Archive for November, 2014

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Yup, it’s true. 2004/11/16 was the day. I still have every damn sound of this game in my head.

Poor Gamlen! I always thought Hawke and the mother were total douchebags, to stay in his house and whatnot when they needed to, but left him behind once they could move back into this freaking huge mansion. Of course they should have invited him to come along (especially after the event with the mother, he should have been asked) and if the game would have offered this option, I most certainly would have.
Sure, for some reason the game is trying to portray Gamlen as a total dick, but the fact of the matter is, that he made it possible for Hawke (and family) to earn a way into the city, he could have told them to fuck off just as well – he didn’t. Not to mention that he allowed all of them to stay in his house free of charge, although the mom/his sister never did anything to contribute and only constantly complained on top of it all. This always bothered me.

Today Origin received an update, that (I was quite astonished to learn that this wasn’t how it worked in the first place) added the ability to its verify/repair game option, to actually include all the DLC and not just work on the original/non-DLC game files.
To try it out and because my Mass Effect 3 installation is 2.5 years old at this point, I thought it might not hurt to test it before starting to play a few ME3MP matches (yes, I’m still playing this, don’t laugh). It indeed showed that it was including all the DLC packs in this process and happy with this, I finally started playing MP. Now, I have 2.5 years of experience with this game, I’m extremely familiar with almost every characteristic, so I noticed right away something was off when the game now started to sometimes freeze for a second during gameplay (lags due to a bad connection are different). Part of the reason why I still play this game, is this super-smooth flow that seemingly starts to happen after a while (supported by the fact that my PC always delivered 60+ FPS without the slightest twitch), even before charging from one point of the map to the next (I usually play one of the Vanguard characters).
Obviously unpredictable freezes every now and then completely take me out of the game. I repeated the verify, due to a lack of better ideas, but of course this didn’t change anything. “Hitting” something twice to restore the original state only works in movies. I only noticed that this new lag/freeze, that was introduced by using the “repair game” option today, also/even happens in the menu, outside of actual gameplay. Perfect.
My sole hope is now, that maybe Origin will receive yet another update that might improve… something, but sadly I don’t feel optimistic enough to hold my breath.

PS: Alt-Tab doesn’t work anymore when Mass Effect 3 is running…

PPS: I’ve found some other people who have this problem as well, even with other games such as Battlefield, so I’m suspecting maybe something like the overlay is responsible after all (sadly only EA knows for sure if they changed the overlay in this Origin version) and not the verify. The next time I play ME3, I’ll try it without the overlay and see if the problem persists.

//Update

Okay I just verified it. The cause of this is the Origin-overlay. They somehow fucked it up in this latest Origin client update. If the overlay / Origin in-game is disabled, the game works again completely normal. No problems whatsoever, like before. No freezes, alt-tab works again. That’s really shitty regardless, they could at least play a game with a client update before releasing it.

I have a lot of shadows here AND I'm in Mordor, what more do you want?!?

If someone is into Lord of the Rings at all or into action games like Batman Arkham Something, this is the right game to get. If someone is into both, this is REALLY the game to get. :P
Its basic gameplay mechanics are taken with minor tweaks from the Arkham games and put to work in an open world like the ones in the… Arkham games. :D But it’s not like this is already the third game of the exact same kind.
Players should be familiar with this MO by now though, some main story missions are offered, surrounded by several side activities and then minor secrets are hidden throughout the world. This might not read as very euphoric at first glance, but everyone who has ever played an Arkham title and really enjoyed its flawless combat system, knows only all too well how much fun this is. Nothing less happens here.
Some of the main story missions feature powerful LotR content like sneaking with Gollum through an ork camp, while he sings something he probably considers to be a total smash hit. It doesn’t get better than this and it’s this stuff that doesn’t make it feel as if the license was wasted here.
All this talk and I haven’t even covered the most revolutionary feature of this game, which, of course, is the Nemesis system. It actually does a lot of things very well. The army of Sauron consists out of captains (more powerful orks), and those themselves are commanded by 5 even more powerful war chiefs (who sometimes use normal captains as bodyguards). The Nemesis system creates all these captains randomly, meaning no game has the identical enemies. Their looks, names, strengths and weaknesses are always custom. As if this wasn’t already cool enough, it also makes these captains fight each other (these struggles can be influenced by the player but also take place if they are ignored) which makes them more powerful if they succeed. If a captain kills the player, this captain will be promoted and so on, shifting/changing the power struggles inside the army. On rare occasions one of the captains might survive a battle against Talion, although he seemed defeated. This hostile will then come back with scars and wounds of the battle, often swearing revenge. This concept resulted in the situation, that the most interesting and memorable foe I faced in the whole game, was such a random character who was entirely made up by this system and who I will never encounter again, even if I would replay Shadow of Mordor. Of course this system has some minor weaknesses too, often the so called motivations of the orks are ridiculous (seriously, they could have come up with better stuff here :D), but for the most part it’s very solid, it’s not some beta gamble, although this is the first game it was used in.
I expect this and similar systems to pop up in many games from now on. In fact I hope this is going to happen. Just imagine an XCOM game with the Nemesis system (although they would surely give it a different name then :D). In fact, Firaxis should start working on a DLC righting this wrong RIGHT NOW. DON’T LEAVE US HANGING!

Can you spot Wonkers?

In preparation for Dreamfall Chapters, I rewatched Dreamfall. That seemed like a good idea, given how long it had been. I could have replayed it myself, but… At least this way I got to skip all these tedious combat sequences, which were the sole bad thing about it. I didn’t replay/rewatch The Longest Journey (I wish that game would be remade like Monkey Island 2), because considering how April Ryan was sidelined and ultimately removed, its story seemed no longer relevant to what’s going on now in Chapters (except for the rubber ducky still being at large).
I must admit I was really impressed by this game. The graphics, the music… all a lot better than I expected it to be. The game creates a mood that really agrees with me and so far it looks like the combat encounters from Dreamfall are nothing but a bad memory. :D
That’s not necessarily something to hold against Chapters, but it sometimes seems like they played Telltale games like TWD a little bit too much, when the game starts stating info of the type “x will remember y”, but that’s still easy to forgive, I mean the Telltale stuff sells after all…
The story seems alright so far, it certainly offers a nice re-entry into the world of Dreamfall (they managed to keep the tone of the previous game surprisingly well and I liked a lot how it continues exactly where the story stopped) and I don’t think it’s possible to say a lot more about it, after only experiencing 1/5 of it.
I’m a little bit torn about “decisions” in games like this, because they too often either offer little difference and/or it’s not possible to make an informed decision on what to choose, given the way such options are usually presented. What I mean by that, is that often the already mentioned “x will remember y” message pops up at the top of the screen, when I didn’t even realize that my actions would be counted as a choice. An example for this is a scene, in which a character known to Zoe is threatened by some thugs and if the player walks towards them, he has made the choice to intervene. So the other option obviously would have been to not move at all, or even walk into another direction, but the problem is that in many other, typical scenarios in the game nothing happens when walking towards anyone, not unless the appropriate action button to talk to them is pressed. How is the player supposed to know, that in this single instance, just walking without doing anything else, is the choice? In my opinion it’s not possible for the player to know that, unless someone has already played the game before. That might branch the game somewhat, but it’s still not a consciously made choice.
There are more problems with the “choices” in the game, I remember a scene in which a normal dialog option prompted the ominous “he will remember that” message. I don’t want to sound too negative about it, it’s great that they are really trying to do something here, but considering how this gameplay mechanic is implemented or works sometimes, I often feel confused or even angry, when I selected something I never recognized as such a choice beforehand and I’m certainly detached from all of it, when I have to choose between options that I absolutely can’t make an informed decision about. In these instances, I only end up selecting SOMETHING simply to proceed… Sure, sometimes in life you have to make choices without being able to know their outcome, but I still can’t imagine this was always the intent in such a game.
So far the patch support has been great, they managed to roll out some significant improvements in only a short amount of time and I hope they can keep it up in the future, should this be necessary.
There are now only 2 more Kickstarter games I backed and haven’t gotten yet. I’m almost shocked how, so far, none of them have disappointed me/couldn’t fulfill their promise. I always hear these KS horror stories, but so far I’ve been completely spared.
I’m definitely going to replay Book One to benefit from the latest patches.