Some quick comments on some recent conquests.
Earth Defense Force : Insect Armageddon (PS3) (Also: Xbox 360, PC)
Sequel to Earth Defense Force 2017 and a much more polished game in all regards. There’s more story – and it’s honestly funny – the graphics are better and the two-player game is made infinitely better by the simple addition of a “revive” mechanic that avoids the issue from the first game where you could get stuck playing through half of a level in split screen mode without your partner.
Sadly it is in all other regards a worse game. There’s only 15 levels, probably because they were putting more effort into each, there’s fewer enemies and the leveling up elements they added mean that you are going to have to grind the earlier levels over and over again so that you can equip powerful enough weapons to finish the game.
I played through it with a good friend and that made all the difference, but I don’t think I’d have gone through this in single player mode. If you DO have a friend who’s up for spending several hours on a couch shooting giant ants, and you don’t have an Xbox 360 to play the older game, give this one a go.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PC) (Also: Xbox 360, PS3)
Prequel to the best game of 2000 and possibly the best game of the 2000s, this had some serious shoes to fill. Except for the terrible, terrible boss fights, it filled them pretty well.
As a prequel to a game which starts with the world in terrible shape, you have to know going in that it’s going to have a pretty downer ending.
It actually gives you your choice of four endings, all of them depressing, but it makes up for that by some of the stuff you do along the way – many of the side quests have you going out of your way just to do the Right Thing which is a pretty powerful incentive to keep playing.
Much like the original game, it gives you a ton of ways to get stuff done – from the stealthy hackery type to the guns-blazing commando. I went a mix of the two and found myself often wondering how things would play out if I’d gone entirely one way or the other. Sadly, it’s a moderately long game by modern FPS standards – I clocked in at around 18 hours – so I don’t think I’ll be going back to check out the alternate paths any time soon.
Bastion (Mac) (Also: PC, Xbox 360, iOS, Linux)
Bastion is the first game in a very long while that I’ve played from start to finish in a single day, and I’m very glad that it was only about a six hour game because I likely would have kept at it to the bitter end and stayed up FAR too late if it was much longer.
It’s one of the more recent darlings of the indie game scene, though the big Warner Brothers Games logo that comes up at the beginning makes me wonder how exactly we’re defining “indie” these days, and it does really live up to the hype.
I won’t get into the details, because I’m already up late enough and it’s a game that doesn’t really need one more guy on the internet gushing about it, but if you like Games With Heart and have any kind of tolerance for action RPGs that are light on the RPG part, it’s a must play.
The only thing I’ll really point out is that it was the first time I’ve tried this “Steam Cloud” thing where your saves are stored on a server somewhere, and it worked better than I had any right to expect.
See, I started playing this on a Windows PC and got a little over an hour in before I realized that it was a Steamplay game and one that would probably be right up in my new i7 Mini’s wheelhouse.
Once I figured that out, I installed it on my Mac, installed the XBox 360 controller drivers on the Mac, started up the game and had my saved game ready to continue – not only had it successfully been uploaded to the “cloud” but it had been downloaded onto a computer running an entirely different OS and loaded properly by the game on the new computer.
So, serious cred to the developers for making cross-platform save compatibility and to Valve for getting the server side of things right.