Before I get into my weekly log, I should start out by saying that if you’re reading this Monday morning before 10 a.m. Pacific time, you should check out Steam’s sale. Just head over to Steam, install the client and go nuts. I’ve nabbed a ton of cheap PC games last week, including the original “Half-Life” for $2, the first two “Deus Ex” titles for a combined $5, “Civilization IV” and a bunch of expansions for a combined $10, the original “X-Com: UFO Defense” for $3.74 and “The Witcher: Enhanced Edition” for $13.39. That’s a lot of awesome for not much money. I have no idea how games even run on my mid-powered laptop, which is partly why the games I downloaded were all older titles, but the deals were good enough that I just went for it.
PC games are on sale at Steam through July 4, but a bunch of the current offers expire in a few hours. Anyway, here’s what I played last week:
“ModNation Racers” (rated E, $60 on PlayStation 3, $40 on PlayStation Portable):I’m still working on this one for an upcoming review and am generally loving it. I’m not a huge enthusiast of racing games but have always had a soft spot for kart racers. I gave “Mario Kart” a pass on the Wii, mostly because of the Wii’s spotty online implementation, but when I saw “ModNation Racers” in action during the Game Developers Conference and chatted with the folks who made it, I knew this was a title I had to play. After several hours of play time, I’m still impressed. The only thing that’s bugging me is the linear, repetitive grind of the single-player mode. You only unlock one race at a time and hear the same voice work before, during and after each race every single time you try it. It means you’re stuck in a “Groundhog Day”-like purgatory every time you fail a race. That said, the art direction is fantastic, the content-creation tools robust and the kart handling smooth and fun.
“Borderlands” (rated M, $40 on Xbox 360, PS3 or PC): Another game I’m slowly working on. I’m a bit too late on this one for a review, but a couple of friends and I have been having a blast playing it on Thursday nights. It’s been said before by other folks, but “Borderlands” really plays like a small-group MMO. For someone who’s always been curious about massively multiplayer games but lacks the time to commit, it scratches an itch nicely.
“Culdcept Saga” (rated T, out of print on Xbox 360, prices vary): I’ll probably be playing this combo of collectible card game and board game until they pull the plug on online support for it or my wife smashes my discs to bits. The next season of the league I run is starting soon, so it’s time to whip a couple of decks into shape and hone my game. I’m sort of like the “Culdcept Saga” equivalent of the Dallas Mavericks or Phoenix Suns. I steamroll through the regular season but get tripped up in the playoffs every time.
“Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers” (rated T, $10 Xbox Live Arcade download): Now that I’ve finally finished my obsessive-compulsive quest to complete all the challenges, unlock every card and earn every achievement, I expect you’ll stop seeing this in my weekly updates until more downloadable content hits. I’d play it online once in a while, but there are too many quitters and “Culdcept Saga” is more fun, anyway.
“Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords” (rated E10+, prices, platforms vary widely): Playing “Puzzle Quest 2” at E3 gave me an itch that I scratched by playing the original game, which I realized I never finished. I’m quite close, around Level 44 with just a handful of quests left. This’ll probably replace “Magic” as the game I play to decompress.