Games! So many games, oh my.
First up, The Orange Box turned up last Friday. This is a perfect compilation for me; I got Half-Life 2 with an ATI 9600XT graphics card a while back; at least, I got a voucher for it. Then it got delayed for a while, as I recall, and by the time it actually came out, the system only just supported it. I played through a bit, but was mid-CoH and/or WoW, so never quite finished it, and never got around to re-installing Steam on subsequent builds for that or Episode 1, so to get them in a box along with Episode 2, Team Fortress 2, Portal and (of course) Peggle Extreme? Sorted! In theory, I could gift Half-Life 2 itself to someone else, but only if I could remember those original Steam account details, and though I’m fairly sure I remember the address I used I got bored five minutes after clicking “send my account details/password” and created a new account.
First priority on installation, naturally, was a quick game of Peggle… which took care of Friday. I’ve restarted Half-Life 2, with a view to finishing that before going on to Episodes 1 and 2, haven’t even fired up TF2, and then, of course, there’s Portal…
Friday evening, we had friends round, when once again the Wii came into its own, allowing a veteran hardcore gamer and total non-gamer to duke it out in Wii tennis on a level playing field. I think the hotly contested match wound up at one set apiece, after a couple of epic games that stayed at deuce for ages… The hardcore gamer had already finished Portal on Steam, and spoke of it so highly we had to have a go at the first couple of levels right then, and I’m really looking forward to the rest of it. Inspired by the multiplayer Wii fun, and a handily placed newspaper advert for game discounts at Argos, I then went and picked up Rayman Raving Rabbids (utterly insane game, lots of fun) and Red Steel (seems like a fairly average shooter, but uses the Wii controls well). Oh, and stuck a pre-order in for Guitar Hero 3 while in town.
Then! there’s the Hellgate: London demo, I had to give that a try, and I rather liked it. Hard to make much of an assessment from such a short time, but it was a lot of zombie-splatting fun, with extra loot. Where Tabula Rasa puts a little bit of shooter electroplating on an MMOG, but is really quite conventional at heart, Hellgate seems first and foremost a first person shooter (for the Marksman class, third person stabber if you’re a Blademaster) with a MMOGy veneer of levels, skill trees and loot aplenty. Didn’t really like the Blademaster, but I’ve never been much into 3rd person games, I much preferred packing a pair of pistols as a Marksman. The real classics of the FPS/RPG hybrid (Deus Ex, System Shock 1/2) stood out for their powerful story, but I could easily see myself being drawn into a not-quite-so strong story for more piles of random loot… The post-apocalyptic/alien/zombie London setting looks quite fun too. If not for the huge pile of other stuff I’m building up I’d certainly pick it up; as it is, I might leave it a while. Probably wouldn’t go for the subscription as well, though, I think I’d be happy enough without those extra features (though the extra storage would be a huge temptation for my pack-rat-ism).
Finally, like that little lot isn’t enough to keep me busy for the next six months, it’s Trick-or-Treat time in City of Heroes, with an event almost identical to the last couple of years, only now with added mob-group costumes which are rather neat (and just as importantly, have associated badges) and our villain posse wrapped up the first strike force, despatching Bat’Zul to whatever pit he came from without too much trouble (though with three Shivans, which certainly helped). Phew!