So Happy To Be Back In The Depressing Metro.

Quite the week of gaming for me. Bits and pieces of lots of games. My family fired up Rock Band 3 which we haven’t played for a while and also played our New Super Mario Bros. U (NSMBU) game. I also played some Minecraft and Rayman: Origins with Xander and I am amazed how good his skills are improving every time we get back to Rayman: Origins.

I think Nintendo’s game is far less multiplayer friendly than Ubi’s. At issue is the inability to walk through the other players in NSMBU. In Rayman: Origins they allow you to simply pass through each other. You can still hit each other and even give players a boost by holding up your hands, but not being able to bump someone off a ledge or jump on them accidently while they too are jumping is a big plus for Rayman: Origins. I can appreciate that maybe some people like the “game” of juggling characters in NSMBU. However, I find that a family game of NSMBU ends up often just being frustrating with all the player collisions in the tight platform sections instead of the more flowing and fun gameplay of multiplayer Rayman: Origins. Lots of NSMBU seems like it would be less frustrating in single player and I think that points to a loss for Nintendo’s appeal with the multiplayer.


I played more Dead Space 3 with my buddy on our game night. Still loving it and I think it makes for a great co-op game. Unfortunately, we ran into a bug that required quitting and restarting and were dropped from the servers again that also required restarting. Restarting in Dead Space 3 is a pain if you didn't hit a save-point. The actual saves are really far apart. It checkpoints fairly often, but these apparently don’t save. You must actually hit a save-point to be assured of restarting there when you quit. Even the “Quit and Save” feature of the game takes you back to the last save-point, though it does retain any changes to your load-out and inventory.

This is simply terrible. Just save at the checkpoint. If I can die and restart at a checkpoint, then why doesn't the game save there? If you want to start at the beginning of the chapter or at the beginning of the current “story section” you have those options, but damn Visceral, if your game is going to be unstable and a little buggy and require at the bloody checkpoints! Redoing tough sections you've already fought tooth and nail through once isn't so much fun the second time.


(thanks to Google image search for The Last Of Us pic)

My wife and I actually had time this week for a couple runs at The Last of Us. It’s good, though, I’m not sure yet what all the fuss was about. I mean, it is fun and does everything pretty well, but it feels a little bit too familiar with the gameplay and overall design. I guess I am in it for the story, which granted has been pretty good so far, but everything from the locations to the gameplay feels a little too much like I’ve been here before. Maybe I saw way too many headlines praising the game that it just couldn’t meet my expectations. Also, not looting bodies really makes me mad in a game that is all about scrounging for supplies; enemies generally don’t even drop stuff at all when you kill them. It is strange and takes away from the realism to fight a bunch of soldiers and come away with zero ammo or weapons.


On the solo gaming side of life, I totally crashed and burned my X-Com: Enemy Unknown game. I wasn’t saving other than when I was quitting and I wasn’t reloading saves at all when I did poorly in missions. This was working out fine until the difficulty ramped up and I lost all my veteran units.

I was on a UFO recovery mission and suddenly was introduced to the Mutons for the first time. Three of them, in really close proximity. They throw grenades too and my approach was not designed for enemies with area effect weaponry. It was at least thankfully quick for all involved. I tried going on with all rookie units, but they all died on the next mission since I had been ignoring many of the upgrades for my troops since things had been fine up to that point. So, having learned a lot about the game, I think I am better to restart than to continue on. Much like Civ, there is a lot to be gained in losing and starting again instead of pressing on with a crippled game.


I’m taking a little break before starting again and I turned to Metro: Last Light which I purchased on the Steam Halloween Sale.

Wow, what a game! I love the original Metro: 2033 and this seems to be on-track to deliver a similar experience.

I really groove with their gameplay, everything really works so well.

Also, it doesn’t hurt that the game is just drop dead gorgeous. I know it isn’t doing nearly the same work, as a engine, compared with something like Far Cry 3, but what it lacks in freedom and scope, it makes up for in sheer detail. The advanced tessellation effects are crazy!


It does however have my most hated of game problems. The devs do not understand the difference between music as a game device and music as a soundtrack. I’ve written about my dislike of soundtracks several times, so I won’t go in to detail again. However, if I turn off your music it is because I don’t want to feel like I am walking around listening to an iPod when I should be listening for any sounds of terrible monsters that might eat me. This does not mean that I want you to mute all the radios, people playing musical instruments, people singing, etc. Those are part of the gameworld, unlike the soundtrack which is just layered on top for the users.

Peeves aside, I’m really hoping to get more time for Metro: Last Light this week. It is wonderfully depressing.


So, what are you playing this weekend?