Thursday, September 04, 2014

Play Log 2014 - Labor Day Weekend

Well, it's nearly the next weekend, but I think I should make mention of the games I got to over the long Labor Day weekend.

Watch Dogs Image Watch_Dogs - I'll admit, I was motivated to play this because if I didn't really like it, I was going to sell it back to Gamestop during their recent "plus 50% trade-in value" promotion. And now, it's for sale there. It has a sort of GTA-lite feeling about it with computer hacking thrown in. The "hacking" part of the game mostly involves holding down the "square" button and triggering something - access a camera, move a forklift, change a traffic light, access an ATM, etc. Neat, but not compelling for the long run. I was also getting a little annoyed with the problem of lunging out of a moving car every time I accidentally hit the "triangle" button while driving! (Yes, this can happen in GTA too, but there isn't any reason to hit the "square" button while driving in that game. The proximity of the two is deadly in Watch_Dogs.) After completing a few missions, I found that the most entertaining thing to do was see how many citizens I could silently kill and not have someone call 911. When you start to do that, you know you've lost interest in the game's plot. When it drops to the $20 range, I'll get it again and give it more time.

 Paranormal - I generally don't go in for Early Access games on Steam. I prefer to wait until the game is complete, but I was intrigued by this one since it sounded like a Paranormal Activity movie game - and for the most part it was. Like in the movies, you are trying to catch strange things happening in your house at night with a camcorder. You can explore the house until your battery runs down (and it's a very weak one) at which point you better be back in your bed recharging both it and you. Unlike the movies, "stuff" happens pretty quickly in Paranormal. I don't think I managed to get more than 3 days in before something killed me and there would have been enough evidence on my tape to prove the existence of the supernatural world to even the most hardened skeptic. Since it is Early Access, the game has a fairly rough feel to it; textures are simple, movement is slow, and the area is pretty small. It kind of has that basic FPS mod look to it. But, I'm not complaining since it's being created (as far as I know) by a single person and putting something like this together is not easy. For what it is, it's quite good. The game is plenty creepy and at one point, when a blood-curdling scream rang through my headphones, it made me jump in my seat more than any horror movie has ever done! I only got two of the four available Steam cards from playing, but I'm going to wait until there's a new update to it and go back for more...if I can stand it!

An Aside: Horror games are becoming a very interesting genre lately. Back in the old sprite based computer game days, you could tell a "horror story", but not one that was immersive enough to really be scary. Nowadays, with first-person-perspective games that can recreate realistic environments, you can actually put the gamer into a horror movie. And in a computer game, you can control objects, sounds, lighting, location, and perspectives to make anything happen. With the viral success of P.T. and other recent horror games, I suspect that this trend of interactive horror will grow quickly.

 Defiance - I'm a fan of the TV show since it started and have watched all the episodes, so I have naturally been interested in the game. I actually played a bit of it, as a demo, when it was still a monthly subscription based game. At the time, I didn't get very far (as in, not even out of the landing area) and didn't really get any feel for it. This time I started exploring around and it's not too bad a game (and it's free-to-play), but I don't know if it "feels" like I'm in the Defiance world. When I think of the Defiance TV show, I think about the town itself which has a sort of shanty/post-apocalypse  vibe to it,  and the relationships and conflicts between the various alien races and the humans. There's the Ark wrecks they explore, the mines, the Volge attacks, razor rain, the E-Reps, and none of that is anywhere in the beginning of this game. (Ok, you actually "work" for the E-Reps, which is odd in itself, but they did just "save" you from the crash of your transport ship.) Instead I'm playing a Gears of War style shooter with nearly every bad guy I fight needing almost a whole ammo clip to kill. That actually isn't a problem since there are ammo crates all over the place, but it's still annoying. Currently I'm one of only two Irathians I've seen and the only other Defiance personality I've met is a couple of Bio-men. I'm guessing that there will be more Defiance oriented story items coming up, but right now, it's just a pretty good shooter. Glad they made it free.

Another Aside: I have to wonder if this type of game "journalism" (ie, blogging) is dying out in favor of the Streamers. How many people are going to still spend time reading about videogame experiences and instead, just watch them? Even I have been bitten by the Twitch bug and last night I spent the time I would have usually been playing, watching a few streams of other people playing. It was fun to kick back and watch other people play and it gave me some insight into a few games I haven't played yet (DayZ, Dark Souls II, and Dead Rising 3). I'm going to probably start doing some streaming myself on my Twitch channel ( and recording gameplay for archiving. Oh, and I'm going to try a MOBA since I read some good stuff about Smite. Gotta move with the times, I suppose.

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