Diary: August Arcadia

Shaun

I know anyone reading this will be pretty familiar with outbursts such as this, but it needs saying: holy crap, you guys, I love games.

Emerging from the contracting sphincter of a severe Mass Effect binge initially left me a little unsure of what to do and where to go. Delving so deep into one game or series for so long clearly left me a little disassociated from, well, things that worked differently. But fortunately I recovered quickly. I’ve played quite a bit lately!

First on the list was Prototype 2, the 360 on demand version of which popped up on sale not long ago. I’ve been meaning to play this for some time as I really enjoyed its 2009 predecessor, but I’d heard the PC port was dreadful. Happily, the 360 version is a lot of fun, ticking all the funboxes the first one did. Yes, its writing is embarrassingly/hilariously juvenile (delete as appropriate) but its sandbox world traversal is still only really beaten by Saint’s Row IV, and despite that terrible writing the setting is still one I enjoy exploring and playing within. Even the lack of variation in the mission design is forgiveable thanks to the simple fun of its combat engine and flexible power system. Hell, I devoted time to acquiring achievements! That’s not something I’ve done in a while.

I’ve also been enjoying the very-recently-released Satellite Reign, which Kickstarter I backed. It’s a worthy successor to Syndicate and Syndicate Wars, which… well, no one seems to have really tried. There was that FPS I never played which just used the name and a pair of wonky mirrorshades, and there was Darwinia‘s squad, and… what?

I’m not yet sure what I have to contribute about Satellite Reign beyond that I’m enjoying it. I can’t argue with Richard Cobbett when he says the game’s open world isn’t reactive beyond the moment to moment, but I’m with Quinns when he extols the fun that can be had with situations whether they unfold according to plan or dissolve into chaos. It’s got some issues – for heaven’s sake, if you’re going to do Relic-style sticky cover in your RTS game, allow a directional click and drag for cover placement so everyone is actually in cover – and could be a better game, but it’s still a bloody good one.

I also caved and pre-ordered a Steam controller. I had been on the fence about these devices, wanting to see reviews of the final hardware before I bit, but when an offer came up with a free copy of Rocket League, well…

I’ve nothing to say about the controller yet, beyond that buying it goes some way towards proving some of the lessons in behavioural economics imparted in Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational, which I’ve recently been reading. But Rocket League… hell, everyone was right. This game is bloody fantastic. Does, er… does anyone want to try and set up an Arcadian Rhythms match? Can we do cross-platform private games yet? God, I hope so.

And then there’s Lego Jurassic World. I’ve never really gone for the Lego games, charming as they often look. I don’t have kids and the child inside me thinks Star Wars is a bit shit, Batman’s hero is a covert fascist and all your other beloved childhood properties are probably reprehensible too*. But I do love dinosaurs, and the Jurassic Park films are blockbusters I do enjoy revisiting. Even if the second one is a bit of a dull re-run, and the third is just cheap and stupid, and the fourth climaxes by falling off the fan service tightrope it had previously been walking. But I do love dinosaurs, and so C and I have begun playing through Lego Jurassic World. We always need more local co-op games. There just aren’t enough in the world.

I briefly ventured back onto twitter last week. It still feels like walking through a tremendous hall full of people who are largely arguing with themselves, and all you catch of each conversation you pass is a contextless snarky aside. But there are still exceptions, I guess, which is why I keep checking in, despite finding browsing my untrammelled feed an honestly depressing experience. Anyway, because I’m not checking in on Twitter very often, and because I’m currently only dipping my toe into the water of gaming news, I don’t really know what’s going on out there in the world of games. Probably the same arguments and desperate marketing, right? With the interesting games and discussions gasping for air as they sink into the swamp.

Gosh, I’m a fucking bundle of joy today, aren’t I?

 


 

 

[* This is a joke, which is hopefully clear to anyone who isn’t a joyless husk. But just in case my flippant dismissal of your corporate franchise of choice smarts a bit, just remember that I’m a Transformers fan. We’re basically the worst.]