Saturday, July 04, 2020

Gaming through the apocalypse

Ireland is making tentative steps out of a four month lockdown imposed to halt the spread of Covid 19. Given the how utterly bizarre the situation is it is somewhat surprising that I have yet to write in the blog about it. The truth is that while the pandemic is an event of enormous global impact the personal situation it has enforced is rather tedious and extremely repetitive. Thankfully none of my immediate family have caught the illness even though we have friends and acquaintances who were hit hard. For us us life under lockdown has been a depressingly repetitive cycle of sleep at home, work at home, play at home with occasional short trips for exercise or essential shopping. We are lucky I guess,  that we have been able to continue working remotely through the pandemic and indeed we have been very busy dealing with its impact.

Aside: My father was born in 1913 and passed away in 1984. He lived through two world wars, an armed rebellion, a war of independence, a civil war, the Spanish Flu, the Asian Flu, epidemics of Polio, TB and diphtheria, the Great Depression and more economic up and down cycles than I could count. My own life has been rather uneventful in comparison for which I am grateful.  I do find it helpful in dealing with the current pandemic to remember that our parents and grandparents lived through worse.

Anyway as you might imagine I have played a few games during the lock down and for posterity I am going to talk about them here.

Total Warhammer 2: The Prince and the Paunch DLC launched last month which finally gave some love to the Greenskins so I have been playing a bit of that. As is usually the case the DLC was unbalanced on release and goblins went from being utterly useless to quite overpowered but that is likely to be addressed in later patches.

Empire Total War: I developed a hankering for some old fashion cannon and musket game play so I reinstalled Empire TW. Empire was probably the most ambitious Total War release with its global map and many new game play features. Unfortunately it didn't quite live up to that ambition and is still criticised for being buggy and having poor AI. I have experienced both of these in my American campaign so far. I do love the period and the setting though. I would love to see Empire Total War 2.

Doom Eternal: Another best in class no holds barred shooter from Bethesda. Just like the 2016 version the game is superbly polished and superbly balanced. Doom is not a game where you hide behind cover. You must keep moving, keep shooting and keep killing  to collect health armour and ammunition in order to keep moving, keep shooting and keep killing.  When it clicks you can get into a zen like state of flow.

Battlefield V: I suck at multiplayer shooters but I bought this on sale because it has a short single player campaign. Enjoyable enough although I preferred Battlefield One.

Control: This is a magnificent game that is bizarre, inexplicable and a lot of fun. I would put it in the same genre as Prey and Bioshock and in some respects it even surpasses those games. Highly recommended.

Carcassone: This is a table top game but I have been playing it online with some friends in order to have some social interaction. Now that restrictions are lifting we will probably revert to real world meetings instead.

Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order. I am currently playing this and enjoying it. It has a strong star wars vibe with varied and engaging game play.  I am not the best at third person combat and action adventures. I often hit blockages where I struggle to get through a particular mission or challenge.  Fallen Order has some tricky boss fights and I did nearly hit that wall on a few occasions but so far I have managed to get through. Hopefully I can finish the game.

The Signal from Tolva: A robot shooter set on a remote planet. This is a fairly bare bones game with decent mechanics and very little story or setting behind them. I enjoyed it but it is very repetitive so it is probably not for everyone.

The Messenger: This is a well reviewed action platformer with an interesting mid game twist where the game play opens up Metroidvania style and the graphics shift from 8bit retro to 16 bit retro half way through. I am a wimp when it comes to platfomers and I quickly get frustrated if the challenge gets too hard. The messenger sails right along the line of my tolerance limit. I played as far as the graphics shift sometimes enjoying it and sometimes getting frustrated at having to replay hard bits over and over again. Eventually I decided to take a break and it is doubtful if I will ever get back to it.

Microsoft Teams: Not a game of course but I have spend more hours than I care to remember staring at a screen running this blighted app or one of its competitors. For many weeks I was averaging four hours video conferencing every day and I found it extremely draining. This somewhat dampened my enthusiasm to sit in the same chair and stare at the same screen to play video games as a form of relaxation afterwards.

Apparently I have a coffee problem

 A couple of weeks ago my wife alerted me to the fact that I had developed an occasional odour problem. This surprised and distressed me som...