I’ve been tardy with the posting (I’d apologize, but I feel like we know each other well enough for an apology to be both redundant and pointless) lately. I can only blame myself (too much Race to the Galaxy, online and off), and a two-day wedding I recently attended. Good times, but not, as you might expect, gaming times. But now. Now things are different.
I’ve been committing the unfortunate sin of starting lots of games and thennot finishing them. DoW 2 and Company of Heroes? Unfinished. In their place, I’ve started up Planescape Torment (excellent, I’ve already earned most of my experience points from talking to people. You know, about life and death and stuff), the new Wolfenstein (bad, and not in the good “bad” way), Medal of Honor Airborn (good, in a very well-made and tense, yet curiously uncreative way), and soon, Champions Online. Bah.
So, before I accidentally go into another communications blackout, I have my impressions of recent games, exciting games, for you.
Most recently (and briefly), there was the WET demo. The name is dumb. Yep. It’s silly, it allows bad, dumb games sites to talk about “getting wet” and “splashing down” and other horrible, horrible things. This is not ok. The fact that the game stars Rubi, and she’s, you know, a lady, seems to lead these sites to the highly mistaken impression that their sub-human vocalizations are funny. Anyway, the demo is pretty cool. The shooting and sword-fighting seem alright, the movement and level design seem fun, and the music is kinda rocking, in a way 90% of game music isn’t, no matter how hardcore it is.
In fact, I’d say I was really excited about it, until Owen pointed out, quite sensibly, that he had no idea how they were going to spool this gameplay out for longer than a few hours. We’re talking Terminator Salvation length, here. Maybe he’s wrong, but I don’t know how long I can do this stuff before it gets old. It got old in Max Payne, but I enjoyed that game’s writing, because I’m a bit of a dork. As always, we’ll see. It’s coming out in about 2 weeks though, so I don’t have much time to think about it.
Champions Online hates me and won’t let me play. I’m not going to talk about it.
Wolfenstein is really, really bad. The main character’s name is B. J. Blazkowicz. He looks like a trollish version (more so) of Matt Damon from Bourne. Except in Bourne, Damon is always being all clever and shit, and this guy makes Red Faction’s Alex Mason look emotional and quick-witted. It’s hideous to watch scenes with him. This also means that all of the (hilariously-voiced) “European” villains and allies call you “Beeeeee-Jay!” No, no, no, to quote John Travolta. You’re not having any fun yet!
Aside from the repeated, accented requests for oral sex, the acting and writing is awful. It’s a bunch of crap about ghost Nazis and shady ethnic (European-ethnic) allies, and it’s less coherent than the third Mummy movie. You’ll get a mild form of Mad Cow disease just from watching the opening in-game cutscene, where one man with an American accent and one mand with a “British” accent give Beeeeee-Jay some incomprehensible expository dialogue. Why bother, guys? Even the best bad/genre movies are adroit at communicating their McGuffin plots, so that they can get to te effective genre-exploitation. This is not that kind of entertainment. It’s not even smart enough to laugh at itself.
Oh, and the gameplay. Guns handle in a depressingly static way. You can upgrade them and this will make them more effective (and silenced. Who cares about silencers. You’re fighting Nazi-demon-ghost-zombies), but they’re still boring and completely uninteresting. Your super-powers are uninspired, and they’re horribly introduced. At first, I died while using my Veil sight (think a kind of vision that allows you to do that Geordi “I can walk through walls” trick), because I reverted back into realspace while still in a wall. Now, this is kind of a cool idea, because we all no how cool it is when you re-materialize halfway out of a wall. It looks sweet!
What it really means is, go back to the last checkpoint. Oh yeah. Checkpoints. What fucking year is it. Checkpoints? You know what guys? Checkpoints don’t “make the difficulty higher and more rewarding,” or something else equally bullshit. They make you play back over parts of the game you’ve already mastered and don’t want to see again. In this case, they make you play back over a bad gam you don’t like. That stupid Nazi shaman guy who blinked everywhere and took forever to kill, despite the fact that he never shot me once? I don’t want to deal with him again. I stopped enjoying meaningless, padded gameplay hours when I went back for my first key card in Dark Forces. I’m not 10 anymore. Stop pretending this is “good design” and admit that it’s lazy.
This reminds me. Medal of Honor: Airborne. A well-made game. A game that makes me hate the lazily, falsely “emergent” endless bad guy trip-wire method of level population somewhat less than did CoD4. A game whose RPG trappings feel better and more natural than Wolfenstein‘s. A game whose parachuting mechanic is almost completely useless and superfluous. It’s just well-made enough for me to ignore these things. It’s also a game whose checkpoints and absolutely un-fucking-forgiving difficulty almost made me quit last night. When I die because an invisible bad guy who spawned in on top of my own helmet pistol wips me for 10,000 points of damage in my weak spot, killing me instantly, I am not at all amused. When I have to go back 20 minutes of play and carefully inch my way back to the front (which is fun), I do not appreciate that same soldier’s identical damn invisible twin doing the same thing to me, in a house accross the road. It’s bad design, and it’s so terribly, blatantly transparent, it ruins what would be a good game for me. I’ll keep trying, but for now, I’n not terribly excited about going back to the game.
Hmmmm. Time to chill out. Planescape: Torment then. Since my Nameless One is a badass at conversation (16 INT, 16 WIS, and 16 CHA, thank you very much), he sucks at combat. As such, he and Mort are regularly murdered by HiveDwelling gangsters. Still, I just had a cool conversation with a guys about regrowing trees in the Hive, and earned some experience by convincing a woman not to rob me, since I’m so intelligent. What a badass game. I also installed all of the fixes and mods from the comunity, so it now runs at a viewable resolution. No more hurty eyes!
For now, I think that’s it. I’m trying to get back into Red Faction: Guerrilla, so I can finish it (I know. Bad Tom!), because Owen has already bought and beaten the DLC. Also, we’re waiting for EA/Bioware to unscrew the PC version of Pinnacle Station DLC. Seriously Bioware. I like paying you for things. It makes me happy to pay you for things that make me happy. Don’t make it hard for me to pay your for things, or play the things I pay for. It doesn’t make sense for anybody. Ok, enough of this. Must work.