Category Archives: impressions

Tilt every platform to make it through Through

gbjam4 through impressions gd

Here’s the unfortunate reality: I will never have enough time to explore all the game jams out there that I want to explore. I’m still not even close to seeing all the entries from GameBoy Jam 3, of which there are 237 in total, and I’ve tried out a whooping three, each of which had something unique or fun to offer: The Tale of Kelda, Roguelight, and Meowgical Tower. Now here we are with a further 181 creations for the next iteration, the rightfully named GameBoy Jam 4, and I don’t know what to do with myself. Guess I’ll play something.

Through is a short, proof of concept puzzle platformer starring a tiny black pixel that could probably befriend the likes of Boxboy and the doomed hero from Disposabot. There are twelve levels in total, with the goal being to reach the teleport pad; however, it’s not always a straight path to it, and this is where tilting takes over. By pushing our tiny retro pixel soldier against a wall for a second or two, he or she or it can pass through, turning the wall into empty space and reshuffling the other platforms around. It’s a bit mind-bending, and I never really saw how the world shifted or was going to shift, like one eventually did in Fez, but if you kept playing around with tilting this way or that, the exit would get closer and closer.

The twelve levels here are not difficult, especially the first three that act more like a tutorial than anything, and so Through is more of a casual playthrough, where you try pushing against a wall and seeing what happens. If it doesn’t work out, jump elsewhere and push another wall. Floor spikes make an appearance only in the final level, and those kind of dangerous elements could have been introduced earlier to create some tension or force players to find an alternate path to the exit. All of this is backed by a looping soundtrack of bloops and bleeps, though it works well enough.

A “To be continued…” message pops up after you finish Through‘s final level, and I do hope we get more from this. The mechanics are there, but a little more variety could help, as well as a smidgen more art, though the simple graphics help create a lonely aesthetic. The game’s developer goes by the username goshki, and I’m not familiar with any of his other work, but I’d love to see this warp maze puzzle game expand into something a bit trickier, more demanding. Personally, I think it’d be a great fit on the Nintendo 3DS, especially if there’s a level editor involved, wherein we can then see what others can create with this idea. All right, I’m off to get a cup of coffee, and I think I’ll just push against the kitchen wall afterwards and see where it takes me.

Examining the unconventional weapons of Ludum Dare 32

ludum dare unconventional weapons roundup

The theme around Ludum Dare 32 was “an unconventional weapon,” which I imagine resulted in numerous indie takes on situations like Red Faction: Guerrilla‘s ostrich hammer or using a purple dildo bat in Saint’s Row: The Third to take out enemies with precision and embarrassment. Or maybe it didn’t. With a theme, anything can be anything, and interpretation is the actual name of the game. What I’m trying to say is I’ve seen neither an ostrich or sexual device gripped in anyone’s hand…so far. Perhaps I wasn’t looking hard enough or maybe somebody needs to invent a new filter.

Anyways, below are a few entries from the latest Ludum Dare that I’ve dabbled in over the last few months and wanted to share with all of y’all. Why? Well, I think they are neat and have potential. Considering the high number of entries, upwards of 1,450, please do let me know of some other interesting ones to check out not on my list. Remember, I’m partial to strange names, point-and-click romps, and pixel platformers. Also: cats.

Blackbird

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Blackbird has a good look and some solid animation, but its mechanic, which is, by all definitions, unconventional makes it a rather hard thing to play. There’s only one level to experience, too. Basically, you move a hooded person around with the arrow keys and press X to have a bird dive bomb; if you time it just right and the bird dive bombs through a glowing orb, it’ll raise the platform that both it and the orb hit, which is basically whatever is directly below them. Since you can’t control the bird directly, it’s a mix of waiting and luck. Raise enough platforms up, and you can get the hooded man over to the level’s exit. Neat idea, but might be too punishing to be enjoyable.

Avenging My Gran, the Famed Botanist

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With such a quirky title, I had to check out this smarter-than-smart puzzle game about murdering the plants that murdered your grandma from Chris McMath. The idea is to pick up a stick, grab some fire, and burn a plant to ashes in each level. However, due to the geometry, length of stick, and your hero’s positioning, it’s not as simple as it sounds, and you’ll have to puzzle your way to victory. For those curious, I got stuck on Day 5. Avenging My Gran, the Famed Botanist is adorable, silly, and surprisingly challenging, with a simple, non-deterring aesthetic, though I do wish a different font was used, as it made reading some lines a struggle.

Spinnicus

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Similar to Blackbird, Spinnicus is more of a proof of concept than something fully realized made in the allotted timeline for Ludum Dare 32. Set in a Roman-inspired gladiator arena, your little dude wields a harpoon on a chain, and you can grab an enemy with this, spin them in circles, and toss them at other charging enemies to clear a path. That’s it. No score, no goal–just grabbing and tossing skeleton soldiers. Which is fun…for a time. Then you begin to wonder about what else one might do here, and then the harpoon glitches out, forcing you to bend the knee and die, and exit out.

Fathom

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Yes, yes. It’s a pixel platformer, but of course there’s an interesting hook in this one to help it stand above the others. In Fathom, you can slow down time and manipulate the bullets that these mounted turret guns are firing at you. If you wanted to, you could flip the bullets around, sending them right back to meet their makers, or you could brute force it along some other path to help destroy a generator keeping an electrified forcefield running. The zoom in and slow-motion really feels great, though it takes some practice to perfect. I’d say the possibilities are endless, but that’s really all you can do in this little jam session from Joe Williamson. That said, it’s still a ton of fun, and the potential is there for a grander adventure with even more insane mind-controlling abilities. Give it a go for yourself.

Badass Inc.

badass inc capture

I rolled my eyes a few times at Badass Inc., but it’s still quite enjoyable. Developer Sébastien Bénard says it is his homage to all things Blade Runner, Another World, and Flashback, and it’s clearly evident from the moment go. I’ve played a few of his other jam titles in the past, such as Last Breath and Proletarian Ninja X. In this one, you play as an assassin, and her boss wants her to take out the next target in a more unconventional manner. Think food poisoning or slipping in the tub over shooting. It’s a mix of combining items to solve puzzles and timed gunplay, though neither element is extremely deep. Another round of editing to fix typos wouldn’t hurt, but it’s stylish and easy to play, with a technokiller soundtrack that only a Replicant would ignore.

How I Escaped the Dungeon of Torment

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This is a cute one, with a lot of replayability. How I Escaped the Dungeon of Torment, which is really just the story of a young boy trapped in a small cabin, has you adding garden tools to the end of a hose and beating down a locked door with your unconventional weapon. Now, the loot you pick from is random, and our leading lad can only swing so many times before he gets tired and picks another tool to add to the hose. Depending on what you get and where you put it, your hose’s stats will differ; I personally tried to up speed and chance of critical hits, but it still took me a good number of in-game minutes to breathe fresh air once more.

Vacuum Hero

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Vacuum Hero is a puzzle action game where the nameless adventurer wields a vacuum cleaner…instead of the typical sword. Off he goes into a dark dungeon brimming with locked doors and slime monsters. With this device, he can suck up items and enemies and shoot them elsewhere to advance further. Right now, there’s little story, and the music gets tiresome far too early on, but the mechanics are fun though I wish you weren’t locked in to only four directions when moving and aiming. I could see becoming something much bigger down the road. Personally, I don’t enjoy vacuuming, but maybe I’ve been doing it wrong.

Ricochette

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I watched a lot of Xena: Warrior Princess as a young lad, always fascinated when Xena would toss her chakram and the camera would follow it on its deadly path as it sliced throats and bounced off walls. Here, in Ricochette, your goal is much the same, but this time you get a sneak peek of how your chakram will move around the top-down map via Peggle-like lines. Hitting an enemy allows the chakram to keep moving, allowing for combos. There’s only one level here, which is a big open space, and I managed to murder everyone without losing all my hearts. Some more animation, a plot, and trickier enemies could result in a fun–if necessarily short–game.

Well, I think that’s a good selection of appetizers for now. If you are hungry for more, by all means, hop over to the Ludum Dare site and try a few others out. Many can be played in your browser, too, and it seems like Ludum Dare 33 finished up recently and is now in the voting phase. Its theme was “You are the Monster,” and I do hope to dive into some of those ghastly creations real soon.

Playing co-op the solo way in Lara Croft: Guardian of Light

guardian of light gd cooping by myself

I keep saying that I’m working at completing games saved on my limited Xbox 360 hard-drive space in hopes of then deleting these finished games and making room for those in my growing download queue too large to acquire until some room clears up…but really, I’m dragging my feet. Or rather, my hands. Sure, sure, I polished off The Raven‘s first episode and Assassin’s Creed II some time back, but it’s not enough. Not when Microsoft keeps giving out full retail games as digital downloads, with each ranging between 6 and 9 GB of required space. Feel free to insert a first-world problems snarky comment here; I’ve earned it.

So, over the weekend, I took a good hard look at the list of games on my Xbox 360 and decided that I had let Lara Croft: Guardian of Light sit idle for far too long. According to How Long to Beat, it should only take me about six hours to complete. I think I can do that, especially when you consider that my save sits somewhere around the fourth or fifth level; basically, I just took down the magically deadly T-rex, which was previously a stone statue. Perhaps that means I only have about four or five hours to go if I really get to work and don’t run into any snags. I don’t plan on trying to collect every weapon or relic or do all the challenge rooms that are unearthed, simply finish all the levels.

Perhaps I’ll have more to say about the main storyline or rolling around, dropping button-controlled bombs, and blasting enemies with a staggering assortment of weaponry, but for now, I want to speak about co-op play, as Lara Croft: Guardian of Light is designed mostly from the ground up to be played simultaneously by two players. Either with a friend beside you or across the great expanse we know as the Internet.

Ultimately, honestly, I just wanted to unlock the four Achievements tied to co-op play, because I guess I still care about these things, which are as follows:

lc gol a friend in need ach

A Friend in Need (20G) – Play Co-op mode

 

lc gol leap of faith ach

Leap of Faith (15G) – Catch Totec with the grapple while he is jumping over a death fall

lc gol return to sender ach

Return to Sender (15G) – Reflect an enemy’s projectile back to him using Totec’s shield

lc gol jump jump ach

Jump Jump (10G) – Jump from Totec’s shield while he is jumping

 

Here’s the rub: I did unlock them all…by myself. Yup, I sunk low and played a two-player game with myself, jumping back and forth between two controllers on my lap, one for Lara and one for Totec. First, I did try to find if anyone was online and playing, but after numerous attempts, no games were found. Which makes total sense, seeing we are five years out from its launch, especially given that there’s already a sequel to this, called Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. Second, I don’t really have many IRL gamer friends, which is one of the reasons I still haven’t even purchased a second controller for my PS3.

To be honest, because I did this single-handedly (well, not literally), these Achievements feel all the harder earned. Though the first one, A Friend in Need, simply required me turning on a second controller and starting a co-op game. Easy peasy there. It gets gradually more difficult. Jump Jump saw me holding down the left bumper on the controller for Totec, while using the other controller to get Lara to jump on his shield; after that, while still holding down the left bumper, I had to hit Totec’s jump button and quickly follow it by hitting the jump button for Lara, which took a few tries. Leap of Faith required similar tactics.

However, to unlock Return to Sender, which requires Totec to use his shield to bounce an enemy’s projectile back at them, one must make it to the second level. That means completing the first co-op level, and for the most part, I could simply leave one character standing still in a corner while the other character took care of enemies and puzzles before moving both of them along the main path. There are two sections in that first level where both characters need to be constantly moving, working in tandem, and this proved challenging as I had to juggle moving both Lara and Totec and using their respective skills–Totem can create platforms with his spear while Lara can use her rope thingy to make bridges and climb walls–truthfully, I’m still amazed I got through it all.

With those silly Achievements now mine, all I really want to do left with Lara Croft: Guardian of Light is complete the main story, with little concern to score challenges and collecting all the weapons or relics. Once that’s done, it’ll be uninstalled, and I’ll be one step closer to maybe causing chaos in Just Cause 2.

Press select to witness other events in Final Fantasy IX

ff9 ate no yummies impressions

As expected, I drifted away from Final Fantasy IX on disc two, like I always do, though I partially have a good reason: I moved. Like, physically, from one abode to another. That meant, for a few days or so, my PlayStation 2 was not hooked up to a television, packed away in some box that sat in a family of cluttered boxes, unable to differentiate itself to me. Hands down, that is a solid reason why I stopped playing; however, after hooking everything up, I still didn’t give it my undivided love and attention for over two months, mostly because I got stuck on the Soulcage boss at the Iifa Tree, and I was never seemingly in the mood to grind everyone up three or four levels.

The good news is that I finally showed the Soulcage who is the true boss, thanks to grinding while listening to a podcast and then spamming Bio and summoning Ramuh a few times. Now I can continue on in this fifteen-year-old RPG that I’ve never beaten. If you’re curious, I’m at the beginning of disc three currently, and it’s actually a miracle I made the leap from disc two. I may have talked about this before, but another common reason I often walked away from Final Fantasy IX as a young gaming lad was because my disc two is scratched or damaged internally, which causes the FMV to glitch out and, occasionally, freeze. The clips after you clear away the Mist from the Iifa Tree and Kaju and Garnet’s second mother duke it out certainly skipped and stuttered, but thankfully never locked up.

Anyways, originally, I opened this post with paragraph below, but it’s been in my drafts folder for so long I felt like I needed to explain–more to myself than y’all–why I’ve been so quiet on my quest to beat Final Fantasy IX in 2015.

This might be a bold claim, but I feel pretty safe in my assumptions: the stories told in Final Fantasy IX‘s Active Time Events are more enthralling than the main plot. The even crazier thing? They are entirely miss-able, though I do not suggest you miss any of ’em.

Commonly abbreviated to ATE in the same fashion that Active Time Battle is also referred to as ATB in any roleplaying game forum, Active Time Events is a system that gives the player the ability to view short, optional scenes in Final Fantasy IX that are happening at the same time, either nearby the main cast or elsewhere in the Mist-shrouded world. The system was created by Hiroyuki Ito, the game’s director, and, possibly next to the mechanic where you level up passive and active abilities to earn them permanently, this is my favorite aspect from 2000’s throw-back entry to the Final Fantasy series.

Unlike a number of other RPGs, when you often arrive in a town, the party splits up instead of walking around together in one long line like a bunch of children in school heading out for recess. This makes logical sense in a fantasy world where there is so much to see–Vivi wants to explore, Quina is in search of new cuisine to try, and Steiner must ensure there is no danger for the princess-in-hiding up ahead. So on and so on. You’ll mostly be in control of Zidane, moving from screen to screen, and as you do, ATE will activate, prompting you to view a side story scene by title only. These titles are generally a few words long, but intriguing nonetheless, such as “Do As I Say, Not As I Do,” “Dagger Tries,” and, of course, “No Yummy-Yummies!” Watch the scene and then get back to doing what you were originally doing.

Honestly, I can’t imagine someone playing Final Fantasy IX and not viewing these additional scenes. Sure, a few are goofy and less than vital, like the ones involving Moogles or NPCs you don’t really interact with much, but the majority are staggering in the amount of info and details they reveal. Such as when Dagger tries to learn how to speak like a commoner or Vivi’s quizzical time in the Black Mage Village. Without these moments, the greater impact of the main plotline, which is not all that moving, would be lost.

Final Fantasy IX‘s ATE scenes help reveal more about the game’s story and characters, especially its villains. Another bonus from watching these events unfold is that you’ll occasionally obtain items afterwards or see locations before you visit them. All you have to do is press select, and you’re in. I know I’m going to keep doing it until the credits roll.

Time Clickers and the idle quest to destroy colored cubes

time clickers gd early impressions

Well, here we are. After listening to Jeff Gerstmann speak feverishly and passionately about an idle clicking game called Time Clickers on the Giant Bombcast for the past two weeks, I decided to see what was what. The blasted thing is free on Steam, and I dabbled in things like AdVenture Capitalist and that strange monster-driven mini-game during this past Steam Summer Sale to grok the concept. Little did I know that watching colored cubes explode would be so gratifying, even when I barely contributed to their demise.

Made by Proton Studio Inc., Time Clickers is…a clicking game with guns. For those that don’t know what that means, a clicking game basically revolves around on you, the player, clicking on different elements to eventually get to the point where actions are happening automatically and you can just sit back, eyes dilated, absorbing the delicious, dopamine-triggering rewards. A few examples that I’ve not played but heard of include Cookie Clicker and Clicker Heroes. In this one, you collect gold by blasting apart colored cubes, upgrade your click pistol, hire a team of elite soldiers to fire additional weapons at the cubes, and take down bosses as quickly as you can. You do this ad infinitum, constantly leveling everything up and “advancing” further through the game.

For a game that demands such little interaction, I can’t stop thinking about it. See, even when you are not running Time Clickers, you are continuing to earn gold. It’s like in Fable II, when you’d purchase houses and rent them out to villages. You could turn the game off, come back a few days later, and be much more richer, as the pay-rent-to-landlord system kept turning even while you were away. A part of me wonders how much money I’d get now if I turned Fable II on and loaded up my save from 2009-ish. Anyways, Time Clickers does that, which means it is always luring me back, with the completed promise of more gold to spend on DPS upgrades.

Steam says I’ve logged about two hours or so already in Time Clickers. Ugh. Here, let me let you in on a dark secret; the other night, while on the phone with my sister, I let the game run, watching cubes explode and Achievements pop, all without my hand even hovering over the mouse. Yes, it’s that kind of experience. It’s as if you had a fish tank full of bright, vibrant sea life, and every now and then you got a reward just for looking at it. Or not looking at it. Nothing can stop the clicks.

I’m sure there’s plenty to probe here. It all boils down to this: clicking games are a horrifying examination of human psychological weakness. They take hold of us and never let go. Even now, while I’m far away from my gaming laptop where Time Clickers is installed, it’s calling out to me, a siren on the shore, lulling me into a haze, one where the numbers keep going up and the cubes explode faster and arena bosses grow in size. I wonder if I’ll ever escape its grasp.

Happiness is yelling BINGO!, even at your cell phone

gd microsoft bingo-benefits

A few days before my thirty-second birthday, I took stock of myself in the mirror, counting the number of gray hairs–both atop my head and in my beard–demanding attention. I won’t give you the actual total, but let’s just say that there were a few more than last year, and a few more than the year prior, and I guess I should consider myself lucky, considering that my father started losing hair color in his later twenties. What does all this have to do with Bingo, you ask, having zero patience? Well–old people. Old people love the Bingo, and I’m beginning to accept my future fate, as quickly as it draws near, that I’ll be amidst them sooner than later, stamping a bunch of cards and listening for that sweet, sweet call of O-69.

I mean, when I saw that Microsoft Bingo was available for my crappy, but loveable Windows 8 phone and that it was free, I got excited. Genuinely, honestly, truly. I don’t yet own any daubers, but if I did, one could probably imagine me dusting them off at that exact moment, eyes open, throat thirsty for numbers. I remember fondly playing “math Bingo” back in grade school, thinking that this was one addicting way to spend some time, as well as learn, and I was like seven or eight then. I guess another twenty-five years doesn’t make much of a difference.

To start, it’s Bingo. Don’t go in expecting something that is not, as its roots, Bingo. It’s that same ol’ game of chance invented in 1929 and played with different randomly drawn numbers, which players match against numbers that have been pre-printed on 5×5 cards. In real life, you use a dauber, but here you can simply touch the spot on the screen with your finger to mark it. If you mark five in a row (or all four corners), you can count yourself a star, as that’s a Bingo!

That said, it’s a videogame version of Bingo, which means you can also use power-ups, gather collectibles, and earn XP to advance in level, which opens up new locations to play at; so far, of the total ten, I can daub with old ladies and men in France and the United Kingdom. Some of the power-ups range from helpful, like knowing the next five numbers to be called out before anyone else, to lazy, where the board will highlight the number in a lit box if it is ready to be daubed. Of course, you always have the option to purchase more power-ups–both with in-game coins or real-life dollars–after you run out, but I don’t think I’ll ever get to that point. For me, it’s not about the power-ups; it’s about hearing a man or woman say B-4, finding it on my various boards, and tapping it in.

You’re also playing Bingo live with other players, though, early on, it really doesn’t feel like it. It’s only when you begin to see the Bingo count, which starts at 30, begin to deplete that you realize you’re wasting time while others are calling their shots and earning points and coins. It is rare that I finish a match with a single Bingo, though I have on occasion gotten lucky and hit a bunch; it really depends on your board and the numbers called, as it is all random. What’s nice is you can pay a small amount of coins–it increases in each new location–to continue playing solo after the match is over, drawing five more numbers, to see if you can hit any Bingo lines you were setting up over the course of the game.

Currently, I jump between playing two cards at once to four cards, though four cards requires a bit more concentration and flickering from the eyes. With just two cards, you can see both on the one screen, which allows you to quickly daub a number after it’s called. If you have more than two cards in play, you have to scroll them up or down to see, and the going back and forth takes a bit to manage. Still, there’s better rewards and a greater chance to yell Bingo at your cell phone with more cards, but you have to be ready to juggle multiple actions.

All in all, it’s a new twist on a classic, and thankfully, all the new twist dressings, such as experience points, power-ups, and collectibles, don’t get too in the way of what makes Bingo a ton of fun. So long as the numbers keep getting called out, I’ll continue daubing, but don’t expect to see me paying for the removal of ads or purchasing additional luggage keys. This is one free-to-play game where the in-game purchases really don’t make any sense.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified requires you to kill the Outsiders

gd impressions the bureau xcom declassified

There are four difficulty levels in The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, and they are as follows: Rookie, Squaddie, Veteran, Commander. The game defaults to the third one, Veteran, and I’m prone to playing games on their default settings, as I imagine this is what developers intend for players to select. That said, the naming convention here confuses me, as you’d think a veteran would be the harder difficulty since veterans have already gone through trying times while commanders are seemingly still in it, giving the charges; also, for some reason, I want to swap the order of Rookie and Squaddie.

Regardless, Veteran is pretty tough to play on, especially in the earlier sections, and I nearly gave up on the game as a whole because it is no fun restarting entire sections four to five times in a row, simply because your team now takes more damage easily and enemies absorb bullets like walking sponges with laser guns. Actually, here’s what makes this difficulty different than others:

Enemies are challenging and use different tactics. Companions, who are not healed in time, die permanently. New agents can be recruited only between missions.

Fine. Though I’ve not yet played XCOM: Enemy Unknown–it is still sitting quietly and patiently in my long string of PlayStation Plus titles, I understand that, similar to Fire Emblem: Awakening, permadeath is a big part of the gameplay. You name your characters, you grow attach to them as they level up and earn more skills, and then you feel it in your heart when they go down, down for good. I lost a handful of dapper dudes early on in William Carter’s quest to save Earth from alien takeover, but I did not shed a tear or even remember who bought the farm by the next level, considering you can just grab another generic soldier-man from the vault, so this difficulty’s impact of permadeath was not very impactful.

Okay, I’m getting ahead of things as usual. Plot summary time! It’s 1962, John F. Kennedy is President, and the nation is gripped by fear due to the Cold War. A top-secret government unit called “The Bureau” begins investigating and concealing a series of mysterious attacks by enemies from outer space. Gotta keep things hush-hush. The Bureau’s mission is pretty simple–survive, adapt, and overcome the enemy threat. Good thing that every soldier in The Bureau has superpowers, like lifting an enemy up and out from behind cover or creating a support drone from thin air or laying down a landmine from thirty feet away. I kid, I kid–after all, it’s just a videogame.

Here’s a lot of what I liked about The Bureau: XCOM Declassified: one of the earlier levels opens with a Connie Francis song playing, the infected people are genuinely disturbing to look at and listen to, you can wander the base between missions for side quests and extra bits of dialogue and collectibles, soldiers’ clothes can be altered in terms of cool colors, overall the experience has style, and totally dominating a group of enemies before they even knew you were there thanks to the aforementioned superpowers feels out-of-this-world amazing.

Unfortunately, there’s more to dislike than like here, and the set difficulty really put me off for a while, but a lot of that was my stubbornness to stick with it. Still, after leveling up a few soldiers and learning what abilities/combos worked best (I was a big fan of a support agent and engineer agent helping Carter out), I was doing just fine through the last two-thirds, only occasionally surviving a firefight by the skin of my teeth. Until the final fight that is, which ultimately required I used a whole different cast of characters since some abilities are better than others during the final mission’s onslaught of waves. A big bummer. That said, your companions are complete dolts and require an extremely high level of babysitting, to the point where you spend more time pulling up the companion wheel and issuing commands than firing your gun at the distant enemies. It gets even more tiresome the minute one friend goes down, as everyone needs to drop everything to revive them ASAP.

However, in the end, it just wasn’t a ton of fun to play, and perhaps part of that is, despite being a rather new genre from last generation, I am not extremely excited by cover-based shooters mostly because they are highly predictable. There’s a post about this growing in my drafts folder, as games like Mass Effect and Gears of War make it crystal clear when a fight is about to go down. You know this because you’ll go down a tight corridor or hallway and emerge into a larger space, one dotted with walls and other means of cover. Alas, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified does this every time too, with maybe one or two spots where it caught me off guard. The story implies that you’ll be doing a lot of “covering up,” but only a few missions or dialogue choices talked about this, with a lot of the story simply being kill aliens, destroy their technology, and save the humans. Perhaps I’ll enjoy XCOM: Enemy Unknown more, whenever I get around to it.