Holiday Game Rush

17 10 2009

Let’s talk games. (Also note yesterday’s blog entry about finishing edits to anachronauts.)

This year is gonna be a watery one for games. Most of the big ticket items got pushed off to 2010, specifically to avoid the November game rush — the time of year when all the AAA titles hit the market simultaneously for that sweet Xmasu gift givin’ game monies, resulting in a horrible multi-car pileup. Of course, pushing it off just means delaying the disaster, since everything’ll be hitting in January instead… but there are some things coming out in November (and this month) that I’m Contemplating, Passing On, or Grabbing.

Grabbing: Dragon Age. Bioware’s long-awaited successor to Neverwinter Nights, now detangled from the ugly business of Wizards of the Coast and their many whims. I’ve preordered the jaw-droppingly huge 20 gigabyte download on Steam, which Comcast will probably not be happy about. But I don’t know yet if I really am gonna be modding with this thing at all, much less on the scale of the insanity I got up to with NWN.

I’m in a very different place than I was in 2001. I was an eager l’il starry eyed newbie, who would leap dramatically on any game industry credibility thrown my way. But now… I actually AM a professional indie game designer. I did it, and on my own terms. I’m making half my day job salary off my game development work already. I’m also back in the saddle on written fiction, with plans to break into THAT professionally as well. I’m having a hard time justifying to myself tossing a hundred man-hours of work on a free game mod. I’m already a pro game developer; what would I need to do that for when I could toss that time behind my own company?

So, I’m not gonna make any promises. …but it DOES look like a damn sweet RPG to play, regardless.

Grabbing: Left 4 Dead 2. It’s pretty clear they couldn’t do this as DLC, given the massive amount of changes, but I’m still not totally sold on the L4D concept. To me, once you play through a campaign, it’s “played”. Sure, repeat plays may result in the zombie positions being shuffled, but otherwise it holds no new challenges or interest. Plus, closet camping completely murdered my interest in the original… it’s a cheap tactic that renders co-op boring and versus frustrating.

Still, its price on PC was cheap enough, it should be fun for a week or two, and heck… maybe this time they’ll get the formula right. Most game series seem to go this way. An initial showing which has great promise but overlooks something, a second iteration that perfects the concept, then a third one which doesn’t have anything to add and is basically just a cash grab. (See also: X-Men movies.)

Grabbing: Lego Rock Band. I keep dallying with the idea of getting Guitar Hero 5, just to have “a new music game,” but the Lego concept tacked onto an exportable track pack is enough to switch my attention span back on track. This just looks damned fun, and is a great value for what you’re getting. The only downside is the excessive number of 2000s kid-friendly pop-rock, but I can swallow that for the 25+ tracks I’m genuinely interested in.

Grabbing: Bioshock 2. See my rule of sequels. BS2 is doing a lot of interesting stuff, including a multiplayer mode that actually works within the canon of the series and has some story content to it. Plus, now I have a video card that can handle it nicely! …speaking of which…

Passing On: Ghostbusters. I skipped this when it came out earlier for the 360, because I just can’t do shooters with little thumbsticks. Then it came out for PC and I was overjoyed for 3 minutes, until I saw the ridiculously high system requirements. Now I have a card that’ll play it, and… still passing, because a tiny amount of forum reading confirms the game barely runs and would likely just crash on startup, sucking down my money and giving me no fun in exchange. Damn.

Passing On: Brutal Legend. I love Tim, I love the look, I love the idea, I love the balls it took to make this game, but I suck at RTS games and I suck at console gamepads where you have to use triggers to ‘lock onto’ enemies. If they made a Windows version I might go for it, but even then, the RTS elements make me leery. I suck at RTS. I just can’t track that much chaos and resource management at once. It’s a shame, I really wanted to give this a go, but now that the truth is out that it’s 70% RTS, 20% brawler, and 10% drivin’ around… egh.

Contemplating: DJ Hero. I hate supporting Activision, but this is a DJ game that actually FEELS like a DJ game. Beatmania is just tapping out samples, it’s got almost no physical correlation to turntablism. DJ Hero gets the concept right, and saddles with with mashups, a musical style I LOVE. …my concern at this point is difficulty. If it’s painfully difficult to play, especially for folks who lack tight finger coordination like me, I shouldn’t be spending so much money on it. So, I’m waiting for reviews. We’ll see.

Can’t think of any other games coming out soon that have my attention or I’m shunning. I’ll edit this post later if I think of any.

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7 responses

17 10 2009
kowh

A note on Ghostbusters: I’ve got the PC version and it runs fine. I do have a beefy PC though.
If you’re a big ghostbusters fan the game is worth it (lots of little in jokes), but otherwise it’s probably a skip. Especially if you can’t deal with the odd Nintendo Hard bit (gargoyles anyone?) thrown into a game of otherwise regular difficulty.
Also, the ghost capture mechanic may or may not be a problem for someone with control issues. You have to sort of lasso them. I think though, if you have no problems with FPSes you won’t have any problems capturing.
L4D2 I’m probably going to skip. So far it looks like more of the same, and there are all sorts of other games I want to play more.
Brutal Legend I’ll pick up at some point. I’m pretty sure it’ll be one of those flawed games I really enjoy anyways. The demo was great.
Dragon Age and Bioshock 2 I will also pick up. The various rhythm games I’ll skip. I’ve got Rockband 2 and that’s enough for me.

17 10 2009
meredy

Heh, I found the gargoyles hard until I realized you can slam them into the ground for an instant kill, and then I spent ten minutes slamming my head against my keyboard at how hard I’d made it out before that point.
Book bats are what always annoy me!

17 10 2009
lumenadducere

I’d recommend giving Brutal Legend at least a rental so you can try out the stage battles. I’m not that great at RTS games either, and I’ve found the stage battles to be fairly easy. There’s only one “resource” and most of the time you just kinda have your units follow you into battle, at which point it becomes a brawler with a bunch of computer allies following you around.

17 10 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

A rental would work. The demo doesn’t even TOUCH the RTS bits, so I can’t tell if they’re viable for me or not. (I am leery of “hold down the trigger to lock onto an enemy” mechanics; anything involving a trigger is a pain in the ass for disability. But, if I can do OKAY without it, I’ll be fine.)

17 10 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Yeah, but I’ve read reports of folks with 9800GT’s that also can’t even get the game to start. I just don’t want to have to worry about Idiot Taxing myself. (Idiot Tax = When I spend money on something that ends up being unusable or massively disappointing, and basically taxes me for making the wrong decision.)

18 10 2009
kowh

I figured out the slamming right away. The problem with that level was that you would often get killed by something you had little (or none) way of preventing. You pretty much had to do the level over and over and over again until everything happened perfectly (or near enough).

21 10 2009
Anonymous

RTs
I’m told BL’s RTS elements are extremely short on the S. The best method is usually to make one big mob of troops that you keep with you.
The game off your list I’m really looking forward to is L4D2. I never really played campaign in L4D, since I couldn’t see the fun in going through the levels again in a slightly different way. I still play Versus mode whenever I get the chance, though. The fact that every Vs match plays completely differently and you learn a bit more every time keeps the fun alive. And being the Infected was the most original experience I’ve had in a game for a while, so I’m very interested in the new ones. I just hope they make it possible for the survivors to live through most of the levels this time… I’ve nearly forgotten what it’s like to get to a saferoom.
-NeoVid

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