Back in 2010, a week or so before Halloween, Double Fine Productions released Costume Quest. Somewhere between then and a month or two ago, I bought it on XBLA, and I finally got around to actually playing it about a week ago. It’s a cute, fun little game, and I enjoyed it.
It’s basically a light RPG-type game, where you run around neighborhoods trick-or-treating houses, collecting candy, costumes, and battle stamps (which improve your abilities in combat). Encounters with monsters are the meat of the game, and trigger a sequence where the cute cartoon children and silly monsters morph into giants who do battle over the town in a turn-based RPG style. It kind of reminds me of that episode of South Park where the kids morph into anime characters and battle each other.
The cartoon graphics are crisp and colorful, and the sound design is simple, but does all the appropriate things. Controls are easy. Overall, it’s a shorter, but quality title– the quality of which I’ve come to expect from Double Fine.
If you haven’t played Costume Quest yet, I’d recommend it. Maybe save it as a little Halloween treat for later this year.
Like many people out there, I’ve been playing Diablo 3 over the last week or so. And while I did participate in the beta, I mostly did that just to see how the game would run on my machine; I didn’t really dig into the game until now. Here are a few things I’ve been thinking lately as I’ve played:
- The mouse clicking is intense, and while the case could be made that it’s a pure control concept or that it’s a nice throwback, sometimes it can feel a little stale. I just hope I don’t end up accidentally breaking my mouse.
- I’m really happy Blizzard decided to get rid of town portal scrolls. Using up inventory slots for something you almost always had to have was stupid.
- The cinematic scenes are epic. I’m honestly kind of surprised Blizzard hasn’t begun developing its own in-house game-to-movie crossovers. They obviously have the talent.
- The graphics are good, even at the lowest settings. It also runs on my years-old laptop, which is pretty neat. I’m afraid of overheating it though, so I don’t play on that machine much.
- It’s hard to really nail down why, but the game feels (or rather, maybe it just looks) a bit like World of Warcraft. It just seems oddly familiar, which isn’t really a bad thing I suppose.
- The required internet connection is a little weird, especially at first. Playing a single player game with a latency indicator on the HUD is strange. I understand why they did all this, but for people with spotty internet connections / networking hardware, it’s kind of a drag.
- It’s a bummer that Blizzard couldn’t get the launch right. After spending a few days just looking at my shiny new pre-loaded game, I finally installed and then spent the first hour of launch trying to log in, but the game’s servers were borked– no doubt totally crushed by thousands of people trying to log in at once. It’s disappointing to me that Blizzard, proprietor or the world’s most successful MMORPG, can’t nail a launch that involves heavy server load yet.
- Co-op play is seamless and easy to do, thanks to Battle.net.
Despite a few drawbacks, I’m enjoying my time with the game. This is definitely a more accessible Diablo, at least so far, and with achievements, weapon crafting, lots of rare items, and all sorts of stat combinations, there’s no shortage of rewards for putting in time with the game.
It’ll be interesting to see if that dynamic changes when Blizzard unleashes the cash-powered item auction house in a few days; there’s already one in operation that uses the in-game “gold” currency. Since the core of the game is still a single player experience though, the player remains well insulated from all the madness that comes with the auction house. And that’s probably a good thing, lest Diablo 3 start feeling a little bit too much like World of Warcraft.
When EA acquired BioWare in 2007, on the eve of its successful franchise launch with the original Mass Effect, I tried my hardest to reserve my criticisms until after they shipped a few more products, and we would start to see just how extensive the inevitable changes to the company would be. With BioWare’s history of crafting superb games, it seemed like I owed it to them to at least wait for the dust to settle before making any judgments.
So the other day I was playing Team Fortress 2, and someone accused me of being a “free-to-play noob”. I was chided as being one of the newbie players who only recently got into the game because it became free-to-play, despite my owning and playing the game since 2007.
But let me back up a little bit. I was playing Team Fortress 2 the other day, and having a less than stellar round. Some people on my team, who had been playing on the server before I got there, were using their microphones to play the game. These players were being too vocal, to the point that I couldn’t concentrate on the game because of all the “mic spam”. Being annoyed at my repeated effort and lack of results, coupled with the inane chirps and squeals of the mic spam, I did what any right-minded online gamer would do: I told them to “shut the fuck up”.
So Valve finally got around to releasing one of the two final Meet the Team videos – the newest being for the Medic, and arguably the most epic video they’ve created so far. Watch below!
Oh, and if you didn’t bother to watch all the way through, they’ve also just announced that Team Fortress 2 is now free to play for all! A generous move, surely, though I’m not sure if there are many people left out there who are interested in the game and haven’t gotten it yet. Still, this is great news for the continuing popularity of the game.
And if it’s proof of anything, it’s proof that sales of virtual goods must be a profitable business for Valve. This wouldn’t shock me at all.
Anyway, it’s a great game by a great team. Get it for yourself if you haven’t already!