RePlay: Bastion

bastionUpon starting college and selecting a major, I found a list of requirements among the pounds of dead trees in folders waiting for me to ignore.  On this precious list entitled “Items required for a successful partnership within the Computer Science program” the first item listed was a quad-core processor-enabled laptop.

I know my way around hardware with relative ease.  I know the subtle differences between the GT and GTX video cards and what the speed difference between DDR2 and DDR3 in memory will mean for your gaming experience.  I couldn’t fathom why a compiler for any language required a quad-core cpu chip.
However, I’m not one to turn down a reason for an upgrade.
I looked around online at which manufactures enabled great laptops with quad-core chips and which ones offered them out-of-the-box for the best prices.  At the time, Intel still had not released the ivy bridge chipset, making the i7 the only quad-core available.  AMD offered their “system on a chip” which isn’t very effective as an all-around functional machine for high-end processing, so I avoided AMD products.  I waited and looked at Alienware, Origin Systems, Pugent and out of necessity: Apple MacBook Pro.
These companies all were going to update their systems when Intel released the new ivy bridge chipsets, they all had price comparable systems (within $200 of each other) and they all fared roughly the same when it came to warranty repair and ease of purchase.  Apple released the Retina display, which I found out meant due to the design of the new Retina display, the motherboard, CPU, hard drive and memory were all soldered into one piece and meant any upgrade in the future required a new computer so that option was out, however the original MacBook Pro with the upgraded video card and i7 quad-core CPU was still an option.
Long story short (too late, I know) I ended up buying the Apple.  Why, you ask?  Because I could go to a store locally and pick it up and use it.  For the same configuration, Alienware was over $3,000, Origin Systems was $3500 and Pugent wasn’t going to have an Ivy Bridge laptop available for another six months.  I picked up my
MacBook and drove home.
I soon found out why people enjoy the ease of use with the OSx system: it’s easy to use and if something doesn’t work, a quick reboot solves 90% of the problems.  For the programming classes, I run VMWare Fusion 4 with Windows 7 in Memory (which runs faster than my Dell XPS at work) and Visual Studio, and I can run Steam on both sides of the OS line; most games are still Windows only, however many of the ones I enjoy playing are both.
I loaded a handful of games on my new MacBook to try it out and see if there’s a differences between Windows and OSx when it came to gaming…This is that test.
The first game I loaded through Steam was Bastion.  It holds a tight spot in my heart due to the excellent graphics, ease of play, beautiful soundscapes and riveting narration throughout the entirety of the game.  Even if you don’t know what to do, smashing everything, collecting the bottles of potion and wandering around the Calamity as the world designs and builds itself around you is a sight to behold.  The monsters and levels are never all of a sudden too difficult, as your weapons and levels match the areas traveled and the feeling of accomplishment from each level as you grab the next shard to continue rebuilding your home makes you want to play “one more level.”  Meaning you’ll have many nights where you look at the clock and realize you should have gone to bed long ago.
Moving throughout the world in Bastion is easy, however it takes a few levels to get used to the WASD keyboard movement since the world is diagonal and you will often have to press two keys simultaneously to move down a tight hallway or end up falling off the world and starting the level over.  Picking up items is a simple run over them, while quest items or new weapons and potions need an E key pressed to make sure you know and remember you picked something of importance for later use.  Combat goes back to the Diablo-style of mouse-abuse: left click is melee damage and right-click for all ranged attacks.  A trip to your local store gives one the ability to add spells and upgrades to weapons such as tighter strings to the bow or a heavier head for your mallet, making more damage possible in less time.  There is also an alternate key, which once found, will give the player to drop land mines or drop a friendly sprite which attracts all the bad sprites giving you the change to wipe them all out in one swing or distract them long enough for a quick getaway.
Since Bastion is on Steam, the regular price is $14.99, however I would suggest waiting for a sale.  My son picked it up a few weeks ago when Steam had their Linux 50% off sale, grabbing Bastion for $7.49.  You can also grab it on Desura for Windows, Steam for Windows, Mac and Linux, the Mac App Store for $14.99, the iPad App Store for $4.99, the Android store for $4.99 and it seems like hundreds of other places now that I’m searching.
In other words: it’s worth it, even at full price.  The narrator alone will make you smile when you do something unusual and you hear “Looks like the Kid is taking his time looking at the ground” when you walk away to feed the cats.  It’s a great game, well made, and well deserving of every accolade.
-Chris
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