By ArbitraryWater 22 Comments
Oh hey there. I write about video games sometime. Not yesterday. Yesterday I was at a funeral.
Borderlands 2 is pretty great. Have I said that before? I must admit, rather guiltily, that I never finished the first one because I got bored of it. That has yet to happen with Borderlands 2, and that probably comes down to tighter pacing and enemies that aren’t totally dumb. You aren’t going to get a full blog about it, but it’s a cool enough game that I will most certainly finish it, since I’m also like 17 hours in… which means I’ve probably played more Borderlands 2 than XCOM. Huh. The humor is super hit and miss for me, with some of it being pretty cringe-inducing. Oddly enough, the use of the term "Bonerfart" was not one of those moments.
I decided against writing a whole blog about the bizarre Russian mod for Heroes of Might and Magic III that just straight up adds another town, mostly because I’m pretty sure that’s all that it adds at the moment (with another two towns on the way at some point in the next decade and maybe some other things), though I’m not quite sure because I can’t read Russian. Thus, if I am going to write anything about it, you can be assured it will also include me talking smack about the other batshit insane Russian mod for Heroes of Might and Magic III (thus proving that Russians are crazy): In the Wake of the Gods. Because man. I would have field day writing about that.
With Icewind Dale II no longer my RPG white whale, I’ve decided that World of Xeen fits that role quite nicely. It is my intent to finish it before the end of the year, but let’s be realistic. Have I ever told you that, much like the rest of Might and Magic, World of Xeen is pretty awesome? Because it is. It’s surprisingly accessible for an RPG of that era and doesn’t bludgeon you over the head with difficulty the same way Wizardry VII does. Other candidates include the unfortunate “I’m still playing and planning on finishing it even though it is clearly not a good game” Might and Magic IX, Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne, Legend of Grimrock and The Witcher 2, though a few hours of play probably isn’t enough for it to earn “White Whale” status yet. It certainly gave off a good first impression and I want to play more. That game is probably the most intimidating of all of these though. It's clearly as dense, if not moreso than the first game. Just be assured that Inquisitor is not and will never be on this list. Because eff that game. Yes, I'd rather play Might and Magic IX than a game that is only getting the attention it is from enthusiasts because it exists, and not because it's any good.
EDIT: Oh right. This looks balls crazy. 17 years? What. That's more than Duke Nukem. It also looks way better than Duke Nukem. I am not endorsing throwing money at this project (I haven't and will not, at least for a while), but I am endorsing looking at that insane pitch video.
But enough about that, onto the aliens!
It’s fair to say that I was a pretty vocal advocate of the original XCOM when I played it for the first time two years ago. Since then, I’ve messed with other, similar games (including the “Holy shit this game is hard” stylings of Terror from the Deep, and the “This is actually not very good” stylings of the UFO franchise.) and it remains pretty clear that UFO Defense is the best, despite being an old game with a horrifically inefficient UI and some major balance issues. I think my opinion on it has lessened somewhat in the interim (whereas I can tell you with a straight face that Wizardry 8 is still totally rad and awesome and such). There are certain aspects of it that aren’t so much entertaining as they are tedious or frustrating, though I still probably consider it one of my favorite games of all time (as the near 50 hours I have logged onto steam can attest), just maybe… less so than when I wrote about it at that time. Thus, you can imagine I was decidedly pumped for this new one. And you would be right. Thus, you cannot imagine how I felt when I realized that the game is complete and total garbage. Ha! Just kidding. It’s awesome, as many of you can attest. Thus, to avoid redundant information, I am going to assume that you know most of the details about this game and focus on what I think about all of it. Because I want to. And because you want me to?
If there is something that needs to be spoken on the outset, it’s that Enemy Unknown does a frighteningly good job of being a lot like the first game, for as much as is different. I am of the opinion that most of these changes were justified, inasmuch as they’re making a game in 2012 is concerned. Class designations are great, as it forces soldiers into individual roles rather than the army of psychic flying heavy-plasma-wielding monsters that the end game of the original eventually turned into. It’s still raw in a way I can get behind, with your soldiers being incredibly vulnerable, especially at the beginning. The controls for mouse and keyboard are fine, though clearly still optimized with a controller as priority. The gameplay still rewards patience, reaction shots still always miss when you don’t want them to and Chrysalids are still total jerks. The base is probably one of the less enthralling changes, though I understand why it was made, even if the result is a less important geoscape and far less UFO shooting down. It’s a different enough game to be its own thing, which is good. Xenonauts, for as cool as it looks, has yet to convince me that it isn’t just taking every single page from the playbook of UFO Defense, though obviously I will find out for myself soon enough.
With that being said, I have no clue where Ryan Davis is coming from when he says on the Bombcast that Normal difficulty is crazy hard (other than the obvious: he’s bad at strategy games). I’d go as far as to say it becomes a bit too easy by the end, even with Elite Mutons, Sectopods and Ethereals messing you up. The final mission in particular is noteworthy for being simultaneously underwhelming and hilariously easy. Keep in mind that I am referencing Normal here. I’ve started messing with Classic, and the jump in difficulty is… significant, to the point where I feel like it actually succeeds in being the sadistic monster the developers claimed it would be. Obviously I will have to play more at some point, but my academic situation is such that I can’t really afford to spend much time with games until I get things sorted out. Wait, why did I spend time writing this again? Oh yeah. Easier than homework. Crap. Theoretically you can also expect a bit less of a presence on the forums from me, for aforementioned reasons.
XCOM is pretty great, and Firaxis is probably the best developer it could have had. For all my praises though, I feel like I burnt out on it playing the way I did (I beat it on Thursday, which is to say that I beat it after about 2 days of not doing much else. ) and classic is intimidating enough that another look will not be for a while. It's a fantastic game, though I would be hard-pressed to say if it is better than the original. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some spreadsheets to spreadsheet!