Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Microsoft Still Doesn't "Get" The Console Market

Just read over on Joystiq that Microsoft is again talking about adding HD-DVD to the 360, but not at launch! Why is it that Microsoft seems to be doing everything they possibly can to sabotage the launch of the Xbox 360?! First they poo poo the gaming press by announcing the new box on MTV instead of giving the press an exclusive conference at E3, which is what is usually done. And then they wonder why the press doesn't give them as much love as they gave Sony. NOW they are suggesting that the later versions of the Xbox 360 might come with HD-DVD drives. Okay... so tell me, why the fuck would I buy an inferrior one in November?! Microsoft needs to learn when just to sit down and STFU. If they have plans for adding HD, they should not be talking about it now, otherwise they're not going to sell through their target goal of 10 million 360's in the first year, because everyone will be waiting for the 360-HD.

Microsoft should look at all the failed console add-ons in the history of console gaming and realize that add-ons are usually a waste of fucking time. What matters is what's in the core box when it ships, since that's what all developers must target for their games. Talking about future add-ons before the console even launches is just going to delay sales, and that's stupid marketing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Sexploitation and Violence in Video Games

Over on Unfettered Blather, Botswana posts a diatribe about how women who complain about the portrayal of women in video games, yet dress like a cheap hookers, is a lot like the parents who bitch about violent game content, and then ignore the ratings on said games, and give it to their kids anyway. It kind of puts a torpedo in your whole argument when you do this. It's a lot like people who bitch about the government and then refuse to go out and vote. It's not that they don't have a valid point, it's just that they aren't helping the cause by saying one thing and doing something else.

In other news, I'm getting kind of bored with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The missions are too hard and I'm about done "playing" with the non-mission gameplay portions. I dislike intensely having to replay missions over and over and over. They desperately need to have a cheat code that does nothing but let you skip the current mission and see the conclusion cinematics for it. Of course, assuming that the difficulty is constantly ramping up, that would probably just lead to even more missions that were too hard. Maybe my 5kiLLz aren't l337 enough, or something. The story so far isn't compelling enough to bother replaying missions over and over. I am not sure how GTASA got such grand reviews, since it seems just like more of the same to me, nothing all that special except for the RPG-like stats such as driving skill and muscle and endurance.

Friday, June 24, 2005


Best of the Gaming Blogs

Step right up! Step right up! Over at Man Bites Blog check out the Carnival of Gamers III which is a nicely written sampling of various gaming blogs out there. Some good posts on there! Be sure to save an hour or so to do some serious gamer reading.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


World of Warcraft - Revisited

I just resubscribed to WoW after letting it lapse. Tami talked me into joining her and Steven over on Hellscream. I'm playing an undead priest named Soulrezor. So far he's level 7. The undead missions are similar to the missions for the alliance races, but it feels darker somehow. For example, in one case you give "altered" food too a prisoner and watch a horrible transformation occur. I hope that the content stays diverse so that this will feel fresh.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Still Life Review (Xbox)

My review of Still Life has been posted up on Game Chronicles.. Bottom line is, if you are an adventure game fan or a fan of psychological horror, you could do worse than picking up this one. My review is for the Xbox version, but from what I can tell the game plays out almost identically on the PC version so grab either one. Game is currently selling for around $20-30 street price. Keep in mind the M rating, it's there for a reason, this isn't a kiddie game.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Restricted Area - First Impressions

Got myself the latest Diablo-style action/RPG called Restricted Area. I've spent about 2 or 3 hours in it so far and I have a few words to say about it based on my first impressions. First of all, the game uses Starforce copy protection, which if you are not aware of yet, is a pretty insideous form of protection that blacklists certain applications, and if you have those installed on your PC it refuses to run. Certain backup software and virtual disc software will cause it to not work. But in my case it worked okay so I guess I can not complain.

The startup screen lets you change a bunch of options supposedly related to game settings. DO NOT CHANGE ANY OF THEM. I did my first install, and the game flat out didn't work right. I later read on usenet that not changing any options might work better, so I reinstalled and wala, the game works great if you don't touch the options. Kind of stupid to put them there so that unsuspecting players break the game before it even begins.

Graphically, Restricted Area is similar to the Fallout games, with a grungy dystopic future theme going for it. It's got a cyberpunk feel to it. The animations are a bit clunky looking but the starting town area looks pretty decent. Missions so far haven't been that great graphically, but I'm told it gets better so I'm holding out for that I guess. I think the developers must have a crate fetish, there are so damn many crates all over the place. Overall on a scale of 1 to 10 I might give R.A. a 6 or so on graphics. Certainly not the worst ever but nothing to write home about.

On the plus side, the gun sounds are cool, and so is the background music. The techno beat synthesiser music fits in perfectly with the mood and themes of this game. If you're a fan of bands like Prodigy or Chemical Brothers, you'll probably like the music here. Reminded me also of Blade Runner in some ways, as did the graphics in some cases. Voice acting on some of the NPCs is good and bad on others. I'd give sound maybe 8 out of 10 just based on what I've heard so far.

Gameplay is basically just like Diablo 2. I'm playing a gun-toting sociopath, code named "Solo". He specialises in automatic weapons. It's pretty fun to mow down mutants at range before they can ever close to melee. The important thing is finding cool cybernetitcs and installing them to boost your stats and skills. Gaining levels lets you assign skill points to the skill trees and/or also beef up your attributes/stats like strength or constitution, etc. One thing that is kind of weird is that your limit on what cybernetics you can have installed is based on the strength stat, so if you want to have a walking cyborg, you gotta pump up the strength. That makes me think that maybe a melee character might be an easier build.

I do not know if there is a multiplayer or not, I haven't tried it if it exists. I'll investigate that further. More details on this game later as I explore more. Overall now I'd rate this game maybe a 6 or so out of 10, just based on first impressions, but I might decide to change that assessment based on a more in depth look. Check out the Amazon page for some more impressions of other buyers.

Update: There is multiplayer but it's either LAN or direct-IP only, there is no internet matchmaking. I still have not tried it. I am not sure my old PC will run it. Maybe I can find someone who has the game and will try a direct-IP game with me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Co-Op RPGs

Someone in, the Usenet Newsgroup, asked about good RPGs that support multiplayer co-op mode via the internet. I replied in detail, so I figured I would put my reply up on the blog, too.

* The old Baldur's Gate Original Saga and Baldur's Gate 2 lets you do this, but since the story is centered around a specific character, it doesn't play out that great as a co-op game but it is pretty fun that way, especially for a 'duo' versus a whole team. you can even assign multiple characters to a single player if you choose, or you can just pick up NPC characters to fill out your party. The BG1+exp goes for around $15 or $20, and BG2 + exp. goes for a little more. Getting somewhat hard to find these now that Interplay is kaput.

* Same for the Icewind Dale Games, minus the ability to pick up NPCs (you'll want to start with at least 4 characters at the start). Keep in mind that IWD series is much less story oriented than the BG series, which may or may not be to your liking. I actually have an unopened copy of IWD2 for trade/sale. You can probably find both of these games for under $15 each.

* Neverwinter Nights Platinum is a great game to play through with a duo. There's also limitless content already made with all of the fan-created modules, which some people consider to be the best part about this game. To me the MP for NWN works better than the BG or IWD series, but YMMV. The original game's story is somewhat lengthy and not as exciting as perhaps BG2, but it's worth a play IMHO. I'd rank this game my top recommendation, in fact. If you buy NWN, I suggest getting the Platinum version, which includes both of the excellent expansion packs to this game. The Platinum package runs about $35-40.

* Diablo 2 is superb for playing with up to 8 friends over the internet. This is pretty much a hack-n-slash level-up treasure-finder but if you've never done it before the story can be pretty fun the first time through. I recommend getting the Battlechest if you go this route, and install the expansion pack straight away from the start. There are a few "mods" for this made by fans which change the gameplay some but most of them do not significantly change the story. You can get the Battlechest for $15-20.

* Dungeon Siege - this game is quite fun multiplayer EXCEPT for the save system which is pretty bad, it requires long chunks of time to play through so that you can make it to the next town or portal, otherwise you won't feel like you're making any progress, because monsters respawn and it starts you off back at town each time to resume. Expect a LOT of combat for this game, with a linear story to read as you go along. There are books to tell the backstory of the game world and some side quests but mostly it's a linear dungeon crawl. There are also quite a few fan-made modules for this game as well. I recommend getting the Legend of Aranna expansion pack which also includes the full game. Asking price is around $20.

Those would be my top picks. Some other RPG games that also offer co-op online play:
If you have an Xbox I can recommend:
That's about it for co-op RPGs that do not require a fee to play online. At least, the ones I have actually played. If you want to play any of the above PC games with me, just shoot me a message. :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Nintendo Revolution - No HD?!

Gamespot is reporting that Nintendo has NO plans for HD support on their upcomming console, the Revolution. WHAT is Nintendo THINKING?! This just seems INSANE to me. Is Nintendo not aware that 2006 is going to be "the year of HD" where many, many homes make the plunge and go HD because of the mandatory digital thing? Lets hope this is just some weird misunderstanding or misquote. Otherwise we can probably count Nintendo out of the next gen hardware wars before they even begin.


My Playlist

Some games I've been spending time with recently:

And some demos:

As usual, no one game seems to grab my full attention. :)

Monday, June 06, 2005


Fate - A Diablo-style RPG

I recently tried the demo version of a new game called Fate. This game is essentially a Diablo 2 clone but it does have some unique features that sets it apart, and there is no denying the fun factor of this game. While the game is highly derivative, it does just about everything right to give it that "just 5 more minutes" addictive gameplay.

You start the game as a male or female adventurer. You get a club, one identify spell and one town portal spell. Yep, they work just like in D2, you right click a scroll to use it. You can buy scroll books also, and the game actually gives you a discount if you do. You can equip items. Items have different attribute level requirements, such as Strength 30, or Dexterity 25.

The background to the game is that there is a dungeon near this little town. The town has NPCs that either give you quests or want to sell you stuff. You can buy magic items, armor, weapons, enchantments to your items, etc. Like in D2 you have a chest in town where you can stash gear.

Combat in Fate is pretty much just like Diablo. You swing your weapon by holding down the left mouse button on a monster. You automatically pick up some loot (potions and gold) by running over it, and items you click to pick up. The items are randomized, so you can get different magical attributes on the items you find. You can cast spells if you buy a spell and learn it in town or find a spell while adventuring. There are spells to heal you and/or your allies, summon monsters to help fight for you, or do direct damage.

Leveling up works just like Diablo 2, you can assign points to skills and to attributes. The attributes you can assign to are Strenth - melee damage, Dexterity - ability to hit, Vitality - how much damage you can take, and Magic - your magical affinity and power. You have different skills like Swords or Duel Wielding or Charm Magic, etc. You can assign points to these areas to give your character bonuses when using those skills.

Instead of hiring mercenaries like in D2, you get a pet. Your pet can be either a cat or a dog. Your pet can wear rings or necklaces to improve it's abilities. The pet gains in levels as you do by killing things. The pet also has a large inventory space and you can shift-click on items on the ground to have your pet pick it up. This is great for stashing loot you plan to sell to a vendor. When in town you can shift-click the vendor and you can then sell items from the pet inventory.

Another neat feature that is unique to Fate is fishing. You can buy a fishing pole and then find fishing holes to fish from. In town there is a spot you can fish, and you'll also find spots in the dungeon. The purpose of fishing is to find different kinds of fish. When you feed a fish to your pet, it can transform into a different type of creature. For example, you might feed it a certain fish and it turns your pet into a wolf for a while. Different kinds of creatures have different stats and abilities so this can affect how effective your pet is in combat.

The music for the game is very good, sound effects are decent. The graphics are actually quite good, much better than D2's - they are fully 3D. Screenshots are on the game's web site. The demo lets you go 3 levels deep into the dungeon. I recommend downloading it and giving it a go. You can find out more about Fate on the Fate web site. I'm highly considering buying the registered version of this, which is $20.

One thing you should be aware of is that the registered game keys in on your hardware configuration and you are only allowed to install the game 3 times before you get locked out of it. Supposedly you can email WildTangent and get more installs, if you can provide proof of purchase I guess. The EULA grants you the license to run the game on 2 computers, but not simultaneously. From what I can tell there is no multiplayer to the game.

Friday, June 03, 2005


Playstation 3 May Cost Up to $500

This is coming from Joystiq, a gaming blog, which, frankly, has posted up unfounded BS rumors before, but check this out:

Yes folks, it’s the latest and greatest rumor surrounding Sony’s next-gen entertainment box. And at this point, it looks like it might be close to the truth. Let’s face it, the technology the PS3 will be packing (i.e. BluRay and Cell) is simply not yet widely distributed—BluRay will not have been implemented into enough electronic devices to warrant a PS3 launch price that will presumably compete with the Xbox 360 ($350?). The PS3 is going to cost at least $400, if not closer to the $500 mark. Of course, in the estimated five-year lifespan of the next-gen console, the PS3 will certainly see a series of price drops that could help Sony end up on top in the long haul. Time will tell.

If Sony releases Playstation 3 at $500, Microsoft actually has a decent chance of becoming the dominant player in the next gen of consoles, assuming they stick to the $300 mark for their hardware. $500 is a heck of a lot of bones for a game console. The only thing that might help Sony is the Blu-Ray drive, if they can get enough movie studios to release special Blu-Ray editions of geek-popular films. Then a (rich) gamer could justify the extra expense by saying they're getting in on the next DVD-replacement. I remember when 3D0 released their extremely expensive console alongside the Sega Saturn and later N64 and PSX. It didn't fare too well, even the Saturn was more popular and it was considered a failure. This little rumor, if true, sure does put an interesting spin on the next gen console wars.

Update: Lyndal in the comments posted this:

Just read this on Gamespot...

quote... "Today, Japanese Web site Impress PC Watch reported that SCE has told its business partners that the PS3 will be under 40,000 yen ($370) at launch. The news has spurred speculation that the company might launch the machine with the same price it set for the PlayStation and PlayStation 2. Both machines were priced at 39,800 yen ($368) when they launched in 1994 and 2000, respectively."
$370 definitely puts it in the same ballpark as the Xbox 360 (and a final price on that I don't think is confirmed yet, $360 has been suggested, or $299). Even if Microsoft manages (and can afford) to drop the price at PS3's launch, it should still not be a major factor for the hardcore gamers. I heard another rumor that PS3 wasn't going to ship standard with a HDD but I really hope that's just a rumor because typically game developers target the base system and that would mean not a heck of a lot of games would support it. What Sony needs to do is make a deal with Rockstar and ship the next GTA game with the PS3. A billion units sold in week 1! ;)

Thursday, June 02, 2005


Geneforge 3 for Windows is Out

Remember when I posted about Geneforge? Well Geneforge 3 is out now for Windows and you can download the lengthy demo for it at Spiderweb's site.

Geneforge 3 has a huge and open storyline. You can help one of several factions, each with its own goals. There are dozens of different endings. You can help the rebels, or fight them. Slay your enemies, or use stealth and diplomacy. When you finish the game, start over, choose a different side or tactics, and experience a completely different game. No matter what you choose, Geneforge 3 offers an enormous adventure with plenty of replay value.

There is also a Macintosh version there.


Dungeon Lords Reviewed

You can view my full review of Dungeon Lords over on Game Chronicles. Also relevant to provide more information you can read my preview in case you missed it. In a nutshell - game was released before it was finished and could have been so much better.

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