Sunday, 23 September 2012

Now Playing: Metro 2033

Metro 2033 is a solid first person shooter. It has a unique setting with some good atmosphere and a decent - if rather muddled at times - story. It looks great, and I like the little details throughout the game which create a bleak, realistic world that draws you in.

The characters, unfortunately, are all rather short lived and forgettable– it’s a shame there’s no people you can ever connect to throughout the story, and as a result, its hard to ever really care about exactly what you’re doing or why you’re doing it.

It’s got some tense moments and is a little survival-horror like in many ways. The game is primarily set in the underground network beneath Moscow. I was worried that the environments might get a bit, well, repetitive after a while, but the game regularly mixes things up and it’s never really an issue.

It’s not very long, but I’d say it’s long enough for what it needs to do. It’s extremely linear, but it’s well crafted and it’s got some nice little touches I like, such as the non-existent UI, the gas masks, the wind up torch, and the journal. VA is also good throughout. There’s not really a lot of replay value, but it was certainly worth the few quid I paid for it in a sale.

I didn’t find it particularly engaging personally, but if you’re looking for a solid shooter it’s definitively worth checking out. I’d love to play something similar but with a larger environment, more exploration and...hang on, don’t I have those two STALKER games in my backlog?


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Have Space Suit – Will Travel

Work on the second draft of WFTD hasn’t exactly progressed as quickly as I’d planned. I wanted to get cracking on it after finishing up some more decorating, but then I made a list of all the other little odd jobs I’ve still got to get done before winter really starts to bite, and that ran to nearly two pages.

But I have started, at least, and I’m hoping to get at least the first part done before I go away next week. I’m heading down to London to attend the Eurogamer Expo. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get into the Creative Assembly developer session so I can see Rome 2 in action. I’m also looking forward to giving Assassin’s Creed 3 and Dishonored a try, as well as the new WiiU.

In other news, a friend recommended I give Guild Wars 2 a try, which I did. Probably not my best idea as it’s another distraction from my work and my backlog. It seems pretty good though, although I’ve only sunk a few hours into it so far.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Now Playing: The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is an episodic adventure game split into five parts, each a self-contained story but part of a larger, ongoing narrative. At the time of writing, only the first 3 episodes have been released. The actual interactive elements of The Walking Dead are extremely basic. It’s a combination of some very simple point and click puzzles and quick-time events (which sadly always uses the same pattern) but, uh, that’s about it.

Whether they’ll add a little more variety to the gameplay in the final two episodes remains to be seen, but currently, you’ll spend more time watching cut-scenes and listening to dialogue than you will ‘playing’. And because of this, The Walking Dead game just wouldn’t work if it didn’t have a compelling story, setting and characters. Fortunately, they pretty much nailed all these elements.

You play as Lee Everett, a man who finds himself plunged into the nightmare world of The Walking Dead. Joining a handful of fellow survivors, you guide Lee throughout the story, choosing how he’ll respond to certain situations and making hard choices. At the start of every episode you are reminded that the game is tailored according to how you play and the choices you make, and to a certain extent that is true.

Characters may live or die depending on your choices, and people will react differently to you according to how you dealt with them in the past. But, as you’d expect, there are limitations to this system, and some story points (including character deaths) are inevitable regardless of your actions, which does make your choices feel rather hollow at times.

I thought the first episode was okay, the second great, but the third was a little disappointing, not so much from a story perspective, but from the perspective of player choice. I played through each episode twice, making different choices, and the third plays out practically identically regardless. You get the feeling the developers wanted to tie together all the current major story variations and start fresh with the last two episodes.

But The Walking Dead has a great cast of characters with good VA and a compelling story that makes you want to play on to see what happens. You become attached to the characters to varying degrees and genuinely concerned about their fate.

Whatever happens by the end of The Walking Dead, I’m hopeful we might see a second game, perhaps with more variety and challenge to the puzzles and gameplay and with a deeper, more branching narrative that reflects multiple decisions in a more meaningful way.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

WFTD: Second Draft


Here we go again.