Archive for January, 2011

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I never played an installment of Heroes of Might and Magic (yes I know, I should be ashamed), but I was always interested in the concept (I liked turn-based strategy ever since I played games from the Jagged Alliance series) and when Steam offered the whole King’s Bounty package (both games + expansion) I jumped at the chance to finally get to know something like it (it’s the same genre as HoMM and also fantasy – close enough).
The game easily met my anticipation and motivated me much more than I had expected (Crossworlds, besides two new and smaller campaigns, is an expansion for the original campaign of Armored Princess, so I started directly with that, because I was sure I wouldn’t play the otherwise identical campaign twice, at least not right away).
What’s basically happening, is that the player is tossed into a game world, that consists of several islands, which can be reached by ship (although the horse becomes a Pegasus during the adventure, it can only fly on the current islands, not from one to the other). They aren’t all accessible right away, because certain navigation charts have to be found (usually guarded by a tougher foe). All of these islands then are filled with characters, quests, items, hidden treasures, shops, dungeons and lots of enemies. The traversing of the game world takes place in real time and only the actual fights are turn-based (duh). There are 3 basic classes usable in fights, troops (that can consist out of many different kinds of creatures and mixing them right often decides battles), Amelie’s (the princess’ name, who can be Warrior, Paladin or Mage – I chose Mage, because let’s face it, as such she wears the least clothes :P) pet dragon (he levels just like the princess herself and learns new powers) and numerous magic spells. The spells are awesome, powerful and usually quite the visual experience (try a geyser!). To round it up, the princess can enlist a “sidekick”, who will have several inventory slots (differs, which items a character can equip) like the heroine, along an ability (e.g. can train certain troop types).
All characters and other creatures are animated in great detail and their movements are too numerous to list. Even when completely zoomed out, individual figures can be seen blinking with their eyes (nice moment to mention that they have beholders in the game) and behaving lifelike.
The story is mostly what veteran players would expect from such a fantasy setting, but it’s definitely okay and not bad at all. It doesn’t feel like it was just copied from something else (and it isn’t). The AP campaign often doesn’t take itself too seriously, without being ridiculous either, that’s very welcome (I hate the King though, for what he does/says in the final scene, after Amelie saved everyone – I demand a sequel :P). The campaign is also quite long, at least when compared to most current games, it takes over 50 hours to complete (I probably played around 70, but I lost track of the concrete time), so it’s usually a game for several weeks. A further plus for me, because I didn’t loose interest at any point. If that sounded interesting, someone might want to read a review about this game.
As for me, I’ll probably start the campaign “Defender of the Crown” next.

Unofficial English Patch 7.3 by Wesp5 (170MB) / Changes

Help find bugs / Official Thread

(+) Denotes changes only available to players of Plus Edition.

Changes in 7.3:

  • +Moved Yukie temple end trigger and fixed spider chick Boil reaction.
  • +Corrected a Giovanni candidate quest state and removed entry items.
  • +Made inspection particles a bit less intrusive, thanks to ZylonBane.
  • Restored GLOCK to cop on the pier and mafia patrol to Empire hotel.
  • Corrected conditions for mentioning Rossilini and other text issues.
  • Fixed problems on approaching Skelter and during the intro walkout.

Or rather, everyone should want to play Dead Space. The only game (I know) this one could be compared to, would be F.E.A.R., although this is even cooler, because it’s IN SPACE (and DS is more different from a standard shooter)! Some people name Event Horizon as a movie that would be similar, but Dead Space is much better and not just because of the interactivity of a game.
It has zero gravity (like Prey), vacuum (with an appropriate impact on sound), firing of huge mass driver cannons, “character”/weapon progression through the use of power nodes (using them wisely DOES make sense), inventory (that grows with new suits), boss-fights, usable interfaces that are projected into the game world like holograms, shops to buy/sell equipment, small riddles solvable through the clever use of the character’s stasis and telekinesis ability, one of the best game settings this genre has to offer along tremendous background music and probably more stuff I just couldn’t come up with right now.
Dead Space is one of the few games, that can actually deliver a sense of dread. I don’t even like horror myself a lot, but every great, atmospheric experience draws me right in nonetheless.
It turned out it was a great time to play and finish the game, because Dead Space 2 will be released soon and it looks like it’s the sequel DS deserves. There’s even talk about importing the savegame from 1, which will unlock an extra weapon.
How big DS is, can be estimated by all the smaller and bigger things already published for this franchise. There’s not just the almost obligatory wiki, but even an entire animated movie, Dead Space: Downfall (prequel to the game). Dead Space: Extraction, a game for Wii (also a prequel to DS) and 7 comics, 6 of them were released as online comics (and were later even upgraded with animated video and voice actors!) and the seventh came with DS: Extraction.
The hero of DS, Isaac Clarke, is to return in DS2 (I’m glad to hear it, I hate it when they switch characters) and if they come around to shed some more light on the backstory, DS2 should be a safe bet (for me). When the first game is completed, it unlocks several goodies (50.000 credits, a military suit – wonder how that one looks…) to incite a second playthrough, it remains to be seen if I’ve got the nerves to do just that.

Whenever there’s a Firefox topic/news, there’s always several people going like: “Yeah, yeah – used to use this thing this… Firefox. Several years ago! But then I switched to Chrome, because it’s so much faster! And even IE is faster than FF NOW! But it was pretty cool back in the day!” What I always used to do, was to think: “But aren’t there other important things to a browser, than just its speed?” Though that is true too, that was a mistake really, because the more interesting question should be: “If speed is really the most defining aspect of a browser to you, then why were you ever using Firefox? Opera is around a long time, was always a good browser and certainly was always faster than Firefox” If that was really true, then Opera would have held huge market shares for years. But that was never the case. It’s always been in a small niche instead. Completely undeserved, btw. Isn’t that just a little strange? To still claim this rather obvious falsehood? It’s really not the speed, that made you choose Chrome. At least there’s more to it. What was it and why isn’t that reason stated?

Achievements are “the secrets for poor people”. Once upon a time, game developers put a lot of work and effort in creating game worlds (and thankfully many still do), where levels contained extra rooms and items, not everyone stumbled upon, who just ran through the game, without taking some time to cherish it as well. These items were often (or even always) beneficial to the gaming itself (e.g. weapons, ammo, health), it wasn’t just the satisfaction for finding them, they had their practical application too. That’s where secrets and achievements differ, because the latter usually offers no additional value to the gameplay experience itself. It’s quite clearly, once again, the cheaper, easier technique to seemingly add something to the game. Since it’s sometimes tied to actually meaningless gamerscores and whatnot, the real reason is much closer to binding customers to own platforms. Like services as Steam already do with their accounts anyway. Players are supposed to find it more appealing, to collect achievements on one and the same platform, over various. Achievements often only have a superficial value, like boasting about said scores. So it’s really just reinforcing/fueling something, that’s already a negative emotion.
Whenever I get an achievement for simply finishing a level, I’m asking myself if the developer thinks that I’m too stupid to realize that on my own. And if I would give you such an achievement for reading this entry, what could you realistically do with it?

Aldous Snow was already one of the best and memorable characters in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, so it’s awesome news he’s actually gotten his own movie! The only thing that baffled me a bit, is that Jonah Hill is in both movies, but plays different characters. It really took me a few minutes before I realized he was supposed to be someone else. I’m not gonna try to elaborate anymore, because the beautiful thing about this movie is, that it’s more of an experience, that can’t be explained anyway. Isn’t that great? No matter what happens, I will most definitely see this film again.

I finally understood, why people, who aren’t affiliated with the music/other media industry in any way, demand the hardest, most idiotic and unconstitutional punishments for suspected sharers/downloaders of copyrighted content. For a very long time I wondered what could make them behave in such an (often) irrational fashion. Now, after long discussions with a bunch of fucking idiots (I’m glad I stayed in the debate until the very end, or I probably wouldn’t have picked up on it), it all became clear to me: envy. Yes, envy. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s the same thing that made health insurance a Mission Impossible™ in the United States. Other than true fans of something, who wouldn’t give a damn, they are afraid that someone else might get something for free, or that some of the money they spent, might be beneficial to others. It’s so obvious, I really should have seen that right away. Since it’s an emotional state, it also explains all the irrationality.