I've been on a bit of a buying spree with games lately. Firstly I bought EVE Online. I played the trial of that on the recommendation of two friends who have been playing the game for about a year. After about 6 days into the trial, the game was looking fun, so I bought it, and began to play it. I got most of the tutorial missions done and the combat ones in particular were quite enjoyable. So I bought the full version for a month, which cost me €20 just to start with, much to my annoyance when Steam put it on sale for €2 a week later. I then joined the corporation (for anyone who hasn't played EVE, these are the guilds/clans ingame) my friends were in.
The first impressive thing about EVE is that it is big. Very big. It's also very empty. Both of these were pretty much a given the space setting, but it's still impressive to see it. The emptiness is cancelled out by the Warp Drive, meaning you aren't spending ages staring at black space, yet because you need to use gates to go between systems, the sheer size is still obvious.
The possible routes there are for EVE seem to be these:
- Trading: Buying stuff cheap, selling it dear. Easy to explain, hard to do well.
- Mining: Resource gathering. Is there anywhere this isn't boring?
- Manufacturing: Making stuff. Get x, y and the blueprints, wait some time. Might be OK for some, not for me.
- Combat: The highlight of the game. This is really quite fun, and well done, as you control all the various weapons/defenses on your ship. Of course, being a noob, I'm still at the sucking and dying stage, so haven't done any PvP yet.
A nice feature in game is that skill training takes place in real time, and continues when you are not online, meaning you don't have to play obsessively to get anything useful. I was a bit confused over what to do after the first few days because my two friends who played it went on holidays, but I managed to work my way through it. Learning the game could certainly be easier, but it's not as bad as some people make it out to be. A few things were confusing, but even when my friends were gone, I still didn't find anywhere where I was going "What am I supposed to do now?"
However, MMOs really aren't my thing, and while EVE was a good game, I am unwilling to give out €15 a month for it. If it was a game that cost €45 once, and that was it, I'd jump for it. But at over €100 a year, it just isn't worth it. It's a good game, but fails on the area of value for money. Which is something a lot of gaming sites don't always take into consideration. That €15 a month could be spent on getting a new game every 2 or 3 months, rather than just keeping an old game.
Introversion Complete Pack
Another recent purchase was the Introversion Complete Pack, which I bought during the Steam sale for €5. The pack contains 4 games - Darwinia, it's multiplayer successor Multiwinia, DEFCON, and Uplink. The one I've played most was Uplink.
Unlike EVE, which struggled to prove its value for money, Uplink alone is worth more than the €5 I payed for the set on Steam. Uplink is a game about hacking (of the script kiddy variety seemingly), where you have to break into various systems by using the right tools. The gameplay was simple, and the game's soundtrack was good, in a retro way.
The other one of the set I've played is DEFCON, a RTS based around nuclear warfare. The game starts slowly, as you build up your units and stockpiles, then move them into position, until the timer reaches DEFCON 1, and the nukes start flying. Again, it was quite enjoyable, even if I wasn't that good at it. Though from what I've seen from comments by other people who have played the game, the AI is quite hard to defeat at first.
Darwinia, and Multiwinia? I haven't got around to playing those two yet, but the other two have already paid for themselves several times over, so these two should be good as well.
Left 4 Dead
The final games I bought recently were Left 4 Dead 1 & 2. Again, I got these in the Steam sales, and given the price reductions, I bought the 4 pack of Left 4 Dead 1 so I could play games with friends when they were over. The co-op element is really fun, and most of the online community is luckily as good as Team Fortress 2, as opposed to the likes of Xbox Live and Counter Strike.
I know I'm rather late to the party with this one, but it is still a fun game. The zombies like the Charger and the Tank add the need for extra strategy than the "Get a good weapon and keep shooting while hiding in the corner until they are dead" of my other favorite zombie game, Nazi Zombies mode in COD5 (which was the only reason to play COD5 once you cleared the campaign).
The matchmaking system also works very well - I've found myself in matches with players of comparable skill most of the time, rather than being stuck ruining someone else's game by being a noob, or being stuck with people who are even worse at games than I am.
Playing locally with friends on Left 4 Dead 1 is fun as well, so the 4 pack was well worth it. The one problem I did encounter, is that the multiplayer element in Left 4 Dead 1 is rather unbalanced in Versus mode if you don't have 8 players, as there are no AI special infected, unlike in Left 4 Dead 2 which had this feature added in a patch. Oh, and the lack of melee weapons is also a bit disappointing.
Sometimes with video games, the pricing can be ridiculous. Not always ridiculous as in too high (but it often is) but ridiculous because they defy logic.
One example of this was around 6 months ago, the Orange Box for 360 was priced at €30 pre-owned, the same store sold it new for €20. Another example was during Zavvi's closing down sale. They claimed to have amazing offers. They did but not quite in the sense they meant. Mirrors Edge reduced from €60 to €59.99. Quite underwhelming.
Another case of bad pricing is on Steam. They converted $10 to €10 for Garry's Mod. Another page has a TF2 + Gmod offer at $25 or €25. $1 is not €1. A quick google reveals the current exchange rate is $1 -> €0.71 .
For reference, at the time of this post, €25 is equal to $35.
Combine this with the poor broadband connections in my area (1 meg) and Steam's frequent downtime, and digital downloads don't look very appealing any more. And Gamestop's PC game prices are far more reasonable now than they have ever been before. €40 for the Sims 3 or E:TW, PC games are now cheaper than even Wii games. When I bought E:TW, that was cheaper than the price on Steam (€49.99) . And Steam is supposed to have lower costs to distribute these games... Like duty-free shops that can charge much less, but mysteriously don't.