It is the 52nd edition of Our Week in Games and this one is a bit special purely because it marks a years worth of doing this thing. While our first edition of Our Week in Games hit in July last year, we took some time out for Our Year in Games last December. Today though, we try to talk about a few different things to just what we have been playing last week, there are some good stories to be told this week. It was a struggle to choose an image to go at the top of this post, but it is fitting when you think about how this past year or so has gone. Enjoy.
To celebrate a whole year of OWIG I had planned on playing 52 different games throughout the week, that was until I realised just how ambitious and time-consuming that would be. Instead I decided to review the rest of the teams past year in games and choose my favourite of theirs to play, with the only rule being that it had to be a game I had never played before. The game I chose was FTL: Faster Than Light, which Nick wrote about way back in OWIG week 3. This is my journey.
I always knew our team of writers were destined for much more, but manning a space ship and contending the rebel fleet was something a whole lifetime couldn’t have prepared us for. Of even more importance was the fact that we had essential information to be delivered to our Federation superiors several sectors away, the maiden voyage of the SS Reticule could literally make or break the war and time was of the essence.
The team consisted of myself at the helm, Chris in the engine room and Nick jumping between shields and weapons. We were aboard a Kestrel cruiser, a basic ship with little firepower but at such short notice it was all we could get our hands on. After some basic adjustments we set out not knowing what to expect but eager to push forward and find our fellow comrades.
As we sped away through our home sector we happened across a slave ship carrying cargo to some unknown backwater planet. Seeing that we outmatched them they offered us a slave on the condition that we leave them alone. This was no time to barter with slavers, ATTACK. Taking little damage we cripple the enemy ship and they surrender unconditionally. Time is pressing and knowing that they are unable to operate is enough for me. We take their surviving slave and leave them to float around until someone else finds them. The slave is grateful for our rescue and agrees to help us on our mission. Atreyu will be a great help at this time.
We take our second jump across the sector and things take a turn for the worse. A Rebel ship has scouted ahead looking for vital information to aid them in the battle against the Federation. Although their ship is much better equipped we cannot tolerate the presence the Rebel fleet this close to our homeland, combat was inevitable. The drone firing at our shields was weak and of no importance, the first port of call was to limit their movement. With the control room badly damaged weapons were next, but not before we took a direct hit to the helm of our ship. Thankfully little damage was done and with us disabling the remaining weapons and the engine room they were sitting ducks. A couple of shots to their shield systems and they were done for. The wreckage provided us with vital fuel, rockets and scrap for upgrades. The presence of Atreyu in the shield room was vital during that encounter, allowing Nick to focus on weapons and so disabling their systems faster.
Jumping again we encounter even more blasted slavers in our home sector obviously taking advantage of our weakened state, but you’ll just have to wait till next week to hear about the rest of our adventure. The story continues…
When I look back at Week One I see that I was playing the Xbox version of Spelunky which funnily enough is pretty much the only game I’ve managed to play this past week because I’ve been working in the flat all day everyday. I was also playing Arkham Asylum which I did manage to finish eventually and I was oddly keen to get into Arkham City which sadly has fallen by the wayside. One day, maybe I will finish it.
In our first edition there was an entire absence of Euro Truck Sim 2 or Football Manager for me and a no Kerbal Space Program for Nick. Looking over our more recent Week in Games those are three of the titles which stand out for me. Interestingly though, Ed was playing DOTA2 way back in our second edition of Our Week in Games, it is quite scary to think how massive that game has become in the past year.
While I have enjoyed our numerous stories from Skyrim which is still an immense game that I need to make time for once more, my favourite ongoing tale is of Nick’s adventures with his Kerbal crews. It is strange to think that Nick first talked about Kerbal Space Program back in Week 8 where he was struggling to even get his rocket into space. Yet two weeks ago in Week 50 Nick was enthusing about how he had managed to align everything perfectly and ultimately land his Kerbal crew on Duna.
Nick’s stories have kept me going even when I have been dominating leagues in Football Manager and slowly building up my trucking empire in Euro Truck Sim 2. A quick note on these two, I have decided to completely put my football coaching career on the sidelines until the new game is out later this year, while I am falling ever more in love with trucking. I might just try some more Spelunky though, both in tribute to Week One and the fact that it is just out now on the PC. While I carry on trying to make progress past the Mines, enjoy laughing at my horrendous Spelunking in this video.
Time certainly flies! My first foray into Dota 2 was a year ago now, and while the bots have improved since then I can’t say my performance has (for better or worse, they are less likely to do inexplicable things that serve only to award the opposition free kills. Slightly less likely to do it than I am, at least). And if Chris hadn’t reminded me, I doubt I would’ve realised it was quite so long ago.
Similarly, reading back through the archives it struck me just how many games we’d all navigated since we started. And in a somewhat melancholy way I resented that I wouldn’t be able to recapture the initial experience of starting and eventually completing a game for the first time.
But then again you only need to shift your gaze a little further up to see that Spelunky and FTL are still in our thoughts, staples being enjoyed time and time again. A recurring theme of my OWIG entries was rambling on about stories in games, and so I think it’s telling that for all my talk on the importance of writing (and it is important!) some of the most absorbing and engaging narratives I’ve encountered have come from the emergent, downright ridiculous situations that crop up in roguelikes.
And that’s writing of a different sort: the mechanics allowing for sublimely infuriating moments where you dodge an arrow only to die to a humble spider, or survive a firefight with a colossal gunship only for everyone to suffocate because your life-support took too many hits. Games of this genre allow the adventure to be constantly rewritten after the fledgling plot has been cut short by the sudden death of the protagonist.
I think I’m going to start afresh with both games. It won’t last very long, and I’ll have to try again, but I think the gimmick here will be an exploratory space crew drifting from planet to planet so the ship’s resident archaeologist can run through the ancient ruins.
Two games have stood out particularly for me doing this feature, and despite what corporate marketing execs would have you believe, neither of them are first person shooters painted predominately in the colour brown.
The first, perhaps predictably, is Kerbal Space Program. As Chris noted, KSP was not a game I instantly clicked with, suffering disaster after disaster with nothing really to show for it. However, here we are one year later and I’ve just completed landing my first mission on the surface of Duna, in what was easily my favourite moment of all of my OWIG tales. Not to be outdone by my success, Kerbal Space Program still offers nearly a dozen worlds to visit, meaning I’ve still not even begun to scratch the surface of this remarkable game. The high-gravity world of Eve and the oceans of Laythe still beckon to me, and besides, you never know, I even might manage to bring someone back one day.
Secondly, and rather surprisingly for me, GTA4 rears its head. Although I originally bought the game on the PS3 shortly after release, it was only this year after picking it up in a Steam sale that I really clicked with it. The reason for that can be summed up with just one word – mods. I have flown the skies of Liberty City as Iron Man, I have driven its streets as Batman, fled from zombie hordes and I have even patrolled its streets as an officer of the law. The sheer imagination and talent of GTA’s modding community have done things with that game that I never dreamed possible, and as a result I’ve spent far more time on that title than I ever thought possible.
But when discussing our week in games, I do have to make special mention of Euro Truck Sim 2. Although I haven’t written too much about it, this realistic depiction of tedium has nevertheless captured the heart of all of us here at the Reticule. If you’d have told me a few years ago that a large portion of the gaming media would be spending their time playing and writing about games about trucking, I’d have laughed in your face.
Over a year of Our Week In Games, how I play has changed immensely. With two children to keep entertained, my gaming PC is now more likely to be showing episodes of Postman Pat than the sweeping vistas of Skyrim, and my writing now occurs in five minute breaks between nappy-changes (theirs, not mine). Even so, I wouldn’t have things any different, frequently consoling myself that it won’t be too many years before I can start thinking about multi-player sessions of Spelunky with my son.
My biggest surprise was Kerbal Space Program, inspired by our very own Nick Wheeler, and in part the virtual saturation coverage it’s been getting since its ‘release’ on Steam, I’ve devoted days to this explosion simulator. At least, it’s mostly that for me. We’re talking about a guy who lost not just one EVA’ing Kerbite in orbit, causing them to burn up horribly on re-entry; but two. Seriously, I did it twice. On the plus side I’ve perfected asparagus staging and I have a space station, so swings and roundabouts….
We’ve also had another taste of RPG bliss with a mini instalment of The Walking Dead, in the 400 days DLC. I enjoyed it thoroughly, despite the one misfiring chapter. It certainly shows that Telltale still have it. Proper excited for the sequel now.
I also got to revisit one of my favourite game-worlds again- the irradiated Moscow landscapes of Metro. The second game doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the first and indeed takes a few missteps, but it is still one of the finest fps experiences around. The original, one of my top 5 all-time games, is still stunning today and well worth a visit.
At the beginning of the year I was becoming slightly jaded with gaming. Especially in the perceived decline in quality of late. However I think I’ve come full circle, granted there is a LOT of junk out there, but every so often we find a gem and everything’s all right again and with titles like GTA5 and the Bioshock Infinite DLC to look forward too, things are looking up.
That and I’ve just found out Knights of the Old Republicis available on iPad…..