Has it really been a week since my last post? I can’t remember the last time that happened. It feels wrong. I can’t even give an account of where the time is going. It’s just… holidays and goofing off, you know?
But since we didn’t do a Diecast this week, let’s talk about what I’m playing.
Like Dishonored last year, Remember Me is a game that looks interesting, gorgeous, and different, but ends up falling flat when you sit down to play it. It has a fresh premise. (Dystopian future where people can sell and trade memories.) New setting. (Future Paris, instead of future New York.) Solid protagonist. (A woman, instead of another glowering white dude.) Underused genre. (Cyberpunk. We just don’t get enough cyberpunk for my tastes.) It’s a cake with all the right ingredients that somehow ends up tasting like butts.
The problem here is kinaesthetics. This game just doesn’t feel good to play. It’s a beat-em-up that seems to be aspiring to a kind of Batman Arkham vibe, but it doesn’t work. The protagonist feels loose and floaty, her strikes don’t seem to carry any weight, the combos are complex without being interesting, and even the sounds are kind of flaccid. It’s like watching a movie with terrible wire fu and dodgy fight choreography. It just doesn’t feel like these characters are hitting each other.
If I gave out an award for “Game I really wished I could like”, this would be the 2013 winner.
I think I’m over Starbound at this point. I really regret buying the game as early as I did. There’s not enough content in the game to keep me interested at this point. I feel like I would have enjoyed this more if I had waited a few months. The game is updating every few days, and it’s really shaping up to be something interesting. But it’s not there yet, and I’m not such a huge fan of 2D side-scrolling platforming that I can enjoy the game in this raw state.
After hearing everyone talk about Skyrim: Hearthfire on the Diecast last week, I decided to give it a try. I fired up Skyrim to find that I also got Dawnguard at some point. I dunno. I don’t remember buying it, but there you go.
Dawnguard is terrible. It spawns Vampire attacks in towns. I guess this is to sell the looming threat of vamps, but it just makes the bad guys seem really stupid. Since when do vampires prey on a town via frontal assault? I understand the DLC is probably designed for high-level characters, but the vampires attack even if you’re still in Riverwood at the start of the game and ill-equipped to deal with them.
This foolishness only exacerbates every stupid problem that Skyrim has with regards to NPCs. Why are characters that matter to the player (shopkeepers and trainers) mortal while the obnoxious assholes (quest characters) invincible? Why do unarmed peasant shopkeepers charge into a fight against a VAMPIRE LORD instead of running away and leaving it to the town guards? Why does the ENTIRE TOWN try to murder you if – in the process of frantically trying to save the lives of the suicidal shopkeepers – you accidentally tag an ally with your weapon? Why does everyone feel the need to repeat their combat taunts every five seconds?
The rest of Dawnguard isn’t much to get excited about. It’s typical Bethesda fare: Paper-thin characters, nonsense plot, stale dialog, vague bullshit prophesies as a justification for everything, and a double helping of quest-breaking bugs and glitches.
I suppose the crossbow weapon in Dawnguard is fun to use, but it’s not like there’s a shortage of overpowered user-made weapon mods floating around out there. And while the crossbow is free, nobody sells ammo for it, so I hope you’ve leveled crafting enough to make your own.
EDIT: Apparently someone in Dawnguard sells crossbow bolts and I missed it.
I uninstalled it. No even the voice work of Jennifer Hale could save this mess.
Hearthfire is much better than Dawnguard, and is good enough that it revitalized my interest in Skyrim. It lets you purchase a plot of land and build a house on it. It begins as a simple cottage which you can eventually expand into a sprawling mansion, complete with all the tools and storage you could ever want. User-made mods have been adding stuff like this for ages, so it’s nice to see Bethesda give us an official version.
The house works really well as a long-term project in the game. It also provides a much-needed money sink. I can’t remember that last time I had to worry about cash in a Bethesda game.
It’s still glitchy, and I dislike how flat the lighting is in the houses, but overall it’s a great addition to Skyrim.
So yeah. That’s what I’m doing instead of making content. That, and eating my body weight in sugar. Because that’s always a good idea if you’re 42 years old and don’t get enough exercise.
Hope you have a wonderful holiday.
The Plot-Driven Door
You know how videogames sometimes do that thing where it's preposterously hard to go through a simple door? This one is really bad.
Push the Button!
Scenes from Half-Life 2:Episode 2, showing Gordon Freeman being a jerk.
In Defense of Crunch
Crunch-mode game development isn't good, but sometimes it happens for good reasons.
PC Gaming Golden Age
It's not a legend. It was real. There was a time before DLC. Before DRM. Before crappy ports. It was glorious.
A wild game filled with wild ideas that features fun puzzles and mind-blowing environments. It has a great atmosphere, and one REALLY annoying flaw with its gameplay.