Tag Archives: Portal 2

Of Steam and Trains and Portal 2 and Being Scared

So far I have managed to avoid buying much in the Steam Summer Sale.  I was out of the gate on day one with Portal 2, which was 75% off, and Harvest: Massive Encounter.  That pair added up to a total of $7.49.

Since then I have managed to restrain myself, even when games on my wish list made the front page deals.  In part because the deals were not sweet enough, but mostly because I am not sure when I would find the time to get involved with something as epic as Skyrim.

And the fact that there will always be another Steam sale in the future helps take the pressure off.

Still, I did break down when faced with a 90% off sale on Railworks 3: Train Simulator 2012.

As far as I can tell, it is essentially the train version of Microsoft Flight Simulator.  Literally.  The people that make it originally made Microsoft Train Simulator for Microsoft.  And then Microsoft decided that trains were perhaps a bit too niche and dropped it, so the software studio went off on their own path, which eventually lead to this.

I kicked in a couple of bucks for this primarily because of the huge long list of DLC that is available for it.  There is about $1,000 worth of DLC for this game on Steam.  Wait, no, it is all marked down 50% for the Steam Summer Sale.   So there is over $2,000 worth of DLC available for the game on Steam.

It isn’t that I don’t think trains are neat… I have the same little boy fascination with big machines that many men carry with them… but I really wanted to know what sort of direct-to-the-vein heroin this game is to be able to support that much DLC.

I guess I will find out.

Of course, one of the problems with Steam is then I have to wait a day for things to download through the soda straw sized pipe that is our DSL connection to the internet.  But it is literally the best speed I can get without buying into AT&T’s U-verse package or the Comcast version thereof.  Ah well, it is fine for day to day stuff, it is just when it comes time to download things measured in gigabytes that it feels slow.

And it probably cuts down on impulse buying.  There are few things on Steam I can buy and play “right now!”

Anyway, pending research into rail-based drug habits, Portal 2 has been a big win in my opinion.  I have now invested more time into it than I did in the original Portal, and I have not made it out of the main storyline yet.

Portal 2 carries on with your character from the original.

You got out, but you didn’t escape

You are back at Aperture Science Laboratories, but clearly some time has elapsed.  Things have changed.

I don’t remember so many… plants

But your goal is still the same, to get the hell out of the place.  I have to say I am very impressed by the game.  One of the recurring sensations I get is not knowing if I am going the right way, feeling like I might have taken a wrong turn, only to end up at what is clearly the next stage of the story.  Having that happen more than once in a game is pretty unique.

Of course, part of the reason I think it works well is that they do not over use it.  A lot of the time you are clearly guided to the next point of the story.  And at other times they throw in a bit of reverse psychology.

Obviously I need to go here

Clearly I will be falling down the elevator shaft at some point

Seeing as Portal 2 was so cheap, I offered to get a copy for my daughter.  She was, after all, the person who started talking about Portal back in May that got me to finally play my copy of the original game.  And she seems to know all about it in that osmosis way that kids just absorb information.

She declined.

Which, honestly, is unusual for her.

I pressed her on why, and she said the game was too scary.  I chuckled a bit and said that I didn’t think it was scary at all.  But she said it was creepy and scary and she wasn’t sure she wanted to play it, even when I pointed out that there is a co-op mode which would allow us to play together.

That last bit tempted her, but she still declined.

Which made me think about the game again.  It really isn’t scary to me.  It is more humorous, really.  But I am a jaded old man who has sat through more than my share of horror movies and the like.  It takes something unusual or unexpected to make my heart race or pump up my adrenaline in a game these days.

It used to be that a blinking red ship in my overview in EVE Online would make me start and drive up my pulse rate.  Now that seems pretty normal… so much so as to lead to casual stupidity.

But my daughter, at age 10, is susceptible to game created fear and anxiety.  She gets immersed in the game whether she wants to or not, which I envy to a certain extent.  It isn’t that I do not feel anything.  I certainly get that butterflies in my stomach vertigo sensation whenever I have to jump off something really high in Portal 2, or even sometimes when just looking down.  The game does a great job of feeling real in those moments.

But that is still not a major reaction.  And things that scare my daughter, like an enraged GladOS, just seem like humor layered over a physics puzzle.  I enjoy the puzzle.  I enjoy the humor.  But it is tough for me to take seriously.

So now when I play Portal 2, I have to take off my headset and turn on my speakers so my daughter can stand behind my office chair and watch me play.  She is fascinated with the game, but still anxious enough that she wants to be able to run away, or at least hide behind me if things get scary. (Though she has not done either to this point… she just wants the option.)

We basically have our own version of co-op.  And it really is co-op, since she often tells me where I should go or gives me things to try, and she is very proud of herself when she figures out the puzzle before I do.

But she still doesn’t want her own copy.  Instead she is asking for Minecraft, because she got to play with it at a friends house.

And so the world turns.

Steam Summer Sale – Time For Damage Control

Oh, it is that time of temptation again.  It is the dread Summer Sale at Steam.

For 10 days Valve will tempt us with incredible discounts on a wide variety of game titles.

This will lead many of us to buy titles we might not otherwise consider… and, often enough in my case, games that I certainly should not have considered.

But the price… the games can be so cheap!  I have seen things marked down 80% or more off of retail.  For example, the first day’s featured deals.

But look at the mark downs!

This is how I ended up owning the entire PopCap library despite the fact that I really only wanted Peggle Nights.  And no, it was not cheaper to buy the whole library.  I was just swept up in the moment and 90% discount.

This year I am going to stick to things on my Steam wishlist.  That is a reasonably well vetted list of games I am actively interested in, though I do see a couple of games I left on it back when Valve had a contest that would win you the top 10 games on your wishlist, but only if you had at least 10 games.  I will have to drop those, as my wishlist is now big enough not to need padding.

And, on day one, right out of the gate, two items from my wishlist came up.

The first was Portal 2.  Having played through the original Portal at last, I put the sequel on my wish list.

Also popping up on day one was Harvest: Massive Encounter, a little game that looked interesting, but not quite interesting enough until it was marked down.  I put it there as park of my search to find more tower defense games, though honestly nothing has stacked up to Defense Grid: The Awakening so far.

Total cost for the pair, $7.49.

I haven’t had a chance to look at Portal 2 yet, as it was a sizable download.  But Harvest was small, so I was able to launch it almost right away.

It appears to be a mix of RTS and tower defense with a few game mode and level choices, but otherwise very simple in design.  It is kind of what I hoped Gratuitous Space and/or Tank Battles would more like. (Neither of those titles quite clicked with me.)

Anyway, worth the $2.50 it was list at.

Now what will Valve throw at me next?  And can I stick to my plan?

I am kind of hoping that Endless Space will make the cut for a discount, because I really need yet another game like that to distract me. (Isn’t the updated Civ V enough? No?)  I have seen a bit posted about it.  However, it just launched, so it might be too soon.

What is on your list for the Steam Summer Sale?