Only last week I was talking about having all the time in the world to play games whilst being on holiday. This week it seems as if the busy Christmas season is really catching up on me, but I’ve still managed to sneak in a little gaming time here and there. This doesn’t seem to be the case for the rest of the team however, who have been playing the usual assortment of games (lucky devils). Read on for Week 20 of Our Week In Games and find out what everyone’s been up to, enjoy.
Licensed games have gained a bad reputation over the past few years. Nowadays we tend to assume that any game that is based on a film or established non-video game franchise automatically sucks. We have good reason for this caution, considering the number of them that do in fact suck.
This wasn’t always the case though, back in the SNES and Mega Drive era some of the finest games around were based on films. Most notably the Disney games; Goof Troop, The Lion King, Mickey and Donald in World of Illusion, Mickey Mania and especially Aladdin. Many people still suggest that the Mega Drive version of Aladdin (the SNES version was completely different, although still good) was the best game of 1993, and that’s the year Sonic 3 came out.
This week I’ve been playing Mickey Mania (1994) and Disney’s Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (2012), which both see Mickey Mouse travelling through levels based on classic cartoons, painting in the environments and facing off against the Mad Doctor. Comparing the two gave me a much better understanding of why I love retro games — Mickey Mania is purely focused on platforming and offers a compelling experience, whereas Epic Mickey 2 tries too many things and feels disjointed.
Anyway, you’ll hear more of my thoughts on Epic Mickey 2 and the other new game I’ve been playing, ZombiU, in the upcoming week.
Thanks to this week’s rather controversial THQ Humble Bundle offer, I’ve finally taken a look at Saint’s Row 3, a game that, for one reason or another, never quite made it as far as my Steam checkout. I haven’t plunged enough time into it yet to form a real opinion, but it’s not quite what I was expecting, and not entirely in a good way.
My first issue came with a bizarre sound bug that despite thousands of forum posts, no patch in over a year since the game’s release has quite managed to rectify. Luckily, being a savvy PC user used to being forced to fix other people’s work, I eventually cobbled together a crude fix made of sticky tape and cardboard tubing, and before long had a working game again.
Whilst I’d been prepared to expect ‘wacky and crazy’ fun throughout Saint’s Row, I was still expecting the game to make at least some kind of sense. It doesn’t. The missions make no sense, the people make no sense and half the time I’m not even certain who I’m supposed to be shooting and why. I think I might just be approaching the game with the wrong mindset – it’s less gangland drama and more Saturday morning cartoon. If I can wrap my head around that, there might just be something fun underneath.
But then there’s the car handling. The horrible, horrible handling. Driving cars along Saints Row’s roads feels like navigating an excitable gerbil covered in grease across an ice rink. I suspect it might just be an problem with me – I’ve played many, many open world city games, and they all approach handling differently. Saints Row reminds me of Just Cause 2’s insane and uncontrollable handling model, where often it’s easier to just park at the side of the road and walk.
So I’m walking. I’m leaving Saint’s Row alone until I’m in a better mood and perhaps had more sugar. Perhaps then the humour and madness will hit the right chord and I’ll find myself having a little more fun.
My friends are probably bored of me talking on this subject now, but as you may know from time to time I enjoy play the odd game from yesteryear. So after finishing off my Absolution review last week I was ecstatic to discover that there was a Hitman HD collection coming out mid December. The only other game aside from Absolution that I’ve played in the series is Hitman 2, which happens to be included along with Contracts and Blood Money (a friend tells me these are the best ones) so aside from taking a trip down memory lane it will be good to discover what old Hitman games are really like.
A while back I declared my distaste at the fact developers were releasing games from last generation in HD instead of focusing on new games and new IP’s. My opinion since then has changed a little and while I have been tempted to buy a few of these HD remakes (Metal Gear Collection collection and Halo Anniversary) the truth is that I ended up digging out my old consoles and playing the originals instead. The Hitman collection will mark the first time I actually go out and buy an HD remake, expect to read some rantings here soon if its not up to scratch.
Aside from Absolution I’ve finally been finishing up Bioshock 2 and catching up on a game that I’ve been meaning to play for a long time now, Quantum Conundrum.
Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition! I’d been waiting for this. After several playthroughs of the original games, with and without various community-made mods, it seemed only logical to fire up the latest iteration and start all over again.
A friend suggested we play it co-operatively for nostalgia’s sake, and that made good sense to me: I abandoned the playthrough that had found my level one party tangling with an unlikely alliance of hobgoblins and undead and started afresh in multiplayer.
And we discovered a new batch of bugs. Hmm.
Now, to be clear, these bugs weren’t insurmountably game breaking, and even the one that froze the game with an irreversible pause command was easily fixed by changing file names in a folder. But this wasn’t the best of starts for what we’d imagined to be a “perfected” release, and it’s strange to think such things had been missed in testing.
Anyway! We did get to experience playing the game as fragile-as-tissue-paper starting characters, which is a very familiar buzz and especially enjoyable when you know full well you’ll be a minor deity on the battlefield before the series is done. Having to carefully consider tactics and spell choices as opposed to just barging into a place and laying everything to ruin, considering every consumable a potential lifesaver instead of filler barely worth collecting to sell. When we aced a cottage full of giant spiders with a single sleep spell- after reloading a bitter victory that had seen two PCs die- it was a resounding triumph and evocative of the golden days of playing Baldur’s Gate.
Because that’s all it is, really: Baldur’s Gate and its first expansion, although I’m sure some purists will be annoyed by the additional recruitable characters (and I’m assuming there are quests associated with them). Likewise anyone expecting a completely fresh experience should be looking elsewhere. But for those of us who want an excuse to play an old classic again, here it is. With the odd funky bug to contend with too, but hey, BG had its fair share of those. Maybe Overhaul Games wanted to be as accurate as possible when it came to recreating the experience…