Monday, 3 March 2014

Be careful what you wish for . . .

It's been a while since I spouted my ill thought out opinions on the internet but after many hours of gaming I have discovered some incontrovertible truths:

1. I prefer games with deep, involving storylines and environments, such as The Last of Us. Games are the modern alternative to films insofar as they offer the chance to be a part of a world similar to our own yet removed in some essential way. Fallout 3 offers us a post-apocalyptic Washington DC which has many of the landmarks of the real US capital but also offers us an alternative world inspired by 1930s to 1950s Americana. And, unlike films, you get to blow the head off zombies/robots/mutants etc.

2. Modern stealth games are really quite fun. Dishonored and Thief have both provided me with some excellent gaming experiences recently and the stealth element of TLoU was actually really rather well done (unlike the combat, which is never Naughty Dog's strongpoint).

3. The best way to win an RTS is to produce as many units as you can and basically steamroller the enemy. Strategy is very often auxiliary to this approach, unless one includes targetting enemy resources and securing your own power/materials/population or whatever the particular RTS demands you do so you can build lots of units with big guns and an apparent lack of concern for their own safety.

My ideal game, then, is one which allows me to play through an amazingly well written campaign involving the production of multiple stealth units which can be tasked with crippling the enemies' logistics with swift efficiency. However, I have also discovered a final incontrovertible truth - as a gamer I am honour bound to complain if ever such a game is created because it will fail to meet my expectations. And this is a huge problem for modern gaming: as with films, the hype surrounding new releases has become so great that nothing can match our expectations.

Thief is a good case in point. Before the game's release I cast an eye over the reviews and found a great deal to disappoint me. Only one video review seemed particularly positive and the game looked to be a damp squib which could only disappoint fans of the original trilogy. Now, I'm not a massive fan of the Thief series but I do enjoy them and consider them excellent examples of stealth gameplay in a well-drawn fantasy world. However, upon playing a good five or so hours of the lastest Thief title (on the PS3) I have to say that I'm really enjoying it. It's combat is uneven, it's not as open world as it pretends to be and there have been some graphical glitches (but then it probably has been optimised for the new generation consoles) but it's a fun challenge with some really solid gameplay. Of course, although this impression may all be due to the indifferent or even negative press the game received before launch, my enjoyment of the game may be partly due to the metal case this 'limited edition' (in other words, this one of several-hundred-thousand copies) came in! But, no, seriously, try Thief. It's fun, has a deep, dark and involving world and offers the chance to feel like an amoral badass in a crumbling world.