Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Calling someone else. Anyone else.

There is bitching to catch up on, and it has only got more bitter with the delay.

I bought Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime based on the demo and a weakness for twin stick shooters. It was supposed to be a short break between the forty hour games that GameFly decided to ship me all at once. The demo level was just fine: an asylum that reminded me just a bit of Loaded (not ReLoaded, which is a good thing). It was the second level of the game so the second of three weapons was introduced, matching a new color of ghost that had just shown up. Each of the three different ghost flavors needs to be hit with the corresponding weapon, which would be fine if the weapons themselves were of equal quality. They are not; only the beam from the first movie is any good. I suppose this does make the same enemies more difficult by forcing the player to use a shitty weapon to kill them, but that is pretty lazy design in my opinion. By the time the third level arrived I was tired of the mechanic, longing for a port of the old Ghostbusters arcade game.

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Just looked this game up and it has not aged well. I suppose that is another sign of aging: the game that I remember playing in my head is not even close to the way it actually looks. Then again, if getting old allows me to modify what I see in real time to something much cooler I welcome the impending dementia.



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The other giant red flag that I chose to ignore in Sanctum of Slime was the games reliance on three AI controlled characters to flesh out the team. There is no option to actually play the game single player, which means no effort was taken to balance the game after some idiot had the idea of enemies that can only be killed with one color weapon. I gave up around ten levels in: wave after wave of Skittles colored phantoms were more than my pathetic compatriots could handle. The right thing to do would have have each player stick to a specific weapon with the fourth acting as a buffer when things got out of hand (which that constantly do), but the AI just isn't that smart. It wasn't even smart enough to walk around obstacles to raise me after I died for the hundredth time in a level. Left 4 Dead (at least the first one) proved that a multi-player-centric game could work for the friendless and cloistered. Sanctum of Slime proves that designing your game around four people playing can also be a crutch, especially when no one buys the damn thing in the first place.

ArcaniA, complete with baffling punctuation, is about 30 fps away from being a decent action RPG. Playing it now just makes me think about how awesome the new Elder Scrolls is going to be and how far away it really is.

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