Phases of interest

Hmm. A lot came out of E3 that I didn't write about yet, and a couple of games came out that I've been spending a lot of time with.

Tomb Raider Underworld was nicely revealed in some gameplay footage and a prerendered trailer. My appetite for it continues healthily, I'm just hoping it will hit the more solitary exploration aspect of the series rather than the more action-focused stuff. I enjoyed Legend a great deal, but a large factor was specifically the parts where Lara was on her own in the depths of some ancient cave or ruin. Popping back into civilization kind of breaks the atmosphere for me.

Dark Void came out of nowhere and looks wonderful. A real Rocketeer vibe, lovely designs and palette. It's highly doubtful I'll be able to play it, being a very Gears of War inspired action game. As always though, I will give it a shot.

Dragon Age satisfied on all counts. Not the least of which was the revelation that the camera is entirely controllable, and the whole game can be played top-down, and can be paused at any time. Just how RPGs should be!

Enough future stuff though. Right now I'm playing a whole load of Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2. It's everything the first game was but more, and better in every way. Really a perfect sequel. I mean, I'm a built-in audience for this kind of thing anyway. Twin-stick shooter with glowing vector graphics? Right there you have a textbook description of what I think a videogame should be. My favourite modes are easily Pacifism and King, while Waves is an exercise in addictive frustration. You know a game is doing all kinds of things right when upon losing you curse only yourself, and instead of reaching for the power button you dive straight back in.

GWRE2 kickstarted me back into arcade game mode, and I got back into Super Stardust HD, Everyday Shooter, my old MAME favourites, and I bought Soul Calibur 4. Time spent in SC4 customizing characters is significantly larger than time spent actually playing. I've realised I don't like the game that much, I'm just fuelled by great memories of its dreamcast ancestor.

Braid came out on XBLA today, and while I've been following its development since the early whispers by the time it got here I wasn't even sure I was interested - in the sense that I didn't feel I was in arty platformer mode. A few minutes with the trial version put that to rest and I wasted no time in buying the full game. I'll refrain from weighing in with tiresome Games Are Art commentary and just say that it's an absolutely wonderful piece of work, one that takes a core idea and runs further and more imaginitively with it than anything else has. It has the purest sense of satisfaction from videogame puzzle solving. Not stumbling upon the answer by trial and error, but reading the screen layout, thinking about the relationships and behaviours of everything, and having that moment of realisation.

All that brings me to my main topic; my ever-shifting focus of videogaming interests. I go through chunks of time that can span from a week or so to many months where I'm only interested in playing particular types of games. A few years back I spent a couple of years playing pretty much nothing but scrolling shoot 'em ups. The first half of this year I spent deeply entrenched in computer RPGs.

The thing is, I never seem to be able to mix it up. I completely lose interest in one genre when I'm playing another. As I said above, GW put me back into the mindset of wanting to play fast, short, highscore-centric games. Not neccessarily just shoot 'em ups, but platformers, beat 'em ups, racers... anything that can be done in a quick session, or played over and over again in a session. After a solid week of GW2 and Soul Calibur 4 I tried to go back and make further progress in Neverwinter Nights 2, and found myself immediately bored and disinterested. This is a game I was overwhelmingly enthusiastic about not two weeks ago. I'm looking at the collection of vintage RPGs I've been collecting and thinking I'm wasted a great deal of money.

Luckily, I know from experience that I'll cycle back round to them eventually, and they'll be there waiting when I do. I just find it odd how my mindset so completely changes on these things. Part of it is me feeling generally listless at the moment. I don't feel too motivated or interested in anything (I still have not seen The Dark Knight for example). I want videogames to be something I pick up and play for a few minutes occasionally, not something I have to dedicate vast amounts of time to. I'm very much drawn back to XBLA and PSN stuff, and the indie scene. I think it might have been Mass Effect that pulled me out of that last year, so I guess the thing to do it this time will be Dragon Age. Too Human - although a cinematic action RPG experience - is much more on the side of arcade action than an epic undertaking. in my current frame of mind about gaming it sounds just about perfect.

1 comment:

ian_scho said...

I agree with your 'psychological phases' thing, although I don't know if it's because you get burn out of a genre, more the grass is suddenly looking greener... type thing.

I bet the game I'm hooked on at the moment - DwarfFortress wasn't represented at E3. ASCII grass looks great! ;)