transactions! Progress has it's disadvantages.

Jelly Splash Image Jelly Splash - Oh dear, how did this get here? Well, never let it be said that I hide my shame! Yes, it's a match 3+ smart-phone game. Yes, it's free, but you will probably need to spend money to get very far. Yes, it's a silly, "casual" game. But I like it! Ok, not "like" it so much that I'm spending money on it (yet?), but enough that it's a quick go-to app when I'm between things. Nuff said.

Diablo III Image Diablo 3 - While my brother was here for our vacation, we tried playing this local co-op or as it's also known, "couch co-op". This would have probably worked better if the couch weren't 12 feet from the screen. Later, I decided to play some on my own and...it's Diablo. Basically, things try to kill you while you are looking for "loot" (weapons, armor, gold, etc). It's very linear, the dialog, especially what your character has to say, is awful,  and I'm not sure I'm enjoying it. I'm still early on, so I'll give it some more play time before deciding whether to abandon it or not.

I have a lot of Steam games. How many you ask? Well, my latest count is 690! Now, in my defense, I have played some of those already and the way Steam arrives at that admittedly large number is a little deceptive. Steam counts things like individual episodes of Sam & Max and Back to the Future as single titles, as well as things like single and multi player versions of some games. But, yes, not many. So, there's a HUGE virtual pile of games that I haven't played. To try to get some value out of the many real world dollars I've spent on Steam, I'm starting to go through my list which is conveniently organized in alphabetical order. One of my goals for these play throughs is to collect as many of the free card drops as I can from each game that has them.

 3D Ultra Mini Golf Adventures - Personally, I think there aren't enough mini-golf games. One of my all-time favorite Atari ST games was a mini-golf game and I'd play more if there were good ones. Unfortunately, I guess there's not much market for them. When this one came on sale, I felt I had to give it a go. While it shows it's age and is pretty lacking in features (no online multi-player, sigh), the courses do their best to be as fantastical as possible. I mean, why just make a mini-golf game with courses that you could play in real-life? The ball and putting physics aren't great but I'd say it's the best mini-golf game I've played since those Atari days. No cards on this one.

 688(I) Hunter Killer - They should have probably renamed this 688(Z) Cure for Insomnia. It did remind me of an old game I used to play on the Atari 800, Submarine Commander. Both of these games required lots of patience in return for very little action. But, back in the 80's, I had the time to sit there and watch blocky graphics for hours and imagine I was inside a real sub sneaking up on ships and diving to the ocean floor to hide from depth charges. Thirty years later, not so much. And no cards, which wasn't surprising.

 9th Company: Roots of Terror - Like 688(I), this was a game I got as part of a cheap bundle, but it was more up to date and looked like an interesting squad level strategy game. If only I could have figured out how it worked! After frustrated by "orders" I was given to carry out that I had no idea how to do during the tutorial, I chucked it aside for something better. No cards, which is good - I'd never have been able to get them.

 Afterfall Insanity - People in the reviews section called this an "indie Dead Space" and I guess that isn't too far off. You play as a psychiatrist in an underground sanctuary after an apocalyptic event. (I'm not sure if it was intentional, but your character looks a lot like Niko from GTA IV.) The game looked pretty good for an indie - character models were fairly realistic and the interiors of the complex looked very nice. I also liked the story; you don't realize it until about 15 minutes in, but the game starts you in a dream, complete with subtle graphical "glitches" that caused some user on the forum to suspect his video cards was having problems! Then, like poor Clarke, you get tasked with other people's jobs. I only played this for a couple of nights since I had a few crashes and got to a "puzzle" that everyone had written was very difficult - and the game after that wasn't worth the effort. I did get my 3 cards though.

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