23
Jan
13

Inflection Pixel’s Ten Titles I Loved In 2012, Part One

Winner!

Welcome to 2013!  This is the year that I remember that I have a WordPress blog I used to write to!  Newly energized through the new year and a new job, I hope to (yet again) write a bunch more.  I’m going to start off light by slowly trickling out what I think is my favorite games out of the ones I’ve played last year.  Like last time, this isn’t a comprehensive list of the best of all games of 2012.  I didn’t get to play all the games I wanted to play, but out of the ones I did, these are the ones I liked the most.  So, be light on me, and let’s get this show on the road.

#10: Spaceteam | Sleeping Beast Games

Played on iPad (iOS)

Spaceteam

Multiplayer gaming’s all the rage these days.  It’s everywhere and you can’t seem to get away from it.  You can shoot dudes from across oceans or you could shoot dudes sitting on the same couch.  The kind of couch multiplayer Spaceteam offers, however, stands as a singular, unique experience.

For the low introductory price of absolutely nothing, you can pull down Spaceteam (available on the App Store for free) for either iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches.  I was seeing the buzz about this game right before I hung out with some family, and since my brother and all his sons had an Apple device of some kind (because the era of my idea of what childhood was is over), I asked them all to download it and give it a shot with me.

All the players are on a faltering space ship running from a supernova, and in the vein of crewmen on sci-fi shows, every player has a unique set of labeled knobs, switches, and buttons.  On the top of every screen is also an order to change something on the controls to help the ship escape, setting various thing-a-ma-bobs to 4 here, or activating various widgets there.  The catch is that that order will probably refer to setting on another player’s screen.  This leads to orderly communication between players to discover who has what and to manipulate them to get to the next progressively harder sector.  Or the more likely situation, and what actually happened with my family, is maniacal screaming between family members, especially as the time limit to follow orders shortens and the controls themselves get a little more… abstract (see the screenshot above).

Spaceteam provides easy and engaging multiplayer with easy-to-follow rules for absolutely anybody.  People pick up and play and have a riotous time near instantly and without fail.  It’s free to jump in, and you can optionally pay a pittance for cosmetic features and other game-enhancing tweaks (like starting on a harder stage once your crew gets used to the game).  And since it’s free, it’s real easy to goad people on to try it with you.

If you’ve got a crew that can play Spaceteam with you, you should make space cadets out of them and go on a space adventure.  I said it was free, right?

#9: Spec Ops: The Line | YAGER Development GmbH

Played on PC

Spec Ops: The Line

Shooters are a dime a dozen.  I probably still play that genre the most, but there’s so many out there that they can tend to blur.  At first blush, Spec Ops: The Line (available on Steam) seemed destined to be another bloody face in the shot-up crowd.  Spec Ops is a third person shooter where you take your elite US soldiers and your M16 into a weather-ravaged Dubai to seek out a missing division of US troops after its general attempted to mount a rescue of its citizens.  Uh, shooting ensues.  You take cover and you shoot the crap out of guys.  Sometimes, you throw a grenade.  Other times, you man a turret.  And then you shoot guys.  And as far as those well-tread actions go, Spec Ops gets by quite alright.  The weapons sound and feel powerful and the enemies aren’t arbitrary bullet sponges.

I played a little further and the various parts of the game started to get to me.  The chaotic environment of Dubai brought to its knees my a monster sandstorm is unlike anything I’ve seen in other games.  Glistening, abandoned skyscrapers tower above mountains of sand in the distance.  Highways strewn with abandoned vehicles and corpses of those who couldn’t quite get out alive.  Beautiful city centers and looted museums lined with gorgeous hand-painted murals.  And as you delve deeper into the story of what happened in the city, the imagery and the events that unfold get honestly disturbing.

Even further in and Spec Ops starts turning expectations of what yet another shooter can show a player.  A few choices in what actions your character takes shows up here and there, and you see that your crew’s extended stint in that giant hellhole starts tearing at them, physically and psychologically.  Highly trained soldiers become more animalistic the more they are brought to kill.  It’s not a clear case of good side and bad, and in a refreshing twist in video game stories (and in how much you’re into what’s going on), you can get enraptured in what’s going to happen next.  It’s not the perfect story in itself but is unique in its execution.

After playing so many of these man-shooters  over the years, I think what Spec Ops brought to me worked even better.  It’s hard to explain without blowing what’s good about this experience out of the water and I think different players will have different responses out of it.  I believe it’s definitely worth a shot, at any rate.

It also has multiplayer, and I guess you could shoot at dudes there, too, if you wanted.

Image: Andreas Praefcke / CC-BY-3.0

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1 Response to “Inflection Pixel’s Ten Titles I Loved In 2012, Part One”


  1. January 29, 2013 at 1:56 am

    Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after browsing through a few of the posts I realized it’s
    new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely delighted I discovered it and I’ll be book-marking
    it and checking back regularly!


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intro

My name is Anthony Munar, a computer programmer in Utah. I also play a bunch of video games every now and then. I talk and think a lot about them, but I never really solidify those thoughts anywhere, and writing is something I like doing, so I thought I'd do it right here. I don't intend to be high-and-mighty authoritative about what I say and I don't really have any sort of standing in the games industry. This is just for me to muse about games when I want to.

Naming a blog these days was harder than I thought. In calculus, the inflection point on a curve is where its concavity changes between upwards and down. So, maybe, the inflection pixel is the pixel which represents something that turns my opinion around on a game, like the pixels representing a beam cannon firing in FreeSpace 2, the pixels representing a flying car wreck in Burnout, or the pixels representing my own sentry gun holding off an army in Team Fortress 2.

Using the word 'pixel' in naming something game-related seems clichéd, so sorry about that.

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