Back with a Bang (or rather a whimper)

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I LIVE

I DIE

I LIVE AGAIN

My WordPress dashboard tells me that I published the last post more than half a year ago, shortly after I bought my brand new, shining gaming rig. A very long period of silence followed. How to explain that? An abyss of confusion.

Playing on my old laptop gave me a very limited choice. Oldies or indies. Getting a PC more suitable for my favourite hobby made me think really hard about the concept of choice cost. Suddenly, a whole new galaxy was opened before me – and Steam sales certainly don’t help you to focus on a single target. Yeah, time to change my approach and avoid hoarding unfinished games in my library — which is, by the way, the most disgusting form of consumerism.

Mad Max

The best mediocre game I’ve ever played.

Sure, just like I mentioned in that post, all the reviews I’ve read before and during playing Mad Max were right. It’s flawed. A disappointment. And yet I consider it to be one of the best experiences in my lifetime of a vidya fan.

Sure, I can see the flaws mentioned by other reviewers. Gameplay is repetitive. There are no dialogue options and the text is scarce. Difficulty threshold is way too low and you ascend to the position of a wasteland demigod too soon. Maybe there are many other minor details which would make me criticise this game if I only were a professional reviewer?

Too bad I’m just myself. Someone who finds the weakest points of this game really appealing.

There is no such thing as repetitiveness when you’re impersonating Max Rockatansky in the middle of a wasteland. Everything, driving, fighting, exploration, is hypnotising — which would be hardly possible in another setting.

Verdun

Just a few heartbeats and shell explosions after I’ve entered my first battle, I meet a small team of professional and extremely polite German players who are ready to guide me, a complete Grünschnabel. Out of sudden, I have just found my regiment, the local equivalent of a standard multiplayer clan. The battle is finished and immediately after the new map loads, one of my new trench friends quotes a very gloomy German poem about dying in the trenches. Just a few seconds later I find myself lying on the bottom of a trench, covering from artillery barrage and looking at the uncanny depiction of a hole in human skull and a pulsating brain beneath it. Shivers.

Yeah, maybe I found a FPS shooter which I can enjoy playing online after all.

Goals for this month

Verdun: Reach player level 100

…and stop being such an embarrassment to my dear Kameraden. Seriously, some of them have reset their rank to plain zero since I’ve started playing the game in December.

Space Marine: win it for the Librarius

…finishing the game shouldn’t be a problem even on the hardest difficulty level. What really makes me excited is collecting the missing floating skulls – just because it made me leave the playthrough in the past. Funny, searching for them is far more frustrating than repeatedly dying after a close encounter with a Traitor Marine who still remembers the Heresy Era.

Sunless Sea: Finish it!

According to my Steam counter, it’s almost 700 hours spent on the Unterzee. No wonder I’m so lousy at finishing games. Besides, maybe Sunless Sky is still in development, but there is a fan-made spin-off to give a try to. Hurry up, Captain!

 

This Blog: Summaries.

Amazing! Extraordinary! I’ve actually managed to finish some games since the December. It’s only polite to write about it and feed my Just Finished category.

Constant Feature: Your weekly report

What I need is some discipline. Writing a report about my progress every week seems to be a good start. Of course, it should include noting down my thoughts and posting screenshots which are to brief or irrelevant to make an entire post. Since I do most of my playing on weekends, Monday is the best choice for such reports.

Beginning of Darkness: Mad Max

A man who lost his beloved family now loses his beloved car. He wins a dog and a friend and a friend — or rather a worshipper — so there’s still hope in this grimdark wasteland. More importantly, there is a chance that a prophet will make him a hero, not a broken degenerate seeking escape from the reality.

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Id vs Superego

After spending many years as a quasi-Luddite, mostly playing classic games and indies on my battered laptop, I finally managed to buy a decent rig. Of all the possibilities, I chose to try out a game every review warns me of. It’s dull and flat, they say, mediocre at best, a wasted chance for the game of the decade. Even if it’s true, it doesn’t really matter. Breathtaking desert landscapes, a postapocalyptic, crumbling society, cars and savages, and most importantly, the titular character — for all that, I’m ready to forgive every flaw the game may have.

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As usual, I think about adding self-appointed challenges, but after two hours of play it’s hard to figure it out. The only thing that comes to my mind for now:

Cockpit View Only – because immersion is important, and because this is how I played Interstate’76.

And now let’s find out if those critics were right.

Fallout 3: Sun and Steel

Pitt Outskirts

Self-defence and Slavery

The Pitt may be the best Fallout 3 add-on released by Bethesda, and certainly it’s my favourite one. The Lone Wanderer meets a stranger posing as a leader of slave resistance in the ruined Pittsburgh, which has been turned into a colossal industrial combine by a certain raider leader.  On the moment he crosses the main gate, our character is immediately knocked down by the guards and eventually wakes up at the literal bottom of the social ladder — as a slave wearing tattered rags who is forced to labour in a steelyard, facing savage mutants, radiation and, let’s not underestimate it, horrible food, the Slop. Thanks to the player’s skill (and sometimes the liberal use of quickloading), he may slowly rise from an indentured worker to an arena fighter, and eventually has the chance to become one of the Evil Overlord’s henchmen. Of course, the resistance among the enslaved population is still active and requires his help in preparing a rebellion, but the line between good and bad, the downtrodden and the oppressors, is becoming blurry…

There are two main reasons to like this mod: the first one will be obvious to everone who looks at a few screenshots or finds a gameplay video on YouTube. To put it in a nutshell, the entire location looks and feels like a part of the Mad Max universe combined with a futuristic version of the Soviet Gulag. Personally, I think that the overall tone matches the postapocalyptic tone of the Fallout series better than any other location or quest in its third installment.

The other reason is that The Pitt forces even the advanced players to start from scratch again. When he was about to enter the compound, my Hagen was a proud owner of an Enclave Power Armour, armed with a blaster literally from the outer space, and boasting 30 levels of experience. At this point, it was very refreshing to have to survive with minimum equipment, searching the gloomy steelyard for metal ingots and repelling mutant attacks again and again. The first major quest may be the most interesting and satysfying in the entire DLC, but I will write more about it another day.

Fallout 3: Sun and Steel

Pitt Outskirts

The Pitt may be the best Fallout 3 add-on released by Bethesda, and certainly it’s my favourite one. The Lone Wanderer meets a stranger posing as a leader of slave resistance in the ruined Pittsburgh, which has been turned into a colossal industrial combine by a certain raider leader.  On the moment he crosses the main gate, our character is immediately knocked down by the guards and eventually wakes up at the literal bottom of the social ladder — as a slave wearing tattered rags who is forced to labour in a steelyard, facing savage mutants, radiation and, let’s not underestimate it, horrible food, the Slop. Thanks to the player’s skill (and sometimes the liberal use of quickloading), he may slowly rise from an indentured worker to an arena fighter, and eventually has the chance to become one of the Evil Overlord’s henchmen. Of course, the resistance among the enslaved population is still active and requires his help in preparing a rebellion, but the line between good and bad, the downtrodden and the oppressors, is becoming blurry…

There are two main reasons to like this mod: the first one will be obvious to everone who looks at a few screenshots or finds a gameplay video on YouTube. To put it in a nutshell, the entire location looks and feels like a part of the Mad Max universe combined with a futuristic version of the Soviet Gulag. Personally, I think that the overall tone matches the postapocalyptic tone of the Fallout series better than any other location or quest in its third installment.

The other reason is that The Pitt forces even the advanced players to start from scratch again. When he was about to enter the compound, my Hagen was a proud owner of an Enclave Power Armour, armed with a blaster literally from the outer space, and boasting 30 levels of experience. At this point, it was very refreshing to have to survive with minimum equipment, searching the gloomy steelyard for metal ingots and repelling mutant attacks again and again. The first major quest may be the most interesting and satysfying in the entire DLC, but I will write more about it another day.