V.19 No.38 |

Video Games

What Are You Playing This Weekend?

I spent about half the day trying to decide whether I should buy Halo: Reach immediately after work. I'm pretty torn. I want to play the single-player campaign, because a) I've consistently heard/read that it's ten (or so) hours of great, and b) I'm really not a multiplayer person (yeah, because I suck. What of it?). Of course, tossing out the notion of multiplayer also tosses out maybe 80% of the play I'd get otherwise, so my money hand has been stayed thus far. I don't think I'll miss out all that much waiting a few months to play it alone.

Also, I'm not really lacking in games to play, and this week I've taken a trip back to Bee-onia in Civilization IV. The game is a really odd mix of almost tedious maintenance, and a constant dawning realization that you're either completely badass, or totally hosed. Everything is so bite-sized, though, it's easy to get caught in and endless loop of "Oh! That did something! Ok, just one more turn..." For someone more inclined toward shooters, the not-so-breakneck pace has taken some getting used to, but my Steam account says I've now spent 27 hours playing it. I'll take that as pretty solid evidence that I like it.

Anyone else hesitating on Reach? I can't be the only holdout in town.

V.19 No.27 |

Video Games

What Did You Play This Weekend?

I think as a rule, people who obsess broadly about games leave a fair number of the games they play unfinished. Consequently, most of these gamers find themselves festooned with piles of (physical, and nowadays digital) half-played games which they always mean to get back to, but never quite do. My habits fall easily within this pattern. I take a good, healthy shot at most games, but unless they've got something that keeps me coming back, I'm pretty wont to set them aside for the next hot thing to come down the pike. Of course, the bright side to this is that I've got MANY partially complete games I can always revisit (to name a very few of them that haunt me still: Mass Effect (PC), The Witcher, Lost Planet, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Bully, GTA IV, FEAR 2), should the mood strike. This weekend I hopped back into two of my favorites: Half-Life 2: Episode 2, and Civilization IV. Episode 2 has just about the best ending ever devised for a video game. Is it ART? No. Is it completely awesome? Oh, yes. Two words (and one picture, upper right): Magnusson Device. With Civ IV, I jumped back into a playthrough I'd left sitting for a couple of months now. I just need to figure out how to care a little bit less about what happens to my cities every turn, and I won't wind up needing the rest of my life to nitpick my way through the game. I'm not quite sure how to pull that one off, but maybe I can find help.

V.19 No.25 |

Video Games

This Week In Games 6.25.10

The Lego Harry Potter demo is now on PC.

Beyond Good and Evil 2 is still in development, phew. The amazing vérité camera in this leaked gameplay(?) footage nearly qualifies as a character all by itself.

This DHS and FEMA game will train your kids to survive earthquakes, fires, and floods.

Rumor: Hulu subscription service coming to PS3? Is it still coming to the Xbox 360?

DC digital comic reader launched on a bunch of platforms this week, including PSP, of all things.

Nintendo's Iwata says the game industry slump is more the result of boring games than economics.

Of course, it could also be GameStop's fault.

The Nintendo 3DS may get 3D video chat, as well as leverage its always-on wireless to consume news/blog feeds.

Even without all that announced, Warren Spector (Deus Ex, Spore, Epic Mickey) says the 3DS changed his life.

Steam launches a massive sale running this week through July 4.

2K Games revives the dorky/funny Civanon ad campaign for Civilization V.

Can video games be art?

Even after E3, EA had a spare Crysis 2 trailer just lying around.

V.19 No.19 |

Video Games

What Did You Play This Weekend?

This weekend was a bit of a mixed bag. I took a couple of smallish swipes at both Portal and the Diablo-like Torchlight, a slightly larger swipe at Civilization 4 (things are going much better in Beeonia, thank you), but the biggest chunk of gametime was devoted to the new Wii in the house. I was pretty surprised at how odd it felt to set things up entirely with the motion controls, and I really wasn't prepared for the placement of the pointer and the direction I point the Wii remote to be as out of sync as they are. Fortunately, most games seem to be more about where the remote is oriented in space, so it hasn't become much of an issue. I'm hoping any light-gun games come with some ability to adjust/calibrate. Overall, though, the Wii is pretty genius, and it definitely fills a gap which the other entries in my pile-o-consoles don't.

About three weeks ago, I purchased Super Mario Galaxy in preparation for the upcoming Wii acquisition, and that has turned out to be a great choice. It's soooooo Mario, but at the same time it feels as fresh and inventive as you could want. I've only had just a taste of it, but I can see already that it's going to be absolutely mind-bending. Also, I dug into the must-try Wii Sports collection. In fact, when I told my mom I'd bought a Wii, she immediately asked, "does it have bowling?" She, my 4 year old son and I started up a rousing tournament, and, as might be expected, she mopped the floor with us.

V.19 No.18 |

With all the talk about the upcoming Civilization V flying around, I decided to pick up Civilization IV and check it out. Between playing the tutorial (Sid Meier's mouth-animationless avatar is super creepy, by the way) and establishing the great civilization of Beeonia, I clocked about 9 hours of game-time this weekend. I've got a savegame at about 720 A.D., but a dozen or so turns after that my apparent mismanagement from earlier in the game sends things off the rails. I've tried a few times to go down different paths, but something bad always happens - mostly invasion by the Greeks, but I get the sense that my rotting cities are on the verge of true collapse as well. The temptation is to continue trying over and over until I can somehow find a path to a glorious future, but I'm thinking a more appropriate lesson is to let things completely fall apart and see where those chips will fall. If the game would let me, I'd start scrawling "Look on my works ye Mighty and despair" on everything I build from here on out.