Saturday, June 25, 2011

New video games

With the rain (mostly) taking care of the garden and us feeling lazy, we've been spending the bulk of day playing video games. More precisely, Ian plays video games and I watch (and help?). He's playing one of three games: L.A. Noire (which I've already discussed), Infamous 2, and a game we just started today: Alice: Madness Returns.

Infamous 2 is a sequel to Infamous and is a continuation of the original story. You play the same character who is able to take and give electricity as in the first game. In this game, you meet up with other people who have similar but different powers in an effort to stop both a beast that is ravaging the Eastern US and a guy who has a combination of many powers and who is evil.

I don't love Infamous 2 as much as Infamous. The original game felt more like an open sandbox-type game with lots to explore and do whereas the sequel feels more linear and therefore less interesting. The difference between the two is that the sequel has fewer built-in side quests, presumably because users can now create their own side quests for everyone. The trouble is that there just aren't that many user-generated side quests yet and until they're in place, the game will feel very linear.

The other thing I don't like about the sequel game is that the characters are one-dimensional caricatures of people: the people are good or evil with no shades of gray in between. There isn't a moral subtlety to be had anywhere. I guess some people like having clearly-defined choices moralities in their games but I prefer more variation and complexity.

Fortunately, the sequel is as gorgeous, graphically-speaking, as the original. The physics of the parkour movements feel right and look real. There are a few additions in the sequel as well that expand the character's abilities. If you liked Infamous, you'll probably like Infamous 2 well enough although there's no point in paying full price for it.

Alice: Madness Returns is also a sequel game to the much older, originally PC-only game American McGee's Alice. Both take place in an alternative Alice in Wonderland universe where all the characters and locations are present but in different forms or situations. Although I haven't seen the original game, as part of our purchase we were able to download a port of it for free and we can now play it if we want.

I'm enjoying this new Alice game. In this story, Alice has been put in an mental hospital for the last ten years because of her family was killed in a fire and while her burns were healing, she went to Wonderland. Her doctors were convinced that Wonderland was just a huge hallucination and are trying to erase her memories. Meanwhile, she finds herself back in Wonderland, only to find it being destroyed.

I love the look and feel of this game as it's sort of a steampunk version of the original story where no one is who they were. The graphics are detailed and realistic enough and the story is quite compelling (if confusing). There are some weird and creepy enemies, like the one with the baby-doll heads. While the story is fairly linear, there are enough puzzles and battles throughout to make it interesting. We've only just finished the first chapter in this game and I've enjoyed it enough so far to say that I like it.

No comments: