This week has been yet another in a long line that I’ve not actually had a massive amount of time to play games. I’ve been patch testing for a Scottish indie developer called Retro Army, work has been very busy and everyone seems to be having birthdays or engagement parties that need attending. I have managed some game time with Dead Space 3 with a review coming soon, but apart from that nothing. Thankfully Sunday is a different story for me with no work and no social activities. Sunday is a day for rest, relaxation, recuperation and of course, Sunday is a day for The Reticule. So without further ado I’ll hand you over to the team for Our Week In Games, enjoy.
Last time I talked about playing Deus Ex. And I’ll open by saying it’s because I intuitively knew that System Shock 2 was going to be made available on GOG shortly afterwards.
That’s a complete lie. It was pure coincidence. Hell of a coincidence though, I bet I could’ve made that work! You’d be completely taken in.
Deus Ex is often described as being SS2’s spiritual successor, and playing the latter immediately after the former hammers home the likenesses. But if you’re not familiar with SS2, it very much fits in to the science-fiction horror mould rather than the later game’s cyberpunk conspiracy. Both games have action elements and RPG mechanics, but DX’s JC Denton never feels as trapped and lonely and the reason for this, bear with me, might have something to do with how System Shock 2 is really goddamn creepy and has you exploring a corpse-strewn spaceship rather than a city full of distinctly not-dead people.
Atmosphere and ambience get thrown around a lot, vague ways of insisting that a game instils particular emotions, and while SS2’s graphics are dated (and it was never good-looking to begin with, let’s face it: maybe we should all give those hi-def user modifications a look) the gameplay, the sounds and dialogue, and of course the escalation of weird shit in the narrative contribute to a survival horror that’s… aged much better than I expected. Yeah, I’m convinced nostalgia plays a part, but I’m fairly confident that anyone trying out SS2 for the first time is going to appreciate not just its legacy, but the fact that it’s still a solid game in and of itself. And by solid I’ll reiterate that I mean creepy.
But I still can’t quite decide if the rapid weapon degeneration is a clever way of increasing tension and desperation or if it’s just annoying. Maybe it’s a bit of both.
People of Skyrim, I have a confession to make.
You hail me as your saviour, the slayer of the great Dragon Alduin and killer of the already fairly-dead Miraak. Indeed, I am all those things, and more.
Well, kind of. I was there at least to see it happen. But to call me responsible for it would be kind of a lie.
Ok, let me explain.
I found this spell, you see. It allows me to summon a great champion from the etherial realm of Sovngarde, that great hall in the sky where all the awesome people go once they shuffle off their mortal coil. You’d love it – it’s got endless mead on offer and now there’s no longer an immortal dragon outside eating the souls of the newly dead, it’s a great place to retire to.
The thing about this spell is, well, it summons the best. The greatest heroes that Skyrim has ever seen, dragged back to the land of the living to temporarily stand alongside me in battle. Only they don’t, you see. They have a tendency to, how do I put this, go a bit heroic.
I didn’t kill Miraak, not really. I hit him a few times, don’t get me wrong, but most of the time it was when his back was turned, embroiled in epic battle with the ancient ghost of the real hero of Skyrim. He’s the real saviour, the ghost who stood toe to toe with the most powerful Dragonborn in existence. He fought for you, for all of you, despite knowing the agony of death. He’s the one you should all be hailing, only you can’t, because he’s already dead.
And do you know what, I didn’t even get his name.