So last week I set a handful of goals for myself, as part of my resolution to focus on mini-goals throughout the year. While some of them involved fitness and eating (and drinking) habits, the ones you care about are my gaming goals. In an effort to expand my gaming knowledge, each week I’m going to focus on whittling down my backlog of Steam games, tackling some classic games I’ve never had the chance to play, and also try out some newer games I’ve picked up along the way. Anything goes and you’ll never know what will show up on these weekly lists.
I encourage you to participate yourself! So far, Sam Adonis (@indieSamAdonis) has joined in and is posting his goals on his own website The Indie Pilgrim. So check his out, too! If you do join in and make your own set of goals (doesn’t have to be four, can be more or less!) let me know on Twitter (@tomscott90). I’d love to see what you’ve been playing.
Last Week’s Goals
1.) Play 2 hours of Ratchet and Clank
So I received the re-released Ratchet and Clank trilogy for Christmas. Originally released in 2002, Ratchet and Clank was one of my favorite games of the PS2 era. I never played the second or third games, so getting the trilogy on the PlayStation 3 is nice because I’ll have all three games together in one box.
I played through the first few space sectors in the game and my biggest complaint with the game is how finicky it is to actually aim the weapons. I never remembered the aiming mechanics being this bad, and I hoped I would just get used to it while I played. That was not the case. I found myself constantly running in little semi-circles in an attempt to re-align the crosshair onto an enemy just to be able to hit them.
Eventually I just gave up trying to fight every enemy I ran into and was easily able to bypass most enemies I encountered. This expedited the levels tremendously.
The graphics hold up well, with the re-release adapting the visuals from PS2-era 4:3 resolution to HD Widescreen formats. The vividly colored environment still look good in 2015. Lack of anti-aliasing support really holds the game back though, as jaggies are always popping up.
I eagerly plan on continuing Ratchet and Clank in the coming week.
2.) Play 2 hours of Saints Row 4
I picked up Saints Row 4 during the winter Steam Sale, and put about five hours into the game. I wanted to play it for around eight hours since that’s what (I think) I paid in dollar value. I wanted to at least get a dollar per hour out of it.
Saints Row 4 is utterly ridiculous, and surprisingly, that’s what wore the game out for me. Driving in the game is fun, but when you can run at the speed of sound and jump over skyscrapers in seconds, the scope of the game quickly diminishes. Add that to the game constantly fragmenting itself (I was all of a sudden a mech battling aboard an alien space ship, and then throwing stuffed animal heads through hoops the next minute) with side quests, the game feels so scattered that I never feel like I’m getting anything done.
The two hours I played this weekend I focused nearly exclusively on completing just the main story missions, in order to see as much of the game as possible, and even then I was still being bounced around through mini-games.
I imagine it’s a fun game to play with your friends all in the same room, laughing together at the absurdity of it all. But playing it alone is much different, and I just never felt a connection to the game that lured me into wanting to play more.
I’m dropping Saints Row 4 out of my rotation.
3.) Play a game from my Steam backlog for 2 hours
I used a random number selector to pick a random game from my Steam library. The game ended up being the first of the Splinter Cell games, which I gladly downloaded and installed.
Just like Ratchet and Clank, Splinter Cell was one of the highlights of the PS2-era of gaming for me. While Splinter Cell was a great first step, it’s sequel, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, was where I really became a fan of the series. The Spies vs. Mercenaries multiplayer mode was one of the earliest (and memorable) online gaming experiences I had.
Also originally released in 2002, Splinter Cell has held up better visually than Ratchet and Clank though a big factor is that I’m playing Splinter Cell on the PC and Ratchet and Clank on the PS3.
The mechanics, however, don’t holdup that well. Some of the design decisions are a bit questionable too. For example, when carrying a body, you can’t just open the door with one hand (like you can in later Splinter Cell games), you have to select to put the body down, select to open the door, select to pick the body back up, and then you can walk into the room with the body. Also, the PC version does not support game controllers so the speed you can control Sam’s movement is done by scrolling the mouse wheel up and down to increase/decrease movement speed. It’s a good compromise, but it’s not nearly as fluid as using an analog stick.
As much as I enjoyed the later Splinter Cell games, I won’t be returning to the original, next week.
4.) Play a new “classic” game for 2 hours
I had never played a Metroid game until this week.
All I knew about Samus was that she was a girl in a robot suit who had a cool power-up shot in Super Smash Brothers.
Well, I loaded up Super Metroid (which I thought was the first game but turns out is actually Metroid 3; the original Metroid released in 1986, followed by 2 in 91, and then 3 in 94), and jumped right into the game.
I was blown away by how hard Super Metroid was. I always knew that the older platformers were notorious for being difficult, as a way to keep the short game lengths from being easily beaten in a short amount of time…but the difficulty I was experiencing in Super Metroid was beyond what I expected. Enemies in the first level were hitting me for 20%-30% of my health in single hits, and it took 2-3 shots with my arm-canon to kill them.
After about an hour and a half of making little progress and getting my ass kicked by draliens (what I started calling the dragon aliens), I made the discovery that I was actually playing an “expert” modded version of the game.
I downloaded a vanilla version and things were much, much easier.
Overall Metroid didn’t really appeal to me. It was very atmospheric, and I was initially impressed with how cinematic it was at the start…but the gameplay just didn’t draw me in enough. It was too bare bones, and the combat was pretty rigid. I’m sure it was something great back in the day, but I won’t be returning to it next week.
Next Week’s Goals
Play 2 Hours of Ratchet and Clank (second week with the game)
Play 2 Hours of Random Backlog Game
Play 2 Hours of Classic Game
Play 2 Hours of LEGO Marvel Superheroes
See you back in a week!