An update on my Steam purchases

Wow, I never thought, that at any point, I’d turn part of this site into some type of games review. I’ve never had time for them. I’d buy the odd game, and then never play it. I still have games I bought years ago, still wrapped in their plastic. Armed and Dangerous, anyone? I have that. On my shelf, still sealed.

Since my discovery of Steam a while ago, I’ve purchased many games. Quite a few of them cheap “indie” games, but a couple of full-price ones too.

You may remember my post a few months ago regarding my recent purchases from the afore-mentioned software distribution site… well, there’s been more since then.

Altitude – £3.49

I’d previously downloaded the demo, but didn’t rate it, probbaly because you couldn’t do much. Back then, it just looked like a cartoony shoot-em-up involving planes, with a bit of a dodgy control system.

Football was on the television the other day, and I needed something interesting to do. There was a “free weekend” of Altitude, where you got the full game for a weekend. It’s not a powerful game, so I was able to install it on my laptop. Even better was the fact it actually supported the Xbox 360 controller, meaning that my previous worries about the control system were solved.

I played through the training levels, and found myself actually enjoying the game. I connected online for the first time, and found myself enjoying the game even more. The more I played, the more I killed and unlocked new planes. A small sense of achievement was… erm, achieved, each time a plane fell out of the sky thanks to my gunfire.

Longevity is a bit of a question with this one, though. Will I still play it in a months time?

Just Cause 2 – £18.44 (inc. DLC)

No multiplayer in this one, but as a question of longevity… why, yes, I’ll still be playing it in a month. I’ll probably still play it in a year. It’s one of the best games I’ve played.

There’s no point going into the storyline. I could do, but I’d be here for literally minutes. The storyline, to me anyway is… blow shit up and kill the guys in uniform. And there’s a lot of shit to blow up. This game is absolutely massive. For some reason, it was half-price on Steam, and I really shouldn’t have bbought it. The demo ran awfully on my machine. It wasn’t until I’d clicked the “purchase” button that I realised how bad it run. Despite uttering “fuckshitpiss” for the entire length of the download process, I ran the game and found that yes, it also ran awfully. 30 seconds later, after adjusting the graphics settings accordingly, I had a working game!

This one suited mouse/keyboard controls, so I was able to get into it pretty quickly.

I’ve never experienced a time-eating game, but a few weeks ago, while Daddykins was away, I literally lost an entire day. The house was empty, so I didn’t bother getting dressed. I sat in my computer chair, naked, at approximately 8AM. Next time I looked at the clock, it was 4PM, and I was still naked. None of you needed to know that, I just thought I’d add the “cannot be unseen” element to this post.

You can also get mods for it, apparently.

I’ve just realised I’ve not described the gameplay at all in these few paragraphs. never mind, eh?

Chime – £3.99

Literally, a new release, coming out on September 6th, I bought this, oddly without downloading any demo, or knowing anything about the game, except the fact I knew I would like it. My instinct was spot on, I love it.

Gameplay is hard to describe without referring to Tetris, and a little-known arcade game called “Block Hole”, released by Konami in 1989. The premise of *that* game was to make quadrangles of any size – partial shapes would fall down, and you’d fill them in to make quadrangles.

Chime is similar in that you have to make quadrangles, enough to fill a large grid the size of the screen. Each piece you lay is 5 grid blocks in size. Make a quadrangle over some of the squares, those grid blocks are filled in. Ultimately, create a quadrangle on each block of the grid, you complete the level.

Obviously, it’s not as simple as that. You have 6 tracks of different tempo to choose from, each with its unique speed, grid shape, and block shape. Certain elements are controlled by a visible white bar that sweeps across the grid.

As I mentioned, each block is 5 grid sizes in length. If you complete a quadrangle, you get a certain amount of time to add pieces to it, building your score. After that time, if you fail to add to the quadrangle, you score the points, and you can’t add any more blocks to those grid locations until the white bar passes over them. You then get a limited amount of passes of the white bar before you lose your multiplier bonuses, and the pieces disappear.

Thankfully, the white bar also does good. If you have an active quadrangle, you will get an extra sample of music, adding to whichever track you’re playing. Sometimes this is a good thing, fitting in perfectly, but sometimes, it can sound like, as someone else described it, “a baby hitting a keyboard”.

Some of the music is pretty awesome. Now, I know that coming from me, that’s a bad sign, but I really mean it. Tracks are included by some well known artists, such as Moby, Philip Glass, and one of the guys from Orbital, Paul Hartnoll. The latter is my personal favourite track.

A lot of you will remember the “bonus” track featured in the PC version… “Still Alive” by Jonathan Coulton. I’m a bit amazed to notice that my version of Audiosurf also came with this track, which I’ve only just noticed a few seconds ago. Anyway, you should remember this was the end music in the original Portal. I’m shit at that game, so I’ll probably never complete it.

If I’ve not explained any of the above very well, then tough. Buy it. It’s simple to get into, and infuringatingly difficult to master, and some of your money will go to childrens charities. 5% of it… which works out at.. 20p?

Actually, speaking of Portal…

Portal – £0.00

Well, I got it free, and got up to level 15, then found it too hard. Still, I can listen to the important part of the soundtrack in two other games, so there’s no incentive to complete it.

What’s that dripping sound?

Why, yes, it sounds like my masculinity draining away, as I admit that for the past two days, I’ve made an effort to walk several miles, just to take pictures of some flowers. No, really.

OK, I suppose there’s a bit of a reason behind it. They’re not just any old flowers. these are sunflowers, and for the second year in a row, a small portion of Hartlepool has been dedicated to growing these. Last year, I didn’t know where they were located, so I never got a chance to photograph them. This year though, I recognised the location from other photos, and was able to photograph them.

Both days, I recorded the journey via tweet. N particular reason, other than it felt pretty lonely walking up there on my own, especially when it was still relatively dark.

It took almost an hour to reach the field. On my way, I found a golfball. I was so happy, I tweeted about it.

Just found a golfball. Dog could have weed on it but never mind 5:52 AM Sep 3rd via txt

It was found some considerable distance from the nearest golf course. In fact, according to Google Maps, it was roughly 433 yards away from the golf course. So, someone’s either got a massively errant swing, or it was deposited there by some other means. Either way, it ended up in my back pocket. I pick pennies off the street too, scruff that I am.

Er, anyway. I made the twisty-turny journey up Worset Lane towards the field, only managing to twist my ankle once on the failing road surface. That’s a bit of a record for me.

After walking past the pile of decaying shit, which I described back in June….

Super farmy 12 June 2010 04:01:01 via txt

… it was still there, the smell less pungent, however. Maybe because it was still early.

I was happy to find that the field was “welcoming”, as in, it wasn’t gated off, or anything like that. In fact, they encouraged you to ‘appreciate’ them, complete with A4 laminated sheets, explaining what they were being grown for.

_MG_7310

They were certainly appreciated. Not just by me, there was some red van driver who happened to be going along the road. I heard him suddenly stop, and put the van in reverse, just to take some photos on his mobile of the field, and the sun coming up over it. I’m a little bit annoyed with myself, as for this first journey, I didn’t take my main camera thinking it wouldn’t be necessary. This means that this shot really isn’t as good as it could have been…

IMG_7470

One thing that the little Canon is good at, however, is macro shots.

Sipping the nectar

The walk back was all downhill, so thankfully, there were no almost-twisted ankles. On the way back, I found a football. “If found, please return to 7 sumthing”. I did find it, but as there was plenty of streets nearby with a door number of 7, I didn’t return it.

IMG_7588

Although not really visible in the photograph, this ball also had other words scrawled on it, such as “Elish”.

“Elish” was a word that appeared to me in the early 90s, and somehow still survives to this day, as a slang word for something good, and is presumably a mis-spelling of the word “hellish”, as the nHartlepool accent is known for dropping its H’s, therefore a localization of words such as “bad”, “sick”, “wicked” meaning something good.

For instance, if some kid came into school with a new item of clothing, the conversation would go…

“Like my new [garment]?”
“Yeah, it’s elish.”

I went earlier today, and the football had vanished, either returned to “7 Sumthing Close”, or picked up by someone else that lives at a number 7. This time, the walk included my good camera. It was the same journey, though this time it seemed more uphill. Maybe because it was a little later in the day, therefore a little warmer. One thing I did notice is that when I walked past that decaying shit pile for the 2nd time, it was a little more fragrant…

Walking past the shit pile. Wretch. 2010-09-04 08:02:58

It took me exactly the length of “Tunnel of Love” by Dire Straits to walk from the edge of the golf course to the first opening of the sunflower field. I don’t see any reason why that would be relevant to anything, ever, but I thought I’d mention it. The sunlight was much better and brighter than my initial walk the previous day, and in the 48 minutes I spent in that general area, I managed to grab 80-odd photos.

Sun and Wind
_MG_7344

In a rare decision, I won’t post the whole lot of photos on flickr, as not all of them were excellent.