Last time we talked, I’d just built my very first PC and began dipping my toes into the endless ocean that is the Steam catalogue. I’ve now played a bit more of some games, and extensive amounts of others, and I’m feeling ready to talk about them. Feeling ready to listen? Good. Let’s begin.
Diablo III is interesting. At the time of this writing, I’ve put right around 40 hours into the game. That’s quite a few, but also not anywhere close to what I’d have expected having owned it for weeks now.
I’ve beaten the game on Normal with a Demon Hunter and gotten halfway through Nightmare with that same character. I’ve also started a Wizard, but haven’t gotten much of anywhere with her yet. I’ve actually started up a character for each of the classes, but have only played Demon Hunter and Wizard thus far.
I’d say my initial impression of the game over the first week or so was that it’s amazing. I loved the action and all of the satisfying ways that the hordes of Hell could be disposed of. The skill system took some getting used to, but after getting a feel for it, I found it to be flexible and interesting in the ways that you can mix and match skills. Even the story had hooked me, and I was finding Tyrael's journey and the drama playing out with Leah and her whole situation to be surprisingly engrossing.
The game’s great, is what I’m getting at. But even recognizing that, the game’s not quite scratching the same itch that Diablo II scratched for years.
Looking at the surface of the game, everything from past Diablo games seem to be present in the third. There are scads of randomly generated dungeons to explore, loot galore, and an RPG element that’s not too complicated, and at the same time, not too simple. The game features waypoints, town portals, merchants, and even such recognizable figures as Deckard Cain and Tyrael. This is a Diablo game to be sure, but maybe one that’s trying too hard to be modern.
This Diablo’s the hipster of the Diablo family. With all of his young wisdom, he thinks he’s so cool with his advanced friend system, intricate story, and unparalleled player flexibility. But with each of those advancements, the core of what Diablo II was to me comes crumbling down.
Let’s start with the story: It’s too complicated. See, in past Diablo games, there was very little voice acting, very little required lengthy interactions with NPCs, and very little fluff in general; everything was very strait forward back in the good ole year 2000. The strait forwardness supported the way the majority of people liked to play Diablo II, which was again and again and again, in rapid succession. with Diablo III, I feel like one of the larger problems with it is that after you beat the game once, going back through it you feel bogged down by a story that’s more in-your-face. Because of this, it’s hard to see myself playing Diablo III in the same way that I did Diablo II, and that makes me a little bit sad.
As far as the way Diablo III handles friends? It works, but I believe it to be shortsighted. The friend list is the most direct means to jump into a multiplayer game and kill some monsters with other folks. That’s fine--great, even--but that’s not Diablo. In Diablo II, the friends list was very archaic and complicated, and so it’s refreshing to see a system in place that works. But then, joining up with my friends was never a huge part of Diablo for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a lot of friends that I used to play Diablo II with, and that was awesome, but the majority of the time I was scouring the list of joinable strangers’ games and joining whichever had the most interesting title. It was fun browsing the game list looking for things like “COWS NOW,” or “BARB STUFF 4 TRADE.” You can’t do that anymore. Maybe this is stupid, but that was a fairly large part of the Diablo experience for me. The best you can do now is jump into a particular act and quest, but that just doesn’t quite cut it. I suppose the auction house stuff negates the need for creating trading rooms, but what about the rooms entitled “I KILL U” of which I’d routinely and arrogantly enter, thinking “Oh, really?” But then there isn’t even PVP in the game currently; that’s another issue entirely.
The third point I wanted to make was about the crazy amount of flexibility given to players. Now, OK, I get it: not everyone likes to have to do lengthy amounts of research on their character builds in order to achieve a powerful character. For me, though? That was the essence of Diablo. That’s what really differentiated the serious and dedicated players from the casual. As nice as it initially seemed to have stat points auto-distribute for maximum benefit and to be able to respec the skill tree on demand and free of any penalty, it ends up robbing the game of that metagame that was so incredibly rewarding when executed correctly.
Maybe I’m just one of those people who’s hanging onto old conventions for the sake of comfort; that’s entirely possible. But really, the aforementioned concepts were a significant part of what defined Diablo II (and the original as well), and seeing Blizzard go away from those systems to create something more modern is a little disappointing for me personally. The worst part is that deep down I know that it being 2012 now, they were probably right to make the changes that they did. I mean, who would actually want to play a game that forces you to browse endless lists of games, meticulously spec out a character build in order for it to end up legitimately powerful, and contain a story which is almost entirely inconsequential? Oh man, I am one of those people. I’m old. You kids and your “games” that practically play themselves. Get off of my metaphorical lawn.
Diablo III’s a great game; it’s just not Diablo II. And that’s fine. It just seems that I may not end up playing it as obsessively as I did the second entry in the series. And you know what? I can see the silver lining to that, because “obsessively” may even be an understatement in describing my Diablo II playing. It’s probably good for my general health that I don’t go through that exact scenario all over again. Instead, I’ll simply appreciate Diablo III for what it is, and try not to think too much about what it isn’t.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
This game’s great! Oh my goodness! I vaguely recall Jeff’s praise of this game back when it was originally released, but I didn’t really understand how cool this game is until I started paying it for the first time earlier today. As some of you probably already know, there’s a Steam weekend sale going on for the game right now(!), as of this writing (go and grab it!). I picked it up and was crazy surprised by the general coolness of it all. Sorry to use the word cool so often, but it’s really the best adjective for this game, I think.
The game has a strong start, intriguing story, vivid and unique world, surprisingly satisfying gunplay, and even a late title card. What more could one ask for?
I’ve actually owned the original Deus Ex for quite some time. I missed out on it around its time of release, though, and no matter how many people recommended it, I could never get into it. Admittedly, I sometimes have a hard time getting into older first person shooters; I was never able to get into the Half Life games, for example. Jumping right into Human Revolution, though, I was instantly hooked.
Adam Jensen seems like he could be a great character. He’s maybe a bit stoic, but I kinda like that about him. The backstory about him being part of the SWAT and then getting kicked off of the force after some kind of disaster, intrigues me; I’m sure I’ll learn more about that as the game goes on. There seems to be a lot of assholes in the world of Deus Ex, and it’s been fun having Adam push people around when given the opportunity.
I’ve probably only played about three hours of the game thus far, and have just finished the first real mission, but I’m already dying to jump back into it (what the heck am I doing writing this, anyway?). I have a fever and the only cure is more cyberpunk.
Back to the Future: The Game: Episode 5: Colons: I’ll Stop Now
Hey, remember this game? This is a game I’d been meaning to finish for the longest time, but somehow had never gotten around to it... until now!
Having only the final episode left to play, my curiosity finally got the best of me one day. I started up the final episode and beat it in record time.
I’m not sure if the episodes were actually getting shorter or if I’d just opted to use more hints as the series went on, but my playtime per episode in line graph form would roughly be a 45 degree angle leaning from the top left to the bottom right.
Short as it may have been, I think the series closed on about the same note as the rest of the episodes, which is to say decently. I’m glad to have played these games, but they definitely didn’t live up to the hype I’d built up for them before they’d been released so long ago.
I guess what really disappointed me was the lack of variety in environments. The vast majority of the game takes place in 1930’s Hill Valley, which just wasn’t too impressive to me. Quick visits are made to the future, alternate present, and even further past throughout the series, but there just wasn’t enough there.
I suppose some of the blame has to be placed on the activities you’re actually taking part in as well. There’s some interesting plot points involving a lot of young Doc and his path to becoming a scientist, but there’s also a ton of boring stuff that I just didn’t care for. Maybe it’s the adventure game format that I’ve grown a bit tired of. Either way, I stopped having fun with the basics of the game at some point, and that’s too bad.
Luckily the final episode’s ending is so bananas. I won’t spoil it, but it was a giant “what the eff...” moment that really didn’t make a lot of sense, but it put a big smile on my face, so that was awesome. Having beaten this after TellTale’s Walking Dead game has been released, I was left wondering what they could do with the Back to the Future franchise if they chose to extend it out and make more episodes. Could they take what they’ve learned from Walking Dead and even Jurassic Park and use that to expand on Back to the Future? I’d be interested to see.
Saint’s Row: The Third
Remember when Jeff and Ryan were telling everyone that they should play Saint’s Row? They weren’t wrong.
A lot’s been said about this game already, so I won’t beat a dead horse, but I do want to just say that I’m so happy that the game turned out the way that it did. I played the first Saint’s Row, and it was GTA, but less so. The second Saint’s Row? It was just entirely too stupid. Driving around in trucks spraying human feces all over the place? That’s supposed to be hilarious? Uh, yeah, no thanks.
Honestly, I kind of despised Saint’s Row 2, and wanted to hate this series so badly. I still remember the “Strap it on” press release read on the Bombcast that seemed to justify my hate and guarantee that I’d never play Saint’s Row: The Third. Then of course the game came out, people talked, and I decided that I had to play it.
Bravo, THQ. Really, you pulled off a seemingly impossible feat in making this a game that I actually like a whole lot. It’s always nice to see things turn out this way for a game sequel; it always seems to happen the other way around.
The Witcher’s been on my list as a must-play for the longest time. Now that I own a computer that can play games, I’m working towards crossing it off of said list.
I actually bought this game on a whim one day as an attempt to cheer myself up. I was just having a lousy day and thought that spending money would help. Because that always works, right? Anyway, I didn’t actually fire up the game for a good few days after buying it.
My first impression after starting it? “This game’s pretty old, huh?”
My computer defaulted to lower texture settings for reasons I can’t imagine. The game looked grimey as heck at first, but some adjustment of settings brought the game all of the way up to the standards of 2008--which is to say that it still doesn’t look great, but it’s fine. I honestly expected more visually. And for the lack of visual flair, my framerate sure can get a bit choppy from time to time. And what’s with Geralt’s running animation? Good lord. That’s not even 2008 bad; more like 2002 bad.
Graphics and animations aside, the game actually seems pretty dang cool (there’s that word again). I’ve seen the game via Giant Bomb quick looks and things prior, but getting into the game and feeling how the combat works, I’m really liking it thus far.
The story’s a bit bland to me as it is early on, but I’m sure as I learn more about the world and the witchers, it’ll progressively become more interesting. I was actually strongly considering reading the Witcher books before starting the game, but that never happened. I was a bit confused because there’s multiple books: One’s a book of short stories, which I think is the one that Vinny says he read in their quick look. Then there’s legitimate novels, too. I wasn’t sure where to start, so I just abandoned the idea. Maybe if I like the world enough I’ll go back and read the short stories at a later date.
So yeah, I’m not too far into the game yet, but I’m cautiously optimistic about the whole thing. Seems neat.
I’ve been trying to participate in some Giant Bomb game nights that are so tirelessly organized by none other than one AhmadMetallic. Popping into a few matches of Super Monday Night Combat (on Monday nights, folks!) was a lot of fun, despite not knowing how to play in really any capacity. I got to put my Luchadeer costume to good use at least, and that was all I’d really hoped for.
I also jumped into some ARMA II, and that was certainly a hilarious misadventure. I said that I knew nothing about Super Monday Night Combat, but I really, really knew nothing about ARMA. I ended up spending a lot of my time running across the entire map on foot, and then getting shot promptly after arriving in something resembling a town. Strangely enough, I had a ton of fun doing basically nothing for the entirely of the time that I was in there. Oh, and I’m sorry to the guy on my team that I gunned down when I was in the turret seat of that vehicle. I seriously thought you were an enemy, duder. My bad.
Anyway, I look forward to jumping into more Bombing Runs when I can. I really should pick up a headset sometime soon, though.
I was going to mention this earlier, but let’s just put it here: If you want to add me as a Battle.net friend for use in Diablo III (and only Diablo III, as I don’t play WoW or SC), my username is JJWeatherman#1591. I could always use some more duders to jump into games with!
Alright, I’m going to go and play some more Deus Ex: Human Revolution because holy crap that game’s amazing.
Before I go, I should probably ask: What’s up, guys?! It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post here. Well, a legitimate one, at least. I haven’t been hanging out here so much for a good handful of months. You guys all been well? Good, I’m glad. Everything seems relatively similar here, which leads me to assume that this site’s still full of awesome people.
Have a great Summer, Giant Bomb. Never change. And we need to hang out; don’t forget to call me.