Friday, January 8, 2016

The Games of Summer: 2016 Edition

You may have noticed that I haven't posted in a while.  It's for the usual reasons related to this time of year: Christmas, school holidays, and the family commitments that stem therefrom.  Still, even though I haven't been writing, I've found a decent amount of time for playing games, and a bunch of new games to play.  I don't have a lot of love for Christmas, but it does have the benefit of providing me with new games in the form of gifts.  Those gifts are mostly for my son, of course, but I plays 'em all the same.

The major addition to our household this year was a WiiU.  I'd been reluctant to fork out for one, because it didn't seem that much better than the Wii.  My son wanted one, though, and once we got it I was pleasantly surprised.  Not by the system's capabilities: it really isn't that much better than the Wii.  I think my favourite thing about it is the controller, which has a touch screen embedded in it, and can be used to play games independent of the TV.  It's pretty great to be able to pick up the controller and play Mario Kart 8 while my wife is watching 'Heartland' or some other such drivel.

We got three games with the system: Mario Kart 8, Splatoon and Skylanders.  To be honest, we haven't even tried Skylanders yet; my son isn't interested in it, and I haven't been moved to try it out either.  Mostly I've been playing Mario Kart 8.  I spent much of my teenage years playing Mario Kart on the SNES obsessively: it's still my favourite multiplayer game of all time.  None of the sequels have ever matched up to the original, and to be honest I don't enjoy this one as much either.  The fault lies more with me than the game itself: I'll be holding the SNES Mario Kart up as the pinnacle of the franchise until the day I die, regardless of any evidence to the contrary.  Mario Kart 8 is reliably fun, even if it's a little too easy at the outset.  It's getting more difficult and more fun as I progress through the different engine classes, so I figure I'll be at it for at least another few weeks.

I haven't played a great deal of Splatoon, but it has the same addictive quality that I find in a lot of mobile phone games: quick games with constant rewards.  It's a third-person shooter from Nintendo, so it's predictably non-violent: the goal is to help your team splatter the environment with more paint than the enemy.  My major gripe about it is that it's trying a little too hard to be cool.  It has a touch of the Poochies about it.  The gameplay is fun though, and it's easy to get sucked into "just one more game".

I also went and bout some X-Box 360 games now that some have been made compatible for X-Box One.  I think I chose a very solid selection: Bioshock, Mass Effect, Fallout 3 and Assassin's Creed 2.  The trouble here is going to be overcoming my natural aversion to playing game out of order.  How can I possibly play Fallout 3 without finishing the first two?  It's a sickness I have.

So far I've only played a bit of Mass Effect and Fallout 3.  Mostly this is due to the absurd times it takes to download the game the first time you load the disc.  Seriously, I have to wait four hours before I can play a game?  What the fuck is even on the disc?  If someone could come out with a current-generation console with no internet connectivity, no need for profiles, and games that load instantly, I'd be on that in a second.

I can't say I'm particularly sold on Mass Effect yet.  The conversations at the beginning weren't all that interesting, and I had a hard time coming to grips with the gameplay.  I've never played a game in which I have to control the camera as well as my character, so for me it was tricky.  I guess from what I'd heard about the series I was expecting more role-playing/adventure elements and less shooting/action.  I'll probably enjoy it more once I've mastered the controls.

Fallout 3 grabbed me straight away, though.  It has a quirky, morbid sense of humour, and I loved playing through character creation.  Come on, it let me play as a baby!  I only made it up to my character's terrible birthday party, but I'll be coming back to this before too long.

That's it for new games (or new-ish games, I should say).  I also played plenty of The Game of Dungeons, which I'll be writing about in my next post, and I've started on Pirate Adventure.  At the very least I'd like the blog to be out of the 1970s by the end of the year.

1 comment:

  1. I've made a couple of tries at Mass Effect, since two of my sons love it, but had the same reaction as you: not enough exploration and role-play, too much running and shooting. I wish games like this had a Difficulty Level Zero, where the combats and not merely very easy, but simply do not happen and can get on with the story.