Monday, January 19, 2009

Play by yourself, play with others

Ah, co-op games.  So few to be had, yet so much fun.  My female companion is a bit on the competitive side.  Because of that, competitive games can sometimes end...poorly.  Co-op games take care of this problem.  We've found that we both generally enjoy playing co-op more than competitive when it's just the two of us, in the board or video realm.

Yesterday, I was playing a four player game of Left 4 Dead, a co-op zombie shooter.  I was fairly surprised when I turned around, and found kt watching over my shoulder.  Was even more surprised when she watched for the entire time she was exercising on the torture machine.  I was knocked on my ass when she said that she'd like to play.  Unfortunately, that requires picking up a copy on the 360.  Fortunately, that's something I was looking to do anyway.

What I've noticed is that there aren't a lot of co-op role playing games.  Of course, turn-based games are a bit less interesting in co-op, because the nature of them means that it's just as easy for one person to control as for two people.  Action RPGs have more promise, but there still aren't very many of them out there.  I've got high hopes for the new Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles game on the Wii, but other than that, there's not too much coming down the pipe.  

I'm very glad to see much more interest from developers in pushing co-op as an integral gameplay feature.  Shared play experiences, where a group has to work together and can celebrate a communal victory or defeat, have the potential to be much more lasting than one person killing the hell out of his buddies.

Here's an example from yesterday.  Two of the guys in the game are extremely good at it, two of us weren't.  In a competitive game, being on the lower side of that equasion wouldn't have been fun for us, but since we were all on the same team, everyone simply contributed what we could.  The finale of the level we were on was calling the army for rescue, and then holding off a massive number of zombies until a truck arrived to take us to safety.  We made the call, and managed to hold back the flood of undead.  The truck showed up, and everyone dashed for it.  Two of us got in, and the other two got swarmed.  Before we were able to jump back out to help them, the door slammed shut, and the truck drove off, leaving the other two to die, and the two of us in the truck screaming into our headsets.  It was an excellent experience (well, not for the two who wound up zombie chow), and something that just wouldn't have happened in a non-co-op game.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Apparently making good

So if you remember, my plan when starting this blog was to stop me buying games.  If you'll remember further, that didn't work.  In fact, I failed miserably.  Boo for me.

I didn't let that get me down though.  I soldiered on.  I picked up most of the Christmas relelases that I was interested in, along with a few that I got really good deals on.

But there was a Christmas miracle this year.  I realized that I had too many games that I wanted to play, and I'd never get through them willy-nilly.  So, much like the cylons, I came up with a plan.  (Unlike the cylons, I didn't have a revelation and subsequently abandon my plan in a quest to have a baby.)

My plan was a simple one: play the short action games first, and then play through the long role playing games when those were done.  The result of this deviously simple plan? Huge success!  In the past few months, I've played through:

Mercenaries 2
Gears of War 2
Tomb Raider Underworld
Mirror's Edge
Prince of Persia
Fable 2

That's six games in two months, which is fairly impressive for myself.  Next up is the string of RPGs.  I have five on my list, at least two of which clock in at around 75-100 hours each to finish.  Frankly, I'm going to be busy for a while.

What makes this plan such a huge success is that it's actually resulting in me buying fewer games, since have a set schedule in my head of what I'm going to play.  A few times now, I've had games in my hand at the store, ready to buy, and then I think about when I'm going to actually get to play the new one, and I've put it back on the shelf.

The other elements helping me not buy is the worsening economy (not hitting me directly yet, but just in case...), and the subsequent effect on game prices.  Frequently this Christmas, games would come out, and then drop in price weeks later.  Usually, it takes several months for significant discounts to be seen, but with fewer people buying games lately, publishers are getting nervous and dropping prices in hopes of picking up sales.  Because of that, instead of having to wait many months to get something cheap, it's now only a few weeks.

I think the vital difference between me trying not to buy games before and not buying now is that before, I was forcing myself not to buy for the sake of not buying.  Now, I'm not buying because I know that I'm playing what I own.  The only difference is a mental thing of realizing that I have more than I need already, and I want to enjoy what I have.  I'm also applying this thinking to books, and am planning out what the next several books to read are.  

Here's to finishing another half dozen games!