Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Year In Review Preview

Just a cursory glance at the sidebar of this blog will tell all about how promiscuous I've been with gaming this year. A lot of that can be chalked up to getting two new platforms with copious amounts of cheap games available (iphone and PC). I love to try new things, and I love a good bargain. It's time to clamp down, though.

I made a change in my life with the new year 2009 (stopped drinking soda), and that has been a huge success. I've had one soda all year, and that was part of a root beer float at a dairy factory, so it could hardly have been avoided. I've been trying to think of another change for the new year 2010, and I thought about cutting back on junk food or resolving to write more or exercise more, but now I'm thinking why not also/instead cut back spending on games? I've made a real effort to spend less all year, but even so I was at over $600 at last count, and I'm probably closer to $1000, now (and that's not counting this expensive PC). I'll try to figure it up at the end of December.

What I'm thinking of doing is instituting a strict one completion, one purchase policy going forward. I could set it in stone, but then I'd have to bank completions in case there was an awesome bargain on Steam or something else came up. I might allow for exceptions here and there, just in case. Maybe for now I'll try to stick as closely to the letter of the resolution as possible, and we'll see how it goes. I'm going to go ahead and start this now ahead of the new year and see what happens.

I currently really want/plan to buy Dragon Age, Assassin's Creed 2, and Mass Effect 2, among several other lower priority games. ME2 is the only one I have to have day one, though. That means I need to complete and/or wring all I care to out of 1-3 games in the next couple of months. Can I do it? I'm in the middle of Yakuza 2 and Starcraft, and in various states of completion of Far Cry 2, Torchlight, Borderlands, Twilight Princess, Final Fantasy II, Dawn of War II, Oblivion, Fallout, Morrowind, and Titan Quest, and that's just to name a few recent ones! I've also just begun Demon's Souls. Can it be done? We'll see...

Update: Ok, it's obvious that there needs to be some provision here for games under $5 or $10. I just bought KOTOR on Steam for $2.49. There was no way I could pass that up.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Weekend In Tokyo

Upon arrival to Tokyo this past Friday night, I made my way from Narita airport outside the city into Shibuya, the very belly of the beast. Lonesteban and I met up at the well-known local meeting spot, a statue of a dog named Hachiko just outside of Shibuya station. We were soon joined by another American expatriate, Seth, AKA Thrakhath. The three of us found our way to an izakaya not far away and I was regaled with many tales of wonder from the inside of a Japanese game developer and publisher. From there we headed over to a Segafredo cafe and recorded Call of Podcast #10. Much about gaming was discussed.

That night, and a good part of the next day, Lonesteban and I hung out around his place playing Demon's Souls, passing the controller back and forth and trying to figure out why we kept getting our asses handed to us by a merciless spear-carrying knight with red eyes. Red Knight, as we dubbed our chief adversary, is apparently not meant to be fought the first time the player traverses level 1-1, the Boletarian Palace. In the end we were able to exploit some geometry in the environment to cause Red Knight to fall to his death from the top of a long spiral staircase. We must have spent 6 hours or more cooperatively gaming on Demon's Souls, and insanely difficult as it was, we were heartily enjoying ourselves. We wondered aloud several times whether the game would be as fun played solo, and I'm willing to bet that it would not be, but nevertheless, I can't wait to get home and pick up a copy for myself and flagellate myself with it. I won't play as a Knight like Lonesteban and I began, I'm leaning more toward the Wanderer class that wields what looks to be a falchion according to the manual and strategy guide. I wonder if I might still be able to find a copy of the collector's edition of the game with the soundtrack, strategy guide, and artbook.

That night the two of us headed out on the town to meet up with Cheapy D of Cheap Ass Gamer and CAGcast fame, and his wife. Lonesteban befriended him some time earlier at some sort of industry event, as far as I know. I'd met Cheapy once before at PAX 2008, but I didn't bother bringing that up, since there's no way he'd have remembered. He's a really nice guy, and just as funny and genial in person as he is on his podcast (which has like 13,000 times as many listeners as we get, incidentally). We went out for Tempura at a well-regarded place in Shinjuku, and then went for some karaoke after that. A fun time was had by all. Oh, and if you're reading this Cheapy, thanks again for coming out (not to mention picking up the tab--you didn't have to do that)!

After a while we Lonesteban and I headed back to his place, where I got in some time with Guitar Hero Metallica. It was about what you'd expect. I probably won't be picking that up unless it's on sale for $10 somewhere. Rock Band 2 pretty much finished the music genre for me. I can't really imagine needing much else unless it's another usability upgrade like with RB to RB2. I did find a cheap copy of Killzone 2 in a store near Lonesteban's pad, though. The American version, no less.

The next day it was time to leave Tokyo behind and head over into Kansai, where my in-laws live. I played a bit of Hero of Sparta, a God of War clone on my iphone, and in between sightseeing and meeting up with family here, I've started the Zerg campaign in Starcraft. My brother in law Jeff (Indonesian, married to my wife's sister, living here in Japan), is the guy who got me into WoW, and has himself recently returned to the game after a long hiatus. We had a good discussion about the modern endgame and gaming in general. And apparently, my six-year-old niece plays Street Fighter 4.

The Week Leading Up To Coming To Japan

The week of the 5th-12th of this month was fairly uneventful as far as gaming. I spent more time plowing through the latest Wheel of Time book and going out with co-workers for drinks (and catching Zombieland) than anything. The time I did get to game out was mostly spent on Torchlight and Borderlands, with a little Dawn of War II thrown in. A good portion of that was spent trying to figure out why Borderlands always crashes my machine upon exiting the game. My conclusion is just that it's a slapdash console port and my computer takes personal offense at having to run the game. It chokes the game down for about as long as I demand, only to purge at the first possible moment. Luckily, it seems to like the other games I've been running.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Crazy- Ass PC Loot Game Rampage

I'm living single for a couple of weeks since the wife has headed over to Japan ahead of myself to spend some time with friends and family. In the meantime, I've been reading a hell of a lot of The Gathering Storm, the new Wheel of Time book, and I've been playing a hell of a lot of some recent PC purchases.

Torchlight is just about perfect. It's a game very much in the Diablo tradition, and indeed made by a lot of the people behind the Diablo series, formerly of Blizzard North. It's a great refinement of the genre, and it's effortless to sit down and waste a couple of hours with the game. I'm playing a dual-pistol-wielding vanquisher with a trick-shot like ricochet ability, and having my pet concentrate on keeping enemies' attention while I blast them from range. The story is paper-thin, and it's single player only, but a game with this level of playability for $20 is madness.

Borderlands is often summed up as Diablo, but with guns. I'd just add that it's done in a brown GWAR junkyard setting. It's a pretty fun game, but the PC version has a lot of things that piss me off. It's just a straight case of shoehorning the console version onto a PC, with just about nothing added but enhanced graphics settings and mouse controls. The UI is atrocious, and the P2P networking over Gamespy is gutter trash. Despite these failings, I've spent like 10 hours playing the game, already. With a patch (or some tweaks I could pull off myself in the config files) the game could be something great. Go the extra mile, developers. You just look bad when you pull this shit.

Dawn of War II is a novel mix of RTS and Diabalike game conventions. It's the tactical gameplay of one with the more intimate scope and character and gear progression of the other. It's great, so far. I like the crazy Warhammer 40,000 universe it's set in, too. So far I've done 6-7 missions of the campaign, a match of the more traditional, base-builder RTS multiplayer, and several games of The Last Stand, which is the Horde/Firefight/survival mode done in DoW II. Very cool, so far.

Yakuza 2 has kind of fallen by the wayside for now, with me about halfway or more through it. I'm at a decent break point, though, and I'll probably be back at it either once I finish this book or once I'm back from Japan around Thanksgiving.

Modern Warfare 2 PC - A Bad Deal

Image is courtesy of Puck at NeoGAF.

Q Is there a console in the PC version of the game, so we can change our field of view from the xbox's default 65 FOV to 80 also can we tweaks the weapon damage for each gun, removes perks, graphical debris, breathing sway, also thru console like we where able to before or is this all gone?

A We would like you to play the game the way we designed and balanced it. - Vince-IW
I can't recall ever seeing such a hilariously awful and fucked up handling of a game. I thought that TF2 on 360 was handled terribly, but at least it was part of an incredibly awesome package deal in The Orange Box. This is really disappointing.