Our Week in Games – Week 119

Our Week in Games – Week 119

It’s been an interesting week, and that’s even when ignoring the politics and the fact I spent the last 4 days watching a map while people talk.

A lot has been happening in the world of Mass Effect. Bethesda not only announced the remastered version of the original trilogy (despite it being leaked some 4 days earlier) but the also announced a new Mass Effect game.

Now I didn’t actually think Andromeda was that bad. I really liked the more open world side of the game; it got the balance right between allowing some exploration while not descending into a find and shoot ‘100 space pigeons’ farce that GTA turned into. The Giant not-at-all-like-Dune sandworm sections are still standout moments in gaming but the vaults did get VERY samey very quickly and the less said about the main enemy the better. On the whole though i enjoyed it, so I found the lack of continuation on that story a little sad.

Now we don’t know much (but we know we love you) about the new title save for one Screenshot, but it seems likely that we’re leaving the Andromeda galaxy far far behind. We’ll keep you posted on updates when we get them.

Chris

I mentioned last week that I had been playing Gears Tactics again, and aside from the gorgeous, but lightweight Dirt 5, it is Microsoft’s take on turn based strategy which has taken my time this week. I’m gearing my way through to the final few missions and still having a blast as I go. I’m determined to get to the veteran missions to truly test myself.

This week though I was working through the side missions which act as an opportunity to level up your troops (heroes and squaddies) and collect new gear to kit them out with. One of these side missions had a limit of bringing two team members into action, with bonus loot for bringing a sniper along.

I went without a scout in my team, feeling that the healing powers of a support were more suitable for the task at hand. It meant that I didn’t have a unit who could spam grenades every turn, and with my support kitted out with stim ‘nades, I wasn’t able to employ my usual explosive approach.

This is the joy of the side missions in Gears Tactics, you can easily find yourself forced into switching up your usual behaviour. By Act 3, you have to complete three side missions in each block, and troops can only kit out for one in each block. This, combined with loot incentives and combat modifiers can leave you with an unusual combination of troops facing the odds. These situations really force you to dig into the abilities of your squad and to take the time thinking about each move.

Hopefully I’ll be able to finish off the main game so enough, then I will find myself digging into the endgame, or checking out Gears 5…

Jon

My name is Jon Armer and I’m an XCom addict.

I’ve just re-installed XCom:Enemy Within and intend to lose myself (and half the reticule’s writers) in the game for the next month or so. I’m not sure how it happened, it just happened….

I’ll still be playing Noita and Darkest Dungeon, but I think we ALL know where the majority of my gaming is going to be now…. I’ll let you know how Nick dies.

Ross

I haven’t had too much time for gaming these past few weeks, owing to work, tumultuous world events (hooray), and the addition of a new member in my life (kittens, it turns out, are very demanding).

What gaming I’ve indulged has mostly been my continued journey through the Quake series, having finally left id’s original Lovecraftian fever dream and entered their grim n’ gritty science-fiction world of Quake II and its mission packs.

I can’t say it’s as good as I remembered it being, but I still enjoyed it. It’s very crunchy…which is a Good Thing.

The world of Quake II sees humanity waging an intergalactic war with the aforementioned Strogg, a vicious biomechanical race with a really ♥♥♥♥ name who of course have nothing less than our absolute destruction in mind (honestly, just leave us to it—we’re doing a pretty job of it on our own). You’re part of a strike team sent to infiltrate the enemy’s home planet, Stroggos, but the mission goes awry and you’re left as the only survivor.

Stranded behind enemy lines, it’s up to you to sabotage Stroggos’ defences and cut a path to the heart of its leadership.

As a premise it’s a decent one, and where Quake II is at its strongest. Each successive blow against Stroggos’ industrial might has a sense of weight, consequence and, more importantly, catharsis; it feels good destroying reactors!

Better yet, that “industrial might” is rendered as chunky, blocky machinery, so redolent of the 90’s FPS, replete with strange texture patterns meant to depict neon computer interfaces and laser currents. I really like the physicality of Stroggos, with its enormous reactor cores, ghoulish palaces and nightmarish processing facilities where pools of liquefied human remains could well be your undoing if you take a wrong turn.

THE BLACK HOLE GENERATOR

Unfortunately these levels are also part of Quake II’s problem, which is its brush with banality. They are unremittingly beige and grey in colour, rarely offering much in the way of variety beyond the purpose of whatever facility you happen to be blasting through. It’s fine for the first few hours but you’ll eventually tire of it, looking up only to ever see a violent orange skyline or some contortion of stone and metal. I know coloured lighting was a big deal in 1997, but you can’t exactly call Stroggos an imaginative setting, even if it is populated here and there with delightfully weird machinery.

I’ve otherwise tucked into Draw Distance’s Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York, having been impressed by their stand-alone expansion, Shadows of New York. Coteries is a much stronger introduction to the World of Darkness, and I’m getting a kick out of doing the whole thing in reverse and meeting characters whose roles in the expansion loom large over what’s unfolding before me now.

It’s moody and beautifully drawn, with the key difference being that my character is far less defined than Julia Sowinski, allowing a greater degree of freedom. So far, anyway.

 

Intros by Jon

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