In case you missed January or February, I am on a mission to beat as many games as I can this year, and am chronicling my conquests in a monthly blog. As always I want to hear about what you guys think about these games or what I'm doing, enjoy!
Crysis 3/3/2013 - Completed story on Hard
I bought Crysis years ago during a Steam sale. To be honest, I didn't really buy it because I wanted to play it; I just wanted to look at it. I didn't have a very good PC back then so it didn't really impress me. I ended up uninstalling it without giving the actual gameplay a chance to win me over.
So now its 2013, a new game in the series has come out, I have a PC that can make the game look good, and I'm doing this thing where I try to beat a bunch of videogames and then write about them. It seems like as good a time as any to give Crysis a second chance. After completing it, I was definitely more impressed than I previously was.
For the first third of the game or so you are doing what you do in most shooters, running around and shooting a bunch of people. The combat situations are simple and the enemy routines are too stale to make it interesting. Soon enough, you uncover a massive alien invasion force that has been lying in wait and is finally ready to release an onslaught of cold death upon the earth's unsuspecting populace; Thank god too, I was really getting bored.
After about an hour of wading through the alien's plumbing, the game finally gets interesting. The new enemy types offer greater and more interesting challenges compared to their bipedal counterparts. The Ceph, as they are called, will come at you from all angles. I found myself being flanked by even the most basic aliens.
The human enemies from the first third were so easy that they ended up reinforcing my habit to use only the most banal of shooter tactics. First I clicked the right mouse button, then I held down the left one, and then everything in front of me died. While the basic action of shooting the Ceph was a possible avenue to victory, their high speed and maneuverability made it a disorienting strategy rather than just a boring one. The added annoyance was enough to actually get me to give the nano-suit powers a try.
I began having much more fun with the game at this point. I would use maximum speed to dodge enemy fire from cover to cover, or to make long leaps across rooftops. Maximum strength was useful for getting to elevated positions quickly. Strength also allows you to turn barrels and boxes into deadly projectiles. By far the best use of strength however, is using it to pick up aliens while punching them in their stupid alien...faces?
Its not all sunshine when it comes to Crysis I'm afraid. The shooting sucks, and in a First Person Shooter crappy shooting has a pretty big impact. Impact is really the problem I have with the shooting too, in so far is that it doesn't feel like there is any. Firing a weapon in Crysis doesn't feel like a significant event. The sound, animation and result don't connect in a cohesive and satisfying way. The guns don't feel powerful and the aiming doesn't give me consistent feedback. Oftentimes there is no different feeling between a shot that misses, and a shot that connects, and that makes for a wholly unsatisfying experience.
Crysis Warhead 3/4/2013 - Completed story on Hard
I shouldn't have written so much about Crysis, because Warhead is pretty much more of the same. The storyline of Warhead takes place in parallel to the events of the original. This time the player character has a British accent however. You still run and jump around in a skin tight super-suit and punch enemies in the face.
There are some new weapons like dual-wielded micro-smgs that destroy anything within four feet in front of you. I didn't find these very useful however, as I rarely found myself within four feet of an enemy that wasn't already dead. The addition of a melee class of enemies could have made the micro-smgs infinitely more useful.
Warhead did make an effort to make the engagements with non-alien enemies more fun. A greater percentage of the human enemies were wearing knock-off super-suits, which gave them increased mobility and resistance. The alien encounters were still far more engaging though.
Wizorb 3/4/2013 - Completed story
Wizorb is a neat little game. I tend to like creative Breakout games and Wizorb doesn't change that tendency. It plays well, both with a controller and with mouse, but the gameplay isn't what makes this game special. What immediately grabbed me about the game was the art style and the animation. The use of bright colors and the jaunty sprites makes the aesthetic of the game really charming.
The gameplay itself is nothing mind-blowing. It's Breakout dressed in beautiful coat of paint with some decent tunes and a couple cool powerups. There is also a strange town building mechanic that ends up being almost exclusively superficial; however, I mean that in an extremely positive way. Far and away the game's greatest feature is its aesthetic, and having a progression meter in-game that is constructed of that aesthetic is genius. It's understated, and certainly isn't a selling point by itself, but I found an odd sense of appreciation in the care that was put into it.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary 3/10/2013 – Completed story
Tomb Raider: Anniversary was an extremely frustrating game to play. Growing up with an N64, I had no reverence for the series, but the release of the reboot made me wonder if there was anything in the past of the series that was worth experiencing. Having finished Anniversary, which I understand to be a remake of the original title, I don't feel like I was missing much as a kid.
The gameplay primarily consists of puzzle solving and traversing the environment. You work your way various levels in search of keys and items that will open up a path that will get you further to your goal. While some of the puzzles I found quite clever and fun to solve (particularly a handful of puzzles themed after Greek gods), most of the puzzles were rendered tedious and frustrating due to the poor controls.
It feels like I spent most of my time in Anniversary struggling with the controls. Every time I jumped off of a ledge, it was up in the air whether Laura would reach the destination that I intended. Sometimes she would find her way to my target, but sometimes she would just jump into a pool of lava. The rules that determine Lara's trajectory didn't seem to have any discernible consistency, but the thing that puzzled me the most was the series of gymnastic moves that Lara is capable of. There are four or five gymnastic combo moves that Lara can perform, but none of them have any sort of useful application for progressing through the game. There was also an extra long animation that would play when Lara was climbing a ledge that got me killed countless times. After completing the game, I really don't understand why anyone would want to bring this IP back, but maybe that is a little too harsh seeing as I never had any formative experiences with the original games.
Puzzle Quest 3/21/2013 - Completed story
Prior to now, Puzzle Quest was one of my favorite puzzle games of all time. It took a tried and true gameplay structure, match-three puzzles, and put a unique spin on it that gave it a greater context. Unfortunately I did two things during this full play-through of the game that made me see this game in a lesser light: I paid attention to the story, and I actually played the game to completion.
The game's story is pretty standard fantasy fair; there are elves, dwarves, humans, ancient gods, wizards, and minotaurs. Each of the factions play predictable roles in the universe. Elves are an ancient race of wise and recluse knowledge seekers, dwarves are studious builders, and minotaurs are tribal shamans. None of this would bother me in the least if the main character wasn't a raging asshole.
Honestly, the main character in Puzzle Quest is one of the least likeable main characters I have ever played in a videogame. Every other character in the game has a unique character flaw that makes them something other than a bland stereotype, but the main character never ceases to tear them down emotionally for it. The dwarven companion tends to ramble about things like dwarven history and mechanical engineering, and instead of shutting up and learning a thing or two about the world, the main character interrupts him in the rudest way possible every time.
The game lasts about 6 hours longer than it should as well. If you do a decent amount of side-quests, you will end up with a pretty high level character around halfway through the game. Once you reach the late levels, you stop earning new abilities as quickly and the gameplay begins to stagnate because of it. I ended up spending hours fighting what were essentially the same battles over and over and over again until my dick of a protagonist finally worked his way across the map, stealing ancient artifacts, reviving vengeful gods, and just being kind of a racist along the way. I still think Puzzle Quest is a great game, but parts of it are so annoying that I can't call this one of my favorite puzzle games anymore.
March is in the books.
Well I was a little late with this one. Unfortunately my schedule with school hasn't allowed me to play as much as I would have wanted. Hopefully this summer will open up and allow me to clear some of these games that have been stacking up. See you next month.