It’s been a good week for us here, and a good start to the new month. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’ve managed to get an article every day this working week! We’re not planning on keeping up quite that pace, but we certainly want to deliver more content in general, and we hope you enjoy what we produce here.
I have something of an addiction to indie bundle sales, so I forgot I even owned this until a few days ago. It’s Breakout with a few RPG trappings, and since I’ve played dozens of Breakout clones, I figured it would be a quick walk in the park in between meatier adventures. Needless to say, I severely underestimated the challenge waiting for me, and there were a few moments when I almost did regrettable things with my controller. Great game, but be prepared for absolute frustration when you don’t quite manage to save your orb because you greedily rushed for a falling coin.
On Wednesday night, my Twitter feed was filled with indie game developers and writers linking http://candies.aniwey.net/, without any proper explanation. Opening the tab presents you with a steadily climbing number of candies, a save function, and a button labeled “Eat all the candies”. Let it sit for a few moments, and something wonderful will unfold before your eyes.
Geddit? Box art? …I’m sorry.
I can’t tell if it’s masochism or some misguided hope that things will be different THIS time around, but I found myself playing yet another MMO. Do I cut it some slack for having yet another predictable selection of races when it’s licensed off the granddaddy of all RPGs, Dungeons and Dragons? They’ve made movement and combat feel better than your average World of Warcraft pretender, but I found myself wondering why I even bothered after ten minutes of running through a tutorial quest, facing enemies who always allowed me to attack first like true gentlemen. I’m a stubborn lad, so I’ll probably play it for a few more days before calling it quits.
I know Neverwinter is a classic DnD setting, but it still irks me to see this game when that setting will always be Neverwinter Nights to me. NWN was a revolutionary RPG that set new standards for level design, letting you adjust your adventures as people played them, creating new monsters, setting events, in the truest recreation of the Dungeon Master experience a video game has ever managed. What’s more, it had an excellent story, fun gameplay, and interesting characters. Seeing some MMO try to horde in on its reputation rubs me the wrong way, even if they have the licensing right to do so.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Okay, I should start off by saying, I haven’t played Far Cry 3, so I’m sure a lot of what I appreciate about how Blood Dragon plays is actually just left over from Far Cry 3. That said, Blood Dragon has been an absolute blast. It’s true what you’ve heard– the game’s writing is very hit-and-miss. Its attempts at 80s cheese are inconsistent to begin with (though pretty fun when they work), but then it tries to wink and nod at times as well, and those are almost exclusively a miss. But the writing is not why you’re here, even if you think it is.
The visuals. This game has been one for incredible, inventive visual design already, with DmC and BioShock Infinite showing us incredible things we’d never seen before. I don’t think Blood Dragon quite reaches their level, but it’s a much smaller title, and I’ve no doubt that if it was a full budget retail game instead of a six month miracle, it would. The sky is a murky red, the distance obscured by scanlines. The enemies are B-movie fodder in the surest way: their outfits designed to look cheap, like motorcycle helmets with LEDs on them. There are cheap blinking lights and gaudy 80s neon everywhere, and it looks incredible. I could go on and on.
The audio. The soundtrack of the game was created by Power Glove, and it’s an absolutely brilliant nostalgia trip of the best kind. The synth and power guitar echoes the music of action hits like Terminator, Predator, and other seminal 80s classics, and it fits in perfectly with the world without overpowering the action. It jumps into high gear when you get in a fight, and fades to a gentle, pulsing thumb as you wander the island. More than just a compliment, it forms the backbone of the experience, driving you on.
There’s much more to say, but you should have heard more than enough now. For fifteen bucks? Get it, now. P.S.: It actually runs well on PS3, unlike Far Cry 3.
L.A. Noire DLC
I picked up L.A. Noire at launch, and I enjoyed it a great deal– I wasn’t a big fan of how it ended, and I thought the game had significant flaws, but there was, and is, really nothing like it. You can oversimply and call it “Phoenix Wright for PS3,” but it was so much more than that, and definitely one of the most interesting titles of 2011. I bought the Season Pass when I got the game, but never played any of the DLC– by the time it was out, I had moved on. This week, I decided to come back and check it out.
I could believe that these cases were originally intended to be in the game proper: the production values were top notch, on par with anything else in the game, and the stories they told slotted very neatly into the overarching plot of LA Noire. They were not, however, crucial to the conclusion of the game, so I’ve got no problem if they were pulled out. That game wasn’t short on content, and was quite overbudget, so I’m happy to pay a little more to help them pull even.
That said, it’s pretty much what you’d expect. Really good, but it’s more L.A. Noire, with all the pros and cons you’d expect. No changes were made based on post-launch feedback, it’s just more content. For me, that was enough. It was good to come back to the game.