Backlog: Incineration Edition

Oh god, the heat is back. If you're reading this, send help (in the form of ice, or snow, or air conditioning) immediately.

Why is my computer even on this is a huge mistake.

Anyway Nick, Doug, and I all wrote some words this week.

Tell my family I love them, and to not leave Alaska under any circumstances.  - Spencer

Nick

Level-designer humor at its bluntest

Level-designer humor at its bluntest

Every now and then I wind up having a week where I just don’t play that many games. I had more than enough free time and plenty of energy, but for whatever reason I wound up avoiding games more often than not. I think it boils down to decision fatigue: too many options, not enough compelling ones.

That doesn’t really explain why I wound up spending most of my gaming time this week on F.E.A.R., a first-person shooter that’s almost a decade old at this point. F.E.A.R. was lauded in its heyday for its fancy graphics (which obliterated my poor computer at its launch) and realistic, savvy enemy A.I. system. The graphics haven’t aged wonderfully – remember how rough early shaders were? – but the combat is still satisfying and requires quick thinking, even if the game’s bullet-time mechanic reduces most combat situations to:

1. take cover

2. aim for the head

3. enter bullet time

4. hold down the fire button until there’s an obscene amount of blood on the screen

I’m still plugging away at Dark Souls II, even though I’ve logged more hours played than deaths. Something seems wrong with that ratio, and I can’t tell if I’m just carrying over some fresh expertise from having completed the original Dark Souls so recently or if the early sections of the sequel are just a lot easier this time around.

And finally, I had the chance to play through the beginning of the as-yet-unreleased Always Sometimes Monsters. You can watch the archive of our livestream here.

Spencer

Sometimes, things go very poorly. Often, in fact, they go this way.

Sometimes, things go very poorly. Often, in fact, they go this way.

spencer-headshot-tiny.png

At my favorite secondhand music-and-movies shop, I bought a copy of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition.

I also bought a Game Boy Camera, but that’s neither here nor there.

We touched on Halo Anniversary during episode 37 of the podcast, “Turnerization.” Nick, if I recall, was strongly disillusioned with the offering -- saying it offered a “fresh coat of paint” while offering nothing to right the flaws of the original game.

It’s for similar reasons that I enjoy the game, I think. It doesn't shy away from those deeper flaws (though I have this feeling they fixed the bugs that made the Warthog Jump Project possible), but makes the game palatable for a modern audience. I don’t know if you've played the original Halo recently, but its visual haven’t aged well. Muddy, hazy, dull, it’s actually difficult to play on account of how it looks.

Granted, I’m someone who was always pretty fond of the gunplay in Halo (it was a favorite in my LAN party group for quite a while), so it’s quite possible that the rest of the game has aged poorly as well and I’m just not noticing. But with the visuals now close to those of the current (or last, I suppose) generation, none of the other usual complaints have been bothering me -- not the repetition and backtracking of the levels, nor the imprecision of the arsenal -- and I've been enjoying the ride yet again.

War Thunder is an oddity, a sort of direct mirror of World of Tanks that started in the air and is working its way down (much the opposite of WoT, which is now reaching skyward with World of Warplanes). Without friends playing it, it may have never registered on my radar as I opted, instead, to keep playing Battlefield 4. But I've made the diversion, and, honestly, I’m really glad I did.

In many regards, War Thunder is extremely typical of the free-to-play/pay-to-win genres that have become so common these days: play to unlock planes, pay to unlock planes faster or get special variants. However, there’s a lot to love as well. It’s a well-crafted simulator -- even in the forgiving “Arcade” mode, battle damage drastically alters the handling of your ride, and each plane has distinctive characteristics that take getting used to. On top of this, it’s visually gorgeous -- easily the prettiest flight simulator I've ever seen.

Most importantly, it’s a blast to play with a squad. Grab a few friends, fly around, and hoot and holler. The price is certainly right.

Some asshole I know bought me Bus Simulator 2012 for my birthday and oh god dammit.

Doug

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!

doug-headshot-tiny-v2.png

Dammit. I can't believe it’s finally happened to me. Yes, gentle reader, I’ve been PlayStation Plus’d.

What does that mean? It’s simple: I bought a game a month or so ago, and just found out that it’s become one of the titles put up for free on PS+. Isn't that just a kick in the junk? For me, I found out that Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 is available for free now on the PS+ service. And while I'm still enjoying my semi-yearly soccer game purchase, I still feel a little bitter. You go out and pay $60 or even $30 on a game, and then a couple weeks later it’s up for free? Daaaaaaang. It’s the first time this has really bitten me, so I had to seek solace with Tyler, who summed it up succinctly: “#PSPlus. It’s happened to all of us.”

As I mentioned last week, I've been on vacation during the Golden Week holiday. This coincided with me rediscovering my Nintendo 3DS and my copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf (or, as the title screen reminds me, とびだせどうぶつの森). I've redoubled my efforts to strip-mine all of the beetles from the Island in order to pay for improvements to my town (including to my own house), and I’m going to start collecting more stuff for my house as well.

I also had one of the first visitors to my town in a long time this week, too. Nick’s wonderful girlfriend Nae is an avowed Animal Crossing fiend, and she sought out my help via Twitter messaging to try and duplicate some glitches that she saw present in the Japanese version. Considering I have the Japanese version and speak English, that makes me a good candidate. It was fun to have somebody visit my town, drop off some awesome flowers and masks, and mess around to try and plant flowers in the middle of a river...or climb on top of the train station.

One last update from last week: The game is actually called Hot Shots Golf World Invitational, so apologies for that, but it is an awesome golf game and great way to have a lot of time disappear. It’s also incredibly Japanese in its design, especially for a game released in this current era. And Chrono Trigger is as awesome a game as advertised, even factoring in its age.