May 9, 2016

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New Game Hype! Stellaris and Uncharted 4

Stellaris

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I miss the days when games came with a phonebook-sized manual. I miss the days when games came with manuals, or when people knew what a “phone book” is. When I was younger and had a lot of free time, games with massive manuals were awesome because I had the time to spend reading through all those systems and nuances. Games didn’t have the ability to include massive tutorials on the disk because, well, disks didn’t hold that much data (flopping, not optical).

I have a soft spot for the games of Paradox Interactive because dayum those people know how to make massive games in this era of instant gratification action and side-scrolling platformers. I’ve played Sengoku (feudal Japan), Crusader Kings (feudal England), and Europa Universalis IV (post feudal Europe and New World America), and by “played” I mean “sat through the tutorials and cried because I felt myself getting older as I tried to get a grip on the mechanics of these sprawling empire-building games.

That’s not a damning statement, though, as I’ve jumped into Stellaris pre order with both feet. Unlike the rest of the Paradox games, this one has a science fiction setting, and branches away from the traditional “sit and negotiate” with neighbors and into more traditional 4X mechanics. Of course, if you’re most familiar with the Civilization brand of 4X, then watch a video on Stellaris before you climb aboard; since it’s using the same engine that other Paradox games use, it’s got a hell of a lot more complexity than comparatively simplistic Civ series presents.

Uncharted 4

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Nathan Drake is Lara Croft’s poorer, Colonial relation, I feel, but not from personal experience; I have played more Uncharted games than I’ve played Tomb Raider games. For some reason I’ve just gravitated more towards Uncharted than Tomb Raider, which means I’m very excited for tomorrow’s release of Uncharted 4.

I guess it goes without saying that I’ve not completed any of the games in the series, although I’ve gotten through 2 and 3 enough to understand who is who in the character pantheon, and to get the gist of the overarching narratives.

The things I like the most about Uncharted games is that they always strike the perfect balance between gameplay and out-of-your-hands narrative. Tomb Raider does OK in this regard, but seems to have a very strict demarcation between bouts of gameplay bookended by cut-scenes while Uncharted mixes things up so that it feels more like you’re playing an action movie. Thankfully, it never devolves into Call of Duty style heavy-handed scripted gameplay which only allows you to turn left or right before funneling you back into the same situation anyway.

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