Archive for August, 2014

Diablo 2

So in an effort to keep these posts fairly regular, I’ve decided to write a little today about some stuff I’ve been playing recently. To avoid repeating myself, I’m gonna concentrate on Diablo 2 as that’s the only thing of note I’ve been playing in the last week or so. I haven’t had an awful lot of time on my hands recently in between job interviews, worrying about my future and visiting friends so video games have taken a bit of a back seat. Nevertheless I did manage to get some ARTS (Action Real Time Strategy; a nothing term and genre but the best way to describe these types of games without saying ‘Diablo-like’ or ‘like an RPG’) action with Diablo 2 although I’ve not played a huge amount of the game I wanted to write about it nonetheless.

Diablo 2

The second installment in the popular Blizzard franchises is often regarded, at least from what I’ve seen, as the strongest game in the series. I’ve got the impression from various forums and online communities that Diablo 3 was seen as a little weak in some departments and ultimately failed to live up to the hype it generated. It can’t have been helped by the catastrophic launch, insistence of ‘always online’ and the real money Auction House. Anyway, I’ve never actually played Diablo 3 due to PC limitations (I have a very poor laptop) so when I got a strange ARTS itch me and a friend bought Diablo 2 a few years ago. The results were, well, pretty great actually. To start, the game looks extremely dated despite being only 14 years old. However that doesn’t change what the game is. A fun ARTS with exactly what you would expect; lots of enemies, lots of clicking and lots of stat and gear comparison. The classes are all fairly varied, I haven’t manged to play a whole lot of the game but I’ve played Paladin, Barbarian and Sorceress whilst a friend I played co-op with went Necromancer so I have experienced most of the classes available. I must say, I had most fun probably with the Barbarian. Jumping about using my massive strength and vitality to hit things in the face was very rewarding. I usually go for caster types in RPGs so I tried the Sorceress initially but in my experience playing sorceress involves a lot of running backwards as most things will kill you very swiftly. I feel the Sorceress would benefit from increased ease of spell switching. Changing spells in combat is fiddly and can easily get you killed, making this easier would allow Sorceress to be more usable in my opinion. You could use ice to slow enemies before blasting them with fire, for example. Paladin is also pretty cool, kind of like the Barbarian but with more focus on abilities. He has a lot of auras as well, which is why I picked him to use with my friends Necromancer in co-op. Overall the classes have their unique aspects which make them individually attractive depending on your preferred playstyle.

I will say one thing, this game is pretty tough. Some enemies will completely murder you and even the smallest of enemies can be threatening in large numbers. In fact, me and my friend never got past Duriel (the Act II boss) on Normal difficulty in co-op. After some reading we discovered that Duriel is considered the hardest boss on Normal difficulty to his massive melee damage, freezing aura and cramped dwelling where the fight takes place. We were unprepared for the Duriel Pain Train and got totally wrecked again and again. After reading that the only way to progress would be to ‘grind some cold resistance gear’ we promptly lost motivation for the game. Not a great indicator but this is an older game and back in the day you learnt from your mistakes. We’ll get back to it one day probably, we shall defeat Duriel yet. Meanwhile I have been playing a little more recently on my own, and it’s going pretty well so far. Maybe I’ll finally beat that goon this time round, I’ve been watching out for cold resist gear specially.

Of course Diablo 2 is not without its faults. Like I have already said, the graphics are very dated although this isn’t a huge issue. Enemy models are consistently reused within Acts with a simple palette swap and more HP being used in place of enemy variety, which is a little problem. Duriel presents the need for some balance tweaks as he is probably a little hard to have so early in the game. Other than this though, there are no glaring faults with the game. Diablo 2 is a game that rewards a great amount of time being put into it. Being more leveled will make the game a little smoother and completing quests with the bare minimum of enemy killing will lead to slow progression through the large ability trees. There are a lot of abilities available and choosing where to spend your points can be a tricky decision and you want to accrue as many levels as possible to fully explore the ability trees to their fullest potential. I probably haven’t put the required amount of time into Diablo 2 yet to reap it’s fullest rewards but I sure am enjoying the journey so far.

In short, I would recommend Diablo 2. It’s a bit of a classic these days and it’s always nice to play a game considered a classic for the first time and see what you think of it. Diablo 2 lives up the hype for me, it’s a solid ARTS from Blizzard with the opportunity to sink hours and hours of your life into it. Be warned, Diablo 2 could consume you.

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The Start of Something New?

My poor blog, woe is it that its creator should be so consistently useless. I’m in slightly strange place right now, currently stuck unemployed with no future at my parents’ house and really struggling to make any headway in any direction; be it the job market or any kind of creative or leisurely outlet. Anyway, I will be once again trying to get my blog back on some sort of track, I was thinking maybe weekly or biweekly posts but I haven’t decided yet. It will probably depend on whether I’ve been playing anything interesting lately. Maybe I’ll write about some stuff from my fitfully dull everyday life so that no one can read that either. Well now that I’ve mustered the motivation to write something I may as well continue. Please enjoy the round-up below. Feel free to leave any feedback, it would probably make me want to write on a more regular basis if you did.

Awesomenauts

I mentioned this neat little 2D MOBA in my last post and I would like to precede any discussion on the game with a hearty recommendation. I’m not entirely sure of the price tag but I am pretty sure I picked it up for cheap in a Steam Sale and have certainly got a lot of enjoyment out of it. The game has not been forgotten by it’s developers and receives regular balance tweaks and updates to keep things fresh. There is also DLC, which I have not yet bought, which introduces some new characters. DLC also comes in the form of skins for characters, which are thankfully purely cosmetic.

A character with invisibility in a game with no way of detecting him? Balance concerns? What are you talking about?

Awesomenauts is a game I don’t take too seriously and that is possibly why I enjoy it so much. For my competitive games I already have Super Smash Bros. Melee (I play in tournaments) and Dota 2 (which I watch a lot but struggle to play due to my woeful laptop) so Awesomenauts does not need to be competitive for me to enjoy it. I know there have been tournaments for it but I have remained blissfully unaware of any results or meta-game so have been able to enjoy the game in a casual capacity. Awesomenauts combines platforming with great 3v3 2D action. You can upgrade your abilities with ‘solar’ (gold) which is earnt through killing enemy droids ‘creeps’, ‘turrets’ (towers) and of course the enemy. This game is League of Legends streamlined even further. It’s short, minimalist MOBA fun and there is certainly opportunity to do some fancy stuff with some ‘Nauts allowing for a higher skill ceiling than you might expect.

It’s not all good though, lack of dedicated servers can make for some unfortunately laggy games and I have heard complaints that the new DLC ‘Nauts are a little OP. This could change with a patch though so no need for that to dissuade you from a purchase. Overrall very fun, especially with friends. Good for short, multiplayer bursts of fun. Can be frustrating in the same way all team based games can be. Worth a purchase

Depression Quest

This is an odd one. Not so much a game as a particularly, well, depressing ‘Choose your own adventure’ sort of thing. The game was originally meant to follow a shareware model but is now available on Steam for free in a tribute to the incredibly tragic loss of acting and comedy legend Robin Williams through apparent suicide. Williams had previously struggled with alcohol and drug problems as well as depression. The experience is certainly a little harrowing and indeed may be a little too painful for anyone having recently experienced or currently trapped in the throes of depression. A Warning: Don’t play this if you’re feeling low, it can’t do you any good.

In short, the game puts you into the shoes of a depressed man. You make his decisions for him, if you make ones that lead him further down the path of mental illness your choices become fewer and fewer. Make too many wrong choices and you will have ruined the protagonists life. An uncomfortable experience due to its hard hitting emotional qualities and this could be considered a teaching tool for those looking to learn more about the illness. The writing does a good job involving you with your protagonist and does well to effectively convey the completely crushing feeling of depression. Overally this is hard for me to form an opinion on as it’s hardly a game, it’s an interactive story. If you’re looking for an emotional experience and are interested/have a connection to depression that you want to explore this may be for you. It’s free anyway, so give it a go anyway. Maybe you’ll take something important away from the experience.

Summary

I think that’s it for now, any other game I want to talk about I could probably write a full piece on and I don’t want this already lengthy text post to drag on any longer than it needs to. Well there you go, hopefully I can keep this up for a little longer this time around. I will endeavour to keep this regular as it’s really the only thing approaching a creative outlet I have at the moment and it’s probably important I do something other than my full time activity; nothing. I am still writing for Gamer Headlines so feel free to check out my articles there, it’s mostly news stuff but if that interests you give it a look.

Thank you to anyone reading this/following this blog. I’m sure no one actively follows me since I can barely regularly update it but if anyone has taken the time to read this posts then I am very grateful. Hopefully I can keep this up.