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Bullshit & Ignorance

June 30, 2011

Spore

I recently dug Spore out again and installed it and have been playing it. Although it’s fun, it was also always slightly disappointing to me. Pre-release it sounded really exciting. Totally new and innovative and generally excellent. I don’t know if a lot of the talk about it at that point was just hype, or if Maxis simply couldn’t manage to implement a lot of what they seemed to be planning to in those early stages. In short, it felt like it got dumbed down.

The cell stage is fun. I’ve always liked it. It’s simple, but that’s part of its appeal I think. You swim around, collecting cell parts, eating things and generally stabbing other cells in the face in the race to evolve. It’s the sort of thing that would make a neat little game for a phone these days.

Then you evolve to the creature stage. This is where most of the creature building happens. You scamper around the planet on your newly evolved legs, tearing the faces off of the many weird species you encounter (Or singing and dancing and shit if you feel so inclined). You once again collect up parts, and accumulate DNA so you can fly in the face of creationism and evolve into a bigger, better creature. This stage I also enjoy, although after the first few times it can get a little repetitive. So once you’ve charmed or massacred your way along the evolutionary path, and expanded your tiny brain to such a degree you can discover fire, you can move into the tribal stage. This for me is where things go a little wrong.

The tribal and civilisation stages are kinda half arsed. The game goes from single-creature-focus, to you controlling first a whole little tribe of your beasties, then the vehicles of your civilisation. Both stages have elements of RTS about them. You build your village/city, you produce your units, you win over the other villages and cities with force, persuasion or in the civilisation stage, cash money, yo. It’s all a bit limited though. There’s not much variation here. There’s no tech tree, no rock/paper/scissors arrangements of units to balance out when building your forces and so on. It’s extremely simplified and as such, for me, feels too easy and really largely pointless.

Then you leap into space, and we’re back to single-unit focus. The space stage is a little limited too, but still entertaining. I could moan about the limited variety in missions, but I won’t. It’s still pretty fun.

I know it’s pretty old now in computer game terms, but I still think of Spore as an underachiever. After all the hype and promises, the finished product lacked sparkle. Still fun, easy to sink hours into without realising you have, but not the masterpiece it could have been.

March 30, 2011

It’s not just me, right?

Whenever I play games from the Fallout series, I get the urge to hoard the caps from beer bottles and things…I might need them come the apocalypse after all!

It’s not just me, right..?

February 24, 2011

Browser Games

Browser games are everywhere these days. Most of them are utter dross, but every now and then a diamond shows up in the rough.

My top three at present are:

3. Urban Dead

Found at urbandead.com, this is a zombie apocalypse game. You can play either as a survivor, or a zombie. Odds are, whichever you choose to be, at some point or another you’ll wind up joining the other side. It’s easy to die, and Zombies can be ‘revived’ and turned back into ordinary people.

You’re limited to 50 turns a day, which sound a lot until you play the game for a while. It’s really not and probably the most annoying thing about it. I understand why it’s limited that way, but it does mean that you’re pretty much done with a character after 10 minutes. There’s a pretty decent community and despite being a pretty low involvement game it’s still fun to kill a few minutes in the morning while you have your morning tea, coffee or class A drug of choice.

2. Echo Bazaar

Found at echobazaar.failbettergames.com. You have to use twitter or Facebook (ewwww) to sign into this one, which is a plus point for most people I suspect. For me it was a pain in the fucking balls because, as regular readers of my ranting my know, I am not a fan of either. Since facebook is the spawn of the devil’s inbred cousin or something, I registered a twitter account for one of our cats (because he likes to walk around on my keyboard so I figured what the fuck, he probably has just as much of value to say as the vast majority of twitter users!) and then usurped it for playing Echo Bazaar.

Okay so now that I’m done ranting about how you log into this one, I can get around to the part where I actually tell you something about the game.

This is a kinda…erm, I guess Steampunk game, about London falling into the ground and devils wandering about and people with squids for heads. And cats who can talk. There was probably a lot of crack smoked during the creation of this game. It’s beautifully presented, and the story elements of it are entertaining and well written. It’s also not finished, and has recently switched to a subscription model to get the most out of it, which is understandable in the sense that a lot of time and money has gone into its development I have no doubt, but that switch from freeplay to paid for content always leaves a bitter taste.

Spangly as it is, it’s also pretty slow to load if you’re on a shitty connection like mine and as I mentioned, unfinished. As you progress it also turns into a bit of a mindless grindfest as you spend your time repeating the same storylets over and over and over again in an attempt to build up a skill enough to progress to the next part of the story.

1. Kingdom of Loathing

Found at kingdomofloating.com. It’s hard to know where to start with this one…I’m not sure if it rates so highly at the moment because I’ve only recently discovered it, or if it really is as awesome as it seems to be.

It’s really, really silly. It’s a fantasy rpg type game but really only in the loosest sense..character classes include Disco Bandits, Turtle Tamers and Pastamancers. The currency in the game world is meat, and meat is also used to forge weapons and armour. Yes. Really. So apparently copious amounts of crack were smoked during the creation of this game, too.

This one is totally free to play, though you can donate if you want to. There’s an astonishing amount of detail and content in this one, too. It’s nuts. You get limited ‘adventures’ per day, but these can be increased by eating food, which you can cook yourself or buy, or drinking cocktails…don’t ask. If you miss a day, your adventures accumulate, too. I don’t know if there’s an upper limit for how many you can accrue, but if there is I haven’t yet found it. Awesome fun.