“This Month in Gaming” or “October 2012”
Welcome to a brand new monthly segment here on Are We New At This called “This Month in Gaming”, where I will discuss why this is a great time to be a gamer, the games I was privileged enough to enjoy the month prior, and what I am currently playing.
October 2012 holds the dubious honor of being the first month since at least August 2004, when I did not play an MMO. Not a single one. I even sought public opinion on whether I should play Guild Wars 2 or The Secret World, which garnered a very large number of opinions. The Secret World won in the end, but for some strange reason, even though the installer sits in my downloads folder, I cannot quite bring myself to play it just yet. It is an odd feeling. I have this inkling to get my grubby paws on whatever MMO I can find and play it, just to satisfy the itch. But then I look at the list of everything else I was able to play and enjoy this month, and I realize that maybe this is a good thing!
First, just the list:
- Faster Than Light
- Of Orcs and Men
- The Walking Dead: Episode 4
- League of Legends
- The WarZ (alpha)
- ARMA II: Army of the Czech Republic
- Mark of the Ninja
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Aside from XCOM and Mark of the Ninja, I “finished” every other game on that list. To put a long story short, October 2012 was an amazing month for gaming, with some of the best, original and refreshing titles I have had the pleasure of playing in recent years. Check after the jump to see what rocked, almost rocked and flopped altogether!
Dishonored and Mark of the Ninja are phenomenal. When I finished Deus Ex: Human Revolution last year (retarded boss battles and press-a-button-to-see-an-ending ending notwithstanding), it left a stealth-shaped hole in my heart. I have been trying to plug this hole with a wide variety of titles. Little did I know that October 2012 would allow me to play two titles that scratched this bastard of an itch with ample room for replay.
I went through Dishonored as a silent assassin. Aside from two tallboys who met their demise in a moment of frustration, and the occasional body that would tumble right of off the roof after being choked unconscious, I killed no one. The ending felt slightly contrived and awkward, but all-in-all, it was an amazing experience. I mean come on, how many games can combine the renaissance, magic, firearms, sword-fights, whales, robots, gadgetry, witches, plague, and a totalitarian government in a single title, and yet make it all work? Don’t answer that, it’s a rhetorical question. That being said, my one reservation with such titles still stands.
I am still making my way through Mark of the Ninja, and while it can be frustrating to always want to go around something in a sidescroller, the title nails how stealth should be done in a video game. One review lauded the title for being the game against which all future stealth titles will be judged, and I don’t disagree. Mark of the Ninja is a pleasure to play, regardless of whether you are a fan of sidescrollers or stealth games.
League of Legends continues to entice me with its silky smooth game play, its luscious heroes, and its enticing combat. I will never be a very good LoL player, or even moderately decent for that matter, but it is always fun to play. Besides, with 32 million active monthly players, this is a title that is hard to keep off of your radar.
The Walking Dead: Episode 4 continued Lee and Clementine’s journey into a world gone stark raving mad. The gaming mechanics in the entire series are fairly rudimentary, and at times non-existent, but the story, the characters and the voice-acting are all stellar. My review for this episode was features on Hooked Gamers. I gave it an 8.5, do you agree?
Faster Than Light was the true surprise for me. As much as I love a great gaming experience, who doesn’t enjoy a little eye candy? When my editor at Hooked Gamers gave me a review code for this little gem, I approached it with trepidation. Several days and sessions later, including one that lasted six hours, I was convinced otherwise. I gave it an 8.1 on Hooked Gamers, take a look.
Towards the end of the month I got into XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I never played the 1992 original classic, so when I started playing this, I had no idea what to expect. I am hooked, I can’t get enough. I would say I am a little ways past the mid-point of the full-blown campaign. So far I must have fought close to 20 battles with the aliens in a variety of environments, urban, suburban and the wilds. Incredibly, not one of the randomly picked maps has been repeated thus far. This is a phenomenal title. Go get it!
What (sort of) Rocked?
It pains me to put both Deadlight and Of Orcs and Men in this category, but I would be lying if I didn’t.
Of Orcs and Men had huge potential, and what seems like a very aggressive development cycle. For a title that held so many pleasant surprises, it is a pity to see it marred by such shoddy production values. I reviewed this title for Hooked Gamers as well, giving it a 7.9. Normally I would give it lower, but I hope and pray that the developers gain a good lesson from what us reviewers are telling them, and surpass expectations for the next iteration. Good mechanics, core and gameplay ideas are irrelevant if you push a product out before it is ready.
Deadlight had a similar problem. The game looks beautiful, the environments crafted with a loving hand, pouring detail into every last corner of the world. But two things really threw me off. First, some sections made no sense, such as the stupid rat-maze. It seemed forced, simply because the developers had some cool platforming puzzles they wanted to throw at the player and they duct-taped it to the story. Second, the story and the ending were both hastily developed and delivered. I wanted to know more of the world, and I wanted something better for my protagonist than a foolish little final standoff. This could have been a title to forever remember, and just barely misses that mark. Ouch.
ARMA II: Army of the Czech Republic. Why? It just did. There is nothing new, everything is recycled, save a few new vehicles and weapons. For ARMA II fans, it’s probably a no-brainer. But this ain’t for me. Pass.
I am also currently playing the alpha for The WarZ, and while I won’t say I have enough hours of playtime under my belt to claim complete familiarity with the game, my impressions of the title can be amply summarized by one word: meh.
There you have it folks. That’s what kept me busy in October 2012. How was your month?!