Monday, 29 August 2011

:C: - Life Quest

So after installing Virtual Villagers 1 & 2 back on my PC, which gave me the BigFishGames client, I've been exploring their catalogue. One of the ones I bought after playing the demo was Life Quest, a game that appeared to take Kudos and put in time management gameplay. I liked Kudos, and I have somewhat of a weak spot for time management games, and after having played the demo (60 minutes worth, very generous of BigFish), I decided to treat myself.

The idea is that you have just graduated High School and are making your way in the world. You have to budget time, money and happiness and try to succeed, whilst doing challenges set by your classmates to achieve ever greater heights.

I really enjoyed my first hour in the game, it required a fair bit of juggling and there were a lot of choices that weren't available to me because I'd picked different things. My issue with the game is that after 2/3s of the way in, it lost all semblance of challenge. I had everything open to me, keeping my SO happy was a piece of cake, and the only thing keeping me from doing everything was that I had to take a day off from my job every few days to keep my happiness up. I finished everything in just over two hours, and that includes my time with the demo version (which saves your progress, another good thing, thank you BigFish).

It makes me sad, because this game had a lot of potential. If they made it so focusing in one area permanently locks out other bits, if they made it have a bit more juggling of skills, work and social life, it would have a lot of replayability. As it stands, it's a pretty fun game that's two hours long, and at £7.70 I can't really recommend it. If it were cheaper, if it were longer, I'd say it was adequate. But it's not, so it gets a 2/5, or a 3/5 if it ever drops to under £4.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

:B: - Outrun - Coast 2 Coast

There's not a lot I can say about Outrun that hasn't been gone over many times before by far greater and more intelligent people than I. All I can say is that playing it feels fantastic.

5/5. Absolutely brilliant.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

:B: - Fallout: New Vegas

This is not the first time I have played New Vegas. I originally played it on the Xbox 360 - I bought it on the day it came out, and played it a whole lot, but never managed to finish the last boss as I was playing on Hardcore and I just lost too much health every time.

I bought it for the PC a while back and just started playing it yesterday. I've marked it as a :B:, as I put about 50 hours into it on the 360, and 6 into this one. Given the hours I've already put into it, I'm marking this under 'way, way long'. I'll still probably play this for weeks from now, but I feel like I've already beaten it, now I'm just playing for fun.

Right now I'm at Novac, trying to find some turbines or something for the ghouls out in REPCONN. Not very far, but I've been pootling around, doing quests, getting banned from a casino or two. I've been trying to get enough cards to make a decent Caravan deck too.

Now, I have one major weakness in videogames, and that's packrat syndrome. If it's there, I have to pick it up. I keep all the weapons and armor, and use them for repair. Once I have a fully maintained weapon or piece of armor, only then will I sell the rest. I keep all aid items, and sell most misc, unless it's a weapon mod or bullet case. I just can't help it, it doesn't feel right if I leave stuff there. On the upside, this means I generally have plenty of caps floating around to spend, and if I run out of bullets I almost always have another weapon to use instead.

So anyway, Fallout: New Vegas gets a solid 5/5 stars. I love it, and I just can't get enough.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Bit.Trip Runner - Fuck You, Mingrawn Timbletot

Bit.Trip Runner came out May 17, 2010. I bought it the week it came out because it looked really fun.

I still haven't beaten the first boss.

There are three worlds in Runner, each with 11 levels and a boss. On the levels, you have to get the best score possible by dodging obstacles, destroying crystals, using spring pads, collecting gold and collecting bonus items. On the bosses, it's all about dodging what they throw (literally) at you and then kicking them to damage them when you have the opportunity.

Or, at least, I think that's what you do. It seems that way with Mingrawn Timbletot, but who knows about the later levels.

I don't know how much time I've put into this game over the past year and a half, so I started over. I got to the boss with relative ease. And then got stuck, again.

I can do the first two thirds pretty much blindfolded. But after damaging him twice he gets pissed and fires a bunch of rapid-fire spaceships at me, and I can't get the timing down no matter what I do.

I think I'll probably end up spending my entire 5 hours at this one boss.

Fuck you, Mingrawn Timbletot.

:B: - Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles

Been playing Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles on and off for a week or so. It tells the story of Resident Evil 0, REmake, and 3, as well as having an extra scenario at the end to explain how Umbrella fell; and does so in the format of a rail-shooter as opposed to survival horror.

It's difficulty is a little erratic. I've been playing it on Easy and still have been having difficulty with some of the levels, especially in the 'Umbrella's End' chapter, and with some of the bosses. The bosses are especially hard if you don't conserve your ammo properly and end up having to use the handgun (which sucks for anything other than zombies, dogs, birds, bats and baboons). Which is a nice touch, actually, given the main thing with the original games was having to conserve your ammo for greater beasties.

The game is also a fair bit larger than I originally thought. I finished all the main missions at 6 hours, as well as some sub-missions, but I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. There are still several sub-missions left to unlock, and I have only B or C ranks on most of the levels - and ranks don't carry over between difficulties. You have to to get high ranks on the higher difficulties to get some of the files. And I haven't even found all the weapons yet never mind upgraded them! There is a lot of gameplay still left.

I just have one minor annoyance to place right at the end of this post - Quick Time Events. Umbrella Chronicles is filled with them! While it does indicate one is coming up by flashing the screen white briefly, they're still something I could do without. The penalty for failing them ranges from injuring you to make it harder to get to the end of the level, to just outright killing you. Which isn't fair, not even remotely. It isn't always the same button, and sometimes you even have to shake the Wii Remote! I think developers who put Quick Time Events in games that aren't based around them (Dragon's Lair et. al) should be forced to play unforgiving QTEs over and over again until they get the point that they aren't fun.

Anyway, sidetrack over, I'm going to give Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles 5/5 stars. It's really fun, has a great story for RE fans, and I'm still really enjoying it 6 hours in, which is pretty impressive given the genre. I'm going to continue playing it on and off until it has a :C:, because I think this game deserves it.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

On Diablo 3, DRM & Items for Cash

Today, the news broke that Diablo III would have no offline mode, no mods, and an auction house that will let players list items for real-life money.

The internet's reaction has not been pretty, to say the least. A lot has been said on this topic already. I can't really add a new viewpoint to the offline and the auction house. Always-on is bad. Their reasoning for it is that players may get a character to level 20 or 30 offline and then realise they want to play online, so to avoid frustration they removed the offline. Completely. Lots of things have been said about playing on planes and in places without reliable connections, but response from Blizzard has been lukewarm. I'm unable to find a proper source for this, but apparently the quote goes: I want to play Diablo 3 on my laptop in a plane, but, well, there are other games to play for times like that. Fuckwads.

As for the for-money auction house, Blizzard have said that for people who don't want to buy things with real cash, there's a regular one, for in-game gold. But it begs the question, if people can list their items for cash and could make a profit for their unwanted items, why would they ever use the one for in-game gold? Gold, traditionally, has never had much use in Diablo games. There are no money sinks other than gambling and gambling is almost useless. You earn more than you can ever use very very quickly. Also, do you list your profits from Diablo III on your tax form? I mean, you have to take prizes won into account, so why not actual earnings? It's a road fraught with danger.

I also had a moment of silence for the death of mods. Blizzard unequivocally stated that mods are not allowed for this game, not at all, not ever. Which is a shame. Diablo II may not have had modding tools, but that did not stop the community, not one bit. There are some fantastic mods out there which bring so much longevity to the game, such as Meridian XL, Zy-El (My personal favorite, and how I've mostly played Diablo II for about 3 or 4 years now), and many, many more.

I'd also like to make a little point about boycotts. Saying you're going to boycott a game or company is all very well, but very few people actually go through with it. The lure of a game is just too much and they break down in the end. If you do want to boycott, go ahead. But please, make sure you let the developer know that you disagree with their practices, otherwise they'll never know and never miss you. You can submit tickets here, email here, Facebooks here and here, and get their Twitter here. Let them know, and for Pete's sake, don't forget and go buy it!

(From a person who boycotted EA's PC games back when the DRM for Spore was announced, emailed them with a list of all the games she wouldn't be buying, and hasn't bought one since. I'm still kind of sad I never got to play Spore, but to this day it still has it's draconian DRM.)