Self Similar self similar’s personal gaming nonsense blog

28May/170

80 Years of First Person

I was as surprised as anyone to hear that Battlefield 1 was, in fact, really fucking good. Battlefield Bad Company 2 was the last of the franchise I got into, avoiding Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 due to hearing about how shitty they were at launch. Yeah, I’ve heard Battlefield 4 has improved massively since then, but sometimes a bad launch is enough for me to pass over a game entirely. Still, Battlefield 1942 is easily one of my all time favorite online games, and one I have some amazingly fond memories of, and Battlefield 1 has, to some degree, rekindled a bit of what made me love the series in the first place.

Doing a little scouting for Lawrence of Arabia in BF1's single player campaign.
"Doing a little scouting for Lawrence of Arabia in BF1's single player campaign."

So what does it do so right? Well, first it has a fun mini-single player campaign that serves as a nice introduction to some of the basic systems of the game, such as flying a plane, driving a tank, riding a horse, and of course running around on foot. While not incredible, it’s presence is definitely appreciated. Next, the graphics and sound are just great: very epic, with detailed, varied environments, awesome particle effects, it’s exceedingly immersive, and I’ve been literally wowed by how intense being caught in the middle of the (frequently extremely chaotic) firefights can feel on more than one occasion as a result. Adding to that, the maps feel nicely dynamic thanks in large part to a return of the type of large scale destructible terrain/buildings we had in BC2, and then some, the introduction of behemoths, and a dynamic weather system. Absolutely great!

I admit I don’t play THAT much and outside of a couple of epic Rambo rounds and individual moments I’m not exactly a pro at the game. I’m usually either on foot (Support being my current preferred role due to a fondness of these old LMGs) or riding along in a tank most of the time. I really like the balance between infantry and vehicles, with tanks feeling intimidatingly tough but far from invulnerable as infantry, and capable for lasting a long time if played intelligently as a tank crew. Despite being sniped by a skilled bi-plane pilot or vaporized by a bomber on many occasions, planes also don’t feel like total ownage to be up against either. I still get owned by snipers way more often than I’d like, but the scope glint is quite helpful when you have the opportunity to exploit it.

The infamous B.A.R. in action.
"The infamous B.A.R. in action."

Outside of the occasional annoying sniper and/or artillery barrage ruining my day, one of the only things left to complain about how is how virtually everyone is running around with an automatic weapon - it definitely feels more like a World War II game to me most of the time, which has me daydreaming of a proper modern day sequel to Battlefield 1942. For the moment BF1 has totally unseated Planetside 2 as my go to online FPS, despite it not having nearly the pick up and play potential, given that a normal round of Conquest is going to take at least 20 minutes. Still, if I have 20-30 minutes free, I’m often compelled to jump into a game of BF1 instead of playing anything else.

Speaking of playing something else, I finally got around to checking out indie darling Gone Home. Despite all of the flak it got for being a “walking simulator” the premise of a short, narrative, exploration based first person game was appealing to me. That, and I was familiar with Steve Gaynor, the designer, from his time with the Idle Thumbs crew and his work with Irrational.

WW1's massive tanks are quite a lot of fun too.
"WW1's massive tanks are quite a lot of fun too."

In case you’re somehow unfamiliar with Gone Home, the premise is that your character arrives at her family home after being away for quite some time to find it empty. As you begin poking around you start to find various clues as to what has been going on in the lives of your family members, particularly your younger sister, since you’ve been away. That’s essentially it, in a nutshell.

At first I was fairly underwhelmed by the game’s minimalist, oddly scaled graphics. For a game that takes place entirely within a single family home it seemed like the developers could have done a bit better with making this actually feel like a real house. Despite that, I soon found myself captivated by the mundanity and the mystery of it all.

Sifting through every unremarkable artifact of everyday life for some tiny clue as to what has been going on probably won’t sound captivating to anyone but the most perverse voyuers reading this, but enough of the old bills, letters, and notes you find are peppered with intriguing details that it somehow works. Soon you find yourself digging through every interactable object you can looking for a new clue, another answer. A storm rages outside, adding a creepy layer to the already slightly off-putting feeling of sneaking around in someone else’s house. If it weren’t for frequent references to your family and the game’s mid 90s setting, I might have felt like I was in some sort of film noir style detective game.

Gone Home looks even worse next to BF1, but don't judge a book by its cover.
"Gone Home looks even worse next to BF1, but don't judge a book by its cover."

As for that mystery, early on I found myself trying to figure out what question I was even trying to answer, and without spoiling too much, let me just say that I felt like I knew a lot about where Gone Home’s plot went from hearing about it on various podcasts and the like, yet I still found myself questioning what was REALLY going on up until the very end of the game. Unfortunately this wasn’t helped by the fact that I somehow managed to miss a giant portion of the narrative which made the end seriously confusing. Admittedly, I doubt many people had that issue, as if you follow all of the clues properly you’re going to be finding almost everything, and in the correct order, but it still frustrated my particular experience. Regardless, as it unravels the story feels incredibly intimate and personal, which is likely the game’s biggest single strength.

I’ll have to stop myself before I spoil anything and just say that if you think you’d enjoy a quick, exploration heavy game then it’s hard not to recommend Gone Home. There’s something special about the game that comes together to feel like more than the sum of its parts. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for other, similar games in the future, including Fullbright’s next game, Tacoma.

Now it's Gwendolyn turn to put her adventuring hat on.
"Now it's Gwendolyn turn to put her adventuring hat on."

Finally, a quick update. While putting together my last post I discovered that King's Quest had a short Epilogue episode in which you play as Gwendolyn, Graham's granddaughter. The concept of passing Graham's spirit of adventure from onto Gwendolyn was a major point of the overarching plot of King's Quest, so a quick teaser episode that has you adventuring as her before a full on, follow up series is totally logical. What's less logical is that it is only available to those who bought the "Complete Collection" package, not to people who bought the episodes piecemeal or bought the season pass like I did. Lame, very lame. I had to settle for watching a walkthrough of it on YouTube. Thanks guys... 🙁

31Jul/100

Once More Unto the Breach

I was digging through my screenshots folder the other day when I came across a bevy of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 screens. It then occurred to me that I'd somehow neglected to ever even mention BC2 on here. What can I say? I suck at this. 😉

Despite trying the Xbox 360 demo and not feeling immediately compelled to run out and buy it I ended up grabbing Battlefield Bad Company 2 for PC strictly so that I could play its well reviewed multiplayer with several old PC gaming friends. There were also a few guys at work playing it on console so I figured it'd be fun to be able to talk about it with them from time to time. I was not disappointed. I've been a fan of the Battlefield series since Battlefield 1942 and, despite some major design changes over the years, I still consider myself one. In fact I mentioned playing through Bad Company's single player campaign on here not too long ago.

While I haven't invested the countless hours that many of you have I've certainly enjoyed my time with the multiplayer despite how much more difficult it seemed for me to get good at it. It seems so much more chaotic... or maybe I'm just getting too old? I did eventually find a niche that I could fill nicely and have since improved quite a bit. I'm not sure if I've decided how much of a good thing it is yet but I'm definitely intrigued by how much environmental destruction changes the gameplay.

Anyway, since it has been quite a while since I've actively played it (though I do intend on going back to it) I won't ramble on with my usual observations. I will, however, post some of those aforementioned screenshots:

We both shoot but I close the deal.
"We both shoot but I close the deal."

Sure, lean back, take a load off.
"Sure, lean back, take a load off."

Beautiful capture of an explosion.
"Beautiful capture of an explosion."

Medic!
"Medic!"

Feel good moment in 3... 2...
"Feel good moment in 3... 2..."

In my sights.
"In my sights."

I cannot wait for the proper Battlefield 3.

25Sep/090

1943: Dawn of the cataclysmic half prey

Whew, I can't believe it has been almost a month since I last updated this.

First thing first, I beat Prey. I don't have much more to say about it than I did last time. I've since read that a lot of people were annoyed by the "flying" parts but they didn't really annoy me, personally. They were definitely a little bizarre though I felt like that was probably intentional, going right along side the gravity walkways, gravity changing buttons, and the portals.

Holding the line...
"Holding the line..."

I would like to expand a tiny bit more on the death mechanic I mentioned briefly last time. Basically, when you die you're transported to a level where you can shoot at passing spirits in an almost Duck Hunt like manner. One type gives you additional health when you respawn, while the other gives you additional spirit. This sequence ends after a short time and you're soon respawned where you left off. Your only punishment for dying, really, is that you had to waste 30 seconds of your life playing this mini-game. The repetitive nature of the mini-game annoyed some people but whenever I encountered it for the 3rd or 4th time in a row I realized that I'd rather be doing that than starting over from a check point or even loading a manual save. Neat.

I bought Battlefield 1943 on XBLA. Excellent game. There's not a lot to say about it that hasn't already been said by everyone else when it was the flavor of the month. It's a near perfect game for when you need to kill 30 minutes or so and don't want to invest in anything too meaningful. I've got to say that I'm pretty damn depressed at how much I suck at it compared to the original Battlefield 1942 though - I used to rock at Coral Sea (AKA Air Superiority) damn it! 🙁 It's also amazing how much Frostbite's destructible buildings change the infantry part of the game - you might as well be playing totally different maps when in one version every structure is essentially bulletproof and in the other strictly temporary. I don't intend to play this one much as I rarely play online on my Xbox 360 but it was worth the 15 bucks in my mind.

All out attack against The Avatar.
"All out attack against The Avatar."

Next up? I don't know. I've been wanting to play more XBLA games but since I haven't bought many of the ones I want yet and I'm broke it seems a bit silly to pass up on all of the games I already own and haven't played yet. Speaking of spending money, I suppose Halo: ODST will end up being the next thing I play.

Changing platforms, I finally decided to finish up Dawn of War 2's campaign. I felt like I could probably keep playing it forever. If only their were more maps to play in the random side missions - it just got way too repetitive. 🙁 Great game and they just announced the first expansion pack. Just my luck it'll be continuing the campaign of the original game, raising the level cap, and adding a bunch of new stuff. Bought!

Peekaboo!
"Peekaboo!"

Hmmmm, what else? The news of World of Warcraft's upcoming expansion got me all hot and bothered to return to Azeroth so I dusted off my newbie Draeni character to try some of patch 3.2's additions, most notable probably being earlier access to mounts, and to check out the old world one more time before the Cataclysm hits. We've not been playing too hardcore but advancement was fairly steady until we fell off the wagon again a couple of weeks ago. I also finally got around to getting Wrath of the Lich King although I haven't touched any of the post 70 content yet on my main as I'm considering transferring servers and possibly even changing sides so that I can play with my friend's main. If only it weren't so damn expensive.

I definitely love the idea of them revamping Azeroth's 1-60 content. I'll be sad to see some of the zones totally changed forever but it is probably a needed change. I remember many a conversation about flying mounts in Azeroth once The Burning Crusade was released but the problem was obvious to anyone who had explored the world even a little. Except for travelable boarders and flight paths most of the zones were patch worked together with harsh seams. Many of them even featured areas that you can't and aren't meant to be able to traveled or even seen.

Ravenholm, anyone?
"Ravenholm, anyone?"

Finally, I started playing through Half-Life 2. Wow, old school right? It's for a good cause! I'll be playing along with Rebel FM's Game Club and since I haven't played through Episode 1 or Episode 2 yet it'll give me a good opportunity to refresh myself on 2 before playing them. This will be my first actual participation with Game Club or it's predecessor 1UP FM's Backlog which I'm pretty stoked about. Ugh, I had forgotten how long some of these levels were...