Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Byte: Losing... Will... To... Live!

Right. I'm really getting desperate now. The much-vaunted review copy of Space Siege I was due to get this week hasn't arrived yet, meaning that unless I want to plug yet even more of my real so-called life into my virtual so-called life, I've got to start scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with some kind of PC gaming experience that could remotely adhere to the labels of "novel" and "enjoyable"...

Fellow former-State stalwart, beemoh, recommended I try a game with the snappy acronym YHTFTE. It scores highly on the "novel" scale, but slightly less so on the "enjoyable" scale, since I now CAN'T GET THAT BLOODY TUNE OUT OF MY HEAD. Thanks for that, Mark. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

The early reviews of Space Siege seem to suggest that I'm not exactly missing much, but at this point I just want to play something NEW. And I'm willing to approach it with an open mind, because I really like the way Chris Taylor approaches the way he makes games, even if I don't end up being mad keen on the games themselves. He's one of the industry's genuine auteurs and characters - kind of like Peter Molyneaux on Speed *and* LSD, but without the tendency to promise the Moon on a stick with chocolatey frosting, and then not deliver on it. Much like the way that some people will watch a film by Kubrick and think "well, that was no great shakes now, was it?", I think Chris Taylor can go into that same category. His absolute passion and commitment to videogames is similar, and, much like Kubrick, the way he actually implements them is definitely for the discerning hardcore. Though I've seen recent interviews with him that suggest this approach is going to change for future titles. Like he says here, who wants to play a game where you're put to work for half a dozen hours before you can even understand how to play the game? I absolutely agree with him - in fact, it's something I've been talking about for a couple of years now - the trend towards more accessible games (with the Nintendo platforms in particular) growing the player base. So I'm going to keep an open mind on Space Siege and review it on its merits, even if my expectations of the game now aren't what they were a fortnight ago. Perhaps I'll find an angle in there other reviews haven't... or maybe it's just pants. I'll have to wait and see. I'll link the review when it's up - probably in the next week or two.

After that I should be getting my hands on the Enhanced Edition of The Witcher. This was one of my favourite games from last year, so I'm really looking forward to this. I'm not sure what that says about the utter dearth of good RPG titles released between now and its original release date (nothing good, I suspect), but I'm intrigued to see how the game stands up nearly a year after the initial release and just how much work CD Projekt Red put into it. I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but since I wrote the initial review, I did go out of my way to pick up the short stories the game was based on a little earlier this year - and you know what? They're bloody good. If you're a fan of fantasy writing, they're well worth a read, and it does give you a lot of the backstory on Geralt that's only touched on by the original version of the game. I'm hoping that they're going to publish translations of the other Witcher books to coincide with the release of the Enhanced Edition of the game, because I devoured the short stories (nearly 300 pages worth) in a little over an afternoon. Sapkowski has a really nice style that robustly survives translation (unlike some translated authors I've read, such as Fred Vargas - an author favoured by a lot of my French friends - who translates into English as a sub-Dan Brownian author of the dullest banality and cliché; the translation of Have Mercy on Us All is particularly uninspiring) and I finished The Witcher short stories really wanting to read a lot more.

But anyway, I digress... So with the two review copies I'm after not having arrived yet, and Spore still being a couple of weeks away, I'm left with a PC gaming gap I'm struggling to fill. So earlier this evening I took the plunge, suitably inspired by the revised Dawn of War II trailer (now with added Tyranids!) to complete my Dawn of War collection by adding its final expansion, Soulstorm, to my Steam games list. Of course, it's going to be hours yet until it finishes downloading... which is why I'm writing this in the first place. My boredom is your gain, dear readers. That is, until I'm boring you to tears as well, in which case, misery does love company...
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