Monday, August 9, 2010


My relationship with real-time strategy games was, for a time, very much like my relationship with vegetables; I shunned them at all costs.  Well, to be fair, I never had much of an opportunity to even play RTS games; my PCs were never robust enough, and anyway if I was ever gaming on my computer it was generally for Quake 2. 

This all changed, though, when I played Civilization: Revolution.  I'd never played any of Sid Meier's games until the Xbox version of Pirates!, which I adored, and I figured that CivRev would be a good introduction to the Civ experience, however dumbed down it may have been.  (My understanding is that the Civ games aren't even really RTS games, but more like their own specific thing, but the overall principle is somewhat similar.)  Anyway, I got hooked on the 360 version of CivRev, and then I bought it for my DS, and then I splurged on Civ4 for my PC, and even though I really only played one game, I loved it.

So, then, I'm really looking forward to Civ 5.  So much so that I got back into CivRev this weekend, and then, when I kept failing miserably at gaining a military victory with the Germans (you'd think that would be a slam dunk), I remembered that old 360 Arcade title, most notable for being the first In-Avatar game, A Kingdom for Keflings.  K4K is kind of a weird cross of CivRev and Farmville?  There aren't any enemies, and nothing can really go wrong; you just need to keep building various buildings and growing your city, and eventually it gets pretty hectic because you have 30 little dudes running around, say, chopping down trees and then delivering them to lumbermills, and then delivering the newly-crafted planks of wood to other workshops, etc.  Anyway, it's incredibly charming and the music is great (even if a bit repetitive) and I found myself getting totally sucked in.  And in these dry, dry summer months, you take what you can get.

But there's this other RTS game that just came out, and it seems to be causing a bit of a fuss; and yet I still feel a bit intimidated.  In the wake of CivRev, I tried a handful of 360 RTS titles, and they all made me feel incredibly stupid.  But I am a grown man now, and if I can eventually grow to enjoy vegetables, perhaps I can eventually learn how to not totally suck at Starcraft 2.

Not bloody likely, though, if the first few missions are any indication.  As much as it bends over backwards to remain accessible, I still feel so very stupid.  I want to move all my guys at the same time, but they don't all stay together.  I want them to attack everything in their path as they move from point A to point B - and there's a button that specifically makes that happen - and I keep forgetting to push it.  If there's a resource thing on the way, I suddenly forget how to activate it or make it work or whatever.  It is humbling.  It is clearly a well-made game, and the way people are freaking out about it leads me to believe that there is gold to be found, if I am willing and patient enough to figure out how to sift for it.  I remain cautiously skeptical.