Metal Gear Solid V is several AAA titles’ worth of game, all improbably rolled into one product.
It’s a fact fairly well documented on this blog that I like Syndicate. Bullfrog’s little slice of unrestrained corporate mayhem is timeless in my eyes, and so when the Satellite Reign Kickstarter popped up a couple of years back it immediately caught my interest for being made by some ex-Bullfrog staff and for being marketed as a spiritual successor to Syndicate. We could certainly do with one, because while the Starbreeze Syndicate FPS had a few unexpected redeeming features it was at best extremely average and not at all what Syndicate was about. Satellite Reign at least preserves the series’ top-down isometric perspective and four-man (or woman) team of agents, so it’s already a better stab at recapturing the old magic than Starbreeze managed. That’s a very low bar to clear, however; they might be going about it the right way, but is this modern attempt to resurrect Syndicate any good?
In a way, my reviewing Shadowrun Hong Kong is somewhat redundant. This is the third Shadowrun game developers Harebrained have put out in two years. The first, Shadowrun Returns , was one of the very first Kickstarter success stories that traded off some extremely clunky engine restrictions and a so-so main plotline for the very great novelty of actually being released within six months of when the Kickstarter said it would be. The second, Shadowrun Dragonfall , vastly improved and expanded on what they’d done with Returns to become one of the best RPGs released in the last couple of years. If you are at all interested in Shadowrun, cyberpunk or wordy-yet-well-written RPGs, the chances are that you have already purchased and tried the standalone Dragonfall Director’s Cut. 1 By doing so, you will already have a pretty good idea of whether or not you’re going to like Shadowrun in general. And while I feel like it’s a little harsh to tar Hong Kong with the “more of the same” brush, there is no getting around the uncomfortable fact that it is true in this case: if you leave aside the tonal and stylistic changes (which are a pretty big thing to leave aside, to be fair), Shadowrun Hong Kong is, somewhat disappointingly, an almost point-for-point retread of Dragonfall.
First two weekends of August got taken out by Space School, as always. We return to a (hopefully) more regular posting schedule with Victor Vran.
Victor Vran is a brand-new action RPG from developers Haemimont Games, previously known for taking on the Tropico series after PopTop imploded over a decade ago. Making an ARPG in the Diablo mold is quite a departure from their usual strategy-management fare, and Victor Vran has a decidedly budget look to it to boot (very much like the Van Helsing series, to the point where I initially thought it was the same developer) so I wasn’t exactly expecting great things from it, but it did have one very attractive feature: while it might have had a budget look, it also had a budget price tag that was reduced even further after I bought a two-pack and threw the second copy at long-time partner-in-mayhem Innokenti.
Kenti: Sometimes I feel you can tell something about the calibre of the game by how much fun you can have endlessly repeating its name to each other. I am not sure if it means it is good or bad, but I think we’ve said Victor Vran an awful lot. The silliness of its name matches well with the general lighthearted approach the whole thing takes. Even if the intended humour falls flat on its face.
Hentzau: I started pretty much every session by singing “Victor Vran, Victor Vran, does whatever a Victor can…” under my breath.
It feels somewhat dismissive to call Infinifactory “ SpaceChem – but in 3D!”, but that’s exactly what it is – indeed, that’s exactly what it’s marketed as in the Steam blurb:
LIKE SPACECHEM… IN 3D! Design and run factories in a first-person, fully 3D environment.
In fairness to Zachtronics they did make SpaceChem , and so in describing their third mass-market game this way they’ve just saved me a whole lot of bother trying to sum up what Infinifactory is about. It’s SpaceChem . But in 3D.
Warning: this might get a little rambly in places. Also the above collection of big boxes in the header image is sadly not my collection, although I dearly wish it was – image swiped from http://www.retrocollect.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=8408 .
I have just taken a week off that’s somehow left me more exhausted than if I’d spent it at work. For once the reasons behind this are pretty obvious: instead of spending my free time zoning out in front of my computer – whether it be playing games or watching Netflix — I actually had a couple of concrete hobby projects to be getting on with. The first of these involved building a Hadoop cluster out of five Raspberry Pis (beware data engineer-types with an overabundance of free time and spare cash) and was suitably gruelling 1 ; I might even write something about it on here if I can both get my thoughts in order and deem them sufficiently interesting. It’s the second project I want to spend a little time talking about today, though, since it involved culling certain segments of my childhood and got me thinking once again about the slow, creeping obsolescence that eventually overtakes all PC games.