Weekly Roundup 09/02/2012

This week was a little erratic, but I started it off by finishing Darksiders II. I was pretty close to the end at this time last week, so everything I said a week ago still holds; if anything it’s even more true now. The endgame, to me, petered out with a whimper, punctuated emphatically by a sad excuse for a final boss. Even worse was a horrible late game shooting section that was as baffling as it was just plain bad. I have no idea why Vigil Games would decide to turn their game into a boring third person shooter for an hour or two right near the end. It almost feels like they ran out of ideas, and desperately wanted to put something in there to add “variety” and otherwise extend the game.

Maybe if I was 13 I'd think the characters were rad.

I also found the story and characters pretty “meh” on the whole. The general structure sees you, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, essentially playing errand boy for the majority of the game. It’s not a huge deal, as a lot of video games do that, but it did come off as kind of silly. The way the characters act and speak is also generally adolescent and bland. There’s a lot of turgid, boastful banter as the characters talk a lot without spouting much more than simple decrees and challenges. Again, not terrible by video game standards, just kind of dumb. Overall, that’s probably my biggest takeaway from Darksiders II; almost everything about it felt off in kind of a dumb way. And while none of it was aggressively bad (outside of that aforementioned shooting sequence), it was a bit disappointing to me personally. Coming into this game, and more generally this franchise, I felt like there was a lot of potential for something really cool. It wasn’t realized (for me at least), and if there’s a third game I highly doubt I’ll bother with it.

After finishing Darksiders II I also played a little Diablo III for the first time in months, perhaps against my better judgement. A recent patch changed a lot of stuff in the game, and my brother and I dipped our toes in to see if we wanted to try and finish the game on Inferno difficulty. I won’t bother with the details here, but I will say that the game is easier in a number of ways now. We ended up making pretty decent progress, and are almost done with Act III on Inferno. I don’t claim to know what exactly will come of this, but it would be kind of nice to finish the game on Inferno, so we’ll keep fiddling with it as we see fit.

Some cool fluid interactions in Pixeljunk Shooter.

I also played through Pixeljunk Shooter this week. That might seem a little bit random, but when Sound Shapes came out I found myself wanting to go back and take a look at some PSN games I had missed and see if any of them looked cool. Pixeljunk Shooter was the only one that really stood out to me right now, and I ended up really enjoying it. It’s not about shooting all that much though; it’s more about interacting with different fluids, primarily water, lava and some weird magnetic mix. They all have different properties, and the game’s cleverly designed levels do a great job at showcasing their wide variety of interesting interactions. It’s probably as much a puzzle game as anything else, and it was fun to experiment with that stuff. The game’s also paced pretty well, and is constantly introducing new ideas all the way until the ending (which clearly sets up for the sequel). I won’t say that the game blew me away or anything, but I think it’s a neat, well made game that was well worth playing. Would easily recommend.

A lot of characters come and go in Episode 3.

Last but not least, I played through Episode 3 of The Walking Dead yesterday. And man, shit’s really starting to hit the fan with that thing. All of the decisions I’ve been making and all the relationships I’ve been forming over the first two episodes finally came to a head; this was the first time in the series that I really felt the outcome of my choices. It makes me curious how differently the episode can play out for different people. Multiple times I wondered what difference a single dialogue option might make, much less three episodes worth of choices. I even resisted the urge to reload a few times to make different selections. I’m committed to letting my story play out however it does though, even when things don’t go quite how I would want them to in an ideal world. I did the same thing in Heavy Rain, and think it makes for a more pure, personal experience. Character X may be alive in my perfect world, for example, but their death ends up having a much greater impact than anything I would plan myself; it becomes a defining moment I’ll never forget. Reloading would sabotage that, and by the end of the episode Lee’s story finally felt like my story for the first time in the series.

I’m still not convinced that I like the game’s episodic format, but I am now convinced that The Walking Dead could end up being something pretty special. It’s starting to take the foundation of things like Mass Effect and Heavy Rain to even further extremes, and it’s something I’d love to see them push even further going forward. Anyway, next up is a pair of games that I’ve already started playing, Sound Shapes and The Last Story. Sound Shapes seems neat so far, and I don’t know what to think about The Last Story. I should by next week though, and will write about both games then. And that’s going to do it for now, until next time!

Currently playing: Sound Shapes, The Last Story

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Posted by MajorMitch

This week was a little erratic, but I started it off by finishing Darksiders II. I was pretty close to the end at this time last week, so everything I said a week ago still holds; if anything it’s even more true now. The endgame, to me, petered out with a whimper, punctuated emphatically by a sad excuse for a final boss. Even worse was a horrible late game shooting section that was as baffling as it was just plain bad. I have no idea why Vigil Games would decide to turn their game into a boring third person shooter for an hour or two right near the end. It almost feels like they ran out of ideas, and desperately wanted to put something in there to add “variety” and otherwise extend the game.

Maybe if I was 13 I'd think the characters were rad.

I also found the story and characters pretty “meh” on the whole. The general structure sees you, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, essentially playing errand boy for the majority of the game. It’s not a huge deal, as a lot of video games do that, but it did come off as kind of silly. The way the characters act and speak is also generally adolescent and bland. There’s a lot of turgid, boastful banter as the characters talk a lot without spouting much more than simple decrees and challenges. Again, not terrible by video game standards, just kind of dumb. Overall, that’s probably my biggest takeaway from Darksiders II; almost everything about it felt off in kind of a dumb way. And while none of it was aggressively bad (outside of that aforementioned shooting sequence), it was a bit disappointing to me personally. Coming into this game, and more generally this franchise, I felt like there was a lot of potential for something really cool. It wasn’t realized (for me at least), and if there’s a third game I highly doubt I’ll bother with it.

After finishing Darksiders II I also played a little Diablo III for the first time in months, perhaps against my better judgement. A recent patch changed a lot of stuff in the game, and my brother and I dipped our toes in to see if we wanted to try and finish the game on Inferno difficulty. I won’t bother with the details here, but I will say that the game is easier in a number of ways now. We ended up making pretty decent progress, and are almost done with Act III on Inferno. I don’t claim to know what exactly will come of this, but it would be kind of nice to finish the game on Inferno, so we’ll keep fiddling with it as we see fit.

Some cool fluid interactions in Pixeljunk Shooter.

I also played through Pixeljunk Shooter this week. That might seem a little bit random, but when Sound Shapes came out I found myself wanting to go back and take a look at some PSN games I had missed and see if any of them looked cool. Pixeljunk Shooter was the only one that really stood out to me right now, and I ended up really enjoying it. It’s not about shooting all that much though; it’s more about interacting with different fluids, primarily water, lava and some weird magnetic mix. They all have different properties, and the game’s cleverly designed levels do a great job at showcasing their wide variety of interesting interactions. It’s probably as much a puzzle game as anything else, and it was fun to experiment with that stuff. The game’s also paced pretty well, and is constantly introducing new ideas all the way until the ending (which clearly sets up for the sequel). I won’t say that the game blew me away or anything, but I think it’s a neat, well made game that was well worth playing. Would easily recommend.

A lot of characters come and go in Episode 3.

Last but not least, I played through Episode 3 of The Walking Dead yesterday. And man, shit’s really starting to hit the fan with that thing. All of the decisions I’ve been making and all the relationships I’ve been forming over the first two episodes finally came to a head; this was the first time in the series that I really felt the outcome of my choices. It makes me curious how differently the episode can play out for different people. Multiple times I wondered what difference a single dialogue option might make, much less three episodes worth of choices. I even resisted the urge to reload a few times to make different selections. I’m committed to letting my story play out however it does though, even when things don’t go quite how I would want them to in an ideal world. I did the same thing in Heavy Rain, and think it makes for a more pure, personal experience. Character X may be alive in my perfect world, for example, but their death ends up having a much greater impact than anything I would plan myself; it becomes a defining moment I’ll never forget. Reloading would sabotage that, and by the end of the episode Lee’s story finally felt like my story for the first time in the series.

I’m still not convinced that I like the game’s episodic format, but I am now convinced that The Walking Dead could end up being something pretty special. It’s starting to take the foundation of things like Mass Effect and Heavy Rain to even further extremes, and it’s something I’d love to see them push even further going forward. Anyway, next up is a pair of games that I’ve already started playing, Sound Shapes and The Last Story. Sound Shapes seems neat so far, and I don’t know what to think about The Last Story. I should by next week though, and will write about both games then. And that’s going to do it for now, until next time!

Currently playing: Sound Shapes, The Last Story