So many games, so little time

It’s that time of the year again – just as the weather is getting warmer and everyone is recovering from the inevitable colds, flu, and chest infections and wants to be outside (apologies to anyone in the southern hemisphere for the UK bias) – what happens? We get hit with a slew of AAA computer games. And offers on old ones.

Games I am playing at the moment:

Rift – I really do enjoy Rift, and I don’t think people are anywhere near appreciative enough of the PvE/ questing content. It’s not revolutionary but bug free and nicely executed. Technically it’s good too – there’s a nice variety of kill quests, collect quests, use the item quests, use something in the environment quests, etc etc. And if you actually read the storyline quests in each zone, they’re good fun.

It’s a very easy game to spend an hour or so in quietly, even if you don’t feel like running the Rifts, instances or warfronts. Of course my character is still only level 30 so I can’t speak for the endgame. I intend to write longer posts about Rift since I’m happy with my 6 month sub, love the warlock, and looking forwards to seeing how things go. It is noticeable that the population has dropped off after the first month, but maybe they’re just all busy with single player games. Tipa writes a more thoughtful review here.

Dragon Age 2 – I haven’t gotten very far with my second play through as a mage yet, but it’s on the back burner. The more I think about this game (and I have been thinking about it) the more I love what they were trying to do. I find that a) I’m quite forgiving of games that fail to meet their vision if I agree with the vision and b) my characters in Bioware games default to Captain Jack style bisexual (he’ll screw anything as long as it’s gorgeous).

Mass Effect 2:  Since Bioware have been giving this away free to DA2 purchasers, it would have been rude not to download it. I got as far as where Shepherd first meets the Illustrated Man but haven’t really felt the need to play it since. I want to, even though I think I have probably forgotten the various commands for switching guns and … whatever other shooter stuff it does. It’s strange that the Dragon Age games have been so compelling for me but I struggle to get very far with either of the ME ones. I don’t think ME3 is on my shopping list either, now that Bioware have been busy perfecting the shootery gameplay which I’m so bad at.

The Witcher: Another game that I really like but have not been driven to play for ages. Picked this up in the Steam Sale over Xmas and enjoyed the parts that I did play. Again, I wonder if I’ll be able to remember the controls or whether I should just restart from the beginning if I get the urge.

Dragon Quest IX: This is the game which for me defines why it doesn’t matter if you never finish a CRPG. I’m still barely half way through, I think, but wandering around and fighting animated cucumbers never gets old. It would be dull on a PC but on a handheld that you play for 30 mins at a time on train journeys, it’s great.

Sims Medieval: The issue I have with this game is that it’s not really the sort of thing you can just pick up for 30 mins: it needs time, preferably more time than you have. My evil Sim queen got pregnant and I got bored waiting for her to drop the sprog. I will go back to it, because I think they did a lot of things right with this game and I’ve barely scratched the surface. In particular the idea of a simulation game using genre simulation rules rather than real world to help with telling genre-appropriate stories has HUGE potential. Imagine if it has been Sims Fairy Tale instead of Sims Medieval — I think that’s where the franchise needs to go. An unholy mix of simulation and storytelling, and I’d be so there.

LOTRO: Finished the most recent epic book content and enjoyed it a lot. Very tempted to sign up for some casual raiding but I have one major issue. I don’t understand the new legendary item changes, so I have no idea how bad my gear is or how to improve it.

You’ll notice a running thread in my more peripatetic games which is that one of the barriers to me continuing with it is worrying about whether I will remember how to play. Remember this, because it’s just as valid with MMOs that you put down for a while and then pick up again.

On the queue or the wishlist:

Pirates of the Burning Sea: I still really want to find time for this because I loved it! But wow it’s been hard to find time.

Bioshock: I remembered being recommended this game so picked it up from the recent Steam sale for a pittance.

Portal 2: Out next week, in case you missed the hype. Tempted to wait a few months until it is cheaper.

Witcher 2: I think I should finish the first game really, and have some concerns about how well it might run on my system. But it sounds as though it will be awesome.

Steamlands: Some kind of bizarro steampunk tank building/tower defense game? I don’t know, I just know that I’m already sold on it.