Games!? GAMES!? A crew member is getting married – focus on what’s important in your life!

Oh, and Halo or something comes out this week. There’s that I guess.

Have fun this week kids!

Tuesday, 8:43 am – Gavin

Best wishes to Preezie and his lovely fiancée/soon-to-be-wife!

Halo V came out this week to good, but still slightly disappointing reviews this week, amid complaints about the quality of the story.  Halo is a series that has never really appealed to me – you know how I feel about competitive shooters, and the story is one that didn’t really reach out to me.  I’m sure it’s significantly deeper than I know, but I do not have any burning pull to get to it.  I’ve tried Halo 1, Halo 3, and ODST – mechanically, I’m sure it’s sound, but it just fell flat for me.

My wife’s absence around the house this weekend led me to finish up a couple of games and get closer on one more.  I finished up Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, which I have routinely raved about as being one of my favourite games of all time.  It’s definitely from an earlier generation of gaming – the ending sequence to the game is over in less than a minute and feels very pithy, like an unironic throwback to a bad 1980s action movie where the credits start to roll less than a minute after the final Big Bad is defeated.

Disappointing ending and cutscenes aside, Chaos Theory has some of the most enduring gameplay I’ve come across in gaming.  I have very few complaints about the game as a whole – the physics work, the AI is competent, and it really doesn’t feel anachronistic or dated at all.  The technology is ambiguous enough that it could still be valid today.  There’s one mission I abjectly don’t like – the end of the Bathhouse, the penultimate mission.  You get caught in the middle of a shootout between two warring sides, and everything goes to hell.  It’s a good take on the stealth gameplay, but it’s such a significant difficulty spike that it’s very frustrating.  The final mission is significantly easier than this one, which always rang a bit hollow.  It’s a touch anticlimactic.

Over the past week, I started and finished Steamworld Dig on the 3DS (also available on PC).  I picked it up as part of the Nintendo Indie Humble Bundle, and I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised.  It’s a fairly short game – I finished it in just shy of six hours.  It’s something of a Metroid-like in that you explore an area and unlock new skills that help you explore additional areas.  You play as Rusty, a robot miner who must dig down below his town to discover the world and the enemies beneath it.  In each playthrough, the mining area beneath the town is randomized.  I had zero expectations for this game because I knew literally nothing about it except that I owned it, and I was very happy to experience it.  I probably don’t need a sequel though.

The game allows you to dig in all four directions, but you cannot jump and dig at the same time, so you’ll only ever be able to “dig up, stupid” one tile at a time.  This creates significant navigation difficulties, but since the game allows you to buy resources to move up one tile (ladders are purchased for a pittance), it’s obviously a deliberate design decision.  I found that approaching the game in that manner was a bit slow-moving for my tastes, so eventually, I determined my strategy such that that would not be an issue.  The various tools and implements at your disposal help you work around this as well.

There are a lot of competing systems and metrics at play in this game, and it creates a game of significant depth (sorry, bad mining pun).  I’m happy that it didn’t go on longer than six hours because it could easily outstay its welcome, but all in all, it was a worthwhile experience.

Monday, 6:34 pm – Ricky

Yeah, busy day. Video games are on the horizon though! Right as soon as I finish this project and help my buddy get married. So, next month.