The First Few Hours: Transistor, Wolfenstein

I’m heading off the grid in a few hours; the wife and I are celebrating our 10-year anniversary and, as such, I will be doing everything I possibly can to not look at the internet for a few days.

Before I go, though, I did want to jot down some thoughts on this week’s big releases.

1.  Transistor, the latest game from Supergiant, certainly appears at first glance to be cut from the same inspirational cloth as their previous release, Bastion: it’s got a remarkable art style, a striking musical backdrop, and a bit of running commentary (from your sword).  The gameplay is quite different than its predecessor, of course; it’s actually got one of the most unique combat systems I’ve ever gotten my hands on.  It’s one part hack/slash, one part turn-based strategy, with both parts happening at the same time.  It sounds complicated, and it sort-of is, at first.  Certainly the special powers you acquire are not all that well explained, and while it’s cool that you can link them together to create unique combinations, it’s not particularly intuitive, and I find myself feeling confused rather than empowered.   I trust that the story will get around to explaining itself a bit more, as the game starts in medias res and hasn’t yet fleshed itself out.  I’m still early on, but I’m feeling a bit put off.

2.  Wolfenstein: The New Order, on the other hand, is something I wasn’t expecting at all – an old-school shooter dressed in next-gen finery, and executed really, really well.  The biggest knock against it from the major sites is that it has a rather inconsistent tone; in one moment you’re surrounded by surprisingly three-dimensional characters that’ve been through hell and back, and in the next moment you’re shooting the crap out of dozens of Nazis and their mechanically-enhanced dogs, all the while scooping up food, ammo and armor like they were candy.  The food in particular makes Bioshock‘s trash-eating look quaint, but it’s also a throwback to the original game, and somehow it works.  I’m happy to turn off my brain for it; the game (and the Dualshock 4) feels quite good in the hands, and the various set pieces I’ve encountered so far are pretty spectacular.  (I’m currently in the London Science Museum, a little bit past the area celebrating the Nazis’ successful moon landing.)  And there’s so many secrets!  So many nooks and crannies!  Oh, man, I know I’ve complained of shooter fatigue but this is very much hitting the spot.

3.  I’ve also been dabbling a bit more in Final Fantasy X on the Vita.  It’s… well, having never played it originally, I’m not really sure what to think about it.  It certainly looks quite nice, and the combat is well-tuned, but the sphere grid is… um… completely insane?  And also the dialogue is mostly ridiculous, and the voice acting is not doing the script any favors?  It’s hard to know how much of it I’m supposed to be taking seriously.  The overall story has a certain momentum that I can stick with, but each moment-to-moment cutscene is just… silly.  I’m rather inexperienced when it comes to Final Fantasy games, having only actually finished 13-1 (before I knew it would have 2 sequels) and having dabbled a bit in a few others, so I have no idea where FFX ranks among the hard-core fans.  I gather it’s mostly notable because it was the first FF game to be fully 3D?  Is that right?  Anyway, the most difficult part for me is finding the time to play it; I’m not thrilled about the idea of pulling it out on the subway, and the Vita is too conspicuous to play at work, and my home-play time is gonna be mostly devoted to Wolfy and Watch Dogs (and Transistor, when I decide to switch it up).

Lastly, I’ll have a piece going up on Monday over at Gamemoir about my guesses for Rockstar’s next title, and I’m also hoping to have this other thing for Videodame that’s turning out to be one of the more difficult and intimidating things I’ve ever written.  I’m a little nervous about it, mostly because it’s me talking about things that I generally don’t talk about, and explaining why I don’t talk about them.  And then I think I’m finally doing something for Unwinnable, and I’m aiming for the first week of June for that one.  It’s weird to be doing more writing about gaming than actually gaming, but that’s also why I’m doing all this in the first place.

Enjoy your weekend, everybody!



Categories: the first few hours

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