Word has reached me here in Cardiff that there is a big sporting event taking place in London right now, but this week none of us here at The Reticule have been playing anything resembling Summer Games. The sportiest things we have been playing are Tiger Woods 13 and DOTA 2. This then is our week in games, enjoy.
Shh. Keep your voices down. There’s something creeping around out there, and with only a cupboard door between me and it, I’m not taking any chances. The problem is, I’m not entirely sure how I got into this mess. You see, I have amnesia. Amnesia: The Dark Descent to be precise.
It’s a nice enough cupboard though. I’m not hiding in your standard Ikea flat-pack job. No, this is quality workmanship; sturdy sides, plenty of storage space, and a strong pair of doors practically guaranteed to keep out anything but the most determined evil. This is definitely a cupboard I’d be happy to take on the Antiques Roadshow, and it’s probably worth a fair bob too. It’s comfortable enough, which is lucky, as I don’t think I’ll be leaving anytime soon.
So here I am, deep inside a cupboard, deep inside a terrifying castle, Since waking, I’ve fled from invisible terrors, seen indescribable things and I’ve had enough. I don’t know whether it was the oozing walls, the creeping shadows, or the feeling, no, the knowledge that I’m being watched. But I’m done.
So that’s it. I’m staying here. I don’t care what unspeakable evils are out there, if I’m the only one who can stop it, or whatever reason the universe has for dumping me in this ridiculous situation. I’m not leaving my cupboard.
Oh god, it’s at the door.
Enter room. Engage detective mode. Locate threats and gargoyles. Grapple onto gargoyle. Wait. Perform inverted takedown. Listen to Joker ranting at his thugs. Perform glide kick quickly followed by ground takedown. Listen to more of Joker’s ramblings. Crawl through convenient tunnel. Perform silent takedown on thug at end of tunnel. Victory!
Ok, so Arkham Asylum can be a little bit repetitive at times following the same rinse and repeat formula as you go. But the gadgets are great fun to play around with, the hand-to-hand combat is brutal and flows brilliantly, the Riddler’s challenges are the second best part of the game and the Scarecrow bits are possibly the best bits of the game. It might be three years old now, and the gargoyles still make no sense when you find them indoors, but it is still quite a brilliant game and I am glad I have been squeezing in the time to play it, it is worth it.
All I want to say about Tiger Woods 13 (I’ve been playing it on the 360) is how nice it is to play a real golf game, but that it is a crying shame that I have to go to console land to get my fix. The PC has Tiger Woods Online…which is a teeny bit shit.
This week I’ve been playing Inversion, a third-person shooter that seems to have been created solely out of the most generic parts of every other third-person shooter. Set in that near future where everything has just started to break down Inversion offers the joy of crouching behind chest-high walls, turret sections and that remarkably specific set piece that appears in all games of this kind where you overlook a battle side-on and snipe the enemy until a boss appears.
It’s so frustratingly formulaic. What attracted me to the game in the first place was the prospect of its gravity-based mechanics. While using gravity as a weapon isn’t new in videogames, Half-Life‘s gravity gun and the Lift/Pull biotics from the Mass Effect series immediately spring to mind, there is definitely more that can be done with it. Instead, the only things that Inversion allows you to do with gravity is lift up your enemies (i.e. the Pull/Lift biotic) or pick up and throw objects (the gravity gun).
Inversion‘s one notable aspect is immediately reduced to a gimmick and it’s actually easier to play the game as a straight third-person shooter, ignoring the gravity skills. This doesn’t make the game any more fun though. In fairness, mechanically there isn’t anything particular wrong about it per se, but the lack of invention, the general feeling that it was made by committee make it tiresome to play.
It’s one of those unremarkable games with an interesting but unused mechanic, that immediately drops to bargain bin prices and gets forgotten about. I’m actually convinced that it is the same game as Binary Domain, Singularity and/or Bodycount. I forget which is which.
Two veterans told me that Dota 2’s bots weren’t any good. This came out of the blue, some of the earliest advice I was given, but as a complete newcomer to MOBAs (to the extent that I had to double-check that acronym— multiplayer online battle arena) I somehow got it into my head that it was worth imitating singleplayer by populating the leftover slots with AI players, and I pursued that hunch regardless. I’d be able to explore the mechanics in my own time, surely that was worth a shot.
The bots, albeit set to Normal, seemed solid enough to me. They didn’t take risks, they often banded together to take advantage of a tactical opening…
And then I realised that the cautionary tales had, in fact, been in reference to the allied bots. They fled from fights they could easily win, they rushed to reinforce positions that really didn’t need reinforcing, and in one instance a friendly Earthshaker helpfully erected an impassable wall of stone so that a wounded enemy could retreat into the forest without the rest of us being able to follow.
Ten minutes later an enemy Sniper began to run back and forth across a small area, ignoring the stabs and slashes of my knight. At the time of writing a patch has just been released, so maybe Dota 2‘s bots no longer feel so guilty about the performance of their brethren that they occasionally throw you a pity kill, but next time someone tells me that bot practise isn’t remotely representative of an actual match I’d do well to listen…