Posts Tagged ‘Games’

RPG economies

I was just thinking about something in the shower–in RPGs, even after you’ve been universally hailed as the only person able to save the world from sure destruction by demon hordes, you still have to pay for armor and weapons and even health potions.

You’d think that vendors would realize that, since the world is about to end, they should probably be more interested in helping the hero save it than earn money and let the world be destroyed? I know people are greedy, but I don’t have any personal experience with how people act when faced with demon hordes.

This is a bit of a contrast with Half-Life 2, which I’ve recently been playing; there, the resistance forces do everything they possibly can to help you, knowing that you’re the only hope for the human race.

Actually, maybe that’s it–it’s set on Earth, unlike most RPGs. I suppose Earth’s denizens are more rational than those of alternate worlds?

Good gaming times ahead

So I’ve been playing a lot of Diablo II recently, because I can’t seem to get on task at all. I seem to have a thing for older games, and Diablo II isn’t an exception — it was released in 2000. (Technically I’m playing the expansion, which is from 2001.)

But the announcement a month ago of Diablo III has reminded me how many good games are in the works right now. Let’s see:

Blizzard alone has two very highly anticipated (as in, anticipated for the last decade) games on the way: Diablo III and Starcraft II. Of course, they’ll be coming out on a Blizzard-like schedule, which means in two years, but you can’t blame ’em–all their games remain heavily played over a decade after their releases. They have to get it right, y’know?

Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour are coming out in a few months, and will surely be an improvement on the already-awesome Rock Band. Personally, I find Activision has been a negative influence on the Guitar Hero franchise. (Their ideas get worse and worse–guitar battles? DS game? Aerosmith-centered game!?) But regardless, I’m sure GH:WT will be a pretty cool game. And both games have great setlists!

There has been lots of good news besides game announcements: Final Fantasy XIII will not be a PS3 exclusive, Xbox Live might switch to free multiplayer gaming, console storage is going up (including Nintendo, who realized that a console should probably have more than 512 MB of storage).

More Portal levels are coming soon, and an entire sequel is in development. Bungie is working on a new Halo-related game (not my thing). And of course, Spore is on its way, and will be the last thing you’ll ever desire. (Sorry for the Battlecruiser 3000 reference, but Spore really isn’t my thing. I’ve never enjoyed a god game. But doesn’t Spore’s gameplay sound just a little bit like Battlecruiser 3000?)

Good times. But for the next few months, I can keep on truckin’ through Sanctuary with Bezos the Amazon, who is currently on Act 3 of Nightmare difficulty. Beware her level 20 Charged Strike. (Except for the lightning immune monsters which are really annoying me.)

Deus Ex

Remember how I said (a very, very long time ago) that I was making an effort to play a lot of the most influential computer games? Well, after finishing Half-Life, I went quite a while without playing games.

Then, in November, I bought The Orange Box, and played Portal. Portal is an excellent though short first-person puzzle game that forces players to think hard about game physics — that’s a first. It features a “portal gun” which allows the player to teleport. I really enjoyed Portal, as did most people.

But what I’m writing about now is a game released in 2000, called Deus Ex. Developed by the generally disappointing group Ion Storm, Deus Ex is considered one of the best PC games of all time. I (not so) recently completed it, and I must wholeheartedly agree.

In 2052, you are JC Denton, a member of UNATCO, the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition. An early test subject for nano-augmentation, you have superhuman abilities due to modifications made to you at birth. The world is in a downward spiral, as the Gray Death pandemic is killing the lower classes; while a vaccine, Ambrosia, exists, it is in short supply.

You have just been assigned your first UNATCO mission. A terrorist group, the NSF, has captured a shipment of Ambrosia on Liberty Island and you are tasked with recovering it. As you continue to pursue the NSF, you end up at LaGuardia Airport where the Ambrosia is being kept…and you find that a UNATCO ally very close to you is actually working for the NSF.

Uncovering the mystery reveals sinister connections with FEMA, Majestic 12, and the Illuminati as you travel between New York, Hong Kong, and Paris. The final battle takes place at Area 51, where the future of the world is placed in your hands. Do you want to merge yourself with the global communications network and become benevolent dictator of the world? Do you want to destroy the network and plunge the world into a second Dark Age? Or would you prefer to return the Illuminati to power, guiding the world’s governments with an invisible hand?

The massive amount of freedom afforded the player by Deus Ex is incredible. Every area is designed to allow many ways to accomplish each task. It is actually possible to beat the game without killing anybody — and even without going to such extremes, players’ strategies can range from stealth to all-out violence. There’s no sense of the “right way” to do anything in Deus Ex — any way that works is great. The plot is highly fluid, and while players end up in the same places at the same times, small actions from hours ago influence who survives and who is friendly.

All in all, I thought Deus Ex was a great game with a great story. I’m playing Halo right now, which kinda bores me with its focus on massive battles. Can anybody suggest more great games?