What I’ve been playing this summer (part I)

Frozen Synapse screenshot
Frozen Synapse
Sins Of A Solar Empire screenshot
Sins Of A Solar Empire

Dark Heresy (tabletop)

Who knows, maybe I should see some people during the summer, too. The campaign has started off strong and I’m beginning to get a good ol’ RPG buzz. Who knew playing space fascists could be so much fun?

Space Hulk (tabletop)

It’s still a great game.

Descent (tabletop)

It satisfies my dungeon delving urges. Oh and since first covering the game, I’ve come to realize that it’s not so difficult when you play by the rules. Our adventurers have been getting way too few magical treasures. You’re supposed to award everyone in the party with the magical loot when you open treasure chests, not just the guy opening the chest, illogical as that may be.

Frozen Synapse (PC)

I’ve been playing this independent PC strategy game for quite a bit. It’s the only multiplayer strategy game I like. It’s still in alpha and if they manage a proper release sometime, I’m sure to spend lots of time with it. Even if they don’t, I’ve already been entertained enough.

You are commanding a small team of guys with guns, about to assault a small area held by another, like-minded team. The goals vary from elimination to sector control and hostage rescue.

It’s built as simultaneous, turn-based tactics. You make a plan and hit execute. When your opponent has submitted his turn, the results are played back in real-time. It is compulsive stuff – usually you have half a dozen games going at the same time, and the results keep chiming into your in-game inbox as you’re planning the previous game. You can easily play several complete games in one sitting, if your opponent is online. The matches are usually just a handful of turns.

It could use more work on the user interface and benefit from some wrapper. I’m all for abstract vector graphics guys shooting at each other, but it feels so much like the planning stage of the early Rainbow Six titles (which I loved) that I can’t help but think how much better it would be with a real-world backdrop.

Sins Of A Solar Empire (PC)

What a great name for a game! This is a space strategy title from some years back. It’s by the Homeworld guys and that shows – it’s just gorgeous to look at. I generally loathe these kinds of big strategy games, especially in real-time, because I like to be able to concentrate on what I’m doing, but Sins gets it just right. Even though it’s real-time, the pace is glacial, especially in the beginning. Space fleets just don’t get around all that fast.

If you’re interested in user interface design at any level, you need to play this game. Most of why it’s so accessible is because of the UI keeping you up to date with everything that’s going on in the galaxy, giving you just the amount of information you need and enabling you to give critical commands to the other side of the known space without moving your view from wherever you are. It’s stellar stuff, really.

Sins is the only real-time strategy I know of where I don’t feel like I could do with another pair of eyes and hands.

Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

I’ve continued my conquering of Final Fantasy XII. People who think that games of past generation look too crap on your new fancy HDTVs should plug this in – it’s still divine! What a great game. Too bad about the lackluster characters (especially the lead guy), but the game system is absolutely the best package seen to date from the JRPG field.



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