Archive for the ‘ Weekly Round-Up ’ Category

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.

The 9th Console War

Now that both the Xbone and the Playstation 4 are out, I thought I’d weigh in with my uneducated and ill-informed opinion. After all, what’s another one in a sea of thousands and thousands?

To begin with, I hear that when it comes to processing power,  the two are pretty much even. This isn’t like the last great war where the PS3 came out ages after the 360 and therefore was much more powerful. They’re pretty much the same in terms of processing, I hear the PS4 edges by a bit but really, it doesn’t matter too much. I hear that both are ahead of the Wii U but Nintendo have been behind in the graphics department for years, at least it’s in HD this time. So if power isn’t a reason to buy each console, what is? I’m gonna take this opportunity to throw in my two cents here. Graphics never really govern choice for me, look at all those fantastic games that can still be played today despite looking like shit. I’m currently playing through God Hand, a game where you can see through walls if you get close enough to them and I’m loving it. Why? BECAUSE OF THE GAMEPLAY. The most important part of the game.

I guess another issue with new consoles is whether they actually function. After the whole RROD thing a consumer has a right to be suspicious of new, clearly rushed out hardware. I’ve heard the PS4 is perfectly capable of bricking itself and that it doesn’t stand steady and wobbles if provoked. However, the Xboner has dodgy voice recognition and of course, the horrific Kinect watching you when you sleep. You may also be banned from Xbox Live if you swear in a grotesque example of putting things in the terms and services when you know people don’t read it. A service, which you are paying for, can be taken away from you if you swear in your own living room. Thanks Microshit. The Playstation service thing, whatever it’s called (which you now have to pay for by the way) apparently has lots of advertisements. If it was free, I could understand but if you are PAYING for the service having adverts as well sounds awful.

Something I have already talked about a little bit in the previous paragraph I will now reveal my full displeasure for. Use of the internet is not free, you already have to pay for the service and possibly line rental as well. This generation, both Microshit and Sony have decided that we should pay for the pleasure of using the internet on their consoles. With Sony, you get the same stuff you got with their paid service with the PS3 (i.e. free games/discounted games that if you really wanted you would have paid for already) and Xbone Live is more of the same. Joy. Sony had an enormous advantage if they kept their online free, I would almost certainly have bought their product. But paying a monthly/annual fee for online? On a student budget?  Simply not going to happen. Half the new games being announced are touting revolutionary online play as a major selling point, but not only do you have to pay for the game to be able to experience this, you have to pay to play with your friends. No. Stop.

And then, on top of all this apparently the launch exclusives all suck. Knack in particular I remember getting trashed by most critics. Forza 5 has recently been revealed to contain an enormous content pay wall, with half the game hidden by DLC. In this absolutely disgusting decision Microsoft tossed away a potential advantage. Killzone and Uncharted are probably going to be more of the same (i.e. boring) and Titanfall is available on PC. So where are the reasons to buy either console? That’s a very good question…

This leads me onto my conclusion quite nicely. Why would you buy a console this generation? Potential answers: You want the next iteration of your favourite sport game? Here you don’t reaaaally want a video game, you want be interacting with your favourite sport. You want something to play with friends. Maybe you want a Wii U to play the new iteration in legendary franchises like the Legend of Zelda and Mario? In this case, it might be worth it. There’s bound to be a few games that interest you and at least it’s got the cool tablet thingy. The Virtual Store allows you to play past gems and it’s probably cheaper than actually buying the console and game so it might be worth it just for that. Reasons to buy a PS4 or an Xbone ? I can’t really see many to be honest. Just play games on PC, Steam is much nicer to use. Whilst building/buying a powerful computer may be more expensive than a console it will last longer and it does have multiple uses whilst a console has one really. In short, don’t buy a PS4 or an Xbone. They both have pretty enormous problems and frankly, you shouldn’t give these companies your custom. They do not deserve it.

Weekly Post sort of: HoG Blastzone4. My first tournament!!

So this Saturday I attended BlastZone 4 at Heart of Gaming in London! BlastZone 4 was a Super Smash Bros. tournament featuring Melee, Brawl and the popular Brawl hack Project Melee, designed so that Brawl is more like Melee in terms of physics. I entered Melee, Melee doubles and Project Melee. I don’t play Brawl, I’ve never really played Brawl. I never got round to getting it when it came out, so I never really played it. I also don’t think Brawl is a competitively viable game, it’s so slow and rewards campy non-aggressive play. Melee however is very different, it’s fast and aggressive and very hard to be very good at. PM to me still feels a bit off, I don’t mind playing it for a bit of fun and I’ll probably still enter competitions for it if it’s available, but I much prefer Melee. In Melee I play Marth and Ganondorf in teams because Marth is kinda band in teams due to the ending lag on a lot of his moves. In PM I play Ganondorf because he’s better in that game, faster, better recovery and still hits hard.

I’ve already talked about how much I love Melee so I thought I’d focus mainly on this tournament. I went down with my ‘crew’ from Southampton. There were four of us and we met up with another guy who drove us from Basingstoke train station to the venue in London. At the tournament I personally did quite badly, I had the hardest pool with Fuzzyness in. Fuzzyness is the best player in the UK, no question. He recently competed at Evolution 2013 in SSBM and got a monstrous 17th place. That is insane. The UK scene is so small and the U.S. scene is so good, it’s hard to properly describe but just know that he is very good. I also had Kipotsky in my pool, a talented Fox player who ended up getting 7th overall. I also had pretty damn good French Falco player as well as two Marth’s, one of whom was better than me. I only beat the remaining Marth player, who wasn’t too bad really, but I don’t think he plays too much Melee. So I did manage to beat one guy AND I only got 7 stocked by Fuzzyness (as in I managed to kill him once whilst he killed 8 times), which sounds bad but when considering how much better he is than me it’s actually a feat for me to kill him legit once. In other news some of my crew did really well, fellow newby R23 (or Alex) nearly got out of his pool, which is pretty damn big considering there are two seeded players in each pool and only the top 2 got out. In bigger news, veteran X1-12 (Tristan) got joint 7th (him and Kipotsky went out in the same round on different sides of the bracket) which is awesome considering how the top 8 at UK Melee events can be pretty much confirmed based on who attends. So Melee didn’t got too well for me in tournament, it went well for some of my crew though so I was pretty happy. I also learned so much, I got to play some great players and got better in the time I was there. I could feel it.

In Doubles me and R23 (Alex), playing a Sheik-Ganondorf combo (me on Ganon),got knocked straight out in a quick one-two punch. We faced some tough opposition and just lost, some of the games were pretty close. The guys who knocked us out in Losers (Brado and Willz) are both pretty damn good and managed to beat Tristan (X1-12) and Alex (different Alex, I actually don’t know his I.D. which is pretty embarrassing really) who are both pretty damn good as well.  P:M was a bit strange in comparison. Only 23 entrants so no pools, straight into bracket. My first round opponent was Shifting Shadows, a good Falcon player and apparently a pretty scary Zero Suit Samus in PM. Luckily, he decided he couldn’t be bothered playing or he wandered off or something but one of the guys keeping the cogs turning, Jolteon, told me I got a bye and he was sent to losers bracket. I then faced Bullet-Bill, a former resident of Southampton who Tristan knew from when he used to live here. He’s good at Melee and plays a pretty brutal Lucas in PM. I lost to him pretty badly, no surprise really. Part of the problem in a game like PM, because there’s not too much of a scene for PM because it’s still in development, so sometimes people will do things with a character and you will not know what the hell they are doing. This is basically what happened to me versus Bullet-Bill’s Lucas. In Losers I faced Willz, who beat me earlier in doubles, he played a strong Captain Falcon in PM as he does in Melee and he beat me pretty handily. So I didn’t do too well in PM either but again, it was about the experience.

Overall, I had a great time. I got beat pretty badly but I learned so much. I want to keep playing competitive Melee, I’ll keep going to tournaments and fests at Tristan’s house. I’ll hopefully keep improving and maybe one day I’ll even place at one of those things. I can only get better.

Weekly Post… Sort of. (News: Blizzcon 2013)

So remember when I said some weeks ago that I would be doing weekly blogs about my video games? Heh, good one eh? I am a real card.

In all seriousness, I have been quite busy with deadlines and various university stuff in the last week or so. I have also been trying to maintain my small but carefully managed social life, and by carefully managed I mean hiding from everyone until I get dragged from my room. Well it works for me. So unfortunately I haven’t been playing many video games, certainly nothing new. If you really want to read something I’ve written, you can have this article I wrote for my university entertainment magazine about God Hand. It’s not my full fleshed out thoughts of the game and is aimed at an audience that don’t know shit about video games.

I guess I could briefly mention Blizzcon 2013, which is actually still on going. I could make this a shitty news post mostly based on my opinions of facts I saw once on twitter and are probably false. Yeah, that sounds good.

So the two main things I know about and have opinions on are the Heroes of the Storm and the new WoW expansion. I adore Warcraft III, it is my favourite game of all time. Every move that Blizzard makes with Warcraft that means there’s an even smaller chance of Warcraft 4 ever existing and that makes me sad. Warlord’s of Draenor does not make me want to resub, it did not fill me with excitement or anything remotely approaching it. I would probably say something about the lore being in tatters, what with the time travel elements announced but actually it’s already ruined. Someone told me they brought Muradin Bronzebeard back from the dead (claiming he was unconcious or some shit) and after having found this to be true World of Warcraft makes me feel a bit ill every time I really think about it. If my two close WoW playing friends resub I might but I’d have to buy BC, WotLK, Cata and MoP as well as the new expac. So probably not gonna be doing that.

As for HotS (Heroes of the Storm, not Heart of the Swarm. Thanks Blizz) I’m a little unimpressed. I’ll probably play it a bit because it’s free but I don’t see it replacing Dota 2 in my life. It looks kind of fun, I watched the casted game between developers (which is available on youtube) but I didn’t really know what the fuck was going on (skills wise) and I have a suspicion that the game was probably staged to show off the game to the fullest. Above all the game looks to have no competitive elements AT ALL. This is not a bad thing really, with Dota 2 and LoL competing as it is, another Dota-like really doesn’t have a lot of chance. Even Blizzard’s backing won’t do much good as Dota 2 is already based off Warcraft 3 models/mechanics etc. I enjoy playing Awesomenauts when I can get a good connection and that game is pretty silly. So I’ll probably play it, with friends, but not by myself. I’ll probably also play exclusively Arthas and Thrall since I’m a WC3 kinda guy.

So that’s pretty much all I have to say about that, sorry for the usual lack of content. I promise I’ll get better! (maybe) If you are one of the two/three followers of this blog, I hope these weekly updates aren’t getting on your nerves. Thank you for patronage and I hope you keep reading!

Weekly Post: A New Beginning

If you ever read this blog, and your probably don’t, you may notice that my posts are far from frequent. I have decided I want to change this. So from now on I shall be posting weekly posts about what games I have been playing.

Sometimes these posts will be very short and contain a lot about Super Smash Bros. Melee which is a game I play a lot of. As well as this I play this game at a reasonably high level so I may get quite technical. For a quick summary the deeper aspects of SSBM watch this video by popular speedrunner Cosmo, who explains it all very well. Other times the posts will be lengthy, like this one, as I will have played a lot of different games.

So my last post was quick discussion of Majora’s Mask and Ocarina of Time and since then I have been playing a lot of stuff. So prepare yourself, here it goes.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

A housemate was excited for GTA:V and was delighted when I told him I had a copy of this lying around that I hadn’t played. So we busted out and played it to near completion. We haven’t done the last mission and that’s it, it barely feels worth it completing it now since the last mission is pretty tricky. First things first, this game is pretty tricky. There are some missions where I’m not sure how possible they would be without cheats. One particular mission sticks in my head, you had to flee from the Police in an already damaged van. If the van blows up, you fail. If you get out of the van for too long, you fail. The Police cars are faster than you and will ram your van into walls. You WILL blow up, I don’t really see how you can avoid the police cars for long enough, as they are limitless and there’s very little you can do to defend yourself. Thank God for cheats allowing you to lower your wanted level and restore the health of your car. Overall the game is pretty good a bit of a GTA classic. The shooting is pretty awkward, the only way to hit people is to stand perfectly still and fire at them whilst they do the same to you. There’s no real strategy involved and it can quickly get very irritating with multiple enemies. I’ve heard complaints that the map is too small but it’s a pretty good size. It’s not as big as San Andreas but it is also older. It’s not that bad really, could be bigger but it’s alright. The game has it’s share of interesting missions and has that Rockstar sense of humour that permeates their games. Worth a play I think, especially as a nostalgia trip.

Grand Theft Auto: V

A recent one for a change. Grand Theft Auto V enjoyed widespread critical praise for everything apart from the Online. This is one I don’t want to take about too much as I am still considering writing a full post about it. I don’t actually own this one, my housemate does but I did play through a significant portion of the game with him. Overall impressions are very good. Huge game world with plenty to do, you can have enough fun stealing cars and punching people to keep you amused for a few hours. I like the three characters, all with their separate specialties and personalities and I also like the attributes aspect. Gives a sense of progress that isn’t always apparent in Grand Theft Auto games. The missions are very fun for the most part and a colourful collection of supporting characters combined with Rockstar’s sense of humour (which is running rampant in this game) make for an amusing experience. This game has it’s problems but it’s a barrel of fun and has enough content to keep you amused for a very long time. Definitely worth a pick up, this is what ‘next gen’ games should be like.

God Hand

This is one I will be definitely be writing about in the future. Probably when/if I finish it. Traditionally God Hand is looked upon a hidden gem and this is for good reason. This game was panned when it first came out but is actually very very good. It is hard though, very hard. If you do better and avoid enemy attacks your level increases, when your level increases the enemies get tougher. However, you can dodge everything any enemy throws at you. The game also has a build-a-combo system that allows you to play the game your way. The game’s camera (which is fixed behind you) can work against you, which is the only time the game is actually frustrating. Not gonna say too much now as a full post is coming, I may also be writing an article about the game for a University publication so I’m keeping my ideas to myself for now.

Dota 2

I do play some Dota 2 every now and then. It’s my ARTS of choice (mostly because it’s based on my favourite game, Warcraft 3). Not gonna talk about it really because there are hundreds of places you can go to hear this game being talked about more intelligently than I could.

Sonic 2

Only played a bit of this one. Seems better than the first one overall. More interesting level design and an opportunity for co-op, even if it is poorly implemented. Probably gonna write about this one as well and I’ve barely played this so I’m not gonna say too much.

Super Smash Bros. Melee

Again, gonna wait to talk about my weekly Melee activities because I could gone on for hours about this one. I will announce that I finally got to play with people at my University’s Computer Games’ Society and got invited to a mini ‘Smash Fest’ at someone’s house this Sunday. The guy hosting is pretty damn good, better than me for sure. I hope to improve by playing with people instead of the CPUs. Judging by CGSoc, most of the guys are at a similar skill level to me and I may be a little better than a few of them. But there’s definitely things I can learn and I’m always trying to improve with all my characters.

So that’s it then! The first Weekly Round-Up is complete! This is a long one because of the time since I last posted but most of them will be a lot shorter than this I promise. Hopefully you’ll stick around and come back, maybe read them every now and then. That’d be nice.

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