Tuesday, June 17, 2014

2014 Play Log - Getting Back to It

Regular posts here were interrupted as I was taking a little break from gaming to catch up on some regular sleep and deal with new pet needs (as in meds for old pets, not new family members). But I find that I need some gaming in my life - it keeps me "centered", whatever that means. To sort of ease back into things, I got back to my alphabetical play through of my Steam library.

Air Conflicts: Secret Wars Image Air Conflicts: Secret Missions & Air Conflicts: Pacific Carriers Image Air Conflicts: Pacific Carriers - I spent much of my video gaming "youth" (and I'm stretching the term to include my 30's) playing many, many hours of flight simulators. In the Atari 800 days, I chased little objects made of 3 or 4 pixels across endless screens of sky (light blue) and ground/sea (brown/dark blue). These were the early Microprose games, one of which actually came in a baggie! My favorite controller had a tall stick with a single button (for firing, of course) and I'm amazed I didn't break it with all the time I played with it. As flight sims fell from favor, my gaming turned more to adventure/action games and I just didn't play them anymore. I think Blazing Angels on the 360 was one of the first ones to bring me back to the genre. The two Air Conflicts games in my Steam library reminded me of Angels...but not for very long. Secret Missions started out interesting (you play as a pilot-for-hire working for, but not allied with, the Allies as they fight off the Germans in North Africa) but the second mission was some sort of stealth flying affair that I quickly got frustrated with. Pacific Carriers had less "story" (it starts during the Pearl Harbor attack like most WWII Pacific theater games), but the action came at a better pace. However, I lost interest after a little while due to, I guess, too much realism. Sounds weird, right? Well, it turns out that if you are firing machine gun bullets from a plane at another plane in the air, you will need to "lead" the target. This means you don't aim "at" the plane but "in front of" the plane. To make it easier in this game, they put a floating target in front of each plane that you need to shoot at in order for the bullets to hit. It's accurate, but very unsatisfying. So, these two flew away.

Alan Wake Image Alan Wake - Ok, as the saying goes, "Shit just got real!" I have a lot of games in my Steam library (over 700). Some are real simplistic or out-dated, usually picked up on a bundle deal. Some are solid titles, but either indie games or ones that just weren't headliners. Then there are some that are full on AAA titles. Alan Wake is one of those games and one that I should have played a long time ago. It was a major release on the Xbox 360 and a frequently referenced title in discussions of survival horror and narratives in games. I have a copy for the 360, but I'm playing it on the PC (with a controller) because the graphics are significantly better. (This isn't surprising - I imagine that if it gets ported to the Xbox One that it will look this good on that platform.) I just finished "Episode One" and I'm completely enthralled! The game plays more like a movie than any other game I've played. I love how character interactions are triggered by proximity, not button presses. And the mood of the game is like a creepy thriller by Stephen King. I do hope that the combat doesn't get too repetitive, but I'm going to stick with this game for the story...and the really weird TV shows!

Unit 13 Image Unit 13 - A PS+ freebie. It's a 3rd person action game, pretty good controls, with amusing comments from the NPC's. I played the tutorial and will probably come back to it as some point, but for now...

Persona 4 Golden Image Persona 4 Golden - I stand at the edge of a very, very, VERY deep rabbit hole. I know this is a monster of a game even on the Very Easy difficulty I'm playing it on. It clocks in over 100 hours to finish! And I'm playing it on a handheld system, my Vita. Why, you may ask? Because it's one of the very best titles on the Vita and a fascinating game! I've only just started (I think I'm on the 3rd or 4th day of a one year stay in this new town) and I can already see why it's so highly regarded. This is an upscaled game from the PS2 and it looks amazing on the Vita's bright, crisp OLED screen. There's also a lot of voice work in it, something that doesn't always happen in a JRPG. The story is already catching my interest - a dead body has been found hanging in town and...well, I guess I shouldn't say too much. How long will I last playing P4G? Will I make it all the way to the bitter end? We'll just have to wait and see. (Note: This is one of the Shin Megami Tensei games that I have collected most of, but played very few of. In fact, only one - SMT: Nocturne - and I didn't last very long playing that. I've always been drawn to the horror aspect of the games, but I have to admit to not being able to handle most JRPG tropes. For me, getting very far in P4G is going to be a major accomplishment if I make it.)

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