Friday, April 22, 2011
Games: My good friend @AlexRubens (freelance journo and voice from from the Underdeveloped Characters podcast) is hosting a 24-hour game marathon in order to raise funds for charity. He's a good guy, it's a good cause, they've got several big-time sponsors set up and will have a live feed going during the event. If you can spare a few bucks or support them in another way, please do so.
Click on over to their official site HERE and check it out.
Games: I polished off Portal 2’s singleplayer mode earlier today. The campaign started losing its luster for me somewhere in the neighborhood of Chapter 6 or 7, and after that point I found that I needed to break up my play sessions into no more than three or four puzzles at a time to avoid burnout/boredom. Consequently, it took me a lot longer than I had originally anticipated, but it's done now.
I'm considering doing a Second Opinion for GameCritics after I see what @RichardNaik has to say in his Main Review, but in general I'd say it was a pretty good game, not necessarily a great one.
Downsides? The campaign is a little too long for my taste... I think I would have been a little happier if the game had ended a couple of hours sooner than it did. Some of the puzzles are fairly annoying, as well. I don't mind trying to suss things out, but when I'm not clear about what my goal is or when the developers start hiding portal-able areas in hard-to-see places, enjoyment starts getting stripped away.
Upsides? The monologues are great even if having a silent protagonist is not. There are also a handful of really neat, “wow” type moments -- they usually come when the game is off the rails and breaking away from the room-by-room puzzle formula. Also, portals are just fun.
Overall, I would have liked a shorter campaign that was a little more free-form. Having a portal gun is such a powerful, exciting thing, it's a little disappointing that players don't really get to go hog wild with it very often. In fact, that's a problem I think many games suffer from. It's always a shame when a developer comes up with a really neat, interesting mechanic and then proceeds to leash it down and throw a bunch of limits on it.
Another factor to consider is that much of the first Portal's appeal (for me, anyway) was that it was such an unknown quantity and a real surprise. Portal 2 changes up its formula a little bit, but it really doesn't deliver anything that wasn't expected and hews a little too closely to the structure of the first game. I'm glad I played it and I do think it is a very good game in general, but I'm glad it's over and I really don't see myself ever replaying the campaign. The wife and I will probably take a stab at the co-op, though.
Also, one final note: I'm sure a lot of people will see this as pure heresy, but after a few hours of doing puzzles I was starting to crave a little more action. Although I'm not an FPS nut in general, I couldn't help but imagine what combat would be like if the character was equipped with both a portal gun and a more traditional piece of firearms.
I mean, the possibilities are pretty amazing… imagine zipping through a portal across a map to take potshots at an enemy, jumping back through another portal and instantly switching back and forth between being protected behind cover and sniping from a lofty perch point. I'm definitely not saying that the game needs to evolve into just another shootfest, but I definitely feel like there's a lot of potential going untapped.
A few final quick notes here...
>Both the Fancy Pants Adventures and Section 8: Prejudice launched on the various download services this week, but review codes never appeared despite requests. Both of these titles were pretty high up on my to-check-out list, but I will be putting them on the back burner for now. Shame.
I haven't had much time to actually play it, but I did go through the opening segments of the story mode and I was really liking what I was seeing. Essentially, the developers are having the player rotate through each character for a few rounds and tell quite a bit of MK backstory while they're at it. It's a great idea, and one that I would like to see more of.