(OK, finally, I manage to get around to this game.) I'm sure many of you were heartbroken when TRAUMA managed to bump this off my last actual blog of the year, so what better way to start the new year than with my first foray into the serious world of RTSes? I know that I've played some RTSes before (I thought this type of blog would be covered by Starcraft, honestly), but never really anything serious. It's only been Brutal Legend and, no, that's pretty much it. Well, until this game, which is....OK, I guess? Remember: first serious RTS.
But not first Halo game. I'd say that this fact would allow me to figure out how this connects to the complex Halo mythos, but I think those last three words kinda stop that from happening. But here's what I could make out: the anti-Halo forces are fighting on some planet called Harvest. They spend the game getting their asses thoroughly kicked as they search for something and try to get it before the Halo peoples come and get it and...do something relgiousy with it. I never really found out why they wanted this (or even what it is). So yea, it's like every other Halo game out there, in that regard, meaning two things: first, I have no clue what's going on half the time. I'm fairly certain my description made that clear, but what it didn't make clear is point number two: humans fucking suck, at least according to Halo games. Why is it that any Halo game where Master Chief isn't the protagonist (his only role in this game is to remind us that he exists) invariably involves the UNSC getting their asses handed to them? ODST had an ODST (whom I now understand to be an elite league of ultra-badasses) trying to figure out how his buddies could fuck shit up this badly; Reach's story was pretty much "you can't bet on a character's death when you know they're gonna die anyway"; and this game begins with the Covenant whipping all kinds of ass. Now, I should be pissed about this, but keep in mind that these are humans we're talking about, so I'll take it as a very accurate portrayal. Other than that, OKish story, I guess.
And OKish RTS mechanics, I guess. (I wouldn't know, because, again, I don't play a ton of RTSeses.) Odd, because it's a console RTS, and I thought those were supposed to be shit. Granted, I prefer mouse and keyboard to a controller for this genre, as I'm not a goddamn moron, but the controls work pretty well (once you adjust to the speedy analog stick, of course). I could select units well enough and zap from base to base and from army to army. Oh, and that reminds me: there's a lot of variety in this game. It's not all about simply killing a ton of enemies over and over again; it's merely mostly about that. You still get to do timed missions and limited missions and escort missions and other things I'm probably ripping from Brad's Starcraft II review. And that's only the main missions. Turns out there's more to an RTS than that, like secret unlockables (that you unlock by clicking the map a bunch while ignoring how utterly stilted this makes the game feel) and an entire race you will never play as (can you honestly say that you're going to play the multiplayer? Or this game?) and useless cover mechanics. Not the thing to borrow from a Halo game. So what do you borrow from a Halo game? Well, unit variety, for one. There's a healthy amount of unit types, like vehicles and anti-infantry units and other types of vehicles and all this other stuff. So there's gotta be a ton of strategy to the game, right?
Well, not really. This game is really fucking easy. Keep in mind that I'm not RTS savvy, so I imagine for diehard RTS fan, it's even easier. I can't even begin to comprehend that. Anyway (I never said stop drinking, did I?), I could bullshit around while I try to figure out exactly why that's so, but I know the reason: it's really easy to get resources. When you first set up your base, invest in a reactor and a shitton of supply pads. (Order is important because you have to research the simple art of multitasking.) The money will never stop flowing (OK, it does seem to peak after a while, but that's after a while), allowing you to max out all the cool upgrades and shit in a commercial break. Once that happens, strategy gets flung out the window and lands in a dumpster fulls of syringes. Why bother investing in stuff like anti-building units or an army that will stay behind and defend the base when you can just throw money at your problems? There were levels where my strategy consisted entirely of "click ODST icon like crazy, periodically send every last unit to overwhelm some random group of enemies." Then again, there were some levels where that wasn't the case, and those were the best levels. They introduced some challenge and forced you to use strategy. You know, like an RTS should. Although now that I think about it, all of this was probably made to get people to get into RTSes in the first place, so I guess the overall quality of the game depends on what role it serves. Serious-ass RTS? Hell no! RTS that tries to introduce dumbasses like me to the complex genre? Yea, pretty much.
- I don't think the UNSC could even wipe their asses without running out of the bathroom and claiming a Covenant victory.
- I'll say this about it: it's a pretty competent RTS.
- A massively easy one, but a competent one nonetheless.
And further into the rabbit-hole we dive! I'm not even sure if this is a trend, but I'm seeing it around. It involves three steps: upload Simpsons clip to YouTube, put the lyrics to Queen's Let Us Cling Together in the description, and don't describe a damn thing. The Internet continues to be a confusing place, and I'm sure as hell not helping.
(Or, as it's known in Italy, 15625.) Esoteric math jokes aside, how the hell am I beating Humble Indie Bundle games so damn quickly? I thought I'd spend all of this year just trying to get this thing under control, and....well, I'm right, I guess. Three games across two concurrent blogs. That's pretty awesome. But the best part? Two of those games have been pretty good. Is that a congratulation to VVVVVV, or a "fuck you" to the mindfuck that was TRAUMA? It's both.
In fact, now that I think about it, VVVVVV (man, I'm gonna hate typing that for this entire blog and throughout the comments) is pretty much the exact opposite of TRAUMA. For example, remember how TRAUMA featured an obviously-not-British lady narrating over some oddly CG'd up photos? VVVVVV will have none of that shit. Instead, it's rocking out an all old school look, something that fits it really, really well. It looks exactly like a ZX Spectrum game, from the "there's no tool like the bucket tool" look that so many games adopted back in the day to the oddly British sense of humor. (Did the ZX Spectrum even get a non-British release? Would the world even care?) That may sound odd, but just look at the levels. They're all funny names and killing you with words. That's about as British as you can get. How else would you explain being killed by the power of yes? Actually, don't even bother answering that question, because I have a blog to write. Instead, let's focus on the music, which is all kinds of awesome. Like the graphics, it's the perfect mix of old school and more old school. Oh, and because I'm contractually obligated, the story is appropriately old school, in that it's practically nonexistent. Just some old school looking thing rescuing his friends from...nothing, really.
Except some really weird and awesome gravity mechanics they can't handle. Now, I'm sure most of you know this already, but the main gimmick of VVVVVV is being able to switch gravity whenever the hell
you want to you're on the ground. (Yea, that's a bit of a pain in the ass.) It can be a bit scary when scaling multiple screens in one leap (OH GOD, WHEN WILL IT END!?), but otherwise, it manages to wring a lot out of this simple concept. Granted, it gets a few of those things wrong (I now understand why escort missions are so hated), but it also gets a lot of those things right. For example, Metroidvania. It doesn't feature a single weapon or barrier or sequence break glitch (although I did discover a very minor speedrun and obvious trick), but it somehow makes it all work. Imagine what it does with actual concepts it doesn't destroy for no reason.
Speaking of destroying, guess who's gonna get destroyed throughout this game? That's right: you. Remember that VVVVVV thing I've mentioned several times? Turns out it has a meaning: your temmates. Oh, and spikes. Many, many spikes. Oh, the many times you'll plunge into spikes. It's like the I Wanna Be the Guy of platformers, only you won't yell at it for being such bullshit. Wait, why is that? I mean, If that screenshot is any indication, you're gonna die a lot. Well, turns out that most of those deaths are going to be legitimate ones. After all, the game isn't hiding anything from you (except for the one room I died in a ton, what with the misleading glitches and all), and looking at it usually makes it clear that it's all incredibly possible. Just really, really hard. So yea, it's gonna get repetitive in some of the harder rooms, but man, you'll feel like such a badass for getting to the next checkpoint. And then the game ends. Wait, what? Sadly, that's why I kept this game from getting anything above an 8: you can beat it in a day. In fact, I did beat it in a day, and I wasn't even really trying to do that. Had I set out to blast through the game (maybe by not taking as many notes as I did), I can imagine knocking a small amount of time off that. Despite that, though, pretty cool game. I'd tell you to go out and get it, but you probably already have it. That's what happens when I cover more modern games.
- I think this game beat the Duke Nukem Forver development time by at least 10 years.
- I'm guessing they spent that time making the game super trippy and balls hard.
- Oddly, though, it's only two hours long.