Monday, January 7, 2008

What's so Half about it?  

So after stirring up a shitestorm on the boards over at Gamecritics, I've been continuing to digest the contents of the first item on Orange Box's menu, Half-Life 2. It's influential and creative, but it's also flawed and troubling at times.  The worst thing about it so far? 

It's too damn long. 

Anybody that knows me or reads me knows that I'm all about short games, but I'm also about games that end when ending is prudent; games that sense when they are wearing out their welcome and inherently know that more does not equal better.

Always leave 'em wanting more... this is a true phrase to live by, fo'real, yo.

For every few moments of completely inspired design or unexpected direction, Valve packs in at least fifteen or twenty minutes of repetitive action that does nothing but constantly remind me that the game I'm playing is too long. 

A brilliant flash... followed by miles of generic hallway. 

A genius segment... whose impact is dulled by another 300 headcrabs to shoot.

I've activated my stamina meter to power through to the end of the game, but I sure hope Episode 2 is as good as everyone says it is.  I'm going to need a little pick-me-up after this.

In other game news, the wife and I finally got in our first "real" game of HeroScape today. We had futzed around with it earlier using the basic rules, but neither of us really knew what we were doing and the basic rules are too... well, basic.

I spent some time reading the rulebook and going over it in detail, and when I felt like I had grokked enough of what was going on, we went for it.  After playing two sessions, I can say that her purchase of a starter box (Swarm of the Marro) was money well-spent. 

I've never been much into tabletop miniature games except for a brief stint with BattleTech a lifetime ago, but 'Scaping is great. It's easy to set up, the figures are already painted (and really well-detailed), it plays quickly, there's a good bit of strategy involved, and it's a hell of a lot cheaper than sinking a fortune into Warhammer or 40K stuff. 

For another $12, I got the Marvel Comics expansion and now I can add Spider-Man or the Hulk (among others) alongside my skeletal warriors, rampaging clansmen, or sniper robots. At this point in my post, I observe that I am rapidly descending into indefensible geekery, but I'm entitled to a nerdy fanboy moment every now and then. Anyway, it's a really fun game.

...I'm gonna go lift weights or watch sports or something now.   ; )  

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