Yesterday I wrote about three of the games I played in 2011. Today I’ll cover Skyrim, Trenched and Rage. Next on my list of games to write about are Portal 2, Dirt 3 and Renegade Ops.
Morrowind came out the summer after I graduate from high school. I finally had a computer that could play games and no parents to tell me to go to bed at a reasonable hour. It was the first game of its kind that I tried to get into. Up until that point my role playing game experience was limited to console Japanese RPGs. I remember thinking I was going to stay up all night for a week playing this game I’d heard so much about but Morrowind didn’t hook me like I thought it would, I enjoyed it but at some point I killed somebody who was supposed to give me a quest and I couldn’t figure out where to go next. It didn’t help that I went to Chico State and my innocent young eyes were drawn to the fairer sex more than a computer game.
When Oblivion came out I couldn’t play it on my computer, which at this point was four years old and not up to the challenge, and I was in the middle of finishing up two degrees and working a job and an internship at the same time. I tried playing Oblivion on my brother’s Xbox during my summer break but only managed to play a few hours.
Despite my previous failures to get into the Elder Scrolls series Skryim piqued my interested for one reason. Dragons. I love dragons and if Bethesda allowed me to marry one in-game I would. What’s not to love about giant, demonic, fire-spouting (or frost-flinging) dinosaurs flying all over the place? Skryim turned out to be everything I wanted in a fantasy game and after spending 50 hours in the game I don’t see my time in Tamriel ending anytime soon. Consider me a convert.
I spent the first 40 hours of my time in the game running around doing random side quests and playing around with the crafting system. I avoided most of the big faction quests because my character, Sigmünd, was a Nord dragon-puncher mage who has little patience for dickheads. Every guild or faction I came across seemed like it was full of jerks so I went around by myself killing bad dudes. Eventually I finished the main quest, which didn’t take very long, and then the holidays happened and I haven’t had a chance to spend much time in any video games.
Despite not touching Skyrim in almost two weeks I find myself daydreaming about what skill tree I want to focus on next. I think I’m going to go with a weapon now because using my fists is getting in the way of leveling my character up more. Maybe I’ll restart my armor fabrication and enchanting business but this time go down the alchemy rabbit hole to create those super-enchantments.
The worst thing about this game is I never know what I want to do next and whatever I decide I want to do usually never gets done. I never thought I had attention deficit disorder but Skyrim makes me think I should get checked out. I started writing things down that I wanted to come back to and explore but I stopped doing that after the list exceeded the length of the page.
The single player in this game is alright. The multiplayer is awesome. It’s one of the best four-player co-op games I’ve played. I haven’t picked it back up since the Iron Brigade update came out but I still intend to once I play through the pile of newer games sitting in front of my television.
Trenched is the first downloadable game on Xbox Live to catch my attention like a retail game. I know there were some great games before – Super Meat Boy springs to mind – but none made me want to dump as many hours as I did into Trenched.
It’s the first game in years that made me put on a headset and actually interact with the strangers on my team. The Volcano level never got tiresome to me because it can be played so many different ways. Sometimes I’d run around upgrading everyone’s turrets, sometimes I’d go all artillery cannons. At some point it became less about winning and losing and more about finding one or two people to play with for a few hours. It was even fun when a new player entered a game frustrated at not being able to get the Medal of Honor achievement and helping them earn it while showing them a few tricks.
I think I have every wave of the Volcano mission memorized and I had every weapon and trench unlocked before the update. Double Fine did a great job of making all the different chassis fun to play. I even had fun playing a support class which is rare for me.
The art style is worth mentioning too. The cartoony look and manly, manly men added whimsy to the ridiculous plot. It’s too bad the Iron Brigade update came out when it did because too many newer games have my time locked away. I really want to play the new survival mode.
Rage goes down as my biggest disappointment of 2011.
The characters and environments manage to look colorful and bright without seeming out of place in the post-apocalyptic world. The shooting feels right and the weapons system reminds me of Bioshock because of the different ammo types – which is a good thing.
Even the story has a lot of potential until about five hours in when the lack of depth starts to show through the gorgeous outer shell. Even without a great story I was having fun with the game until I got to the second disc and not only did the story disappear but the world began to feel claustrophobic.
I spent a lot of time camping when I was little and one summer we discovered we could go fishing for squirrels by tying a peanut to the fishing line and casting near one of those furry buggers. They’d snatch it and run until you flipped the bail, jerking the peanut from their mouth. Eventually we’d feel bad (but not too bad, we didn’t hurt any squirrels) and let them have the peanut because they earned it.
Rage does the same thing only at the end there’s no damn peanut. Just a bunch of enemies you know nothing about and an awesome weapon you get to use for one lousy, unsatisfying mission before the story just ends. The different ammo types, weapons and gadgets you can craft suggest there are multiple ways to kill enemies but it never played out that way for me. I ended up using the same three or four weapons most of the game – perhaps because I stopped caring and just wanted to finish. I kept waiting for something cool to happen but all I got was a bunch of snazzy looking people telling me to go fetch crap out of bandit hideouts.
I’m actually looking forward to a sequel because what little plot there was did set up a foundation for what could be a really cool story. The problem is I spent $60 and 20 hours playing what is basically a prologue.
Somebody should tell id Software nobody likes a tease.