Weekend Gaming 2

So, Saturday we bought Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time. It was technically for Megan’s birthday, which is actually two weeks away, but I knew she’d never forgive me if I withheld it from her for two weeks. So I went ahead and gave it to her.

Which she finished in two days. Of course, she didn’t 100% the game, and this game has a much larger universe to play in. Instead of the game being a series of linear levels, you can actually fly around in each sector doing missions, killing enemies and getting paid in a fashion that seriously reminded me of Privateer, and no Ratchet & Clank game had ever had this before. So I’m pretty sure this game at least is as long as any of the games in the first series, she just ran straight through the plot because she wanted to know what happened.

And again, middle game in the series (I don’t think Quest for Booty counts really) so don’t expect a complete resolution.

One thing I liked was that in order to keep the download size (and production cost) down for Quest for Booty, a lot of that game’s story is told in very cute 2-D animated sequences instead of 3D movies, and this has carried over to A Crack in Time, with briefing movies and weapon introductions being done in the 2-D style. Oh, and for the first time, you can choose the level of difficulty you play at, and change that level at any time during the game.

So overall, Crack in Time is a great game and I’m looking forward to playing it instead of just watching it played (I reached for the controller a couple times but only got hissing and bared teeth).

So I played Galactic Civilizations II.

I’m planning on doing a Let’s Play of GalCiv II, so I’ve been playing it a lot more than I probably should in order to try to get my skill up. I really, really wish GalCiv II supported saving replays because last night’s game was a nail-biter.

I was playing as the Korath, the evilest of evil, but I wasn’t doing a lot of really evil stuff. I set up my early planets to be fairly flexible, leaning towards research (you can’t do anything without research) and started scouting and sucking up all the nearby anomalies. I also built starbases on every resource I could find, including three Ascension crystals. I soon realized I was sharing the galaxy with the Iconian Refuge, the Dominion of Korx…and the Empire of the Lombaxes, the custom race my daughter made last week.

So once the borders were established and all the planets claimed, I decided to live down to my reputation and attack somebody. I chose the Korx, since (allegedly) nobody likes them because they are mercenaries. I’d been researching lots of planetary invasion tech, but they had large populations on their planets, so it took a while, but I eventually wore them down and got them to surrender to me. Hooray! Only two races left to subjugate.

Then the Dread Lords arrived. Right in the middle of my space. They started running around with their cruisers destroying everything in sight, and I’d been focusing too much on ground combat to defeat them in the air. Fortunately I got a couple of Lucky Rangers (ships you can find if your race is Exceptionally Lucky) and after I started winning some battles using them in fleets against single Dread Lord ships, I decided to ground invade their one planet to see if I could knock them out. Despite having a huge technology bonus, they fell to my huge soldiering bonus and the Dread Lords were defeated!

Of course, at this point, I’d wiped out two races. So the Iconians, who I hadn’t done a single thing to except some standard tech trading, decided to that I was too strong to allow to survive and thus attacked me. Didn’t matter that I’d just saved them from the Dread Lords, oh no.

But I put up a fight. I continued to research ground combat bonuses so they’d have to pay dearly for every planet of mine they tried to take. And I started throwing tons of (admittedly obsolete) ships into space while I researched new combat techs.

And when the war didn’t immediately go in the Iconians favor, guess who decided to get involved? ‘Sright, the Lombaxes. Another race I hadn’t done a darn thing to.

It was at this point that I noticed that my Ascension Victory counter was under 150, so I started thinking that might be my best chance of weaseling out of being obliterated. Fortunately I had a ton of constructors stockpiled so every time the Lombaxes (who apparently were on “destroy Ascension starbases” duty) blew one up I could quickly send out a constructor to build another one. I brought two of my Lucky Rangers back to defend my homeworld and stationed the others to destroy anyone who came near the starbases. As the count dwindled, the Lombaxes (who had much faster ships than I) kept making hit & run attacks against my starbases, at one point destroying all three of the ones I held. But I quickly got them rebuilt and brought in more forces to defend them.

And then the counter ticked down…12 turns…10…5…1…0. While the Lombaxes were (unsuccessfully) invading my home planet, all my citizens suddenly turned into beings of pure energy and flew off to a higher plane of existence…presumably one where there weren’t any vindictive furballs to attack them for no reason.

Dang, I wish I’d video recorded that game. I will definitely record the next one.

Weekend Gaming

Okay! The first thing my daughter and I did was play Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction all the way through.

The astute of you in the audience will realize that this means we have a Playstation 3 now. Yes, we bought a little something something for ourselves.

Ratchet & Clank Future 1 is…well, it’s just a culmination of everything Insomniac has learned over the last four years. For instance, they found out that people didn’t like drowning in Ratchet & Clank 1 so they removed that element from all future games. They found out that people REALLY liked their weapons levelling up in Ratchet & Clank 2 so they kept that element for all future games. They found out that people preferred grindrails to multiplayer-style missions in Ratchet & Clank 3, so grindrails are back and missions are out. And they found out that people always love the arena so that’s back as well.

So anything bad about it? Well, I wish they’d find a way to make the early weapons more competitive. You start with the Combuster (gun) and the Grenade Glove (bombthrower). By the end of the game, both of these are obsolete even at level five and you’ll simply never fire them again, not when you now have weapons that can lock on or fire a spread of three missiles or leech health over time, etc, etc.

Also, all three of the original Ratchet & Clank games told their own mostly self-contained stories. This game is obviously the first of a trilogy, and thus you should not expect any story resolution at the end.

Still, overall it was great. My daughter, who hadn’t really been into R&C before, now wants to buy all three of the original games again (our copies are old and unreliable) as well as play Age of Booty (the bridge game between Tools of Destruction and A Crack in Time). And of course, she’s dying for A Crack In Time because she wants to know what happens next in the story. (Plus the demos of that game are very impressive, especially the Clank demo).

So basically she’s Lombax crazy. How crazy? Later in the weekend she saw me watching a Youtube video series of a guy playing through Master of Orion. When she expressed interest, I suggested she play Galactic Civilizations 2, which resulted in me losing my computer for the rest of the evening as she tried it out. She barely got into the game because she spent so much time creating her own custom race and custom ships. The race she created? The Lombaxes, of course.

So while she played that, I played Brutal Legend. Boy, did that game throw us a curveball or what? The RTS elements feel a lot like Sacrifice (which I have already expressed less than enthusiasm for) and far too often I’ll suddenly get “BRUTAL VICTORY” or “BRUTAL DEFEAT” and won’t really understand how it happened.

So I’ve been doing lots of side quests, which are fun and give you fire tributes, which lets you talk to Ozzy, which is always fun. I’m hoping that by upgrading my own combat skills I can overcome my lack of control over my units in the RTS sections and make it through the game.