Over the last year or so it feels like I have gravitated to investigation games more frequently. Last year I played two Sherlock Holmes games on the channel, enjoyed some time in The Sinking City, wandered the mean streets in Blacksad: Under the Skin, to name just a few. It is no surprise that, sooner or later, I would make my way to the much-loved Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series. And having now completed the HD Trilogy on PC, I can see why this old Nintendo DS classic has been the recipient of a great deal of praise.
As people who know me will not be shocked to hear, I love cyberpunk settings. I am also a big fan of games that tell a compelling story about global conspiracies or mysterious, corporate/state intrigue. State of Mind, it just so happens, is set in a cyberpunk setting about a global corporate conspiracy tangled in the mystery of how a man’s family suddenly vanishes without a trace during a large gap in his own memory. Sounds like my cup of tea!
Geralt of Rivia. Mercenary. Witcher. Made and trained to kill monsters in the defence of humankind as a sword for hire, he wanders from town to village to smallholdings in the countryside seeking notices nailed to bulletin boards and fence posts. Or maybe the sound of screams from somewhere deep inside the forest nearby, heralding potential work for his kind that they might fill their coin pouch. Drowners, manticores, vampires, kikkimoras, anything the local alderman might pay a bounty for. His downtime is spent playing dice or cards, or brewing potions for his work and tending to his injuries while enjoying the company of a beautiful woman.
Geralt’s adventures were first published in book form by Polish author, Andrzej Sapkowski, as a series of short stories depicting the Witcher’s various jobs ranging from slaying a beast preying on local merchants along the road to lifting curses from a princess at the personal behest of the King. Through all of this, he endures the adulation of those he saved in equal measure to the animosity from those who scorn his kind. Witchers are not quite human, you see. They are usually taken as children to a Witcher fortress that acts as their school, taught to fight with swords, practice herblore for potion brewing, given training in tracking animals, anything that their work would require. Once they come of age, and only if they survive, they are put through the Trial of grasses where their young bodies are subjected to powerful mutagen potions, one after the other, and infected with various sicknesses to develop immunity that will last a lifetime to all sickness. Spells are cast to inject a little magic into them, though just a little.
While working through my backlog of games I am also playing some recent titles as well. I figure it is best to stagger these in the hopes of keeping the blog relevant to current gaming instead of being totally retro.* I played the demo of Spec Ops: The Line some time back, soon after release, and was impressed with the feel of it. In my opinion, this merited a closer look, so here it is.
* Note, not all went as planned here and… yeah this game is now last year’s news and I am way behind again… but you can see my intentions were pure so I will keep this ill-fated line in none the less…
Besides my BioShock review I mentioned before that I also bought Mass Effect 2 on the Steam sale over the holidays. In fact, playing Mass Effect 2 took over most of the time instead of BioShock to a point that I was not too sure which game review would hit the blog first. It has been interesting to play two heavily contrasting games side by side, especially as both involve some kind of super powers in their characters and dub themselves as Role Play Games.
I also mentioned before that I replayed the first Mass Effect to import a save game, something that once I got down to trying was fairly difficult. Mainly locating the obscure hidden holders where the save game was from the first Mass Effect so I could select it and import it. Feeling a little flushed about this, though, I started playing and pretty early on realised that there were a couple of perks to importing a game. One was an increase to the starting points I could assign to powers and abilities as well as a starting pot of credits, the other was less useful but might appeal to others in the form of an achievement. So I guess for the starting points and credits it was kind of worth it. I was also able to remap my character details a little to give him Biotic powers, which is something I have never done in the first Mass Effect so I decided this was the time to give it a try.
Now then, back to some solid reviewing and I will kick off the new year with BioShock, by 2K Games, followed by Mass Effect 2 in another blog, maybe a poker game blog if I have a sweet game in Poker Night at the Inventory, a review of the XBox Kinect and Fallout New Vegas all in the winds as I find time for them.
Here goes with number one, BioShock.
I have quietly considered this game for a while now and took the plunge in the Steam holiday madness sale getting it for about £3 or something like that. Looking at the past trailers and such the style latched on to me fairly quickly but I never got round to getting the game. It has this film noir thing going on mixed with some classic horror in an art deco steam punk setting underwater…. if that cocktail did not blow a fuse in your brain then keep reading.
As always I start with a quick run down of the setting before moving on to the actual gaming. You start as some unnamed and unknown quantity on an aircraft that quickly runs into some mechanical issues and finds the water below to be suddenly appealing. After the love affair runs its course and the plane is smashed to bits you seem to be the only one alive in the water with burning jet fuel and flight cushions floating in the bobbing seas. As you look around you see, unnerving close to the crash, a kind of light house in the middle of the ocean like a beacon with stairs leading up from a dock. Seeking shelter and maybe some help you climb the stairs and go inside to be greeted by a dilapidated lobby that looks like a welcome suite, and an elevator at the far end. Well, sitting around will not get you help so naturally you pull the lever and it turns into a submarine that goes back under water and heads off on some auto pilot as a slide show plays telling you of some scientist called Dr Ryan who has a dream for a utopian community where people can be whatever they want. This is Rapture.
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