Monday, 31 October 2011

New - Dark Souls

I bought Dark Souls. I'm so ashamed. It goes against my commitment to myself, and I can't even complain that I have no self control and that it was an impulse buy. I was always interested in Demon's Souls, but I still don't have regular access to a PS3, so it's a no-go until such times.

Dark Souls came out the week before Forza 4. I was interested in it, but Forza was coming out and I had no room in my head to get invested in such a game then. But the weeks have gone by, Forza has faded from my brain a little, and I keep seeing Dark Souls articles linked everywhere, and everyone I speak to speaks really highly of it.

So I set out to town today in pursuit of two things: new shoes and Dark Souls. I don't regret it, not one bit.

I haven't even taken my shoes out of the box yet.

:B: - 1000 Heroes

1000 Heroes is an iOS game where you run time trials in a platformer style. The hook is that there is a different one each day, for 1000 days. I've enjoyed playing it while waiting for the bus home after work for the past few months and I finally reached 5 hours play on it. It takes a long time to get to when you only play for 5 minutes a day max.

That said, it's getting a little samey. Every so often the age changes, but not nearly often enough for the game to stay fresh. It's day 145, which is a little over 3 months, and I've played it for a lot of those days and it's felt a little like a chore for a few weeks. The developers have painted themselves into a corner with setting out all the ages on the app for everyone to see, which means it's difficult to swap things up to keep it fresh. I really, really can't see myself playing for the 855 days left.

1000 Heroes is a really neat idea that suffers from the format it picked for itself. I'd like to see more developers use it. A bite-sized dungeon crawler that gives you a new character every day to try the dungeon with? A racing game that gives you a new track every day, similar to Trackmania (free, by the way)? Maybe a mix of Timesplitters and Borderlands - switch up giving you new characters and new weapons? There's a lot that can be done with drip-feeding content to mobile gamers - if I can come up with these ideas, surely some talented developers can come up with better.

1000 Heroes gets 3/5 stars.

(Oh, and someone PLEASE PLEASE make that dungeon crawler. I would sell my firstborn for that shit.)

Friday, 28 October 2011

:B: - Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Explorers of Time

The Mystery Dungeon series is part of the roguelike genre. This particular entry is half of the second entry of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon spinoff. The other half being Explorers of Darkness, and there being a third entry, released later, Explorers of Sky, as is customary for the handheld Pokemon games. Some things never change.

Part of what defines roguelikes is a very high difficulty, random dungeons, and perma-death. Pokemon reduces the stakes a little by giving you a persistent character, and reduces the difficulty. There are still parts that are very challenging, and death causes you to lose all money and most items on your person. The question is less 'do I use this unknown item that might kill me' and more 'do I take my useful rare items to this difficult dungeon and risk losing it if I die'.

I've been playing it on and off for a few months, more off lately admittedly, but I recently picked it up with an aim to complete the story and 7 hours of item gathering and leveling up gave me the strength I needed to get through the last two dungeons. The last boss gave me some trouble, and I only brought barely enough revival seeds to keep me and my partner alive. But I got through, teared up at the ending, sat through the excruciatingly long credits, and started the post-story game.

It's here that the game gets a lot more difficult, and my first mission is to restore the ability to evolve Pokemon, which should help. I'm going to continue playing to try for a :C:, however unlikely, because I'm a obsessive masochist and I loved the hell out of it. 5/5 stars.

Forza Motorsport 4 - Beginnings

If you're aware of racing games, you'll probably be aware of the Forza series. It's often considered to be Gran Turismo's direct competitor, although this is primarily thought by console fanboys.

Forza leans towards the simulation side of the sliding scale of racing games, but there's a lot of customization towards how sim-y. You can have ABS & TCS on, with a full racing line, damage off and automatic shifting on and have a fairly arcadey experience, or you can turn everything off and put manual shift on - which, which a good quality steering wheel, is almost unparalleled as to realism.

I'm somewhere in the middle of that sliding scale. I have ABS and TCS on, with automatic shifting, but with damage and fuel consumption on simulation and the difficulty up to full. I'm not the fastest by any means, but I'm usually in the top 20% times when putting the effort in. To improve much further would require getting to grips with all the intricate systems, and I just can't deal with that kind of commitment.

I also use the new Microsoft Wireless Speed Wheel from time to time. The game is significantly harder with it, but it's also incredibly satisfying. The wheel is far comfier than I ever thought it would be. It's very responsive too - you can turn the wheel a little and the car will turn just the right amount. And I do mean a little - the wheel is super sensitive. It feels great to drive with, even if it means giving up competitiveness. Although that might just be because I suck with it!

I'd like to mention Rivals mode. I'm not a particularly competitive person. I don't like to play against other people (indeed, even co-operative modes are a push). I feel like organizing matches or having to wait in a lobby to get into a race is a waste of time; it's too much of an obligation. Enter Rivals mode. What this is, is an expanded time trial mode. It gives you a track and a restriction, and the time of the person above you on the leaderboard. Beating that time gives you experience and money that is linked to your career profile. It's genius. More than once I've loaded the game intending to play the World Tour, but gotten sidetracked into Rivals by a message from the game that a club member has beaten my time on a track.

I haven't played it particularly long, but from the getgo I knew Forza 4 was something special. It's shed the tedium of Forza 3's career, linked everything together so everything you do is working towards something, streamlined car experience and thrown a shitload of content in there. It's fantastic, and I can envision myself playing it for a long time to come.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Returning to World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft has been in my peripheral vision for years now. It always sounded like the sort of game that I'd like, but due to various factors, cost, lack of a decent PC, and a general misanthropy towards people, I've mostly given it a miss.

A while before Wrath of the Lich King came out, I played for a while on a private server called Ash Realms, primarily because it was free and fairly stable. It had 32x leveling and gave you a mount at level 1, and I spent my entire time exploring the world. I also gained a small obsession with collecting the vanity pets, but ultimately, it all felt a bit pointless because everything was very easy to come by. I stopped playing pretty quickly.

However, Azeroth still held a attraction for me. Roughly every 6 months, a desire to play takes its hold. Sometimes it passes, and sometimes I gave in. Until last year, I'd just re-sign up for the Ash Realms and start over, which tended to kill the want pretty fast. But last year, I had no excuse not to get the real thing - steady employment, ok PC, and the Battlechest had just dropped in price - so I took the plunge.

Fast forward a year later and I have a sprinkling of characters across 4 different servers, the highest of which is level 16. And my pet obsession remains.

Which brings me to the announcements of the new expansion, Mists of Pandaria. I'm not going to touch on the panda, that's for others to write ad nauseum about. What got my attention was the pet battling system. My like of the vanity pets is going to pay off, in that I'm about to get the Pokemon MMO I've always wanted. It got me so excited I immediately went out and bought Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm so I'd be fully up to date.

I started yet another character on a new server (Steamwheedle Cartel - EU), so I could later join the PC Gamer guild if I so desired. I'm not sure if I'm going to continue him once Cataclysm arrives from Amazon though - I do quite like the look of the Worgen. I'm going to keep him to get any Horde-only pets, though. Gotta catch 'em all, after all.

Sunday, 16 October 2011


I admit it - I'm considering recinding my 360 ban. Obviously Forza 4 and Skylanders have had something to do with it, but I'm finding my anger fading some. I was having a really rough day on the day I lost my cool with it; stolen purse, family issues, boyfriend issues and I just completely snapped and decided I'd had enough.

But recently I've been looking at it and thinking 'hmm'. Perhaps I judged too harshly, I don't know. I'm thinking about putting my xbox games back on my backloggery, even with jump in :U: that would bring. Perhaps I'll give it another couple days thought, and decide whether to put that deposit down on a R2D2 xbox.

New - Forza 4 and Skylanders

I bought Xenoblade Chronicles a couple of weeks ago because it was getting fantastic reviews and I was jonesing for a fresh JRPG. When I tried to play it, however, it tried to install an update. And failed. Three times. My Wii refused to be updated, possibly because I softmodded it an eon ago (and there were no files of that sort left). So I returned it to Gamestation with a heavy heart and promised them that I'd get Forza 4 a week from them if they could pretty please put it on a card. So, that's Forza 4 accounted for, at least.

Skylanders is sketchy at best, I admit. I professed to be considering trading in my Wii, and asked for the trade-in price - which was £40. The manager, wonderful man that he is, offered me 50% extra, £60 against Skylanders because I'm a regular and because I'm so awesome. I can't refuse an offer like that, commited to not buying games or no. I very rarely play my Wii, and there is a smaller, cheaper one coming out soon so if I really feel the need to play Skyward Sword or whatever I'll be able to buy that one.

Justified? I have no idea. But Skylanders is really fun and completely up my street, so even if it does break the rules, I have no regrets. Even if I've failed here, no matter, I forgive myself and can just redouble my efforts - and by my standards, I was doing really fucking well anyway. And I have a new way to reward myself if I go a week without buying anything - a Skylanders figurine!

I have this dude and he is crazy awesome.

Friday, 14 October 2011

:B: - Infinity Blade

I tried to write this post a couple of days ago but Blogger was erroring out all over the place and didn't even save a draft of the post, so my enthusiasm for it is low.

Infinity Blade recently got an update in preparation for Infinity Blade 2, so I decided that it was going to be my new companion for the long bus rides. It's fun, makes me feel like a badass ninja and gives me a bunch of stuff to packrat and level up. Perfect game?

So I beat the God King on Bloodline 3 after restarting from Bloodline 1 a couple times because I still had no clue what was going on, and now he's at level 100 to my paltry 19. Yikes. Got a lot of training to do. Anyway, 5/5 stars, and 0/5 stars to Blogger for losing my last post.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

:B: - The Binding of Isaac

As always, a lot has been written about Isaac by much more intelligent people than I. It's an action-rougelike-shooter-zeldathon with a heavy dose of the nightmare fuel. I love it and hate it in equal parts. I love it because the randomisation keeps the gameplay from going stale, there's always something new to find and new dungeons to explore. I hate it because it reminds me how easily I choke when the stakes are high.

Three times I've got to the last boss, and three times I've fucked up when I could have easily won. Especially the last time. I was having such a good run of luck, I had so much life and so many good items and I messed up because I went to close to the wall and had the smackdown layed down upon me by the hand of god. I think the game is great, 5/5 stars great, but I just can't bring myself to play any more right now. The wound is too raw.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

New - SpaceChem

SpaceChem is a game that I've had on my radar for a while, but never got round to buying for whatever reason.

The explanation for this new game is that I donated to the new Humble Indie Bundle when it started, and they added it to the pack today for free, so there we go. And to think, I donated despite having everything offered.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

:B: - Cute Knight

So in commemoration of getting the sequel, I decided to finally play through the first one. It's a little short, clocking in at an hour and twenty minutes for a playthrough, but it's very reminiscent of Princess Maker. It's less complicated for sure, but it's fun and seems to have a lot of branching paths; it's definitely worth playing through multiple times, especially because it doesn't take that long to play - if you get a duplicate ending, no worries, it's only an hour lost.

This is pretty short because I haven't got a lot to say about it. It's Princess Maker without the more mature themes and with added anime-like drama. So go look it up and make up your own mind. Me? I give it 4/5 stars. I will be playing it a few more times - my next playthrough I think I'll go for a fighter.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

New - Cute Knight Kingdom

Yes, yes, a new game already I suck blah blah blah.

This one was free from BigFishGames. I went to the website to cancel the membership that I had totally forgotten about - I only remembered because the free month was up and PayPal emailed me yesterday to say the payment had gone through, whoops! I suppose that's the whole idea behind free month trials; you sign up and forget to cancel it before the first payment goes through.

Anyway, the BigFish membership gives you a stamp for every game you buy. 6 stamps gets you a credit to spend on a game. Having gone to my account, I had a credit, which they told me would expire with my membership. So obviously, I had to spend it. After staring a while at the demos I'd downloaded, I had it down to either Cute Knight Kingdom or Aveyond. I decided on Cute Knight because Aveyond, while presumably a decent RPG, is an RPG, and I have much greater and much longer RPGs yet to play. And Cute Knight was pretty damn fun, so why not?

So according to my rules, I'm still in the game. :)

:B: - Burnout Paradise

When I got my 360, the first demo I downloaded was for Burnout Paradise. I hated it. I hated that it was open-world, I hated that I couldn't just pick whatever race I wanted to, I hated that there was no crash mode.

Having come back years later, I fear that I may have misjudged it. Perhaps it was a poor demo, perhaps I was just too impatient.

There's something to be said for the world of Burnout Paradise. The world is not that big, but it's packed to the brim with things to do; races, chases, time trials, and of course stuff to destroy. The pulse-pounding almost faster than you can react races are glorious, perhaps even more glorious than 3's, partly due to the graphics and partly because you have to decide which route to take in moments. This has lead me to crash into many corners having decided just a fraction too late.

One of my only beefs with the game these days is that it's frustrating to have to drive all the way back to the start point if you fail to win the race. I get that this is a deliberate design choice to avoid menus, but sometimes you make a mistake on the last corner on a race that spans the entire width of the map and getting back to the start is salt on the wound.

But it's fine. I can deal with that. Paradise is so fun that I can forgive it, and if you have a car roaming the streets it will often appear so you can take it down to add it to your garage in the meantime. I love this game. It's lovingly crafted and I think that you should probably play it.

5/5 stars.

Oh, and be aware that Paradise City plays every single time you turn the game on - that's my other complaint.

A Resolution

From today, I make a resolution to buy no more games until I reach 50%, no matter how great the deal or how much I want the game. The exceptions are:

  • If it's free; e.g. if the Humble Indie Bundle adds more games to the bundle I have already donated to get or like's giveaway of Broken Sword 1 upon reaching 6 million downloads.
  • It's a gift.
  • If my significant other buys it.
  • It's free-to-play.
I will now make a post for every new game.

And I give everyone full permission to send abuse my way if I break this.