Sunday, March 18, 2012

Backlog Assault: 2011 Wrap Party (Part 1)

Over the last few years I built up a pretty crazy gaming backlog. Last year, I've decided it was time I did something about it and in February I set about crossing as many games off my list as I could, intending to do a little write up of each one as I did so. I started off with a statement of intent, putting some 60 hours into Final Fantasy X then directly rolling into the Wii's odd little FF spin-off, The Crystal Bearers.

As the year went on, while my little quest kept my motivated to keep trucking through my backlog, the write ups didn't last long. As usual, I made them far too long-winded and as I marathoned my way through the entire run of Battlestar Galactica, both Mass Effects and in the Summer, set about tackling my deviantArt backlog as well as unearthing all manner of dumb stuff to post up here, the whole project slipped to the bottom of my priority list.

Honestly, I feel kind of bad for cutting down a potentially interesting feature way too soon. I never even got around to tackling the type of shitty impulse Steam and PS2 buys that I kind of came up with it for in the first place for. I won't promise this project's glorious return this year, but much like my backlog itself, its unfinished nature is really bothering me. The least I can do is to try and wrap it up somehow.

First up, a run down the list of the stuff I actually beat last year.

Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Lego Star Wars
Mass Effect
Mass Effect 2
Perfect Dark Zero
Postal 2
Peggle Deluxe
Splosion Man
Back to the Future: The Game Episode 1
Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent
Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode 1
Mario Kart Wii
Metroid Fusion
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
Max Payne
Red Faction

Out of the twenty two games here, I only got around to writing up six. Six! Seven of the remaining (greyed-out) ones I didn't count as backlog titles, having bought them last year, leaving nine games I never got around to doing. Nine seems pretty do-able, right? What else am I going to do with all those Backloggery entries I've been wasting my time saving up? Let's kick this thing off with a few easy ones:


Title: Peggle Deluxe  Platform: PC
Bought: 20/12/10  From: Steam  Price: €2.40
Beaten: 13/06/11  Final Time: 5:36  Price/Hour: €0.43

Backloggery Dump:
  • 13/06/11 - Beat the Adventure mode a few days ago while listening to one of the E3 Bombcasts. Exclusive!
Previously on JiliK's Blog:

21/02/11 - After playing both Peggle Extreme and the free WoW-themed version, I was confident I had had my fill of Peggle; It was fun in a mindless, casual kind of way, even a little addictive, but there was no way I was forking out even €10 to get more of it. Dammit though, Popcap got to me somehow; As soon as I saw both games for less than a fiver, I was thinking "Hell yeah, I want to buy Peggle!". Bastards.


Not much more to add than what I said last year. Peggle is a fun, addictive little bugger of a game. It actually has quite a bit more strategy to it than I initially thought though. The more I played it, the more precisely I was able to judge where to shoot and where the ball would go after it hit the initial peg. Though there's still a lot of randomness involved there too. Also, Fever Time: pretty awesome.


Title: Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent  Platform: PC
Bought: 01/06/10  From:  Price: $9.95 
Beaten: 03/07/11

Backloggery Dump:
  • 28/06/11 - Another night, another TellTale game. I've just arrived at the Scoggins factory now.
  • 03/07/11 - Finished this off last night. Pretty good, but I think I would have preferred it as a more straightforward adventure game.

So, my first Layton-style game. Honestly, I didn't enjoy the puzzle element here too much. I don't know if it was the specific puzzles, how they were implemented or if this type of game just isn't for me, but they just never enthralled me in the same way people seem enthralled by Layton. The setting, the characters and the dialogue were all great though. Like I said on my Backloggery, I would have really liked to have seen them in a more traditional adventure game.

Title: Screamer  Platform: PC
Bought: 21/07/09  From: GOG  Price: $2.99
Beaten: 16/09/11

Backloggery Dump:
  • 31/08/11 - Because one old racing at a time just isn't enough I decided to give this a spin tonight. Looks nice, handling's a bit wonky though.
  • 05/09/11 - I've made it as far as the third track in the Pro Championship, but the handling and the dodgy physics are making this a real pain.
  • 15/09/11 - That third track in the Pro Championship was pretty rough, but with 2 tracks to go I feel pretty confident about this championship now. :D
  • 16/09/11 - Finished at last, and just when I was about to throw in the towel too.

I'm not fully sure of the thought process that led me to giving this a spin in the middle of my brutal campaign to finally finish World Rally Fever (More on that in the coming months. Promise.), but try it I did. grafting the old school keyboard controls onto my 360 pad.

For a mid-ninties racing game, it really does look quite impressive, but it's just not that great a racer. The main problem is the busted physics, that see you getting bounced back after even the slightest collision with another car, loosing most of your momentum. Hit a wall at the end of that bounce and you'll come to pretty much a dead stop, where, of course, the entire racing pack will speed past and leave you in the dust. Have that happen repeatedly on the last corner, of the last lap of a long-ass track (and they are long) and  you'll probably start considering the viability of launching your computer through the nearest window.

    Title: Red Faction  Platform: PC
    Bought: 23/12/09  From: Steam  Price: €2.49
    Beaten: 22/11/11  Final Game Time: 9:00  Price/Hour: €0.27

    Backloggery Dump:
    • 14/11/11 - I've just reached level N-17. Looks like I need to take down a power plant now.
    • 20/11/11 - Just dropped Gryphon off, and now another stealth section? Come on, game!
    • 21/11/11 - I've just entered Capek's domain, apparently.
    • 22/11/11 - After blowing up the space station, which I was sure would be the end, I've now found myself in jail. With no weapons. Again.
    • 22/11/11 - After a long, arduous bit of trial and error, I managed to diffuse the bomb and wrap things up on Mars at last.

    A pretty solid shooter taking a lot of inspiration from the first Half-Life. I never cared about the story and the main character is a douche, but I had a pretty good time playing through this. I was surprised to find myself impressed my the G-mod stuff ten years on, but when they tell you to blow a hole next to a locked door to get through it and it works, it still seemed kind of magical to me.

    On the downside, the game does have a weird fixation on removing all your weapons from you. I think it happened about three times in all. The most egregious instance of this was in the last couple of hours where you're being shot at by a bunch of bastards with insta-death rail guns. Try taking them out with the thirty bullets you now have to your name. Oh, and that bomb diffusal puzzle right at the end is complete bullshit. You're not going to miss much by skipping it, which is what I wholeheartedly recommend doing.

    Coming up in Part 2: Words! Pictures! An orc with pigtails!

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