I feel like a total slacker for neglecting my blog so much in the last few weeks. Apologies to the few of my friends who keep up with it. There’s a variety of reasons why: As I mentioned previously I had been trying to put my nose to the grindstone and get through Ninja Gaiden 2. I’d also not been playing much Oblivion since I had a backlog of Garn entries to write. That’s becoming a real bummer with the current format I’m using – I’m really excited to play but can only play so much before I need to stop and find time to write about what I’ve played. I’ve also been trying to get my America’s Army 3 clan off of the ground which I’ll write a lot more about soon. Probably my main excuse is that I usually write my blog entries during my downtime at work but due to changing positions and some new, major projects I’ve had very, very little useful downtime over the last few weeks.
Anyway, I did it! About two weeks ago now I managed to beat Ninja Gaiden 2 on warrior difficulty. Like the first game the difficulty kind of plateaued towards the middle – sure, they’d keep throwing new enemies at you but they didn’t necessarily get any harder, just different and, thankfully, I never ended up getting anywhere close to as pissed off at the game as I did earlier on. I ended switching from using my trusty leveled up Dragon Sword to my even trustier leveled up Eclipse Scythe and never really looked back.
The most notable thing about the finale of the game had to be the 9 (yes, 9!) boss battles more or less back to back in the last 3 levels of the game. Luckily only one, the second to last one, gave me any real trouble. Like the first game I’m shamefully sort of proud to have struggled through and beaten a game so few others have. I almost immediately changed my XBL avatar to a NG2 one in celebration. I can’t imagine playing it again any time soon through and hats off to the few, extremely hardcore players who continued upwards through the higher difficulty modes. No thanks!
“I’m so glad Amazon.com doesn’t have this problem.”
I moved on to the next game in my backlog queue, Battlestations: Midway for the Xbox 360, and man is it interesting. I don’t think I’d call myself a huge military/war buff compared to a lot of people out there but I do have an above average appreciation for such things and this is an entirely different take on the World War II genre. It reminds me of some sort of twisted interpretation of what Battlefield: 1942 was originally promised to be back before it was released and a lot of people didn’t think it’d ever work. “Wow man, you can run around on the ground, fly planes, drive tanks, even sail ships!” So yeah, Battlestations: Midway is like that, only as a real time strategy game instead of a first person shooter. Ok, that statement didn’t make much sense but I was totally asleep when I originally wrote it. 😉
I feel that I’m being somewhat inaccurate calling it an RTS though. It definitely is an RTS though it doesn’t have much in common by with the mainstream evolution of the genre. That is to say that there is no resource gathering and no base building. You simply have a bunch of different units, all vehicular, under your command. You also sometimes have units that can produce other units, most commonly aircraft carriers which can, of course, launch aircraft. Yes, given that his game focuses on the naval battles of the Pacific in World War II it mostly deals with ship (including submarine) and air combat.
You can direct your units’ targets, behaviors, and all of that, to some degree, both in game and by using a real time tactical map. You can also hop into any of these vehicular units and either observe or take over the controls yourself. The first person controls are mostly fairly arcadey though their are occasional simmy features thrown in. For example, the menu to manage assigning crew to repair damage to your ship is unlike anything I’d seen outside of a sim for years. Still, it all works out easily enough as long as you spend more time managing your units than of playing them.
“PT boat versus heavy cruiser, I wonder how this will turn out.”
Of course, like a lot of RTS games the single player campaign is far from the entire experience. Instead, you’re thrown into very specific scenarios with very specific units and objectives. I’m over half way through the single player campaign and ever since I put it down I’ve been pining for more. Despite the short campaign there are a number of single player “challenges” to play through as well.
Online is where this game (apparently) shines though, letting you and potentially three partners duke it out with up to four other people in anything goes, all units on the table, massive battles in and over the Pacific. The online is what originally got me interested in this game in the first place after reading recounts of some of the awesome, epic battles people were having over Live. I’m sure hardly anyone is playing it these days (especially with it’s sequel already out) and those who do are probably gods but I might end up giving it a try. I’m trying to burn through this one though, not making any special efforts for achievements or anything else before it’s on to the next game. At the very least it seems that my experience so far has bumped Battlestations: Pacific into my wish list.