Saturday, October 29, 2011

Frozen Synapse

Finally got around to playing some Frozen Synapse, which I picked up from the Humble Bundle a few weeks ago. It feels a little intimidating at first, but once I played a couple of single player missions I started to get the mechanics down, which is when it became really enjoyable. It's a top down, turn based game in which you control a squad of soldiers. During your turn, you issue them orders, set waypoints, establish directions of fire, and so on. It's not unlike the original Rainbow Six games for the PC, where you plot out tactical movements on a map before the action starts, except in Synapse you can't actually manually control any of your agents. When you're done plotting out your movements, you finalize them by clicking a button and then all hell breaks loose. Enemy units and your units undertake their orders at the same time in each turn (which in real-time lasts about 30 seconds), so its easy for your well laid plans to go to hell quickly. Your shotgun man might turn a corner and take a bullet to the head because you didn't programmed him to aim in the wrong direction.

There seems to be a pretty robust multi-player component as well; there are a whole bunch of different gametypes. In the hour or so that I played today, I was challenged to two matches by two different people, and since the game is turn based, players don't have to be logged in at the same time. You can just set your moves, and return later to see the results.

It's a pretty fun game, and well worth the cost (you can get it for less than $5 with the HumbleBundle), especially if you have some friends you can play with. One feature that I really enjoy is the ability to record your missions and upload them to YouTube. In honor of this clever feature, here's a video of me getting most of my team (shown here in Green) slaughtered, and then pulling out a victory (against the computer, mind you) in the end.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Left 2 Rage

Let me get this straight, I love Left 4 Dead 2. It probably has the most compelling cooperative multiplayer on the market and its gameplay chock-full of tension, panic, and adrenaline keeps me coming back to play.

Most gamers, even if they don't own them, probably have played a campaign or two locally with a friend. While Campaign mode is certainly fun, they're missing out on the entire competitive multiplayer experience, VERSUS.

In Versus, you can be a zombie. Versus is fun. Versus doesn't take 2 hours to complete a map. Versus is completely filled with spineless rage-quitting chumps.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Eye of the Beholder 2 and Old School Dungeon Crawlers

I was a big fan of Eye of the Beholder 2 back in the day. I spent a lot of time skulking around in the sewers of Waterdeep, and falling victim to all sorts of traps and monsters. It was fun. I miss those old, first person style dungeon crawlers; the last one I remember playing was Wizardry 8, and that was at least seven or eight years ago. Anyway, looks like some developers share my nostalgia for games like this, because they're making a throw-back RPG called Legends of Grimrock. It looks pretty cool, and might be out (I hope) by the end of the year.

Here's some gameplay footage.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

More Space Pirates and Zombies

Still playing a lot of SPAZ. I must have destroyed dozens of galactic fleets at this point. I think I'm pretty close to the end, but I did want to mention a fun gameplay twist that the developers threw in. In the last quarter or so of the game, your interaction with the starmap changes. Rather than just using it to explore and travel around, you're suddenly forced to think about the map in a more strategic, offensive/defensive way. I won't get any further into it to avoid spoiling anything, but it's a nice, subtle change in the gameplay that helps keep things fresh.

The developer is MinMax Games. I'd be interested in seeing what their next project might be.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Alpha Protocol is Really Fun

I know it got slammed by a lot of the popular online review sites (given how vastly inflated game reviews are, a Metacritic average of 72 is apparently a disaster) but I've been playing Alpha Protocol lately and really, really enjoying it. I'm only three hours in, so it's still early, but for some reason I find it very fun and entertaining. Yes, the AI is bad sometimes, the animations aren't great and the game in general is kind of janky and rough around the edges. But the conversation system is brilliant (adding a time limit for your responses is a great idea; Bioware take note), the voice acting is generally pretty good, and I just love the idea of a spy role-playing game taking place in the modern world of regional conflicts and covert operations. This game has set my heart pounding a bunch of times, and I can't really remember the last time a game did that. I'll have some more thoughts as I get further along.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Humble Bundle: Frozen Synapse

The Humble Bundle is a pretty cool idea. Pay what you want and get a cool indie game; if you pay more than the average, you get a few more games. Oh, and you get to decide how much of your cash goes to the developers and how much goes to charity. Anyway, I just got the most recent bundle, and it comes with:
  • Frozen Synapse
  • Trauma
  • SpaceChem
  • Trine
  • Shadowgrounds: Survivor
  • Shadowgrounds
  • Jack Claw
  • Splot
I've heard a lot about Frozen Synapse and Trine, but not so much about the other ones. I am looking forward to Synapse, though. Thoughts to come. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Space Pirates and Zombies

There seem to be a lot of good indie games out there lately, and Space Pirates and Zombies is one that I've been playing quite a bit. It's a top down, 2D space shooter and brings up, for me at least, very warm memories of my beloved Star Control series. It's pretty fun; you have a big mothership that you can use to build your fleet. There are five sizes of ships, from tiny to enormous, and each size has a bunch of different blueprints that you can customize with different weapons and various defense and support systems. You can have three ships active at any given time. At the beginning of the game, you determine the size of the galaxy that you're going to be exploring; if I remember correctly, you can have between 100-300 star systems. Each system has a bunch of different side missions you can do; they're usually pretty generic, but most of them involve you blowing up other space ships, and honestly, that never gets boring. The plot is solid enough, with a few laughs thrown in here and there. I'm about 30 hours in, and haven't finished it just yet, but I'm getting a feeling that I might be close. You can get it on Steam, and it's definitely worth $15, especially if you were a Star Con nut back in the day.

Now, here's a picture of me blowing up some spaceships: