There are lots of times when I hear people say “it’s been a week” and never quite felt that way about any week in particular that I can remember. That sentiment has really been tested these last 7 (or so) days and I’ve been trying my best to keep an optimistic attitude and enjoy games in light of other things. There isn’t much in the way of news this week of course, but let’s take a little trip over the last week or so and discuss what’s been lighting my gaming world on fire and the news that’s been peaking my interest.
Bleed 2 (PC)
Watch Dogs 2 (PC)
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst (Xbox One)
Super Mario 3D World (WiiU)
I had a chance to play this at PAX last year (read my initial impressions here) and finally got a chance to play the full release this past week. And it’s funny since I’ve also been watching a couple of my favorite gaming personalities try to play through Contra without the Konami code, it’s been interesting to see how such similar style games have evolved in the almost 30 years. Bleed 2 is definitely an evolution of such a classic, but has some welcome gameplay tweaks that make it worth your time to play. Honestly, you can get through the campaign on normal difficulty (don’t judge me) in a little less than an hour, and that includes many, MANY deaths.
The action is fast and frantic, with a heavy emphasis on stylish movement & dodging you might more commonly find in “bullet hell” or even twin stick style shooters. The developer Ian Campbell has wisely decided to map the jump to the right trigger, and while there is a small learning curve, the ability to keep your thumbs on both sticks means you can move/shoot with much less stop/start action than you would find in games that require you to move your thumb back and forth. In addition, the game also provide a slowdown mechanic to help line up that perfect shot or dodge that projective in the coolest way possible.
As a “classic” styled game, Bleed 2 isn’t going to be pushing your graphics card to the limit, but everything runs silky smooth and the aesthetic is what I’d call “kitchy”. Heck, your character (at least one of them, there are multiple) even has a too cute taunt that ACTUALLY has a gameplay use at some point. Also, the music has the sufficient “beats” to keep you engaged. I definitely would like to still play this co-op at some point and try out a few more of the characters, as they change your gameplay style quite a bit, but for now I’d say the game is most certainly worth a look if you want a well made shooter with some well executed mechanics.
Watch Dogs 2
I’m still slowly working my way through Ubi’s open world opus, and have enjoyed unlocking more “tricks” to help me infiltrate/hack/liberate the Bay area. I’m still utterly frustrated at the AI being almost supernaturally gifted in locating me when something goes wrong, but I’ve finally unlocked some tools to make sure I don’t ever really have to deal with enemies If things look too hairy to tackle strictly with stealth. I’ve only actually “killed” one enemy so far, and that was strictly by accident due to the default weapon being incorrectly a pistol and not my stun gun. I’m going to see it through, and appreciate the lighter tone of this game immensely so far.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
I’ve got it pretty good, since I sometimes get time to play a game while at work, and I’ve been doing my best to get through this game, but there is still a sense that they didn’t get to make the game they REALLY wanted to make. I’m enjoying the parkour and when you get into the “flow” of the movement and can start seeing a “line” to run that isn’t the default it is extremely satisfying, but I’m still finding several instances where I feel like I’m fighting the controls. And of course the combat in this game feels bolted on and completely unnecessary, so of course they most recent mission I did pitted me in what can best be called a combat arena where I had to fight off “waves” of enemies. I’d much rather be able to avoid all of these sequences, or at the very least give me the “illusion” that it isn’t OBVIOUSLY a combat arena I’m walking into.
Super Mario 3D World
With my WiiU soon becoming a paperweight once the Switch is released, I’ve been trying my darndest to actually PLAY some of the better games from the platform that I had picked up at some point. I didn’t realize that this game was modeled more like a Super Mario World/Mario 3 style game than the more common 3D Mario games on other platforms. The level design in the games is absolutely top notch, with platforming that isn’t infuriating and levels that are just the right length to not overstay their welcome.
Apparently you can play as the 4 main characters from Super Mario Bros. 2, but I’ve been strictly sticking to Mario, and they’ve added a few interesting new suits/powerups that I’ve enjoyed, the most prominent being the cat suit that allows you to climb walls for a bit and gives Mario an attack he can use on most enemies. They even had a racoon feather but it doesn’t look like you can fly with it (unless I’m missing something) as well as your classic fire flower. The more interesting power-ups include a question block box Mario can wear that just keeps popping out coins as you move around the level.
The worlds themselves also have distinct themes (I’m crossing my fingers for a Giant World of some kind) which I’ve been enjoying as well, and the overworld map even has some “hidden” secrets for you to find. The main “gateway” to progress seems to be green stars you collect in each level (3 in most, 1 in boss stages) but so far I’ve had no problems unlocking anything I’ve come across. It’s an excellent gamepad game and something I’m enjoying immensely in small sessions.
Cool Story Bro
There wasn’t much in the way of interesting news I’ve seen this week, but a few things did seem to catch my eye that were interesting enough. First was the announcement that Marvel and Square Enix are partnering up on a series of games based on the Avengers universe. My intial reaction was “oh great, how much I’ve wanted Iron Man and Captain America to wear outfits with infinite buckles on them” but then I’ve been thinking a bit more about their recent output geared towards “Western” audiences like Tomb Raider and Hitman and I’m actually kind of excited to see what could come from this. I’d love to see a Black Widow game with extensive stealth, or a Captain America game set in WWII even. The possibilities for the characters are vast, and there have been decent enough games with these properties in the past, so I’ll give them a chance and see what their actual plans are before I pass judgement. But I will say this, I think they should steal Chris idea of an Avengers tactics game and never look back. You can read more about the deal here.
Finally, in convention news, yet another PAX has been announced today at the start of PAX South; however this one is completely focused on tabletop games and will be called PAX Unplugged. It appears that the PAX “brand” is starting to branch out and it will be interesting to see if/when they decide to do similar events in other locations around the country. I’m all for tabletop gaming (as evidenced here) and always feel like it gets neglected when I go to PAX since I spend so much time in the Indie Megabooth and the Expo Hall, so if I had another convention I could go to where the focus was on tabletop it would be something I’d love to check out, but not necessarily on the other side of the country right now. You can see what limited information available about the “new” PAX here.
That's everything this week, now go out and play something fun.