Trouble Thinking

July 29, 2011

Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines $5 For The Weekend

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Durandal @ 2:40 pm

Vampire Colon The Masquerade Colon Bloodlines Implied Colon is a solidly interesting game. It’s a western RPG more in the tradition of Deus Ex than anything else, focusing on first person interaction with the world around you and a statistical underpinning to your fighty/sneaky/talky abilities. It’s essentially an FPS with the Vampire RPG system rolling in the background.

It’s notable for the amount of care and detail-oriented work done to ensure a mutable play experience. For instance, playing as “the ugly vampires” makes you actually unable to go out in public do to looking like a less composed Nosferatu. You spend a good portion of the game doing quests by plodding through sewer tunnels and popping up only when you’re safely away from prying eyes. It’s also got some great bits where you just kind of commiserate with the monster that’s been hunting the the townsfolk instead of killing it because well you’re also a monster that’s been hunting the townsfolk.

Much like Deus Ex, you could solve problems in a variety of ways depending on personal taste and ability. I tended to talk my way through things because I like to think I’m just such a clever boy. It had some pitfalls, in my experience. It has that old-game thing where every so often a trail will just stop cold and you’ll be left hugging the left wall making your way through the entire fucking hub area trying to figure out which person you need to click on in order to make shit go. It also is, for that matter, kind of an old game. It’s a bit ugly by default. Definitely not worth dropping $20 on, but absolutely worth checking out for the Steam Weekend Deal of $5.

Plus, it has a weirdly amazing community of modders behind it keeping things up-to-date. With the right selection, you can make it play like it came out this year. They’re up to patch 7.5 for goodness sake.

July 27, 2011

Humble Indie Bundle 3! Get It While It’s $Whateveryoufrigginwant

So hey everyone, the newest Humble Indie Bundle is here!

You realize how bone-dumb you are if you haven’t gotten the previous ones, right? I mean look the average price paid is…  $4.73. So, just under 10% of the price that you would pay if you were buying the games individually.

And you know what’s awesome? That’s still a hell of a lot of money for the developers. Because let’s be honest, you were in no way planning on buying any of these games. The Indie Bundle has really been an amazingly positive thing for both the developers involved and the charitable organizations with which they’ve partnered. Hell, Amnesia: The Dark Descent developers Frictional Games have said that the first Indie Bundle essentially saved the studio.

So what do you get this time?

-VVVVVV: A truly spectacular little platformer/puzzler. You don’t jump in this game, you simply switch gravity either Up or Down. It’s a simple, intuitive, fun way to solve puzzles. There’s a lot to explore and the game just recently received a new update!

-And Yet It Moves: Another interesting little platformer/puzzler! It’s as though indie people love this format so much they want to marry it. Anyway, again playing with gravity, only in all 4 directions. Also instead of being about exploration, it’s linear.

-Hammerfight: I have no friggin clue. A fighting game? Okay it looks like yes it’s a fighting game where you fight as a little flying machine that flings around a bladed or blunt weapon to whack other flying machines. It’s played with just the mouse and has a neat little physics simulation thing going on so getting your mallet to whomp with the right force should be interesting. But most importantly the tag line is “Above all, the high art of fight”. God, I love Eastern Europe.

-Cogs: An interesting little twist on the traditional sliding-block puzzle. It starts with the standard 3×3 and moves on to 3D polygons covered in gears and valves and such that you need to reposition to create a mechanism. Seems fun!

-Crayon Physics Deluxe: A game where you create crayon drawings that move. It’s mostly an exercise in going “Ooooh haha check it out the dick I drew is totally pushing that cart”. Fun times.

So that’s that. Contribute to this laudable effort, make developers happy, help fund the EFF and Child’s Play, and make yourself happy with 5 frigging games at once for (you’d better pay at least) like $5. Buy things now!

July 25, 2011

Captain America: More Like Captain Amer I Can… be a good movie.

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , , , , — Durandal @ 12:03 pm

Look I apologize and I’ll understand if you want to leave right now. But before you go: please watch Captain America. It’s really quite a decent flick.

So I guess all the Marvel comics movies can now be separated into “Avengers” and “Not Avengers”. The Avengers movies seem to have been designated the flagship of the Marvel movie universe, with Iron Man as the standard-bearer because well Robert Downy Junior is adorable. Captain America is the first Marvel movie that gives Iron Man a run for his vast fortune. Wheras Thor was a very fun film with a decent backbone and an excellent portrayal of Loki, and X-Men: First Class was an interesting premise with an amazing portrayal of Magneto, Captain America is simply great.

What has cemented Captain America as my favorite of the recent comic book movies is that it’s the only one that uses the by now standard retelling of the origin story for something worthwhile. Here’s Captain America’s origin from the 40’s comics:

That Nazi Saboteur obviously doesnt' really understand experimental procedure. I mean it's not just a series of tests that ends with the last subject but whatever.

Hunh, I hadn’t noticed that gaining intelligence was supposed to be a part of it until just now. Anyways, that characterization you see? That’s about how much everyone got. Dr. Erskine was a name that kind of sounded like Einstein, and Captain America was a prototype superman who immediately leaps into the war to turn the tide. It’s succinct and punchy but you know, not really a “story”. Most superhero origins are similarly constrained, and the question becomes one of working with them in a way that introduces newcomers to the story without boring the piss out of the stalwart fans you’re depending on for your base audience.

“Captain America: The First Avenger” brilliantly expounds on the origin, giving a voice and a reason to Dr. Erskine and allowing him to becoming more of a driving force than his one-note existence in the comics allowed. It also makes Captain America something more than the Charles Atlas boy.  Dr. Erskine is introduced as a German ex-pat, a moral man once forced by the Nazis to put his mind to work for evil. That right there is something: the very first German Steve Rogers meets is from Queens. He couldn’t become Captain America without being a decent enough human being to trust that a person isn’t defined solely by nationality. In addition, Erskine himself has a scene where he’s put in stark relief to Nazi Super Scientists Armin Zola and the Red Skull, who pursue science without consideration for safety or decency due to cowardice and self-absorption respectively.

Through the characterization of Erskine, the origin of Captain America becomes less about having awesome steroids and more about the relationship between power and the people who wield it. I mean Erskine specifically mentions that having seen his work corrupted by the Nazis, he’s looking for a man who is weak enough to know that power has to be used wisely instead of taken for granted.

It’s not exactly the deepest philosophy, but it’s trying. Iron Man, for all that I love it, was almost sometimes about taking power for granted, and then mostly was about how robot suits are fucking awesome (another philosophical point I wholly endorse). More importantly, it managed to do this origin without being bone-crushingly boring for someone who already knew the dance steps.

From Marvel.Com! If you didn't notice.

The second piece of Captain America that really made it click for me was that there was a solid reasoning behind the plotting that just isn’t there in many movies, particularly big superhero action flicks. Captain America moved from setting to setting only when it could explain exactly why it was doing so. Nothing happened simply because the principal characters willed it so. Many superhero movies provide motivation and setting for hero and villain, and then in the space of a week they each Origin Story themselves, and they meet at regular intervals for an entire arc’s worth of nemisising. Captain America only allows the hero and villain to meet when a meeting makes sense within the story context. Settings aren’t simply window dressing for action sequences, they’re stages on a journey from Steve Rogers the wimp to Captain America the savior of the US of A. If you took any sequence out of order, it wouldn’t make sense. I can’t say the same thing for many action films.

Also, for god’s sake, things took time. The one silliest part of Thor was that the entire thing took place over the span of a week. Captain America’s personal revelations take place over the course of a war, and his chaste love interest doesn’t fall head over heels for him in a during the arduous trek from Monday to Wednesday. Although the montage sequences went slightly longer than I might have liked, they at least said in bold letters: TIME PASSED AND THINGS CHANGED AS THEY DO…. rather than relying on our idea that yeah it seems right that Thor should learn humility by the end so I guess he does.

I think what provided this backbone was in large part the wartime setting. This movie felt a bit like the propaganda flicks from the 40’s, where providing an accurate picture of exactly where and when the attack was happening and who was flanking who was all part of the wartime cheerleading.

Anyways, go see this movie. It’s the best of the Marvel stuff, and now my personal favorite of the comic films I’ve seen.

July 20, 2011

Dungeons of Dredmor: A Roguelike For People Who Aren’t Horrible

Filed under: Game News — Tags: , , , , , , — Durandal @ 8:57 am

Dungeons of Dredmor, a new PC game released by the indie studio Gaslamp Games, is a Roguelike.

Okay! So what is a Roguelike? A Roguelike is a sort of game that makes people who can only grow a beard on their neck wax poetically about how gaming has devolved since the 80’s and they remember when things were complex and interesting and not all consolified like absolutely all games are now which is why they suck. More specifically, it’s a form of turn-based adventure/RPG. You walk around a map, you thwack monsters with things, you get items, and you gain power as you go via experience points doled out for a variety of reasons.

More importantly, though: you die. You die so often that it quickly becomes a game not about vanquishing monsters, but about considering exactly how paranoid you should be and whether you can make it to the second floor this time without stepping on a trap (stupid stupid I’ll never make that mistake again) or forgetting that your own flame spells can hurt you (just need to be patient next time) or wandering into a new room that is chock full of monsters with your HP at half and your Mana at bupkis (I can’t keep betting that the next room will be empty!). I have made 12 characters so far. None have lived to see the second level of the dungeon.

A good Roguelike will put you through your paces without mercy, and Dungeons of Dredmor is a good Roguelike. So why is it any better than the next Roguelike, most of which are free?

Well, this is what the extremely popular Nethack looks like:

Oh well that is an interesting series of what I can assume are game... things?

Here is what Dungeons of Dredmor looks like:

I can make out shapes, even things!

It isn’t exactly pretty, but for goodness sake it is at least making a goddamn effort. That says to me that the developer is actually attempting to create an entertaining game to be enjoyed by others rather than shoving more and more statistics into an already bloated pile of ASCII characters.  Dredmor retains the gleefully horrific difficulty and unnecessarily deep skill/crafting/etc systems that endear people to Roguelikes, while being accessible to a wider audience.  If you are at all into adventuring, RPGs, or puzzles, you owe it to yourself to give this a shot.

July 18, 2011

Hard Reset: Lots of Polish

So I love The Witcher 2 so much I can’t actually express it coherently yet. It’s great! Well, a new studio called Flying Wild Hog, staffed by veterans from CD Projekt Red (The Witcher), People Can Fly (Painkiller, Bulletstorm) and City Interactive (Sniper: Ghost Warrior) is creating a pretty bog-standard but fun looking near-future shooty game called Hard Reset.

Thus far we know little except that it is, to quote PC Gamer:

“Blade Runner, The Matrix, and Painkiller rolled into a single-player-only flour tortilla.”

Also I guess it takes place in the near future after a robot takeover of the city/planet? I’m pretty hopeful about it actually. Eastern European stuff with a budget has actually been pretty great in a lot of instances. If this is anything like say, Metro 2033, it will be well worth a look. In the meantime, look at these screenshots!

Man, what a jerk-bot!

Glowing = Deadly.

Don't worry, the columns aren't load-bearing!

July 10, 2011

Last Day of Steam Summer Sale!

The end is here, finally. Tomorrow the sale is over, so I’d be sure to check the featured things to see if your favorite game has been put back up!

Good news today! All of these are pretty good! Basically anything on the front page is a good buy. I’d recommend “Sanctum” and “Just Cause 2” as your cheap buys.

I’d also recommend taking a second to check out other games that may be on deep discount that haven’t been summer sales. You can search for “All games under $5” on the store page, and you’ll find a lot of good 75% off deals.

Happy Hunting!

July 9, 2011

Steam Summer Sale aaaaagh just end oh fine here

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Durandal @ 5:06 pm

Here! Here are the games you want to know about. Should you buy them? Patience, patience. Okay here.

BUY THESE ONES BECAUSE THEY ARE GOOD

-Portal 2: a bit bloated compared to the first, but completely worth it. Particularly co-op.

-Hitman Blood Money: universally praised stealth killing game, looks decent for its age.

-Terraia: weird proto-minecraft swiftly developing a unique identity.

-Sam and Max: funny old school adventure, if you’re into that.

-Prince of Persia Sands of Time: super fun game, only one in the series that is absolutely necessary. God time unwinding should be added to every game.

BUY THESE IF YOU ARE INTO THIS SORT OF THING

-F1 2010: Racing but you know the boring normal sort.
-X3: unapproachable space trading sim. Terran Conflict is the only needed version.

– Dead Space: I think they are dumb, but people like them and it isn’t an awful price.

-Supreme Commander 2: great price, fine game, you will play Starcraft 2 instead forever.

-Post Apocalyptic Mayhem: eeeeh.

THESE GAMES WILL DISFIGURE YOUR GENITALS

-Neverwinter Nights 2: I purchased this on release. It is a bad RPG with bad characters and bad mechanics.

-Duke Nukem Forever: hahahahahahahaha fucking just no, god some people are going to buy this why

July 8, 2011

Steam Sale Day 8: I Found a New Title!

Filed under: Game News — Tags: , , , — Durandal @ 1:43 pm

You know the drill by now, don’t you?

Good

-Mass Effect 2: Incredibly, really good. Well done, interesting to play, better than the first. Decent writing, too. Better if you’re a Jerk Shepard, though. Cheap as hell now, so if you’ve not picked it up, do!

-Fallout 3 GOTY: Honestly, I’m thinking of getting this and I own the 360 version. I just never got any of the DLC and $10 for the lot actually seems like a decent price. If you’ve never played Fallout 3, then this is a definite buy.

-Amnesia: Yeah, grab it. For a fiver it’s totally worth giving a go, it’s an interesting approach to horror in a game environment and it’s pretty fun with the lights off/headphones on etc.

Maybe, Baby

-Empire + Napoleon Total War: These look like my sort of thing, but they always come with this nagging feeling of not mattering. Like the systems underpinning everything are just broken enough that there’s no point actually giving it a good go because screw it it’s all random.

-Splinter Cell Conviction: Does a lot that’s been done better in other games, but it’s kind of fun too.

-Mafia 2: Lots of people say it’s great and anyone complaining of major flaws is being a ninny. I think they’re lying, but you may be more credulous.

-Worms Reloaded: Worms was always a pretty fun game. Maybe this is something you could pick up? Certainly not for more than $5, so now’s the time to do it.

-Dirt 3: I have no idea, whatever. Racing games, am I right ladies?

-Divinity 2: Some people recommend it, but again I bought The Witcher 2 so what do I care?

-Red Faction Armageddon: I guess the nice bit is the magnet gun being a laugh, the bad bit is that it’s a corridor shooter again. If you want a corridor shooter with inventive weapons, you could do worse.

NO

-Last Remnant: Holy shit, it’s like Final Fantasy with fetal alcohol syndrome. There are some beautifully done prose stories in it, but I’d rather pay $10 to have those sans game.

Universe Sandbox

-Universe Sandbox: You know if you want this.

July 7, 2011

Steam Summer Sale: I’ve Run Out Of Titles

Hmph, today is less interesting but I still

Know what you need:

-Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light: It’s not really a Tomb Raider game, but it’s probably the most fun I’ve had in a twin-stick shooter, and it’s a great quick paced puzzle game. It’s incredibly well put together. I would say that for $3.74 it is absolutely more than worth it for single-player alone. Co-op is also super fun, but the levels change in order to accommodate either type of play.

-Audiosurf: Unique game that uses your music to populate the playing area, totally worth the money at this price if only for novelty value. Wonderful way to explore your music collection

Know that I don’t even know about these

-Rift: It’s an MMO, I just dont’ care.

-Risen: I have no idea whether it’s good or bad. Is $10 cheap enough for you? I got The Witcher 2 early in the sale, so I’m set for RPGs right now.

-Cities XL: So… Sim City? I guess? I don’t know, looks kind of bland.

-Sanctum: Mixed reviews, but could be fun and is also super cheap.

-Company of Heroes: I liked it a lot years ago, and for $2.50 it’s probably still the best looking RTS out there, but the DRM has gone from annoying to Super Annoying recently.

Know that these things are pretty crappy

-Quake: Yes, yeah. You could buy this ancient FPS if you are some kind of time traveller. Or we could just acknowledge that everyone has already played it and memories don’t cost money.

-Command and Conquer 4: I grew up on Command and Conquer, back when it wasn’t the worst RTS available for purchase.

-Counter Strike: Source: Haha you can’t fool me. There isn’t anyone who wants this who doesn’t already own it.

-Dead Rising 2: It’s not that it isn’t good, it’s just only 50% off. Come on, Capcom

-Street Fighter IV: Also only 50% off, only it’s been rendered obsolete by a new version and the PC community is vanishingly small. You need to be on an actual Street Fighter IV that is keeping you alive for this to be worth it.

July 6, 2011

Steam! Steam Steam Steam! Sale Sale Sale!

Another day, another

Group of things you need to purchase

King’s Bounty pack: For $5 you’ll get truly a larger portion of game than any human actually needs. It does get a bit samey, and I recommend taking breaks (and not doing it on the highest difficulty level) in order to maintain interest. But you really will not find a more fun little strategy RPG/Puzzler that provides you with this level and scope of entertainment

-Far Cry Franchise: I’ve had about a dozen hours of honest to goodness fun with Far Cry 1, and Far Cry 1 and 2 being only $7.50, I can heartily recommend you buy both.

-Batman: Arkham Asylum: Why do you not already have this?

-Atom Zombie Smasher: Tough little puzzle game, not for everyone. Try the demo, I think it’s more than worth $3. It may even be worth $5.

-Left 4 Dead 1/2: Seriously though, why do you not already have this?

-Jamestown: I am honestly willing to recommend this if only for the line “set on 17th-century British Colonial Mars”, plus it has 4-player local co-op. It’s a vertically scrolling shooter and it looks pretty and has been well reviewed. I think it’s something you should watch the movie for and then buy.

Group of things you can purchase if you insist but I’ll have no part of it:

-Killing Floor: It’s not that it’s a bad multiplayer experience, I just haven’t found anyone who’s willing to play it over Left 4 Dead.

-Prototype: I had a lot of fun with it, but I honestly can’t recommend a thing you could probably find it for 360 at like $2.

-Grand Theft Auto IV + Episodes: I’m not saying it’s not a good price, I’m just saying stick this $10 into a box labelled “Saint’s Row: The Third” and have a hell of a lot more fun.

-Lost Planet 2: Seems like it could be fun with friends, but let’s be honest: none of your friends own this, do they?

Group of things you must not buy:

-Arcania: Gothic 4: I just… I played the demo and it was the most boring thing. Maybe it gets better later, but do you have that kind of time?

-The Sims 3: Some people love this game, these people are people who love the wrong game. The Sims is not a thing you should spend lots of time playing.

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