Cleaning out the Backlog #7 - Mirror's Edge

Wow, it's been a while since I've done one of these. I blame playing a lot of Team Fortress 2 and Civilization V, games that I'll probably never stop playing. But I did take some time recently to play through Mirror's Edge.

The base mechanics of the game are pretty fun. The game is definently at its best when it's just letting you run and climb. For the most part, you're mostly using two buttons (one for "up", usually involving climbing or jumping, and one for "down", involving ducking or sliding). This part of the game is very enjoyable. 95% of the time, it's fairly clear where you need to go (the various colors help mark where you need to go, especially the color red). There are some times where it's not really clear where you need to go, but you just need to slow down for a second and look around the environment to get a feel of where you need to go.

The game suffers when you encounter enemies, however. Your enemies have guns, and you don't. In the early part of the game, you can avoid or run passed most enemies, but towards the end of the game, they force you to fight. I generally used the same combo for every fight. Start with a jump kick, then unleash your three punches, back up a bit, and repeat. There's some disarm option, but I never used it. Every time I tried, I ended up missing and getting killed. So combat in the late game involved isolating a guard, taking him down, and moving on to the next guard. Not the most exciting of times.

Oh, and it has a story too. I wouldn't call it a great story (it's fairly predictable, in my mind, and also goes the boring route of "everyone you meet will betray you). But the cutscenes looked very nice. I loved the animation style used in the scenes between levels.

So, would I play a sequel? Probably. Especially if they can fix the combat. Heck, if they tossed the combat all together and just made it about getting from Point A to Point B, that'd be fine with me. But I doubt they would do that.


Cleaning out the Backlog #6 - Just Cause 2

The sixth game in this series is Just Cause 2. When it came out a few years ago, I remember a lot of positive talk on websites and podcasts about it. So when it went on sale for $5 last summer, I picked it up.
And you know what? I had a lot of fun with it. There's so much to do in that game. Every location (and there are over 350 locations) has something to destroy, or items to find. Sure, the plot's barely there, but people don't play games like this for the story, they play these kind of games to blow stuff up. 
My only real complaint is that there's almost too much stuff to do. When I completed the last story mission, I only completed 30% of the game, and had only discovered 100 of the locations (out of over 350). So technically, there's a lot left for me to do in the game. And while I'm a completionist at heart, I don't see myself going back and finding the rest of the items. Maybe someday, but I have more games on my backlog....


Cleaning out the Backlog #5 - Tomb Raider: Legend

Honestly, I don't know if I've played a Tomb Raider game from beginning to end. I remember playing the demo when it was out for PS1, but I'm pretty sure I've never played a full game, So during the Steam Christmas sale, I decided to pick one up. Having really no clue what the difference was between the games, I randomly picked Tomb Raider: Legend.
The first thing I will say is that the graphics look very dated. There are some scenes that look good, but the game really has a blocky look to it (but then again, there was apparently a next-generation graphics option I could have checked, according to Wikipedia, that might have improved the graphics). I also didn't really like the control scheme. The worst part of the controls was putting the health pack on the home button. It's nowhere near anything else that I use in combat, so I'd have to take my hand off the mouse or movement to get health.
And I hated the vehicle sections. Absolutely hated them. They went on for too long, and trying to shoot, steer, and keep an eye on your health was too much. Luckily, there were only two vehicle sections in the game.
I also felt that I'm missing a section of the plot since I haven't played any Tomb Raider games before. Probably my fault, since I did kind of jump in the middle of the series. 
It's not a completely bad game. I enjoyed the puzzles. I can definently see how the game influences the Uncharted series.
But by the end, I was done with the game. I slogged through the last three or so levels just so I could finish it and get it off my backlog.


Cleaning out the Backlog #4 - Bulletstorm

It's been a while since my last blog post on the subject, but it's taken me a while to get another game off of my backlog (not through lack of trying, more that I'm getting back in to Left 4 Dead 2). And now I've played through and completed Bulletstorm.
You know, it's not a bad game. The whole idea of skillshots is a wonderful idea. Rather than just trying to pump bullets into your opponents until they fall, the game rewards you for trying new and different things. Not only do they encourage you to swap out weapons to try to get different skillshots, but they encourage you to look around the environment to find new ways to kill enemies. It has some very generic weapons (you always carry around an assault rifle. And you get a pistol and a shotgun), but some of the later weapons are fairly fun to play with (I liked the Flail Gun. It's hard to use, because it's easy to hit walls or bits of scenery with it, but it's satisfying when you wrap an opponent with it).
Back when the game first came out, I remember there being a lot of talk about the foul language used. And for most of the game, I was confused, since the language wasn't all that bad. But that's all Sarrano seems to spit out when he joins your group. I really could have done without half the things he was saying. I get that it's another way that the game is getting you to hate the character, but it was just annoying by the end of it.
So, for the most part, I had fun with the game. I don't play a ton of first person shooters, but this one did feel a lot different than the ones I usually play. I could see myself coming back to it in a year or two for another run through (it's a fairly short game, and there's still a few skillshots I haven't accomplished yet).


Cleaning out the Backlog #3 - Puzzle Agent 2

And here's the next game that I've now completed and I'm taking out of the backlog: Puzzle Agent 2.
I enjoyed the original Puzzle Agent. It wasn't a great game, but it was a decent puzzle game with some interesting characters and plot. In the second game, the craziness of the plot increased, while the difficulty of the puzzles decreased. 
It's been a while since I played the first game, but I recall having some problems with some of the puzzles in the first game. But in the second game, I didn't have too many problems figuring out the puzzles. There were a few here and there that stumped me (and puzzles that expected you to have out of game knowledge, like the digits of pi, which were annoying), but my Steam profile says that I got through the game in about three hours.
And wow, did that plot get crazy. They set up a lot of crazy stuff in the first game, and it only gets crazier in the second game. I mean, this game has insane astronauts living in the woods, bigfoot, the equation for lunacy, the Hidden People, and more. It almost gets to be too much by the end of the game. Although if there's a third game (which the ending kind of hints at), we'll at least be in a different local than Scoggins, Minnesota (a place that I love, probably because I'm originally a Minnesotan). I love the town, but I think it's time to move on, get a large batch of new characters and a location to play around in.
So I'm done with Puzzle Agent 2. I may go back and try to pick up the few achievements that I'm missing at some point, but I don't plan on spending a lot of time on it in the new future.


Cleaning Out the Backlog #2 - Bastion

Alright, and we're back. As promised. And the first game I'm taking off my backlog is GiantBomb favorite Bastion.
A lot has already been said about this game, so I won't go into much more detail. It's a beautiful game, with an awesome soundtrack. It's a really solid game throughout, with a bunch of solid weapons. Sure, by my new game plus playthrough, I was mostly using Brusher's Pike and my Calamity Cannon (or my Fang Repeater), but all of the weapons are fun to use.
At the point where I started playing last night, I was almost done with my New Game Plus playthrough (literally, I was on the last level). And playing that last level again reminded me of how much I didn't really like the last level. You have that excessively long platforming section that takes forever to get through. And then the game takes away your weapons and gives you a powerful but slow weapon to finish the game. Luckily, the game is pretty easy by that point. So I finished my playthrough, and, while at some point in the future I may go back and try to get some of the achievements, I'm ready to put this game on my shelf. I'm sure I'll go back to it maybe this summer, since it's fairly short when you know what you're doing.
So, that's one game off my backlog. I'll probably post a second one relatively soon, since I'm almost done with my next game.


Cleaning Out the Backlog #1 - Setting the Situation

Well, I'm going to try out this whole 'blog' thing. And on a entirely new subject that no one has ever blogged about before! Now, stop me if you've heard this one before....
It's all Steam's fault. If it wasn't for their numerous sales over the course of the year, I wouldn't have a backlog.
Wait, let's go back a little further.
For most of my life, I've been a console gamer. Ignoring the original Game Boy, I've owned consoles (SNES, then PS1, PS2, PS3. Yes, I like Playstation. But I'm also a big fan of backwards compatibility and the idea all those games that I bought aren't sitting in a box forgotten somewhere, but playable on my current console). And while I enjoy playing video games, I would only buy games when I was done playing my current set of games (exceptions of course for the holidays and birthdays, but I still wouldn't have more than three or four new games to play). So the idea that people have a backlog of games that they own, but haven't really played kind of baffled me.
Then Steam came along. 
Ok, to be fair, Steam came along, and then I discovered it years later. Originally bought as program to run Team Fortress 2, I eventually padded out my game collection with the various Steam sales. According to my Steam account, I currently own 92 games. Of those 92 games, 26 of them are in a folder labeled "Games I Should Beat" (see, I saw this problem coming a while back and planned accordingly. I also have folders for "Games I Have Beaten" and "Stuff That Doesn't Run". That last folder makes me a little sad, but hey, it only has three games in it).  Most of those games I've devoted some time to, but haven't beaten yet.
So, my goal (not a New Year's resolution. The last New Year's resolution I made was to never make another New Year's resolution, and 15 years have passed and I'm still holding strong. Think of this as a goal that just sort of happened around the New Year) is to clean up my backlog as best as I can. I'll take a game off the backlog once I've beaten it or (if there's not really an end to the game) when I'm done with the game. The fun part comes when you realize that I have games like Oblivion on my backlog (which I've already put 25 hours in to) that I'm not even close to finishing.

Well, this whole little 'intro' thing went on a lot longer than I planned on it. Here I'd thought I'd talk about the two games that I'm taking off the backlog tonight, but, well, it's approaching 3 am, and that seems a little late. I suppose I'll leave it here for tonight and probably post a proper blog about games that I'm removing from my backlog tomorrow (hint: one of them made the Giant Bomb list of 10 best games of 2011, and the other involves Mars). Read along if you want, ignore it if you must, but in the end, I'll get through this backlog. Or die trying (well, it's probably more likely that I'll just stop updating the blog rather than die, but I should probably plan for every eventuality).



 I picked up Uncharted 2 at Christmas. I enjoyed the singe player game a lot, but I've really latched on to the multiplayer. Even though they've made a few changes in the last month (the most noticeable being the reduction in health), I still enjoy playing it a bunch. Like most multiplayers games, I didn't start off that good, but I've gotten a lot better (Plunder is definently my favorite mode. And Deathmatch with Sniper and Pistoles is definently my least favorite). And a recent goal I've had is to reach a 1.00 Kill/Death ratio. I noticed a month or so back that I had battled back up and that I was reasonably close to to (probably about a 150 or so kills down), so I made that my goal. And I finally did it two days ago. I started the day about 5 kills short (the game actually had me at 1.00, but I wanted to officially hit my mark), and after a good session, I was about 15 kills over. So goal finally met (I think I might even be at 1.01 by now). Now to just work on those multiplayer medals from the expansion pack...