Sunday, July 4, 2021

The XBox Game Pass Chronicles, Volume 1

 So, yeah, I ordered an XBox Series X.

Why? Mostly for another post, after it arrives on Thursday. But one big reason is XBox Game Pass, their subscription game service which I was able to score a couple years ago at a significant (legitimate) discount. And so I’m trying out games. Mostly games I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like but were worth making sure of for free. For example:


I loved Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. Played the hell out of it on the PS2. As a general rule, I’m a big fan of top-down ARPG’s that aren’t Diablo. I don’t hate Diablo per se. I’ve fucked with it on and off and got a not insignificant way through the third one on… PS4? PS3? Whichever PS it dropped on. But Diablo is too grindy for my tastes. I like my top-down ARPG’s structured with a definitive start and end point, where I end up with most of the skills I want and the stats I need and the equipment I need by the time I hit the final boss, and there’s no going back and running chunks of the game to try and get three more points worth of a bracer.

The new Dark Alliance isn’t a top-down APRG. It’s a third person ARPG chock full of the bog standard structures and textures of every mediocre third person game of the past two console generations. The combat is plodding for a third person action game and sloppy for a proper RPG, and at one point I was able to stand on a ledge and chuck ranged attacks at enemies  with any of the combat. who never took notice that I was doing so until they diesd. And that was th emost fun I had with any of the combat. Weirdly there appears to be no magic using characters. 


A hand-drawn animated beat em up based on the “classic” franchise. It would be fine except for three things. First, the stretch and squash animation is so extremely stretchy and squashy that it’s confusing. Second, I already own Streets of Rage 4 on PS4, and if I didn’t, Streets of Rage 4 is on Game Pass and it’s better in every possible way. ANd third, IT THINKS IT’S FUNNY.


The Bard’s Tale started back in my youth as a series of turn-based RPG’s with a tiny first-person grid-based view of the world. It was rebooted in my 30’s as a top-down wacky ARPG. And now, in my 50’s, it’s… Skyrim only everyone around you is a RenFest singer. Serious brown overload in the textures. Passed quickly.


Look, I’m ineffably happy for you Minecrafty, Don’t Starvey types who think that a game that isn’t even trying to conceal that it’s a fake second job is massively entertaining. But literally seconds after booting up, No Man’s Sky asked me to collect 75 Space Dusts by smasing space rocks so I could fix my arbitrarily broken Space Scanner and when a game tells you what it is, believe it. I cannot believe I spent two years almost buying this game every single time it got an upgrade, went on sale, or both.

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