What Team Humidor is Playing
Every once in a while, we realize we have nothing to publish on Thursday. This usually happens when we've been too busy playing games to actually write about them. Yes, I know, it's a hard knock life.
Today is one of those days. We could have asked somebody else to write something, or we could have told a long, involved joke about something stupid we did one day and put it up here calling it experiential editorial or something. Instead, we decided to share with you our thoughts on what's currently occupying our non-work hours.
And yes, I'm aware that what we do barely qualifies as work to begin with. No, I don't feel guilty about that. I'm also well aware that this little ditty barely qualifies as Thursday editorial, but these are the compromises we make from time to time.
Shannon Drake, Contributing Editor
I'm currently playing EVE Online (still), as documented endlessly in these pages. I'm in the midst of becoming a space industrial tycoon, and I plan to stand on my space-porch cackling and snapping my suspenders when my plans come to fruition.
I've just finished Final Fantasy XII and am debating what JRPG to play next-probably something from the Tales series. I'm also in the Lord of the Rings Online beta when I have a bit of free time, and it's surprisingly good, even for someone who pretends to be jaded, like me. I still indulge in regular games of FIFA 2007 on the weekends. And I also have a preview build of Silverfall, which I will hopefully be writing about shortly, as it's quite an impressive game.
Still waiting to be shoe-horned into my gaming schedule are the new Phoenix Wright game (which requires I replay the old one, since I don't remember a lick of it, other than "AWESOME!") and Hotel Dusk, which I am looking forward to tremendously, if I can ever find time to play it.
Russ Pitts, Associate Editor
I've been playing some Wii Sports, which is a total blast. I'm also about 20 hours into Zelda: Twilight Princess on the Wii and therefore about half-way through a thought on the future viability of the Wii as a game platform. Look for a fully-baked version of this thought in editorial form in the near future. But for now, accept the half-baked version.
With Zelda games, you pretty much know what you're going to get when you turn it on: a story about a kid looking for a girl and several pieces of some something or another required to make him powerful enough to face The Great Evil. You'll also get swordplay, dungeons and level bosses. You'll also, also get a ton of various frustrations built into the franchise from way back, including, but not limited to the aforementioned dungeons and level bosses. But if you know Zelda, you know these things, expect them and move on to experience the otherwise fantastic, explorative, puzzle-solving gameplay.
Twilight Princess, in this regard, does not disappoint. In fact, there have been a number of times playing it where I've been convinced that in addition to the normal Zelda flair, they've borrowed a great deal from a bunch of great games, assembling a who's who of modern game design inspirations. There are Tomb Raider moments, a couple of Psychonauts touches and a hint of Prey, but the entirety is all Zelda, updated for the new generation.
And that's the problem. Zelda on the Wii is a clear evolution in game design, but it seems to have evolved along the lines of standard console gameplay, not the Wii's revolutionary play style. Whacking things with the sword is 10 different kinds of awesome, and pinpoint, one-shotting stuff in the head with the bow is just way more fun than it should be. Unfortunately, these things get overshadowed from time to time by the inherent lack of camera control and various other control functions one has come to take for granted with a game pad, and the already annoying boss levels and save-point-less dungeons only serve to increase the frustration.
Still, for some reason, it's an absolute blast. This, my friends, is the Zelda formula. Love it or leave it.
In other news, I just picked up Sonic and the Secret Rings for Wii, which I'll be playing the hell out of this weekend and reviewing on Monday. The demo at E3 (when it was called Wildfire) was awesome in a jar, way more exciting in every possible way than the recent Sonic the Hedghog released on the 360, and I expect more of same from the full version.
Joe Blancato, Associate Editor
I'm splitting my gaming time between EVE and fleshing out a World of Darkness campaign I'll maybe run someday.
EVE's mired in the space equivalent of a world war. After the JumpGate story broke, all but a few of the big alliances in the game declared war on BoB, the alliance who benefited from the cheating devs. BoB controls the southwestern corner of the map, and they're defending pushes from the southeast and northwest. They've committed the majority of their forces up north, so their strongest ally in the south, Lotka Volterra, is getting crushed by a RedSwarm attack. I'm just doing my part, zipping around in interceptor-class ships during 200-man fleet engagements and leading small groups behind enemy lines to harass supply lines and the like. It's pretty fun, kinda like raiding in WoW, only you're always moving and the things you do have an impact on the world around you.
On the more creative side, I'm putting together a World of Darkness campaign based out of my old hometown, Las Vegas. My players are going to be human vampire/etc. hunters, just barely aware that the bumps in the night are actually real. I've split my time between creating the atmosphere and meta aspects of the game and actually outlining a plot for the characters to work through. All in all, I'm going for a noir-meets-eldritch, Cthulhu in a fedora feel. If I can pull it off, it should be a pretty cool setting.
Funny, both games I'm interested in are owned by CCP now.
JR Sutich, Contributing Editor
Rogue Galaxy by Level 5 is the first RPG I've played on a Sony console since Xenogears on the original PlayStation. The long wait was not disappointing. This game is fun and challenging, combining action combat with a bit of strategy to guide your character along in the way you want. With a system that allows you to collect items to unlock new battle skills, you can specialize your character between Sword or Gun fighting, or a mix of both. There is even a way for you to combine weapons or construct new ones from scratch.
The story may seem familiar, about a boy who lives on a desert planet under the oppression of an evil empire who is given a powerful sword by a mysterious stranger and then has to flee his home on a spaceship owned by a likable pirate-type. The characters themselves are what really make the experience enjoyable and learning about the story development at times becomes secondary to the combat.
The games visuals are top-notch, with a brilliant combination of cell-shading over CG environments. At times, I felt as if I was playing a high-budget anime movie, and maybe that's all Rogue Galaxy is. But for right now, it's keeping me interested. Pro tip: Save every chance you get.