March Video Games

Civ 5 (70 hrs) – In March I fired up Civilization V for the first time since 16 Nov 2010.  What was the catalyst?  My wife asking what happened to all the enthusiasm for the game when it first came out.  Well, as I’ve mentioned before, right after I got the game I played it for a week straight.  Then I went on vacation to the Grand Canyon, to NYC for Halloween, had Thanksgiving and Christmas at my house, and a stronger focus on my webcomic.  Her question reminded me of how much I loved the Civilization franchise.  So I started playing and was reminded of why I loved it so much.  It took me most of the first game to get back into the groove with Civ 5’s new quirks, but I really appreciated the improvements to AI.  Civ V is now my most played game with 117 hours.  (Finally surpassing Civ 4)  Most of that time was added in March as I got sick and spent a few days home.  The achievements in Civ 5 really played a key role in keeping me interested over so many hours.  I did things I never would have done in order to get those achievements and now I have a much better understanding of how best to use those Civilizations.

Monkey Island 2: Special Edition (6 hrs) – I did eventually get a little tired of Civ5, so I figured I should finished up Monkey Island 2.  I got much further this time around before I needed to use a walkthrough.  I’m not sure if I’m getting back into the point and click adventure groove or if the second one is easier than the first.  At some point I got stuck and turned to a strategy guide.  Once again, I found some puzzles that I would have NEVER figured out without a guide.  Others I might have figured out given time, something I don’t have much of.  Anyway, I finished it and I really liked the ending.  I found out online that the ending was controversial.  Turns out it’s what they wanted to do for the first one, but it didn’t work out.  I don’t know – maybe it’s because I’m experiencing it so many years later after they’ve made the next the sequels – but I don’t see what’s so controversial about it.  It’s pretty clear from what happens after the credits with Governor Marley what the ending is meant to signify.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (3 hrs) – I fired this game up again to solve the Subject 16 puzzles and watch the resulting video as in the previous game.  This took a lot longer than I thought it would (3 hours) because Rome is so large and it takes time to travel it.  On top of that, some of the puzzles were pretty hard.  The resulting extra background story was pretty sweet.  It actually foreshadows the ending a bit.  I might throw the game on once more in April to get the parachute achievement – plus get the chance to experience parachutes in the game.

Portal (87 min) – This one came out of nowhere.  I had last played Portal in 2009.  I’d never played it on my new computer (I was able to up the visual settings!)  Basically, some time after Dan got me Portal, I went into it and was overjoyed at what a hilarious and fun game it was.  Somehow I’d managed to keep away from all the spoilers so it was completely fresh to me despite starting play 6 months or more after it came out.  All I knew was that “the cake is a lie”.  I proceeded through all the puzzles, enjoying the brain teasers.  Then I got to level 17 and I couldn’t figure out how to finish the level no matter how hard I tried.  I looked at some walkthroughs, but Portal is almost impossible to describe correctly with text once you get to a sufficiently compex level.

So for a year or so the game remained unplayed.  Then Dan informed me that there were video walkthroughs available on Youtube.  I found one for level 17 and was finally able to get through it.  I can’t remember if I got through level 18 on my own, but level 19 got me stumped again and I turned to the walkthrough.  For some strange reason, however, I stopped playing at the 3:30 mark of the approximately ten minute video.  And there it remained for two years.  So what changed?  On the most minor of levels – my list of unplayed games that I’m trying to stick to finishing up before buying a new game.  But I have plenty of other games to finish and I’ve been working on those.  So what was the real reason?  It is thanks to Portal 2 coverage.  The game is coming out in April and more and more people are starting to talk about it – especially the Giant Bombcast.  This reminded me of how much I loved playing Portal and I decided to finish it up.  Apparently I’m not the only one because Raptr also has a spike in users playing the game after having nearly no play for a long time.  Interestingly, not that many people finish the game because only 22% of Raptr users that have the game have finished it.  (Or maybe they did it back before Raptr tracking and the achievement wasn’t properly tracked)

Anyway, the ending was awesome.  If you’re a weirdo like me who somehow still hasn’t finished this game – do it!  Even if you’ve heard the song and/or had the ending spoiled.  At some point I gave up on thinking I’d ever finish the game and began reading stuff like TvTropes that had spoilers.  It didn’t make it any less awesome to finish that game.  Once Valve realized they were going to make a sequel, they patched the ending of the game.  The interesting thing is that it makes the original ending even creepier!  I’m not going to beat around the bush because this game is about 4 years old and if you have heard anything about the game, the ending’s been spoiled by Jon Coulton’s amazing ending song for the game.  So the original ending has you ending up on asphault of the Aperture Science parking lot.  Then GlaDOS sings that she’s Still Alive after you see a room full of GlaDOS cores turn on.  Kinda scary, but no biggie.  You’re out there somewhere in the Half-Life timeline, but that’s not explicit from playing the game.  But in the new, patched ending – a robot thanks you for assuming the party position – great brick joke.  And drags you back.  So being dragged back and THEN having the cores turn on…..THAT is scary!

5 responses to “March Video Games”

  1. My best guess is that it’s controversial because of what it implies about the reality of the game’s universe. The anachronisms in the previous game seemed like tongue-in-cheek fun, but things just got really weird with the ambiguous ending (that was never truly resolved), so people just really want to know the true secret.

  2. […] Portal 2 Review and Analysis If I have to sum up Portal 2 in one word: brilliant!  I really enjoyed the first Portal a lot.  The sense of not knowing what’s going on and GLaDOS’ obvious demented nature made for a dark video game the likes of which I’d never experienced.  It was an artform as much as any other movie or book.  And the puzzles were great fun and really got my brain going.  But I wasn’t hooked.  In fact, there was a two year gap between when I started and finished the game.  […]