If video games were Roman defeats, Rome II: Total War would be Manzikert, which was a pretty bad showing for the Romans, one with a high cost. But the long-term effects of that battle are complex and far-reaching, over-analyzed and often over-weighted. Some historians go so far as to describe Manzikert as the event that kneecapped the Roman Empire, which is ironic because the part of it you know about was long gone by 1071 and the other part would totter on for another four hundred years. Me, I don’t buy it. Manzikert was bad, but post-Manzikert misgovernance did more damage than the battle itself. Byzantium could have recovered, it just failed to. Similarly Total War: Rome II has ample opportunity to recover from the scattershot problems of initial release and turn itself into a genuinely remarkable game. If Creative Assembly bungles that opportunity, then Rome II, like Manzikert, will be remembered as the beginning of the end.
Viewing the comments threads on video game web sites is like stepping into some alternate universe where people are sincerely anticipating Grand Theft Auto V.
Maybe I could’ve written “I am old and out of touch” and said the same basic thing. Or maybe I’m being a hipster; I’m not buying Grand Theft Auto V, you plebeians, because it is too mainstream, and it’s what everyone will be playing and I’m way too cool for that. Or maybe it’s because I’m a woman and chicks just aren’t into this sorta thing.
Except that none of these things are true.
I’m not very good at real-time strategy games. I attribute this to my inability to multitask well, but that’s not to say I don’t enjoy playing them. The biggest problem I have with them is that most revolve around micromanagement, and since AI War, with its robust automation and smart unit management, I’ve become more of a macromanagement kind of guy. Why? Because it means I can focus on the strategy part. You know, the important part. Not the frantic juggling and tedious busy work part. Homeworld and Company of Heroes, allegedly two of the finest real-time strategy games evar, turned me off because I had to nanny certain units. I’m sorry but, engineers, you need to fix those tanks right in front of you. And repair frigates, those nearby damaged ships need looking at. Do your fucking jobs. The more granular my level of involvement the more distracted I am from the strategy, and for me, that’s a problem.
I’ll always buy Naughty Dog games, they having convinced me of their undying committment to our love via the Uncharted series, but I don’t tend to slaver with excitement before they actually come out. Thus I wasn’t suffering from the can’t-waits in the days leading up the The Last of Us, their fungus-fueled post-apocalyptic proxical-parent TPD (third person depressor). I just waited until Friday and bought the game. Didn’t even unwrap it until the next afternoon.
You’ve probably seen boatloads of perfect scores from full reviews already, along with the odd 7.5 outliers that’ve caused such internet furor. Here’s what I have to say, after several hours, several more hideous deaths, and more clicking feral mushroom-zombies than you can throw a bottle to distract.
I am failing at the most fundamental tenet of this game. I am failing the title of the game.
Someone at Rock, Paper, Shotgun described Don’t Starve as “Minecraft meets Edward Gorey,” but I can’t find the article. That pretty much sums up Klei’s new buildy-scavenvival game, out today on Steam. Luxuriant, inky hand-drawn graphics and Saint-Saëns musical score meet industrial revolution science in a wilderness adventure that I SUCK AT.
The Twitch TV stream from PAX East this year included some coverage of a little-known fighting game. The game is called Divekick. It looks like a joke. It kind of is a joke. It kind of isn’t.
Divekick. Dive, Kick. Dive dive dive kick kick, kick dive, Divekick. Kick, dive.
I chat with the developers on the floor. “Everyone says this is either the most ridiculous game they’ve ever seen, or the most brilliant.”
Thirty minutes later I’m siding with “brilliant.”
Despite no family history, my blood pressure is apparently higher than Cheech & Chong. One specialist, upon remarking that I was maybe a millimeter of mercury – maybe less – from stroking out right there on her table, opined that perhaps I am “carrying my stress wrong.”
I carry my stress in a bag. That’s how I’ve always carried it. A messenger bag, with a shoulder strap. And now every headache in my life comes equipped with a flash of fear that maybe I should clean the bathrooms and wipe the porn from my computer, so a family member doesn’t have to do it after my rapidly cooling body is found.
Games like Impire, which causes headaches, do little to ease my mind.
It’s been almost a year since I first posted my early thoughts on Neverwinter, the upcoming Dungeons and Dragons MMO by Cryptic. This week, the game is rolling into beta, and some lucky folks who have been following the game got access to early launch. I was pretty excited about this game last year, and this year I finally got to play it and see if it measures up to my expectations. We also got a Q&A from some of the developers to answer any additional questions we might have about upcoming features.
My beta impressions after the jump!
Dead Space 3 is upon us. Yes, Isaac and co. are back! And by “co.” I guess I’m referring to the dozens upon dozens of former humans who now reside somewhere in the grooves of Mr. Clarke’s stompy shoes. But this time he’s brought a friend! A friend called John ManHeroSomething. And John has stompy shoes too. Spoiler alert: in the pantheon of the greatest shooters of all time Dead Space 3 will take its place somewhere between Half-Life 2 and Daikatana.
Not so long after my outing with S:S&S EP I planned to have a day with Journey. It was a lazy and quiet Saturday morning, my girlfriend was at work, my cup of tea was still hot, the sun was shining (behind closed curtains of course) and my surround sound system was cranked up and ready to go. I might still have been in my pajamas.
By eleven in the morning I’m a sweaty, dizzy, panting mass of insect stings. Earlier, sliding down a rocky embankment, I lost my footing on the rolling stones and toppled, face-planting in the mud. I dropped my knife and saw it spin out into the bushes but I can’t find it. My stratospheric fever makes this bright day dim. The periphery is clouded by a dense black fog; my head pounds. I stumble again and fall, injuring myself. My throat is parched and I cannot find water. I am lost among unrecognizable landmarks. And I am dying. If I’m very lucky, I will die before it finds me.
Welcome to the first day of the worst days of my life.
The beginning is probably a good place to start.
Earlier in the year, I managed to find some time to play through Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP (in May), Journey (in June) and Dear Esther (in July). I’d heard nothing but exceptionally good things about them so, naturally, I was incredibly excited to finally be able to play them. S:S&S EP had until then been a tablet exclusive (and I didn’t have a tablet), Journey was something I’d sampled only briefly at the EG Expo 2011 and I had been aware of the original Dear Esther mod for Half-Life 2 for years but hadn’t gotten round to playing it, in which time, the astonishingly beautiful remake was on the horizon.
Anyway, recently in the staff forums where we talk about our readers in secret, I mentioned in the Journey thread that I found it ‘underwhelming’, and lumped it with S:S&S EP and Dear Esther. Understandably a few brows were furrowed. I’d only ever discussed why I didn’t get on with these games in a few comments and emails here and there, so rather than continue that trend I thought it was high time I spilled the proverbial beans.
It’s been a while since a few of us got together for a group impressions piece. The last one we did for Bloodline Champions was, in all honesty, a bastard to organise. The ‘A Weekend With’ feature should have been called ‘A Painful Exercise In Arranging A Group Across Multiple Disparate Time Zones’, but that didn’t quite have the same ring to it. This time however, things have been a lot simpler, mainly because Matthew ‘Steerpike’ Sakey and Max ‘xtal’ Boone are a lot simpler, but also because they both share the same time zone (Center of Universe Time, I’m told).
With the help of our not-so-trusty AI gunner (who Max affectionately named ‘Chesty Larue’), the three of us were intent on conquering the skies in Muse Games’ aeronautical multiplayer shooter Guns of Icarus Online. However, our intent was one thing, the reality was quite another…
Dishonored and XCOM came out on the same day in the United States, doing few favors to the free time of serious gamers. As for me personally? I haven’t had any free time in the past six months. It’s been one very long, very exhausting sprint of professional responsibilities, leaving me scarcely time to check my email, let alone immerse myself in games. I haven’t seen anyone socially in months. And then Dishonored and XCOM arrive, both on the same day, and of course I bought them both because I’m me, and here I am trying to insert slivers of play time no wider than acupuncture needles here and there into the unyielding mass of my schedule. Luckily I think that’s a light further on down the tunnel, so hopefully things will go back to normal soon. And I have been finding a little time to play.
The third and final part of my coverage. Phew.