Saturday, August 27, 2005


Doom Movie

Ok, when they first announced the Doom movie, staring The Rock, I was pretty non plussed. I mean, we all know how great the Street Fighter movie was, or Mario Brothers. Of course, there have been some half-decent video game films. I enjoyed Resident Evil, and Mortal Kombat wasn't completely unwatchable. But as a general rule: Video Game Movies Sucketh. However, there is a new trailer for the Doom movie at Yahoo! Movies. After watching it, I'm actually a little bit interested now from zero interest before watching it. Some things that I think made it stand out were excellent special effects, cool looking weapons, and best of all, a really cool looking first person camera mode for part of the film. The FP camera really made it feel like Doom. Hopefully in the full movie they pour on the gore, which was suspiciously absent from the trailer, but IMHO an absolute requirement for a good Doom movie.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005



Just reviewed a new platformer/adventure title called Psychonauts, developed by Tim Shafer (of Lucas Arts fame). This is a great game, I give it 9.2 out of 10, and you don't want to miss this if you're looking for unusual games. Here is my review on GameChronicles.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Dungeon Seige 2 - More Demo Impressions

Ok I've finished the demo. It has roughly 6-8 hours of gameplay, if you're not rushing through it. It may go faster if you do a "smarter" build of your character and if you realize, unlike me, that you can actually pick up henchmen pretty early in the game.

I played about half of the demo solo, as a melee character, and it's doable but the game goes a lot easier with the henchies, and in my opinion, it's a lot more FUN with the henchies because it gives you a lot more flexibility. Plus dying a lot kind of sucks. :)

Also I noticed that the henchies talk to you at different points in the game which kind of reminded me of Baldur's Gate. The game is not *totally* linear but it's was fairly linear and while there were a few side quests to do that didn't take you far from the action. The thing missing here is the open endedness of something like a Divine Divinity or Sacred. But still,
it's a fun romp.


1. Best damn interface of any RPG ever maybe. Very flexible and customizable and just about any time-saving feature you could want is there. I love the Z to auto-loot, every game should have this. I also like the auto-arrange inventories. Having all the various hot-keys available for
henchmen formations and commanding them is also very nice. The Journal, which keeps track of your quests and such, is probably the best I've seen in any game. Overall I think they took the best of Diablo 2 and the best of Dungeon Siege 1 and made it even better.

2. Decent Graphics. Not HL2 quality maybe but very servicable. Way better than Diablo 2. Slightly better than NWN and KOTOR. I actually started to appreciate and enjoy the graphics about half way through, but I guess it just takes a while to get accustomed to. The forest area you start in feels kind of claustrophobic at first but it grows on you. (rim shot)

3. Decent amount of story for this type of game, good side quests, good sense of "world", with all the background info and such. There's a lot of stuff to read, stories, etc. You can also talk to some of the NPCs which can give you more background story and just general information.

4. PHAT LEWT!!! OMG. This game has loot in abundance. And it's a lot of fun. Not to mention the enchanting of items, collecting sets, uniques, it has it all. If any game can rival D2LOD's lewt system it's DS2.


1. There doesn't seem to be any sense of being able to make choices that actually affect the game world. Sure, you do the quests, and the story progresses, but it's no Fallout where you can make meaningful choices and where the game adapts to the way you build your character.

2. The didn't really revamp the Siege Engine that much over DS1, IMHO, it's really almost DS 1.5. Although there are some improvements and I think it's got a LOT better game balance from what I can tell so far. For fans of DS1 this is probably all good news anyway.

3. Still pretty linear, at least in the demo. Players looking for the freedom to go and do things in any order may feel constrained a bit.

4. Had to fight the camera a few times to see what was happening, but overall the camera controls are pretty good.

I'm almost assuredly going to buy DS2. I may not buy it on day one, but I might, especially if I can talk one of my buddies into getting it with me so we can do it co-op. I highly recommend getting a hold of this demo if you're fans of either DS1 or Diablo 2. If you don't have broadband and can't find the demo anywhere else, email me, maybe we can work something out. I'm tempted to go back and play through the demo again as a mage this time.


Games - Art or Entertainment?

Here's an interesting article on GameSpot about the nature of gaming, is it Art? Or is it just Entertainment?

Personally I got to go with option B. It's Entertainment. And not always even that. :)

But yes, there have been a few, very few, games that I consider artistic, and Art in a way. My favorite chestnut to drag out when this argument arises is Planescape: Torment. While the game had definite game qualities to it, it had such a strong story, such great dialogue, and such artistic and haunting visuals and sounds, that I have to put this one down in the Art category. If you haven't played it, try it, it may change your mind about games.

But, those kinds of games are exceptionally rare. Most of them are just plain entertainment, even if they have elements of art in them, as a whole the game itself doesn't transcend to art status. That's my opinion, of course. I also don't think every movie is art either. I think maybe for something to be considered art by me, it has to move me. It has to have an impact on me. Otherwise I don't think it is.

But that's just me.


Review - I of the Dragon

I recently wrote a review for I of the Dragon, an action-RPG where you get to play a dragon instead of a humanoid protagonist. The review is not favorable, but it might be an entertaining read if you're bored. In a nut shell, avoid unless you have a major Dragon-wannabe complex.

Also I wish to apologize, or at least, explain my lapse of postings. I just haven't had time to blog lately, because some recent events at work have made it impossible for me to write a quick blog entry while at work, and I don't usually feel like it in the evenings. So I can't promise to post more often but I will try to when I have free time.


Dungeon Siege 2 Demo

SPOILERS BELOW FOR THE DEMO. I spoil certain plot details of the demo below.

The demo is pretty good. For one thing, it starts you off in 800x600 mode for the default so be sure to go change your graphics settings. I bumped it up to 1280x1024 and it looked much nicer. The textures though, still look kind of muddy for some reason. For whatever reason
the graphics in DS2 just don't look as crisp and clean as DS1's graphics. In some ways they are better (more polys on the characters I believe), and maybe it's just the opening areas, but overall I was not blown away by graphics like I would have expected to be, since DS1 was
ahead of it's time graphically I guess I thought DS2 would follow in that tradition. But, graphics, of course, aren't everything.

I played through the first little bit where you're a mercenary working for the army of the Big Bad. I think the opening movies with the dragons carrying the troop transports was pretty sweet. I like the fact that you start the game off on the "wrong" side, that's an interesting

I am only just now getting the mission as the slave to go and destroy the towers of the invaders, and just kind of starting out there. I'm playing a half-giant melee type character and I'm having problems not having enough healing potions it seems. DS2 is much, much more action oriented than DS1. There is no "set the orders and then watch what happens" in this game. You have to actively seek out targets and press the right mouse button to attack them, and it seems to me that even though holding the RMB down on an enemy makes you attack continuously, it seems to be more responsive if you just keep pounding RMB on the baddies. But maybe I'm just imagining that.

Your henchmen seem to be brain dead. For example, in the opening sequence, I had a magic-using character helping me out, but when he ran out of mana he would just stand around instead of switching to melee. So I would have to switch him to melee myself, or sometimes I'd just press "M" to have him quaff a mana potion so he could keep blasting. The good news is that magic seemed to be very powerful, his fire bolts were killing the baddies quickly and at range. The reason I picked a melee character is so that I could "tank" for my henchmen who will be
ranged attackers (magic, or bow). Plus that way I could hopefully control aggro that way. I'm hoping I can find some better armor soon, because now I'm just soaking up damage like a sponge and can't last too long against multiple opponents.

I'd say melee-focused characters get kind of screwed at the start. I have died a LOT. And death sucks. You basically have to run back to your corpse "naked" or lose 25% of your gold and still run back to your corpse "clothed". When you click your corpse after a brisk walk, you get your stuff back (that you were wearing). But the good news is you can wear an alternate set of gear for your "corpse runs". I've noticed that when you save your game it works like D2... monsters respawn back in the areas you've completed. So I guess I could go back and kill easier mobs to build up my melee skill some.

Music was more Jeremy Soul remixes of the themes from DS1, it all sounded very good and somewhat familiar. Sound effects are decent. Voice acting so far has been decent, but nothing terribly great. The "queen bitch of the universe" that is your jailor once you get captured
had a lot of lines where she was supposed to sound "cold" and pissed off at you, but her lines, delivered one line per click as most RPGs do, just didn't flow that well. But not terrible either, I haven't encountered any voice acting that was overly annoying or sounding like
programmers did it. Overall sound has been as good as DS1, maybe better.

Story wise, this game has a better story than DS1. Lets face it, DS1's story was a flimsy excuse to send you through hordes and hordes of monsters, and hell if I could actually figure out what was happening. In the first 2 hours of DS2, however, not only does your character witness a major event with the Big Bad, but his best friend gets whacked, and your character gets taken prisoner, and essentially you switch sides. Oh yeah, and you rescue some people and win over some of your capturers so they think you're on their side now. I mean, things are actually happening to your character in this game, not just wandering along a path. Although yah, there's a lot of wandering along in this game but to me the story seems stronger. YMMV.

On Game Balance - one of the big complaints by hardcore RPGers was the the item drop balance and overall class balance system in DS1 was lacking.

I'm not sure this is fixed. For one thing without talking about specific mechanics that you thought were broken in DS1 I won't know if those are fixed or not in DS2. Plus I just don't have enough play time in with enough variety of character types to be able to judge if there are balancing issues or not. So really this kind of question will have to wait until after I can play the full game.

One thing I have noticed is that item drops "seem to be" (so far) at least roughly equivalent to your current level of skill. I've found junk I can't wear, but it's usually for a different "class" (set of skills?) and not meant for my character type at all. I did find one really swank "purple"
item that I have to wait a level to weild. But nothing like in DS1 where you find an item and you're not even remotely qualified to wear it.

DS2 keeps the same "skills level up the more you use them" system that DS1 had, rather than a point-buy like D&D or such. But it also has point-buy in a skill-tree type situation a lot like Diablo 2's where your lower skills are prequesites for some higher ones, etc. These typically add
modifiers to your existing skills, like increasing your % chance for a critical, or giving you a % bonus to HP.

Also I think the game is essentially a straight class-bassed system. The game even tells you "don't be wishy-washy on which skills you use or your character is fucked." OK it didn't actually use those words but it DID actually say something to that effect during the tutorial. I haven't tried to see if it's true or not. I am strictly a melee character, though. I personally think that's ass-stupid, why even have a "skill-up by doing" if you're going to penalize characters that try to diversify. Oh well, at least with the henchmen you can get access to all the abilities in your
party, presumably.

The bad thing about the potions (or good thing depending on how you look at it) is that they heal you semi-slowly, so you can't wait until the last second, chug a potion, and pop back into action. Your health slowly rises to the level that the potion can max cure you to over a period of time (few seconds really but it's not instant like in D2). So I found myself running away when my health started to get low and drinking a potion on the way, then when it healed up, run back and attack some more, etc. Hit and run tactics. Might be easier for a ranged attacker to do this.

The game does have instant-town-portal a lot like D2 has, except that it takes longer to do (they show a stupid graphic like the ending credits to Dr. Who or something ... that's what teleporting looks like I guess).

I can see this game being a hella fun multiplayer if they didn't totally fuck up the save system this time (meaning, they have enough "waypoints" in there that you don't spend all evening fighting your way back to where you left off last time).

I guess the big question is, as always, IS IT FUN?!

For me, yeah, I was having fun with the demo. I'll probably play the demo to the end of it, however long that is. If I'm still having fun by the end of the demo I'll most likely get this one. After all, it's not like we're suffering from a deluge of great RPG titles.

But, this game is not going to change your mind if you didn't like DS1, unless your complaint was that there wasn't enough "action" because it certainly has more of that (since the player is required to do a lot more than just issue orders). The game does have a lot of hotkeys for
issuing orders and such, and I'm sure when I get some henchmen in my party those will come in handy. But as it starts you off solo, it plays a lot like Diablo II in that you have to actively click on your targets to keep attacking (you can hold down RMB, but I've found that, like D2,
it's much more fun to just keep pounding the mouse button). If you didn't like DS1 because there wasn't enough RPG elements, like making choices that affect your outcome and strong dialogue, I do not think DS2, at least, not based on the demo 2 hrs in, is going to change your

I'm hoping that like DS1, DS2 will ship with a good editor, and that a decent mod community will evolve aroudn this title like it did for DS1. It will be interesting to see if any mod-developers for DS1 port their mods over to the DS2 engine, also, or if that's even going to be feasible.

The demo is large. 1.5gb. Plus you'll need a lot of room on the HD to install it. The EXE will extract into a temp folder eating up another 1.5gb or so, then it installs from that directory, eating up around 2gb or so after the install. I didn't actually check the size of the demo
directory after install but I'm guestimating 2gb or so. You can of course delete the EXE you downloaded and the temp folder where it extracted to after you've got the demo installed, but I'd say you'll want at least 5gb free before trying to install this demo. I noticed that someone said the demo was on a PC Gamer disc, so if you don't have broadband i'd recommend getting that, since downloading 1.5gb via modem sound improbable at best. It took around 45 minutes to download it via my cable modem from GameSpot's DLX with an average speed of about

Ok, welp, that's my 2cents on the demo.

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