Played three games this week, outside the number of games about the “mundane” that Ian has us playing for class (one of which was an alpha? beta? of the unreleased Today I Die, which was a joy).
I bought Just Cause for nine dollars at GameStop, because I’d recently been thinking about guerrilla warfare following a number of armed robberies and bicycle thefts on our campus. The game borders on the terrible, but there is quite a bit to be said for how close the developers came toward accurately modeling a guerrilla campaign. The idea of striking small villages and military outposts is spot on. I liked how your men would run out of the woods to assault the police blockades. They even have a few ambush missions (a staple of the guerrilla); however, they exaggerate the martial abilities of the protagonist a bit too much for my liking–sure Che was on the line with his men, but single-handedly ambushing a convoy is a bit of a stretch. The other glaring problems are the number of helicopters the guerrilla fighters have at their disposal, the city assault missions (unrealistic until very late in a regime change), and the fact that helicopters will routinely drop vehicles for you with large UNITED STATES emblems emblazoned upon them.
In any case, the game is worth playing at its current price-point just for the grappling hook and parachute pack, which lead to a ridiculous variety of implausible yet highly satisfying aeronautical stunts (I beat the final, and “hardest,” mission by leaping out of a speeding boat onto a helicopter, flying it under a SAM firing solution to destroy the general’s tank, jumping out just as a missile struck it, opening my parachute, firing a grapple onto another passing helicopter, and then flying it to safety).
I also finally picked up Alien Hominid HD for this week’s reduced price of 5 dollars on XBLA. Not nearly as exquisite as Castle Crashers, but it is educative to see how Dan Paladin’s artistic abilities have developed in three short years. After playing Super Contra religiously a month back, the “ultra-hardcore” difficulty of the game didn’t get to me as much as it should have.
After playing through AH and nabbing some side achievements, I bought the new Dishwasher Samurai game. I didn’t actually want the game for itself, but I’m counting it as my tithe for the week toward supporting indie game development. In a GDC interview, the sole developer of the game came off as kind of a douche-bag. He made up for it with the game though. Don’t listen to any reviews that compare the game to Alien Hominid. You know those 2D adaptations of Portal and Mirror’s Edge? This game is essentially a 2D remediation of Ninja Gaiden 2. Nasty combos, a bunch of actually useful and unique weapons to use, copious amounts of gore, and slick combat/finisher animations (grab a dude’s hand, pull his own gun up to his mouth, blow his brains out). It felt a bit off spending more money on this than I did on AH, but I’ll forgive myself after I’ve plummed it for all its hack-and-slash value. This is another one of those “ultra hardcore” games that isn’t nearly as difficult as everybody lets on. I mean, in AH you died in two hits. In this game, you can take quite a punishing; then, when you’re about to die, you kill a few zombies and they spit out enough health to bring you back into the green.
This is probably the closest you’ll ever get to traditional games journalism out of me. Enjoy it while it lasts. I’ve got two books in the works, on top of my thesis (which is basically another book in the making). Working with Bobby Schweizer and a mystery co-author on one, and Cinque Hicks on another (our project over the course of the next two years or so). Gotta build that resume for Ph.D. programs, yo.