Monthly Archives: August 2009

Update

Again, as I mentioned in my last Game Log update, I’ve not had as much time for gaming or even blogging as usual. This is almost entirely thanks to my much more hectic work schedule as of late. This week is probably the quietest week I’ve had in several months and thanks to a cold my office mate so generously inflicted upon me I won’t even be able to fully take advantage of it. That’s not to say I haven’t played games, however. Oh yes, I’ve played games.

First of all I finally finished Battlestations: Midway. Perhaps it finished me? As much as it shames me I actually put this one back on the shelf without finishing it off to the degree that I had planned. I breezed through the single player campaign fairly easily but once I got into the special “challenge” missions I hit several sheer walls of difficulty. After trying to beat the same challenge about 20 times without making much progress despite experimenting with various tactics and strategies I decided that I should be happy with beating the campaign and move on. This was confirmed by seeing that I already had above the average number of achievements for the title.

Not so much the Love Boat.
“Not so much the Love Boat.”

I have a feeling that I would have a much easier time with these challenges, or at least some of them, on the PC version where I could have greater precision with my shots and the like. Since I own it too, plucked from the bargain bins for next to nothing, I may have to give it shot one day.

None of these difficulty issues really make me any less interested in Battlestations: Pacific though. I still enjoyed the game and its relatively unique gameplay. Regardless, I originally decided to place Battlestations: Midway where I did in my backlog because I thought it would be quick and easy to playthrough so spending weeks (of admittedly very little actual gametime) trying to beat one or two missions seemed counterproductive. On to the next game!

Next up in my 360 backlog is the first person shooter Prey. Another quick one, I hope. I didn’t played Prey when it was first released though I remember a lot of my clan/guild buddies raving about the demo. I mentioned over a year ago here that a Toys R Us counter monkey had basically forced it on me one day, talking about how great it was, and at only 4 bucks news I couldn’t really pass up the recommendation.

Every now and then the game gives you a hand.
“Every now and then the game gives you a hand.”

Sure enough, the game seems to be worthy of the great reviews it got at launch. It’s an oldschool FPS in some respects, the Duke Nukem 3D influence is obvious with the lead character quipping constantly, and it wears the fact that it’s using the Doom 3 engine on its sleeve as well, yet the game also does some very interesting things involving portals, gravity, and puzzle solving and all well before the release of Portal to boot. There’s a puzzle solving element involving exiting your body and entering the spirit realm which is pretty interesting. Speaking of the spirit realm, there’s a very interesting, non-punishing death mechanic in Prey as well. I’m still less than half way through it so I don’t want to say too much more until I know more but so far I’d say it’s worth saving from your local bargain bin if such a thing sounds at all appealing to you.

I’ve also been playing Dawn of War 2 quite a bit in the last couple of months. I really enjoyed the first Dawn of War and its expansions. This is probably helped quite a bit by being a Warhammer 40,000 fan but regardless Relic has doing some interesting things with RTS conventions and yes, I loved Company of Heroes as well. Dawn of War 2 mixes things up a little bit by further changing the way single player works once again.

That's right - I defend my glowy things to the death!
“That’s right – I defend my glowy things to the death!”

I’ve often heard the game described as Diablo-esque in that randomly loot of varying rarities drops off of enemies and is awarded for missions but that’s is pretty much where the similarity ends. The player takes charge of a small force of Space Marines. Each squad or marines is similar to a hero unit (such as from Warcraft 3) in that they level up which can earn them specific skills, they can be equipped with new gear, etc. It still plays more or less like a RTS minus the base building and resource gathering aspects though. Of course, the combat part of the game is what Relic does so well with little touches like destructible buildings and unit cover mechanics.

The player equips and levels his squads while using a campaign map to select which missions to go on next. Some missions are plot related while others are purely side missions. The side missions appear to be mostly randomly generated but unfortunately they often recycle the same maps over and over again which makes grinding on them a lot less fun than it should be. Within the story itself players will find themselves battling all 3 of the game’s other armies: Eldar, Space Orks, and Tyranids. Since the player’s army is relatively small the battles are as well with few vehicles coming into the picture. Still, the constant equipment and skill upgrades are enough of to keep things interesting.

Orks iz strong!
“Orks iz strong!”

Anyway, the game is a blast. I’m close to the end at the moment but am still grinding on side missions. This is the first PC game I’ve played with a full Games for Windows Live implementation and it works quite well so far. I admit that I’m a tiny bit of an achievement whore so having PC game achievements combine with my Xbox Live achievement score is awesome. It does seem to confuse some of the Xbox 360 players on my Friends List when they can’t invite me to a party or use some of the other Xbox 360 only features though. Who cares, points is points! 😉