Skip to content

Author: Alastair

Alastair lives in Calgary with a wife and, according to medical professionals, a cat. He is, in no particular order, a playwright, a greengrocer, horrible at short biographies, and a fan of games of all sorts.

Full Steam Ahead – Batman: Arkham Asylum

Time logged before Full Steam Ahead: 46 Hours

Just so that we’re clear beforehand, I love comics, and heroes, and good storytelling. The character of Batman is one the earliest memories I have, and the fact that Batman has always sort of been at the front of many aspects of geek culture has been particularly good to me and my interests. So make no mistake, there will be many other opportunities to talk about what that means to me, and what Batman means to me, and how I feel about the Batman games in my steam library, as well as introductions and more in-depth explanations of various aspects of the Batman mythos. But that’s not what I want to use this post to talk about.

You see, I’ve already played Batman – Arkham Asylum many times. I love this game. I’ve played the story, I’ve played the challenge maps, I’ve completed all the Riddler’s challenges. So I want to try something different with this game. In my mind, without a doubt, the Batman – Arkham series of games by Rocksteady Studios do a better job of capturing the feeling of being Batman. So, if that’s the case, how good a Batman can I be?

Nana nana nana nana…

Full Steam Ahead: Age of Empires III

Time logged before Full Steam Ahead: 9 Hours.

 

The Age of Empires series of games is special to me. These are the games that introduced me to the real-time-strategy genre. Age of Empires got me interested in the classical empires of Persia, Egypt, and Greece. Age of Empires II brought the stories of medieval leaders to life: Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, and Saladin. Age of Mythology took the well-balanced, carefully crafted gameplay I had come to love, and transported it to the world of Norse, Egyptian, and Greek legend.

So, let’s make no mistake: Age of Empires III is fun game. It is a well-balanced real time strategy game, and part of one of that genre’s most consistently excellent series.

Now watch as I spend most of the rest of this article barely talking about the game.

The Spanish home city, and title screen of Age of Empires III.

Full Steam Ahead – Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones.

Time logged before Full Steam Ahead: None

Run along the wall, over a yawning, dark, abyss. Jump from the wall to a nearby ledge. Sidle over to a flagpole before the ledge collapses. Drop down, swing around the flagpole, leaping to a nearby grate. Plunge your dagger into the grate, so you don’t slip down the wall. Jump to the balcony above the grate, rolling past the pressure triggered darts. Sidestep around the swinging blades, slide down a banner hanging nearby with your dagger, drop down the floor, sneak up behind the guard, and slit his throat.

How many ways can this go wrong? What are the chances that it would all go right the first time? Don’t worry, because you will get to try again.

And again.

And again.

…and again, and again, and again, and again…

Full Steam Ahead: Divekick

Time Logged before Full Steam Ahead: 90 Minutes

I’m going to oversimplify things a little here, so please bear with me. No matter what mechanics, genre, themes, or budget a game has, their interaction with the player can be broken down to a cycle of three steps: choice, action, result.

Lots of games pride themselves on the freedom of choice they give to the players,. Similarly, in many games, the mechanics are multi-faceted, intricate machines which are prepared to account for a dizzying array of player actions. Not every game succeeds in showing how player choices matter, but some do an excellent job of showing how a player’s choices and actions affect the world of the game.

This is a drastic oversimplification of things, and I’m sure many of my friends with enthusiasm for game design and theory would say as much, but for today’s episode, oversimplification is appropriate; I’d argue oversimplification is what Divekick is all about.

This is either about to get, or is already, very silly.

Full Steam Ahead – Mass Effect 2

Time logged before Full Steam Ahead: 32 Hours

Every now and then, this list of randomly generated games throws me a bone. A few weeks ago, I got to play one of my absolute favourite games (and listening to the response, a favourite of some of our readers as well).

It may interest you to know that the original Mass Effect was not appealing to me the first time I played it. The first time I played Mass Effect was on a friend’s Xbox 360, and I found the controls to be unintuitive and imprecise, making even the game’s initial sections a bit of a slog for me. It wasn’t until I played the sequel years later (also on my friend’s Xbox 360) that I really got interested in the series. It’s a little backwards, but Mass Effect 2 is that game that got me interested in Mass Effect.

Years of study have shown me that two comes after one… and that I’m an idiot.

Full Steam Ahead – BattleBlock Theater

Time logged before Full Steam Ahead: 4 hours

What makes something funny? Most people can agree on a definition of comedy just vague enough to be nearly pointless. Some definitions acknowledge subjectivity, and define comedy by its intentions as opposed to specific content. In short, comedy is intended to be funny. However, most definitions, while striving for accuracy as to what is funny, fail utterly in describing how something is funny. Furthermore, what one, or even most people may find funny can be unamusing, or  offensive or hurtful to some. Comedy in a social context requires a careful balancing and understanding of others opinions and feelings.

In a way, comedy as entertainment should be easier. After all, it stands to reason that the audience of a comedy movie or show comes with a expectation and the desire to be entertained. Yet even this can come up short. At a live show, one can’t possibly gauge the individual preferences of an entire theatre of people. At a movie, jokes that aren’t working can’t be rewritten or altered to suit the audience’s tastes.

This being the case, I do not envy The Behemoth, the studio behind BattleBlock Theater. Good comedy is hard to pull off in any medium, especially an interactive one like video games.

Welp. Looks like I forgot to get a screenshot of the title screen. Oddly enough, this is pretty representative of BattleBlock Theater.

Full Steam Ahead – Kerbal Space Program

Today’s game is the first brought to you by Steam-Powered Hope! Plenty of thanks to Charles, who decided he wanted to see an episode about Kerbal Space Program (previously scheduled for game #101) right now, and made a donation to the Calgary Distress Centre. If you want to see a specific game on Full Steam Ahead, ask me for details!

Time logged before Full Steam Ahead: 3 Hours

One of the appealing things about many games is the way they can show me different experiences. For a little while, being a greengrocer with a penchant for games slides on to the backburner, and I can experience something very different. We’ve already seen, in earlier posts, games that put me in the shoes of an undercover policeman, and kung fu practitioner, a contract mercenary, and many others.

In most games, the designers are interested in making these experiences easier than they would be in real life. By improving controls, or providing easy to read visual cues, or perhaps including a comprehensive, easy to understand tutorial, game designers put a lot of work into making these experiences easier to jump into, our more fun to play.

Kerbal Space Program is a little different. It’s not that the designers didn’t care, it’s just that they cared more about providing an accurate rocket science simulator. The good news is that they succeeded. The bad news is that rocket science is very, very hard.

Damn, kind of regretting using Fly Me To The Moon lyrics last episode.

Full Steam Ahead – Mass Effect

Time logged before Full Steam Ahead: 50 Hours

Generally, I assume that the average reader of Almost Infinite is somewhat well-versed in video games and gaming culture. That makes some parts of my writing very easy, because a lot of you will understand what I’m talking about without me going into what feels like extraneous detail. While my Steam library admittedly contains some really weird options, chances are a few of you have played a few of the games I’ve already covered. If I’m being perfectly honest, chances are that a lot of you have probably played the game in question.

Today is one of those rare days that I really hope you aren’t familiar with the game I’m talking about. I am actually quite excited by the prospect of introducing something completely new to even a small minority of our readers, because Mass Effect really is something you should jump into blind.

Can we take a second to appreciate this wordmark? The font, the planetary curve, just… yay.

Full Steam Ahead – Half-Life 2: Episode 1

Time logged before Full Steam Ahead: 3 Hours

I’m not entirely sure why I chose to tackle my Steam library in random order. Variety perhaps. For the most part, this hasn’t negatively affected how I play these games. After all, most of the games I’ve played have been relatively self-contained. One doesn’t always need to play the preceding games in the series to understand what is happening in current game.

However, I think I would rather not be dropped in the middle of a story-arc as complicated as that of Half-Life.

Welp, you don’t always get what you want. Welcome to the confusingly titled Half-Life 2: Episode 1.

It is possible that loCity 17 has seen better days.

Full Steam Ahead: The Ship

Time logged before Full Steam Ahead: 11 minutes

If you’ve read my author profile on this blog, you’re aware that I’m a fan of games of all sorts. In board games, I’ve noticed an increased popularity of hidden-role games. Games like Love Letter, Two Rooms and a Boom, and Spyfall all involve keeping your identity and intentions secret from the other players in the room or at the table. These games often have very easy-to-learn rules, and most of the games mechanical weight is carried by the players’ abilities to bluff, act, and occasionally straight up lie to their friends.

One hidden role game that goes a long way back is known, at least to me, as Assassins. This game, often played over the course of days or even weeks, sees all the players assigned a hitlist of other players they need to “kill”. In the version I was familiar with, the “kills” were done with plastic spoons; contact with another player’s spoon meant “death”. However, if you were caught, you were penalized in some way, usually being forced into a makeshift “jail”, or being forced to forfeit your spoon.

What if the game was played on a luxury cruise ship in the 1920s? What if the game was organized by a multi-millionaire megalomaniac? What if, instead of “killing” other players with spoons, you actually killed with a bevy of ludicrously dangerous weapons?

If the preceding question pique your interest even slightly, The Ship might be of interest to you.

IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII’m sailiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay…