Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Tuesday, 26. April 2011

We can only hope they don’t screw this one up as they did with #2 in the series. From the trailer, it seems to be a lot more conspiratorial in nature which is which was really the first games strength. It was plausible, even if far out there.

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MMO & RPG Crossover

Wednesday, 15. December 2010

WoW - Lich King

There are some interesting questions posed at Beyond the Black Gate regarding MMO and RPG crossover.  If you’re too lazy to go look, the specifics are regarding setting customization, rules customization, and character development driving the game.  The assertion is that MMO’s will get there eventually, simply because there is so much money involved. World of Warcraft is a good one to pick from since it’s currently the giant, however it doesn’t have all the distinguishing features of some of the other MMO’s.

Now admittedly some of these have already happened efficiently in games.  Neverwinter nights with it’s GM’ing tools did a pretty good job with rules and setting customization, within a limited frame of what the tool set could do.  NWN 2 improved on this in some ways and fell away in others, namely the ease of using the GM tool when it was released.  Rules tweaking.. not so much so.  Some of the physics and other mechanics of the game could be programmed however in Second Life from my understanding.

As far as MMO’s, City of Heroes/Villains has a pretty good generator for making custom adventures.  The tool offers a lot of flexibility in setting up an adventure from dialog to various combat scenarios as well as, however it doesn’t really allow for the setting “mood” changes that a GM can impart.  The genre is that of an action superhero game and its hard to shift that dynamic to anything else.  Moreso, the game has the standard MMO drivers to continue playing, which I will address below.

For rules customization there has been something that you could tweak spur of the moment.. but to instantly adopt something, you’d really have to look at some of the more “classless” games, such as EVE.    True, it’s impossible to implement anything at more than a newb level, but that’s possible to change.  Final fantasy was able to implement class games, but as mentioned it requires a lot of outside input to make it happen. 

Character development driving the game?  I think it’ll never happen. Never ever.  At least not in the sense of character development being “further developing the character in terms elements unrelated to pure advancement of power or other advantages.”  Play in MMO’s revolves around 3 concepts:  entertainment, social circles, and character advancement.  If you remove the MMO element?  Well, then you can put some character development in, but from what I’ve seen otherwise it is mutually exclusive.

I think at best that this is something that can be filled partway, but the real crossover of why people enjoy role playing games.. the same reasons that Al mentioned aren’t going to be fulfilled anytime soon.  I’m going to leverage that character development as one of the main tabletop advantages, and something that it will keep the crown for a long time.

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PC Game Nostalgia for the Holidays

Wednesday, 8. December 2010

MY latest examiner article is up…

So you’re looking for PC games for your resident fanatic, but you’re not happy with the current releases. The economy is tough and money is tight. Whats a shopper to do? 

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Indie games making good strides

Saturday, 4. December 2010

My examiner article is up for the day~

Video games have always been big money since the market was developed and continue to be so..

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Thematic Music – Star of Darkness

Friday, 5. November 2010

Secret Of Mana
Star of Darkness
Hiroki Kikuta

Secret of Mana was always an interesting game in that it was free control instead of the standard turn based style play. A good soundtrack and storyline for the game only helped out.

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Castlevania – Lords of Shadow (2)

Saturday, 23. October 2010

Castlevania Lords of Shadow

Just in case you’re wondering where I’ve been instead of posting. The current incarnation of Castlevania – Lords of Shadow is an excellent addition to the franchise. I’m probably a little over 1/3 of the way into the game right now, playing the 360 version. It’s good that there was some pressure to get this game right, because previous incarnations of Castlevania in 3d have been lacking both in both game play and graphically.

Fortunately this is not the case with LoS; the game uses a well polished but similar style of play to what you might expect out of Darksiders or God of War. Camera angles are for the most part pretty good although there is the occasional spot where you wish it would move more. Thus far however, they haven’t gotten in the way of any major fights. Game play depth is added through the use of both light and shadow magic. The one heals you and the other increases damage. Both have substantial effects on your sub-weapons; Shadow magic for instance turns your daggers into small explosives.

Gone is the familiar system of using hearts for sub-weapons. You actually carry a set number of items to use, and when they are gone, they’re gone. Fortunately the items for the most part drop quite frequently, Your carrying capacity for each is also upgradeable.. particularly if you are efficient at finding all the upgrades. They have varying effectiveness against different monsters which are shown on each monsters description page after you defeat them.

Graphically the game is simply amazing. The textures are very well done with little awkwardness to at all (Incidentally, character texture was always well done in their earlier 3d games.) The backgrounds however is where this game really, really shines. Gone are the boring obviously templated rooms with a full rich 3d background and simply amazing environmental and lighting effects. It really adds a lot of feeling to the game to see everything hidden by fog or shadows. There isn’t just that in the game however; there is a tremendous amounts of area that Gabriel covers, lush woodlands, dank swamps, arctic cold. All are done amazingly well.

Without giving anything away; the plot so far seems to be keyed in heavily in the duality of human nature – Good & evil as you would expect in a Castlevania game. This game is pretty dark, I’d say a lot more so than the feeling of the other games with your hero Garbriel being quite tormented by his actions and mistakes. The voice acting in addition is excellent and adds a real quality unlike a lot of previous games where its some cheesy translation. (Which is good, I’d have expected Patrick Stewart to tell them to go to hell if it wasn’t, hah!)

All in all, this one seems to be a good one for the collection and not just for hardcore enthusiasts. There is a mention of previous characters from the other games, but you would not lose anything if you hadn’t played any of the franchise before. The game is a bit twitchy however and while I wouldn’t say exceedingly difficult there is a distinct learning curve with most bosses. If you’re on a proper difficulty expected to be playing each a couple of times before you finally beat them.

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Planescape Torment

Friday, 8. October 2010

Planscape box cover

This is time for a bit of nostalgia here.  The game that got me very interested into some of the additional dungeons and dragons setting was called Planescape: Torment and was released for the PC back in 1999 by Black Isle Studios.  For the time, the game was absolutely magnificent… Planescape settings are very bizarre to say the least and the game does a fabulous job of visualizing these and putting a good audio backing to them.

None of the characters are really traditional in any sort of the way.. your main character is the Nameless One; a mortal who dealt his way into immortality.  The character is rather scarred up and frankly plain ugly (as you can see from the box cover) but has a distinct magnetism to him. Along the way is Morte, a floating skull and Dak’kan, a Githzerai who bargined to serve the nameless one until he died.  Sadly, he was unaware of the circumstances.  There are 7 major player characters in all and each has a good amount of subplot and dialogue that you can use to get better information out of them.

The game has a tremendous amount of talking involved in it and unlike a lot of games at least along the main plot point there isn’t a tremendous number of times you really “need” to fight, which is a great stepping stone for crpg’s.  As for non plot battles, you find yourself getting into dust ups quite regularly if you go out of your way to look for them. (and you should, because there is a lot to see.)  The Wiki here goes into considerably more plot and character details that I won’t bother to repeat.

I haven’t played this in a long time, but I imagine that it will require some tweaking to get to run on Windows 7 and Vista platforms… as it seems most of all the older games do.  The game uses the old Ad&d 2e system, which is of course good and bad at times.  The games resolution isn’t quite as hot as it could be, but all in all everything is very well put together with it and something I highly recommend checking out if you haven’t seen before.

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Brutal Legend

Wednesday, 15. September 2010

I avoided this one initially because the reviews suggested that it was primarily an RTS, and that was something I really didn’t feel like struggling with at the time. As it turns out the RTS portions are only portions of the game, and are the multi player element. That and the fact that EA released it didn’t help much either. So at around $20 I figured it was safe to pickup for the collection. Wow, was I ever wrong in waiting as long as I did.

If you can merely tolerate any sort of heavy metal; this game is utterly amazing. If you really like the music it is all the better. Brutal Legend is really a full fledged tribute to the entire genre. The music is great and the entire world looks like it was ripped off of an album cover (And technically, it was.) The color, background and environmental effects are simply beautiful, as well as all the character models and animation.

Well technically not an RPG in purest sense of the word, Brutal contains a lot of upgradable elements for your main character and a good way of powering up. The majority of the main story takes place in between being on foot, and driving (Aka, the deuce or the “Druid plow”) with the occasional major battle located to break that up. The story is compelling and well played, easily making this a game where you can look over at the clock and several hours have gone by. There is a large variety of side missions available as well to break things up and are a very good opportunity to see all that the game really has to offer in terms of landscape. The main storyline of the game runs around 30 hours probably, a little on the short side if you’re not putting time into some side quests.

When you’re not running around in the main storyline, you’re directing your army’s against the enemy trying to tear down their stage before they get the better of yours. There is a wide variety of troops amongst the 3 armies of the game.. corresponding to classic metal, death metal and twisted metal appropriately. Your commander is fully able to get into the action and has a good variety of musical solos they they can use to direct the battle. Facemelter for instance, does exactly what it sounds like. The strategic depth is actually better that what I would’ve expected from a console game.

Brutal Legend is well put together and will leave you crying for more. Lets hope they either spend a lot of time to put together a very compelling sequel, or just let it stand alone in it’s glory. Anything less would be simply defacing all the hard work that made this game so excellent.

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Castlevania – Lords of Shadow

Thursday, 2. September 2010

Busy day, so here is a Castlevania trailer. Lets hope that the game is awesome… and that the trailer isn’t all the firepower it can muster.

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Castlevania – Harmony of Dispair

Monday, 23. August 2010

With a few exceptions, I’ve always been a huge fan of Konami’s castlevania series. Therefore, when Harmony of Dispair was released in a multi-player fashion a few weeks ago on the 360, I had little choice but to pick it up and check it out. The game is relatively well put together, is a lot of fun and plays well but I have a few gripes about it.

The Good – Multi-player Castlevania! How awesome to have that without it being a piece of trash street fighter clone. The game plays well with everyone on screen at once, with no slow down. Up to 6 people can get in on the action, playing as one of 5 currently released characters. Soma, Alucard, Jonathan Morris, Shanoa and Charlotte are all included as base characters and are fairly well polished out, in addition to complimenting each other very well for game play. There is a tremendous number of items to pick up as well as a hard mode for expanded gaming. There are a lot of ways though the maps to the bosses, and there are number of cooperative puzzles in each map. DLC promises more maps and characters.

The Bad – Only 6 maps to play on (Granted, very large maps) and no real story to speak of. In addition, if you’re playing single player you’ll defininetely need to grind out some equipment and levels (Leveling up subweapons is how characters power up.) to get through them.

The Ugly – Ported Nintendo DS graphics. I don’t have a huge problem with this because I’m usually not zoomed in close enough to notice, but really with most 360 games you expect something a little cleaner for the actual sprites and background. The other major sticker was… very poor documentation. All the characters play as their counterparts on the handheld’s, which means if you’ve played their respective games you’ll have no problems with HoD. If you haven’t however.. you’ll probably need to look at the online documentation, as well as going and reading an FAQ or 2 to get the real story on how the game plays.

In Conclusion: Lots of fun and well packaged – this is a good game for fans of the series and is well put together as an online boss crushing fest. The content feels limited for the 15$ price tag though, and you’ll probably have to do a little online reading if you’re not familiar with the series to get full up to speed.

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