Weekly Roundup 06/24/2012

I originally wasn’t sure I’d have much to talk about this week, but it turns out I got more gaming time in than expected. First and foremost, I’d like to give some quick final thoughts on Diablo III. I’ve played a lot of it over the past month or so (closing in on 100 hours), and have talked about it quite a bit already. I’ll probably continue to poke at it here and there, but the heavy lifting is done and I’d like to wrap up some thoughts.

I think Diablo III is an awesome game up through the end of Hell difficulty. That’s three full playthroughs, and they move at a solid pace with a smooth progression that takes you up to the level cap in a timely manner. The way skills unlock and the difficulty curve are great, even if it starts out too easy. Hell was a good challenge though, one that’s doable with some okay gear and smart usage of your skills, and finishing that at level 60 felt perfect. The game also has wonderful production qualities, using all the crazy moves you get is a blast, and the enemies are fun to fight. Even the slot machine style item loop is engaging for a time. As someone who didn’t care a ton for Diablo II, I never once got tired of Diablo III through the end of Hell.

Grind, grind, grind.

Of course, there is a fourth playthrough in Inferno difficulty. Put bluntly, I think Inferno is a terrible mechanism designed to sucker in crazy people. In a nutshell, Inferno demands you have extremely good gear. Things like high repair costs and enrage timers exist to prevent you from trying to progress with less than ideal gear; they’re essentially “gear checks”. This is extremely disheartening to me as someone who really enjoys difficult games where you focus on learning and practicing new skills (Ninja Gaiden, Dark Souls, etc.). Diablo III’s highest difficulty, by contrast, simply demands that you grind for better gear; it demands time not skill. While I know that’s kind of the name of the game, the amount of brute force grinding it requires is the antithesis of fun to me. It feels like the cheapest, most Skinnerian method imaginable to keep you playing the game for longer than you otherwise would or should. In some ways I can’t really fault the game for creating an avenue for people who think they want to play more Diablo. But I also think it’s kind of evil, and have no interest in it.

Thus, my personal recommendation for Diablo III is to play and enjoy it up through the end of Hell. After that, venture forth at your own risk. It’s a deep, sinister rabbit hole, one that I can’t endorse in good conscience. As for my status, I’m at the start of Act III on Inferno, and am not sure how much more I’ll play. I doubt I’ll talk much more about it here either way; maybe a quick status update if I make substantial progress, which is in doubt. Anyway, that’s going to do it for Diablo III. Great game, as long as you know when to quit.

There are some tricky levels, but Mario plays it pretty straight most of the time.

Otherwise, I played a decent amount of Super Mario 3D Land this week, and managed to finish the “main” game. I beat all eight of the primary world, getting every single hidden coin in each level. Compared to the proper 3D mario games like Super Mario Galaxy, Mario 3D Land isn’t quite as engaging as it could have been. It started a little slow, but I assumed it would ramp up. It definitely did, but not as much (or as quickly) as I would have liked. It never felt quite as fresh as Galaxy, and never reached that same level of creativity and inventiveness. It played it more by-the-book, and fell somewhere in between the Galaxy games and the New Super Mario Bros. games for me. In other words, I had fun playing Mario 3D Land, but it never really came across as something special.

Upon completing the game, however, eight special worlds opened up. These might end up being the more crazy, challenging levels I was hoping for initially, so I plan to keep playing. I’ve beaten the first special world, and it was on par with the later levels of the main game (which were an okay challenge). If it continues to ramp up it could be pretty neat, so I’m hopeful. And that’s all I really played this week. Pushmo’s still around, though not really worth updating at this point; I’ll continue to play puzzles here and there as I feel like it. I also didn’t get around to playing Civilization V: Gods & Kings this week. That’s going to have to wait until after my trip.

This game will be good right? RIGHT!?

What is this trip? Some friends and I are going to England and Scotland for two weeks, leaving today! As such, no update next week, and maybe not the week after that. I’m bringing my 3DS, with Mario in the slot and Pushmo and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX downloaded and ready to go. I’ve never actually played through Link’s Awakening from start to finish, and that’s something I’d like to do at some point. I probably won’t actually play much of anything on the trip, but you never know. By the time I get back some games will be out too. I’ll have Gods & Kings already out and waiting, and Spec Ops: The Line and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy both come out while I’m gone (and maybe The Walking Dead Episode 2!?). Those are two games I’m cautiously optimistic about. The Last Story also comes out right after I get back, and hopefully it doesn’t turn out like Xenoblade Chronicles did... Anyway, that’s enough rambling for now, until next time!

Currently playing: Super Mario 3D Land

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Posted by MajorMitch

I originally wasn’t sure I’d have much to talk about this week, but it turns out I got more gaming time in than expected. First and foremost, I’d like to give some quick final thoughts on Diablo III. I’ve played a lot of it over the past month or so (closing in on 100 hours), and have talked about it quite a bit already. I’ll probably continue to poke at it here and there, but the heavy lifting is done and I’d like to wrap up some thoughts.

I think Diablo III is an awesome game up through the end of Hell difficulty. That’s three full playthroughs, and they move at a solid pace with a smooth progression that takes you up to the level cap in a timely manner. The way skills unlock and the difficulty curve are great, even if it starts out too easy. Hell was a good challenge though, one that’s doable with some okay gear and smart usage of your skills, and finishing that at level 60 felt perfect. The game also has wonderful production qualities, using all the crazy moves you get is a blast, and the enemies are fun to fight. Even the slot machine style item loop is engaging for a time. As someone who didn’t care a ton for Diablo II, I never once got tired of Diablo III through the end of Hell.

Grind, grind, grind.

Of course, there is a fourth playthrough in Inferno difficulty. Put bluntly, I think Inferno is a terrible mechanism designed to sucker in crazy people. In a nutshell, Inferno demands you have extremely good gear. Things like high repair costs and enrage timers exist to prevent you from trying to progress with less than ideal gear; they’re essentially “gear checks”. This is extremely disheartening to me as someone who really enjoys difficult games where you focus on learning and practicing new skills (Ninja Gaiden, Dark Souls, etc.). Diablo III’s highest difficulty, by contrast, simply demands that you grind for better gear; it demands time not skill. While I know that’s kind of the name of the game, the amount of brute force grinding it requires is the antithesis of fun to me. It feels like the cheapest, most Skinnerian method imaginable to keep you playing the game for longer than you otherwise would or should. In some ways I can’t really fault the game for creating an avenue for people who think they want to play more Diablo. But I also think it’s kind of evil, and have no interest in it.

Thus, my personal recommendation for Diablo III is to play and enjoy it up through the end of Hell. After that, venture forth at your own risk. It’s a deep, sinister rabbit hole, one that I can’t endorse in good conscience. As for my status, I’m at the start of Act III on Inferno, and am not sure how much more I’ll play. I doubt I’ll talk much more about it here either way; maybe a quick status update if I make substantial progress, which is in doubt. Anyway, that’s going to do it for Diablo III. Great game, as long as you know when to quit.

There are some tricky levels, but Mario plays it pretty straight most of the time.

Otherwise, I played a decent amount of Super Mario 3D Land this week, and managed to finish the “main” game. I beat all eight of the primary world, getting every single hidden coin in each level. Compared to the proper 3D mario games like Super Mario Galaxy, Mario 3D Land isn’t quite as engaging as it could have been. It started a little slow, but I assumed it would ramp up. It definitely did, but not as much (or as quickly) as I would have liked. It never felt quite as fresh as Galaxy, and never reached that same level of creativity and inventiveness. It played it more by-the-book, and fell somewhere in between the Galaxy games and the New Super Mario Bros. games for me. In other words, I had fun playing Mario 3D Land, but it never really came across as something special.

Upon completing the game, however, eight special worlds opened up. These might end up being the more crazy, challenging levels I was hoping for initially, so I plan to keep playing. I’ve beaten the first special world, and it was on par with the later levels of the main game (which were an okay challenge). If it continues to ramp up it could be pretty neat, so I’m hopeful. And that’s all I really played this week. Pushmo’s still around, though not really worth updating at this point; I’ll continue to play puzzles here and there as I feel like it. I also didn’t get around to playing Civilization V: Gods & Kings this week. That’s going to have to wait until after my trip.

This game will be good right? RIGHT!?

What is this trip? Some friends and I are going to England and Scotland for two weeks, leaving today! As such, no update next week, and maybe not the week after that. I’m bringing my 3DS, with Mario in the slot and Pushmo and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX downloaded and ready to go. I’ve never actually played through Link’s Awakening from start to finish, and that’s something I’d like to do at some point. I probably won’t actually play much of anything on the trip, but you never know. By the time I get back some games will be out too. I’ll have Gods & Kings already out and waiting, and Spec Ops: The Line and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy both come out while I’m gone (and maybe The Walking Dead Episode 2!?). Those are two games I’m cautiously optimistic about. The Last Story also comes out right after I get back, and hopefully it doesn’t turn out like Xenoblade Chronicles did... Anyway, that’s enough rambling for now, until next time!

Currently playing: Super Mario 3D Land