Sunday, May 28, 2017

Play Log: Lapses

The whole point of writing Play Logs was to give myself a way to continue writing, using a short-form style that would be easy to manage.  This past month or so has been so busy I guess I couldn't even manage that.

Company of Heroes 2
The PIAT change has really changed UKF's mid-game for me.  Now I don't feel nearly as much need to rely on the AEC or Bofors to deal with vehicles.  Luchs are still a big threat, but I can live with that.

I'm finding myself slowly revising my opinion of the vanilla Sherman.  It's still kind of crappy at dealing with other tanks, being equal if not slightly inferior to the Panzer IV in a straight matchup, but the combination of HE rounds and a top-mounted MG make it a killer infantry tank.  If you think of it as a unit for blasting away vehicles and infantry that can also defend itself against enemy tanks (if necessary), it becomes a more compelling unit.  I'm actually curious if the Easy 8 (which lacks the ability to switch between HE and AP) has the same splash as the regular Sherman's HE rounds.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 2
On to the sequel.  It occurred to me that I'm not sure I've played a series of games where the stories are so tightly interlocked.  Most of the time when games have sequels, the individual games' stories still stand apart from each other.  Take Kingdom Hearts, which I think is the closest example of a JRPG series following a single overarching plot.  The original Kingdom Hearts had kind of a mysterious ending, but it was an ending all the same; Sora rescues Kairi and Destiny Island, and manages to briefly reunite with Riku.  Then you have Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 2, which explicitly follow up on the overall story but are still individual sagas in and of themselves.  The same goes double for games like Birth By Sleep and 358/2 Days, which plug fairly neatly into the series' narrative but still tell standalone, focused stories of their own.

Trails of Cold Steel (and presumably Trails in the Sky) isn't like that.  Trails of Cold Steel 2 is chapter 2 in the same book.  Cold Steel 1 essentially didn't have an ending.  A whole lot of stuff happens, and then the game is over.  Picking up Cold Steel 2 is like coming back from a commercial break mid-way through a TV episode or movie.  They even start you out at level 40 (which is about 25 levels lower than I finished CS1 at, but remarkable all the same), with all of the crafts you learned in the previous games.

I just... Don't know what I think about that.  If you buy Cold Steel 1 intending to finish it, you're basically locked into buying and playing the whole saga if you ever want to see a proper conclusion.  It's like if each episode in a Telltale game was 70 hours long and cost $40.

Bloons TD 5
I'm sure I've mentioned before my enduring fondness for Tower Defense games.  I played Bloons TD 5 a long time ago and didn't think much of it.  The cutesy visuals the premise of popping balloons didn't really ring home with me.  Well, for it's had a consistent following over they years so I figured I'd give it another shot.  It still feels a little hollow to me, but what eventually got me into it was the tower variety.  There's about 25 different units, ranging from planes that patrol the battlefield to super monkeys that blast balloons at ludicrous speed with eye beams.  The amount of enemies thrown at you and number of resulting projectiles flying around the screen means that the game can get somewhat hectic.

It's not bad.  In other news, I finally decided to wash my hands of Kingdom Rush.  I gave it its fair shake, and it's not for me.

Lara Croft Go
I couldn't get into Hitman Go, as much as I wanted to.  While the visuals and presentation were slick as hell, the core game just wasn't doing it for me, and at the end of the day didn't actually feel much like Hitman.

Lara Croft Go is way better in this respect.  It has just as much if not more visual flair than Hitman, with colorful, exotic environments and slick animation.  But to me at least, it truly evokes Tomb Raider.  I haven't played the PS1 games, but the trilogy Crystal Dynamics made during the mid-2000s were as much about quiet exploration as they were about blasting away at hostile wildlife.  I would even say they had a meditative quality about them.  Lara Croft Go captures that perfectly.