Updates on updating – Shadowrun Returns’ editor madness and goodness

Sorry for the lack of updates, the past month has been pretty busy game-wise with Shadowrun Returns, a new Splinter Cell, and Saint’s Row IV. Also took advantage of a sale to snag XCOM for the PS3. I would have wanted to pick it up for the PC, but it still needs an upgrade or two such as a new OS that can actually run it.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time working with Shadowrun Returns’ editor which is extremely simple to use and offers up a lot of possibilities. If anyone remembers the old Adventure Construction Set from EA, or similar programs like it, SR’s editor is a lot like that — easily accessible with a lot of power behind it. The only things that bug me about it is that it’s still tied to some things that the core game has as issues namely the saving thing.

If you haven’t played Shadowrun Returns yet, it’s probably fair to say that this is the tactical-flavored take on the Shadowrun universe. Heavy on the tactics, a little light on the RPG elements. That’s not a bad thing, especially if you were a fan of XCOM. It bears some similarities to it but it’s like a slice of the genre while still remaining fun and challenging.

But you can’t save in the middle of a level or during a fight — as you can in a number of peers approaching 15 or 20 years in age including the original XCOM. Harebrained Schemes spun it as a feature but let’s face it: it’s an excuse ringing hollow in the face of history, especially on a PC where “save anywhere” is as traditional as checkpoints on consoles across a variety of genres.

So that was one major issue that I had to try and work with in order to get my mod up and running the way I wanted. Everything else, however, was incredibly easy to get used to after a small learning curve. Drag-and-drop friendly, dialogue construction similar to NWN’s old editor, triggers, variables, and a host of other options that I haven’t scratched the surface of yet. If anything, it’s a wonderful incentive for fans to start populating the scene with the Shadowrun sessions that they’ve always wanted to hash out.

A few short takes on the other games I’ve been jamming with:Saint’s Row IV – Fun with superpowers while tearing through enough self-referential parodies and pop culture jokes to break through its own Great 4th Wall. If you were a fan of Crackdown on the Xbox 360, it’s like that, only crossed with a little GTA. It’s a fine “conclusion” to whatever arc Volition has cooked up for Saint’s Row. Definitely considered a buy if you like a game where it makes “cheating” with powers legitimately challenging, but you might want to hold off if you’re looking for something a little more grounded like GTA.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist – I’ve been with the series since the first one and Blacklist is finally stepping back in that direction. Not all of the gadgets are back and Michael Ironside isn’t the voice of Fisher anymore, but the game comes off like a partial reboot. The new voice for Sam works just fine. If I have to put up with six different Bonds, I don’t see why I can’t give the new guy a chance — and his performance knocks it out of the park for me along with the rest of the cast. A long campaign, fun multiplayer, upgrade options, and a scoring system add to the replayability while introducing new ways in which to stretch Sam’s legs around the world. Great fun.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified – Love the 60s aesthetics, but the story moves along at a painfully glacial pace. Not much of a fan of the Mass Effect tactical combat as adapted by this game, either, not when your teammates have as much brain power as the grenade they just jumped out of cover to avoid while simultaneously leaping into flanking enemy gunfire. Multiple times. Wish it were more like Brothers in Arms where your troops followed orders and the tactics were focused more on figuring out how to survive the battlefield with smart orders than babysitting two buddies with questionable AI tendencies. When I want someone to stay put, I want them to stay put. Not follow me if I happen to get too far out of range on the battlefield. Also sad that it only so very lightly touched on XCOM concepts to the point where it made them feel gimmicky as opposed to being useful. No base building, no autopsies, no real research thanks to a magic gizmo that allows everyone to use salvaged equipment. It’s not a terrible game, it has a great presentation value to it, but the gameplay made it hard to appreciate.

Until next time, happy gaming everyone! And have a happy Labor Day’s weekend if you’re celebrating it, especially if there’s a little retro gaming involved.

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