What I Played On My Christmas Vacation (a rapid roundup)
I had eleven glorious days off over the holidays, and aside from family committments there were precisely three goals for my time off:
1. Build a homebrewed Steam Box.
2. Learn how to bake a pie.
3. Catch up on some of my gaming backlog.
You already know that I accomplished the first, and I am pleased to confirm that homemade pies are freaking delicious. So what of the final goal? That too was a success and many games were played! Here are some of the highlights.
RIFT – As the old faithful game in a world of shiny new toys, RIFT kind of got short shrift from me over the holidays. I did log in long enough to make the final push to 60, mostly by doing the holiday warfront. Man, I love me some MMO PvP. I don’t know why. It’s probably a sickness.
The Secret World – A companion picked this up before Christmas and insisted I try it out. I wasn’t the hugest fan of TSW in beta, but it does seem much improved since then. I don’t really see this as an MMO, honestly, but I have a new appreciation of some of the game’s more unique mechanics and can see how it’s a very solid action RPG.
Hotline Miami – “Whoops, I died.” “Whoops, I died.” “Whoops, I died.” “Whoops, I died.” With art design kind of like David Lynch on an acid trip in the 80s, Hotline Miami is brutal and unforgiving and colorful and really neat. Not for players without patience.
FTL – FTL fills a great niche of nicely paced puzzler and it’s very well done. However, I think perhaps I’m just not meant for the roguelike life. Knowing that almost certainly everyone on my ship will die each time I start is kind of nihilist and depressing, and makes it hard to me to really connect with the game.
Jet Set Radio – You control members of a rollerblade gang in neo-Tokyo who get in spray paint tag wars with rival gangs (like the Noise Tanks, who appear to be made up of breakdancing robots). What I’m saying is, this game is awesome. Don’t even bother trying to play without a controller, though.
Spec Ops: The Line – Professional reviews of this game often mention that the gameplay itself is pretty uninspiring while the story and experience is amazing. I certainly can’t argue with the latter, but as someone who hasn’t played a military shooter since… umm.. forever.. I found the gameplay to be pretty intense too.
Time Gentlemen Please and Ben There, Dan That – These are two point-and-click adventure titles by the same dudes, unsurprisingly named Dan and Ben. Both have well-made puzzles and make some amusing jabs at game design and the game industry, but they’re also riddled with “bro humor” that was way more lame than amusing.
Superbrothers Sword & Sorcery EP – This started out as a phone game, but I got it in Humble Bundle V. It has the limitations of a phone game on the desktop (tap. tap. tap. tap.), but the art style and writing are outstanding. I will play more of this! (I also made a short video about it as part of my “Liore’s Backlog” YouTube series.)
Saints Row the Third – So look, I played some great games over my holiday break. Just look at that list! But pound for pound, minute for minute, no game has brought me as much sheer FUN as SR3 in co-op mode.
The missions and mini-games were already designed for maximum awesomeness — you parachute from a helicopter to a rooftop party while Kanye West blares through the speakers, for example, or play a game where the object is simply to drive a tank around the city and destroy as much as you can in a limited amount of time. So when you take all that, and add in a friend to both contribute to and witness your own badassery (one drives, the other shoots!) … now that’s a damn good time.