Friday, December 30, 2016

Last Call for Playahol

I played some Wipeout HD/Fury on PS3 the other day. That is a very cool game from yesteryear that I could see myself revisiting more often now that I have it re-installed again. Zone mode still feels ahead of its time.

A loyal Call of Podcast listener gifted me Downwell, so I put some time into that, too. Pretty simple, pretty fun. Very arcadey in feel, since it is a score attack game, divided up into stages like a Spelunky or something. It only uses 3 colors in its aesthetic, but it lets you unlock and swap between different palettes, which is nice. You are a guy falling down an endless well with guns shooting from the bottom of his boots. You must progress as far down as you can without taking too many hits from the monsters on the way down.

I finally bought this year's DOOM remake/sequel, which oddly seems to be an alternate universe Doom ]|[? Unless Doom 3 is somehow set farther in the future or something... anyway, I'll suffice it to say that it feels very faithful to the first couple of Doom games, which is to say it moves very fast and feels very relentless. I like it.

Another new, 'let's get ready for GOTY talk' pickup is Stellaris. I am really going to try to hunker down and familiarize myself with a Paradox strategy game. This one seems close enough to the type of 4X games I've played before (mostly Civ) that I can get a toehold on the climb to competence. I've played a few hours, and am starting to feel like I know what I want to do next, at the very least. That being to conquer the galaxy in the name of the Commonwealth (Imperium) of Man. Yes, I will be enacting my own Great Crusade soon to claim the galaxy for humanity alone.

Revisiting The Witness tonight, I miraculously solved several puzzles that had previously given me grief. The bad part is I did them without knowing exactly why or how the solution was valid. I wouldn't call it brute forcing them, because each only took one or two tries, but perhaps it was some obscene luck. This is a nice and relaxing game to visit.

Otherwise, I've been spending more time in Skyrim, figuring out my inventory situation and what I want my character to be doing--tough when the choices consist of everything. I also jumped back into Overwatch briefly, trying to sort out where it will land in my GOTY rankings.

Finally, I reinstalled and played some more Space Marine tonight. I can confirm that it does play feel better than Eternal Crusade. I managed to get into a match of the cooperative horde mode for a while, which was actually a lot of fun. I didn't have any luck getting into a game of the PVP, however. Maybe next time. I did pop into the campaign briefly, though. This is still a very fun game.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Twisting in the Wind

The last little while has been characterized by a general sort of funk or malaise around gaming. Instead, I've been doing other things, and prime among them, reading Deathfire, the 32nd book in the numbered Horus Heresy series. There are a number that are not numbered, as it were. The series continues to ride high and epic. I should come away from 2016 with a pretty healthy, at least in terms of numbers, of titles read.

Game-wise, it's just been a smattering of things. Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade took most hours played, though it's not a great game. It wants to be Battlefield in the 41st millenium, but I think the focus is too much on close-quarters arena battling for it to work. The vehicles really seem to be of questionable value. There seem to be some other balance concerns, as well, like my Imperial Fists Astartes withering under about 1 second of Eldar fire. That's just not right. I don't really think this game has the budget to excel, and I doubt it maintains the community, either. It's too bad, because those Space Marines look pretty glorious.

Second in play time recently would be Skyrim, though I don't have much to report. I've decided to follow the main quest for the time being. It's led me to High Hrothgar to speak to the Graybeards.

In a fit of not knowing what else to do last week, I played the first mission of the Orc campaign in Warcraft III. Great game!

Cube World got in a little time, too, oddly enough. @wollay tweeted out an update of something he was working on that inspired me to go back and play a bit. I don't think a downloadable update has been made available to players since about three and a half years ago, though.

I put a couple more hours into Tyranny, making my way to the Disfavored war camp and resolving a few situations verbally on my way to locate a missing shipment of arms. It seems like a pretty good game.

Stellaris is, from what I gather, Paradox's attempt to bring their grand strategy games into space sci-fi. I have been curious to give it a shot, having always wanted to make sense of Europa Universalis or Crusader Kings, and not having been able to do so. After my first session, I don't feel all that enlightened just yet. Again, more play time will be needed, here.

I've been playing both Super Mario World and Super Mario Run lately. As a rule, I don't talk about mobile games here, but I'll just say I was very curious to see what Nintendo's first real game outside their own platform would be. I quite like it. I think it hangs as a Mario game, and I think it takes advantage of the lateral shift in genre to introduce some new mechanics that wouldn't make sense in the usual Mario platformers. I'm impressed. Nothing much to say about World, other than it feels way damn harder now than it used to, whatever the reason.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Out of Sorts with My Sort

I've been in a strange place lately with gaming. I don't know if my tastes are changing and evolving, or if I'm just getting tired of my usual things, or what. I have had a hard time drilling down into things lately, things that should really most definitely be my sort of thing. I'm trying to just go where my whims take me, though, and trust that I'll get to where I need to be that way.

So far, this has led me directly back to The Last of Us. I've always had issues with the play in Naughty Dog's Uncharted series, while yet still wanting to play through each for their cinematic aspects. The same goes for this game. I've decided to take another run at it, having lost the save of my first attempt. I'm about 2 or 3 hours in, and not quite back to where I had left off previously. I'm trying to look at it like a dramatic TV series as opposed to the kind of video game I typically enjoy, because it (and the Uncharted series) excel at aspects of the former, but are deficient at aspects of the latter. Maybe I can buckle down and get through this game with that mindset.

Super Mario World - I want to get through this on my SNES with my daughters. It seems harder than I remember, though. I wonder if lag on my HDTV might be to blame. Probably not, it's probably just faulty memory and degrading motor skills, though. I made it to the Vanilla Dome, though.

Skyrim - I wanted to play some yesterday, but wasn't too attached to any of the quests in my log. I am still not sold on either side of the civil war going on here, either. I figured I would chase down the next leg of the main, dragon related quest, then, to compensate for my jack-of-all-trades approach to character specialization with some draconic superpowers. I walked halfway across the province to a barrow, having small adventures along the way.

Titan Quest Anniversary Edition - Long story short, it is still a dull action roleplaying loot game, but one that has been nicely spruced up by its new publisher, THQ Nordic. I wish them success in future endeavors.

Duelyst - I played a few more puzzles and practice matches. I don't have too much more to say other than I'm using this to substitute for Hearthstone for the time being. I need to get into it at least to the point where I can appreciate the 20 booster packs I got for it.

Elite: Dangerous - I made a conscious decision to get away from playing this game and try to find things that are more novel in the same space. There may not actually be a real replacement for it, but at the present, I just can't justify spending any more time in it without investigating alternatives.

Assassin's Creed Unity - I just couldn't do it anymore. I didn't care about the plot, and I wasn't looking forward to Syndicate at all. Uninstalled. Maybe I'll be back with the next incarnation of the series. I am planning to see the upcoming movie, but I don't have high hopes for it.

WoW - Filling out my trilogy of quit games this entry. My flame with the game has run its course this time around, and longer and brighter than previously. The Suramar quest grind and lack of additional zones to explore finally bored me, and the idea of powering up my artifact even more, while attractive, was not ultimately enough to get me to play enough that I felt it was worth the subscription.

Finally, I began Obsidian's new 3/4 view party RPG (not Infinity Engine), Tyranny. I'm only a couple of hours in, but it seems very cool so far. I'm enjoying the very gray territory the decisions I am making are in, being a sort of enforcer for a conquering power as the conquest winds down, bringing the conquered lands and people into compliance. The emperor Kyros seems like a really bad guy from afar, capricious and uncaring. The whole setting is very reminiscent of 40K and the Horus Heresy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Giving Thanks for Gaming This Thanksgaming

The last week or so has been a whirlwind tour of many games. Progress updates!

Skyrim - Got back into it with my Nord character, who is by turns a brawny two-hander warrior and a stealthy backstabber ranger. Fence sitting in this way makes the game more difficult in terms of combat, but in the end I should rule all. I have a whole lot of ground to cover, though. I'm not fast traveling at all in this playthrough.

Dishonored 2 - I found the Crown Killer at the Addermire Institute, and solved that affair peacefully.

Hitman - I did the Paris mission at the fashion show for the first time, using a spiked drink to lure the male target into a bathroom, where I drowned him, and then snuck up on and strangled the female target in an empty room, and stashed her body in a corner somewhere before escaping via helicopter.

Dawn of War II - I was really only revisiting this to earn the Steam trading cards and badge. I played a couple of campaign missions and a few rounds of The Last Stand. Can't wait for DoW III!

Assassin's Creed Unity - Jumped back into this in an effort to go ahead and finish it off at some point, after not having played it for maybe a year and a half. I'm about to begin sector 8, having just found out and killed the murderous mutinous Assassin brother. I am trying to ignore most of the ancillary content in this game and just focus on the core story missions, which are all I care about in the series at this point. Paris is nice enough, though.

No Man's Sky - I returned to the game with the recent Foundation update, only to be very quickly overcome with boredom and despair at having to jump back on that resource grind. 45 hours of this was probably enough, I am thinking now. I should go back to Elite: Dangerous, instead.

Hearthstone - A few savage losses and the meager enjoyment felt when winning have put me off it again. And on the eve of the new expansion, as well. I think I'll play more Duelyst instead. I did leave my account with enough gold to do an arena run at some point in the future, though.

World of Warcraft - More Suramar quest progress. I made a few levels of artifact research and upgrades, and got a 5th piece of class armor (of 8). I kind of feel my enthusiasm flagging, but I'm going to continue playing here and there for now.

I should also give a booklog update here. I finished The Honoured and The Unburdened, the Calth novellas, then read the new Eisenhorn short story, The Keeler Image, and have now begun Horus Heresy book 31, Legacies of Betrayal. I'm really looking forward to the next grip of Heresy books, especially book 41, Master of Mankind, just released. Not sure when I'll make it that far, though.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Big Game Weekend

I had several good game sessions this weekend, wherein I really feel like I made some good progress. In chronological order:

Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne - Friday afternoon after I got home but the family had not, yet. I found my way from Shinjuku to Yoyogi park and Shibuya, where I met Chiaki and Hijiri again, and got access to the magical webway to head toward Ginza to meet a human male there, either Hikawa or Isamu, presumably. The game is pretty light on plot, so far, which I think kind of works. You have the odd premise, and a general goal, to either return the world to how it was, or to remake it in whatever way you wish. It's kind of Fallout-like in that regard.

Dishonored 2 - Friday night, late. Made it through the first mission in Karnaca, on my way out to Addermire to meet with Hypatia. Stealth seems harder than in the first game, but then I am playing it on the Hard setting for Dishonored veterans. I've tired repeatedly to engage guards after being caught, but most of the time I end up being killed. That may be because I'm trying not to kill them, but incapacitate them instead. I should probably just retreat and lose them unless there is only one.

Hitman - Saturday evening. Being a longtime fan of the Hitman series, the unanimous praise the new episodic game has been getting finally convinced me to pick it up. The 50% off sale on Steam this weekend helped, as well. At first blush it does seem pretty great. I have played the first 3 training scenarios, and poked around briefly in the first real mission, in Paris. It really seems like everything good from Silent Assassin, Contracts, and Blood Money just brought forward to the modern era. I have never played Agent 47 or Absolution, though I guess I should at some point just out of curiosity.

WoW - I made some more progress through the Suramar quests and a few other odds and ends Sunday midday. I need to focus mostly on order hall resources for artifact research and order hall modifications. I want to finish the thrust of the questing before concentrating on world quests and dungeons and raiding, though. I think there is quite a bit of that left, yet. Suramar got a whole other load of that stuff in a patch, recently.

Duelyst - Sunday night. I had been meaning to get back in and play more of this, especially to contrast it to Hearthstone. I played a couple of rounds last night as the Lyonar(?) faction, including my first match online, which I won. It's a cool game, most definitely. I have to wonder at the size of the playerbase, but I was able to find a match partner right away, so that's a good sign, hopefully. I'll try again tonight and see how it goes.

Hearthstone - Sunday night. Playing Duelyst and chatting with Esteban made me want to hop back in, and I did, after a good long while. As a welcome back, the game awarded me with three free packs of cards and a quick 3-round onboarding of games against easy opponents, I guess to refamiliarize myself. I did all of that and then, again, played a match of ranked online and won, using a Shaman deck the Innkeeper had assembled for me. What a nice guy, what a nice tavern, what a nice game. I'll play more, I'm sure. There is quite a bit of new stuff in the game since the last time I'd played, which was around the time the Goblins vs Gnomes card set was coming out. I think since there has been a grand tournament set, an Old Gods set, and soon there will be a Gadgetzan set.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Playlog: First Half of November, 2016

Dishonored 2 is out now, but I haven't had as much time to play it as I'd like quite yet. I began a game on Hard playing as Emily Kaldwin, and I'm currently beginning the second full mission, the introduction to Karnaca.

Titanfall 2 - continue to play some multiplayer, still have not finished the campaign yet, despite all the positive word of mouth around it. Have enjoyed what I played so far, though.

World of Warcraft - Focusing on Suramar zone quests before moving on to more dungeon running and world quests toward the end of finishing Order Hall and Artifact quests, or what is currently available, anyway.

Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne - Picked this up on PSN on a great sale price last night. I'd like to put more time into it again this time. I never got past maybe halfway in, if that, when I tried it years ago, but I never lost interest in its premise.

The Egyptian Prophecy: The Fate of Ramses - a 3D-in-the-sense-of-Google-maps adventure set in ancient Egypt, one with a sort of magical realism. I didn't get too far in, not caring for the genre, but that's one more off the backlog.

Reading, I'm in the middle of the Horus Heresy novella The Honoured, set in the aftermath of the betrayal at Calth, in the underworld war on that world following the poisoning of the local star.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Warcraft Booklogsta Spook-y Mechany

I finally finished off Altered Carbon, the cyberpunk noir novel starring Takeshi Kovacs. It was pretty entertaining. There are a couple more books with the same character, but I'm not sure I'll read those. It's a big bookshelf and booklog. I'll go back to some Horus Heresy material soon, but I'm also in the middle of a couple of other things, one being the Warcraft chronicle.

Speaking of Warcraft, much of the last couple of weeks I have spent plowing through the remaining quest lines of the new Broken Isles zones. At some point I'll run out of the authored stuff and into a sort of endgame phase where what's left is to either do PVP, more hardcore PVE, or seemingly repetitive World Quests, which it seems are procedurally generated. I'm not sure how much of that I'll be interested in doing. I do like how podcast friendly the game is, though, and I would enjoy finishing off my Artifact!

I mentioned Endless Legend previously. I went back and completed the tutorial to re-familiarize, and then jumped back into the game I was playing before. I feel a little more acclimated to the game now, but it'll definitely take more time to satisfy myself. I haven't even finished one game yet.

I seem to have stalled out in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I finished a bunch of side objectives in Detroit and have been sent elsewhere to a mission, at this point. Some sort of industrial location. I forget what the objective is.

New on the agenda as of late is Titanfall 2. I lucked into a copy at no out of pocket cost, so I have been giving it a go. I'm two missions into the new single player campaign, which is fun, and I've played a few rounds of multiplayer, too, which is also fun. I'll put more time into this for sure, even though I feel more and more distant from the FPS genre as time goes on.

Friday, October 14, 2016

God from Endless Warcraft

Amplitude's Endless series of games was on sale on Steam the other day, and it occurred to me that I still wanted to play more of Endless Legend, and that I could economically substitute that in my rotation this week as compared to purchasing the newly released Civilization VI, even when accounting for the 10 bucks' worth of DLC I purchased to bring me more up to speed with the state of the game. I thought I should probably replay the tutorial, since it had been a while, and I don't think I ever finished a game when I played it, previously. I'm about 45 minutes into that tutorial now, I think.

I also began Deus Ex: Human Revolution over the last week or two. I should have played this game sooner, because it seems to have aged kind of roughly. The graphics are below my expectations for a game of the prior generation, and there are ugly 720p loading screens and CG cut-scenes everywhere. The play holds up, though. I suppose it's pretty timeless, since it feels more or less identical to that of the original Deus Ex, which released in 2000, if I'm not mistaken. The game has style, too. A roundly mocked style, admittedly, but a style nonetheless. I happen to like this genre, known to some as the immersive simulation, so I'll keep playing it, but I don't know for how long. Dishonored 2 will be out in about a month's time, after all.

I also managed to make it all the way to 110, the level cap, in WoW with my Death Knight, Phoenixian, and I'm working through all the questing content in Legion in order to see everything in the expansion and power up my Artifact weapons as far as possible. There are a million things to do in this game, of course, but for my own purposes, I plan to do all of the one-time quests I can, and play through all of the dungeons and raids I can, at least once or twice. Given an abundance of time, I'd also like to go back and explore the rest of Azeroth/Outland/Draenor some more as well. In other words, no end in sight.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

13 Days' Round-Up

It's been about two weeks of fairly varied play.

Varied play beginning with the Battlefield 1 beta, which I thought was entertaining, but ultimately left me questioning why. This was followed fairly close on by some Battlefield 4 play, after EA made all of the DLC free for a short time. Also entertaining, but I can never quite get over the sensation that I would get more out of playing another game.

Final Fantasy IV is still serving for Japanese practice, but I've put only a little time into it since the last post. My party talked to some people in Fabul, and are about to depart there on a ship, bound for Baron once more, if I understood properly.

Castle of Illusion, the Mickey Mouse platformer, or more precisely the recent remake of the original, was to be pulled from sale due to a licensing issue, so I picked it up very cheaply before it disappeared, thinking that my daughters would probably enjoy it, or watching me play it, at least. It's a little beyond their game skills at this point. This is actually a very good game. I am not familiar with the original, which I think was a Sega Genesis game, but I knew this version was well regarded going in. I can see why. First, its gorgeous. The locales are varied and vibrant, and perfect for Mickey. Second, the platforming is also very well done. Mickey controls well, and the levels are put together in a good, fun way. I was impressed.

I've been bringing together a small, high quality library of games for my 3DS(s), including a game I had not played since 1998 and in the meantime has become, I feel, one of the most over-celebrated games of all time, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Nevertheless, I felt it deserved a place in my collection, so I picked up the 3DS remake, which is 99% the same game, but with some good tech and usability improvements. I do maintain it is widely over-appreciated by nostalgia junky fanboy manchildren, but it is still a very good game. I've played through the first few sections of it, and I'm on my way to Death Mountain now.

Another recent addition to my 3DS library is Mario Kart 7, which, alongside the original Mario Kart on SFC, I have been playing some of along with Mia. She still can't drive, but she's kind of learning.

There's a new video game CCG, a Hearthstone-like, out now called Duelyst. The twist here is that instead of just putting cards out on a table, cards summon creatures onto a tactical grid where positioning is a very real factor in how fights turn out. I thought the art looked nice, and so was interested to begin with, but 20 free card packs through a Humble Bundle newsletter promotion tempted me into actually downloading and trying out the game. It seems like a cool thing after a few practice games, and I'm happy to have an alternative to Hearthstone, which I do not particularly relish going back to play more of, even while I recognize the near inevitability of such a thing, given how well Blizzard supports their games in the very long term. Perhaps Duelyst will attract enough of an audience to remain on the scene for a while. I wouldn't bet on it, though, regardless of the game's quality.

Speaking of Blizzard games, I have also been spending a lot of time indeed with World of Warcraft. I have my Death Knight at level 100 now, and I am enjoying the Legion content a good deal. The Death Knight class-specific and spec-specific content has been really cool so far. It's a novel experience to be more or less current with the game for the first time ever, and I'm looking forward to playing to the cap and beyond.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Never Gonna Get Hooked On Adventure

That's my only supposition based on my repeated attempts to get into games in the graphical adventure genre.

Most recently, I tried The Blackwell Legacy. It fared better than some, but within a couple of hours I got to a part where I couldn't readily figure out what to do next, and gave up. I don't plan to go back, not to this one, at least. I still have 3 other Blackwell games to try out sometime in the future. I was kind of enjoying the characters of Rosangela and Joey, I'll admit. And I do enjoy the Wadjet Eye graphical style and musical choices, as well.

I got Mia (5) to sit down and try out SFC Mario Kart the other day. She of course doesn't really get the whole concept of driving, acceleration and braking, etc., but it'll come to her in time. She wanted to play as Peach, and expected I'd play as Mario. I obliged, though I always used to go with Koopa Troopa when I played the game as a kid on SNES.

In Final Fantasy IV JP edition playthrough news, I got over Mt. Hobusu and recruited Yan into the party. We're saved right outside Fabul at the moment.

No Man's Sky-wise, I was able to hunt down about 5 black holes and make my way closer to the center before too many resources and modules were burned. I finally had to set down on a planet to start the rebuilding process. Maybe I'll finally try to get a ship upgrade. Maybe not. I did already sink a lot of resources into the better warp drives for the one I have. It would probably be worth it at some point, though.

In WoW, I am continuing to level up (94 now) and do quests in Draenor. I have yet to move on from Shadowmoon Valley, though. There are a ton of quests to do there. At this rate I probably won't get more than 2-3 zones through Draenor before I head off to the Broken Isles for Legion content. I am definitely looking forward to that.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Backlog Patrol Round 2

Well, I decided to hop back into the backlog this week with another A game on my second trip through the alphabet of gaming. I played some ARMA: Cold War Assault, which was originally released as Operation Flashpoint. While I'd never played an ARMA game before, I had played an Operation Flashpoint game (Dragon Rising) in the past, and knew sort of what to expect--a relatively realistic military simulation, at least in comparison to something like Battlefield or Call of Duty. It delivers on that point, if its age and contemporary tech level and conventions hinder it somewhat.

What I was not prepared for, though, were the cinematics, especially the introduction to the Resistance campaign of missions. Someone there at Bohemia Interactive was clearly inspired by filmmaking techniques and giving that sort of thing a go in their game scenario design. The choices of camera angles, blocking, direction, and music were all pretty striking, especially for a game of that era. It was wild. Are all the ARMA games like this?

I made some progress on my Japanese FFIV play through, getting through the antlion cave bit with Gilbert (Edward in the US version) and Rydia to get the cure for Rosa's sickness. She's now joined the party to be with Cecil, and next we're headed over a mountain to try and prevent Golbez from getting any more crystals than he has already.

I made some progression through No Man's Sky, as well, gearing up my ship and exosuit with upgrades that make it easier to get to the black holes on the way to the center of the galaxy. That game has a way of grabbing me and holding onto me for as long as I can possibly make a session last.

In World of Warcraft, I'm playing through all the quests in the first zone of Draenor, gathering stuff for my garrison and learning what's going on with the Draenei there as the Iron Horde rises. I'm about halfway through level 93 to this point. I think I'm finally starting to accept that I'll never see the whole of Azeroth and the outlying areas, and that I should be okay with that. No one sees the entire world they live on or does everything possible in life, do they? It's more about where the journey does take you, and the paths that you yourself choose, at the opportunity cost of choosing others, that determines who you are.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Dedication and Study

I reached the end of the Atlas path in No Man's Sky, and turned from there to head toward the center of the galaxy making use of black holes along the way to warp me closer and closer in. This is where I am now, still searching for a bigger ship I can either afford or repair, and trying to scrounge enough materials for fuel along the way. I am curious what other mysteries the game holds, and hope to get to the bottom of them eventually. I don't love this game, but I like it well enough.

My SFC copy of Final Fantasy IV arrived last week, and I'm beginning a play through of the game in its original Japanese incarnation, both as a study exercise, and just for fun. I haven't really played the real FFIV, aside from some of the 3D version they released on the DS several years ago. So far I've made it to the desert oasis town where Rydia decides to travel along with Cecil after he protects her from the soldiers from Baron who have come to kill her on their king's orders. Kain is not currently around; he was lost in the earthquake in Mist.

One odd thing about the SFC version is that it's all in hiragana, with no kanji. That makes it both easier and harder to parse, actually, for different reasons.

I made my way back into WoW over the past couple of days, as well, after having focused so much on No Man's Sky for a couple of weeks. Legion releases tomorrow, and leading up to that, there are Burning Legion invasion events all around Azeroth that are great for getting experience and gear. I went from 86 to 90, almost 91, just by participating in 6 of these events, maybe an hour's play. I'm going to milk these for all their worth tonight, which is probably the last chance I'll get, assuming they go away with tomorrow's weekly update coinciding with the launch of the expansion proper.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

All These Worlds Are Mine

Several weeks ago a trip to my hometown kicked off a spate of retro game revisiting. I returned home to Oregon with my gaming systems from my adolescence in tow: NES, SNES, N64, and PSX, with a brace of games for each. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't get my NES to work, so I traded that and all my games in to the local retro games store. The N64 and its games I just plain didn't want, so those too were traded in. The PSX and a copy of Tomb Raider were redundant, and so also got traded in. I won't miss the NES, and even if I did, Nintendo is putting out the NES Classic 30 games in 1 system later this year, anyway. I do plan on getting one of those.

The only system I kept was my SNES, and since I have a Super Famicom cart adapter, I used most of my trade-in credit on imported SFC games, including Brandish, Super Puyo Puyo, Nobunaga's Ambition, Star Ocean, Street Fighter II, and a Super Robot Taisen game. I also picked up the rare and much lauded Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen, as well as Super Mario All-Stars, which I had had as a kid, but traded in sometime in the past. My SNES/SFC collection also includes Final Fantasy II (US), Final Fantasy V (SFC import), Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, Super Metroid, Super Mario World, Super Castlevania IV, and I may be forgetting something. I thought I still had The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Final Fantasy III (US), but apparently I did not.

I've been playing some of the first 4-5 Super Mario games, namely everything on the SNES Super Mario All-Stars and Super Mario World. What great games. Certainly not news to anyone reading this blog, but it should be stated, still. They're genius. My older daughter is just beginning to cut her teeth on these and other games, and they still make a great entry point to the hobby. Not that I'd push her into it or anything, but she naturally wants to try things she sees me do (for now; she's only five). It'd probably be for the best if she never got into gaming, at least not to the extent I have.

Anyway, Super Mario Bros. I have to say, I really prefer the 16-bit 're-masters' of the NES games. I like that there are backgrounds to SMB and The Lost Levels. Mia seems to like SMB3 for the world map, along with Super Mario World.

I am still playing World of Warcraft, though I haven't much over the last week or so, since I've been busy with the games to follow. I've decided to go for the exploration achievements, and already have them for base Azeroth, Outland, and Northrend, and I'm working on the Cataclysm zones while queuing for Cataclysm dungeons. I'm still level 86, and I hope to get through the rest of the Cataclysm Heroic dungeons before leveling out of them (if that happens; I'm still not sure).

Eisenhorn: Xenos came out last week, and is a video game adaptation of the novel, which I did greatly enjoy reading several years ago. Gregor Eisenhorn lives in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, and is an Inquisitor, which makes him a sort of government sanctioned Witcher. The game does a pretty good job at adapting the plot and atmosphere of the book, but falters at character development, especially outside of Eisenhorn himself, and unfortunately, having compelling play. What there is mostly consists of Devil May Cry-ish combat in which you use a combination of sword and pistol attacks and combos to kill bad guys. It's merely adequate; and kind of makes one wonder if interactive entertainment is the best target medium for an adaptation of the novel.

I'd always wanted a Mass Effect style adaptation, personally. I still think that would work better. Best, though, would be a 'further adventures of' game, similar to what CDPR did with The Witcher, which of course was also a beloved character taken from a
series of books. His games are not adapting the novels though; they're taking them as water under the bridge, and running from there, and giving the player agency in the story they tell. Eisenhorn: Xenos is ultimately a failure in this regard, though I applaud the effort. I wouldn't mind seeing the rest of the trilogy adapted as well, hopefully with the developer gaining expertise along the way. Maybe then we could eventually get the Witcher treatment for Eisenhorn.

Finally, No Man's Sky. I can't think of another game this year with so much hype behind it. I also can't think of another game that came out to such an apparently baffled audience (perhaps The Witness or Stephen's Sausage Roll counts). Even I was surprised at how NMS went wild of my expectations. I was expecting Elite: Dangerous for casuals. Instead, it's Minecraft in space for casuals who want less to do, and wish to fiddle around with a constrained inventory for hours. Maybe that sounds harsh. That's how I see it, though, and I happen to like the game. Well enough, anyhow. I'm twenty-something jumps into my journey, headed to my fourth Atlas Interface system. It's got a good, solid, if repetitive play loop. I find it pretty chill to play, and I'm enjoying the pulp sci-fi styling and ambient prog rock soundscape. I'm looking forward to getting better ships with more storage, and exploring worlds with more interesting features. I hear they get more wild as you near the center of the galaxy. I don't know if I'm headed that way or not, though.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Worlds Fantastic and Gothic

I made it once through the entire alphabet in my backlog culling!

The Z game this time around was Zeno Clash, a Source engine first-person brawler in an outlandish fantasy setting that you might describe as iron age punk and tribal. It was surprisingly engrossing until the point where I hit an encounter that had multiple phases and lost it. I didn't want to repeat it. Brawlers have always been fleeting in terms of enjoyment.

I'll restart at the top of the alphabet soon.

Castlevania: Order of Ecclsia arrived in the mail recently. This may be the last DS game I ever buy. I only played a short portion of it so far, but I was surprised at how much higher the production values seemed than what I remember of the other handheld SotN-like Castlevanias of the GBA and DS libraries. I'll be popping into this game now and again whenever the bug strikes.

World of Warcraft wise, I've settled back into my Frost specialization after a brief stint as a Blood Death Knight, tanking. I wasn't prepared for the pressure of tanking the first time I'd set foot into many of these dungeons. I'd much rather take it easy and just be along for the ride as DPS. I'm at level 84, now, and running around the Cataclysm zones, and soon to move off to Pandaria after I hit 85. The content keeps getting better as I move from expansion to expansion, if not in enormous leaps and bounds. WoW is a fun RPG.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Big Level 75!

WoW - I hit the big landmark level 75 with the Death Knight, Phoenixian, last night. In FFXI, that would actually be a big thing. WoW, however, will soon have a level cap of 110, so in fact I'm still just a no-name schlub working my way through Northrend quest by quest, zone by zone, dungeon by dungeon. I still find the problem of not needing all this runway to achieve my takeoff. I'm not even fully through two zones and I'm halfway through the Wrath leveling curve.

I guess I shouldn't complain; but if there's all this world out there to explore, and most of it is rapidly becoming rather pointless to do so in, I'd prefer to have some kind of guidance about what the best parts of it are. Maybe instead of just following the quest breadcrumbs around from place to place I should actually hoof it around the zones finding the most interesting or attractive locales, and then choosing to do the quest chains in those areas. It's not like I need to pay any attention to what the gear rewards are at this level. And anyway, running dungeons will keep me outfitted as well as I need to be.

This week saw the release of the big pre-Legion patch 7.0.3, which streamlined a lot of stuff including character attributes, specializations, and talents. The big impact for my Frost spec Death Knight is the loss of a few talents now siloed into the Blood and Unholy specs, the gain of a few new ones for Frost, and being forced into dual-wielding for as long as I remain thusly specialized.

I have no real end goal in mind for this game, other than perhaps getting to 100. At that point maybe I would go ahead and buy the expansion and carry on up to 110. I am still enjoying the game, though, so I suppose I'll continue on for now. I can see myself wrapping up Wrath content, or at least hitting 80 and moving on from it, at the very least.

Xenonauts - I decided to get back to the backlog thinning mission by playing a game whose title begins with an X. Xenonauts was a Kickstarter-funded game, one that I backed several years ago. It was an X-Com remake before Firaxis remade X-Com, and hews much, much closer to the original game than the official reboot. It's good, and well executed, but I think I prefer the more modern take. Even that one, though, doesn't hook me like it does other people. I put a couple of hours into this game before deciding that I'd seen enough. At least it's there in case I ever decide I do want to go back and play the original X-Com, but made more modern and user-friendly. It does stand well apart from the official reboot.

King of Dragon Pass - I'll mention this game because even though I play the iPad version, it does have a PC version which is pretty much the exact same game, as I understand it. KODP is a role-playing game in which you lead a tribe or clan of settlers newly relocated to the titular geographical area. You are a leader, and have to administer your people's hunting, farming, diplomacy, warmaking, religious practices, and so on. The object of the game is to survive and thrive for ten years and be made king. It plays out like a text adventure or Twine game, just menu after menu, choice after choice. It's interesting, and you can kind of pick it up or leave it at any point, like many Civ or grand strategy titles, with little or no commitment to the actual victory conditions.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Out-leveling Outland

I've only played more World of Warcraft over the last week. It's nice and relaxing, which feels good in this relatively hectic time for me.

I've managed to hit level 67, only progressing very far into two zones of Outland so far, Hellfire Peninsula and Terrokar Forest. I finally had to ditch quests in the latter zone so I could move on and see more zones before over-leveling my character. I'm going to Nagrand next, which looks like a pretty nice place to grind out some XP.

I've been using the dungeon finder a lot, too, which is a pretty great addition to the game. Through its magic I'm able to see more places and more of Blizzard's encounter designs in the game with very little effort. A plus, in my book, and another factor contributing to making the game a relatively frictionless joy to play. I'm not too concerned with my gear, especially while leveling, but I have a few pieces found in dungeons that I wouldn't, otherwise.

I'm more interested in specializing my Death Knight appropriately. Frost is probably the spec most suited to my path-of-least-resistance play style, but I think I may want to change to Unholy going forward, which is probably more in keeping with my character Phoenixian's inspiration, the Phoenician, Fulgrim, Primarch of the III Legion Emperor's Children in the Horus Heresy. Then again, the Blood spec might align more with Fulgrim, and Unholy with Mortarion, Primarch of the XIV Legion Death Guard. Maybe I should go Blood; I'm not quite sure, yet.

How much longer with this tour through Azeroth last? I don't know!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Blizzard of Id

Most of the last week I've been playing WoW, questing my Death Knight through Hellfire Peninsula, and using the group finder to run dungeons. Dungeons seem like the way to go for quick advancement in terms of XP, gold, and loot, but they can take a while to do and be repetitive, in addition to being potentially challenging for a loosely organized ad hoc group full of players of questionable skill and experience, like myself. It's nice to see the content, though, and have a shot at better loot. I'll probably continue run them as I quest my way through the levels.

I'm still just learning what the Death Knight class is for and how best to use its skills and properly outfit it. I also had a flying mount I was unaware of until I went to buy what I thought would be my first. I could have been using one for a couple of levels now, but no big deal. Re-familiarizing myself with this game is a gradual process. It would be really cool to level up to the cap and play the next expansion while it's current, though!

Speaking of playing games while they're current, I am still playing Overwatch, some. My enthusiasm has cooled a little on it, but only because my leisure time is a zero sum game, and I'm presently more excited to play other things.

Last week was the 20th anniversary of the release of Quake, one of several id Software masterpieces. Machine Games, the studio behind Wolfenstein: The New Order, released their own episode of Quake levels to commemorate the fact. The mod goes by the file name "dopa" which, it's anyone's guess what that means, but the levels I've seen so far (the first three) are very well done, and very much reflect the best of the original game, while adding new surprises, as well. I absolutely love Quake, and so this is a welcome freebie. I was thinking of purchasing the official expansion packs for the game through Steam, as well, but maybe those can wait.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Return to Azeroth

Aside from a little Overwatch, of which my consumption has dropped a good deal since the first couple of weeks, it's been all Warcraft universe games since finishing up Dawn of War II: Retribution.

I'm most of the way through the Undead Scourge campaign, the second of 4 in the base game of Warcraft III. Arthas is now a Death Knight, and serving multiple masters to bring the demons of the Burning Legion into Azeroth. One is the Lich King, one is Tichondrius, a demon himself serving Kil'Jaeden, and then there is also Kel'Thuzad, a necromancer he's working with to bring Archimonde into Azeroth. See, Archimonde and Kil'Jaeden are second only to Sergeras in the history of bad guys in the Warcraft universe.

Warcraft III has actually been fair in terms of difficulty to this point. It's not to the level of intensity that StarCraft, or especially Brood War, got to. Not yet, anyway. I wouldn't be surprised if that came later, particularly in the Frozen Throne expansion. I'm planning to finish the Undead campaign soon, though I may hold off on proceeding further until I clear a few other things off my plate.

Being immersed in Warcraft stuff lately put an odd notion in my head, namely that I should go get back into WoW, at least briefly, to see how that game is these days, and to soak up a little more of the series' essence. I reluctantly subscribed, again, to the game. I have no real idea how long I will play it this time.

I first went back to my Orc Warrior, but quickly remembered what a mistake it was to have created him on a PVP server when, out of nowhere, someone materialzed behind me and one-shotted me, leaving me in the dust. He might have been a Rogue. Either way, this was outside the Horde settlement on the shores of Northrend, and I was minding my own business about to turn in a random quest. To hell with PVP.

I resolved to create a new character on a non-PVP server, not wanting to pay the $25 to move an existing character over on top of the $15 I am paying for at least one month to play the game. I thought it would be interesting to try a Death Knight, considering the section of Warcraft III I had been playing concurrently, so I created one--a human formerly (and to be once more) of the Alliance.

The Death Knight intro segment is interesting. You start out at level 55, indicating that your character really did have a past as a heroic member of your faction, now resurrected in the service of Arthas, himself now merged with the Lich King. The Scourge under Arthas is laying siege to the Scarlet Crusade-held lands of eastern Lordaeron, and you have a number of quests that familiarize you with the way the class works while furthering the Lich King's goals in the area. One of which, it turns out, is to draw out one of his enemies from the kingdom of Stormwind. Our hapless protagonist eventually is used as a sacrificial lamb, basically, alongside a bunch of other Death Knights and lieutenants of Arthas, who then rebel at such treatment, and are welcomed back into the fold, whether Alliance of Horde. I made a trip to Stormwind and met with king Varian Wrynn to make it official, then decided to put myself to use in Outland, where the Burning Crusade content awaits.

I thought it was a neat little self-contained episode. Having been through Outland once already, I'm not sure I want to do it again, unless the difference of faction and the intervening years of game development come together to make it more interesting than the first time around. I'll give it a go, and if the questing seems dull then maybe I'll try running dungeons. It would be nice to make it on to the real content beyond.

Diversifying the Stack

Coming off of about 8 Horus Heresy novels in pretty quick succession, I'm going to hit a few other things before going back for books 31 and on.

The last one I finished in this spate was The Damnation of Pythos, which while interesting, wasn't incredibly, or really at all, relevant to the main preceding of the Heresy. It was about a group of "shattered legions" space marines that happen upon a warp anomaly that allows them first get the drop on some traitorous Emperor's Children, but then ultimately leads to daemonic manifestation and the eventual doom of the planet, Pythos, and everyone on it, presumably, save perhaps the daemons now present. It was more of a side story.

I read some Amnesia: The Dark Descent fiction, since I had the pdf on my kindle. It was a short story, or rather short anthology of shorter stories, featuring characters and background to the story of the game. It had a sort of 1700-1800s gothic horror feel to it, sort of like Lovecraft's stories.

I also read up on a lot of the lore of the Warcraft series of games (and films, now, I suppose) through some light wiki reading, but mostly through the manuals for Warcraft III and World of Warcraft. It was background info I wanted to know, but told in the most dry, dull way imaginable. Perhaps actual novels would be more interesting, but overall I think the universe of Warcraft is just kind of boring. It serves the games as a dusting of flavor over the real draw, which is the play. I wouldn't put aside Warhammer 40,000 for it, though.

I've also just begun Altered Carbon, which comes doubly or triply recommended. So far it seems like edgy cyberpunk, but is there any other kind?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Say It Now, Before The Cleansing Begins

The title is one of my favorite barks uttered by a unit in Dawn of War II.

I did follow through on my endeavor of finishing Retribution, with 8.7 hours played over the last week, per Steam tracking. I raced through the Space Marines campaign, which it seems is the canonical one for how the story plays out. I also played the first mission of the Chaos campaign, which features you killing a major character from the Blood Ravens, so I'm guessing that one is not canon. Not that it matters.

I had a grand old time with Dawn of War II, all the way back to the base game, through Chaos Rising, and finally with Retribution, both the campaign and the Last Stand mode, which is very cool despite being sort of bolted on. Hopefully it gets a fully-fleshed realization in Dawn of War III, which was recently announced. That should be a good time. I wonder if it'll continue on the campaigning of the Blood Ravens. Probably.

I want to go back and play the original Dawn of War at some point, but my next RTS is roughly 70 missions of Warcraft III. This brings me to my 2016 play prospectus:

Mass Effect 3
The Witcher 3
The Walking Dead Season 2
Dawn of War II: Retribution
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
X-Com: Enemy Unknown
Warcraft III
StarCraft II
Dragon Age II
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Wasteland 2
Baldur's Gate II

I don't think I'm doing too bad. Figure in victory over Dark Souls finally, and some of the other stuff I've been playing, and I'm pretty proud of the progress I've made so far. X-Com getting the strikethrough here is debatable, but I did give it another run up, even if the jump wasn't long enough to make it to the other side. I'm not sure I intend to play it again, at least not anytime soon. Skyrim had some decent time put into it, but I still intend to circle back to that one. Same with Dragon Age II. I don't know that I'll get to Wasteland 2 or Baldur's Gate II this year; they're not high on my list at the moment. KOTOR II would probably come before either, but after the RPGs already on the list. StarCraft II is going to be a post-Warcraft III thing, so also not likely in 2016. I do need to get on with the Walking Dead's second season, though.

Otherwise, I've just been playing more Overwatch. Nothing more to add on that game, really, other than I am still having fun rotating through the roster and playing every character.

Right now, I need to continue further into my Castlevania: Lords of Shadow replay. I also want to play more Overwatch, and possibly jump right back into Warcraft III while the RTS mood lingers. I know I have plenty of that game ahead of me.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Overwatch--It's Not Just A Game, It's Also An Important Tactical Status

Yes, I have been continuing to play a whole lot of Blizzard's team-based FPS Overwatch. This weekend I played enough to get my profile up to level 18, and I've put somewhere between 20 and 40 minutes of game time into each and every character. They're all pretty good to play; I would have a tough time trying to decide on a favorite. The ones I tend to play less are the sniper and builder types, Hanzo, Widowmaker, Bastion, Torbjorn, and Symmetra to some degree. I like playing attackers where appropriate, and I'll go for a tank or support character anytime one is needed, as well. It's a ton of fun, even with a pretty blasé progression and unlock system. Of everything it's possible to unlock, only the skins really do anything at all for me. Sprays, barks, poses? Meh. I almost wonder why Blizzard thought they mattered to anyone.

Also on Overwatch the last several days, were the terminators of the Blood Angels chapter of the Adeptus Astartes as they delved into the space hulk Sin of Damnation. After setting aside Regicide, I was still kind of in the mood for tactical 40K, and this filled the role quite nicely. I'd played it some previously, but got into it to a greater degree over the weekend. It's a very cool game, if somewhat basic as video games go, since it's a very faithful adaptation of the board game of the same name.

I played through about 5 scenarios before deciding I was satisfied. I really want and need to hunker down and finish Dawn of War II: Retribution, so I have resolved not to play any other Warhammer games until that one is finished, first. Knocking that one out will also set me up to go back and play more Warcraft III, which is starting to sound like a bit of a Roadmap to Success. For the Emperor!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

MIddle Tier Middle-Earth

I made an interesting find in the local independent game store this weekend: a used copy of the now out-of-print PC game Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring. It must have been the last game made using the book licenses before the huge blitz of movie-licensed ones in the early '00s. It was only ten bucks, and the novelty and curiosity of the item, and it's good condition, complete in box and all, sold me on it.

War of the Ring is a 3D RTS very much in the style of Warcraft III. Very much in that style. You begin the campaign with two missions where you're playing an army of dwarves led by Gimli, son of Gloin. From there, you have the option to play as the forces of Gondor (if I'm not mistaken) led by Boromir, or take on another mission to track down Gollum. I didn't try that one, so I'm not sure who the player faction is.

I only made it as far as completing the tutorial missions and a few of the main campaign as the forces of good, because for some reason I was unable to get game saves to work in Windows 7. I did some quick searching online, and the suggested fixes for Vista had no effect. Compatibility mode also, no dice. My player profile would save, recording what mission I was on, but there was no mid-mission or quicksave ability, which is frustrating in an RTS, where missions can sometimes go beyond an hour, and a single mis-click can wreck your whole strategy.

In the end, while I thought War of the Ring was interesting, I still have something like 70 missions of Warcraft III that I've never played between the rest of the main game and expansion, and as dumb as Warcraft lore is, Blizzard are the kings of play and feel, and at least I'm less familiar with that game's lore than that of LotR. Going forward, I'll continue my play through more of Warcraft III.

On the subject of Blizzard games, Overwatch has really convinced me of its worth. It's an undeniably great game. You could make a case for it being nothing more than three game types on a handful of maps, but even so, there are 21 highly differentiated characters that all feel great and are enjoyable to play, and somehow there is even some modicum of balance in how they all check and are checked in terms of power by multiple others. It's team-based arena FPS action with the character design of a fighting game. The matches aren't overlong, and even though the 'progression' and extrinsic rewards for play are limited, it's hard not to jump right back into another after viewing the after action report. It's a real fun time.

I'm continuing to play more Regicide, as well. I'm in the middle of the middle of three "campaigns" of 10 scenarios as the Blood Angles. If it doesn't get too difficult, I'll probably finish them all and maybe even the two Ork campaigns, as well. The combination of Chess, XCOM, and 40K is just what I crave, apparently.

Regicide update: On reflection, the AI is pretty dumb sometimes, moving itself into check, which really shouldn't be allowed. Neat game, but even so, I think I'm going to move on.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Violence in the Future

If you believe the games I've been playing lately, the future is a very violent place, and gets grimmer the further you get away from the present.

Overwatch is the closest of games I've played this week to being set in the present. It's pretty upbeat in presentation, but still shockingly violent. All these characters do is kill one another, over and over, in an endless war of attrition over a few square feet of ground. I didn't think I'd be down for this Blizzard game, but as it turns out, I was. I am. I may as well jump in with both feet; I'm going to try to play every character to some degree and enjoy myself at least well enough to get my sixty dollars' worth.

V game Vanquish is several more decades further out into the future, and really shows the beginning of the darkening of the timeline. There are moments of cheekiness and levity, mostly around our rogueish hero Sam Gideon, but also a dark harbinger of things to come, as he and his principal enemies pilot or comprise cybernetic power armor suits and renegade AI routines. Vanquish is superb. I don't know if I've played a 3rd person cover-based shooter that is as fun to play. The jet-slide mobility and bullet-time mode, decent and varied assortment of weapons, and lively pacing all come together for a very frenetic and intense game. To top it all off, it looks great, and runs like a dream on the PS3. I never noticed it dropping any frames, and it felt like a nice 60 fps the entire time I played.

And now to the far, far future, where the world is grim and dark, indeed.

Warhammer 40,000.

Regicide paints a picture for us of what war will be like in the future--turn based, and very much like Chess, but with the added deadliness of firearms and bludgeoning and ripping and tearing melee weapons. A frightful vision indeed. It makes for a fun and interesting game, though. You wouldn't think adulterating Chess with XCOM like tactical combat would be anything other than a mess, but it works, somehow.

Storm of Vengeance also represents for us future war in the abstract. It could be seen as a sort of supply lines  and logistics simulation, one supposes. It is also port of an iOS game that itself is like a rethemed Plants Vs. Zombies. Dark Angels Vs. Orks, you might call it. Not a lot of effort, relative to most games, was put into this port. It's not terrible, but you might call it bad and not be far off base. It's the type of game that doesn't do just a whole lot to justify its existence, unless you are that into the 40K theme it uses.

Dawn of War II is a recurring nightmare of a simulation of the horrors of conflict in the awful, dark future. The single mission I undertook was a horrific vision of brother Blood Raven killing brother Blood Raven to ends I could not fathom. A dark vision, indeed. More scrying will be necessary to gather more insight into what the future holds for our doomed species.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Heresy Continuing Apace

I have been fairly ripping through Horus Heresy books lately. At this rate 2016 may be the best booklog year yet.

I mentioned Vulkan Lives previously. It was a little lower-key, but did some important groundwork for later books.

I finished that one, then just devoured The Unremembered Empire, which was amazing, featuring four(!) primarchs pretty heavily, and covering some pretty momentous stuff in the Heresy timeframe, Such as the establishment of Imperium Secundus, Curze and the Lion returning to the field, and the apparent death of a second primarch.

From there, Scars rewound the overall timeline a ways to get us caught up on the White Scars and their campaign to far-flung Chondax, where Horus sent them to mop up a greenskin infestation while he did his dirty Isstvan business, kicking off the rebellion. Here we learn who the Scars are, and get an idea of what their primarch, Jaghatai Khan, is like. Space Wolves, Alpha Legion, and Death Guard all also make substantial appearances.

I'm now reading Vengeful Spirit, which is the first book since the opening trilogy to feature Horus himself and his legion as prime actors. I'm only getting started with it, but it looks like another barnstormer, and some of the Emperor's past may be revealed here, as well.

Double Shotgun Blast to the Backlog

It's been a varied and busy week. I'm not really concentrating on any one thing at the moment, just kind of playing whatever I feel like.

UFO: Afterlight - A U game. It's basically an early/mid '00s X-COM-esque game. I fiddled around with it for a while, but couldn't find a hook to keep me from disregarding it almost out of hand once I felt I had a handle on what the main thrust of the game would be, which seems like to build a presence on Mars, terraforming and advancing tech until (I'm assuming) you're able to reclaim Earth from the aliens that have conquered it and forced your relocation to the red planet. If you were there at the time, this might have been worth playing for a while.

Vanquish - A V game. PS3 release, action shooter from Platinum, directed by Shinji Mikami. It seems really cool, from the tutorial and brief first mission that I have played. More on this to come.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - The replay continues. I'm at the start of chapter 4 now. Cornell was much, much easier on the lowest difficulty setting.

Braid - Wanted to revisit this since having played a lot of The Witness. I find my patience for puzzles is very thin these days. I plowed right through this game when it released on Xbox Live 8 years ago, but felt tedium very quickly this time around.

Dark Souls II - I need a game to play while I listen to podcasts, and right now this is about the most likely thing. I made it to a new bonfire, so that's nice.

Final Doom, Doom II: Hell on Earth, and Master Levels for DOOM II - The release of the newest DOOM game, to rave reviews, inspired me to go back and play some more of the originals. They're great fun, to this day. I may have even come around to going keyboard only on these. I also have installed Doom 3 and its expansion, which I have actually never played, before.

Spelunky - I suppose it's worth mentioning that I do still play daily runs here and there.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Dark Souls II: The Smattering

Over the last couple of weeks I've touched a few different things, but have spent the most time on Dark Souls II.

I felt like rolling right into it after finishing the first one, and in fact I had already at an earlier date begun the game and got as far as creating my character, who begun as one of the "Deprived" class, meaning they started with very basic clothing, no weapons, and at soul level 1, with all stats at 6.

Playing this way means playing the cards as they lie, and since I haven't been playing with a wiki thus far, it has meant a lot of slow going, diligent leveling, and making do with what I have found, as well as leading me to participate in summoning and being summoned much more than I did in Dark Souls, which I may not have even been online for the better portion of, come to think of it.

Right now my character, the Lost One, is wearing hollow soldiers' armor and using caesti on each hand; a sort of improvised version of the monk build many other RPGs feature. I've beaten one boss, the Last Giant, and am at level 35-ish. I've only begun to explore the forest of giants. There are braziers and sconces and such around the world that you can light with a torch, and light torches from, but I'm as of yet unaware of what effect they might have on the world, beyond providing more light in the environments and a place to light more torches. It seems like a great game, so far.

I'll briefly mention the other things I played, and why:

Titan Quest - Really just to add some more time to my Steam time played tracker for some reason. This game bores me, and it always has, but I've put hours into it in the past, and I wanted that dumb time tracker to record at least some of that time, for whatever reason.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - I think I'm going to do another run of this game for the Game Bytes Show as a sort of game club thing. I'll probably do it on easy, because on Knight difficulty (one above normal) it was a pretty hard game in spots, and I would prefer to kind of cruise through it this time around.

Overwatch - I was able to get into the closed Beta at one point and I played about 3 matches worth, I think entirely versus bots, before coming to the pretty solid conclusion that despite the apparent quality of the game, it just wasn't something I wanted to play. I don't tend to put a ton of time into multiplayer shooters anyway, and the prospect of shelling out $40 or $60 for one I'll likely not get much of a return on just doesn't add up for me. Especially a game like this that is so team-focused. I think I'd rather just play alone most of the time.

Heroes of the Storm - Speaking of playing alone, I did 5 practice matches with and against AIs last night, and had a good time doing them. MOBAs are pretty satisfying, especially when you tend to win a lot, and fairly easily. This game has been out for a long while now without me really giving it much of a look, but I may continue playing it some, now.

Friday, April 29, 2016

New True Lord of the Dark

Look out, Lordran, there's a new big man on the scene. That's right, the chosen undead, Fridge, just kept plugging away at the baddies until he was able to reach soul level 103 and gear up with fully maxed out giant's armor and a demon's greataxe. Now all the lord souls have been found, history set right in Oolacile, and the lord of cinder deposed. In league with Kaathe and Frampt, the great serpents, Fridge has begun a new reign of darkness over this blighted and forgotten land. There goes the neighborhood.

For the last week and a half or so, I've played practically nothing but Dark Souls. Previously I had made it to the point of having one of the four lord souls and venturing into the painting in Anor Londo. I finished that painting area, then promptly moved Seath, the Four Kings, and the Bed of Chaos, finalizing my gear and taking a detour into the Artorias DLC before taking out Gwynn for the ending. I'm proud of my accomplishment--beating the game at its own game. Fridge was an unstoppable juggernaut by the end of the game, and that felt pretty great in a game like Dark Souls.

I'm looking forward to replicating this success in Dark Souls II, just as I did with Demon's Souls previously.

I hadn't considered Dark Souls as a game I might return to and finish in 2016, but I'm very glad that I did. There was unfinished business there, now neatly tied off.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Vacation Download

I've done a fair amount of reading and gaming over the last 3 weeks or so of being abroad in Japan. Mostly, though, I took the opportunity to catch up on some TV and movies, though they're beyond the purview of this blog, like games on mobile platforms (which I do play, sometimes, but have decided not to write about here).

A booklog update first, then. I finished Mark of Calth, a Horus Heresy short story collection about the ongoing war on Calth after the Word Bearers' sneak attack on the Ultramarines there, which occurred in Know No Fear. I also began reading Vulkan Lives, about the titular Primarch of the XVIII legion, Salamanders, and their background and place in the widening conflict of Horus' treachery, still widening as it is in this, the 26th book on the subject. I do love them, though.

I almost hesitate to mention it, but I've gotten into some comics lately. I've been reading The Walking Dead regularly for years, but only recently, in the wake of The Force Awakens, have picked up three new ongoing Star Wars books, as well, Darth Vader first, and over my vacation, Star Wars proper as well as the newest one, Poe Dameron's ongoing series. The first two take place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, and the Poe book, of which there is only one issue at the moment, is set before The Force Awakens. These are all pretty good, and are part of the new canon, as well. I also read a random All New X-Men trade a friend had given me a digital copy of, and that was interesting, as someone who hasn't read an X-Men comic more or less since the mid '90s.

Games, though. I had access to my brother-in-law's PS4 while staying at his house, so I had a chance to play both Tom Clancy's The Division and Bloodborne.

The Division - solid cover shooter, decent amount of fun. Could not care any less about the setting or looting of parkas and other winter gear. Server woes put me off it after reaching about level 7, I think, and nothing pulled me back.

Bloodborne - To be honest it mostly just strikes me as another Souls game, though I admittedly did not get very far in. I killed the Cleric Beast and was working on Father Gascoine before we had to leave. I don't remember what class I was, but I was using the trick cane whip weapon, which was cool. I bought a Japanese copy of this game, so I still have it in my possession, but it's all in Japanese, which makes getting the lore difficult, since this is written at a level higher than my proficiency. I'd need to a) buy a PS4 b) bone up on the kanji and vocabulary to delve any deeper.

I also got in some good time on my Vita.

Tactics Ogre - I'm stuck at a part where I need to do some grinding. It's my fault; I was foolishly trying to level up too many different classes at once, and experience points were being divvied up over too many categories as a result, and now my classes are all somewhat behind the curve for critical path battles, the next of which happens to feature a bunch of dragons that no one in my party can seem to do much damage to, for the moment. I've fixed the classing issue, and just need to do the grinding now, to move forward.

Spelunky - I ran the daily when I thought to do so, and also ran a some practice runs, as well. I'm still not good, though.

Being back from vacation now, I'm not sure what I'll pick up, next. I do need to make progress with my RPGs and RTSs, but I may also ease back into Dark Souls with an eye at eventually finishing that game sometime.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

All Playing, All Preparing

I guess it slipped my mind just how many games I've played over the last week or so since the last update. I went to update thinking I didn't have much to write about, but in making the list discovered otherwise.

First up, the T game in my alphabetical backlog tour: Tiny and Big: Grandpa's Leftovers. You're thinking, what the fuck is this? I was too. I'm guessing this made it into my library as part of an indie game bundle at some point. It's a 3D platformer with physics puzzles and a snazzy graphical and musical style. The plot, if you can call it that, is nonsensical, but that's not the real star here, anyway. Tiny and Big is about navigation and manipulation of the environment. You have 3 primary tools in addition to your jump, a cutter for slicing and parting objects in the environment, a grapple to pull them, and an attachable rocket to propel them. Combined with large and malleable levels, it makes for a pretty fun and interesting game. I finished the tutorial and 2-3 levels.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is another Diablo clone I had in my library, and the mood struck, so I gave it a go. It's very well executed, if overwhelming at first with the amount of decisions it wants you to make about how to spec your character very early in the game. I found it to be completely competent, but not very interesting, otherwise. I've always loved Castlevania, Diablo, Dracula, and that sort of classic gothic horror, but the variant on offer here doesn't resonate enough to keep me playing and essentially duplicating to no end effort that could go into one of my D3 characters to more of a substantial sense of progression. Neocore Games, the folks behind this, are now working on Warhammer 40,000 Inquisitor - Martyr, which I think I would like to partake in, when that appears.

Spelunky - I continue to run dailies to little avail.

Castlevania SOTN - Just a few minutes for that tactile flavor.

Dark Souls - Reinstalled the game and DSfix. I'd like to actually finish it at some point.

Dragon Age II - Ran a couple of quests, getting the ball rolling to continue and finish later.

Dawn of War II: Retribution - Playing The Last Stand here and there.

SF2 Turbo HD Remix - Got completely dominated by a normal AI DeeJay repeatedly. I've never been good, but this is ridiculous.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Well, I finally did it. I finally put the cap on the Mass Effect trilogy. Overall, I was pretty satisfied with how things wrapped up for me. If I have any real regrets, it's that rushing through ME3 to some extent locked me out of a few quests, and caused the death of Miranda when I would really have liked to see her live. The other, from earlier in the saga, might choosing Morinth over Samara in ME2, though that certainly made for an interesting decision.

I had a pretty simple play style, as an Infiltrator with a single-shot, high-powered sniper rifle. Stealth up, headshot an enemy, duck back into cover, reload, and repeat. It was really satisfying, though. Most things died in a single hit, and I usually took Liara (biotic) and either Javik, James, or Ashley (assault) with me to round out the squad. I almost never used Garrus in ME3, just because he and I seemed to overlap too much in skillsets.

Here's looking forward to Andromeda.

That makes two titles off my prospectus altogether, and I'm making progress in a few others, as well. After finishing ME3, I immediately reinstalled Dragon Age II, and hopped back into that for a little bit to see if I could pick up where I left off. I don't think it'll be a problem to see that game through to the end, as well, sometime this year.

Mass Effect 3
The Witcher 3
The Walking Dead Season 2
Dawn of War II: Retribution
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
X-Com: Enemy Unknown
Warcraft III
StarCraft II
Dragon Age II
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Wasteland 2
Baldur's Gate II

I'm also maintaining the Spelunky daily challenge, as I mentioned before. I'm not back to the level of skill and proficiency with the game I used to have, but hopefully I'll get there.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Focus Fire!

I've been concentrating on Mass Effect 3 lately. There's a lot of stuff in this game. I've finished most of the base game now, maybe 80% if I had to guess, as well as the Leviathan post-release DLC module, and am currently in the middle of another, Omega. After that there is the final DLC, Citadel, to do, along with progressing through to the end of the campaign against the Reapers.

I've been mostly sticking to the renegade option, but going with the paragon one with Shepard's close friends when that seemed appropriate. Garrus, Liara, Ashley, and Tali from past games have all joined the crew, along with EDI, Javik, and James. Mordin, Thane, and Legion all gave their lives to the struggle, while Jack, Jacob, Grunt, Wrex, Miranda, Morinth, Kasumi, and Zaeed are all out there doing various things, as far as I know.

Elsewhere, I've been running the Spelunky daily challenge again, looking forward to wasting some time on that during my upcoming Japan trip. I also played around with Super Crate Box on the PC for a bit. I'd played the un-controllable iOS version before, but it was awful to grapple with sans buttons. With a proper man-machine interface, though, it's good fun.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Old, Old, Favorites

A few games of the past have been popping up recently.

I want to finish off Mass Effect 3 before my upcoming trip to Japan, and I'm working on that. I just put down an attempted coup on the Citadel by the human councilor Udina, and I think that puts me at about the halfway mark.

It was in thinking about the upcoming trip though, that I caught myself charging up my Vita and jumping back into a couple of games on that platform, Spelunky, enough of which I have already written about here, but also Tactics Ogre. TO is a game I began way back in, it must have been 2010. I've spent about 35 hours or so on my save, and I'm still, or rather, once again, working through that game. I couldn't tell you what the plot is about, at this point, but I still remember how to play it, and you can go back and watch all of the cutscenes anytime. You can, in fact, at some point, go back to the various forks in the game's path and explore the other branches, as well. I'd like to be that thorough with it at some point.

I also continue to play Devil Daggers and enjoy Talisman: The Horus Heresy, and I choose those words carefully.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

New Arrivals Appear on the Scene

Two new contenders for GOTY have appeared this week! Devil Daggers and Talisman: The Horus Heresy. Here are my top 4 2016 releases thus far, in no particular order:

The Witness
Devil Daggers
Talisman: The Horus Heresy

Just so I don't forget what actually came out this year that I have played. It is paramount that I have a definitive, rigorously considered GOTY each year, of course.

What I have been playing lately:

Rocket League - a few matches the other night. There really is something great about a 5 minute round of something as a palate cleanser or itch scratcher. This game is really lots of unadulterated fun, too. The production values are nice and crisp--Rocket League is just a great package all around.

Elite - I'm back to long-range exploration as my main modus operandi. I took a trip our to the Merope system in the Pleides nebula the other day to get a first-hand look at the "barnacles" that have been found out there. Getting to the system was a cinch in my exploration-optimized Asp, but getting to the specified coordinates on the planet was a real bear. It was a very cool thing to do, though. After that I returned to civilization to top off my hull repair, sell data, and dove back into the abyss. I'm working on a roundabout way toward VY Canis Majoris, this trip. I should mention that I also made a trip to Betelgeuse before going to Merope. Betelgeuse is very near the settled bubble, and an impressively large star. Unfortunately, like an idiot, within just a few light-seconds of a dock to sell that data, I decided to check out a Distress Call instance. Never again. I was torn apart by multiple assailants with no provocation and before I could even get my FSD more than a third of the way charged. And this was with 5D shields! Live and learn, and that was at least a million credits down the drain, figuring in re-buy costs.

Mass Effect 3 - I cured the Genophage, and won the support of both the Krogan and Turians in my galaxy-spanning war on the Reapers. It sounds like a real feat, but it only took less than a couple of hours. I have a lot of side quests to be doing, and I'm going to have to mediate a conflict between the Quarians and the Geth at some point, I know. There's still a lot of game left here. I should finish it before going to Japan for a few weeks in about a month's time.

Devil Daggers - This game came out of nowhere, as far as I'm concerned. I first saw a screenshot of the title screen on twitter, and then it was everywhere. It's Geometry Wars but in Quake, in a nutshell. The single round, one hit death, survive as long as you can play of the former in the perspective and motif of the former. The object of the game is primarily just to survive as long as possible, and presumably also to collect as many red gems as possible, which are dropped by certain enemy types. I'm guessing collecting enough will trigger some sort of power up. This game is very difficult, and very addicting. It is also very, very intense. It's a blast, as I love the feel and look of it. I'm currently at the top of my friends' leaderboard, though there is only one other person on it, with a time of 62-some-odd seconds.

Talisman: The Horus Heresy - It's Talisman Digital themed in my favorite Warhammer setting and characters. I was naturally going to pick this up, loving the license and liking the game well enough. I've played 4 games so far, trying out different characters, who all have unique traits. There is a very heavy luck component to any game of Talisman, this one being no exception. In my last game as Konrad Curze, I wandered around the periphery of the board barely accruing any strength or resources at all, where my partner Angron (this version is team-based, rather than a free-for-all) snowballed early and rolled right through all comers to slay The Emperor very quickly and win the game for us. It's only lightly interactive, and mostly dependent on dice rolls and card draws, so strategy is less emphasized, but I enjoy a game of Talisman here and there, and as an unrepentant Horus Heresy enthusiast, I'll be playing this game quite a bit in the future, I think.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Play Salad

I've been into a ton of different things in the past few days:

Firewatch - I finished it. It was alright, overall, but I didn't end up liking it as much as I anticipated. Maybe I was just not in the mindspace for this type of thing. The high points are the style of the game's art and believable characters on display, though I don't quite buy that it is set in the mid '80s when the characters speak the way they do. Something about it just seemed off. Hiking around the nature areas was nice, but got old kind of quickly, and I was soon dashing everywhere, and dashing through to the end of the game.

Torchlight II - I'm not sure why, now, but something made me want to go back to revisit this game, as I felt like we had unfinished business. I feel like I'm finished with it now, though. I realized while playing it for a while that I wasn't particularly in love with either the play or the world in this game, and my time would be better spent elsewhere.

Borderlands 2 - Same story here as above. I haven't been able to get into Borderlands 2 for whatever reason, after a couple of tries. I played all the way through the first and all the DLC for it, and while I do enjoy the combat in these games, the randomly generated guns don't really do all that much for me, and I don't particularly like the world they've built here, unique though it is. I could play any number of other shooters and probably eventually find one that clicks in a way that this one doesn't.

Tomb Raider II - Another game not really on my backlog, since I did play all the way through it back at release on the original PlayStation, but that I did want to revisit. I bought the entire collection of Tomb Raider games on Steam a while back, and I want to try each of them out, for a while at least. I never played past the second when these were contemporary, nor ever played Legend, Anniversary, or Underworld in later years. The next TR game I played after II was actually the 2013 reboot. I still really like these original games in the series. No other game has done quite this sort of 3D world navigation puzzle with a very well defined move set and a collection of levels planned out so exactly. I hypothesize that the advent of the analog stick cut short this evolutionary path in gaming.

Rocket League - It continues to be a great game to dip into for a few minutes at a time as a break here and there during the day, or in the evening as a warm-up for more serious fare.

The Witness - The more serious fare, often. I've made some really good progress lately. I'm up past 250 puzzles solved now, I think, with 5 or 6 laser beams activated. I really like this game.

X-COM Enemy Unknown - My campaign continues. I'm at a stage where I have to infiltrate an alien base, and I'm just trying to build up resources and prepare my squad before doing that. I don't know if it's time sensitive or not, but it probably is, at least in the sense that alien activity is going to keep happening, and I can never address all instances of it. Eventually everyone will just pull out of the whole X-COM project. One nation already has, Russia, if memory serves.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night - I have a game in progress that I am half-serious about completing, and that I keep going back to when I feel like a quick hit of action play and the PS3 is on, usually because Mia and Juno have been watching something.

Elite Dangerous - I finally made it back to civilized space with my tons of exploration data, and sold it, making about 8 million credits, which was enough to bankroll the best FSD available for my Asp, as well as other improvements, and now I'm off out into the black for another run. I don't know where I'm headed, other than to the bottom of the galaxy, and rimward of the bubble of settled systems. One of the new toys I want to test out is my SRV, the rover that can be deployed to drive around the surfaces of planets (rocky and non-atmospheric, for the time being). I need to do more and longer expeditions if I'm going to make enough money to buy an Anaconda or other large ship, and if I'm going to rank up to Elite in exploration. These are long, long, long term goals. I can play CQC mode in between bouts of jump, scan, jump, scan, jump, scan, and so on.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Steady As She Goes

The Ship is an older entry in my Steam library. As I recall, everyone who purchased the game ended up with a few free copies to give away to others. They were as common as dirt for a while, it seemed. I finally decided to try the game out, since it began with S, and I could at once knock out three separate entries in my unplayed Steam list (The Ship, The Ship Tutorial, and The Ship Single Player). It's a mainly multiplayer game of the type where every player is given one other player to kill, while avoiding being killed by whomever is hunting them. At the same time, your character has various needs that need to be met, such as having to eat, drink, sleep, shower, urinate, socialize, read, et cetera. The game is a balancing act of hunting, evasion, and character upkeep on a Titanic-era ship on the high seas. It's a good idea, and seems to have been executed competently. It's a shame then, that several years on, there are no players on the servers. It does have a functional bunch of bots you can play against, at least to get a sense of how the game is supposed to play, and the single player mode is a sort of campaign-tutorial mélange that seemed to mean well, but lacked a quick save, meaning lots of repetition. No, thank you.

Horizons, the first major expansion to Elite: Dangerous was on sale recently, so I added that to my game and was able to make my first planetary landing on a random body in a random system still several hundred LY outside of civilized space. I don't have a rover yet, so landing is really all I can do, but it was still cool.  When I get the feeling, I'll make my way back to civilization and hopefully be able to make some money from my exploration data to then afford one of the rovers. They look like a lot of fun!

Progressing through some of my 2016 planned gaming syllabus, I have been working on both XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Dawn of War II: Retribution. I suppose the XCOM2 hype and rave reviews have influenced me some, but I've gained some ground on my Normal Ironman campaign. I still feel overwhelmed and lack satellite coverage, but I may be able to claw my way to success with some luck. I've never made it even this far in a campaign, though, so who can say? I ran one mission in Retribution last week, but it's got me wanting to run more. I'm playing it through as the Blood Raven Space Marine squad this first time, at least. It might be interesting to try some of the other factions, too.

A quick update on The Witness: I keep returning to this game and managing to figure out a little bit, and make a little bit of progress before being stumped and putting it down. Figuring out the rules that govern a set of puzzles is a really nice feeling, though. It makes me want to go back and keep trying until I figure it all out.

Firewatch has just come out, the walk and talk first person exploration and drama game from the new studio Campo Santo, made up of people formerly of Telltale Games, Double Fine, Irrational, Klei, and others, I'm sure, as well as members of the popular Idle Thumbs video games podcast. It features art by artist Olly Moss, whose style is very full of visual wordplay. You play one of those people that goes and spends the summer in a giant watchtower out in the wilderness and watches for brushfires and acts as a sort of deputy park ranger. Henry (his name) has some personal issues and he is in contact with Delilah, another firewatcher, and they talk a lot on the radio while interesting things occur in the parklands. I'm investigating a bit of a mystery at the point I'm at, now.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Witness the Turn

I'm at a pivot point.

I finally finished Knights of the Old Republic, as a Jedi Revan. I even managed to win Bastila back to the light side after she had been turned by Darth Malak while in his hands. Malak was killed, undone by his own hubris and the weaknesses of the dark side in the end. Isn't that always the way? It felt good to finally conclude the business between myself and this game after such a long time. I'm really looking forward to the Obsidian Studios-developed sequel which I'll play at some point.

For backlog diligence this week, I tried out Rage, the id Software shooter from 2011. Megatextures. It's got a great look, technically, and if it weren't for Borderlands already doing something similar, and more recently Mad Max itself entering gaming, Rage would also have a niche, artistically. Which would be nice, because mechanically there is nothing special about this game from the first couple of hours. It's by id, so the shooting is solid. There's also ATV and buggy driving, which seems fine, and faux-open world trappings and light RPG systems. I had a decent time in the first few missions, but I see no reason to play more, what with all the other potentially and actually better games at my fingertips.

A while back I played through Warhammer 40:000 Kill Team on PS3. It was not great by any means, but the PC version was very cheap recently so I picked it up on Steam for another go at greater fidelity. It's a very stupid game, and roughly made, like a bad old arcade game or something from the PS1 or N64 generation. I wanted to kill a few moments with it, though, so there you have it.

I'm keeping at The Witness, as well. I've activated two lasers, for what that's worth. One was in and under the desert, and the other the colored glass greenhouse elevator area. I wish I had some idea of what I'm supposed to do at the vaguely Asian temple area, with the diamond shaped puzzles on the garden wall, or the glass puzzle near the harbor with the twin lines. I did the apples-in-the-trees puzzle set last night, and I guess I'll roam the island for some more low hanging fruit when next I load up the game.

And I'm still leaning toward some Dawn of War II: Retribution soon.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Hit and Miss

Sometimes even good games can miss the mark for us personally, for whatever reason.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown has never really clicked with me, despite how plainly well designed and executed everything about it is. I certainly admire the game, and enjoy sessions of it, but it's one I have to make myself play. Even some of the best games require pushing through at times, but for whatever reason XCOM is always an uphill battle for me. I reached a mission last week that requires me to board an alien ship, and came across my first of the floating disc aliens, which promptly ended the runs of my entire squad. Now I am left with a bunch of rookies to face the same gauntlet, and I fear for the future of the XCOM initiative, and the world.

I checked out Payday: The Heist (yes, even though Payday 2 has been out for years at this point) as my P game for my mini backlog project. It was surprisingly fun playing alone with bots filling out the rest of my crew. I did the bank robbery heist, and thought seriously about going back to play more, probably trying the street battle scenario a la Heat, but then decided that was OK, I'd actually had enough. I should check out the sequel sometime.

This weekend saw some real leaps of progress in KOTOR. I started out just having arrived on Kashyyyk looking for the third piece of the star map, progressed through that and the scenario that followed which involved escaping Darth Malak's starship and the grand revelation that I was Darth Revan (before my turn as the light side boy scout I am now playing), and finally through the Korriban section of the game and acquiring the final piece of the map to the Stellar Forge. I think I must be pretty close to the end, now. Bastila is apparently being held by Malak, who is apparently also on the way to the Stellar Forge for some reason. I've heard Bastila can be turned to the dark side, but I'm unaware of whether it is a certainty or not. Perhaps it depends on what path the player character has taken. I'm squeaky clean, since for the most part the dark side options to me seem a little too moustache-twirling for me to roll with in this game. I've read that KOTOR II deals much more in shades of gray. I may play a bit more of a conflicted character in that game when the time comes.

Another very well done game that I'm not sure is really doing it for me is The Witness. I've never been the biggest fan of puzzles for puzzles' sake, but I do like a nice immersive world with enigmas spread about, and the game definitely has that. I'm not sure what portion of the puzzles I've done thus far, but I'd guess it's somewhere around 20%, probably. I've been wandering from place to place, abandoning areas as soon as they get a little too head-scratchingly obtuse. It's a neat game, to be sure, and I'll certainly keep plugging away at it, I just don't know if I'll ever figure it all out. I don't even know the totality of what there is to figure out, at this point.

For the next week or so, I'm really looking forward to finishing KOTOR. I'm not sure where to go from there, but perhaps back to Dawn of War II?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Reading Ramp-Up

I haven't really written a book round-up post since finishing Moby Dick last year. It's mostly been Horus Heresy stuff since:

Fear To Tread - The story of the Blood Angels legion being led into a trap early in the heresy timeline. Sanguinius' sons are attacked by previously unknown daemon forces from the warp in an attempt to remove them from the greater battle soon to happen elsewhere. This one was alright. It's always good fun to read about a legion without much background in the story thus far. Not incredibly memorable, though.

Shadows of Treachery - a collection of novellas and short stories mostly about the Imperial Fists and Night Lords legions. Very entertaining, especially the ones featuring Curze.

Angel Exterminatus - Fulgrim leads Perturabo into the Eye of Terror, attempting to kill him as an offering to Slaanesh. Perturabo escapes, but Fulgrim is still able to attain his daemon form, and the Emperor's Children vanish. The Iron Warriors go deeper into the warp maelstrom. I really enjoyed this one. It was good to learn something about Perturabo and his legion, and to see Fulgrim reach his apotheosis.

Betrayer - Lorgar and Angron rampage across Ultramar feeding the warp storms that isolate it and the Ultramarines from the greater heresy. I'm only about halfway through this one, but am really, really liking it. I had no idea the World Eaters could be fleshed out so compellingly, and it's so good to have Argel Tal and Lorgar back after the events of The First Heretic.

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions - NOT a Horus Heresy novel, though some of the worlds it describes do seem pretty dystopic. It's an interesting blend of 1880's Britain social satire and geometric thought experiments. It was pretty short, and a nice palate cleanser between a couple of the aforementioned romps.

Focus Leads to Completion, Completion Leads to Progress

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night - Someone slandered the revered name of this game recently, claiming another, more recent game could be better. I checked, and no, no game is better.

Rocket League - Had a quick game the other day, scored a goal. Very fun!

Orion: Dino Beatdown/Dino Horde/Prelude - Dumb Sci-Fi Battlefield-like with universally hostile dinosaurs in the environments. Seemed alright, but few players were on the servers, and the production values just aren't where they need to be in a game like this.

KOTOR update - This is where I've been spending most of my gaming time. I must be around a third or more of the way in, now. I am probably getting near the end of the Manaan section, the first planet I am visiting on my quest for the Star Map. There are three others after this one, and probably one or two more endgame locations to hit after that. I still lack two companions, the fan favorite HK-47 being one, the other unknown to me. Unless it's potentially Malak? I'm definitely enjoying this game. I believe I'm further in now than I ever managed to get before, but I don't recall exactly where it was I left off, previously.