Archive for September, 2012

Comic of the Day: “Rockman, As in Men Made of Rock” or “Boarding Party Fiasco!”

September 30, 2012 Leave a comment

I started Faster Than Light last night, just to see what all the fuss was about. Four hours later, knowing I really needed to get to bed, I still wanted more… Blow-by-blow coming soon! This comic from Virtual Shackles, completely nails nails the inherent bias towards Rockmen being natural fighters!

Categories: Comic, FTL

“Reviews Galore” or “This is Turning Into a Second Job”

September 29, 2012 Leave a comment

In this month, which is about to end, I have already reviewed Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Tiny Troopers and Torchlight 2 for Hooked Gamers. In October, I will also have reviews for Faster Than Light, ARMA II: Army of the Czech Republic, Realms of Ancient War and Of Orcs and Men.

One would think getting free review copies would be awesome, but once you settle into the routine of reviewing pretty much a game a week in a 1500-2000 word feature, you realize that it is an incredibly difficult, and often thankless job! Better get to it then!

Categories: Bronte

“10 Reasons to Buy Torchlight 2” or “What is this ‘Diablo’ You Speak of?”

September 28, 2012 3 comments

1. Four classes, 120 skills

But don’t be fooled by this. Each class had 30 skills, spread across 3 different trees. Each skill takes 15 points to max out. So even within a single class, you can have several builds that play radically different from one another. Now, multiply this by four classes. That is a lot of replay!

2. New Game+

New Game+ is not just your standard repetition of content, upgraded to match your level. You can also buy dungeon maps for gold, complete with their own set of variables, to mix things up. With a shared stash, you can keep exploring content to better equip your alts. Did I mention there are 44 dungeons to choose from?

3. Amazing graphics and sound

No review that I have seen so far, claims that the cartoony style of graphics detracts from the experience. That is because the graphics are amazing, sculpted with care and attention, and enhanced by Matt Uelmen’s riveting soundtrack.

4. Fishing and your Pet

Your pet fights by your side at all times. You don’t have to direct it, beyond setting its demeanor (aggressive, defensive, or passive). It is pretty smart about what to attack, and packs quite a punch. It automatically retreats when hurt, and does not die on you. The fish you catch can radically transform your pet into a wide variety of beasts, monsters and other colorful characters to expand your combat effectiveness. Depending on how much time you invest, you can catch fish that transforms your pet for short lengths of time, or permanently.

5. Surprises in every boss fight

Boss fights are crazy, intense affairs, and I have found myself being consistently surprised by their various abilities, fight mechanics and environmental hazards that stand in my way. Boss fights will make you think on the fly, making critical decisions in a split-second, and leave you breathless by the end of it. I guarantee, you will let out a “whew” at the end of quite a few of them.

6. Ton of loot

There is no way to express this in words. There is a nonsensical amount of loot. The deluge starts from your first swing, and never ends. You are literally showered with items, and you are constantly upgrading. It is akin to the proverbial carrot on a stick, but man I have never had so much fun chasing the carrot.

7. Enhancements: Charge Bar, Transmutor, Enchanter

There are several other elements that help enhance your game. A charge bar, uh, charges up when you are in combat, enhancing your statistics. It depletes when you are not in combat, subtly forcing you to constantly smack monsters around. A transmutor helps you craft new equipment from old items. The enchanter imbues your equipment with additional magical properties. A respec NPC restores your last three skill points. You have a personal stash. You have a shared stash for all of your characters. The list goes on and on.

8. Crunchy Combat

Combat is amazing. It is meaty and crunchy. Every blow, every shot, ever strike connects with a satisfying visual reaction and accompanying audio. You feel powerful, able to dish out devastating waves of destruction, obliterating everything in your path. Well almost everything. You will die, but that will help you learn. 🙂

9. Time spend on Not Wasting Yours

This a phrase from a review that I have been unable to find since, but its rings true. Torchlight 2 does not waste your time. The areas are huge, so you barely need to see the loading screen to begin with. When needed, loading times are practically non-existent. The character selection process is quick, intuitive and gets you in the game in 3 clicks. When you start a new character, you can get into combat, literally, within the first 10 seconds. In end game you can buy maps to get to dungeons instantly. This is a game that spends a lot of time ensuring it is not wasting yours.

10. It’s $20.

You really need an explanation for this? Go buy it!

Categories: Bronte, Torchlight 2

“Is WoW the WoW-killer?” or “Goliath’s Fall”

September 27, 2012 5 comments

In November, World of Warcraft will celebrate its 8th anniversary. It would have been eight years since we walked, awestruck, through the frozen tundra of Dun Morogh, and the bleak terrain of the Barrens. Spawning endless memes, giving birth to a new revolution in the MMO industry, defining and redefining what an MMO could be, WoW continued to climb in both popularity and subscription numbers for nearly seven years.

Shortly after the release of Cataclysm however, there was a decline. Wired magazine’s Game|Life has a very strong argument for why World of Warcraft has lost its cool, and how evidence suggests that the Goliath in the MMO world may be the cause for its own undoing. Many reasons are cited, from aging technology and a subscription model that audiences no longer connect with in a post-F2P world, to a decline in the mental maturity of the general player base.

It is worth a read, take a look.

Personally I think they need to innovate beyond better looking dungeons, world events and pet battles. The new expansion has a lot of cool features, but it seems to me these features were implemented begrudgingly, only after other MMOs beat them to the chase. For example, in WoW, pre-MoP, you would need to loot everything manually, which was a major time-sink for players of the farming persuasion. SW:TOR came out with AoE looting, and weeks later it was announced as a feature for MoP. Lame.

I think WoW needs to make a big, bold change, and soon. Or Goliath won’t need a David to fall.

“My Torchlight 2 Review” or “A Maor Reason for my Carpal Tunnel”

September 27, 2012 6 comments

My review for Torchlight 2 is up over at HookedGamers. Like anyone needs a reason still not to play.

Categories: Torchlight 2

“Are PC Games All About the Terrain?” or “The Story Spectrum”

September 26, 2012 1 comment

Jim Rossignol, one of the the stupidly intelligent (can that be a term?) folks over at RPS has an interesting argument, that PC games are “all about the terrain”. Well OK, it is less of an argument, and more of a thought, further fueled by the veritable Twitterati. However, I have played two games on the opposite end of a spectrum that I much care(d) about, which make me think that the best terrain alone does not a game make, and lack of other critical features can make it not worth your while.

Recently I played the first three episodes in season 1 of The Walking Dead. Stellar story, incredibly tense world, terrifying sense of dread. Now that I think back to the game in the context of this little piece, I realize that I remember little of the terrain, or if it had any major effect on me. I am sure it enhanced whichever situation it served as a backdrop for, but at the end of the day, story is what drove The Walking Dead, and I love the title for this reason.

On the other end of the spectrum is the excellent Torchlight 2, with a story so convoluted and under-developed, I literally stopped reading quest text by the second quest. The game won me over with incredible gameplay, deeply satisfying combat. Once again, when I look back at it, I have a vague recollection of the terrain, but that pales in comparison to the frantic button-mashing that took up 99% of my time.

What do you think? Do you think good use of terrain, or well-designed terrain can actually make a shoddy game passable, or it is just a background element for you?

“DayZ of our LiveZ” or “Seriously, Are People Still Playing?”

September 18, 2012 2 comments

The DayZ craze for me wore off almost as quickly as it engulfed me. There was a point when I played DayZ for 16 hours straight. At the end of those 16 hours, I had a character with damn near nothing, having recently spawned on the coast. Even then I couldn’t get enough.

I have not played DayZ in several weeks, and I haven’t thought much about it either. The reason is fairly simple. With the announcement of the standalone, and the obvious diverting of resources, including the mind of Dean Hall, into its development, DayZ has sort of died. There used to be patches in quick succession, tweaking with weapon ranges and accuracy, fiddling with items, adding new content, experimenting with new ideas. That core philosophy seems to have taken a back seat, as the team behind the mod is working hard to create alpha build of the standalone.

I suppose subconsciously I made the decision that I will just play the standalone version when it is out, instead of suffering through an alpha that the developers have little to no reason to invest in any longer. Are you still playing DayZ? How is Chenarus faring?

Categories: Arma II, DayZ, ZOMG Zombies!

“Annihilatin’ Planets” or “Kickstartin'”

September 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Kickstarter is amazing. Not only is the movement allowing those with limited resources to pursue their ideas and explore their creativity, it is also giving us new games. In fact the first one is already out, and another just shot past the $2 million mark when all it needed was $990,000 in funding. You should be excited about both, and I will tell you why.

Read more…

Thought of the Day: “Post Apocalyptic Readiness” or “Where Would You Hide?”

September 12, 2012 8 comments

Part of the reason I love post-apocalyptic fiction is because I find it fascinating to get the various takes on how civilization would go on if there was nuclear war, a zombie plague, a natural plague, or a synthetic virus that threatened to wipe out earth’s population. I don’t think I have ever seen a post-apocalyptic event play out where the protagonist was completely prepared for the end of the world. Mostly they are just shocked and trying to survive, or they wake up in a world gone to hell (28 Days Later, The Walking Dead comic).

So here is a thought, if such a catastrophic event were to take place today, what would you do? Where would you go? Who would you save? How would you survive?


Categories: Bronte

“Why Achievements Ruin Gameplay” or “Predicting The Walking Dead”

September 11, 2012 4 comments

I just got done with the third episode of in the phenomenal first season of The Walking Dead from Telltale Games. I bought the title during a Steam sale, and I have been very pleasantly surprised and thoroughly satisfied with my purchase.

When I first started playing, there were a 24 achievements to be, uh, achieved. I have two problems with this. The first with the way the achievements have been “designed” and the second with the way developers have laid these out in Steam.

Read more…

Categories: The Walking Dead

“The Walking Dead: Episode 2” or “One of the Coolest Moments I Have Experienced”

September 7, 2012 1 comment

You know you had a great gaming moment when you, sit there, mouth open, and just whisper “Awesome!” to nobody in particular. Lee was at the farm, mending fences (literally and figuratively), along with Mark. At one point they have to step out of the fence to try and lift the posts back into place because one zombie knocked it down as it fried.

Three things happen in quick succession.

  1. The electricity is turned on, and the fence goes live. Lee and Mark are trapped outside.
  2. Mark is nailed in the shoulder with an arrow. Assailants in the forest start raining arrows down on both Lee and Mark.
  3. Lee and Mark hide behind a tractor and push it as moving cover to get to an opening in the fence. The torso of a zombie that Lee has just torn in half chases them.

It is tense, it is heart-thumping and it is terrifying. It was also one of the best moments I have had recent gaming history. Well done Telltale Games!

Categories: The Walking Dead