Wednesday, July 25, 2012

War Z, Arma II, Blacklight: Retribution and More

Another episode of video game stuff!

The article here on Massively talks a bit about it, but a not-quite-MMO zombie survival game is on its way called War Z. It sounds like it will be more my cup of tea; I've been eyeballing videos of Day Z (the Arma 2 mod) while also playing Arma 2 to get familiar with it, but I am not sure I want to play a game where the player population is so aggresively into ganking. I once argued that a "permadeath" approach to some games would lead to a player population in which people were more circumspect about who they shot and it turns out, not the case from the sound of it, people seem to become more psychotic instead, predating on their fellow players with wild abandon. At least, every Day Z tale I've read seems to indicate such. Apparently the nominal "I might die and lose all my work on this particular character" component is not as thrilling as the "I can kill another character and take all his stuff" element. Maybe the only way permadeath would work, then, is if the game proceeded to uninstall itself after death. Who knows....the idea does appeal, but being a person who's time is valuable, I rather prefer to keep the progress I've made in a given game, and not be subject to some 13 (or worse, 30) year old version of Gyges online.

So the Steam sale is about to conclude, and I get to look at my total casualty report. I added the Arma 2 series to my roster, along with a few other oddballs (namely the Prince of Persia series, which was too cheap to ignore) and got several games for my wife (including Skyrim and Kingdoms of Amalur which she wanted, and Gotham City Imposters which she took as a big hint that I would be delighted to play with her on that one).

So now for some more Capsule "First Impression" Reviews!

Actual game may not be as fun as screen shots suggest

Deep Black: Reloaded

Here's the deal. I liked the premise of this game, and I found a review online which made it look okay. Must have been a friend of the devs doing the review, or someone who doesn't play a lot of these games. There may be something worth investigating in Deep Black: Reloaded, bit its going to have to wait for a weekend when I am especially bored and desperate, because I barely got halfway through the tutorial before I realized I had potentially made a Huge Mistake.

Based on a tiny bit of playing, the game feels "off" and not in a good way, but in a stiff, unrefined way. It's visuals are okay, but the best way I can describe it is like this: did you ever, like me, play Half Life 2 and Doom 3 back in the day and then go try to play Chrome: Specs Ops? The Chrome games were based on the older version of the Chrome engine, which itself was not nearly as refined as the two genre-defining games of an older generation (Doom 3 and HL2, that is). As a result, Chrome just felt "off" and not in a good way. Plus, it had lots of annoying issues, such as uncanny AI that can shoot you from a mile away.

So Deep Black: Reloaded feels like that to me right now. Uninstalled, will investigate at a future date when I am bored and want to explore something of its kind with a lot of patience, because this game was testing my patience almost the tutorial level no less.

Arma II

Okay, I admit I picked this one up with the idea that I might download the Day Z mod. However, I haven't found the time or interest to mess with what I understand is a buggy mod filled with gankers, to go by the internet talk. That's good though, because it turns out Arma II is a really amazing game all on its own.

Arma II is a tactical shooter, which means I guess that its keyboard arrangement does not precisely mimic Call of Duty and it has a great many more options available. Getting shot once or twice is usually fatal and engagements are almost always won by the astute person using their brains and taking advantage of the environment. I just completed Call of Duty: World at War (a few years late I admit, but it was fun) and it's a shockingly welcome contrast to jump into Arma II where the main goal is thoughtful strategic movement, contrasting with CoD's run and gun "bullet sponge must swarm the enemy lines to stop them from infinite respawns" approach to single player play.

Arma II looks pretty good for a game a few years old. I got the three expansions with it, and the graphics get better with later expansion, but the only "hmmm" moment I had was in the opening scene on the first campaign, which starts on a decidedly low-rez aircraft carrier. The on-island graphics are very nice, though.

It took me a replay on the first major mission before I got things "right," at least partially because the controls are complex. I remapped a few items to suit to taste, which insured I was not accidentally prematurely planting explosive charges deep in the woods that were needed for a later task.

Anyway, I'm getting that same "vibe" with Arma II that I got with Fallout 3 (my most played game, fyi, although Raptr doesn't know since I only started using that metric-tracking service about nine months ago). Looking forward to playing this one a lot more.

Blacklight: Retribution

I haven't had as much time to play this yet as I'd have liked but I thought I'd mention that it's been pretty good so far (barring a server maintenance shutdown in the middle of a match) and for a game that is F2P with microtransactions I have had some great success, implying that this is not another "pay to win" game. If you played its predecessor (Blacklight: Tango Down) do not try to compare the two; this is a much more polished and fun game. It also has mechs, and getting into one of those in the middle of a match was a real pleasure. I'll report more on this later as I find more time to play it; probably would have played more if Arma II hadn't distracted me!

If you wonder why I seem to talk so much about the shooter genre and don't touch as much on the CRPG genre, the answer is simple: as much as I enjoy Kingdoms of Amalur, Dragon Age, and Skyrim (among others), I tend to binge on those games at distinct moments, and otherwise find my "role playing game" quotient for entertainment is actually met by my weekly tabletop events (which are dominated entirely by Pathfinder right now, although Runequest 6 may rear its head soon for at least one bi-weekly game).

So yeah, shooters, survival horror, and competitive firefight-style games online are something that appeals to me precisely because its where the medium excells, I feel. By contrast, tabletop RPGs continue to have a corner on that market for me, so the CRPG descendants just don't get as much playtime as they otherwise should.

That said, I do feel a desire for a "binge" coming on soon, my preferred method for enjoying large scale CRPGs, although the reality of my situation is I don't have the kind of time blocks necessary to do that anymore. Its hard to binge the way I used to with my son now. He goes to bed fairly consistently at 8 PM these days--well, with an occasional recent exception; he's just about 8 months old now, and he's developing the "separation anxiety" phenomenon kids get, so he doesn't like going to sleep unless he knows mom and dad are present. Problem is, Dad is "the fun guy" who winds him up, and he doesn't want to sleep if I'm trying to put him to bed because he might miss dad doing something funny...I'm basically "Mr. playtime" now. So it's up to my wife to be the calming "time for bed" parent.

It's very nice to do this as a insures we get things done, manage time for ourselves, and still manage to raise our child with as "interactive" an approach as possible. I sometimes worry we're overdoing it, but then I look at the giant family across the street from us with the ginormous, bellowing dad who appears to have only two settings ("pissed" and "domestic dispute") and his wife who ignores their children while slugging down tequila shots and yelling at the husband, and realize that we're doing fine.

No comments:

Post a Comment