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.