Game Reviews While Sick [Spoilers]
Monday afternoon, I started to get a little tickle in the back of my throat. I warned folks at work that evening that toxicity was impending, and went to bed early in hopes of staving it off. Sadly, it proved stronger than my meagre will, and I spent most of Tuesday wishing that I could use a bottle brush to scrub out my throat. Given my wracking coughs that would inflict pain like somebody driving a nail into my noggin, I decided that a sick day was in order, and started chugging dry cough syrup like it was water. Wednesday, it upgraded from my throat to my sinuses, and it has been super awesome ever since. I’m still well dosed up on very legal medication, so if this is a disjointed ramble, well, enjoy!
Given my enforced uselessness, I decided to migrate the old Xbox One back to the TV (both the xox and xo were hooked up to monitors for LAN-style gaming). I then settled in for a day of drinking horrible syrupy, swallowing horse-sized Advil pills, and otherwise just starting at a TV while working on my carpal tunnel.
I first fired up Star Wars Battlefront 2, since my friend Jamie said that the single player campaign was wonderful. This is actually the fastest review, because it was quite great — the storyline was reasonably well written, you got to play a few different characters, and there was a solid mix of new content vs. nostalgia. It was pretty on the rails, which isn’t unexpected, but was still a great time. Then, I had the misfortune to fire up multiplayer. Yeah, ragequit maybe one minute into that.
After that, I tried Trackmania Turbo, but my reaction time was poor, and I kept expecting it to play like Forza, which it didn’t. Not a knock, just that I have been randomly racing my Golf R in Forza 7, and my muscle memory wasn’t having it any other way. Looks like it’d be great for local co-op, since it seemed to offer that; I didn’t actually check, so I’d be heartbroken if it doesn’t.
Finally, I realized that I had Mass Effect Andromeda sitting there. I bought it months ago when there was a sale on, after word came out that there had been sufficient patches to fix the horrible facial animations. While they are nowhere near as incredible as Battlefront 2, they didn’t make me want to stab my eyes out, so I call that a win. However, I’m also known to be pretty forgiving, so for all I know, it was never fixed, and I just cannot tell good quality from bad. YMMV.
I got started with the campaign, and rather enjoyed the change from the prior games in the series. Rather than fighting The Big Bad™, you get sent to another galaxy entirely, and have to deal with setting up a new colony from scratch. Plot twist: the golden worlds are not golden, there is some giant cloud of hate floating around, and the planets have other aliens and fauna that aren’t quite on board with your plan.
As the game goes, the RPG elements are solid, and the combat works reasonably well most of the time. There are times where, for no apparent reason, your character seems to be locked onto an enemy NPC, and when you attempt to melee somebody right next to you, you have this fun habit of trying to stab somebody 20m away. Yeah, I was howling during one of the big boss battles. Which leads well into the next flaw in combat — the horrible bullet sponging bosses. There was a point where I was fighting the Kett Cardinal, who has a little floating ball that acts as a shield. You have to destroy the ball, shield goes down, shoot the cardinal, another ball is spawned, repeat. Oh, and the Cardinal is also calling down enemy reinforcements at the same time. My two NPC teammates were beyond useless at this, as they didn’t seem to be able to hit the damn ball, or protect me, or anything else. Which is when the final glitch (that I recall) raised its head; I’d jump and get utterly boned trying to climb over a box.
Damnit, I just remembered — the map is also the bane of my existence. You can see elevation, but you don’t really have any idea of where an entrance is; there is just a big orange map marker in the middle of a box. I’ve spent hours just walking around trying to find a way up walls, to have to go online and read a guide that specifically calls out which damn way to walk. Pass.
While I did enjoy the game, I get the feeling that once I’m better, I won’t be firing it up again, if only due to the time requirements involved. A boss battle? “Sorry family, I’ll be busy for an hour or two while I send thousands of rounds of munitions at a damn floating ball, while screaming about getting stuck on boxes and idiot NPCs and weird locked aiming.” Yeah, not gonna fly. It speaks to the game that, even with all of these pretty big flaws, I still mostly enjoyed the experience. That, or I’m some sort of masochist. Your call.