I play steam sale games: Impressions time?

Posted by ArbitraryWater (11413 posts) -

Yes, I've been off of whatever magical mystery trip I was on for almost a week now, so I might as well talk about some of the games I've been messing with since then. That's fun and relevant, right? It's also what my rivals in the Blogosphere do. Since Steam apparently hates me though, both Vampire the Masquerade and Civilization V have been weekend deals for cheaper than when I purchased them during the Steam sale. In fact, you should probably pick up Vampire at some point, if only because it's at a finally reasonable price. Not that I could comment on the game's actual quality at this point but, y'know. It's cheap. 

Speaking of Vampires...

Troika made a game with severe performance issues? Get outta here.

I'm not going to be playing Vampire: The Masquerade --Bloodlines anytime soon. Despite all my earnest efforts, there's way too much technical jank for me to comfortably play it on my old, old computer. That ranges from my computer somehow not being able to retain a decent frame rate in the hub areas, or the obnoxiously long loading times. Fear not loyal reader(s?) I will get on that when I get a computer that isn't 9 years old at this point. Which actually might happen pretty soon. From what I have played, it certainly seems interesting. It has the Deus Ex/System Shock 2 thing of all the guns totally being dice rolls and that sucking, so I'm not sure if I'm going to dig the combat, but from the hour or so I've messed with, it has potential. It's clearly taking cues from both Fallout and Deus Ex, and while my opinions on Troika's other two games are wildly divergent (Temple of Elemental Evil is awesome. Arcanum is not), It is at least my hope that the "This game is horrifically flawed in a few specific ways" will be in the way that I can tolerate rather than what I cannot. Either way, we're not going to find out until I get that college laptop, won't we?  
 
So anyways, about the games that I did play

Sid Meier's Civilization V

There's no X like the 4X
Is a very good game. That I can secretly run on my parent's iMac without them knowing. I bought the game, and all of the DLC factions during the steam sale, despite said DLC factions still kinda sorta being a horrific financial ripoff. It was to my chagrin that Civ V was the weekend deal the day I came back for even less than what I paid for it. In any case, it's awesome. It takes the somewhat bloated, somewhat unneeded elements of Civ IV, such as the half-baked and kinda pointless religion mechanic and streamlines everything without losing much in the process. Are there things about Civ IV that I probably like better? Yeah. But the best improvement for me, and the reason I will never go back is the removal of unit stacking, turning the game into some sort of Advance Wars lite in the combat department rather then you just winning through sheer brute force. Then there are some other things, such as making culture actually mean something other than the size of your borders (though I do feel like it could do with a little more choice/consequence akin to the government or civics systems found in previous entries), and giving each civilization a unique power and some unique units or buildings that can determine how they should be played, even moreso than Civ IV, though still perhaps not as much as Alpha Centauri. Like Alpha Centauri though, my main problem with Civ V still is probably the AI. Factions who were my total buddies will denounce me for reasons unknown, and yet doing similar things to them is of little accord. Like SMAC though, war is pretty much an inevitability thus making conquest the most viable option. It's lame, and I don't really think that City States are that great either (just being a way for you to waste your money constantly), but I think in this case the good outweighs the bad by a significant margin. 
 

Terraria

Is similarly very good at wasting my time. I think what endears me to it more than minecraft is that its more of a game instead of a dumb sandbox, while still kinda being a dumb sandbox for you to craft stuff and explore cavernous caverns. I'm not sure if it's still entirely a game meant for me, but I am liking it so far from the several hours I've been playing it so far. Hopefully I'll reach a point where I'm getting crazy good loot left and right, because I'm just glad I've gotten to a silver pickaxe at this point. Hey, it was $5. I can't really complain. 
 

Deus Ex: Invisible War 

 Sorry internet. I don't hate this game yet.
Is a video game. That I intend to play to completion. I at least owe the first game that much. Same goes for Human Revolution when that comes out. Other than that, I couldn't tell you anything about how I feel about it from the hour or so that I've messed with it. The main character Alex at least attempts to have some vocal inflection, and the removal of RPG leveling mechanics may actually make the pure mechanical part better by virtue of not needing dice rolls or requiring a specific build. And the levels are clearly trying to do that dynamicism thing, although they are clearly far more sectioned off and compartmentalized. Universal ammo is still a really dumb concept though. And I can already tell you that the story is somehow even more poorly told than that of the first game.  In any case, it's far, far, far to early to tell at this point if this game is the spawn of satan like all of the internet except Sparky Buzzsaw seems to think it is. We'll see soon enough...  
 
Since the formatting for photos is still kinda retarded, I think I'll use this space to tell you that I also think Bastion is pretty awesome. But I didn't buy it on the steam sale. So it doesn't get its own section. Oh, and the DLC characters for Mortal Kombat are all crazy. Not sure if they're my kind of crazy, but Kenshi and Rain are kinda cool.

Eschalon: Book 1

Is installed on my computer and runs. Other than that, I can at least tell you that it seems like something I'd be into? I dunno. Anyone want to come out and tell me anything about it qualitatively or structurally speaking? I played it for like half an hour. It has dice rolls. 
 

And to bring it all back around...

I couldn't get Drakensang to run on my computer. Like Eschalon, all I know is that it seems like I'd be into it, but apparently even germany can't stand my computer. It uses the modern version of the Realms of Arkania ruleset though, and for as totally bizzare as that thing was in those games, I eventually did come around to it on the 3rd one and intend to play that. One day. Right after I play this modern one  Similarly, I can run any of the 3 mount and blade games, but the framerate is unplayable the second any source of lighting is introduced. That may be a problem. Other games that I now have on my steam library but haven't even gotten around to playing yet include every single X game, every single Sam and Max game, Trine, and Magicka.  Oh fun days.
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#1 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11413 posts) -

Yes, I've been off of whatever magical mystery trip I was on for almost a week now, so I might as well talk about some of the games I've been messing with since then. That's fun and relevant, right? It's also what my rivals in the Blogosphere do. Since Steam apparently hates me though, both Vampire the Masquerade and Civilization V have been weekend deals for cheaper than when I purchased them during the Steam sale. In fact, you should probably pick up Vampire at some point, if only because it's at a finally reasonable price. Not that I could comment on the game's actual quality at this point but, y'know. It's cheap. 

Speaking of Vampires...

Troika made a game with severe performance issues? Get outta here.

I'm not going to be playing Vampire: The Masquerade --Bloodlines anytime soon. Despite all my earnest efforts, there's way too much technical jank for me to comfortably play it on my old, old computer. That ranges from my computer somehow not being able to retain a decent frame rate in the hub areas, or the obnoxiously long loading times. Fear not loyal reader(s?) I will get on that when I get a computer that isn't 9 years old at this point. Which actually might happen pretty soon. From what I have played, it certainly seems interesting. It has the Deus Ex/System Shock 2 thing of all the guns totally being dice rolls and that sucking, so I'm not sure if I'm going to dig the combat, but from the hour or so I've messed with, it has potential. It's clearly taking cues from both Fallout and Deus Ex, and while my opinions on Troika's other two games are wildly divergent (Temple of Elemental Evil is awesome. Arcanum is not), It is at least my hope that the "This game is horrifically flawed in a few specific ways" will be in the way that I can tolerate rather than what I cannot. Either way, we're not going to find out until I get that college laptop, won't we?  
 
So anyways, about the games that I did play

Sid Meier's Civilization V

There's no X like the 4X
Is a very good game. That I can secretly run on my parent's iMac without them knowing. I bought the game, and all of the DLC factions during the steam sale, despite said DLC factions still kinda sorta being a horrific financial ripoff. It was to my chagrin that Civ V was the weekend deal the day I came back for even less than what I paid for it. In any case, it's awesome. It takes the somewhat bloated, somewhat unneeded elements of Civ IV, such as the half-baked and kinda pointless religion mechanic and streamlines everything without losing much in the process. Are there things about Civ IV that I probably like better? Yeah. But the best improvement for me, and the reason I will never go back is the removal of unit stacking, turning the game into some sort of Advance Wars lite in the combat department rather then you just winning through sheer brute force. Then there are some other things, such as making culture actually mean something other than the size of your borders (though I do feel like it could do with a little more choice/consequence akin to the government or civics systems found in previous entries), and giving each civilization a unique power and some unique units or buildings that can determine how they should be played, even moreso than Civ IV, though still perhaps not as much as Alpha Centauri. Like Alpha Centauri though, my main problem with Civ V still is probably the AI. Factions who were my total buddies will denounce me for reasons unknown, and yet doing similar things to them is of little accord. Like SMAC though, war is pretty much an inevitability thus making conquest the most viable option. It's lame, and I don't really think that City States are that great either (just being a way for you to waste your money constantly), but I think in this case the good outweighs the bad by a significant margin. 
 

Terraria

Is similarly very good at wasting my time. I think what endears me to it more than minecraft is that its more of a game instead of a dumb sandbox, while still kinda being a dumb sandbox for you to craft stuff and explore cavernous caverns. I'm not sure if it's still entirely a game meant for me, but I am liking it so far from the several hours I've been playing it so far. Hopefully I'll reach a point where I'm getting crazy good loot left and right, because I'm just glad I've gotten to a silver pickaxe at this point. Hey, it was $5. I can't really complain. 
 

Deus Ex: Invisible War 

 Sorry internet. I don't hate this game yet.
Is a video game. That I intend to play to completion. I at least owe the first game that much. Same goes for Human Revolution when that comes out. Other than that, I couldn't tell you anything about how I feel about it from the hour or so that I've messed with it. The main character Alex at least attempts to have some vocal inflection, and the removal of RPG leveling mechanics may actually make the pure mechanical part better by virtue of not needing dice rolls or requiring a specific build. And the levels are clearly trying to do that dynamicism thing, although they are clearly far more sectioned off and compartmentalized. Universal ammo is still a really dumb concept though. And I can already tell you that the story is somehow even more poorly told than that of the first game.  In any case, it's far, far, far to early to tell at this point if this game is the spawn of satan like all of the internet except Sparky Buzzsaw seems to think it is. We'll see soon enough...  
 
Since the formatting for photos is still kinda retarded, I think I'll use this space to tell you that I also think Bastion is pretty awesome. But I didn't buy it on the steam sale. So it doesn't get its own section. Oh, and the DLC characters for Mortal Kombat are all crazy. Not sure if they're my kind of crazy, but Kenshi and Rain are kinda cool.

Eschalon: Book 1

Is installed on my computer and runs. Other than that, I can at least tell you that it seems like something I'd be into? I dunno. Anyone want to come out and tell me anything about it qualitatively or structurally speaking? I played it for like half an hour. It has dice rolls. 
 

And to bring it all back around...

I couldn't get Drakensang to run on my computer. Like Eschalon, all I know is that it seems like I'd be into it, but apparently even germany can't stand my computer. It uses the modern version of the Realms of Arkania ruleset though, and for as totally bizzare as that thing was in those games, I eventually did come around to it on the 3rd one and intend to play that. One day. Right after I play this modern one  Similarly, I can run any of the 3 mount and blade games, but the framerate is unplayable the second any source of lighting is introduced. That may be a problem. Other games that I now have on my steam library but haven't even gotten around to playing yet include every single X game, every single Sam and Max game, Trine, and Magicka.  Oh fun days.
Online
#2 Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw (6033 posts) -

What keeps me coming back to Civ V is that I can control all sorts of options. I don't much care for city-states either, unless I'm feeling petty and want some easy areas to conquer for whatever reason. I usually turn them and barbarians off, unless killing barbarians gives me a bonus of some sort (like that civ that gains culture from kills - easiest win ever is to just put out a few roving patrols and constantly kill barbarians). And it can be kind of fun to create several nations of unbalanced powers. One of the best games I've played (and lost) was against four seperate civs, one of which was set to be highly intelligent, the others progressively less so. The two top-tiered AI's clashed constantly, while surprisingly, it was the lowly medium-low AI nation that wound up with the win due to the voting system under the U.N. That was a great, intense round that had me howling at my computer at the end, but it was my own damn fault for creating the U.N. in the first place.

I'm looking forward to reading what you thought of Sam and Max as well as Deus Ex: IW. I really do think I'm the lone bastard in the place who liked the second more than the first. That's not to say it didn't need work - I wasn't a fan of either game's story or characters, and each felt like it could have used some serious extra time to work out little problems and details - but it leaves me hoping the new one won't suck. As for Sam and Max, not going to lie - they get repetitive as fuck. But I am completely biased in that I love the adventure game genre to the point where that flaw didn't bother me, as long as I spaced out my time in between each season. I'm not sure if I liked Back to the Future or the last season of Sam and Max more, but regardless, Telltale has my heart despite the obvious flaws in their episodic gaming approach.

Moderator
#3 Posted by CL60 (16906 posts) -

did you have the fan patch for Vampire the masquerade?

#4 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11413 posts) -
@CL60: I did have the fan patch. I think I've learned by now that those are practically requirements to enjoying Troika games. Did not change the fact that the frame rate would randomly stutter. It's weird though, as I can play some games that are newer without much trouble. Oh well, gives me time to play other games that I probably desperately need to finish.
 
@Sparky_Buzzsaw: Indeed. Customizable options are a must for just about any 4X game out there. I've only played 2 or so games so far, with a 3rd one in progress and I've been trying to vary it up with the way I pursue victory and the way the map is laid out. Right now I'm playing as Elizabeth on an archipelago map, which is fun because i can just constantly bombard enemy cities with ships of the line and then move in infantry to actually capture stuff. Naval units are so much better in this game, and archers can be used for something other than defense, both of which are alright in my book. However, as I said there are some things that I think Civ IV does better, or maybe I'm just more fond of how Civ IV's standard speed is paced. With this, it feels like I'm to gunpowder right as I get enough Longbowmen out to cause havoc. 
 
As I said though, the verdict is still far out as far as Invisible War is concerned. I feel like the first game was a lucky accident in some ways; a perfect storm of having too much money and too much time with enough creative talent to manage it correctly. I literally have no expectations for Human Revolution at this point, because I've heard so many mixed things about it from so many different people. I am going to play it though.
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#5 Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw (6033 posts) -

@ArbitraryWater:

I like Civ IV in certain aspects, but I think the changes made for Civ V are almost all positive. I didn't much like religion being taken out because I could no longer influence other cities to my cause, which was a huge factor in how I usually played Civ IV. But after a while, I stopped thinking about that loss and realized there were many other options and ways to play, and in a strange manner, it made me a better, more diverse Civ player because of it. I'd have never gone for a technological or conquest victory with it in the game.

Moderator
#6 Posted by Mento (2413 posts) -

Besides the Steam games I played for the achievement contest thing they had going on during the sale, the only thing I played for an extensive amount of time afterwards was M&B:Warband before I got burned out trying to get a pretender on their throne without realizing what that entails. Also all the weird crashes. PC gaming!

I've got Terraria lined up though, for when I feel like losing whole tracts of time.

Moderator
#7 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4238 posts) -

Universal ammo? That's so sweet. I thought that died with Wolfenstein 3D.
 
With me fantasizing about buying a console or upgrading my PC lately, the new Deus Ex is one of the games I'm toying with getting. A tiny part of me keeps saying "oh! you can do Thief-like stuff in that! Do it!" 
 
I tried the demo for the Book I game. It seemed competent, but I don't remember how far I got. I dunno.

#8 Posted by Claude (16254 posts) -

I just bought Vampire: The Masquerade last night during a sale. My PC is old, not as old as yours, but Source Engine games play great on it. I've played an hour or two of Vampire and I'm getting reading to dive back in. So far, it seems pretty damn cool. During my first fight it surprised me to see numbers flying off my enemy. This really is a RPG using the Source Engine.

I've tried playing Deus EX: IW a few times. I never seem to be able to get very far before quitting. One day I'll install it again and give it that one more try. Needless to say, I have a bunch of Steam games to play and finish.

#9 Posted by Mento (2413 posts) -

Update: Starting playing Terraria, didn't stop for 10 hours. But now I have a full gold item set, and it feels like there's not much left to see without a whole lot more digging for super rare shit.

Moderator
#10 Edited by MentalDisruption (1618 posts) -

Yeah Civ V's AI is all sorts of weird when it comes to allies. If you're planning on playing the game well you should count on every other Civ getting pissed at you at some point in time. Even the ones that you were friends with for the entire stretch of the game will likely start denouncing you close to the end game, or at least stop giving you maximum trade values. There are subtle ways to avoid upsetting the AI too much, but in the end it's just to much of a hassle to keep everyone friendly.
 
However you can keep an eye on which "friendly" civ's are going to betray you and when. Anyone who is friendly and planning on staying friendly for the time being will buy open borders for 50 gold and luxury resources for 240 gold (in a standard length game, value goes up or down depending on game length). If they won't accept either of those two deals then they are deceiving you, and aren't really friendly. So you can expect them to either attack, denounce, or become guarded soon. Using this to keep tabs on your diplomatic situation helps to be prepared for the moody AI.
 
As for city states, they're best for when you need to make up for something your Civ lacks. For example If you're a warmonger chances are you'll need the extra culture boosts, or if you're lacking important resources like iron or aluminum you can ally with city states that have those. Otherwise they're just icing on the cake for when you have excess cash.

#11 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11413 posts) -
@Mento: Wow, really? Steam says I've played it for 7 hours, and I honestly couldn't tell you how much more I am willing to play. Certainly, it's an excellent way to waste time but I also feel like I should play actual games that can be beaten instead. I mean, I bought Divinity 2 on a whim because it was $25, adding yet another game to the pile of "Things I should probably finish before I go to college because my parents aren't going to let me bring any consoles". I wanted to get SNK vs Capcom, but I found out it wasn't forwards compatible (which is sort of retarded since it was only released on the Xbox in western territories), but I will manage. 
 
@MentalDisruption: Thanks for the advice! Yeah, the AI seems a little more touchy than prior games. That annoys me, but I figure that diplomatic victories suck anyways.
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#12 Posted by Tordah (2469 posts) -

Terraria seems like it's deceptively addictive. I've played a little bit of it and even though I'm not sure how much of a "game" it really is, I keep wanting to go back to it. Paradoxically, that's usually the sign of a good game.

#13 Posted by Vexxan (4612 posts) -

I'm a bit interested in Terraria, is it worth picking up and playing solo or is it the multiplayer that makes the game great? I liked playing Minecraft with my friends but the moment I had to play alone the game got very very boring quickly.

Online
#14 Edited by ArbitraryWater (11413 posts) -
@Tordah:It's more of a game than Minecraft. That much I can tell you. That's not to say that you can beat it, or that there are any real objectives other than "Dig deeper, craft better stuff". Like minecraft though, it's deviously designed to encourage the player to go deeper and deeper, giving enough carrot on a stick progression to keep them interested. However, in the pure hours/things actually happening ratio, it falls a little flat. I've played for 7 or so hours, and I've only now encountered a dungeon. That I couldn't enter. Because the dude guarding it was cursed. I'm tempted to look up a wiki, but I feel like that would also ruin some of the underlying discovery that makes part of that game enjoyable.  In any case, I've gone out of my way to play other games that are actually games the last two days. That's not to say that my scattershot approach between 2 or 3 games isn't inefficient (because it is), but I have yet to find any singular "OH SNAP" moment that grabs and holds my attention for that game and that game alone. Ehh... Divinity II isn't amazing, but it is enjoyably middling.
 
@Vegsen: If the social aspect is what made you like minecraft, you probably wouldn't be interested in terraria. That's not to say the reasons listed above could change your opinion, but they are very, very similar, not counting the obvious change in perspectives and some of the more gamey mechanics of Terraria.
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