Dear Diary by Iza87

Diary: August Arcadia


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.]



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12 responses to “Diary: August Arcadia”

  1. Beechbone Avatar

    It’s so good to see somebody getting excited about video games. I guess this is why I keep reading these diaries. For some time now, I’ve been getting an impression that less and less people around me take joy in playing games or talking about them. I feel as if everybody was growing up and losing interest and I would remain a kid constantly craving for more.

    Basically, throughout August I’ve been playing video games, watching a ton of wrestling and secretly trying to figure out how to make stuff in GameMaker. I found out that Life is Strange does not cease to impress with the latest episode. I’ve played through the Gears of War remaster couple of times, and can only say that it’s Gears as I remember it, just looks better, and I have zero problems with that. Started my fourth playthrough of Dishonored, thanks to the Xbox One port, which is probably something I shouldn’t have bought, but couldn’t resist to go through its awesome achievements list all over again. I played through Dead Rising for the first time. Reached half-point of Dead Rising 2 but given up on that game. I don’t know, maybe it was too similar to the first one, and still needlessly frustrating at times. Then, I moved on to Dead Rising 3 and holy fuck, this game is so great. I bet Dead Rising purists would say it’s too easy, but I don’t care. I’m having a blast.

    As for the Jurassic thing, I’ve always been interested in these Lego games but just enough to play any of them for maybe less than a couple of hours, or I ended up settling for a demo version of each. The new Jurassic game though, didn’t even bother checking out anything about it. I’m sure it’s fun and cute, and I really hold Lego dearly in my heart, but the Jurassic IP is somehow a deterrent for me. Only the first movie is watchable, and even that is spoiled by Spielberg’s signature style, which I hate. Anyway, the one Lego game I enjoyed the most (and longest) was The Lego Movie Videogame. Firstly, it’s based on the oh-so-surprisingly good movie and adapts it in a fun way for gameplay purposes. Secondly, it’s entirely made of virtual Lego pieces, unlike rest of the series, which uses “natural” landscapes with Lego elements. Even effects like fire, water, smoke etc. are made out of Lego. It looks so much better and feels almost like being taken into a living Lego set.

    1. badgercommander Avatar

      As the resident Dead Rising Expert the sorting order for DR games goes:

      Dead Rising
      Dead Rising 2: Case Zero
      Dead Rising 3
      Dead Rising 2: Off the Record
      Dead Rising 2
      Dead Rising 2: Case West

      3 is good because it was the first time that Capcom Vancouver sorted out their shit and ditched the original Dead Rising trappings and made their own game. For that I totally respect them and think it is pretty rad as its own game.

      Dead Rising is still the best though and Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is a good spin off as the tongue is firmly in cheek for the entire playthrough.

      1. Beechbone Avatar

        Yeah, don’t get me wrong, I was quite impressed with the original Dead Rising but my perception of the first two games is filtered by the perspective of playing them in 2015. The mechanics are surprisingly deep and the structure enforces a good pacing for a horror game. I also loved all the references to Dawn of the Dead and pretty much every other zombie movie/game out there, but it’s a bit overshadowed by crap controls, cheap boss fights, terrible AI and well, sometimes I just wanted to enjoy the exploration and carnage and couldn’t because of the clock. DR3 redeems all that, ditches frequent loading screens, puts strong emphasis on combo weapons/vehicles and just let’s you have fun. DR2 felt more fleshed out in terms of technology but also somewhat lifeless. It’s a strange case of being the worse game by being seemingly improved in most aspects. I have not played any of the spin offs.

    2. Walker Avatar

      Life is Strange is quite lovely. I’m sure I might have played some in August, though I rushed through Ep 4 right when it was published in late July. Well, for the first time. (Three save slots? What even is that? You bill this as a choice and consequence game and then obstruct exploring them.)

      Also, Life is Strange is on sale on Steam right now. If you don’t have it, and you like adventure games and/or games with meaningful choices, now is an excellent time to get it. It’s brilliant.

      If you missed the sale, now is a great time to get it, anyway. It’s not that expensive, and it’s definitely worth it.

  2. Shaun Avatar

    I don’t think you’re alone in feeling that way, Beechbone. There’s definitely much “growing up” going on in many people around me, although I’m dubious as to the merits of a much of what it seems to involve. The most valid thing is the increasing number of people having children which, no offence to kids or parents intended, is not something I plan to do.

    How are you finding GameMaker? I’ve dabbled in it briefly in the past, though not recently. Many people seem to be pretty pleased with Tom Francis’ tutorial series, so I’m almost tempted to revisit it just for that, although realistically I should stick with Unreal and Unity (one for personal projects, one for work) rather than split my attention still further!

    AJ has already covered Dead Rising, but I love DR too so have to pitch in anyway. Incidentally, I agree with his list, even if I’ve only played DR and DR2. ;)

    Dead Rising 2 I found far easier than its predecessor, which was, I guess, better for a bit of relaxed fun, but produced a less memorable gaming experience than DR’s impossible demands and high-stress moment to moment play (in terms of escorting and boss fights, largely). I’ve not yet played DR3 as I have neither an Xbone nor a desire to pay a lot of money for it, but it’s on my list of stuff to play later.

    I completely see where you’re coming from about the Jurassic series of films, though you are of course entirely wrong. ;)

    I’m not a fan of Spielbergian schmaltz either, but I found JP light on sentiment by comparison with a lot of his work. It’s also the first scary film I saw in the cinema as a kid, so between that and my love of dinosaurs it’s stuck with me. The Lost World is merely tolerable, mostly, and the third film has an extremely short list of positive features, but I did thoroughly enjoy Jurassic World. To be honest, though, it’s the presence of dinosaurs, my love of creature features and my fear of giant man-eaters, alongside that note of childhood nostalgia, that binds me to the series.

    All that aside, what you’re saying about the Lego Movie game does sound pretty cool. The clash between ‘natural’ environments and Lego is definitely strange, but Tt do a pretty good job of bringing it all together.

    1. Shaun Avatar

      Oh god, I can’t even click the Reply button correctly on my own bloody website.

    2. Beechbone Avatar

      It’s funny that you mention Tom Francis, because his tutorials are exactly what convinced me to dive into it. I previously tried similar software, mostly Stencyl, but ended up being lost or frustrated. With GameMaker I finally feel like I’m making progress. It’s sometimes hard to wrap my head around some stuff but that’s just me being resistant to all things programming. All in all, it’s a good tool and GML is not as obscure as some more advanced languages, and since it’s so popular, it’s easier to get help with it. And yeah, you should probably stick with what you do currently. Being persistent and committed to one thing at a time is one of the hardest issues to overcome for me. I know that if I start something else, everything is going to collapse.

      1. Shaun Avatar

        One thing I really like about GameMaker is the way its logic snaps together in blocks. It’s slow going to find the bits you want and put them together, but in terms of introducing and cementing the logic of programming for non-programmers it’s really great. Unreal has something a little similar in its Blueprint/Event Graph system, but it’s… well, it’s a lot less intuitive and friendly to non-programmers (hi!).

        1. Beechbone Avatar

          FYI, if you would eventually like to fiddle with GameMaker, there’s a pretty sweet deal going on right now for the Pro version. It’s a part of weekly Humble Bundle, and you can get it as low as $6. I don’t want to sound like advertising anything here but it’s not often that GM goes for so low.

          1. Shaun Avatar

            I’m pretty tempted by this bundle if only because it includes the source code for various games. I’d be very keen to poke around the innards of Death Ray Manta, for example.

  3. Walker Avatar

    I spent the last third of August playing Shadowrun: Hong Kong. It’s very much more of the same as Dragonfall (being just about identical structurally), but if you like that sort of thing, it’s the sort of thing you’ll like. I do.

  4. […] however, the closer I came to getting on board with the heart of the criticism I mentioned last month: that the city does not alter in response to your actions, and the impression you leave upon it […]