Home > Gaming, Monthly Report (Gaming) > Gaming: June 2011’s Games

Gaming: June 2011’s Games

It’s well past time for the June round-ups, and this month we start by looking at the games I played in June.

Four of this month's images come from Valve games.

Image sources: Nick, some creepers, a turret, Wheatley and a Mii. The combine is from a personal screenshot.

Another low-key month for gaming then. Let’s get to it:

Left 4 Dead 2 (PC)

Left 4 Dead 2 being on the list doesn’t mean I got back into the old routine. I was looking for something quick to play and the game fit the bill perfectly, each campaign running between forty minutes to an hour. I just play solo but still have a lot of fun. I like the new special Infected in the game – the jockey, spitter and charger – but for whatever reason they don’t feel like they’re on the same tier as the game’s original collection. All three specialise in panic and separating the group, the charger by grabbing one and charging away with them (knocking anybody else aside as he passes), the jockey by trying to ride a survivor towards danger and the spitter by making the ground beneath the group dangerous and panicking them into scattering, but none feel that threatening for it.

Sometimes they do work really well though. During my first June session we were moving through an apartment block, Nick opened a door (I was playing Coach) and a charger was on the other side. It immediately charged, grabbed Nick and leapt out the window behind us, killing him instantly. In a situation like that chargers are almost as dangerous as a tank (who bats people around with ease), though obviously much weaker, and most of the time chargers appear across such distances or attack when the group is in an enclosed space that they either can’t reach the group or aren’t able to take them very far.

Minecraft (PC)

I didn’t really do much playing of Minecraft this month, I was just experimenting with mods to try and build an interesting new world for me to play through. I’ve been looking at monster towers the are scattered randomly across the landscape, an incredible number of new creatures (friendly and hostile), an improved sleep mechanic, buried treasure in the sand, some kind of survival mod that adds the need to eat, sleep and drink (one I did look at also included a limited number of lives that would lock you out of that world once you lost them, which frankly I’m not interested in at all), people added to the world (either as wandering factions or actual settlements), and so on.

The idea is to make it more of an adventure in a living world than a construction project, having already done the latter and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve not done much with it yet for three reasons:

  1. I bought a new game that I wanted to play instead.
  2. Notch will be adding an adventure mode into an upcoming patch that might negate the need for some of the mods.
  3. Right now my Minecraft won’t load up. I have a ridiculous number of backups made every time I added a mod so it’s no biggie, but I haven’t sorted it yet.

Portal 2 (PC)

The PC version of Portal 2 was included with the PS3 version, so I mainly played it on PC as that’s my preferred platform for this sort of game (though there were no obvious disadvantages when playing the PS3 version as it’s not a twitchy game). It’s an excellent campaign, thanks in no small part to the excellent writing and voice acting for the three main characters (and several minor ones). In terms of puzzles the game never grows stale despite its greater length, the game always introducing new concepts or putting a new spin on existing ones.

Narratively it’s a little weirder, split into three distinct acts but with the first and third directly connected. The second feels a little like a stop-gap where the story is concerned, as close as a developer like Valve could come to filler content. It’s still excellent, it just feels like they had a complete story with the other two acts but needed more to support the longer game, and as such the second act moves into backstory territory and feels a lot less connected. It’s a minor quibble, nothing more.

Portal 2 (PS3)

As I mentioned in the purchases post this was the version of the game I actually bought, as it meant I would have the PC version for myself and the PS3 version for my nephew. While I was downloading the PC version on my Steam account I played through a bit of the campaign on PS3, knowing that the Steam Cloud save storage would let me resume from whatever point I reached. That turned out not to be the case though, as Steam Cloud PS3 saves only transfer to other PS3s and I had to start over again. That wasn’t exactly a terrible thing though.

I’d heard that the co-op campaign potentially gave some things away about the solo campaign so my nephew and I both finished the solo one first (though I think it would have been fine if we hadn’t), and finally started the co-op campaign near the end of the month. As with our other co-op projects it will progress at his pace, whenever he feels like playing it, so it might be a while before we get it completed.

Synergy - Half-Life 2 (PC)

My nephew and I only played this the once, finally getting to the end of the canal sections that he wasn’t enjoying. We would have continued on were it not for Portal 2, which took over the month.

Wii Sports (Wii)

I had a rare moment of being social this month, spending time with a work colleague at his house. He had a Wii with Wii Sports so for a while we played that, playing some bowling and tennis. He only had one controller so with the tennis we were taking it in turns against the AI, but if I’d known he had a Wii I could have brought a controller or two of my own (there were three of us there). It was actually my first proper experience of the Wii being used in that kind of social situation and it was interesting to see.

*****

 June Verdict

Quality – Quality was high this month again. At least three of the games are arguably the best games released for their year of release (depending on if you count Minecraft‘s launch date as when it was first available for download or when it will officially release), while Left 4 Dead 2 is great and Wii Sports was an excellent launch title for the Wii and a spot-on demonstration of its motion control tech.

Quantity – I sunk lots of time into gaming while running through Portal 2, but otherwise I was a lot less active with games.

Timeliness – The spread this month: 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010/2011, 2011 & 2011. That’s not bad.

Platform Bias – The PC dominated again, with the PS3 and Wii getting a little bit of a look-in. I didn’t touch the 360 in June, the first month I’ve not done that this year. In fact it’s the first month I’ve not played the 360 at all since at least February 2008, which is when I first started logging my activity (and I absolutely played it in January), and might even be the first month I’ve not played the 360 at all since getting the console. That’s quite a streak to have broken.

NewnessPortal 2 and the Synergy run of Half-Life 2 are the only new experiences this month (and counting co-op Half-Life 2 as new is pushing it). It was otherwise a month of comfortable familiarity.

Goals – For June I wanted to:

  •  Restart my recently established schedule (two of every four non-work days on a new game, one on Dragon Age: Origins and one on timesinks Fallout 3 or The Sims 3) – Failed
  • If I do get my schedule back on track that means I could do with getting one new game to fill the gap – Achieved

So yes, I still haven’t got back into the gaming routine I tried to implement, and by this point I might as well accept that I probably won’t. I definitely need to put more time into gaming though or I’m just going to get too far behind on new releases (there are currently fourteen 2010 releases in my Amazon queue and another fourteen for 2011) and will have to drop some. I could maybe do with a new game in July, but I’m nearly done with Twin Peaks so could likely resume Deadly Premonition before the month is out.

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