Unbraided Week 10

Week 10

Games Played: Mass Effect 3, Choice of the Vampire, Braid, Sanctum, Misc. games

Other Business: Still posting on both pages, I like some of the features that WordPress has over Giantbomb’s system but not by much and I think its just laziness mostly.

Mass Effect 3
I have been trying to play more of the singleplayer campaign lately and as a result I haven’t really touched multiplayer all that much since the weekend. I did make enough credits this past weekend to buy the special expensive as hell pack and that unlocked a new race, that I have not played yet. I am looking forward to checking out The Batarian Sentinel. I do briefly want to mention that I did get a chance to play the multiplayer with some friends, not this week but the one before it. Its definitely more fun, but jumping in with strangers and just sticking close isn’t that bad in comparison. Anyways, back to the campaign: I have started meeting old characters! I guess there was the meeting with Liara on Mars, but that didn’t feel quite as special as bumping into Garrus and Jack. Garrus is a fucking badass now. He was kind of complainy and annoying in the first game and got pretty sweet in the second one (although, his armor always had to be damaged and that was annoying) and now he’s just a seasoned pro. I got the best feelings of “Dude, we have been through some shit” when I was talking to him. Talking to Jack was more of a “Holy shit, thats right she is crazy, but damn she has learned to care, blah blah.” I still wish I had more say in conversation. I am still getting the impression that I’m just directing Shepard’s general feelings and not actually getting prompted for my input. Oh well, despite all my bitching, I am starting to get invested in the story and I keep looking forward to meeting more characters and as always, shooting more dudes.

Choice of the Vampire:
Some of the people on the Gamespot UK Podcast were talking about a game called Choice of the Zombie for the IOS recently and as I usually do when mobile games, I got curious and went poking around the mysterious land of the Android marketplace, now called Google Play, I guess. I am not one to just drop cash on games I have heard about vaguely or really any mobile games since I spend very little time playing them, so when I saw a price tag on Choice of the Zombie, I took pause to consider. Then, I noticed that the company makes other similar games, games that are free of charge. What better way to get a feel for a game than to play the free version of something similar? I downloaded Choice of the Vampire, as I have spent a fair amount of time playing the pen and paper game Vampire: The Masquerade as well as the video game interpretations of that system and figured that experience to be applicable.
These “Choice” games appear to be the modern incarnation of Choose Your Own Adventure stories mixed with bits of Role Playing elements. This particular game/story/campaign takes place during the era of the War of 1812 up through the Civil War. The first thing I would like to point out about this game is that there is a lot of what seems to be accurate historical facts. In addition to playing a Vampire, you are also existing along side historical figures of the times and witness the major events as current events in the game world. I am no historian but what I remember from High School history class seems to match up with the events that are described in detail during the game. In general, its an interesting facet to the game, although the heavy detail can get a little dull at times when it goes on for a full screen or two about certain historical events. The other portion of the game, is of course being a vampire and doing that whole thing. Basically, you make a few decisions at the start, that flesh out the guy that made you a vampire and you as a vampire. I found the process to be a little overwhelming, but if you just roll with it and try not to over think, it is fairly smooth and painless. After that you start your journey running from the sidelines of the Battle of New Orleans into the city proper where your sire (AKA Dominus AKA your vampire daddy) establishes himself as the administrator of the vampires in New Orleans, which at the time is you and him. Plot proceeds and you develop your skills in a wide range of areas such as agility, stealth, charm, fighting, and so on, which factor into your success with related actions. Its fairly well written, there are some typos and a few places where it could have used some more editing, but in general the stories that it can tell are pretty good and quite varied.
I played through it twice, once as a male stealthy sleaze guy who stuck close to this master and a second time as a female upper crust who did her own thing. The stories that I experienced on each play through had several very unique points, well my stealthy guy ignored pretty much everyone and followed his Dominus like a puppy, so his story stuck pretty close to what you might call a main plot line. The female character ended up entangled in a romantic relationship with another character that I never spoke to with the first character. Your character can die, I found this out during the second play through. When this happens it gives you some stats on your character and your accomplishments and relationships with various NPCs, then drops you at a start over screen. The whole game is apparently going to be part of a series, much like Mass Effect, where your choices and character can be carried over to the next episode. I plan to keep an eye out for the next episode. Its a free download on Android, probably available on IOS as well and you can also play it from an internet browser on their site for free. If nothing else, it is worth a brief look and they have also made a pirate game, a dragon one, some romance game and the previously mentioned zombie game. I enjoyed my time with it and would consider an actual purchase if their writing continues to be good.

I have had a copy of Braid in my Steam library for an amount of time. I believe it was a gift, I do not know for certain. Whatever the case, I started playing it because I was looking for something light and easy to jump in and out of. The first two playable worlds of Braid offer that, with a few puzzles that require a bit of thought and well timed platforming to challenge a player. After those first worlds, Braid kicks open the door to the time manipulation closet and starts rooting around. I don’t want to go into too much detail since that is kind of Braid’s hook, even if I am probably the one person left who hasn’t already played this game. Now that I have gotten a bit further in the game and had some time in a couple more worlds, I have noticed a pattern in my approach. My initial reaction, when I enter a new world is to start experimenting with the environment to figure out what the mechanic of the world is. Generally, there are a couple minutes of play time to get a feel for things and then when I feel like I have a handle on things, I go after the puzzles. Typically, I can get a few more puzzle pieces before I get stuck and then I am struck with the realization of what sort of sadism the new mechanics allow in level design. Once I have had my eureka moment, I can almost hear the game laughing at me while I make my dude hover mid-jump, thoroughly abusing my time powers, just waiting for a new idea to come to me. This game gets hard. Well, okay getting all the puzzle pieces in a world gets hard, getting through the each world seems to stay fairly straight forward. I am not sure how much more of the game I am going to play. I want to at least get all the way through all the worlds and see all the different time mechanics. I don’t think I will be able to get all the puzzle pieces without looking at a guide of some kind. Perhaps I will look up whether or not there are any story elements that are revealed when all pieces are collected, if not maybe I will just let it go. The story is definitely a little pompous, but it is also the indie game that kind of helped boot the indie scene into public view so I can deal with it. Overall, a pretty amazing game with the unique style and soothing music, at least as long as you aren’t rewinding time. I want to say that its over hyped and the hype was misleading, but I think it is more my own fault for misunderstanding that the game wasn’t just a pretty platformer with some fun time mechanics. Its awesome, but damnit if some of those puzzle pieces aren’t freaking hard to get.

Sanctum was on sale this past weekend and my girlfriend bought it because she had enjoyed watching me play and thought she might like it as well. We have spent some time playing it because, I too purchased a copy at some point. Apparently, about two thirds of my friends list has a copy of Sanctum actually and yet I have never played it with more than two of them on a single occasion. She enjoys the game and has since put more time into it than I ever have (because three or four hours is so hard to top). I have also been reminded that Sanctum is a fun game and like most tower defense games I have played its all pretty manageable until the last wave, which fucks you. Thankfully, we have only been playing to 10 waves so at least the fucking doesn’t come at the expense of an extended period of time, otherwise I think this section might have more frustrated obscenities. We both have the extra DLC weapons and the two or however many maps that come with the DLC pack. It cost a little more, but at another dollar or two, its just worthwhile to get all of it in case the extra stuff is really good. So far I have yet to find more than one of the downloaded turrets all that useful. The Killing Floor is great, the rest are middling at best. Although, the Violator turret has a pretty great name and also doubles as being a decent turret for air and ground units. For the most part I enjoy the strategy of the setup and the planning of where I am going to stand, problem areas and so on. Its fun to plan it all out with a friend, or a girlfriend and its fun to have to make it up on the fly when everything goes to hell. Speaking of hell, that’s what the final wave seems to always be. The game all comes down to the last 40 seconds where you realize everything is wrong, your boned and if you are fast enough with your weapons upgraded enough you might just pull it off. We haven’t really hit any major defeat that felt outright unfair, typically there is just the feeling that a better loadout and a little bit of tweaking to the path setup will make the next attempt successful. Delusional or otherwise, I want to play more than the first few maps and find out just how nasty it can get. So, there will be more Sanctum in my future.


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