This week I've been up to some serious introspection - and so lots of game-playing has been happening in-between. I'm still a bit in shock how quickly my game habits have moved away from consoles... is this just a local minimum? Or a long-term trend?
Games of note this week:
1 - Batman: Arkham City
2 - Dungeons of Dredmor
3 - Temple Run
4 - Majesty (iOS)
5 - Plants War
Plants War is a very nice bare-bones DoTA-style game for the iPad. It uses the familiar virtual currency system - giving a few hundred coins for each win, and occasional goodies which cost real money to buy in bulk. The hero design is solid, if perhaps a bit too familiar (Every ability is pretty much a direct copy of a WC3 hero ability - look at Demigod for a DotA-style game which avoided this route) but I can't fault that because the game is so nice and pure.
Which, unfortunately, is also its biggest flaw. The game is so bare-bones right now that there doesn't seem to be much point in grinding for the few tiny bonuses which exist. Lots of greyed-out "coming soon" content promises that the game will become deeper with future releases - I look forward to that.
Note on tactics - as with many momentum games of this sort, the best way to push the enemy back is to time your level-ups (which restore all your health and mana) just right. I've found that the melee hero can, with a bit of kiting-tech, plow through enemies and level-up at just the right moment to make many levels a breeze. I beat level 17 in under 80 seconds, which felt pretty good. If you are struggling, I highly suggest saving your coins for the melee hero!
I've had a pretty good run with the Majesty series - it's an "indirect-control" RTS series which really peaked my designer-sense on PC, but was never quite "fun" enough for me to suggest my friends play it as well. I loved creating stories about why units behaved as they did - some knights were noble, and would die to project the kingdom! Rogues were unscrupulous, but you could count on them to take big risks for the promise of riches.
Anyway, I'm pleased to see that the game has come, mostly intact, to the iPad. The indirectness, which was so hard to see on PC with 100 buttons and a mouse - is perfectly suited to touch-screen interfaces. The economy of the game is still a bit opaque - I'm sure lots of people spend their initial money quickly and then starve to death as the hordes advance - but it's a solid and time-tested game translated to a more accessible framework. So I approve.
I've heard about Temple Run for quite a while now - people keep telling me that it's better than Jetpack Joyride, or Don't Run with a Plasma Sword. I see the connection but... it's just not very good.
The basics are solid - run at breakneck speed through a 3D environment. Kudos to the well-conceived tilt mechanics here - which are subtle and complimentary to the game experience. But the economy just doesn't get off the ground fast enough. I played a few games and unlocked some power-ups - what fun! But then I hit a wall. I get ~500 coins for each play, and everything now costs 10,000 to 25,000 coins. Am I going to play 50 times to get a 6% increase in income in future games....
No. So in this case the unlockables make me give up, instead of encouraging me to play through over and over the way JJ does so well.
Dungeons of Dredmor
Ah, DoD. I've been experimenting with a Were-Diggle build, which I'll release upon the world in the form of a new strategy guide... soon!
Batman: Arkham City
I've finished all the achievements for Batman & Catwoman's campaigns, which was pretty satisfying. I don't think I'll bother doing the same for Robin - although my daughter has a long-standing crush on Robin, so she might be able to convince me otherwise if she wants to watch him Be Awesome.