Having a real TV & Console set-up in my house has totally brought me back to console gaming, which is a refreshing change after the past 9 months or so without. I really enjoyed the time spent playing Starcraft 2, and I've certainly broken in my iPad - but I hope that more console time will broaden my playlist week to week. It will certainly help me sift through my massive backlog!
Games of note this week:
1 - FTL
2 - 10,000,000 (ten million)
3 - Polara
4 - TMNT
5 - Borderlands 2
We've been playing this one for about two weeks on Monday nights - playing as a group of 3. I'm playing the Siren, alongside a soldier and gunzerker. After a few weeks I'm ready to report - I'm not enjoying the game. There are no difficulty levels, but somehow the game is incredibly difficult. I feel ineffectual all the time, and can barely kill even one enemy without dying myself. I keep thinking that I'm in some weird experience hole - or that I'm at the inflection point of weapon power - but that clearly isn't the case. The game is just too hard to be fun.
I started a game to play solo - playing as the Zero this time - and the experience was significantly different. I was taking out enemies in just a few hits, my skills felt interesting and useful - so maybe it was just the Siren class which wasn't to my tastes? Unfortunately no - I switched to a multiplayer Zero, and I was right back where I starter. I'd unload a full SMG clip into an enemy and barely see their HP move.
So I'm thinking one of two things must be true: Either the difficulty scaling for 3 players is horrible, or something about the networked (as opposed to offline) environment is preventing me from hitting enemies properly.
This is an old game from my backlog - I'd heard it wasn't very good, but it's a Jade Engine game (used in Prince of Persia, Beyond Good & Evil, Assassin's Creed, etc) which is always nice to check out.
Unfortunately right off the bat I can see a control problem - your character only enters the running animation when L-Stick = 1. In my games I always use L-Stick > 0.8, to make certain that a fully depressed stick will always trigger the run animation. Requiring L-Stick = 1 means that on most controllers there will be directions in which it is impossible to run (because the octagon has a shorter radius in the center of each face than it does at each vertex.) So certain jumping sequences are very frustrating, because I can't run (to do the running jump) the way I want to.
This is a great example of how intimate knowledge of controllers can make me a bit over sensitive to very specific problems - Conan (which I loved for the most part) had a similar issue which nearly caused me to quit the game. I'm only 20% through TMNT, so hopefully there won't be more sections like this last one.
I suppose I should also mention that the combat is terrible? Because it is.
Here's a nice new addition - Polara, from Hope This Works Games - the folks who brought us the very pretty (but not totally satisfying) Kunundrum on iOS. Polara is an "endless runner" game like Temple Run or Jetpack Joyride - but it has a few nice twists. First off, each level is "curated" - which means configured by hand. This was amazing in Don't Run with a Plasma Sword- and less so in Zombie Runner. In this case it's great, because some of the "random" levels can feel really punishing.
Polara also has some great secrets and bonus objectives - which I really like & respect a bunch. One minor issue is the fact that the platforms you jump on blend into the background a bunch, which can make it really hard to see what I am expected to do. The game revolves around a red/blue color mechanic, so I understand that everything else in the world needs to be muted... but I think this could be improved.
My one big complaint about the game is that it doesn't support multiple profiles... I'd love to see that added in an update. Until then, you'll have to check this game out for yourself - on your own device.
10,000,000 (ten million)
A bunch of rave reviews led me to this iOS oddity - a time-based puzzle matcher with light RPG elements. Unfortunately, it turned out to be not so much my my of tea. The premise seems promising - you match things down below, which give you resources (wood, gold, stone) or help you progress (damage, keys, items). Initially you can't progress well, but the resources you gather help you to buy better equipment, which allows you to deal more damage and thus progress further in the game.
Unfortunately, the whole thing scales like a JRPG - you gain the ability to deal double damage, and then enemies get double HP... so while your scores go up, you're not really playing more, or doing anything different at the higher levels. Eventually I "won" the game - but it didn't really give me much of a sense of accomplishment. The game certainly has nothing on Puzzle Quest (1), or Clash of Heroes. Heck, I'd still suggest people play Slydris over this.
I'm still grinding away through FTL - haven't managed to beat the game yet on normal difficulty, and still have several ships & variations to unlock. Most of my focus has been on the Rock Cruiser recently, which really needs hive evasion % to survive early encounters. The biggest pain about the Rock Cruiser though is the all-rock crew. They are expensive, move slowly, and since you want to move them to offensive / defensive roles all their early nav / weapon / shield experience goes to waste. Absolutely the hardest ship to play well.