So my wife and four kids are all gone to her parents for the week. Leaving me and the dog at home (I have to work and watch my crazy dog - who can't be kenneled because he would kill the people working there). So I decided to drop some bones on some games.
First up Starcraft 2 Heart of the Swarm. Easy decision for me. I love Starcraft 2. I play it with some real life friends and we have been greatly looking forward for HotS to drop. I pre-purchased and am ready for some zergy goodness on Tuesday night with the boys.
Next up ARMA III. I also pre-purchased ARMA III which gets you into the Alpha build right away. I've put in a little time (maybe an hour) so far and it seems pretty damn polished for an Alpha build (retail is due in June). It has about 4 or 5 little single player mini missions (each exposing you to a different part of the game infantry play, scuba diving, vehichle play etc.) and then it has online where you can jump into some big co-op or team play modes. I tried to jump in a big 64 man co-op game but my game crashed (alpha it is I guess) and that was that. Overall so far it looks much better than Arma 2 and it seems to run better as well.
And last but not least.....Euro Truck Simulator 2. You wouldn't believe the messages I've been getting from people on steam who see me playing this lol I tried the demo on a whim. Basically I have this racing wheel that I payed 300 dollars for and I'm always looking for something to play with it. I do love racing games (iRacing, GT5, Dirt 3) but I'm really horrible at them....and the stress of playing them is almost unbearable lol I know that sounds weird - but the thing with racing games is if you suck (I do) and play with other people they will hate you and send you death threats if you aren't playing "right". Its a weird genre - I appreciate the skill and I love the games (racing games are some of the highest quality games in terms of look and feel and level of detail) but I find it so stressful to play because the potential for me to ruin someone elses gaming experience seems to be really high in these games. Anywho on to ETS2!
So I downloaded the ETS2 demo and thought it would just be fun to hook up the G27 and bomb around in some trucks - why not. Turns out the game is actually damn good.....and addictive! I don't find it to be a very "simy" sim. That is you don't really have to know much about anything, you aren't constantly pausing the game to learn how to do something in menus or manual etc. I mean to start your truck....you hit the gas pedal lol Also I don't find the different rigs / engines etc. feel very different. They have different cockpits but really they all kind of feel and look the same (I think I have noticed a difference in how the truck feels depending on the size/weight of the load you are carrying though).
The world is huge - you can do runs all over Europe. You'll see all kinds of scenary etc. It can be disorrienting as a North American driver....in some countries you drive on the left hand side of the road....in others you drive on the right (I thought it was all left in Europe....apparently not) and some of the road signs left me scratching my head trying to figure out what they were about. I got a fine for driving in the rain without my headlights on (even though it was day time)....the overhead stop lights are on the wrong side of the street. That is if you come to an intersection at red light.....the light is right above the line where you stop....so you can't see the stupid thing without hanging your headout the window and looking up lol Also some of the AI is questionable.....some drivers are just morons.....so I guess I take that back the AI is true to life lol Apparently nobody in all of Europe knows how to merge either.....they pull in to the merge lane....STOP, signal and wait. It's like they are all my mother or something.
Anywho driving around Europe is a blast and it's gorgeous and relaxing. The game has a built in radio player which streams stations from all over Europe (and North America as well - actually you can add stations to it if you like or play your own MP3s etc.). I listen to a lot Prague Rock stations - they seem to know what is up and it's hilarious to here some Russian metal every once in awhile :) The game has dynamic weather, day night cylce, lots of traffic, a lot of varied terrain (hills, bridges, ferries, trains, windy roads, highways, backroads etc.) and it is just a real joy to drive around in. In addition to being fun just drive around in you are trying to start a business. You start out borrowing a truck but eventually you can buy your own truck (I just took out a loan from the bank and bought a truck this morning), you get your own home base garage which can upgraded, eventually you can buy more trucks and higher other drivers to drive for your company etc. Also you get xp / levels. As you level up you can unlock and buy upgrades for your truck as well as spend skill points to unlock different delivery options etc. (I have unlocked a level 1 license that allows me to transport some explosives, and a level 1 distance driving which allows me to take longer routes). Your truck and cargo will take damage if you get into accidents...the truck is reparable the cargo is not....you can be fined for all kinds of things (traffic violations....hitting other vehicles etc.)....you'll need to make sure you have enough gas (you can stop for gas a stations all over Europe) and if the drive is long enough you'll need to sleep/rest (there are rest stops at the gas stations and at various other places in your travels).
The game has a decent sized modding community already. I've downloaded a "real physics" mod which makes the truck feel a little more weighty and bounce around a little more - it also removes the road-speed governors 55 MPH restrictor which I guess is put on trucks in Europe. So now I can move a little faster :) I've seen some mods and maps that include a North America map and trucks (i.e. PeterBilt etc. ), I've seen a snow mod and some other interesting ones as well. I would love to see a "damage" mod - although that might be a rather large undertaking. The game doesn't physically show damage (boo!) so you can flip your truck flying down a highway and wipe 6 or 7 cars and your truck might be on it's side but there won't be any fire, dents, smoke, broken glass etc. That would be great :) also would love to see a multiplayer MOD (have seen people have started work on this one).
Anywho I think if you have a wheel (not required...you can play with M+K or game controller) and are looking for a more laid back kind of driving game I can't recommend this enough. I've really been enjoying it.