Delayed Responsibility

I Shouldn't Be Gaming Right Now… But I Am!

Posts Tagged ‘Risen’

Updates: Everything’s Fine, Situation Normal

Posted by deckard47 on August 17, 2010

The Blacktooth Keep! SO SCARY.

The Blacktooth Keep! SO SCARY.

I’m fantastically busy, so I thought I’d touch on the various (exciting) things that I’ve been doing recently.

I’ve been playing a ton of fantasy-y, TBS games recently, like King Arthur: The Role-Playing Wargame – The Saxons (see, y’all this is why you don’t have a long silly name with a colon for your game), King’s Bounty: The Legend (again!), and Dawn of War 2. That last isn’t really a fantasy game, but A) it’s pretty damn close, and B) it’s a lot of fun. I’ve also been playing Risen (let’s pause as some of our regular readers make ugly faces and go somewhere else), and I just re-installed both Divinity 2: Ego Draconis (Aaaah!), and Stalker: Call of Pripyat.

So, really, there are just too many damn colons in videogame names. Returning to these games, I’m struck (sometimes for the first time, often for the somethingth time) by how all of them have interesting, different-feeling worlds and tones (aside from DoW 2, which couldn’t be more conventional if it had tried). Risen may be Fantasy, but it’s weirdly depressing, rainy jungle isle, pseudo Eropean Inquisition and horrible repression Fantasy, which appeals to me. It’s also as awful and difficult as it always was, which still appeals to me. Divinity 2 is not quite as bleak, but it’s Fantasy stuff is still pretty unique, if not (when examined alone) particularly memorable. The leveling system is a bunch of fun though, so I’ll wend my way back through it, if only to make annoying comments about it to Simon when I see him next.

Dawn of War 2 is only up on that list because I was driven to it by Starcraft 2 (more on that later). It’s less offensive narratively, and for all of the tricks up Blizzard’s sleeve gameplay-wise, Chaos Throne‘s loot and excellent squad play are the more exciting brand of RTS, for me. When’s the next one, Relic?!

Epic. But not an RTS.

Epic. But not an RTS.

King’s Bounty and King Arthur are both vibrant and, but Arthur really nails a kind of creepy, Old World-y approach to fantasy in the British Isles that games don’t give a shit about. I love deciding whether or not my king will spread Christianity or worship the old gods. In the Saxons it’s easier to go Christian, but in the original game paganism is by far the more amusing option. King’s Bounty is well known for its bright, exciting world (full of weird quests worded weirdly), but Arthur‘s England is about a million times more verdant and lush than the real thing (even it’s Winters and Autumns seem more full of life). Plus, you can recruit ogres!

I suspect I’m going to be writing a bunch about King Arthur and King’s Bounty. Both games I’ve played through, in another life, though I’m playing the Armored Princess expansion to KB, and The Saxons expansion to KA, so they’re new games, honest. I also suspect that this hypothetical article will be about games that mess up their play with story crap, and that it’ll be on Game Set Watch, so that’ll be exciting.

Speaking of which, I’ve a new column up at Game Set Watch, about Starcraft 2 and its wretched story (duh), and how it does more to mess with the surprisingly entertaining Single Player gameplay than you’d initially expect. An excerpt here, for consumption:

When I have to sit and watch my units talk, I accept that the single player portion of the game needs a reason, a purpose, for all of that toing and froing (more properly, gamers need these things). Likewise, there’s a certain pleasure to be had in watching quick mission briefings: I’m a commander, and commanders get briefed, or brief people, right? Starcraft 2 goes ahead and makes a significant portion of Wings of Liberty about upgrading a dude’s sweet ship, and about upgrading ingame assets using resources (rather incomprehensibly) earned from previous ingame missions.

Starcraft 2’s upgrade mechanics are mostly lifted from upgrades previously available ingame in Starcraft. If you want your marines to have stimpacks, or want to build medics without having to build a Barracks add-on, you must unlock those capabilities in the Armory. Percentage upgrades to damage and race-specific combat (damage to Zerg only, for instance) can be unlocked using research points collected in the field, and the lab lets players upgrade their forces using alien technology. It’s all here in the beautiful Hyperion, and it means that I’ve spent hours outside of the game proper fiddling with NPCs and upgrades.

Right. It’s pretty awful, and it makes the game bits worse, in a somewhat unavoidable way. The whole post, linked here.

Mafia 2… The music is all purty and old timey, the suits are so crisp, and the gunplay is a sight better than that which is provided us by Rockstar’s various megahits. The acting and writing (in the demo alone) are also better than GTA and RDR‘s affected junk.

That’s it. More on the Kings of fantasy strategy soon?


Posted in Impressions, Random | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Good Games Journalism?

Posted by deckard47 on October 14, 2009

I have several posts brewing: an Among Thieves post that goes something like “Whooooooooooo!” is the one I’ve repeatedly stopped myself from writing. Of course, there is that oft-delayed Elika/PoP article that no one really misses. Don’t worry, you won’t be able to escape for long. Finally, there is a long post about Risen and the series that RPS is doing on it.

For now, I wanted to link to a blog that I’ve never read before, for some reason or other. Lewis Denby writes for a lot of different places, but this is his blog. He has a series of posts where he discusses and frets over how to be a good “games journalist” (and finds the term to be as prickly and popularly il-defined as I find it to be). They’re interesting, and here is the most recent one. It’s a great blog, and even if you don’t agree with him, realy worth reading.

I really do want to write about Risen, especially after learning about the whole vocal Gothic fanbase/Eurogamer review kerfuffle. I am, as always, secretly and reservedly jealous of those who can engage/dabble in that peculiar new writing format, “New Games Journalism.” It’s an iffy term, if you ask me, and will hopefully be augmented (New? Really, how “new”? New since when?), but the combination of in medias res/pseudo stream of consciousness theatricality is one I’m fascinated by.

I’d actually like to do one for Risen, mostly because I’d like to test myself and see what the hideous results would look like. It might not even go up on the blog, especially if it is actually terrible. I think it will require a degree of self-knowledge and unselfconsciousness that I have never possess. Mostly, I expect that after every sentence I’ll stop typing and think “but you didn’t really think about it that way. You thought about it in a more game-y way.” Anyway, if you want to read an interesting series of articles in what I’d describe as an almost NGJ style, check out Alec Meer’s series over at RPS.

Also, I’m close to beating Among Thieves. It is wondrous, and al naysayers will be banished.

Posted in Bloggers, Impressions | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Impressions: Arisen!

Posted by deckard47 on October 2, 2009

Yes, I downloaded and played the Risen demo. And it rocked!

No really. These are the same people who did the Gothic games, so it’s the same mix of incredibly finicky design decisions and gameplay mechanics, coupled with mostly unhelpful design decisions and gameplay mechanics. In other words, it’s Oblivion without the polish. And it is so much better. By which I do not mean that it is a better game. But. Where Oblivion (like its companion, Fallout 3) had boring, soulless level design, boring enemies, and horrid melee combat, Risen has: wretched melee combat, inventive enemies, and an interesting setting. I honestly can’t say that I know much about the leveling system, because even though I leveled once during the (nicely long) demo, I could not apply my leveled points or skills or whatever. Instead, I had stilted conversations with my fellow shipwreck survivor, got my ass kicked by a bunch of gnomes, and beat a bunch of sea vultures to death with a stick. Which was all quite fun, despite the aforementioned controls. Combat-wise, it’s the same kind of junk found in Oblivion: attack, attack, attack. If you level up fighting skills, it looks like you can unlock new kinds of slashes and stabs. Which is actually kind of interesting, because the game offers one thing (in combat) that Oblivion Cruelly left out. It lets you parry (not just block), and dodge in any direction. In fact, combat-wise, it’s a lot like a badly implemented version of Demon’s Souls. Which makes it infinitely better than Oblivion, Two Worlds, and other games in the same genre.

What it really is (so far) is awkward and fun. I’ve never been one for cooking your own meat (really, who wants to do that?), but it’s fun in this game. Part of my attraction to it is the decision to set this (mostly) typical-looking fantasy game on a tropical island. Part of it also comes from the bad (but not Oblivion-boring) voice work. Mostly, it comes from the sense of character that the designers built into parts of the game, a sense of character missing from most “open-world” RPGs like this. The gnomes bounce and gibber:  when they assault you, they do so gleefully. The giant ostrich bird guys squawk and fiercely claw you. It’s like someone who designs interesting, characterful monsters (someone who worked on Left 4 Dead or Dead Space, maybe) made these guys. They don’t run at you stiffly and call you dumb names.  Apparently it’s “ugly,” but I really like the way it looks (although I’ve been playing Deus Ex 1 and 2, so my opinion may be a bit biased). Anyway, try the demo (linked to by RPS), just in case it might catch your fancy.

Posted in Impressions | Tagged: , | 11 Comments »