I haven’t done one of these posts in ages, so I thought I should. What have I been playing lately ?
Awesome. Not easy. Great soundtrack. It’s going to take many more hours of play before I learn enough strategies to get good at this game, but I love it. I honestly couldn’t do it justice by trying to give a detailed analysis or review at this stage. Just play it. It’s cheap, and it’s even on Steam for Linux now !
I paid a stupidly low amount for this as part of the not-so-Humble THQ Bundle, reflecting the real value I placed on it (Windows only, DRM infected, herp derp lets shoot shit games). Metro 2033 was the only game in the bundle of any interest to me, and I really think they should stick with indie bundles in the future. But I digress … Metro 2033 … a post-apocalyptic FPS that is part survival horror, part stealth game, set in the subway refuges under a destroyed Moscow. I was concerned with the opening since there was far too much in the way of cinematics and far to little gameplay. I guess this is because it’s loosely based on a novel by the same name, and they felt they had narrative they needed to shove down the players throat. I almost dropped it after 15 minutes, but I forged on … and it got better.
The one key thing I liked about this game: many levels appeared to have a ‘guns blazing’ path, and a ‘stealth’ path to completion. In the first few levels I tended to go in guns blazing, unaware that the stealth path existed. Once I discovered there were often two very different winning strategies, I tended to take the stealth path as much as possible, actively shooting out light sources to increase my cover of darkness and using quiet weapons, picking off lone guards where their muffled groans wouldn’t be heard (“Helsing” pneumatic crossbow + night vision goggle FTW !). The game gives good player feedback on your light level so you can carefully pick a path around baddies in the dark.
Now, on to the bits I didn’t like. I could rant on about how it was an uninspired linear design (book -> game .. ‘nuf said), or about the single checkpoint save system and associated bugs that might cause you to loose progress … but these were not as bad as the terrible voice acting. Don’t get me wrong. I love cheesy so-bad-it’s-good voice acting (check out “House of the Dead” on Wii if you get a chance :) ), but Metro 2033 was in the bad-and-it’s-bad category. The setting was Moscow (I believe the developers are Ukrainian), and every character was apparently supposed to be Russian … but everyone had a stupid fake Russian accent that sounded like Americans pretending to be Russians. Particularly the children just sounded like American kids, using terms like ‘mommy’ (I freely admit I haven’t actually looked at the credits to try and verify the nationality of the voice actors – irrespective it sounded wrong). To solve this, I think they should have (A) used actual English speaking Russians without an Russo-American accent to do the voice acting, or (B) changed the setting to the New York subway and used American accents, or (C) voiced it in Russian with English subtitles. I think (C) would be considered unmarketable for a company like THQ, so that’s just wishful thinking. Changing the setting to the US, as in (B), would have removed a very interesting aspect of the game – the slightly novel setting and environment. Which leaves (A), an option that not only would have made the whole experience feel more authentic, but it would probably have been cheaper too; I bet Russian voice actors in Russia cost less than US voice actors.
Anyhow, I don’t regret playing it since although it took longer to complete than I would have liked (don’t ask me how some reviewers got through it in just 10 hours .. easy mode ?), it got me thinking about some aspects of game design I hadn’t explored much, so it was worth it.
Mass Effect 3
Not much to say really. It’s simply the continuation of the Shepard-saves-the-Galaxy story. I enjoyed ME1 and ME2, and now I just want to finish the trilogy for completeness. I’ve managed to avoid finding out any spoilers, and I’ve still no idea about what happens in the ‘controversial’ ending(s). The gameplay appears to be basically the same as Mass Effect 1 and 2, but with less resource gathering grinding. I bought the retail disc thinking that I could avoid installing EA’s nasty maybe-spyware Origin download service – I was wrong, and was forced to install it anyway to play the game. Needless to say, I’m pretty pissed off about this, and as soon as I’m finished ME3, Origin will be uninstalled and I’ll largely avoid EA games in the future. I bet the pirate version doesn’t require Origin.
Also played a little ….
Dead Space 3
Every awesome shmup in the Bagfull of Wrong
DayZ (ArmA II mod)