My Steaming Pile of Shame*



*Title courtesy of Last Save Loaded/Chris O’Regan

With a recent lock out on my XBOX/Live account meaning I was unable to play any 360 games online, I found myself spending more time back with the PC, and in doing so reviewing my Steam games list. I have a fair few games on there. One hundred and thirty nine to be precise. 139! Now fairs fair, I bought the Pop-Cap collection at one point which had a lot of games in it, and as much as I love the jump in fun of a Pop-Cap game I don’t consider them games that I would sit down and play through from start to finish. But even discounting them I’m still rocking around the 100 games mark. Less than ten of these are games I have actually completed. It’s those damn Steam sales of course that so many of us fall foul off, offers that are just too good to refuse.

“Oh look, I can get Portal 2, wait.. there’s a pack with Portal 2 and every other Valve game, now I’ve got most of them but I don’t have Left 4 Dead 1 & 2, well not on PC, I should get this. I should get this now!”

Foolishly I had about 50% of these games installed, leading to what is commonly known as the Steam ‘What should I play” Impasse. You sit there looking at all these games you could be playing trying to decide which one you are in the mood for, only to eventually close Steam and go look at porn read the internet.

Well I’ve had enough of this. Both never completing anything and having an ever-growing backlog of great games to play on Steam. Thus I took drastic action! I uninstalled all but five unplayed games. These five games must be completed before I allow myself to spend money on another one game/collection. I even turned away from this weeks offer of Oblivion for £3.49!

So which five game are on my initial to play hitlist? Well, these:

  1. Saints Row 2
  2. Tropico 3
  3. GTA IV + Stories
  4. Titan Quest + Expansion
  5. Dirt 2

A hefty selection on their own! Now Tropico and Dirt are games I have ploughed a few hours into already, so shouldn’t

Titan Quest

Image via Wikipedia

take too long to ‘finish’ though Tropico will probably remain installed for years for it contains its wonderful sandbox mode, which kept me playing its first incarnation until 2010! If you are interesting in Tropico, version 4 has recently arrived. Frankly I could ignore Saints Row 2, however I want to have a good understanding of the game for when GameBurst talk about it on their excellent podcast. GTA IV and Titan Quest are both daunting prospects given their associated expansions (DLC for console types) are included, but also are well respected games which I should get a lot out of.

So there you have it. A game plan is in action, now I just need to see if I can actually stick to it!

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A Day in the Asylum

I’m not one for marathoning a game usualy. I’m far more likely to just dip in for one to three hours on a work night, leaving the weekends for some multiplayer fun in Gears or L4D. However this past weekend saw a change to that. With Linda out of the house on Saturday for a chocolate making workshop, the results of which were divine, I loaded up Batman: Arkham Asylum. The Last Save Loaded for this was dated January. January 2010! Had it really been so long? And why had I stopped playing? I recalled really enjoying the game, but I think Linda saw me playing, started her go and for some reason I never jumped back on when she had finished.

So here we where, over eighteen months later and I powered up the XBOX to continue my story. Having been so long I elected to ignore the old save game and start over, probably a wise move as the combat system in Arkham Asylum, whilst wonderfully executed, takes a little while to get into the timing of so those early battles helped rekindle the muscle memory for the combat. Deciding to focus,  as I usually do these days, on just getting through the story I only picked up Riddler trophies I saw out in the open and had to walk past anyway, and so I made quick progress through the gameplay I had already seen. Starting at around 11:00 I was probably past my previous stopping point by 13:00, which was surprising. I can only assume I way taking a lot more time looking for clues and secrets on my first play.

The combat always entertained and the empowered feeling you get from being the Batman is spot on. Always wary of gun fire, but otherwise feeling smarter and quicker than all the enemies thrown at you. Not that I didn’t hit fights were I had to strategise, to out think the AI trying several techniques until I found the one that worked for me. Or occasionally believing I was safe to eliminate an inmate on the stealth sections when I clearly wasn’t, having to take to the rafters and leap about like a crazed fool until I lost them. But you always feel in control, that Batman knows what he is doing and will take them all down. And it’s this that sets this game above others that try the same approach. Batman should feel like this, the confidence to handle whatever is thrown at him, the gadgets coming it at just the right point to help him along ultimately overcoming the challenges to see justice done. The fact that I now wish I knew more about the universe of Batman is testament enough to the power of what has been created.

And so, with only a brief break, when Linda returned, for food and for her to check out Bully which we’ve bought On Demand for the 360 despite only just buying it for PC last week and already owning it on Wii, I finished the game at around 00:40. I’d estimate my total playtime at around 9 hours which for me is a great length of a game story. I spent Sunday picking up all the Riddler clues and Arkham history titbits I hadn’t come across during the story, a set of 3 teeth in the Mansion being the hardest to find so am left with only the challenges to master to get 100% however that might only be a dream. Whilst the combat system is fluid and fun, I am no master at it and probably never will be. Combo fights are not something I’ve ever been good at, one of the reasons that games like Bayonetta have little to no draw for me. But I already feel I’ve had my time with Batman well used. All I can hope now is that Arkham City is at least on a par. That will make me very happy indeed!

Gaming 7 Heaven?

I’ve not been giving my PC gaming much love recently so I thought I should readdress that balance slightly, in words if not in action.
For a while now I’ve beenn dual booting between WinXP and Windows 7 (beta and now Release Client) however as often happens when I dual boot I get bored of the rebooting each time I think of something new to do. To that end I spent some time last night uninstalling eighty percent of what I had installed on my XP boot, be that general software or games, and installed Steam onto Window 7. In the end I only had time to test out the simple joys of some Mount & Blade, but queued up Half Life 2 Ep 2, Day of Defeat and Portal to give things a good trial over the next few days, should I be able to forgo some XBOX gamerscore for some Steam achievements!

Following the recent upgrades I made to my machine I’m hopeful it will cope, especially with my graphic card’s new found life, which I still need to blog and will involve some public humiliation, so that should be fun.

PS I’ve blogged this from the BlackBery so forgive any spelling mistakes, I haven’t worked out how to get the spell checker working when in the wordpress web pages yet, should probably just type it up in the memopad and copy paste the thing thinking about it!

Dropping a Giant Bomb on my Games

For a while now I’ve had my XFire and XBOX Gamer cards up in the top right of the Blog to show off what I’ve been playing recently rather than creating repetitive blogs about that.

Recently Giant Bomb added the ability to track your gamer points, and WoW characters for those still infected, on their site with the added feature of having each achievement graded in rarity based on your fellow gamers on the site. (Being a US site meant any points in a ‘soccer’ game fared well ;) )

Now they allow you to track your Steam achievements the same way, which for myself who likes to buy any PC game I can on steam is very nice indeed. So I have now replaced my two separate tags with a single Giant Bomb based graphic which is both cleaner for the site, and nice an joined up.. or mashed to be all web 2.0 about it.

Nice work guys, keep on innovating!