Friday, January 7, 2011

The Metal Path Nears Its End

I finished the single-player campaign for Brutal Legend last night. Given all the ranting I usually do about game length, I find myself in the unusual position of being sorry it is over. Technically I don't think the game is too short. And like a lot of open-world games it puts you back into the game world to finish finding whatever you missed, replay side missions, and generally explore to your heart's content. But I actually would like THIS main game to go on for a bit more.

So I don't HAVE to leave, but the save-the-world narrative is complete. I like the game enough to definitely travel around in it to finish up all the loose ends. I don't even care that it'll net achievements or gamerpoints for me, it is just plain fun!

The last few dreaded RTS 'stage battles' were much less awful than I feared. At one point I was reading the BL guidebook, looking for any help to just get through a battle that was kicking my ass, when one particular tactic sort of leaped out at me. I tried it, and it got me through the shitty part. On the next battle I applied it again, and it made it much easier than the one before, though it had much tougher enemy troop types involved. I died once total through all the rest of the games stage battles.

Basically, my problem before was overthinking the battlefield, and trying to do everything at once. The key to Brutal Legend single-player stage battles turns out to be simplicity. I took the time to amass a large force at the get-go, before sending any one of them to any objective, THEN tackling each objective whether it was a power source, a bottleneck, or whatever, with my entire force in turn... one at a time. Since the AI opponent doesn't build forces faster than you do (at the normal difficulty level anyway), keeping everything you have together is going to roll over anything the enemy has. The AI DOES split its forces a bit, but if you're whole army is hammering away at his main force, Eddie can break off to crush an enemy splinter force on his own. Finding a good bottleneck or main route on the field and blocking it with your entire army does wonders for how much running around Eddie has to do. Very little. And that's what was so frustrating before. I couldn't keep tabs on everything. So my epiphany basically was 'don't try to cover it all, keep everyone together'. Stopping up a bottleneck with my entire force, always sending reinforcements to that exact same place, and then rolling them forward towards the enemy HQ, the AI can't get around you, so the resources on your side are all safe. I definitely felt my nerd-boner push out my pants when I learned this!

Anyway, blah blah blah. The final fight, a one-on-one action confrontation (NOT a stage battle) was a LITTLE on the easy side, but Tim Curry's dialogue and awesome death scene ('deeecaaapiiitaaaatioooooon!) made that section rock anyway.

Too cool. I'll putz around in BL world for awhile as I decide what my next 'big game' is. Current contenders are Darksiders for the Xbox 360, Baroque for the Wii, and Epic Mickey for the Wii. Probably I'm going to have to strike Mickey from the list since my kids are both currently working on it, and if I get ahead of them it'd be shitty for them to see any spoilers. I've been spending a fair amount of time on Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu (Angry Bee Boss Great Resurrection) the newest Cave home port. It is absolute awesome, but as with all shooters, something I sit down with for a half-hour to an hour at time, between forays into 'the big game'.

Future entries will cover my thoughts on all the 'pachi' (bee boss) games. I've also ruminated on what I think my Game of the Year for 2010 is. And y'know? MY award for GOTY is the one all the developers should be courting. But they're dumb. I read this roundtable discussion about what should be GOTY between several high profile writers and reviewers and their points (and most of their choices) were utter ass. So it is up to me, in THIS 'blog to fix that.

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