In between yard work, odd jobs around the house, and work, I've taken advantage of Steam's annual summer sale. I now have more video games on my computer than I know what to do with, and it's a crazy feeling. Every time I sit down to play something, I look at my new list and can't decide; I dabble a little on each and move to the next game, waiting for one of them to consume me.
So far, Orcs Must Die 2 is the frontrunner. I held off on making this purchase until I saw it listed for around three dollars, skeptical that I would be able to transition from the original on Xbox 360 to my computer, but after the intro level, I felt at home with the controls. I would say the controls are even smoother on the PC than a console, making weapon switches in the middle of combat a breeze. This sequel has the same look and feel as the original with slight changes to the leveling system. Rather than skill trees, points are allotted into weapons, traps, trinkets, and costumes, the costumes being purely cosmetic. There's also an additional character called a sorceress with different traps and builds. The result accommodates a wide array of play styles, co-op, mass orc killing, and a whole lot of replayability--it surpassed my expectations.
As a gift from a friend, I tried the Indie title The Binding of Isaac. Right away I noticed the similarity between this game and the Legend of Zelda. It incorporates a dungeon system almost identical to Zelda in appearance (with blood stains) and movement, with locking doors, bombs, keys, and frustrating boss battles. Though the game appears to be simple, it's very dependent on luck and skill. To take down Mother, who wants to sacrifice Isaac to God, one must study the patterns of twisted enemies, gather the best weapons and items, have keen reflexes, and cross your fingers the randomized system doesn't stick you with junk early on.
While scouring Steam for sales (I got my eye on FF VII), I downloaded DOTA 2. I've heard about this franchise over the years but never played. I'm a newb, still running through the training levels and trying to decide what hero suits me the best. There's a ridiculous amount to choose from, and each one that I've used has played differently. Despite the game appearing to have simple team objectives, the simulated runs that I've done against bots are complex and layered. I'm not confident enough to join other players, having heard the community is harsh on people that don't know what they're doing.
I'm logging into Marvel Heroes as well, though the fever is nearly gone. This morning Cyclops dropped for me, and it's the first hero I've obtained that I didn't already own--I've received six Iron Man while using Iron Man and two Hawkeye while using Hawkeye and no costumes. My problem is due to the repetitiveness of the endgame; it's instanced versions of Story Mode, so when I received Cyclops part of my thrill dissipated when I realized I would have to trudge through Story Mode a sixth time with zero new content and no surprises. The developers are still balancing the heroes, ironing out bugs, and improving systems like crafting and random drops, so nothing has been added. Though they've stated they have plans for new zones, heroes, etc. I don't know how long it will take them. Other than new costumes I think cost too much to purchase, the content is roughly the same as it was a month and a half ago when it released--I'm considering shelving Marvel Heroes until there's additions to run my low level heroes through.
The only disappointment I've had this week is my purchase of Final Fantasy XIII-2, which I returned this morning after twenty hours of play. I'm a huge fan of the Final Fantasy franchise. Until the release of XIII, I never thought there would be a bad title, and I'd heard amazing things about its sequel. Unfortunately, it was not what I was looking for. The game is too linear; I miss the enormous open world exploration of the older Final Fantasy installments. The story and music were dull, as were the borderline-generic characters, and I wasn't compelled by the fighting or leveling systems at all--less automation and more choice would be preferred. The graphics were amazing, but that's about the only compliment I can give it. What I find even more boggling is that another installment of XIII is near to release. If any Final Fantasy titles were worthy of sequels, it would be Final Fantasy III (American), VII, VIII, or IX; I'd even take updated versions of them or a compilation over another yarn based off XIII.
In exchange for Final Fantasy XIII-2, I snagged the Game of the Year Edition of Dead Island. I'm not sure how it's going to be, but I plan to start playing sometime tonight, when I can turn off all the lights and create a dark atmosphere in my room. Until then, I'll be juggling my new purchases.