The posts I’m vaguely writing in my dashboard here are getting very long and game-designy, and I’ve done a lot of that lately. So now I’m just going to tell you about everything I’m playing at the moment.
Osmos: You are a blob, propelled by firing tiny chunks of yourself behind you. Hit a smaller blob and you absorb it, hit a larger one and it absorbs you. It’s a serene, slow and hypnotic game-ification of some of the most fundamental principles of physics, which at first makes it boring, but later transforms it into something beautiful. One branch of levels involves blobs with gravitational pull, and once you’ve got four of those bouncing around and you turn on orbit prediction, watching the curve of your future motion flex, curl and invert as you drift through the gamespace is an extraordinary glimpse of pure mathematics at its most disarming.
Civilization IV: Having played Civilization Revolution on the Nintendo DS enough to a) get Civ and b) get that this was a travesty of it, I finally felt less daunted by the full game. So far I’m getting the same absorbing satisfaction from it that I get from Galactic Civilizations, but it feels somehow watered down. It’s just as complex, sometimes more so, but potential sites for cities don’t seem to vary in quality anything like as much as planets do in Gal Civ, and so I’m less inclined to bicker over them. No-one really has anything I want in Civ, and I’m only really crushing them because winning by cultural influence is too dull.
Batman: Arkham Asylum: Can’t talk about this, since I’m playing on PC and have reviewed it for PC Gamer. As a tip, though, I’ll say that everyone should try Hard mode once.
Half-Life 2: Synergy: Graham and I are playing through the whole game in co-op with this – a co-op mod. It also supports Episode One and Two, which we’re hoping to complete around the time Valve at least say something about Episode Three. We just finished Nova Prospekt today.
AI War: Preposterous co-op space conquest game in which tens of thousands of ships clash over vast networks of up to eighty planets, each of which is as large as a conventional RTS map. I’m still in the tutorials, but the tutorials are good.
Gratuitous Space Battles: Sort of like ‘Space Battle Manager 2080’: you design the ships and fleets but the battles are hands off. I like the concept, but the tutorial is five hundred and sixteen text-box interrupts that I am not even close to having the patience to read, so I have no idea how to play.
Team Fortress 2: In which I play a class I like right up until we need to win, when I switch to Soldier. Every now and then, though, you hamstring a Scout mid-air and all is right with the world.
Spelunky: I am always playing Spelunky. I’ve now completed it twice in my 1,000 attempts. It’s coming to Xbox Live Arcade.
Champions Online: I’m a level 16 Gadgeteer called Angel of Beth. The game is like City of Heroes after a design-flaw epidemic, and it’s a testament to City of Heroes that it’s still not half bad. I have a more specific post brewing about those two games, and a third imaginary one.