approaching austerity; fun with bullet points

It’s been busy times here at SFTC HQ, though not for any particularly good reason.   I spent the bulk of my free time last week working on a quasi-review of Quantum Conundrum, one of my (too) many pickups from the Steam Summer Sale, and the piece itself (as I worked on it) became intensely negative, which might’ve been a bit unfair since the game is not, in fact, a piece of shit, but in any event I didn’t want to suddenly appear here after a long silence  with 1000 words of bile.

Speaking of which, since I realize that it’s been almost 3 weeks since the last post, here’s my complete haul from the Steam Summer Sale:

  • Galactic Civilizations II (super pack) – [why did I even bother?  I saw “turn-based strategy in space” for under $8 and couldn’t help myself.  have I played it yet?  of course not!]
  • Bulletstorm [#10 on my Best-of-2011 List.  looks AMAZING on my PC.  I’ve been playing this a lot over the last few weeks, actually, and I think I like it even better the second time.  A real shame the sequel got cancelled.]
  • Alan Wake (complete pack) – [I played and sort-of liked the first game on the 360.  I tried the first few minutes of American Nightmare on the PC; it’s a little ridiculous.]
  • Quantum Conundrum – [half of me is really appreciative that there are first-person puzzle games still being made; the other half of me hates first-person platforming.  this game could’ve used a bit more focus testing, a bit more polish on the narrative (and maybe a different voice actor entirely, or at least one who bothered to show up and not just phone it in), and maybe it didn’t even need to be 1st person.  I’m still glad I finished it – despite the many frustrating bits, there are some glorious “eureka” moments, too – though I won’t be playing it again.]
  • SOL: Exodus – [This space combat-ish game got a lot of talk earlier in the year on various podcasts, which is how I presume it wound up on my wishlist.  I tried the first 10 minutes or so; it’s promising.]
  • Legend of Grimrock – [I was sorta hoping to wait for the iPad version, but the sale price was too good to pass up.  I played the first few minutes; I need to spend some serious time with a tutorial to figure out just what the hell I’m doing.]
  • Saints Row the Third [which I’ve already finished on the 360 – but how could I pass it up for 75% off?  I’ve been playing this and Bulletstorm over the last few weeks; they’re both so good, though they’re a bit confusing to play side-by-side – I keep wanting to do Bulletstorm-type stuff in SR3, which usually ends up getting me killed.]
  • Indie Bundle 2 (Botanicula, EYE, Universe Sandbox, Oil Rush, Splice) – [bought this only for Botanicula, which I haven’t yet played.]
  • Anno 2770 – [as with GalCiv2 above, I have no idea why I bought this.  I opened it up and played the first 5 minutes and didn’t know how to do anything.]

This splurge is likely to be my last for the foreseeable future, for reasons I’m not quite yet prepared to get into.  (It’s a good reason, is all I’ll say at this time.)  It is nice to have all this stuff to play, though, considering just how shitty 2012 has been so far in the quality-new-release department.  (It’s true that next week sees the release of both Darksiders 2 and Sleeping Dogs, but I only have high-ish hopes for one of those games.)

Splurge aside, my iOS devices have been getting quite a workout lately, too – and for not a lot of money, either:

  • Agent Dash is a free-to-play endless runner (similar to Temple Run), which looks fucking incredible (and is also quite difficult – I’ve installed it on both my iPad 3 and my iPhone 4, and the iPad version is superior if only because you can see future obstacles a bit easier).
  • 10,000,000 is a simple, fun puzzle RPG thing – I’ve beaten it already on my iPhone and so now I’m playing it again on the iPad.  Hoping there’ll be future content updates; this could use some new objectives and such.
  • Wizorb is a Breakout clone done as if it were an SNES RPG that first surfaced in the Xbox Indie Game library; it’s a perfect iOS title (again – it plays better on the iPad, because you can actually see what you’re doing.)
  • Orc: Vengeance is a frankly gorgeous Diablo-ish adventure, which I haven’t spent nearly enough time with.
  • Nihilumbra is a gorgeous puzzle/adventure game – reminds me a little bit of Okami, in a vague way.
  • Finally, the classic game Another World was on sale for $0.99 (down from $5), and I figured I should give that a shot at that price.

Looking back at that last post, I see that I was just days away from playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD.  I ended up spending quite a bit of time with it, and I came away from it with mixed reactions.  It does indeed look great, though ironically it now feels really empty;  the level designs (while pleasingly familiar) seem a bit sparse, and the level selections themselves are hit-or-miss.  (Seriously – the shopping mall and the downhill jam are levels I never needed to see again.)  Ultimately, while I am not nearly as good at it as I thought I was, I am somewhat relieved to see that I’m not noticeably worse.

So, yeah.  I know this post is far from substantive, but it’s a hell of lot cheerier than the depressing QC review I ended up not posting.  (Though, if you really want my in-depth thoughts on that game, I suppose I can be persuaded to whip it into publishable shape.)

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