Time for a good old-fashioned gaming post!
Company of Heroes
I finally decided to put some RTS gaming on my backlog. This game is developed by Relic, who are also responsible for Homeworld and Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War (as well as the upcoming Dawn of War II) â€“ so their catalogue is pretty strong. As one would expect, therefore, Company of Heroes is pretty good. It focuses less on base management and more on front-line battle tactics, unit placement and maintaining supply lines (by holding territory). Iâ€™ve played a few missions of the first single-player campaign and itâ€™s pretty great so far. As far as balancing goes, it seems to take a similar tack to Starcraft in that your units all have distinct strengths and weaknesses, and you need to use them to compensate for one another.
Team Fortress 2
Iâ€™ve been trying to play more Soldier and Spy, but honestly, Iâ€™m terrible at both, so I almost always end up falling back on my â€˜safeâ€™ classes â€“ Pyro, Medic, Heavy and Engineer. Soldier is tricky for me since Iâ€™m still trying to get used to aiming ahead of where my opponents are, which isnâ€™t always easy to do when theyâ€™re running straight at you. On the other hand, once I do manage to juggle opponents, capitalising on it to finish them off is something thatâ€™s starting to come naturally to me. Spy, thoughâ€¦man, those Youtube videos make the class look so effortless, donâ€™t they. I think the most backstabs Iâ€™ve gotten in one life is 3 or 4.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence
Iâ€™m actually pretty close to putting this to bed. Iâ€™m at the final boss fight (which is annoyingly difficult because of the terrain and the associated time limit, not to mention the fact that outside of first-person aiming mode MGS3 has the same old clunky gun controls from the first game. I will say that the game as whole is pretty good, although I honestly think that the interface for selecting stuff like camouflage is pretty clunky (they did away with it in MGS4 which is good) and the entire hunting/food system serves no purpose other than to annoy the hell out of you. CQC I thought was kind of cool, although I donâ€™t think I necessarily used it to its full potential.
I decided to press on with the game inspite of my initial misgivings. The game is actually quite hard if you try to play it like a run-and-gun FPS. Which you canâ€™t, really, unless you want to run out of ammo ten miles from any safe house with only a baseball bat to bludgeon Raiders to death withâ€¦not that Iâ€™ve ever done that *cough*. Half the time I end up wandering into some new town and getting eaten for lunch by some new enemy that seems to be at least ten levels higher than I am (most recently, giant fire ants). The weird uncanny valley people and spotty voice acting still bother me, but the game is at least reasonably challenging so I canâ€™t complain too much, I guess. My first runthrough (as with Mass Effect) will be with a goody-two-shoes type character (although I did enjoy planting a live grenade on an unsuspecting Raider while I was invisible).
On a side note, Games for Windows Live (which Fallout 3 makes you install if you want to download patches) is decent enough but it feels rather pointless. There are a few games that you can play online using it, two of which are widely regarded as terrible ports of console games (Gears of War and Grand Theft Auto IV) and the remaining two of which arenâ€™t particularly remarkable (Universe at War and Lost Planet: Colonies Edition). Other than playing online, the only thing itâ€™s really good for is tracking achievements, which is kind of cute but an ultimately pointless feature. Hopefully the PC version of Street Fighter IV lets you play online with 360 players or something, because they are in serious need of some killer apps.
Also, Coldplayâ€™s Viva la Vida is stuck in my head ever since I bought the album of the same name and the associated EP Prospekts March off Amazon MP3 this past weekend. Not that Iâ€™m complainingâ€¦