Sunday, 15 July 2012

:B: - Heroes of Might and Magic V

As part of a new internal initiative, I've been using the Fortune Cookie to pick 5 games to play for 5 hours each. This time round, Heroes of Might and Magic V was chosen. It's a spinoff of the Might and Magic RPGs, and is a strategy game set in the same sort of universe.

I have a confession. I'm not very good at strategy. Real-time, turn-based, I'm just no good at all and so it was with delight that I saw the HoMMV has an option to automatically play out the majority of fights. Yes, yes, missing the point of the game, but honestly, I get a lot of joy out of exploring the map, managing my resources and bolstering my defenses. So you can shut up. I still fight some of the battles.

4/5 stars

:B: - Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a rhythm game most easily likened to Elite Beat Agents or Ouendan. You tap and swipe the screen when the markers appear, and the music is from Final Fantasy games. With me so far? It gets complicated, which by now you have to expect from a Final Fantasy spinoff.

There are three kinds of songs: Field, Event and Battle. Each has a different way of the markers appearing, and each requires different stats on your characters to get the most points. You pick a team of 4 from the leads of each main FF, and can unlock more later using shards. They each have stats which effect the types of songs in a different way, to hopefully get better items (such as the aforementioned shards). There are more nuances than this but I'm not even sure I fully understand them myself.

There's also three modes: Series, where you play three songs from each main FF plus an intro and outro; Challenge, where you play to get the best scores; and Dark Notes, which are randomly generated depending on your team level and is where all the systems come together with great effect. There's a hell of a lot to be getting your teeth into here.

The game is well designed and the graphics are great, and of course the music is good too. If you like rhythm games you might like this, if you like Final Fantasy you might like it, but if you like Final Fantasy and rhythm games you should go out right now and purchase this.

Now, what do I have to do to get Capcom to make this for Breath of Fire?

5/5 stars

Sunday, 1 July 2012

BIT.TRIP RUNNER - Past the wall at long, long last

You may remember about a year ago, my rant about Mingrawn Timbletot, the first boss of BIT.TRIP RUNNER. This is a boss I've been banging my head against for long before that post was made.

Well, yesterday I beat the motherfucker. I kicked his ass right so hard that his ancestors will feel it. And I feel so bloody good about it.

The annoying thing is that the rest of the game doesn't seem that hard. I blew through World 2 today and beat that boss in two tries. Now, normally I'd just think that it's because I'm better than I was, but I only beat Timbletot last night and I have a clear memory of him. I can say with wholehearted conviction that boss 1 is harder than boss 2 and that that is really poor game design. To lock two thirds of your game behind (from what I can tell being at level 3-3) the hardest wall in the game is to do a disservice to your players and is a quick way to get people to not buy your next game. So just a heads up, Gaijin Games.

But anyway, I'm powering onwards to the end. Here's to the finish line!

Monday, 11 June 2012

:B: - Titan Quest - Immortal Throne

As you may well be aware, Diablo III came out last month. And, if you've read my previous article on the game you might also be aware that I have not and will not be purchasing it. However, I'm not immune to Diablo fever, so I've devised a scheme.

Meet the Ginormous List of Diablo Clones. This is, as far as I know, the most complete list of Diablo-like games on the internet. Games where you clicky-clicky loot and monsters, perhaps with a heavy story structure, but mostly just "here are some things go kill them now plx". If I can get a max-level character and beat the highest difficulty setting on each of these games (barring inability to load game on 64-bit Windows or the game being absolute crap), I can buy Diablo 3. And by the time that happens, always-online issues probably won't matter anyway.

Enter Titan Quest. I got this a couple Christmas's ago in the THQ pack in the Steam sale. I played it way back when but gave up about 3/4s of the way through Act 1 due to framerate issues. That isn't a problem on my new laptop so I've been having a great amount of fun.

I felt a bit of fatigue towards the end of Act 3 and throughout Act 4, so I stopped doing sidequests and powered through to the end. I felt like by the end of the game there was a lot less imagination in the monster design, I had stopped picking up any item drop less than Green and I ended up with way more than the caravan could hold just in set items and artifact recipe ingredients.

After playing a little bit of Epic difficulty and receiving a higher level of ingredients I went back to Normal to farm lower level ones. I'd like to finish all the artifacts I have recipes for before getting a bunch of higher level ones as as far as I can tell some higher level ones need lower level artifacts as ingredients. And it's kind of nice now I'm not feeling the pressure to see the end of the game, I'm just killing dudes and watching their bodies fly for miles.

4/5 stars.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

:B: - Dungeons of Dredmore

Indie darling Dungeons of Dredmore has been out for a good while and I've been playing it off and on since release. I still haven't managed to beat Dredmore, indeed, I usually die to monster zoos on Floor 2/3, but I'm happy to mark it as :B: as I don't know if I'll ever kill Dredmore. I have even been playing on the easiest difficulty and can't do it so this may never get a :C:, but I'll keep trying on and off for the rest of eternity, probably.

I think the game is totally hilarious (though YMMV) and I still haven't even seen everything. There are whole skill trees I haven't even selected yet, never mind put points into. I don't know what the Lutefisk statues do. Crafting still confuses the crap out of me and I keep drinking poisonous potions by accident even though by now I should know the differences between potions. If it isn't clear, I've been avoiding guides and wikis which might be part of my problem. Roguelikes are notorious for requiring wikis to get to the bottom of the dungeon - has anyone ever beaten Nethack without help? - and I am sure Dungeons of Dredmore is no different.

But where's the fun in knowing what to do? My dudes will continue to take their random skillsets into the dungeon and die horribly to Diggles in the first room, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 5/5 stars.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

:B: - Fairway Solitaire

Fairway Solitaire is a free game on iOS - it's a solitaire game with a golf theme which lets you pay £1.69 to unlock about a billion levels, and also has a bunch of other in-app-purchases which I have totally ignored.

The idea is thus - you have to get rid of cards to below a par, a certain amount of cards, by selecting cards on the field which are one higher or lower than the one you are holding. You can draw cards from the deck to get a new card, or you can use a golf club to change number, say using a 9 iron to get a 9 card. There are water hazards and sand traps which make certain levels tougher, and there are 3 stars to get depending on how below par you are.

This game gets into your brain. For a number of weeks I just could not stop playing - every opportunity I'd whip out the phone and knock a level out. And I have not even managed to finish all of the levels. It gets really, really hard later on and I tapped out a couple of sets of levels before the end. I totally intend to go back and earn enough points to buy the bonus levels but I have enough iPhone games to play without spending all my bus time on Fairway Solitaire for months on end. 5/5 stars, you should get this if you like solitaire, golf, or have a bunch of free time sitting around waiting to be sucked up.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Operation Titan Quest

With the recent release of Diablo 3 I have been feeling the call of the dungeon crawler. Unfortunately, I won't be buying Diablo 3 as my internet connection is not reliable and I will not knowingly buy games that force the player to be online when the game has a large single player component. So instead of supporting Blizzard's choice to force me into socializing, I've made a long list of games that have the same gameplay and I'm playing through that first, and by the time I'm finished, the entire country will probably have always-on internet and it'll be less of an issue.
First up is Titan Quest: Immortal Throne which I've had for a couple of years already but never got particularly far in. I still had my old character, but having imported it from the base game to Immortal Throne, the expansion, it started me back from the beginning so I just started a new character so as to refamiliarize myself with the game.
Titan Quest is a Diablo clone that is based in ancient history. You start off in Ancient Greece and fight all manner of beasties including harpies, gorgons and Minotaurs, and continue onto Ancient Egypt in Act II. It has all the loot you'd expect from a Diablo clone and it's really cool seeing all the different areas and monsters based around mythology.
I've put about 12 and a half hours into this character so far and I'm having a ton of fun, but that might be because I'm a bit of an ancient history and a mythology nut. My guy is Warrior/Defense and I think maybe I should have picked something else because he's really overpowered right now. Pretty much nothing touches him and I've picked up 200+ health potions so if something did hurt I'd be able to heal it right back up. Still, this is only normal difficulty, which is always easy in these sorts of games, so maybe the tides will turn once I'm onto Epic difficulty.
 Find the Ginormous List of Diablo Clones here.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

:B: / :C: - Life Quest 2: Metropoville

So it turns out I never learn. I played the original Life Quest here, and apparently that wasn't enough mediocrity. I like the idea so much that when I saw there was a Life Quest 2 on BigFishGames whilst trying to spend two credits I decided to take the plunge. It seemed like it had learned from the mistakes of the original so I went for it. That was a mistake.

You are a new citizen of Metropoville and you are put in their 12 steps to success program which gives you 12 sets of goals each split into three smaller goals. You can race against other characters to beat these goals which gives you extra money. You have to increase your stats, work, socialize and generally live life.

My criticisms of the last game by and large continue here. You can still do everything without having to specialize and while this game is more structured there's still not a great amount to do. It's longer than 1 by about threefold but a large part of that was doing the same thing over and over to get enough money for things. It's not challenging even at the beginning and never really evolves. It is kind of funny at times so there is that.

It is better than the original and if you were picking between them I'd recommend it, but there are better life simulators out there. If you can get it for free I'd say go for it if there was nothing else up your alley but otherwise save your money. 3/5 stars

Monday, 21 May 2012

:B: - Viva Pinata

This is not the first time I have beaten Viva Pinata, and it will not be the last considering I lost most of my achievements from this game whilst switching 360's.

Viva Pinata is a pretty simple game. You have a garden, and you have to attract and breed pinatas for fun and profit. You get experience for pretty much everything, and sometimes badguys come in to mess stuff up. It is also a pretty easy 1000 gamerscore points.

I played this when my 360 was offline, and somehow messed up getting back online so all my achievements were overwritten by the gamertag stored in the cloud. But I'm not so mad, I don't mind playing through it again. It's nice and relaxing and I like seeing my pinatas do their stuff. 5/5 stars.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

:B: - Rayman Origins

Before Rayman Origins, the last platformer I really got into was the first Rayman so many years ago. I had high expectations of this game because of my really fond memories of the first, and I can happily say that it smashed them.

Rayman Origins is a 2D platformer of the type that was so common in the SNES/Mega Drive era. It's also pretty much the only 2D platformer released for a home console in about 10 years. I'm not sure which I think is better, the graphics or the sound design. Both are absolutely phenomenal. The characters and environments are hand-drawn and high resolution, having been done with a new type of engine built to do exactly this and the animations are very fluid. And the sound design is incredibly good - so good it makes me sad that I didn't get the Collector's Edition to get the soundtrack.

Rayman and his friends control really well, they are very responsive and the only times I got frustrated was when I was being an idiot. The game starts off slow and builds up until it gets really rather hard but never too hard - I always felt like the challenge ahead of me was just within my reach if only I wasn't being stupid.

I really cannot recommend this game enough. Seriously, go buy it right this second if you like fun. It's beautiful, fun, has a well-balanced difficulty curve and best of all is four player. 5/5 stars.

Friday, 18 May 2012

:C: - Cooking Mama 2: Cooking with Friends

There's not a lot that can be said about Cooking Mama 2. It's Cooking Mama, either you like it or you don't and every game is like the others. I have finished all of the modes, and I had a bunch of fun so I went out and bought the third one. I didn't get all golds, I've left that as a nebulous future mastery medal if I so desire.

Also, is it just me or is the microphone on the 3DS really badly positioned? It's below the start button, under the edge, which makes it nigh impossible to blow into and see the screen at the same time. Which makes some recipes extremely difficult to gold as you need to blow and do something on the screen at the same time sometimes. But I haven't seen anyone else complain so maybe it is just me. 4/5 stars.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

:B: / :C: - Mass Effect 3

It's always intimidating to finish a game that's immensely popular, knowing you have to write about it. Especially when that game is Mass Effect 3. There are few games that are more written about, more analyzed, that have a more fanatical fanbase.

Having played through to the end, I am a little confused as to the completely violent reaction towards the ending. It's almost like the fans expected a Fallout 3-esque slideshow showing what happened to every single character after your actions in the previous two games. And I have a few things to say about that.

The first thing is that the ending could only really be one thing. Throughout the series, regardless of choices made, the same events have happened. You go to the same planets, meet the same people, fight the same enemies; it was just specifics - how the events unfolded - that differed. Expecting the ending to reflect everything you've ever done is naive at best. The developers trusted you to fill in the blanks yourself - just like every other sci-fi series in existence.

I have a bit of a rant about the complaints about peoples' choices not having an effect on the ending and how that ruined their enjoyment of the whole series. To those people I say - shut the fuck up! The entire game is literally consequence after consequence for your past actions. While playing I was constantly reacting to the results of decisions I made two years ago. It seemed like everything that was happening was altered in some way - from minor things like my team-mates referencing their roles in the suicide mission of the last game, to major things like decisions I made from specific loyalty missions shaping the future of entire races. I really felt like my actions left a permanent mark on the galaxy, regardless of what happened in the ending. It makes me angry that so many people totally ignored the 30 hours of consequences that happens before the end. Do tens of thousands of people lose all good memories of something the moment it ends poorly? It's utterly ridiculous.

I don't know if it's come across, but I have been thoroughly satisfied by the final foray into Commander Shepard's story. 5/5 stars and I'll see you in Insanity.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

:B: - Trackmania Nations United Forever

Trackmania is a bewilderingly names, many pronged series of videogames. In technical terms, there are only two: Trackmania and Trackmania 2 Canyon. However, the first game has many releases, each more confusingly named than the last.

There are two versions right now. There is the free version, Trackmania Nations Forever, which has enough content to play forever, and then there's Trackmania United Nations Forever, which has all the content of the free version plus a bunch more modes.

I've had the full version for quite a while now and I've been chipping away - over 3 computers and many failures to backup save-files when reinstalling Windows. I'm finally comfortable enough marking this as :B:. I may not have a lot of medals or True Skill points, but I am currently in the top 40% which I think is pretty respectable considering how long a lot of people have been playing this game for.

This game makes me oscillate between 'omg I love this' and 'omg why can't I do this bloody race' and I wouldn't have it anyway. 5/5 stars.

Monday, 7 May 2012


It has been almost two months since my last post. This makes me sad, but it was pretty unavoidable as I have had no internet connection other than that on my phone. I have a list of posts that I could be writing up, but given how long it has been since those posts should have been up I'm not sure if it would be a worthwhile use of my time.

Stay tuned folks, this blog is not dead.

Monday, 12 March 2012

New - Mass Effect 3

There has been an inordinate amount of controversy surrounding the launch of Mass Effect 3. Between online passes, day one DLC, the multiplayer effectively being required for the best ending, rumors of said DLC being on the disc, human-like stock photo Quarians, and petitions to change the ending or at least add a more positive one, it's a wonder this game is still selling by the bucketload.

Or perhaps not. It's still the highly-anticipated ending to a series loved by millions (Mass Effect 2 sold 2 million in the first week alone), and I don't know a whole lot of people that can walk away from something they care about without knowing the ending. I'm certainly not one of them.

Mass Effect 3 is one of the few times I've really felt the time difference between when America gets a game and when the UK does. I wish I'd have been able to go in blind, without seeing all the controversy. It was impossible to avoid all the impotent nerd rage on the internet, even with avoiding opening articles in my RSS feeds. I spent two days with the horrible feeling that ME3 was going to be a massive disappointment before my copy came in the post (a day before release, thanks Amazon).

Setting aside all the things that everyone else is angry about, I'd just like to add my two cents. One: It's Mass Effect. If you liked Mass Effect, you'll almost definitely like this one. And two: Why the FUCK is my Shepard's main job playing errand-boy for every Tom Dick and Harry in the galaxy? The Reapers have arrived, suck it the fuck up and KICK SOME ASS.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

:C: - The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

It's been a long time coming, but I finally did it. I finished all my goals for completing Skyrim. I feel quite embarrased, because for a long time I've had just one goal left - getting all the Dragon Priest Masks. And when I loaded up my save tonight, I found I had 8, and the only thing left to do was to go to Labyrinthia to get the final special one.

So that's it. It's kind of underwhelming, really. I'll still be playing it, of course, because I'm still missing that one last achievement and I'm still in love with the idea of it being my first 100% retail game. Hopefully I can do all the Daedric Quests with another character before the DLC comes out (which I'll get on day one and play to death).

There's also the PC version to consider. I'm planning on buying a new PC at some point which can run Skyrim so I don't have to play on my family's computer with the 20 billion mods my brother has inevitably installed. So I've got that to look forward to as well - and I'll be able to take screenshots! Won't that be exciting?

Here's to much more Skyrim in the future. It is a neverending game after all.

New - Credit is Awesome!

So I had a bunch of credit after trading in Final Fantasy XIII-2 and The Sims 3, and some loyalty points, so when SSX came out I trundled along to my local Gamestation to pick it up.

There was no way in any universe that I wasn't getting the new SSX. The series had a profound influence on me in my easily influenced early teen years, and I've had a thing for extreme sports games ever since. There are many bands I listen to regularly that I would never have found if it weren't for Tricky and 3. I played On Tour briefly on my PSP and skipped Blur entirely, but they were shit anyway, but I've been excited for this one since the first trailer. And, for what it's worth I'm not disappointed.

After SSX I had a bunch of credit left, so I went browsing, and after some deliberation, I picked out RAGE and Shadows of the Damned. Both I've been meaning to pick up ever since they came out but never got round to, so this was a good opportunity.

I love getting free stuff. SSX (with pre-order DLC), RAGE and Shadows of the Damned for a grand total of £1.07. Phenomenal. This is why I hope GAME Group doesn't collapse. I'd miss this (and the people, too).

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

:B: - Everyday Genius - SquareLogic

I love puzzles. Any kind of puzzles, but especially puzzles in videogames. Specifically games dedicated to one type of puzzle (not to rag on Professor Layton, he's cool too).

SquareLogic is sudoku with a few more rules, basically. It starts off on a 4x4 grid and goes up to... I don't know. Probably 9x9. You have to figure out the numbers with rules it gives you instead of being given some other numbers. If you like sudoku, you'll love this.

I've given it 4/5 stars, not because it could be better, but because every time you do a preliminary set of levels (of which there are about 59 sets of 13), you unlock a further 150-800 puzzles just on that set. I do really like the game, but I think there's probably more puzzles in this game that I'll be able to do in my entire life so I'll never be able to see it.

I say pick it up. Just be prepared for it to take up a large portion of your life.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

:B: - RPG Snake

I did this a couple of weeks ago but I forgot to mark it down. There's not a lot I can say about it. It's Snake, but with a hero as the snake and enemies as the dots. It's kind of difficult to play and there's only 9 levels, and I'm unhappy I paid for this. I could have got two milky bars with that 99p. 2/5 stars.

New - DoDonPachi Resurrection Deluxe Edition

I ended up trading in my Final Fantasy XIII-2. I was unlikely to play it again, and I could get extra for it because it was within two weeks of release. I got this instead.

Either you know this series and want it already, or you don't and you won't be interested. It's a bullet hell shoot-em-up, one of the more well-known ones. As of yesterday (17 Feb 2012) it was on sale in Gamestation for £10, so if you want it, now is the time. It comes with the soundtrack as is customary.

I've played a single game so far and it's pretty much just more of the same, so you know if you'll like it or not. Have at.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

:B: - Final Fantasy XIII-2

I didn't quite get to the end of Final Fantasy XIII-2. It's a shame, truly, because my journey through the game was almost definitely the most fun I've had with a JRPG in a long time. However, there's a new contender for 'most frustrating last boss ever', at least in my eyes. Spoilers, obviously.

The final boss comes a bit out of nowhere. It's three Bahamuts, two of which are less powerful and a third one with more than a million HP. You need to beat the first two before being able to fight the third, and they regenerate fairly often. I was using a strategy I found on the internet which was working pretty well for me.

You have to stay on your toes during the battle to quickly swap Paradigms so you take less damage. It's a stressful experience because you can't take your eyes of the screen for even a second, because if you miss them advertising an attack and you don't switch to Sentinel quick enough, it's game over. It was on my third attempt when I quit.

I'm not someone who can sit down and do the same bit over and over. The third time, I was 30 minutes into the battle and the main Bahamut was almost down to half HP. I was keeping my HP up religiously and one of the lesser Bahamuts regenerated back into battle. He used an attack I'd survived many times already but I went to swap to Sentinel anyway. I wasn't quick enough, and that attack that shouldn't have killed 3 fully-healed characters, did.

I haven't lost so much good will to a game so quickly in a long time. I loved the journey, truly I did. I like the battles, I love the stat-balancing, I love finding fragments and I even thought the story was pretty good. But I just can't deal with final bosses that take an age to beat and have attacks that kill you in one hit. I really, really can't. Give him loads of HP, fine. Give him super strong attacks, fine. But don't, for the love of god, give him both.

Up until now, this game was a certain 5 stars. But after that battle, I just can't bring myself to because I'm too bitter. 4/5 stars.

:B: / :C: - Jane's Zoo

So I have this guilty gaming pleasure. I have a bit of a thing for time management games. I'm not totally sure I can adequately explain why I find them appealing. It might be because they're kind of soothing, but ultimately I have no idea why I like them.

Jane's Zoo is one of the aforementioned type of game, set in a zoo. You have to feed/clean/entertain/cheer up your increasing stable of animals and get a certain score to proceed to the next level. There's 40 levels, and expert score to achieve on each one, but beyond that there's nothing else to do so it's not a particularly long game. Once you have expert on all 40 levels, that's it - and it's not a particularly difficult feat.

I did have fun, but I can't really recommend buying it. It's cute and enjoyable, but paying more than a couple quid for a game that lasts little more than two hours leaves a bit of a sour taste. 3/5 stars.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

New - Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Metal Gear Solid HD Collection

It was a big day for releases on Friday. There were three games I would have happily bought out on the same day; Soul Calibur V, Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Metal Gear Solid HD Collection.

After reading reviews, I decided against Soul Calibur V. The single-player content has apparently been reduced to very little. I have no desire to play a Soul Calibur where my only offline options are a single Story mode and arcade battles. Where's weapon master mode? Individual stories? Challenge tower? Hell, even that sort-of strategy mode from the third one would have done. I have little to no desire to play against others, especially using my spotty internet, so I gave it a pass.

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection on the other hand was always going to be a must-buy. It came out elsewhere back in November and I have no idea why it took them so long to bring it out here, but hey, at least I didn't have to split my time between Skyrim and Metal Gear. I've only played it a little bit but how GOOD is Metal Gear Solid 3? I played it back on the PS2 way back when it came out and it was actually top of my favourite games ever but I forgot how awesome it was. There are bits I didn't even catch back then - like Snake making dick jokes. It's going to be great going back.

Finally, there's Final Fantasy XIII-2. There were a lot of things I hated about XIII. I could go on at length about boring environments, too-lengthy battles, little party customisation and the enormous amounts of exposition that explained nothing. I got halfway through Chapter 7 (about 14 hours) before giving up and trading the original in, and have no regrets about doing so before reaching the end of the 'tutorial'. However, after reading the reviews for XIII-2 and playing the demo, I felt confident that not only had they fixed most everything I hated about the first, and in the process made what was probably going to be everything I like about JRPGs in one game.

And out of what I've played so far, I don't think I'm far wrong. At this early stage of 8 hours in, I'd happily recommend it for full price.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

:B: - PGR 4

Project Gotham Racing 4 is a really excellent racing game.

On the scale of simulation to arcade, it leans more towards arcade, but is still kind of in the middle. It's a 'realistic' racing game where you get points to unlock stuff by doing drifts, 360s, drafting your opponents, or doing tricks on your bike. It has weather, loads of tracks, loads of unlockables and lots of modes so you don't get bored just going round a track over and over again.

I think PGR 4 might be my favourite racing game ever, and I'd nominate it for best racing game ever.

I started a new game since the last time I played, 2 or 3 years ago, was on my old gamer profile so I don't have access to it any more. I had forgotten how much stuff there was to do in this game. I started the career, because that's the easiest way to earn Kudos, which unlocks things. I've been dilligently completing races, drift events, time trials and invitationals for a good 10 hours now and I've only just broken into the Master rank. I'm 17th, and am about 250 points away from being first. In any other game, this would only be a few races, but here, your rivals also get points for each race, so it's going to be a long time to get to the top, which I guess is accurate.

I've barely scraped the surface of the arcade mode, which has 108 medals in total, split roughly evenly between car and bike. Each medal has five ranks, for difficulty - Steel, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum - and Platinums are really, really hard to get. It'll be a very long road finishing this mode too.

Then there's the DLC packs, which added World Championship mode. There are three parts to World Championship mode - Arcade Challenge, DLC Challenge, and Platinum Plus. Arcade and DLC Challenge are pretty easy going, at least as far as Platinum Plus is concerned. Platinum Plus takes the difficulty of Platinum to a whole new level. I'm not sure I'll ever complete that mode.

All this and I haven't even touched on the online. I haven't played any of it, so I wouldn't know where to begin with telling you about it. It's really intimidating as the game has been out a very long time, so the only people left playing it will be experts. This is an open offer for anyone to add me to their friends list - I'm RequiredCosine - so we could play sometime. I just don't want to go it alone.

PGR 4 is so much fun, I'll probably continue playing this for a while.  5/5 stars.

New - Bioshock & PGR 4

Back in the mists of time, when my family got our first 360, I got two games, Bioshock and PGR 4.

Bioshock first got my attention with the original trailer, and it was one of the few games where it grabs my attention so badly that I go on a media blackout for that title, so I can go into the game totally blind. I don't regret it at all, my playthrough of Bioshock stands as one of my top three gaming experiences. I haven't played it since. It's now almost exactly four years since I finished it, and I think it's time to go back.

Project Gotham Racing 4 was the game that sold me on the 360. The console wasn't on my radar at all until I went into Gamestation in late November and saw it playing on the demo machine. I'm a huge fan of racing games so I toddled over and gave it a go and it felt so fantastic to play that, knowing I wouldn't be able to play until Christmas when we got our console, I bought it so I'd be able to play it right away. I traded it in long ago, but got cravings to go back.

I've been on a bit of a past games kick recently. I'm feeling the desire to reacquire my old 360 games to replay them. Forza 2, Crackdown, Prince of Persia... all games that I really enjoyed but got rid of to get newer and shinier games. I'm wondering whether to go crawling back.

(The only reason my past games kick only includes 360 games is that I still have all my old games for my other consoles!)

:B: - Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

I was determined today to check a game off as beaten. So I picked a game that would be simple and easy to plow hours into. That game is Puzzle Quest. I had not, however bet on how compulsive the game would be.

Puzzle Quest is a match-the-blocks game with an added helping of RPG elements. You go round the map, fight stuff by the match-the-blocks game, level up and that's pretty much the long and short of it. It's really simple and really, really hard to put down. I had no time put into this before this afternoon and yet here I am 8 hours later with 6 hours put into it.

I'm not really sure what to say. 4/5 stars, I guess.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Mass Effect 3 - AKA Fill Your House with Crap

Mass Effect 3 comes out March 6th.

When the original first came out, I wasn't really into it. I wasn't prepared for the combination of clunky shooting and lots of talking. I couldn't find my way around the Citadel, I couldn't figure out who to trust and who not to, and I definitely couldn't figure out why I should give a shit about saving everybody. I gave up at Noveria.

I tried again last year. This time, I heavily got into it. I did everything, saved everyone, and even bought all the DLC - on both games. I am extremely excited for the third one. Or at least, I was. I am one of those laughable people who like to have complete games. Not in the sense of mint box, manual and game, but more like, if there are features or content that are not on the disc (DLC or expansions, primarily) I have to get them, even if it's not one of my favourites. It just bothers me if I can't have/see it all: I have stalled on Skylanders, for example, because I am unable to find a fire Skylander anywhere and it seriously gets to me if I find a fire-only gate which I can't use, which invariably has cool stuff behind it.

Bioware is jumping on the nickle-and-dime DLC bandwagon. If you want all of the downloadable weapons and skins and such for multiplayer (and possibly singleplayer, I'm not entirely sure), you have to do as follows.
  • Pre-order the game: Free depending on store
  • Get the Collector's Edition: £69.99
  • Collect 8 figurines: ~£87
  • Pre-order the artbook: ~17
That's £173.99 to have a content-complete game at launch. AT LAUNCH. Yes, you get pretty figurines and artbooks and goodness knows what else that you'll look at once then put in a box in the attic, but it's more than a little ridiculous to ask me to buy so much stuff if I want to have a complete game from the getgo. I'm especially reticent because this is a mode I never wanted and never asked for, and I haven't yet seen a game that's had multiplayer shoehorned in which the singleplayer didn't suffer at least a little bit (disclaimer: I never quite got over Bioshock 2).

Here's my bet: the story mode in Mass Effect 3 will be significantly shorter than in 1 & 2 because the developers decided to make multiplayer and have that effect your in game efforts. There will also be an online pass so if I buy the game, my other half will have to spend twenty quid just to shoot reapers with other people. It's a bet I'll be devastated to win.

Monday, 23 January 2012

:B: - Burnout 3: Takedown

I have, for a long time, maintained that Burnout 3 is probably the greatest car game ever. I recently had the desire to go back to it as it's been a long time since I last played it, and I no longer had my save file.

This was probably a mistake.

When I was 15, Crash Mode was totally unlike anything else I'd ever played and I got so much pleasure out of causing as much damage as possible. Takedown mode too. 8 years later, however, and I get more fun out of racing and time trials. Sadly, this is Takedown's weak point as the PS2 just doesn't have enough power to clearly display upcoming obstactles and that, combined with absolutely vicious rubberbanding AI, makes for a frustrating experience.

I want to really, really like this game still, but I wish it was in high definition and on a console with more processing power. Give me Paradise's engine but with Takedown's structure. I'd buy it for full price, no doubt about it.  That would reconvince me of it's title as number 1, but for now I'm not even sure it's the best Burnout game. It makes me sad. 4/5 stars.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Skyrim - Regrets

I have many regrets in Skyrim.

I regret not going back to Labyrinthia to find Faendal's body after I realised he was dead after he had been my companion for half the game.

I regret not paying attention to where Shadowmere died so I could go back when he revived.

I regret killing Paarthurnax just to get the Blades to like me.

I regret marrying Vorstag instead of using him as a companion - now he's all 'my love' this and 'my love' that instead of being the guy who spurs me on.

I regret continuing the Companions questline. I got really upset when Jorrvaskr was invaded.

I regret continuing the Dark Brotherhood questline. I have never been so angry at a videogame character in my entire life - and I regret killing everyone and taking everything not nailed down out of said anger on the ship at the end of the quests.

I regret helping the Civil War effort. Now a lot of people are angry at me and several houses in Whiterun are inaccessible to me.

But mostly, I regret not playing it on the PC. I am unable to get the best house in the game, as I need to become Thane of Windhelm, and I can't do that until finishing Blood on the Ice, which won't trigger for me. If I were on PC, I'd be able to trigger the quest so I could complete it. I could also nudge along the other stuck quests I have - The White Phial, various misc quests, probably something else I'm forgetting.

If I were on PC, I would still have regrets, but at least they'd be because of things I did or did not do, and not because the game imposed them on me.

Monday, 16 January 2012

:B: - Resident Evil - Mercenaries 3D

I'm going to take a moment here and complain how it seems like virtually every 3DS game has 3D in the title. It's on the 3DS, and it has "has 3D effects" listed on the back, so you'd think it'd be superfluous. Out of my 6 3DS games, 4 have 3D in the title. I can almost forgive it for the 3D remakes of Ocarina of Time and Starfox 64, but Super Mario 3D Land and RE: Mercenaries 3D? It's pointless and it irritates the hell out of me.

Anyway, Resident Evil: Mercenaries. Mercenaries was my favourite bit of Resident Evil 4. I wasn't all that keen on the main game, it being a glorified escort mission once you were past the beginning, but mercenaries mode was flipping amazing. Score-based time-limited shooting with some of my favourite Resident Evil characters? Yes please. So I was really happy that they released a version of the mode without that crappy RE4 game included, and with a bunch more stuff.

It's really good. You start off with three levels, and one character. There are 6 sets of levels, increasing progressively in difficulty, 7 characters to unlock, an alternate costume for each character, skills to unlock to help in the levels, and medals to get in case you got bored with all the other stuff. To get to the later levels, you have to prove your skills in the final showdown of that set, and get a ranking of B or above. (The rankings go up to SS, as far as I can tell.)

I have been having a blast for the most part, except for two notable occasions. The first was realising that playing it on the bus gives me a most severe case of motion sickness. The second was getting to level 5-5, which after getting a B or above, the credits roll, you unlock Wesker, and the final set of levels, EX, appear.

I can't do it. I'm not even having difficulty staying alive, mostly, but you have to beat the boss within the strict time limit whilst also dealing with infected monks (that are tough mooks) and axe-wielding twatbags that totally wreck your shit if they hit. And I am getting so, so stressed out in trying to do it. I haven't had even remotely this much difficulty with the rest of the game. I did the level before it, 5-4, in one attempt. But I just. Can't. Do it. It's totally ridiculous.

And so, with a heavy heart, I give Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D a 4/5, instead of the 5/5 I was totally ready to give it before this level. I hear its easier in two-player mode, but I haven't even Street Passed a single person in carrying my 3DS everywhere, so that's not going to happen. I recommend it, but only if you want a challenge.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Skyrim - Never Make a Deal with a Daedra

I finished the last two Daedric quests the other night, Sanguine and Vaermina.

Sanguine took an age to trigger. You're challenged to a drinking contest in an inn by Sam Somethingorother. The issue is getting him to appear. He is random, and turns up in an inn you might visit by chance. This lead to me going back and forth between three inns about 20 times. Add on loading times? It took a long time indeed. It was simple enough once I'd found him, though. It was interesting enough, but there was a hell of a lot of back-and-forth.

Finally, there was Vaermina. Dawnstar are suffering from nightmares, you have to stop them. I've had this quest since the beginning, pretty much, but I didn't realise it was Daedric until looking in my guide. Long story short, I got my Skull of Corruption, waited for my 15 artifacts achievement to pop... and nothing.

I checked my list and yes, I missed one (Clavicus Vile), but that shouldn't have prevented me from getting it. But further research showed that the Skeleton Key does not in fact count as a Daedric artifact. I am SO annoyed. Clavicus Vile was the first Daedric quest I did approximately 80 hours previous, and the quest that allows you to get two (Hircine) was the next one, approximately 75 hours of play ago. Alright, it's just 30 meaningless Xbox points, but I was looking forward to Skyrim being my first 100% achievemented Xbox retail game.

Do I pick up an older character and get my artifacts on that one in hopes of getting it? I don't know. The wound is still too raw.

Moral of the story? Never trust a Daedra.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

New - Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights

I saw this in Grainger Games yesterday. It was a pretty good deal, and I was so surprised to see it was out, I snapped it up.

It's Professor Layton meets Pokemon meets Metal Gear meets Indiana Jones. It hasn't been getting great reviews, but I think that's because everyone expected it to be exactly like Professor Layton. It's got puzzles, yeah, but there's also sneaking past guards, collecting living treasures and battling said treasures in a JRPG-like interface. Add beautiful animated cutscenes and good voice-acting and you have a pretty great game.

Alright, I haven't played huge amounts, but I am really enjoying it so far. Don't listen to the haters.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Skryim - Daedric Wanderings in Dwemer Territory

I'm continuing with my demolishing of Daedric quests in Skyrim. Yesterday I finished Malacath and Peryite's quests.

Malacath's was really simple after I waited several days in an alchemists' store to buy some Troll Fat. Take the stuff to whatserface, go somewhere else, kill a bunch of giants. It's not a quest I'd recommend doing early on. At level 54 with great armour, loads of HP, and a fantastic mace, I can go tete a tete with a giant and take it out with four hits and 90% of my health left. You have to keep the orc leader alive around all these giants, which probably could get tricky but he never got close enough to a giant for me to test this theory. So you kill all the giants and go back to camp and BAM! End of quest. It was really rather abrupt.

Peryite's was a whole other barrel of fish. I spent ages looking for Vampire Dust because my trusty alchemist's store, three court mages and a different alchemist store all were suspiciously empty of Vampire Dust. I ended up looking up a vampire lair and killed one within 5 minutes. Then, on the quest I'm sent on... well, it was to a Dwemer Ruin. The enemies here were a piece of cake, but it took forever because Dwemer places are huge. I'm not as big a fan of the Dwemer as some people seem to be, and spending an hour and a half going through what's basically a linear dungeon with 5 transitions through doors got a little old. I was quite bored by the time I was halfway through. But I powered through and became yet another Daedra's Champion and got a shield I'll never use. Ho hum.

Next up is Sanguine, whose questline is supposedly phenomenally fun, so here's to that.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Skyrim - Thieves Guild, Hermaeus Mora and Boethiah

I had quite a lot of progress today. Getting the Thieves Guild's reputation up was quite simple when I figured out that I could turn down quests at places I'd already finished, so I saved a lot of time. It took me probably an hour and a half in total, and once that was done I was fully made Guildmaster and everyone loved me. But that's how these things go in The Elder Scrolls.

Next was finishing up Hermaeus Mora's quest. I was literally right at the end, all I had to do was take the blood back to the old guy, and take the book. The book, incidentally, is fucking awesome. When you read it, it asks you to pick from Warrior, Mage and Thief. I picked Mage, because that's the most annoying to get up, and all my magic skills went up by a rather large amount. I even went up a level!

I then went to do Boethiah's questline. I had to find some guy to sacrifice, so I went to the nearby city of Windhelm and hired some guy in the inn, and sacrificed him. Fights were had, and then I was sent to go have more fights (but stealthily). My reward for this was Ebony Mail. Which wasn't really worth it.

By this time my Light Armor was maxed, so I went and swapped my Dragonscale Armor for Dragonplate Armor (I am aware Daedric is better, but its so much more expensive and I won't be wearing it forever).

Finally, I popped over to Largashbur to start Malacath's quest. It glitched for me because the Orc that's meant to start the quest got killed by a giant, so I had to climb over the wall to talk to the next Orc, who didn't acknowledge the first was killed. She gave me a quest to find Troll Fat and a Daedric Heart, so I decided that was a good time to call it a night.

Fairly productive, really.

:B: - Super Mario 3D Land

I've been playing this a little bit over the past week and I have to say it's pretty thoroughly enjoyable. It's got a good mix of retro and new, and blends playstyles of the 2D and 3D Mario games seamlessly.

It does annoy me when there's parts that they've made just to show off the 3D effects of the 3DS though. I am unable to see 3D, so these parts are unnecessarily hard for me, and it's unpleasant that they've made certain parts of their game fairly inaccessable to people like me.

But other than that, I've been having fun. The game was a touch easy for most of it, but 8-8 tested my skills well enough. I defeated Bowser, rescued Peach, the credits rolled... and then it gave me a whole new set of levels. On the one hand, more game! Yeah! On the other hand, that's a rotten sneaky trick. Boo! But 5/5 stars, and I reckon I'll continue to play it on the bus.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Skryim - The Road to Completion

It's my aim this year to average at 1 completed game a month. And given it's the only thing I'm playing recently, pretty much, the first one is to be The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. I've made a list of goals I want to achieve to do so, and hope to complete them before January is out.

Finishing the list does not mean by any stretch of the imagination that I'll have seen everything there is to be seen in Skyrim, it just gives me a good point to say: 'yes, I can happily mark this off as :C:'. Otherwise the game would sit on my Backloggery as :B: forever.

Right now I'm working on bringing the Thieves Guild back to full power. It's a long, long road indeed.