March Madness!! #5, Strike Suit Zero

I kickstarted Strike Suit Zero. I love space dogfighting games, particularly the Colony Wars games, and cool mecha, so SSZ made perfect sense to me. It was good when it was released, but not great. It was difficult and it took a long time to get to the strike suit. Part of the difficulty was compounded by a lack of checkpoints mid-mission. When I picked it up for March Madness!!!, I restarted it with the updated Director’s Cut, which shortened the time to get to the strike suit and added checkpoints! It went much better this time around.

Game six is South Park: The Stick of Truth. I have a commanding lead in this competition. South Park is supposedly fairly short for an RPG, and I have three days left to start and finish it. With six hours of Wrestlemania tomorrow, this might be a real challenge.


March Madness!!! #4, Shadowrun Returns

That didn’t take long. According to a walkthrough, I came back into it halfway through. Median time on How Long to Beat is 12 hours, but it took me less than 10. This is one of those games that came from Kickstarter that I thought sounded like a good idea, but not enough to put my own cash behind it. It turned out very successful, and the game is pretty good, but it’s (clearly) a bit short. However, from what I understand, Dragonfall is much longer and a deeper game. For the purpose of this competition, I’m glad I rolled Shadowrun Returns before Dragonfall, though.

With a 16 roll, the next game is Strike Suit Zero. To even the odds a bit, instead of continuing where I left off on it, I’ll be restarting the game in the Director’s Cut release. I’m only a little concerned about this one because my major complaint in the original release was that there were no checkpoints during missions, so dying near the end of one could mean replaying 30 minutes of the game.

March Madness!!! #3, Mark of the Ninja

When Mark of the Ninja came out, it got a lot of positive attention. Klei was well-known for the Shank games, but Mark of the Ninja was supposed to be head and shoulders above it. I bought it and played the first level, and promptly put it in the backlog for something else. That was a mistake. It’s an incredible stealthy 2D platform/action game. It easily does some of the best representation of senses that I’ve ever seen. Line of sight, smell radius, and loudness of sounds are all perfectly implemented. There’s a fantastic mission 2/3rds in where you’re sent to assassinate someone. As you get closer to killing them, the music is building in parts, and it really feels like you’re the cold hand of death closing on their throat. It nails that feeling of striking from the shadows and disappearing into the night.

For my next game, I rolled a 3, which lands me on Shadowrun Returns. I’ve put some time into it already, but I think I’ve still got the bulk of the game to finish.

March Madness!!! #2, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag

I knew it would take me some time to get through AC4, and it did. There were times when I wanted to stop playing, not because the game is difficult, but because it got real tedious in the middle. I’ve learned that when I’m playing an Assassin’s Creed game, I absolutely have to reign in the desire to do everything, and just play the game. Collect things until that gets boring, then do something else. The first quarter was fun, the last quarter was fun, and everything in between was tough to get through. Some of my favorite parts of the Assassin’s Creed series are all the weird lore stuff that they hide in the corners of the game, and AC4 did a great job of keeping all that stuff hidden away until the game was almost over. I got bits and pieces of it from all over, but they can’t be assembled until you get to the end, which is kind of brilliant. I almost want to play another Assassin’s Creed.

For my next game, I rolled a 9, which means I’m picking up Mark of the Ninja. I’ve read a lot of good things about Mark of the Ninja. Being a stealth game, I have a compulsion to play it absolute stealthy, as in no alarms. But I know I’m awful at stealth games, so I will have to settle for messy and close enough.

March Madness!!! #1, Thief (2014)

I don’t hate Thief. Let’s get that right out of the way. But it’s such a weird game for being a seemingly straight forward AAA title.

I feel like Thief would’ve been a better game if Dishonored didn’t exist. Not just that Dishonored is better by comparison (because it is), but it feels like Thief and Dishonored had a lot of parallel construction. Once Dishonored was released, well before Thief, it’s like the developers just gave up.

The levels are pretty linear, particularly when I got to the end of the game. At first I spent a lot of time searching around and trying to get all of the loot from each level, but halfway through I realized that I didn’t need all of the cash. Thief gives as much as you put into it. If you want to crawl around in the dark and pick every pocket and memorize guard paths, there’s plenty of it to do. I didn’t find it all that compelling though. When I stopped creeping around, the game didn’t put up much resistance preventing me from making a beeline to objective markers.

It does do a lot of neat stuff like animating Garrett’s hands as he picks up loot and pops open safes. I like those little touches. It’s also a dreary and bleak, but well-detailed world. There are a lot of notes and journals to collect, but the fiction isn’t particularly interesting. It has two boss fights, which don’t necessarily require turning them into pincushions but they still stand out as strangely out of place. Again, a weird experience.

The die roll landed on 1, so my next game is Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. Out of all the games on my list, Black Flag might take the longest to finish. There’s a lot to do in it. I left off on it with a fair amount of progress, but I feel like I’ve still got a lot of game left in it.

March Madness!!!

I just ‘finished’ Destiny. It’s not really finished, because I don’t have The Dark Below, House of Wolves is still on the horizon, and I haven’t even hit max level, but I’ve completed all of the story missions. I’ve had a lot of fun but I’ll be looking for something different soon enough.

Katie had a great idea. We both have backlogs of games we haven’t played or haven’t finished and want to play. We both keep playing the same games over and over. To fix this, we’re going to force ourselves to play backlog games. We’ve both made lists of 20 games we want to play. We’re going to roll a die to pick a game off of our list, and then we’re going to play those games to completion.

And we’re going to call this March Madness, because that’s an entirely original name that isn’t being used by anyone ever to mean anything other than two dorks clearing video games out of their backlogs.

I rolled a 7 and got Thief (2014). Katie rolled a 19 and got Contrast. MARCH MADNESS!!!