Sunday, November 18, 2012

Games I Liked: 2012

Games I Enjoyed in 2012

This is the third annual installment of games (new or old) that I first played in the last year and would recommend.  In alphabetical order: 


Bulletstorm is absurdly profane, overly violent, and that's the joy of it.  While the usual length for the genre, the ludicrous humor and interactive combat keep the player entertained.

Dear Esther

There's really nothing else like this one.  It's not a shooter.  Plot-driven, combat-free, and, in the end, just plain mysterious.  Dear Esther is an exceptionally well made experience, with small changes each play.  Beautiful to look at, a solid score, and a wonderfully haunting quality.


A lot of people criticized this one.  The graphics aren't Crysis 2.  There isn't a plot.  This is'nt Fallout 3.  Who cares>  Between the AI variety, racing, and weapon choices, RAGE has a lot to offer.  I have had more fun with the RAGE combat system than most other shooters in recent years.  The 2-player co-op mini-campaigns, and up to four-player racing, combine with the single player mode to make the game two to three times the length of the twelve hour standard   This game also has one of my favorite opening cinema tics.


This one is on the fence.  The single-player mode is not done very well, due to a lack of story and a horrible tutorial.  For a single player, it's not good.  And while all my friends don't agree, I think Sanctum is a nice, alternative, casual game to play with others.  

Serious Sam 3: BFE

Take Duke Nukem 3D, remove the sex, and multiply the number of enemies by 10.  Alone, the game is an incredibly challenging old school shooter, with some memorable funny lines.  With friends, the game offers a variety of co-op and versus game types for up to sixteen players.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Killing Floor Review

Game:  Killing Floor
Year (s):  2009
Company:  dev. Tripwire Interactive
pub.  Tripwire Interactive
Engine:  Unreal Engine 2.5 (modified)
Type:  Survival Horror, Shooter, Multiplayer oriented
Viewpoint:  First-Person
Metacritic Score: 72
My Score:  Mindless killing spree on easy!  Too hard to survive on harder modes.

Price (as of November 11, 2012)

Regular price on Steam:  $19.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (new, with shipping):  $15

Obligatory Trailer:


Zombies (known in this as specimens) are running amok.  Kill 'em all.  There is no campaign mode, no real dialogue, and no story here.

Save System

Manual Save?  No
Quck Save?  No
Auto Save?  No
Checkpoint Save?  No

Either you survive all the waves on a level, or you die and go back to the level selection screen.


There are a handful of character classes, each with their preferred weapon class.  While you can use any weapons you like, if you focus on one you can gain permanent perks that make you better at that class.  Anyone can weld doors shut or heal teammates, but engineers and medics weld and heal the best, respectively.  

While difficulty and number of waves can be adjusted, there is only one game type.  Survive a wave, try to get to the store for better gear (you have only a short time to reach it), and then repeat.  

With 200 achievements, Killing Floor could fill a lot of time for completionist gamers.

Expansions / DLC / Sequels

There are a number of DLC that add maps and character skins.  If you like the base game, everything Killing Floor goes on sale fairly regularly.

Final Thoughts

I figured this would be a knock-off of Left 4 Dead, but it's not great.  The perk system is really interesting, but no story and only one game type is tedious.  Easy mode lives up to its name, while anything else is impossible for an un-perked solo play.  This may be one of those games that flops alone but shines with others, but I'm not enough impressed to recommend it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Thing About Red

I haven't written anything about magic in a while, for various reasons.  Figured it was about time to do so.

Red has strong early game and can dominate in many two-player formats.  Unlike other colors, red has few options later in the game and a lack of consistency in multiplayer.  

As far as tribal decks, Goblins are strong early but weak afterward, and can't compete well against multiple targets.  The mountainwalk ability of Goblin King is arguably the worst tribal ability, as red has no way to change land type.  Soldiers, Slivers, Merfolk, and others have an edge over goblins in games with several players.

As to abilities, Red's favorite is haste.  Haste is unique compared to other static abilities.  Haste is potentially useful once per creature, while other abilities can give an ongoing advantage.

Red has decent weenies, but not the best.  Red has big flying dragons, but, except for green, every color has big flyers.  I have had success with dragon-themed decks, when I had mana to cast them.

Red has some neat global enchantments, and I have had fun using Manabarbs, Confusion in the Ranks, Power Surge, Smoke, and Mudslide (often paired with global artifact abilities).  These decks were fun but unreliable.  These types of utility global enchantements aren't seen in red much now.

Red occasionally has a presence in mass destruction.  These usually cost a great deal of mana, and are rarely competitive against alternatives.  While red makes a show of land destruction, black's Sinkhole and white's Armageddon have lower mana costs.

There are a few sets that seemed to specifically shaft red.  The Mirage block gave every color except red a tutor for one mana.  Years later Urza's Saga finally gave red a one-mana tutor (Gamble) requiring a random discard afterward.  Ouch.

Urza's Saga had a legendary land for each color.  Three could generate huge amounts of mana, and are still popular in type one.  The lands for red, and black, were crap by comparison.

I conclude.  Red is good at two things: being fast and dealing direct damage.  Chaos is mostly a thing of the past.  This focus really limits my options for reliably successful mono-red decks in 3-4 free-for-alls, and I wish there was more variety in the color.  As it stands, I almost always pair red with other colors (most often with blue) to build the kind of decks that work for me.