January 14, 2010

Now Playing: Civilization 4 and Mass Effect

My journey through the pile of games I picked up from the Steam Holiday Sale continues.

Civilization 4
Sid Meier's Civilization IVIt has been years since I played a proper strategy game.  For $13.60, I grabbed the complete Civilization 4 (Civ4) collection.  I also picked up Rome: Total War, another strategy game for $2.49.  I set zero expectations for either game, knowing that one of the two would win over my strategy sessions.

I was able to complete the tutorial and start the official campaign in Rome: Total War.  After starting the campaign I became confused and defeated.  I didn't know what I should be doing and every decision I made felt like the wrong one on the next turn.

It took me about an hour to complete the tutorial in Civ4.   That was around midnight. I didn't go to sleep until 2 AM.  Civ4 is one of those games that makes players lose track of time.  While Civ4 is not an easy game by any means, its a game that allows room for mistakes and misjudgments.  Instead of making my decisions seem worthless, Civ4 presents me with another one.  Before long, I was so far into my decision making tree that the mistakes I was making weren't anything more than learning experiences.  Its a tough thing to describe, but it feels right.

I am loving Civ4.

Mass Effect
Mass EffectI've ignored single-player RPGs for the past few years and Mass Effect is one of the highly-rated games I missed.  At $4.99 through the Steam sale, it was a must buy.

After an hour of play, I am on the fence about the game.  It doesn't feel like the great game that the reviews and general praise make it out to be.  The main feature, the dialogue system, feels monotone and lengthy. The bland main character, Shepard, isn't helping.

However, there were a few areas that caught my attention.  The character progression and combat is solid.  The backstory and expanded universe is intriguing.  There is enough to keep me going forward and hopefully the story will pull me in at some point.

If not, I have Bioware's other RPG: Jade Empire.