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Tycho / on Wed, Apr 29 2020 at 1:13 pm

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Unless it’s a literally intractable hardware problem, like a jabbering hub or some shit, I am secretly delighted by a computer problem.  Now printers, printers I hate.  But anything else, put me in coach.

I did get very bored once, so bored that I engaged in the home technology repair equivalent of digging up Cold Cases, and determined that something I thought was a hardware problem on a Surface Pro 3 - intermittent freezing of the screen with no rhyme or reason - was actually a software driver responsible for a “clever” power saving mechanism.  It can take a very long time to figure out your Hardware Problem, you know, isn’t.  I don’t know how Gabe was able to fix the streaming problems he’s struggled with for two days, and when I asked him in a text he replied with the bewildering

i built something new

which makes me think maybe he’s not, you know, a hundred percent okay.  Like, in his mind meat.  I’ll look into it.

Seeing Tactics rise to prominence years after I would have called time of death has been such a pleasure, even as we’re clearly reaching an embarrassment of riches that borders on the draconic.  It’s a feat that I think largely rests with Jake Solomon, though judging from his overall persona, ultimately he’d find a way to thank Sid Meier.  Hitting Jake’s Twitter and watching him direct a mentor’s praise toward XCOM: Chimera Squad‘s lead designer Mark Nauta nourished me spiritually.  Chimera Squad’s only ten bucks for the next couple days, which makes no sense, but you might as well take advantage of their quarantine-addled decision-making praxis-hyphen.

I have Chimera Squad installed but didn’t start it because I didn’t want it and Gears Tactics fighting each other for time - I wanted to start each, and see where they went.  I started with Gears because I like Gears and also because I thought the genre switch made sense just on the face of it.  I was right, which is to say, they were right.  Tactics games of the XCOM school have a fundamental “horror” arc, there’s a lot of skulking and revelation, but the Gears variant of this is like… how about we have you fight like two screens full of fucking guys?  And here’s a hole that goes all the way down to their Devil House.  How about they keep coming out of there?  Overwatch isn’t just “i shoot stuff,” it’s a specific cone template where they focus their consciousness.  And watch your sightlines, because there’s friendly fire (!!!).  This is all a long way of saying that it’s a turn-based version of Gears.  But that’s one thing to say, and another thing to actually do, and they did it.  The more organic movement offered by the lack of a Grid lets you build these weird charge lines for melee that feel really unique.  The only fundamentally Gears things they’re missing are Co-Op and Horde Mode, and the second is really contained in the first.  I love what Splash Damage did here and I hope other people love it too, enough that they have a shot at containing those other things inside the little machine they’ve built.

The things that make Gears Tactics as an experience choppy and strange don’t happen when you’re murdering monsters in deadly urban valleys and inside-out museums - they tend to happen after a mission, or when it is transitioning from fight to fight.  They didn’t really think hard about how rough transitions, or, uh… just a blank screen with a voiceover can kill the experience.  I think I can probably live with that, but it does seem very odd when juxtaposed with all the other portions of the experience they clearly polished to a gleam.

(CW)TB out.

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