Keeping the Backlog Beast at Bay, One Month at a Time

Over the years I've stockpiled a ton of videogames. I have too many games on my Steam account (Damn you bundles and Steam sales!) and quite a few unplayed PS2 and PS3 games (Damn me!). So for the past few months, I've been making it a goal to try to finish at least 4 new games every month, I won't guarantee that I've done this every month however. I figured that if I play them at this rate, I would go through most of the game I want to play (it would be crazy to think that I would be able to finish all my games, so I'm limiting it to the games I want to play). Of course, doing this with RPGs will be difficult, since most RPGs are hella timesinks (Still haven't finished that Dragon Age 2 playthrough that I started earlier this year). So here are the rules that I've put in place for myself, they don't really matter since I can always bend the rules but it's nice to have something in place that I can follow.

The Rules:

  • DLC does not count towards this, unless it has enough content to justify a spot in the list. So expansion packs like The Shivering Isles count, but something like a BioShock Infinite's horde mode DLC probably won't.
  • It has to be new games, so games I've played already don't count towards this. Kinda incentivizes you to play your unfinished games instead of doing replays.
  • The games have to be finished in the month to count, so starting a new game a month before and then finishing it the next doesn't disqualify it.

That's about it. There are probably other makeshift rules, but they are too unnecessary to list. Onto the games I finished in October.

Games of October 2013:

Mark of the Ninja

After months of owning and not playing Mark of the Ninja, the advent of a recent Humble Bundle finally reminded me that I had the game on my Steam account. This

The special costumes you unlock look pretty badass too.
The special costumes you unlock look pretty badass too.

game reminds a bit like the recent Batman games. The stealthing is not frustrating and the enemies are super dumb. Also, the game gives you a ton of

options to mess with the enemy AI. It almost feels 2D version of the stealth portions of the Arkham games: Enter room, take out dudes one at a time, watch as the AI freak out and start

doing dumb mistakes like shoot at each other. The gameplay is top notch, however it is way too easy to fall into the trap of using the same solutions over and over (I was a fan of using those man eating bugs to scare every bad dude in the vicinity as an opening move). And although the game is fun to play, the story feels like an afterthought. The ending is just... weird. Feels kinda like they put in a plot twist and a choose your ending choice for the sake of it. Tonally, it feels like it was trying to do too much, while the story stuff before the last bit is paper thin at best.

GTA: The Ballad of Gay Tony

The mission involving a celebrity blogger and base jumping was GOLD.
The mission involving a celebrity blogger and base jumping was GOLD.

Because of the recent GTA V hype, I had decided that I must finish the rest of the GTA IV addons that I had been putting off. I think The Ballad of Gay Tony is definitely an improvement over The Lost and Damned. I preferred the upbeat atmosphere to TLaD's gritty biker culture thing. Maybe I just don't understand biker culture, but I felt that nothing worth caring about happened during that DLC. Its plot definitely had a hint of something that would eventually inspire the plot to Red Dead Redemption however (dude's style of living is dying out and he just doesn't fit in). But enough about TLaD, Gay Tony has an atmosphere that was just enjoyable. The new side stuff like club management and base jumping are welcome additions to Liberty City. The new characters are probably one of the best in the GTA IV storyline too. Luis and his interactions with Gay Tony are always fun, and even when things got serious you can always tell that these two have known each other for a long time. The scenes with Brucie and his brother are hilarious, I like that Brucie acts way different in the presence of his brother. Also there is Yusuf. The game still plays like GTA IV, but the new stuff makes it wholly enjoyable.

F.E.A.R. 2

Yeeeeeeep...
Yeeeeeeep...

FEAR 2 started off promising. It even felt like an improvement to the first game in some spots. You can aim with iron sights and you can actually push over stuff in a room to make your own cover. But that feeling of the game being a better FEAR did not last after the first few missions. FEAR was never about the scares for me, but in this one it even seems like kind of an afterthought. There are basically 3 types of scares in the game, each one followed by a spike in string music: The one where Alma pops up and it turns into a QTE, the one where a new enemy type is introduced by popping up in front of the player's vision (cue QTE), and the one where dudes die in front of you when you turn a corner. None of them are all that scary. The game also gets a bit samey halfway through. The enemy types don't seem to change much (there is always a heavy dude, and then followed by smaller fodder). And your time slowing potion is basically infinite, making the game basically a cakewalk, even on the hardest difficulty. But still, it's not bad if you want to shoot dudes in the face and see them slowly fall to the ground. Also, this game's got mad ghost problems. Oh yeah, this game is part of the Humble Bundle as of this moment.

BioShock 2: Minerva's Den

Since the folks at 2K decided to give all of us BioShock 2 PC owners on Steam free copies of the Minerva's Den DLC, I figured it might be the time to finally play through Giant Bomb's 2010 DLC of the Year. Let me start by saying that I knew the big twist at the end when I started this (that you are playing as Porter). This would probably be reflected in my opinions of this DLC. So Minerva's Den unsurprisingly plays a lot like its main game. You run around as a big daddy drinking liquor, killing splicers, hacking stuff, and stealing other big daddy's kids. The narrative sets to explain one of the main underlying mechanisms that govern Rapture, The Thinker computer. And while the world building is nice, it feels a bit unnecessary; I guess this is why it's an addon. I didn't really care much for any of the characters in this DLC. The main antagonist felt like a sub-Sander Cohen, and Porter was just a dude telling you what to do. The audio diaries strewn about serve to give a bit of a backstory for both main characters, but it's just not enough in my opinion. Maybe there wasn't enough time to grow attached to these characters, but the story felt pretty bare. I will say this though, the attention to detail at the very last bit of the DLC is pretty great. And on another note: Tenenbaum's role, despite being advertised on the DLC's store blurb, is surprisingly miniscule. She just seems to be there; they could've removed her and nothing would've changed about the story.

Also, the PC version seems to crash a lot from my experience. I'm not sure if this is the result of removing the GFWL stuff.

Other stuff that I've been playing:

Silent Hill 2

Replayed this two days before Halloween. It's still pretty good even though I know this game inside out and it has ceased to be scary for me.

Dead Space 3: Awakened

Isaac and whatshisface bro it out in space. It certainly has an interesting ending. #MoonCrew

Skullgirls

Skullgirls is a pretty great fighter on the PC. It's a shame that its community is super small.
Skullgirls is a pretty great fighter on the PC. It's a shame that its community is super small.

It's been my goto fighter since its PC release. I'm not really good at it, but it's still fun. The PC community is really dying though. It's a shame because it's a competent fighting game that is still being supported by the devs (there are at least 3 more characters in the works and the game gets patched like every week). And the online uses the delicious GGPO netcode. If you like Marvel-style fighters you should consider trying out Skullgirls. 'Cus I don't want to see this thing die off like MK9's PC community.

I'm also messing with the Unity3D game engine:

For the past few weeks, I've been looking up some 2D games tutorials for the Unity engine in my spare time. I already know a bit (emphasis on "a bit") of the C Sharp programming language, but I'm still fairly green when it comes to creating something big like a video game. But you know what, I figured that I should at least try. So I had decided that I should probably start small if I want to get things done. A shmup like Smash TV shouldn't be too hard to program, and while I was at it I decided that implementing randomized dungeon layouts might be fun. Sounds simple enough. However, even something like this can be a bit difficult to make. It took me an entire week to create a successful dungeon generator; I think I might've overcomplicated it. The implementation of "doors" is a bit easier, it only took me an hour or so it hook all that up. I haven't implemented anything else besides that, because writing enemy AI is hard stuff. The art is reused art from the 2D tutorials I was following, because I don't know where to begin when it comes to drawing and animating sprites. Here's a link to the web player for my little experiment:

http://thunderslash.site90.com/mazetest/mazetest.html

Please keep in mind that it's pretty much nothing right now. I hope that if I keep at it, it might start resembling a game. I hope that I keep at it.

Edit: Oops, something messed up when I posted this and it ended up with a billion images for Mark of the Ninja.

Edit x2: Did they remove the ability to tag pages to a blog? It's not sticking for me. Bug?

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