Archive for October, 2011

At first glance Driver might look like GTA without the option to leave the car, but that would be selling it short. It’s more than that and most important: it’s worth playing. The main character is a cop with the ability to “shift” into the body of any other driver in the city (yeah, similar to Quantum Leap) and thus control the respective car. This gameplay mechanic is used really well throughout all the various mission types and even the story. Besides featuring a DeLorean, the major highlight for me was, that they made the effort to record countless conversations, that occur once the player shifts into a car. It’s often funny, unexpected but almost always very entertaining. Same goes for several missions, one of the first in the game contains driving so reckless, that the driving instructor in the car offers cheaper lessons. :D Sometimes little side-stories even span through several of the chapters of the game’s story. One of the best arcs features two brothers, who wanted to go to college, by winning enough money in illegal street racing. :D It’s now up to the player to win the actual races. Although the dude promises it’s the last race, they show up again and again. :D Such bits were a lot more fun than the main story, which was more or less the usual “bad guy”-situation. :P
The game design is of the kind, that will (in the end) “test” everything the player has learned over the course of the whole game. That’s very satisfying and more than (especially) most action titles will deliver.
So for everyone who is into some (arcade style) racing and also prefers some nice gameplay twists, Driver might be just the thing.

Bastion

Bastion is an action role-playing game with stunning graphics, amazing artwork and an absolutely noteworthy, beautiful soundtrack. The player controls an unnamed hero, who can be armed with an array of different weapons, skills, passive enhancements (think of the tonics in BioShock) and could be influenced by idols in a shrine. Of course it’s up to the player, to select/mix weapons loadout and other equipment. The obvious mission is to gather certain items, which can be found throughout the game world/at the end of most levels. This principle is complemented by proving grounds for each weapon, which test the player’s skill with each and every one of them and a few extra tough challenges inside the Bastion (basically the base of operations).
The game doesn’t overexpose the player to certain effects, but uses those it has very effective. For example the whole game is basically narrated by just one character, but the slightly creepy voice overs always seem to know how to keep it interesting. There’s always a little suspense and the commentary is even triggered by the player’s actions.
The impressive environments were very diverse and the game had lots of different enemy types – some of them even required different tactics to beat them. :P In the end there are even some minor choices, on how to resolve the story, but I haven’t tried all of them. I might if I replay it in “game plus” where it’s possible to have all weapons and former experience right away.
Bastion makes me think of Infinity Engine games and is a good example of how brilliant such isometric games could look today, if done with current technology.
All in all I’d say that Bastion is quite unique and will definitely be something that sticks in my mind. Everyone who’s into “smaller” games besides the well advertised, so called AAA titles, should consider checking this out.

Unofficial English Patch 7.8 by Wesp5 (214 MB) / Changes

  • +Added Masquerade violation on public sweeper kill, thanks to Malkav.
  • +Made artificial claws do only lethal damage according to WoD rules.
  • +Restored hidden sequence about Obfuscated Sabbat in SM but moved it.
  • Added original particles to basic so it will revert them from plus.
  • Toned new music on the pier down and improved Obfuscate description.
  • Repaired Victor loop and added glass breaking sounds to beachhouse.
  • Decreased skybox reflections in SM and the ENB mod, thanks to Felix.
  • Re-fixed theatre camera bug and corrected several minor map issues.
  • Fixed schrecknet commands being available after hubs were activated.
  • Added diagonal third person view camera commands to keydef options.
  • Removed Jack from haven during taxi ride and repaired Phil/Bill fix.
  • Made it possible to continue E’s quest after visiting Vandal often.
  • Added bus stop and sewer map landmarks and fixed a lamp texture bug.

Update: Since many people seem to be looking for this, I’ll post a link to the tile puzzle in the vault right on top: Picture Flip Puzzle Solution

Mark of the Assassin is a consequent follow up of Legacy, in that it doesn’t have mere copied maps anymore (like in Legacy, every area is new), there are some minor (that’s not meant to be a negative connotation) puzzles (and solving them usually pays off besides having the satisfaction for not failing them), it’s possible to find some noteworthy loot, the boss fights deserve that classification, all areas contain some minor quests besides the main, making exploring interesting and all is bound together by a storyline well enough, so that it feels like a real adventure. Again, it’s more or less what people already wanted to play in Dragon Age II. In that regard, the last 2 DLCs have an almost redeeming character. Of course it won’t change the mind of people anymore, who are dedicated to hate this game just for the fun of it and won’t ever forgive. For everyone else, this is probably a lot like the game everyone hoped DAII would be before its release. If this DLC was done by the same people who worked on the original campaign, most issues were the fault of the management for sure. At least BioWare still demonstrates the ability to listen and to improve.
Besides that, BioWare must have played The Witcher 2, there’s now a very similar stealth part in MotA (which I liked) and for a change, Hawke has to fight Wyverns (typical creatures in the Witcher verse) instead of Dragons.
After clicking on the proper Memento in Hawke’s house (isn’t it weird that they now put in such a memento for every DLC, when they set up the desk for this purpose and it even constantly has this – now completely useless – quest marker hovering above it?), the adventure kicks off by running into Tallis, an apparently nice rogue elf, who offers a quest to Hawke (and later rogishly steals Hawke’s nose :P). Without going into the question a lot, why Hawke and his/her party of merry adventurers should go along (why else get the DLC – DUH!), they embark on the mission.
MotA covers a lot of ground and is roughly the size of all environments outside of Kirkwall, this is really awesome, considering what players are used to concerning DLCs.
After Hawke reaches the chateau of Prosper de Montfort, it’s necessary to win a wyvern-hunt (that will wait for Hawke to win it, so there’s no pressure – I like to play it extra slow when someone is acting like there’s an actual time limit :P Remember Kirk flying needlessly around the Enterprise for 15 Minutes, while Earth is about to be destroyed?), because the winner will be invited to a party inside the chateau. The actual gathering then delivers all kinds of encounters with characters from all stages of DAII and even some from Origins. I was quite shocked myself, how well I’m versed by now in Dragon Age lore (which, btw, is one of the absolute strong points of these games – and I’m talking amount of detail and reuse throughout all quests, not necessarily just the creativity). But since I’m quite good with the names and all the various occurrences (still shocked), it had some flair of such a celebration. The lore, now that it was mentioned, is not just used very well, but also continually expanded upon and I’m happy that all this stuff is included, because I actually read almost all of it (yes!).
But the lore isn’t the only thing that was given a noticeable amount of detail (just look at the work they put into this minor bad guy, the party will fight). They put in quests for all companions (I know, right?!?), so Isabela would encounter some pirates and Aveline would find out something about her family (which was, what a coincidence :P, from Orlais). I’m repeating: They never put in this much effort in the main game. It’s all fully voiced – which is expected, but under this circumstances a little bit impressive. The banter too, between all (or at least most of) the characters, is back. I was glad I selected Isabela and Aveline, because these two “banter” all the time. :D It’s these details that motivate me and trigger lots of fun. It doesn’t feel like soulless crap this way. :P Because I’m someone who doesn’t care about achievements and the like. In doubt, I’m always looking for the former.
The final fight was more to my liking than the one in Legacy, because the player wouldn’t loose it, just for being too lazy to position the party members perfectly between all these obstacles. No such obstacles this time, the boss could make the party run around on the battlefield without these tricks.
The sole thing that I can remember, that sparked a little bit of hate inside me for a tiny moment, while playing this, was the puzzle with the painting (yeah). I thought I would discover this huge secret and whatnot, but all it did was revealing which tiles to flip in the main hall, to get to the chest with the new armor (that’s even more powerful than the stuff of the silent one from Legacy – but looks a lot uglier :P). It felt like it was a lot easier to guess the proper tiles in the main hall to shut down the fires, than solving the painting. :D In fact that’s what I did. So when I went down to still do this puzzle, so I would have solved them all, imagine my anger when all it did, was to show the solution to another puzzle I already passed… Oh and there was this other thing with the pressure plates, that would open gates to reach the vault. This room features two chests flanking the door. They both had quest items lying on them and I managed to stand in front of one them and it wasn’t possible to pick up the quest item (this would always happen with the second chest, whichever is approached first, would work right away). I was immediately convinced it was a bug, but after playing with it a bit, I noticed that it became possible again to pick it up, when the gate behind the chest was open… I don’t see the logic in that, so it still might be a bug…
Overall I have to say, I liked Mark of the Assassin so much, that I’d welcome a full expansion to DAII. They teased the pirate ship and crew for Isabela (in DAII she can get her own ship and in MotA she can get her first crew members :D) so much, that it would totally rock, if they’d come through and put Dragon Age onto the high seas. :P I equipped and skilled all my characters with so much care by now, that it would be sad, to not have another huge adventure with them.