New Year, New Games (for me anyway)

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a good Crimbo and spent too much of it playing videogames to the annoyance of your nearest and dearest who wanted you to play Trivial Pursuit instead.

Over said period, I done discovered the following games so I’ll give you my early(ish) thoughts on them:

Just Cause 2

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I’ll just stand up here and look all moody like fucking Batman or something until some soldiers show up…

I was really excited about this as it looked like GTA: Made-Up Dictatorship and GTA: San Andreas is one of my favouritist favourite games ever. And… well, it’s mostly good but some bad. The player takes control of a hispanic man working for the US government with a couple of James Bond-ish spy devices (some kind of backpack with an endless supply of parachutes and a funky grappling claw) and as many guns and explosives as he can get his hands on who, after the usual slightly-annoying opening mission, is given a whole country (albeit a small island in the Pacific region) to explore and subvert (although his official mission is finding a rogue US agent or something) by shooting up soldiers and blowing things up. Fighting the dictator and his extensive army is great fun, there are loads of vehicles (cars, aircraft, boats) to steal and comandeer, and the grappling hook (which launches, attaches to something and yanks the player towards it at speed) takes much of the tedium out of, say, climbing mountains. The only problem is that whilst in many ways this feels like the GTA titles it’s all a bit samey. The GTA games are like real worlds in that each location feels unique whereas here all the bases, towns and cities feel generic and the rest is mountains, fields, forests and desert. Still fun, but could have been better.

Left 4 Dead 2

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“Daad, you killed the zombie Flanders!” “He was a zombie?!”

A mate bought me this for Crimbo because he wanted someone to play with online. Unusually, this is pretty-much designed for online multiplayer with no real single-player campaign (you can play it this way but the computer has to stand-in for the other players). This is enjoyably old-fashioned at its heart having precious little story, no in-game cutscenes, and gameplay that feels like Gauntlet with the stylings of a modern FPS. The only thing is it’s quite intense and you feel the need to unwind after playing it; play it for hours at a time and you might start seeing RUNNING ZOMBIES out of the corner of your eye.

Crusader Kings II

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“Soon, I shall be King of a weak and divided medieval Scotland!”

Years and years ago I used to play a DOS game called Medieval Lords: Soldier Kings of Europe. It had very primitive graphics, if there was sound then it was beeper-based, but it was fascinating and absorbing if you’re a massive history nerd like me. It took place in Europe in the Middle Ages and the player would take control of a ruler, anything from the Emperor at Constantinople to the head of a small Barony. After that they would be able to raise armies, build castles, declare war and try to both expand their territory whilst defending what they already controlled from rival rulers and rebellions. Along with this the religious politics of the era played a substantial role with crusades etc. Crusader Kings II has similar gameplay but with far more detail and beautiful, atmoshperic graphics and sound and, interestingly, the dynasty you control (you play the heirs of your character if he dies) can lose control of, say, the Kingdom of Denmark and be left with a small-ish fiefdom from which you can plot to return to the throne using your own small court of henchmen. I’ve barely scratched the surface and I love it, and the alternative history it allows you to spin, already.

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2 Responses to “New Year, New Games (for me anyway)”

  1. StickHead Says:

    I didn’t know you were a history geek! What other games have satisfied your inner Simon Schama? Civ? Age of Empires? Great post, by the way.

    • Matty Says:

      The Civ games are an obvious choice but also Rome: Pathway to Power, Castles, Stronghold, Praetorians, Caesar 3, Medieval Total War and the Steel Panthers strategy games (which now have freeware versions I should really write about some time). I suppose you could sneak stuff like Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins into the metaphorical club as well ;).

      I’d like to give Medieval Total War 2 a bash but I’m not sure if it’s compatible with Windows 7, might try Shogun Total War 2 instead some time since I quite liked what I’ve played of the original.

      It’s a shame so many historical games are strategy war titles when I think there’s so much more stuff that can be done with historic eras. I’d like to see more games along the lines of Assassin’s Creed or the Caesar titles in the sense of videogames that make more use of historic settings than just empires and armies.

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