So I know I promised impressions of Pokemon Diamond, but I’ve only logged about an hour in Pokemon because I’ve been playing a bunch of Settlers of Catan, the excellent downloadable Xbox Live Arcade game. I’ve actually been putting a lot of time on the 360 in general, but most of it has been playing Settlers.
I’ve only played a couple games with real players, but both games have been a revelation. I think Joystiq hit the nail on the head last week when they mentioned the lack of renobs on Live. Maybe they’re busy playing Gears or working on some new colorful epithets. Whatever the case, the guys I’ve played with have been pleasant, if rather quiet. Not a lot of chatting going on, with some players without a headset altogether. Playing faceless opponents makes the stress of playing on the table-top non-existent. It’s a lot easier to turn a trade down when you don’t have to look the poor sucker in the eyes. No Xbox Live camera for me!
Playing against the computer is a mixed bag. Overall, it isn’t that bad, but sometimes it gets frustrating. There are times when I honestly feel like the computer is cheating with the “random” dice rolls. A game I played last night had nine (9!!) straight rolls of a four. Of course I didn’t have any settlements on a four, but the other three computer players were raking in the resources. I hope that is the exception, not the rule here. It’s also really easy to game the computer into getting what you want. I’ve offered a trade (say a wood for a brick) and then offer the trade in reverse (a brick for a wood) and the same computer opponent takes it. That breaks a bit of the feel, but playing with real players will solve that problem.
Games against the computer can be completed pretty quickly, but the online games seem to last a little longer. That’s not too much of a problem, but with no saving mechanism, you’ve got to be in it for the long haul. But I’m really enjoying Catan. If you’re online and are looking for a match, shoot me a line.
I promise I’ll get to Pokemon, as the first hour I played was positive. But with Halo 3 beta in a couple days, I’m thinking my game playing time will be consumed by that and not much else. Pokemon can wait.
(Excellent picture of the Settlers board game from n0wak’s Flickr stream)