Archive for June, 2011

Now that World of Warcraft is something like F2P, I thought why not, give it a try. So I grabbed the ~30 MB installer exe (WoW-4.0.0-WOW-enGB-Installer.exe) and let it start installing the client. The initial program is almost immediately replaced by this bigger launcher client, which seems to do the rest, until the game becomes playable. My PC (or its CPU) runs idle for the most part (I like that), so I was surprised that the fan suddenly became audible. A quick look in the task manager revealed, that the Blizzard launcher was utilizing almost an entire core – as if I was encoding a video or doing some other stressful task. Since similar clients like µtorrent rarely use up over 2% of a core (at least not constantly), I was quite annoyed. Restarting or minimizing didn’t do anything. But the guilty part was easy to find nonetheless. The “Midsummer Fire Festival” part of the window was a flash video… One, that was running in an infinite loop. Yay! Good job Blizz! Since there was no option to disable the video in any other way and downloading 10,4 GB with this heightened energy consumption was out of the question, I took the easiest action available: uninstalling the install_flash_player_ax.exe. I know right, what program still uses the Internet Explorer to render its content?!? I’ve seen nothing of the kind, since Steam switched to Webkit. After that little tweak the CPU utilization was down to 1-5% (still much for a simple downloader, but bearable)… Good thing the Blizzard software won’t/can’t find the flash version for Firefox. :)

PS: BackgroundDownloader.exe does the exact same thing without the bloat.

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Dungeon Siege III is a mix of dungeon crawling/hack’n’slay with story, like Mass Effect is a mix of 3D shooter-action with RPG elements. Approximately. While I lost interest in a pure hack’n’slay like Torchlight pretty soon (although it wasn’t bad at all) the Dungeon Siege III campaign kept me interested from start to finish. No wonder, considering Obsidian is behind it. They really have that part down like few others. Whoever gets all giddy by just hearing names such as Feargus Urquhart and Chris Avellone, will be in their element here. Not only is the story above average, the game even offers decisions throughout the campaign, which results into a proper epilogue based on those, something usually only seen in RPG blockbusters like Baldur’s Gate or Fallout. Even Dragon Age II didn’t offer this!
The graphics were very noteworthy as well. It was all very appealing. I especially remember the lighting those green torches spread in some dungeons.
My sole beef with the game was, that it never showed the player character in conversations, but that was my main motivation for selecting this super hot Lescanzi witch as my playable character, so I would be confronted with her image all the time. What a bummer! Everything was fully voiced and then there is only this fixed camera position, that always shows the same spot during the entire conversation. Now that I come to think of it, the camera could have been more flexible during normal gameplay too. There were only 2 levels of zoom. Could have been steplessly adjustable. No biggy though. To end this on a positive note, I can’t say I encountered any bugs while finishing the campaign, something Obsidian often isn’t that brilliant in (someone else told me there was a bug with connecting a gamepad, I played using mouse+keyboard). The ending strongly suggests some sort of a sequel, so maybe they have more in store for us gamers (or at least they wanted to keep that door open).

Actual reviews also mention stuff like co-op and so on. :P

The real scandal about DNF isn’t the graphics (more about that later) or autoheal, no – it’s the fact, that there are only 2 scenes with (partially) nude women in the game! What the hell Duke?!? How could you let us down like that!
All the talk about the game’s graphics just shows what spoiled bitches some gamers are nowadays™. At the game’s beginning I thought they were plain mad, because the first scene in the bathroom portrays a really nice looking game, that doesn’t cover new ground, but is on par with most other current titles. It’s when the game progresses, that I realized, that the graphics are determined by the age of the levels. Meaning: The levels done/finished last, look the best and later on there are enough textures that aren’t that detailed anymore. But who cares, right?
What really WAS some sort of letdown in DNF, was the fact (yeah everyone already heard it), that Duke can carry only 2 weapons at once. Of course the person responsible needs to be beaten until he/she autoheals… And there is the issue with the missing mighty boot – that’s especially weird, since there is an alternative melee attack. Who puts in a weapon melee attack, but removes the mighty boot? Does that make sense to you? It’s like they don’t know the Duke at all (no jetpack either). Thus it appears to be a consolation, that Duke still auto-smashes enemies with his boot, who were shrunk. Yes, the shrink gun is back and so is the freezer. The freezer I never really used, actually I succeeded only once, in turning a pig into an icecube. That means the freezer really isn’t a practical weapon at all, since more often than not, many enemies have to be dispatched fast. Given the circumstances, that only 2 weapons can be carried and that EDF (Earth Defense Force) ammo crates reload all weapons, I ignored most weapons (after trying them out once). Let’s face it, some of them don’t seem very well balanced (same goes for some attacks that can damage the Duke). The ripper (they renamed the chain gun, no idea why), the pistol and the shotgun were the most useful, IMHO. Some boss fights required the rocket launcher, but every time it truly became necessary, it was lying around somewhere in the vicinity, so it was superfluous to carry it around, just in case a boss would appear.
I guess now I can deal with the last negative part, that I feel needs to be addressed, which would be the duration of the game. The last level is actually named “final bossfight” or something, that spoils without ambiguity, that this is it. I was “shocked” and hoped for it to be just a joke. I played like 5-6 hours (as always, I forgot to measure), which is way too short IMHO. And I’m usually one of those guys, who played a game 7-8 hours, when “everyone else” says it took them 5 hours. I don’t rush (not deliberately, at least). I’m good with playing games over several sessions until I eventually finish them. Especially when the game is good, that’s what I hope for, actually. [Update: Many people tell how they played 10 hours, I guess the reason for this is how “easy” the levels are designed, so that I could always run straight to the exit, without further ado.]
The rest of the game is okay or good enough – at least it’s more or less what I expected. Noteworthy is, that the environment is quite interactive again, leading up to actual mini-games like flipper. Exploring is further rewarded, by sometimes giving permanent ego/health boosts.
There are several ideas in it, that I never saw realized in a game before; there’s this scene in which the Duke was shrunk and the player has to fight through a kitchen (and even jump over hamburgers, so he won’t be burned by the oven), the ground level is flooded and… the electricity is on. A woman is trapped in the middle of the room on a crate and she has to be saved on top of it all. Many objects can be destroyed (as I would expect of a Duke game) and the kitchen shelfs are full with items such a place would have. When this stuff breaks during firefights, the vision can get blurred not by blood, but this time by ketchup and/or mustard. :) DNF thankfully doesn’t have an arrow pointing in which direction the player has to go (after autoheal/2 guns etc. I would have expected everything) and the level design is well enough to guide the player, even though it isn’t always obvious at the first glance (still, some interactive objects glow). That’s how such games should be, although it’s possible to argue about the right balance forever. I judged DNF while keeping in mind many shooters of the last 2-3 years, that are barely more than just a straight corridor, where it’s impossible to go astray. It didn’t seem fair to me, to overly criticize a lack of a bigger, explorable game world, when this has become the standard (this standard is what I would deem negative first). I got stuck only once in the game, when Duke has to jump through a hole in the wall (after being shrunk), once the electricity was turned off. But even that piece was well hinted at, because there were sparks at the exit, I just didn’t get it.
The game plays equally smooth in other regards, the sole thing I encountered, that could be categorized as glitch/bug, was when I managed to get stuck with my truck™ (yes, the game has several vehicle sections). Normally, the truck can be flipped when it lands on its back, but that didn’t work and I still couldn’t drive in any direction. The checkpoints (no classic save/load system) however, are so numerous and after short time intervals, that I only had to replay 30 seconds to progress the game beyond that point.
So that’s it for DNF then

Actually I didn’t laugh a lot (or maybe not at all?). The Duke (Nukem 3D) formula, for me, was always lots of action and the hero would make a few remarks every now and then. That concept wasn’t really transported over to DNF in the same way. I may have fully realized this just now, but it was really primarily the action (and interactivity of the game world) that drew me to DN3D. DNF looks at this a little different, demonstrated by starting the game with a really long part, before Duke even gets his first weapon. 3D dropped the Duke on top of a building with an explosion and the first thing players see is him loading his gun. What worked more for me than all the supposed humor (at times I felt a little alienated; e.g. the part with the Holsom twins “exploding” was just cruel – and yeah, I get it, you can’t properly discuss “fun”, you either have it or not), were the many references to other franchises. So for any sequel, I would like to see a shift back to a focus on the action with the catchphrases only tagging along, as they should.

Oh and to people, who said 12 years (since the prequel/development of DNF) is official/canon instead of 14, because they said so in the game itself: Did it ever occur to you, that they didn’t record the audio just now? Great Scott!

PS: One of the premises of the game is, that Duke Nukem almost goes on this quest to save “our chicks”. But that’s not what happens in the game. Not only does he save, at best, two women in total (one in the elevator and the other one in the kitchen and he merely does so by accident, because he’s in the elevator/kitchen himself/he would do nothing different if they weren’t there), he quite obviously doesn’t give a shit, when they die. When the Holsom twins are killed off, he isn’t even angry about this (and he knew those two “quite well”). So it’s very different from Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project, where he doesn’t just save babes in every level, they are also with him in the end, so it’s clear they survived.

PPS: If I’d known, that trashing the game would give me more publicity, I would have tried harder. :P

Smartphones, tablet “pcs”, various handhelds/mobile devices (and so on) appear more and more to be the introduction of some smarter/subtler form of DRM. Because of their smaller storage spaces, users are much more likely tempted to purchase all kinds of contents, than just access it from a small/non-existent disk for free. How convenient, that such devices usually come bundled with some form of shop, run by the platform vendor. People who have access to vast amounts of local data and can simply reuse files from an archive, can operate more independent. Yay cloud-computing!

PS: Has someone already calculated, how much cheaper it is, to buy hard disks, than to continually pay various subscription fees?

Unofficial English Patch 7.5 by Wesp5 (171 MB) / Changes / Planet-Vampire

  • +Set cameras stack limit to five and fixed bad stack limit variables.
  • +Made Heather meet you out from Venture Tower and fixed Gargoyle XP.
  • +Corrected restored content appearing in Giovanni Mansion and temple.
  • Moved unreachable NPCs at Hallowbrook hotel and fixed door opening.
  • Fixed Regent’s lip-sync, warehouse pallet and railing clipping bugs.
  • Stopped VV sending emails if pissed and fixed some minor text bugs.
  • Fixed wrong weapon stats shown using new client.dll, thanks to int9.
  • Made Red Dragon hostess stay and repeat her elevator conversations.
  • Restored original poster order and clerk sexual bias to basic patch.
  • Fixed claw brother being susceptible to one-hit-kill by Possession.