Thursday, 28 January 2010

Steam Games Part 1

If you game on the Pc at all you may have noticed the steam Christmas sales that were on, selling numerous games rather cheaply... because of that my list of steam games doubled in size. I’ve played through most of them, so let’s just have a look shall we?

Second Sight

This one’s a bit odd at first because it has a very similar art style to the first person shooter time splitters. The reason this feels odd is because time splitters was largely a comedic game that didn’t take itself seriously, Second Sight on the other hand is very serious all the way through.

The game starts with you waking up in a lab of some kind with no memory of who you are, all you learn is your name and how you apparently killed a bunch of people. Wishing to leave you focus intently on your locked door... which then becomes unlocked. Hey! You got psychic powers! Cool, you could be a hero and stop villains- it was at this point I started lifting the guards with my mind and throwing them down elevator shafts.

I always find games like second sight interesting, the story is good and your character is a nice guy.... he’s just scared and confused... but then when you get into the game you find you can do really horrible shit to people. It’s like playing someone with multiple personalities, on the one hand you have a nice guy that just wants a normal life again... and then you have me, which goes past serial killer and straight into the domains of a professional mad man. It’s not that the powers lean to do horrible things, heck alot of the time it’s mostly straight forward stuff like hiding or taking their guns away... But there are ways to twist some of them into horrible acts no moral person would do. When I got the possession power and could make my enemies shoot all their friends... I pretty much stopped using other powers.

But yeah, bottom line, its good fun and worth a look.


I really enjoyed the storyline, but it could be because of my inability to see plot twists. As your going about trying to discover the truth you have these flashbacks of when you went on this mission with a bunch of soldiers to find this guy doing experiments on kids... 5 points if you can guess what he was trying to do.

Anyway, while on the mission the children contact you and unlock your psychic powers, thus helping you beat off the savage troopers blocking your path, but then you flash forward to the present and carry on your way. But then a couple of weird things happened, first I rescued one of my old friends from a metal institute and ask her where our old captain is. She tells you he’s dead and then you have a flashback of you and the captain going on a mission, but he didn’t die on that bit of the mission, but when you flash forward she says he’s alive and knows where he is... I didn’t know what to think about that, I chalked it down to her being crazy, but then it happened again. When you meet the captain he’s like, the whole team died on the mission, you flash back but the mission carry’s on fine after a big fight but then your back and he then says that there alive... and it’s like, the hell is going on?

Anyone realise what the twist is yet? Precognition. It turns out I unlocked a power without knowing about it. The flashbacks are your current self and everything else is what if. The reason the captain said they all died is because in that future they did, but when you get there you keep them all alive so the future changes. When it’s revealed it then stops being a fight about getting back your own life but a fight to stop that terrible future in the first place. I enjoyed that twist; I felt it was done well.

Jade Empire

Oh? Another Bioware game? So this is as good as dragon age right? Urrr.... It’s still pretty good? Not dragon age good though.

Jade empire, I believe, is one of their first main games to be made for a console. When I was playing the pc version it just screamed for a gamepad instead of a keyboard, this is because the old turn taking in bioware’s other games has been mostly taken out and replaced with more of a brawler game. The combat is fun, cause you can learn different marital arts that have different speeds, damage and effects and it can be alot of fun just switching from one to another during a fight (White Demon style for the win, I’ll f*** you up).

The game starts you in a remote village studying martial arts, but trouble soon arrives. The spirits of the dead are restless and are unable to go to the afterlife, so it’s up to you to restore balance.

The story... is... good... but it opts for simplicity over any sort of substance. The line between good and evil is very clear, and while the game will pretend there’s no good or evil option it’s just fooling itself. In dragon age your companions tend to drop their hopes and dreams on your lap and see if you’ll help them... and if you thought they were whiney bitchs then you will hate the guys in Jade Empire. Jesus Christ they moan alot, I was doing a good character but still... I’m trying to restore balance to the world and heaven... I really don’t have time for your shit!

One thing, it’s not just a complaint about this game but alot of rpg’s... why crossroads? You’ll be going along on your epic journey and then the game will make you choose, you gonna be good or are you gonna be evil? By the time that choice has any meaning towards the overall story at all you’ll have already decided which one you’ll be taking. My problem is the fact it’s already decided what you’re going to do... You can watch your companions evolve and change over the course of the game... but it never lets you do the same, never gives you the chance to change your ways without seeming completely out of character. In Jade Empire I did my best to be a good character... but there was always a flaw in there... I liked fighting... alot. It got to the point that I would seek fights for the sake of fighting, rather than any higher meaning. My companions moaned at me about their troubles but never once asked me, how are you? The village you live in gets destroyed (It’s really obvious its gonna happen, ok?) and your childhood friend is all broken up about it... But she never once asked how that had affected me? Like, did she not think it was odd that I would fight everyone and everything? Or the fact that I’d go into blind rages whenever I saw some of the people responsible? No she didn’t.

I’m not saying the writers should plan for every eventuality and act... But what I would like to see is something... something that is generally made to make you, personally, very angry. See most people tend to have good characters, by on by people sometimes naturally lean to doing good... it is because of this you need to give a good character a reason to turn evil. You have to really sell it, not try to Star Wars it... (Oh hey, I’m Anakin, I’m a bit of a rogue, pout my lips sometimes... oh and now I’m killing kids! Character development!) Say there’s a guy who hurts you, badly, or kills your favourite companion (it would be such a dick move if it killed the one you had spent the most time with, Haha) and the only way get justice is to do something really bad... None of this there’s a good way of doing this, it won’t work then... It needs to be, do something horrible... or let him get away and perhaps repeat this tragedy for others. Once you’ve got your player to do one really bad thing they’ll be more likely to do more bad things... and if a player is getting frustrated with being good they’ll thank you for giving them the chance to change their ways.


Ok first off, you get this bullshit part where the guy your fighting isn’t the real villain, no instead there’s this other dude you’ll have to fight in the end. The problem is it became pretty clear to me that this was going to happen...

I could see how the plot twist might take you by surprise, the reason I noticed it however was precisely because they were trying to make it a surprise and only dropped the subtlest hints. Once you know the twist the clues become crystal clear, and it’s interesting replaying the start just to see what you’re would be betrayer says now that you know.

The twist is, once you’ve beaten the emperor your master appears and kills you so he can be emperor. The reason he kills you is because he trained a flaw into your style which would give him an opening. The why is how I saw this plot twist coming. Precisely because there was no why, at least not until after the deed is done. The ‘official’ hint is when you fight other masters and they comment how your style is odd and seems to have a weakness that feels more like a trick. At first I thought it must be cause I’m the main character and need some reason why I can take everyone down, but after three people mentioned it I was like “Hang on, something’s up”. Then I remembered that my Master had very little characterization, all I knew about him was that he was old, taught me, and was perhaps wise? I knew nothing of his motives, which lead me to working out the twist.

“Hey... You’re going to make him betray me in an attempt at surprise... fail...” I can’t always pick up on a character’s true intentions, but sometimes I can pick up on the writers.

Ok, so at the end you find the god of the dead, who is also the god of water and stuff. She’s a big dragon who the emperor cut open to save his land from drought, cause she bleeds water (The scene was odd cause everyone else commented how it was such a horrible scene... I’m really desensitized so I wouldn’t know). The thing is the Jade Empire was so supposed to waste away then, but the emperor broke the cycle and saved his empire. So when I went to kill the dragon so it could be reborn I knew very well that I was dooming the empire to a horrible drought, but I had a job to do. But at the ending the empire apparently thrives? I was like, the hell? I thought that was the point? Duty before even the good of the people? Bah.

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