I bought some games
Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition: I fell in love with this game during the demo, and I had to buy the full version. I don't want to get sidetracked too much, but as a fun fact, this is the first time I've ever bought a game over XBLA, or played a game that was a digital download. It was quite easy and convenient, not to mention extremely fast. I already had the demo on my HD, and once I bought the full game it opened up and I was ready to dive in instantly. I probably sound like an old quaker just learning the wonders of electricity, but until now I've never used the online marketplace and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Welcome to the future I guess.
I love the design of this game because the more I dig into it, the more I get out of it. The game is whatever I want it to be, and the story is whatever happens to me during a playsession. If I stare down at the grass, get bored, and quit, that's my story. But, if I decide to explore the world, create armor and weapons for myself, mine materials, craft new items, and build whatever my mind comes up with, that's a whole different story. This game is a sandbox, and it lets me use my imagination to do whatever the heck I want, at my own pace.
It's quite deep, but it's very accessible. The mechanics are simple and polished. As a first time player I've had to ease into the crafting system and learn even the most simple recipes like how to make a charcoal torch. There's been nothing to hold my hand, so I've had to experiment on my own, talk with people, and engage with the community to try and understand the deeper elements of the game. There's still plenty to learn and build with. For example I still don't know how the electricity and minecart system works yet. The more I explore, the more I want to learn. The more I learn, the more I get inspired to build. The more I build, the more excited I get to explore the next cool idea once I'm done with the current one. It's a nice gameplay loop and I love it.
From what I can tell there's no "beating" the game. If your imagination runs dry and you don't want to play in the sandbox anymore, it means the game is "over" for you. It's just like being a kid again in a real life sandbox. As of now, I'm just getting started, I have tons of ideas and plenty of worlds I want to explore and mine, so my game is nowhere near being over.
At the moment I'm deep underground in a huge spiderweb of tunnels I've been mining below a Stone house I built into the side of a mountain. I've been finding quite a bit of goodies, including a dozen diamond gems, and more gold & iron ores than you can shake a pixel at! However I've also been coming across a ton of baddies in the depths. There's nothing like the "Sssss..." sound of creeper coming up behind you while you're peacefully mining some rocks with your false sense of security. My personal Minecraft "story" has been a lot like a dungeon crawling RPG lately, complete with tons of loot, armor, weapons, and health items. I have several hundred fired stone blocks hoarded away in a series of chests because I'm planning on generating a cache of materials to help me build a castle somewhere. Or maybe I'll load a whole new world and build something wildly different? It's up to me, that's one of the reasons I love this sandbox so much. Minecraft is probably the best $20 I've ever spent in my life.
Dark Souls: This blog is dedicated to 1Upper and friend Jose(Fortell). Jose is one of the biggest Dark Souls fans I know. Several months ago we talked a lot about the game, he sold me on the idea of the game, but as you can tell it took me a long time to get around to buying it. This whole year Jose has been showing up on my blogs to ask me about the game, and has sent me funny emails about it as well. It's been a long running gag, but unfortunately we probably won't be able to use this picture anymore...
I started out the game confused as to which class I wanted and how I wanted to play the game. I had to experiment to see what the combat felt like, what the movement speeds were like, how magic worked, and if I took a liking to any particular play-style. I began the game with a Pyromancer because I figured it would give me a chance to test out both the melee and magic combat. After quite a few deaths I was able to get through the game's first area, the Undead Asylum, but I didn't really like playing the Pyromancer. First off, I didn't fall in love with the magic combat, and second, the Pyromancer in general was a little too fragile for me. The starting shield was too shoddy, and when I went into melee combat I was getting dominated too often because of the light armor, lower defense, and lower health. So I actually deleted my Pyro character and started a new game. The new character I'm playing now is a female Warrior, I named her Andromeda, and I absolutely love the way the game plays now.
A lot of people have heard of Dark Souls' repuation for high difficulty, but some folks who haven't played the game might assume it means the game is unfair, cheap, or disrespectful to the player. Trust me, that's not the case at all. In fact it's quite the opposite. Dark Souls respects me in every sense, but it challenges me. Dark Souls has been giving me all the tools I need to survive, I just have to learn to use the tools successfully. Never once have I been cheated. Everytime I've died, I've been able to do something better next time and achieve victory and the rewards that come along with it. Everything I've experienced in the Undead Burg so far has proven that to me.
When I first showed up in the Undead Burg, I was weak, my melee combat timing was off, and I didn't have the best equipment. I was being speared to death by undead knights, firebombed, shot with arrows, slaughted by the nimble Black Knight in two hits, and slaughtered even worse by Havel the Rock in one hit. I looked like a real jabroni exploring the Undead Burg for the first time. Sounds pretty brutal right? Well it was, but it wasn't unfair. The game tested me, required me to sharpen up my timing, devise strategies, buy better armor, level up, and rise to the occasion.
I started studying the attack patterns of each enemy type, learning when to block, when to strike, and once I knew how to survive a fight with each enemy type, I was able to put all the puzzle pieces together and fight my way through the entire area one step at a time while loosing minimal health. Eventually I taught myself how to conquer every enemy in that area, including the savage Black Knight, and what's even better, Havel the Rock. I fucking killed Havel the Rock last night and got a badass magic ring plus 3000 souls!
The first time I walked down that spiral staircase and came across Havel the Rock he literally used his giant club to pound me into the ground and killed me in one fast hit. He's super fast, has very high HP, and he kills you in one hit every time. But I spent some time exploring the rest of the Undead Burg, getting stronger, and boy I came back for him. I died a couple times, and it required a drawn out battle, but I used a frantic strategy to eventually kill him. This game kills me a lot, it challenges me, but it makes me feel like a badass! You don't know how happy I was when Havel the Rock fell to his knees and his souls rushed into my soul bank. I was scared to death of that guy at first, and now he's no more.
That's a pretty big chicken lizard
Now that I've moved on past Havel and killed the Taurus Demon as well, I'm at this bridge where a giant dragon is cooking anything that gets in his line of sight. I don't know if you can kill him, but I'm going to experiment when I play the game tonight and see what happens. I don't think I can rush him and hit him in any way, but I might be able to shoot him somehow. By the way, the sound design is incredible in Dark Souls. The sounds of the dragon breathing and shuffling around is intense.
So, I'm only a few hours into the game, I'm still in the Undead Burg, but I'm really immersed in this game. I think about it even when I'm not playing. Even when I'm off living daily life I still think about the melee combat and the gameplay loops. The design of it is solid, the difficulty level is perfect, the combat is a blast, the enemy programming is great, the soul economy makes sense, the visuals are beautiful, and the sound design is amazing. I honestly don't have anything to complain about, I'm having a ton of fun and keep finding things to love about the game. At this rate, Dark Souls might end up being one of my favorite games once it's all said and done.
Civilization Revolution: So, as if Minecraft and Dark Souls weren't addicting enough, I had to buy Civ Rev. This is one of the most addicting and time-consuming games I've ever played. Sid Meier is a great designer and he knows the way to my heart when he makes these games. Since this was built from the ground up for consoles, and I have a console, I had to get it. I've been playing so much of this game it's actually been dominating a lot of my gaming time and keeping me from progressing in Minecraft or Dark Souls as much lol. If I never bought Civ Rev, I'd probably be a little further in Dark Souls.
My friends on XBL have probably been seeing me in Civ Rev all the time for hours on end the past couple weeks. This game is so much fun and it's so time consuming that an entire day will disappear just because of one match. Sid and his team have designed gameplay loops that grab a hold of me, put me in a trance, and keep me playing one more turn. One more turn, and another. I need to build a temple to generate culture points, I need to stack these Cataphract units into an army to defend my capital from those damn Mongolians, I need to build a road, then wait for next turn. Okay, the temple is built, my armies are set to defend, time to uncover the mysteries of Democracy so I can increase science and gold production by 50%.
There's always something to do during a match, and the gameplay loop is relentless and entertaining. It takes some real effort to just get out of the trance, pause the game, and go do something normal like eat a meal or do laundry. If I don't get a grip, I might never play another game again. Thanks a lot Sid Meier lol.
I've bought these three games, couldn't be more addicted to each one of them, and I'm in gamer heaven right now.