Thief is coming out this week, arguably the biggest release so far this year. I know Preezie and Albert are excited – I’m going to skip it in favour of South Park: The Stick of Truth next week. 

That leaves the backlog for me this week! I’ll be travelling, so I’m placing some old/low requirement games on my laptop. So far, I’ve got Bully, Starbound, Gridiron Solitaire, Atom Zombie Smasher and and Indie Game: The Movie loaded up. What are you playing?

Friday, 11:37 am – Gavin

I’ve shot past the halfway point in the Splinter Cell: Blacklist campaign, and I’m still having a blast with it.  I do, however, notice that it’s quite easy on the easy difficulty level.  The biggest manifestation of this is unlimited pistol ammo.  I guess it never really hit me because I was so rarely using a gun, but I got to one level with a lot of lights (the arms dealer’s villa) and I just found it too easy to shoot out all of the lights, create distractions, and knock out the guards that come to investigate.  Also, if I’m discovered, I can take a lot of shots before I go down.  I’ll have to see if I can adjust difficulty on the fly.  Still praising enemy AI though – bad guys come looking for their buddies if they don’t see them, and if you attempt to distract a guard while he’s already on heightened awareness, he goes nuts looking for you.  Once a guard has seen you, unless you have your gun aimed on him, you’ll probably lose that firefight.

I’m also noticing the linearity of the levels.  This is often a common issue with Splinter Cell games, but I’m really noticing it here – lots of corridors and tight rooms.  Meanwhile, Double Agent was a lot better at wide open environments that made stealth quite engaging.  The cruise ship level in Double Agent is my thought here, or the bath house from Chaos Theory.

It’s still an engaging game.  I never expected it to be as good as Chaos Theory, so I’m fine with this.  I’m not bored with it yet and I look forward to going home tonight to play some before my wife comes home.

I’ve also been dumping a ton of time into the player-created VVVVVV levels.  I’m generally of the opinion that most player-created stuff is crap because it’s one person without a QA team, but the concept behind VVVVVV is so simple that it’s difficult to screw up.  So, lots of the levels are simple, intuitive, and fun.  That said, some people absolutely do screw up.  There are a lot of cheap deaths and “you have to do this absolutely perfectly or you have to go back seven screens” sections.  It’s frustrating and not in line with how the original game flowed.  You don’t need checkpoints at every screen, but with some of these, you do need them more frequently.

That said, one of the better ones that I played was a level with absolutely zero checkpoints.  The challenges were significantly easier than in VVVVVVanilla (har, I’m so witty), or the other player-created levels, but you had to be so cautious because otherwise you’d be sent back to the beginning.  It was frustrating but so worth it once I got through it.  I’ve now put in just over 11 hours into this, courtesy of my subway ride each day.  I’ve now beaten all of them, so I’ll be going back to Mario Kart 7 for the ride home today.

Friday, 10:10 am – Ricky

Alright folks, pack your things: We’re going to Japan.

Thursday, 9:49 am – Ricky

Once again, peace and quiet on the Gamentary homefront…

I’m back from my travels and got to spend maybe 6-7 very, VERY addicting hours with Starbound. For those that don’t remember, Starbound is currently in Early Access on Steam for about $15. It’s been described as Terraria in space – if you know what Terraria is, that probably means something to you, but if you don’t, you should probably just watch this:

Done? Good. So, I first played this game multiplayer with Albert and another buddy, and we had a blast. This past week, however, I’ve been going at it single player. I’ve been mining, building, discovering, and dying.

Example: I was traversing the surface of my “home planet”, rather than digging subterranean tunnels, and I happened across a large anchor. Like, a boat anchor. With a chain attached, reaching up into the sky. So, like any logical person, I began to build stairs (think South Park). I built and built and built, until finally… I found a floating airship. And it was awesome. Pirates were milling about on board with TONS of high-level guns and weapons, and they sold me my first gun! I immediately started shooting at some airborne enemies floating around, and after taking a few down, I misfired and hit a pirate. From that point forth, I was no longer welcome on board, and I promptly died.

Dying carries a small monetary penalty (well, maybe large – you lose 20% of your cash holdings), but it does beam you back to your ship, which is orbiting the planet, refills your health and “feeds” you (you must eat occasionally). So, I never really felt over penalized, but I’m starting to retreat more often when I feel like I’m getting run over by an enemy. I’m nearly ready to take on the first boss, which should open up the “universe” for me, allowing me to travel to other stars and planets.

It’s a massive game, and I can see how people can get lost in these build & explore-type games. I’m not sure I’ll keep playing now that I’m home – I’m still finishing up The Last of Us and just started Deus Ex: Human Revolution – but I’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on Starbound’s development, and will happily jump in for some co-op on night’s where friends are online.

Monday, 10:25 am – Ricky

Hit and run post! Heading to the plane!

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