A while ago I came to the same conclusion that my friend Ashran did, namely that keeping both the gaming parts and personal notes on the same blog gave it a bit of a jumbled appearance. So I’ve joined up with him and Shino on their blog called Gamer’s Aspect. My first post there is already up where I’ve reviewed Bayonetta. So go on there and have a look.
In the future all my gaming related posts will likely end up there and in the meanwhile I’ll dedicate this site to nonsensical personal drivel. Seeing how I’m starting to get fed up with the way Blogger works I might just start a WordPress blog and export everything over there instead. But at least the links will still work then.
Tags: Bayonetta, games, Hideki Kamiya, Platinum Games, PS3, Review, Sega, spectacle fighter, Xbox 360
Did you ever wonder what would happen if you gave a witch the skill of ten martial artist masters, four guns and a catsuit and then set the forces of heaven upon her in a gory battle? Bayonetta gives you the opportunity to explore this scenario from the perspective of the witch.
Bayonetta is the latest of games from Hideki Kamiya (Devil May Cry) and Platinum Games (Mad World) published by Sega (Sonic). Landing on the Xbox360 and PS3, Bayonetta follows it’s creators’ roots as a full blown spectacle fighter. That is, a game we’re you beat people (or monsters) in spectacular and (sometimes literal) eye gushing displays of violence and/or finesse and bravado. Half the reward of fighting is how it looks and feels and realism takes a back seat while you enjoy the show.
Continue Reading High Heels and Halos – Bayonetta Review [PS3]…
The renaissance was a time of marvel. New ideas were born and pursued, famous works of art and architecture were made and people thought that storing money in banks was a neat idea. It’s in this time period that Assassin’s Creed 2 takes place.
Players of the first game will remember that the first game gave us the tale of Desmond Miles, an inconspicuous bartender who suddenly finds himself kidnapped by the clandestine company by the name of Abstergo. With the help of a machine called the animus and a lot of science fiction Desmond gets to experience his ancestors memories first hand, in his case an assassin by the name of Altaïr.
Continue Reading Death of a Salesman – Assassin’s Creed 2 Review…
The scorching sun shines over the arid landscape. The great cliffs in the background stands defiantly against the elements and on a weathered road sign the text “Welcome to Pandora!”is shown. From behind it an alien dog-like creature hops out and lets out a ferocious shriek. It runs away onto the road and looks back just in time to see the bus running it over. Welcome to Gearbox’s Borderlands.
Borderlands is a RPG/FPS in a postapocalyptic sci-fi setting that in many way are reminiscent of Mad Max. But less serious and with more aliens and robots. The type called “Claptrap” will especially leave no one without an opinion about them, as most will either love or hate these spunky little bit characters.
You play as one out of four different treasure hunters in search of riches on the next to abandoned planet Pandora, each of them with their own class set of abilities. There’s the hunter, a sniper based class with the ability to send out a bird of prey to attack it’s enemies, and the soldier, a class centered around assault rifles and shotguns with a portable turret. Then there’s also Brick which is the big beefy guy you want to pick if you want to pound someone to dust with your knuckles or use big explosions, and the more lithe class the siren who can temporarily make themselves invisible and specialises in elemental damage.
All of the classes can use all types of weapons, but what makes them more specialised is the way you allocate your skill points. Much like talents in WoW or skills in Diablo, there’s three types of trees for all classes and after level 10 you get to spend one point per level. There’s a good variety in the trees and with a maximum level of 50 you’re able to get the top talent of two different trees in the end which lends itself to some interesting builds. You may make your Brick into a tank or cause your soldier’s bullets to heal people. Most skills feels useful although they’re not all very intuitive, and there’s always the option to respec for a paltry sum of money.
The main gist of the game won’t take place looming over where to put your skills though, but more in the thick of action. As a shooter you’re actually required to aim, unlike other first person RPGs where there where “dice rolls” in the background determines if you hit or miss. Different parts of enemies (such as heads) guarantees critical hits, so it actually feels much more like a shooter.
While there is an overarching story throughout the game and several optional side quests, it server more as a backdrop and excuse for you to kill countless of enemies. The characters you meet are rather shallow but nearly all of them have rather interesting or funny personalities and quirks. It shows that the developers wanted to make something less serious and the jokes and pop culture references are spread throughout the course of the game.
Much like Diablo and Torchligh, loot is the main interest when killing enemies, especially guns. And there are a lot of them. Through a system similar to the ones in the games mentioned above there are “a bazillion guns” as Gearbox themselves put it, and due to the way in how they differ it can be a lot of fun trying to find that better gun. A few of the weapon varieties I’ve found so far was are shotguns that fire rockets, sniper rifles that creates and explosion of fire when they hit and SMGs that shoot electrical shocking bullets.
The first thing you will notice after starting up the game though is the distinct choice of graphics. The developers have went with a hand drawn art style which makes it look like a fluid comic, but without the overly stylized sense that a cell shaded game can give you. The enemies looks good and are well animated and in the beginning there will be a good variety. Unfortunately you will have encountered the majority types of enemies within the first 30 minutes of the game, and it’s not until the end that things start getting spiced up again. This in itself isn’t that much of a problem since the enemy groups can be mixed in different ways, but since all enemies of the same type look exactly the same it gets a little stale. Some more enemy models would be nice.
The engine does a good job at scaling the textures as well, making sure that you receive a higher performance without any apparent visual degradation. It does not however take zooming through scopes into account, so if you have a powerful zoom the textures on objects far way will look very blurred. Unfortunately many of the textures doesn’t hold up when under close scrutiny, but you’ll be spending most of the game on the run anyway and probably won’t notice this.
While Borderlands is a rather enjoyable to play by yourself it is even more so when playing co-operatively with up two three other people. Enemies and loot scales to the amount of players and there are many tactics that only works if there’s someone fighting with you. You and your “party” will always be in the same area as a zone change will induce this on everyone in the game, and it works well to keep everyone together. If you so wish you can make it so that anyone can join your game at anytime, and when they do they’ll pop up right next to you. The looting is very much free for all though, so make sure you play with friends and people you trust if you want to make sure you get a chance to get that really sweet gun.
One of the biggest problems with Borderlands though are the technical aspects. There are several basic options that can be bothersome to adjust on a PC, such as turning if the in game voice communication so you don’t broadcast as soon as the microphone picks up a sound. Same thing goes for FOV, mouse smoothing and even using your mouse scroll button. The menus can feel a bit clunky, often needing a keyboard input to work correctly, and they often feel sluggish when using a mouse. It’s very apparent that this game was made for consoles in mind and then ported to PC.
Nowhere is the porting more obvious than the multiplayer matchmaking system. Borderlands innately uses Gamespy for it’s multiplayer purposes, a system that was all the rage about ten years back. After you’ve created a login (or remember an old Gamespy account you might have had) you get to choose to either host or join a game. Whenever I tried to join an online game through the in-game system I was either denied since the server was now full or in a game with a slow connection. I’ve heard Gearbox has been working on a fix for it however to improve the matchmaking, but it could also just have been me who was unlucky.
The main annoyance with Borderlands in multiplayer is how hard it can be to join a friends game. Many people have had trouble with the game being blocked by firewalls and being unable to join or even see games. I never actually managed to get it working properly to play with friends using the standard system as I quite like having a firewall on my network. Fortunately however there’s a free third party service called GameRanger available with support for Borderlands which makes the process as simple as it ought to be. Do note however that if it doesn’t join the game automaticly when using it, go to the “join LAN” part of the menu and look for the game there. Having this feature work straight out of the box would have been much preferred though, especially if it could be integrated with Steam.
For those who don’t get enough from the main game (as well as it’s “playthough 2” and “playthrough 3” options) there’s also some DLC to purchase. At the moment I has of yet to purchase or try out any of the two who have been released, but indications points to more coming out soon.
In conclusion Borderlands is a fun shooting game for people who likes postapocalyptic worlds, loot and don’t mind the technical hiccup to getting multiplayer working. While it may not be the top of the class it is certainly a game worth your time if you fall into the category above.
- Good looking “hand drawn” graphics
- Well optimized graphics engiene
- Good weapon variety
- Great co-op
- Entertaining gun fights
- Good humor
- Poorly optimized PC customization
- Troublesome multiplayer without third party addons
- Lack of diversity in enemies
Some games I can spend waiting for years to come, the expectation of some sweet deliverance of exuberant proportions digital joy being part of the appeal. Other games I merely stumble upon and for some reason decide to buy.
Fortunately I seem to have a lucky track record of buying games I know little of with only one of them being a disappointment. A few of the games I bought on a whim are Super Smash Bros. and Banjo Kazooie for the Nintendo 64, as well as a small game called Fallout, the latter of which I recently re-bought soundtrack alone. More on that later.
Then there’s the middle child of these categories. The games I kinda know of but isn’t sure if it’s something for me. I’ve read some reviews and seen some footage, but is still not convince. Usually a great demo will be enough to sway me to buy it, but unfortunately that kind of software becoming something of a rarity these days. If I’m lucky I will be able to try them out some other way, maybe trying it on a platform at a friends or something of the like. There are still titles where I feel I’m flinging myself into them, not really sure if I’ll like the game or not. Again, I’m usually in luck here as Prototype, a game which I had tons of fun with, and Borderlands are both fairly recent purchases which I’ve enjoyed. I plan on writing a bit more about Borderlands a bit later.
But it’s strange, isn’t it? I remember people shipping out the demo months before the game was even available. It gave you a hint of what was to come, it was the sales pitch. Back then you could buy expensive magazines with portable media (floppies, CDs or DVDs depending on the era) which were filled to the brim with these goodies. I especially remember one game that PC Gamer in Sweden had two different demos of in different issues. One of them was so big it practically had it’s own separate disc. The latter one was indeed a big section of the game, and the only limit you had was that it stopped working after playing for an hour.
The game in question was called Outcast, a game I will forever hold dear to my heart. Okay, how many of you just thought I meant Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast? Well, if you did, you were wrong! Which proves how overseen this game was. Despite critical acclaim and great, epic gameplay with a fantastic soundscore, it didn’t become as big as it deserved to. My guess is that it’s partially due to the bugs (I’ve yet to make it run properly on another computer). But I digress.
Lately there seems to have been an influx of cheaper titles, often indie, or a way of getting older titles for a cheaper price. This is all thanks to the wonders of internet. My two current favourites would be the humongous Steam and the fan-friendly GOG.com. Steam is great for newer titles and sometimes they have some insane weekend deals, such as the Christmas holiday sale (from which I bought over ten games from). The added achievements and ease to join friends in multiplayer in certain games is also a nice bonus.
GOG.com, or Good Old Games as they’re also known as, is a entirely different beast. The most recent titles will probably be at least a year old, and many stretches back more than five, or even ten years of age. There are some real jewels in there for comparatively cheap prices. What makes this all so great though is the fact that they not only sell you the game, they make sure it runs on the latest version of Windows! (Sorry Mac, but we already knew games weren’t your thing.) So now you don’t have to worry if Vista will harass your copy of that old DOS-age game you have lying around. To make a great deal even sweeter you’re often given some extra material for the product you’ve bought such as soundtracks, concept art and wallpapers. Come on, give them a look. If you’ve been playing games the last decade I’m sure you’ll find something interesting in there. Oh, and did I mention there’s no DRM?
I wonder how hard it would be to arrange more demos to come out for platforms such as Steam. It would be a nice addendum to the vast catalogues of games to be able to try them before buying them. Heck, I’d even spend a buck or two on a short stand-alone DLC that could be played without the full copy if it was tailored so that it didn’t feel useless if you bought the game later on. With all the DLC craze going on lately, maybe that’s something appealing for the publishers out there?
Since everyone and their dog seems to have been talking about Torchlight at some point or another, I finally caved in to the peer pressure and managed to snag it when Steam put it up on their holiday sale.
If this game’s attention somehow has eluded you, let me give you a short introduction: Torchlight is a point-and-click RPG action game where you explore endless dungeons, kill monsters and get loot. Make no mistake, this is about as close to Diablo you can get without getting sued for copyright infringement. It’s quite understandable, seeing how several of the senior staff from said Blizzard franchise have moved over to Runic Games to create this.
I’m not going into too detail about this game as many already have already put up various reviews and thoughts on this game and how it plays, so I’ll just post some thoughts that have struck me personally as I’ve played through the game.
The first one is of course how easy on the eyes the game is. The vibrant colour doesn’t exactly instil the gloomy setting Diablo is known for if that’s your thing, but it does make the hacking and slashing more light-hearted and fun. Fun in the way only gratuitous amounts of vibrantly coloured blood after destroying several of your weaker enemies can imbue.
There’s no real plot to speak of though. There’s the mention of ember several time, the mysterious material known both for it harmful energies as well as it’s potent properties, and the very reason for building a small mining village on top of the dungeon. But this game doesn’t really need a story other than to give you a reason to slay a ridiculous amount of monsters.
One of my favourite parts about this game is how easy it is to pick up, play for a short while and then put down again. When you log back on to your character you’ll be exactly where you left, making this game ideal for when you need a quick fix. The streamlined experience of the game also makes sure that you’ll feel as if you’ve accomplished something during this short while, and not just spent 10 minutes trekking to the place where you can find all the monsters.
The game’s netbook mode looks interesting as well, even though I’ve yet to do any deeper studies or tests of it. It’s basicly a single option that seems configured to preserve power for your laptop of choice. It’s a handy feature for those who wants to get mobile with the game but doesn’t have the resources to pay for a top-of-the-line computer.
One of my favourite parts of the game is also it’s moddability. There’s at least two different modding sites out there dedicated for the game, and being a huge fan of game customization I’ve been delving through the archives and found a few gems. What I found interesting is the fact that not only does the game ship with an editor, but there’s also achievements tied to installing and using mods on the Steam version. An interesting way to put people’s attention on the mod community.
On a final note I’ll mention the plans for Torchlight to become something bigger. The idea with this game is to get the brand name out there as well as finance making a MMO later on. So seeing how well recieved this game has been I wouldn’t be surprised to find a Torchlight MMO within next two coming years.
A realisation about handheld technology comes after a perhaps uninteresting but pleasant weekend.
So the weekend was nice, if a bit stressful at times. Watched a movie at the cinema and had not one, but two gatherings at home! For me, that’s a lot. Sure, there weren’t more than 7 people at once but it’s probably good that they weren’t all there at once.That’s pretty much been my whole weekend. I logged in a short while for some WoW to kill some turkeys and played some more Dragon Age. Right now I’m mostly looking forward to starting my web design course this week and I’ve been working on a side project of mine in hopes of getting it going.
Most of this I’ve been writing on my iPhone. However, I’ve yet to find a decent app that actually works the way I want. I’d like to just write something down, save it as a draft and then edit it later on the computer. Apparently this isn’t possible, so I have to publish it first and then edit it. That’s ridiculous. Well, at least I had something to do on my break at work today, but I believe that blogging on a computer is vastly superior unless it’s very small posts or micro blogging.
Now I’m gonna do some webdesigning!
After many years of waiting the spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate finally arrives.
I’ve now had my hands on Dragon Age: Origins for almost two weeks. This is a game I had been waiting for since Bioware first announced it several years back. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details of when this was, but it was somewhat soon after the release of Neverwinter Nights. All in all a long times waiting, and so far it’s been totally worth it.
I’ll begin with saying that this game is made first and foremost for the PC. One could argue that a lot of games are better looking and have more choices than you average console port, but some games, especially action and platform games, plays better on a console. In Dragon Age, it’s clearly a computer game ported to consoles and not the other way around as in say Mass Effect. If you’ve ever played Baldur’s Gate and WoW, you’ll immediately feel right at home with the controls.
While the various stats and options might seem a bit disorienting at the start of the game, you’ll soon learn what abilities are useful for what. If you’re not the stat savy type there’s always the option of “auto level up” which helped me out a lot in the beginning with some of the NPCs. What makes the system intriguing is that all classes gains the same amount of differing abilities. No longer are mages the only versatile characters available to you as warriors and rogues alike have just as many tricks up their sleeve. That being said however, several of the non-magical abilities are “turn-on-and-forget” modes, but even they give you a tactical choice.
And you’ll need those tactical choices. So far I’ve only been playing on normal difficulty, but whenever you meet a boss it really pays off knowing your abilities and how to use them. After the difficulty nerf in the last patch to easy and normal however I’ve been thinking of upping the difficulty to hard to get closer to the sometimes soulcrushing encounters you would find in Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2. It’s less about luck than it is about sound strategic planning, and finishing of a particular hard fight leaves a great sense of accomplishment.
The story so far has also been good. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but it suffuses the world and gives a great immersion factor. It works off the vibes of a gritty low-fantasy setting where there is no tangible sense of wrong or right. One of the ways this plays out is the fact that there’s no arbitrary alignment meter that is so common these days in RPGs. Instead you, the player, gets to choose what course to take, and they’re often far from the “Satan vs. Jesus” type of choice and more in the realms of grey, although often less gloomy than The Witcher. It follows in the footsteps of the latter though in how your choices actually do alter the course of the game in a tangible way and aren’t just concentrated to that particular bit of the story.
Suffice to say, this game is all that I wanted, even if I didn’t know what it was I wanted when I got it.
I’ve started to appreciate Microsoft products more and more. That being said, same thing goes for Apple. The only logical choice is of course to combine them.
When I was a young teenager I despised Microsoft. I viewed them as the bane of all software development and thought their operating systems were rubbish. Apple was not much better, having at the time been sent into the lower recesses of the market for normal consumers (this was before the iPod). Simply put, they weren’t even an option at the time.
Over the years though I’ve started to change my mind more and more about both companies. Apple has sleek and intuitive designs, both hardware and software, whereas Microsoft seems to have learned a thing or two from past failings and have been listening to the public. In Apple’s case I belive it has lately just been a matter of gaining a bigger market share to show of their products, but I believe Microsoft has actually improved some of their the past few years. I’m not saying Apple hasn’t, just that Microsoft had a bit bigger ground to cover.
The only problem I’ve been having lately is the interaction between the two. iTunes is a decent music player and I love the genius mix function, but the lack of support for multimedia keyboard bindings on Windows is just ridiculous. I guess the use for manipulating your media player even when it’s not in the forefront (i.e. while playing a game) is lost on the Windows iTunes team.
Lack of playable games on Apple has also been a big downer for me when it comes to their computers. The never Macs have pretty decent graphic cards, at least with the top segment laptop models, so they possess the hardware possible to accomplish this. But as long as Microsoft sits tight on their DirectX library, I don’t see many games being made for Macs, unless some other API takes over (won’t happen anytime soon).
I’m sure some of you went googly eyed at this last paragraph (if you hadn’t already), but to break it down, VMware Fusion let’s you run Windows inside running Mac OS X. It boils down to the fact that you can use Windows programs on your Mac. VMware supposedly has support for DirectX 9 as well, which in turn will let you play games.
I say “supposedly” because I’ve yet to try it out. At the moment I’m attempting to install Windows 7 on my girlfriends Mac, and to be honest, it’s going rather slow. I belive (and hope) that the performance will increase once I’m actually logged on the virtual machine and install the “VMware Tools” that comes with the software. Mostly because it says this is what it’s for.
Hopefully I’ll be able to have it up and running before my significant other gets home tonight. If she haven’t been able to get her hands on that other game by then, at least she’ll be able to play Prototype. Yes, she did actually asked me if I could install a violent “superhero” game where you can consume your enemies and slice bodies in two on her shiny Mac so she could play it. Have I mentioned that I love her?
A great past week, all in all. Loads of new toys and experiences, moreso than expected.
So last week I told how I had just gotten Batman: Arkham Asylum installed and last night I managed to complete the story mode and all the Riddler’s challanges. To make it short, it’s a great game and I really enjoyed it. I’ll probably keep playing it even though I’ve already completed it. The setting is great and there’s some nice twists on it all. If you’re interested in Batman and like videogames, I wholeheartedly recommend that you go and pick up this game.
So I’ve already fallen in love with my new iPhone. I hadn’t realised just how much I’d use it after I got it. My Twitter has surely been invigorated many-fold since I got it. The app I use, Twitterrific, makes the whole thing a snap, both posting and reading. Especially when it comes to “tweeting” pictures and videos. Also, oh great flying spaghetti monster, how sweet it is to finally be able to listen to music and podcasts on the go. I could go on how much I like my new fancy phone, but that brand has already been hyped to kingdom come.
As if those two things hadn’t been enough for me to have a great week, Karro and I went to buy a kayak this Friday. Unbeknownst to me, she had already planned ahead and bought not one, but two kayaks! One for her and one for me! We got a great price on them as well, and they’re worth every krona (easy for me to say though, I didn’t pay for them). We’ve already been out with them a couple of times.
The first trip, Sunday, there was quite a bit of wind. Very fun, but hard to paddle in. We only got halfway from Framnäs to Östra Holmen out here in Mälaren before we were to tired to go on and turned back. On the other hand, it blew so much that we could literally surf on the waves on way back, and that was awesomeness in a bucket! We made another trip yesterday with a bit less wind, and this time we managed to get all the way out, much thanks to the lack of wind compared to the first day. So of course it was a given what vessel to take today when the scouts arrived: we both grabbed our kayak and paddled on while the other sailed. The wind waned as the evening went on, and as the moon shone out over the lake we could quietly glide next to the boats with ease.
But before I had arrived at Framnäs I had went on a trip to meet up with my sister and her husband. Last year they had given me a card for a free test-dive that I had yet to cache in. This was mainly due to the part that I had been unable to find it the last two months, but just as I gave up on every finding the envelope it was held in it showed itself to me. As of now it’s still warm enough to dive outside, so we drove on to a lake after picking up some gear at their local diving center. Once there Manuel (my brother in law) briefed me on how to use the equipment and various safety instructions, we put on the gear and went into the lake.
Some of you might now think “Holy bovine, wasn’t that cold? We’re in October!” and to that I can only say that, yes, the air is cold, but the water is still warm enough. Besides, the neopren suit I put one kept immediate water warm and cosy and I wasn’t troubled at all by the temperature until I actually got on land and had to actually take it off.
The diving itself was a blast. There was the initial trouble of actually facing downwards and not go belly-up, but that was hindrance quickly overcome after a tip of putting my weight downwards. Then there was learning the right way to breathe and adjust air in your vest for buoyancy, something that was made harder that one of the weights fell out of my vest. Twice. I’m still amazed that Manuel managed to actually find them. After a while I started to get a hang of it though and could start looking around.
The lake was fortunately rather shallow where they had taken me. No more than 4 meters at the most, perfect for the occasion, as I had some water to maneuver in but not deep enough to get diver’s disease. The visibility was about 3 meters, so I was able to clearly purvey the bottom of the lake, and it’s inhabitants. We saw loads of crayfish, some perch and even a couple of pikes, one of them about half a metre. We ended staying down there for a total of 56 minutes, with a few breaks here and there to go topside of course.
It was a great experience and definitely something I am going to do again sometime. Hopefully I’ll have both the financial leverage and time required to start doing some more diving come spring. Here’s for hoping.
All in all it’s been a great week with a lot of ups. This is life as it should be. On Sunday we’ll helping the scouts in taking the boats up on land, but that won’t stop me and Karro for taking more trips with our kayaks. I feel another good week is coming up.