It is Super Bowl weekend, and while I was thinking about the upcoming big game last week, I found myself dreaming of making a game. I dreamt bout making an NFL management game, only to have my dream dashed against the rock when Out of the Park Developments announced they were working on their own game. Maybe I’ll take a look when it is out in the distant future, it might be as addicting as Football Manager.
There is another NFL related story to link to before we get on with Our Week in Games. Some enterprising soul has taken Madden NFL and played havoc with the teams contesting the Super Bowl. I’ll embed a video after the break, but I strongly recommend you check out the full article.
Away from testing out the Steam in-home streaming beta I managed to spend a little bit more time with Divinity: Original Sin. I won’t spent too long talking about it right now, but safe to say I quite like the idea of the two characters interacting with each other during conversation trees and being able to talk with animals is a definite boon. It is still in Early Access which meant my character creation options were limited. I’m liking it so far.
This past week also saw the release of a new, spoiler-heavy trailer for Burial at Sea: Episode Two, the DLC for Bioshock: Infinite which sends you back to Rapture. I’ll embed the video below, but be warned that you shouldn’t watch it if you don’t want to know anything yet about the new episode. Regardless, knowing that the second part is getting close, I thought it would be wise to take a look at the first part myself. I’m fortunate enough that I have access to the game and DLC through my Steam account automatically, if I was going to pay £12 for the first episode by itself, I would be quite aggrieved. The season pass makes much more sense at £16 for the two part story DLC and the fighting arena content. That price makes sense for the bundle, but the pricing for episode one by itself really is a bit of a joke.
Steve’s Verdict from November is very apt, it is jolly good run through, but criminally short, especially for the standalone price. I was looking forward to episode two after completing the first episode yesterday, but now I’ve seen the below trailer, I am extremely excited. Bring it on.
This week has seen something of a return to form for my gaming life. I have moved on from the Hearthstone only obsession that I had for a while (I still play every now and then) and have branched out to a few other games that have been sitting in my backlog for a while.
Lost Odyssey has taken up the largest chunk of my spare time this week and I’m glad that I finally got around to playing it because it’s brilliant. It reeks of the spirit of some of the older Final Fantasy games, both in artistic styling and gameplay as you would expect from Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of the Final Fantasy series.
There’s maybe not as much stat fiddling as I would like from a JRPG, I like to be more in control of giving the characters their specific combat roles; healer, damage dealer, mage etc but at only seven hours in (not much for a game like this) I expect to see more, especially once a few more characters get introduced. The pros far outweigh this one little bug bear however as the level design, variety of enemies, meaty cutscenes, music, character interactions and exploration have all been great so far.
Fez has also been taking up some of my time this week, but as I was able to finish it not long after I had formed my first impressions there’s not all that much to say. It was enjoyable, charismatic even, but some of the puzzles are pointlessly hard and at little more than a couple hours in length I would only recommend picking it up in a sale.
A huge portion of my recent game time has been taken up by Day-Z. I’ve walked the entire length of the map, been killed twice by other players and found a castle. I also recently found an M4 rifle, a handgun and a magnum.
The current plan is to go hunt the bandits that in turn hunt the fresh spawns, but we’ll see how that goes.
I’ve also been playing a lot of Kings Road, a gorgeous isometric hack ‘n’ slash that fires up in your web browser. Provided your web browser is Firefox… You can expect words on it soon, but suffice to say I quite like it.
Finally I’ve been dipping back into competitive multiplayer with CS:GO. It’s taking a while to get back into the CS mindset, and it feels quite different to CS:Source, but I’m still racking up the kills. I just can’t wait for the next big online shooter to come out. Surely we’re long overdue a new Unreal Tournament….
In lieu of doing anything new in gaming terms this week, the film industry was this week’s recipient of the £10 or so I can spare for entertainment. I’m an irregular cinema-goer – the annual Disney and Pixar releases are the only thing I’ll drag other people to go and see – and there’s no real rhyme or reason to what I watch the rest of the time.
On this occasion, I was treated to Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street – which could be described as a sort of Catch Me If You Can directors cut where the extra hour is composed entirely of tits and hard-core drug use. DiCaprio still ably plays the love-to-hate him con-man, but there’s also a stand-out role for Jonah Hill. Apparently, Hill is so keen to shake off his teen-movie image that he accepted real-people wages to secure the role. You’d have thought a serious method actor in a film about stock market excesses would have prepared for the role by demanding a metric f***-tonne of cash.
I mentioned back in my review of the Walking Dead Season Two opener that I view the series as a kind of acting simulator, but then I suppose that’s true of how I approach games more generally. It’s partly necessity, considering how much of gaming is playing angry white men I don’t identify with, but even given the chance to create characters, I’m starting to feel like I need to improvise.
It’s an age thing, partly. Take Animal Crossing, which continues to take up most of my time. You can customise just about everything about yourself in this game, but you’ll still be a small, stumpy-legged little child (with a three storey home and a position at the head of local government, but still).
The Steph of Animal Crossing isn’t really a projection of myself in any way – perhaps it’s not the right kind of game for anything deep and introspective, but it has got me wondering how I may approach the “create a child character when you’re 27” problem in the future. I suspect the answer is rarely “role-play a kid who is inexplicably obsessed with late 80s SEGA arcade games”. Or perhaps I just tapped into the long-dormant part of myself that can’t stand to see wall-to-wall Nintendo nostalgia?
This week, a chance encounter with the Galactic Civilizations II manual basically set in stone my entertainment for the week. It’s been a while since I ventured into what is easily one of the finest 4x games ever made, but I was amazed how quickly it all came back to me. For once, the gods of map randomisation chose to put me in a rather favourable position, spawning my civilization in a quiet corner of the galaxy within easy range of some rather juicy looking planets. However, as I slowly expanded inwards, something happened.
Within the space of two turns, I discovered my quiet corner of the galaxy actually bordered both the Drath and Drengin empires, two of the most violent and stinkiest races the galaxy have ever seen. Any chance of a few hundred years of peace and prosperity began to look very unlikely indeed as scout ships from both races began sniffing around.
Now my plans have changed. My primarily research based civ is now churning out warships by the dozen and I am gearing for conflict. In a galaxy where no-one has actually openly declared war, millions of my people are engaged in ship construction and my scouts are probing the Drath and Drengin systems for signs of weakness. By the looks of things, the Drath and Drengin are doing the same, so a pre-emptive strike might soon be in order.
But the question remains, in a universe currently at peace, if I declare war and attack first, does that make me the bad guy? Because I think it kind of does.