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The Settlers 2: 10th Anniversary - Vikings

The original Settlers 2 was one of the first PC games I ever played, if not the first one (not counting stuff like the pinball game that was included in old windows versions), and to this day it is the only one of the series I have really played for an extended amount of time, after having been greatly disappointed by The Settlers 3 when it was originally released. Maybe one day I'll give it or one of the later games another try... however, I kept coming back to this one, first to the original more than ten years ago when I played through the campaign for the first time (when I had started playing it almost 20 years ago I didn't really know how everything worked and I mostly played without opponents, just building stuff the way I liked it), and finally to the remake only about a year ago (when it was already 10 years old itself). As the Vikings add-on is not available on GOG (probably due to it never having been released in English), I didn't get the game here but bought a retail version, fortunately one without any obtrusive DRM, that included the add-on.

I played through both the campaign of the base game, which was a remake of the original one with additional narration and a ridiculous story about missing women added to it (probably relating to the fact that there are no female settlers in the game - I wonder how they reproduce, as warehouses have an unlimited supply of new settlers), and while it was nostalgic fun to revisit these missions with a new look, every mission essentially was the same - build a town, defeat the enemy, reach the portal. Just as it was in the original.

Now, the add-on campaign, on the other hand, was a little different. Unlike in the original one, where you only played the Romans, you get to play each of the four tribes throughout its course. Granted, they all play exactly the same and only look different, but that's just the way it was in the original, and I don't mind that they didn't change that, it's one of these things that are just part of the game. The story is also better, although not exactly great, but it is enough to bind the missions together, even as you switch sides multiple times. But the missions themselves are where the game truly shines. You still have to defeat at least one enemy tribe and reach a certain point (instead of getting to a portal you have to destroy the enemy's headquarters), but along the way there is much more variation and challenge than in the original campaign missions. You have side quests and secondary objectives, get to fight alongside other tribes, have to deal with an ally becoming hostile and even do a little bit of "trading", although this basically means you have to produce a certain amount of a certain good for the plot to advance to the next stage. Some missions are scripted in that the opponents only do certain things (like progressing beyond a certain point) once you have done other things (like building a harbor on their island) first, and it is possible to exploit this once you know what will happen and when. It's by no means perfect, but within the limits of the game, it works pretty good. There are many more missions with seafaring than in the original campaign (and even that had a lot more of it in the remake than the original one, in fact that was one of the biggest disappointments of the original for me, to learn that ships were only available in very few campaign missions and not in the normal scenarios I used to play at the time), and while this means the opponent often has no way to reach your own headquarters and defeat you entirely, it can still be quite challenging to defend your outposts and get the goods you need there in time (and if the opponent manages to occupy all "harbor tiles" you have no way of getting back onto his island, so you've basically lost, even though you may still have a flourishing economy on your home island).

Anyway, it was great to experience this game again in a new way, both in terms of graphics and the new campaign. I guess for now I'm done with this game once again, but who knows when I will be back again. Maybe in another ten years.... ;)
Max Payne

Randomly got a urge to give this a second playthrough. Still exciting, still challenging but the gun fights have aged a bit with the lack of proper cover mechanics. However the story, voice acting and noir feel remains top notch. Also, the game often reminded me of Kingpin : Life of Crime for some reason.

Runs very well on my 64 bit win 7 system, and I only needed a small sound patch to fix some audio problems.
Mind Snares: Alice's Journey

Hidden object game by Artifex Mundi - rather mediocre this time.

List of all games completed in 2017
Army of TWO: The Devil's Cartel (360)

Another free Xbox 360 game from a few years ago. I actually found it to be some pretty mindless shooting fun. It's of the cover shooter variety and is mainly intended for co-op and seems to be trying to mimic Gears of War. In that respect it's not even close to Gears, but on the other hand no other cover shooter has ever gone close to nailing the balance and fun of Gears even though many games have tried, like The Order 1886 etc. Really, the only one to come close to Gears of War was Max Payne 3 and I don't think that had co-op- so isn't a true apples vs apples comparison.

Anyway, without being exceptional at anything, Army of TWO TDC was just some fun "linear shoot waves of bad guys whilst your characters make wise cracks" game- then move onto the next area and repeat. Obviously it would be more fun with a co-op partner, but it was still okay solo.
Post edited September 09, 2017 by CMOT70
Devil's Attorney (Android)

The battles in court got a little repetitive in the end (and once you'll find a good strategy, you can hardly lose them), but the cutscenes and the cases were quite funny. Music and the cartoony graphics were fine as well and so I enjoyed the game. Certainly not a masterpiece, but a good game to play on your phone while you wait for the bus.

Complete list of finished games in 2017
Crusader: No Remorse - 2/5

I don't think any part of this game is particularly well made:

* The acting is mostly terrible and cringeworthy, (particularly the black market guy)
* The graphics are bland at best. Dysfunctional and glitchy at worst. Including the issues and ambiguity inherent with the isometric perspective.
* But the most egregious thing about the game, by far, is the abysmal controls/movement. The game includes a bunch of platforming, but strangely, doesn't even have a jump button - instead, there's a sliding-through-the-sky-while-sitting-on-an-invisible-bike button.

Thankfully though, the game does manage to be a bunch of fun (when you're not fighting with the controls).
I have replayed Crusader: No Remorse recently, too, and I am surprised you didn't find it great. It has great story & atmosphere, music, visuals - great everything!

Regarding controls, you jump forward with a tab key. I generally used numpad for movement (which numlock on).
Hmm I finished:

Final Fantasy 13
Final Fantasy 13-2
Vandal Hearts
Moon Hunters

I thought I finished more, but the years all blur into one another.
igrok: I have replayed Crusader: No Remorse recently, too, and I am surprised you didn't find it great. It has great story & atmosphere, music, visuals - great everything!

Regarding controls, you jump forward with a tab key. I generally used numpad for movement (which numlock on).
I guess it's a matter of taste. I definitely did dig that home base music.

Also, I definitely know how to jump - my point is that the jumping movement/animation is mindbogglingly terrible. When you jump, you basically float around in the air, sometimes you even bounce between obstacles midair. It's pretty unclear as to what things you can jump on/over and where you'll land when you jump.
unWorded (Android)

Currently available in the lowest tier of the Humble Mobile Bundle, unWorded is basically a short, narrative-focused, puzzle game. It's got a literary theme, mainly because it tells the story of a dying writer and lets you dive in his works, but also because everything (and I literally mean EVERYTHING) you are shown on-screen is made up of letters, numbers, and a bunch of other typographic characters. In fact, the vast majority of this game's gameplay consists in combining characters of different sizes in order to form an object that's relevant to the ongoing story.

Most of the "puzzles" are quite easy to figure out, and some of them I found pretty ingenious. A few others left me wondering what the hell was I expected to build with the characters/pieces I had been given, and in those occasions the in-built help system came really handy. Finally there were a couple of low points, both in the Mine chapter: the first one was a sort of "action section" that felt a little out of place among all the puzzles, and then there was a kind of maze that I ended up skipping completely because it didn't seem to make any sense whatsoever. Apart from these two minor inconveniences, this is a nice laid-back game with a mildly interesting story, albeit a little tear-jerky.

My list of finished games in 2017

That final boss battle was a bitch.

Three hours that goddamn thing took me! :O
Finished up Painkiller yesterday. Very enjoyable game, although it could have been a bit longer. But I loved it. Still good to knock out another game in the backlog fairly quickly.
Sakura Dungeon

Just finished my first play through on easy. I had a blast playing, it's more fun than i expected.
Nowadays i only play games i really like to the end so Sakura Dungeon alone was worth the 10 bucks i spent for the currently running Hunie Sakura Bundle to me. :)

And i will do another play through on hard one day...
Hollow Knight. This was pretty fantastic. I don't play a lot of particularly recent games, but of the ones I have this was probably the best and it's probably the best Metroidvania I've played since La Mulana.

I prefer games in this genre to avoid hand-holding and this was does a nice job of balancing a sense of exploration with conveniences like maps and quick-travel methods. If you prefer games to explicitly tell you "GO THERE NEXT", you probably won't like this one very much. There's a strong Dark Souls influence in that many enemies can hurt you badly if you don't figure out their attack patterns and whatever story the game has is presented somewhat cryptically. Something or other about a thriving kingdom that became decadent and fell into ruin. I can't say I was particularly motivated to piece it all together in detail. You're just dropped into this place and you have to figure out where to go by poking around until you hit a dead end, then go in another direction, and eventually you find hidden stuff and power-ups that let you explore even more. You're not given maps at first - you have to buy a map of a sub-area, then explore and find a rest area to fill it in.

There's a consistent sense of discovery - new places, new enemies, new items. Whenever I started feeling like I'd seen everything, the game threw something new out there. By the standards of the genre the game is HUGE. If anything it's so big that it gets hard to remember where points of interest are even with a fully completed map (probably should have taken notes as I went along). I finished with 93 percent completion and there were at least a couple of things that I never got around to investigating.

The controls generally work well, but they're not messing around when they recommend playing with a gamepad. The game can be very challenging in parts and although you can equip items to alleviate the difficulty somewhat, there's ultimately no way to advance except to "git gud" - the bosses will just hand you your ass over and over until you figure out their patterns. The graphics are quite nice with a well-animated cartoon look, although not especially colorful. However, the characters are all bugs, so it sort of makes sense that their world would be varying shades of subterranean murk.

The game seemed fairly stable while I was playing, but it did crash a few times on exit, so I guess that's a bug that needs fixing. At least I never lost any save data, though.
Post edited September 13, 2017 by andysheets1975

Playing as a mote, you absorb things smaller than you and are absorbed by things bigger than you. Movement consists of ejecting your own mass (becoming smaller) within a fluid. It'sa chill puzzler, with each level giving you a goal and a setup and letting you attack it as needed. Some levels are pretty straight forward and simple, but others test you planning and reflexes a bit. There are enough wrinkles thrown into the premise to keep it from getting stale, but no big deviation from the core mechanics.

Nice soundtrack, easy controls, visually appealing, I really enjoyed.