Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gaming in the past: 2010 in 2011

Osmos: It really grows on you.

Another year marks almost the first anniversary of this web log, and the pretty harrowing reality that I have made eight posts in that time. That’s an average of something like two posts every three months, which frankly sounds like more than I feel I have made. In the spirit of the season, I make the resolution to post more often; to try and get into a schedule that I can manage.

Over my whopping three-day Xmas holiday, I have managed to play a grand total of two games: Osmos and Kinect: Adventures. Those are two rather different titles, I must say.

Osmos came as part of the Humble Indie Bundle which, if you’re not aware, is a great scheme that has run the past two years in which a number of indie game developers get together and offer a bunch of titles at a cost which the consumer can decide. This puts you in the position to rob a whole lot of people blind, or to give what you can. The money is split, at your behest, between either charities or developers. The charities include the now-monolithic Child’s Play, run by the guys at I think this year they have managed to raise over $2,000,000, which is tremendously impressive, for sure.

Kinect: Adventures was an interesting experience. It was my first real opportunity to try out Microsoft’s new technology du jour, other than a few fleeting moments in shops like HMV, etc. The white-water rapids stuff is certainly by far and away the segment that I enjoyed the most, and the racing was the bit I was least convinced by. Cars don’t really handle properly, and you drive by sticking your arms out in front of you, as if you were holding a wheel. Except you’re not holding a wheel, so you don’t really have any fidelity of control. The rapids, by comparison, involve leaning left and right to steer the raft, and jumping up and down when your raft approaches a cliff or ramp. It works well, but it didn’t leave me wanting to go out and purchase it. I’m not convinced by the whole thing, and still maintain my sceptical opinion on motion control that began when I bought a motion controller for my Nintendo 64 many years ago, which was absolutely terrible beyond description. Unfortunately some scars will never heal, and while I hope that motion control will not be one of them, it certainly has not reconciled with me yet.

Osmos is the only title from the Humble Bundle that I’ve played thus far, as Braid loads to a black screen for me (something I’ve read is caused by my not having a decent enough graphics card). You play a mote, as the game describes you. A single blip in the universal that can absorb anything smaller than it, but can be absorbed by anything greater than it. I cruised my way through the first slew of levels, feeling like a bit of a pro and have now hit upon a wall of difficulty. The game takes about 3 stages, per puzzle type, to become properly difficult. It takes you by surprise, as the whole thing is enriched by a chilled-out, ambient soundtrack, and the whole game feels so Zen as to be practically playing itself. But the difficulty is there, and it’s good. I plan to wrestle with it for the foreseeable future.

To finally hit upon the title of this post, after listening to the Game of the Year deliberations podcast over at, all their talk of the year’s highlights served to remind me how few games I played this year, and encouraged me to compile a list of those which I would like to play. Here is what I have so far:

  • Alpha Protocol - Sounds great, and like I just need to forgive some stuff to like it.
  • Darksiders - ’You literally cannot mention this game without saying Zelda’. Sold.
  • Dark Void - Dark Void looks and sounds like great fun. I love me some alternate history shenanigans. And Tesla!
  • Alan Wake - Twin Peaks? Stephen King? Horror? Yes!
  • Singularity - I remember watching the trailer for this and thinking ‘this game looks so cool that it will not be as cool as this’. Evidently, that was the case but still, alternate history and time manipulation sounds like fun.
  • Deadly Premonition - Broken games are underdogs from the outset. Raised to root for the little guy, and supported by its widespread tongue-in-cheek acclaim, I think this is title I’ll have to check out.
  • Metro 2033 - As I compile this list, my obsession with history is coming through more and more. To reiterate: alternate history? Cool, sure, let’s do this.
  • Mass Effect 2 - If there’s a game that was better received this year, I have not heard of it. ME2 sounds like something I would totally love, and I’m concerned that this is the exact reason that I will never get round to trying it. After all, if there’s no doubt, why bother?
  • Tron: Evolution - Loved the movies, love the universe. This game seems to have been perceived as better than your average movie-based title, so I think I’ll get around to it soon enough.

All in all, it’s a pretty good list, and serves to demonstrate how much I seem to love alternate histories and science-fiction. Yep, pretty accurate.

-Signing out

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