A bunch of short game reviews

I took a week break after finishing a paper for submission to E-Learning.

(That sounds more impressive than it is, I think… Constance S. is guest editing a games issue to come out next Spring and invited me to submit something, but what I submitted was completely out of left field, focusing on data visualization and going into some detail on how one could do the same–including SQL statements and shit like that–so I have no idea if it’ll get accepted.)

Anyway, for the past week (and honestly, while writing that paper, so more like for the past 3 weeks), I’ve been playing a lot. Actually, I think there might be a relationship to my productivity and how much I play… not inverse as would be assumed… I think when I play a lot, I write a lot… maybe… I would have to start tracking it to see if that is true. Or maybe it’s that I play many games rather than sticking with one game… restlessness or something.

But, again, anyway, for the past bit I’ve played many different games, so thought I’d post real quick impressions for some of them:

  • Fallout 3 – excellent, of course, but it could have been better. As I mentioned a month ago, some of the humor is gone, as are cool random encounters, but the world is amazingly realized and depressing. The ending sucked ass. First, it heavy-handedly forced me to sacrifice myself or another human to save the wasteland, which didn’t make any sense at all given how much Rad-X and Rad-Away I had on me, not to mention that I had a Supermutant buddy with me who is immune to radiation sickness. Then after I died, the game ended with a really lame narration without any nuance (or, actually, way too subtle a nuance) instead of detailed narration of the different factions I impacted (like in Fallout 1 and Fallout 2).
  • Tomb Raider: Underworld – For some reason I liked Legend but not Anniversary. I liked Underworld, too. Maybe too much combat in Anniversary? The Crystal Dynamics version of Lara generally moves and feels spot on.

  • Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir – the second expansion is significantly different. Mask of the Betrayer had some really good writing and dialog/narrative that started to echo Planescape good. Storm of Zehir, on the other hand, is more of an old-school, wander around an overhead map type of game. That part of it was actually pretty cool and it sort of filled my desire for that kind of game that Fallout 3 didn’t have. On top of that, the ending narration and how it dynamically changed based on my impact to the world was exactly what was missing from Fallout 3.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 user modules:
    • Harp & Crysanthemum – Amazing. Just part one is done, unfortunately, but quite well done.
    • Subtlety of Thay – Also amazing, maybe a little less so, but way, way longer, but buggy as hell with the new 1.21 version of NWN2. Wait a bit for the author to fix it. I couldn’t finish chapter 2 due to game stopping bugs. But beforehand, I was imagining this module as a TV series. It’s easily on par with any of the official campaigns.

I also just started playing Tabula Rasa, which will be free to play starting Jan 10 since they are closing the servers in Feb. 🙁 It’s pretty good so far. I like FPS combat in a MMOG. Also, I found a quest that makes you have to decide whether to be greedy/shady or lawful. Nice. A step in the right direction.

I just got Left4Dead and Wrath of the Lich King, too. Xmas break will be fun.

But I also have to finish, finally, my dissertation proposal draft, which I’m hoping will be done by the end of the month.

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