Monday, August 26, 2013


I got rid of my Xbox 360, as I talked about doing before, and used the credit from trading it and all the games in to get a Vita! Why? Why not! It's a semi-viable platform these days. It's perfectly good for playing classic PSX games and the few really stand-out PSP games. I spent a lot of this past weekend with it, playing a little bit of Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, but mostly having fun revisiting Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Metal Gear Solid, and Vagrant Story, while also checking out Killzone: Liberation, which I had never played on the PSP but did own, and digging back into my Tactics Ogre game, which looks and plays great, as one might expect.

Tactics Ogre is hard and deep and very involved, and I am lost somewhere in the middle with a cadre of fighters whose equipment and abilities have been badly mismanaged to this point. My kunoichi are garbage against most enemies, and I don't know why. I'm thinking it may be due to using the wrong slash/blunt/pierce affinity, but that doesn't explain why their ninjutsu also sucks. I'll have to work it out; I really like this game and want to finish it--multiple times, to see all the various branching stories and whatnot.

Diablo III has had an expansion announced, and I want to get my barbarian up to level 60 and through Inferno before that comes out. I don't think there is a date yet, and I am sure I have plenty of time, but I've gone ahead and gotten back into playing some over the last few days, advancing from level 23 to 26, from toward the end of Act II normal to the beginning of Act III. I also had my third ever legendary item drop yesterday, and what's more, it was even an upgrade! It was a belt that I doubt I will replace anytime soon. I like to play drops-only, at least until Inferno. Once there, things may get a little tougher--at launch, Inferno was insanely out of balance. After several patches, though, I anticipate a smoother difficulty curve, especially since drop rates have been drastically improved during the same time.

In other leisure time, I finished up Dishonored's The Brigmore Witches DLC, and uninstalled it. I love the game, but I need to play other stuff when I want that sort of experience. I have some Deus Ex and Thief and System Shock things to get to, as well. I also touched on Neverwinter; I need to sock away some more time for that; its decently entertaining. I even got in a couple of matches of Dota 2 with a friend/podcast listener. Fun times, all around.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Where Am I Going To Find The Time?

That is the question, these days. I have a hundred things vying for my free time, and it's harder than ever to find. Longtime readers will know that I spend an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to prioritize how I spend my leisure time. I almost don't even have time for that anymore!

Not to worry, though, I keep buying games. Relentlessly. Why, just today I bought about 8 EA games through the Humble Bundle. When will I play these? How long do I have left on this Earth?

Well, I have been playing a few things. The final Dishonored DLC, The Brigmore Witches, is out, and brings to a close Daud's campaign. I'm through the first level of that, another fine Dishonored stage. What a great game. I can't wait for a potential sequel, and I hope they expand more on the world they've just started to reveal in this game.

For some reason I've been playing Civ V recently, as well. I'm not sure what really brought it on, but I played to the bitter end a doomed Russian empire as Catherine the Great, ultimately falling broken, but unbent, to Augustus Caesar's aggressions. Now I've started up a large scale game as Attilla the Hun, where if things work out, I'll be doing the aggressing.

I've also begun playing an MMO. A free-to-play one, actually--Neverwinter, set in the popular Dungeons and Dragons world. Apparently the city of Baldur's Gate is in that world. Apparently Baldur's Gate is a city. Who knew. Anyway, it has many of the usual post-WoW and contempo-F2P traits you would expect in such a thing, but where it begins to deviate, in my limited MMO experience, is in the combat system, which is very timing-based, and does not use an auto-attack system. It seems pretty cool, so far, after maybe 5 hours, max. I had heard it was fun, and was interested, but what put me over the edge was hearing from a friend who was playing it, and asked me to join up so we could play together. Where am I going to find the time?

This past weekend was the culmination of The International 3, the Dota 2 tournament to end all tournaments. I haven't played in a while, but watching the best teams in the world slug it out was really something to behold. The grand finals went the full five games this time, and they were each incredible to watch. Alliance and Na'Vi were neck and neck much of the time; there were some real nail-biters in there, and game 5 was unforgettable.

So, there you have it. Now to play a game for a bit.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Getting Off Before the End of the Line

I was thinking about it today, and with how little I use my consoles, I am wondering if they are really necessary to have around. If not, the time to unload them would be very soon, before their successors come out. The 360 is really getting the most of my evil gaze on this one, since I have more games that I like and unplayed on the PS3--and that is also the one that I can use to stream video without a bullshit pay wall.

The lack of backward compatibility, and my antipathy for much of what Microsoft is doing in video games these days has me unenthused about their upcoming box, and with how little I use my 360 now, I'm better off closing up shop on that platform and getting rid of it, I think.

To that end, I am spending a little bit of time with every unplayed 360 game I have before trading them all in with the system (probably 3DS games and a Vita, if you can believe that). The only XBLA games I had sitting around untouched, and apparently from like 2008, were Shadow Complex and Splosion Man, so I sat down this afternoon for a little time with both. I had actually played the latter before, with a friend, but that was on her box. Nice little entendre for the eagle-eyed, there. But seriously, I had played it before, and thought it was pretty fun. That opinion holds up; unfortunately, these days pretty fun doesn't cut it, and I'm not left with any reason to continue playing it past the first few levels. I see what they're doing, and it is well done, but there was no hook in the mouthful I got of it.

I feel much the same about Shadow Complex, although I will admit that I might finish this one out were it on another platform. But, it's not, and while I had a fun 30 or 45 minutes with it, I get the picture; I've played this game at least 10 times before in other guises. Better guises, I think.

So, there's another couple knocked off the pile. Over the next couple of weeks I want to give fair shrift to Gears 3, Halo 4/Wars/CE Anniversary, and then it's sayonara, kusobako.


First up, Shadowrun Returns. I backed this on Kickstarter a while back, as a fan of isometric RPGs with old school sensibilities, a fan of anything that tries to break away from AAA development these days, and someone with an interest in exploring cyberpunk. Additionally, I had played the SNES Shadowrun game way back when, and while I never quite got it, it always seemed cool. 

 So, now the game is out, and I have actually just finished it as of last night. Well, finished the stock campaign that the designers included. There is also a toolset for players to create and run their own Shadowrun campaigns, much like one would playing the pen and paper version of the game. This seems like a pretty cool idea, and hopefully, and almost undoubtedly, some cool things will come out of the Shadowrun community.

 As for the mechanics of the game, and Dead Man's Switch, the campaign, included, I'm pretty satisfied. It was about a 15-hour play through, not counting time re-playing sections due to the game's checkpoint system, where other games would use a save-anywhere system (probably due to lack of time/money; remember this game was crowd-funded). I love the art, the style, and the music, and the writing of the story was done really well, too. The plot itself started out very interesting but went kinda wild toward the end; no biggie, I had fun. I also like the combat system, which is almost wholly like that of XCOM Enemy Unknown. I do wish I had known more about Shadowrun character development before beginning, though, if indeed this game bears any resemblance to the pen and paper game. I ended up trying to multi-spec a little too much where I should have been specializing in one or two core areas. I ended up playing it through on Hard mode, though, and while I didn't have too much trouble, there were a handful of battles I lost and had to approach with a different strategy.

 Overall, I am pretty happy with my Kickstarter experience as relates to this game. I think the support of player-created campaigns is what really cinches the deal, and saves this from being just a forgettable above-average old-school RPG. That said, the developers are working on another campaign of their own, to be set in Berlin versus the Seattle of the current one. I'll be waiting for it.