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Archive for the tag “RPG”

What matters most?

Gazillion Entertainment released a new developer diary yesterday to shed a bit more light on their upcoming game Marvel Heroes, this time a video with COO David Brevik .  They seem to be taking the smart approach now of putting Brevik out in front and really pushing the fact that he was one of the creative heads that made Diablo 1 and 2.  Few people could argue that his being involved is NOT a good thing considering the love for Diablo 1 and 2 in the PC gaming world.

Now the game has not really been shown much and lots of comments around the internet are focusing mostly on one specific aspect of the game, or the lack of something.  Players do not create their own character in Marvel Heroes, much as they did not in Diablo 1 and 2.  Instead you choose from existing characters and play thru the game with them and power them up in ways in which are more suitable to your own style.  So yes, there will be perhaps mulitple Iron Man players at one time, but some may be more defensive built or some could be more offensive built.  Add to that the fact that additional skins for your character can be unlocked or purchased and there can be some significant variety on screen.  For those complaining about three Wolverines on screen at once I have to wonder if playing Diablo 2 with three Paladins was a major issue.. so much so that they stopped playing.

Adding on top of the fact that Brevik is involved is that the main storyline head is Brian Michael Bendis who was a big part of the Marvel Ultimate launch.  Few could reasonably question his storytelling abilities.

So the question is what do you really care about?  Is it absolutely important to create from scratch a character all your own?  I remember the early days of City of Heroes where despite the amazing character creator I was surrounded by Wolverine and Superman copies…. hell even some of the names were copies.  Marvel Heroes is focusing not on the character creator but more on the content to experience.  Personally I want to explore some of these zones… I want to run around as Captain America dishing out justice with my shield or play as Wolverine exploring the Morlock tunnels… especially if I can do so during perhaps say the Mutant Massacre.

I like the approach they are taking with Marvel Heroes.. is it an MMORPG?  Hell if I know.  Will it be massive?  I am not really sure what that means anymore.  I do know it will be online… I do know it will have multiplayer aspects.. not so sure about the actual ‘role playing’ though.  I see it being more of a online mulitplayer action game with large amounts of collectibles and unlockable items.. and marvel characters… and to me that sounds pretty enjoyable.  That is what matters most to me as a gamer… enjoyment.

 

What makes a successful launch?

The Secret World early entry period started yesterday for pre-orders and I must say that thus far Funcom is doing a superb job of handing things.  I know no matter how things go with the launch of TSW there will always be those that want to point back to Age of Conan and Anarchy Online and talk about how horrible things were, but I prefer to live in the moment, and at the moment I am having a blast and enjoying my purchase 100%.

This post though is not going to focus on the game itself, I plan on doing that in segments, this is just about the launch and my experience with the process.

I did have a slight delay in processing my purchase via paypal, but once I switched to a CC the order went thru within minutes.  My name reservation was easy to set up and my beta client patched to the early access client without any major issues.  Once I got home from work I was easily able to log in to the character creation menu without any delay.  I have read that from time to time the client locks up at the character menu but by shutting down the client and restarting it will sort itself out.  I have not had to deal with this yet myself but since the forums are not on fire with anger I trust the restart works for most players.

The character creation is pretty much as simple as it was in the extended beta periods, perhaps a few new added options here and there though I did not notice anything remarkable different.  There is already an announcement on the forums that a ‘plastic surgery’ feature is being worked on for a later period that will allow players to redo their appearance once, free of charge, with the exception of changing your gender.  After the initial redo of looks you can still choose to do this in your faction hub, but it will be at the expense of PAX.  I have no issue a developer adding in more content to the character creator post launch, especially when they offer access to it for free to early players.  As it stands I was able to make a character I am happy with at this point.

Once in game I have had nothing but a smooth experience.  I am playing on Arcadia, the RP dimension.  Lag has been a non-issue for me so far even at bottle neck points such as the Sheriff’s Station in Kingsmouth where players are bouncing all over.  I should mention that the population is nothing like what I saw in some other launches, but I have no idea if that is due to me choosing the RP dimension or just low numbers.  Technically with this being early access this could all go to hell on the official launch but I really think a good portion of players are already in the game and do not think a ton of retail buyers are out there.

There has been a report of some players having a delay in getting their pre-order items via the store, but once I was settled in Kingsmouth I opened the store and clicked on my items and they were in my inventory in about 2 minutes… not an issue at all.

I have not suffered a single crash since starting to play yesterday and today I plan on getting to some heavy traffic areas, such as the PVP zones and some of the dungeons.  I am interested to see if things stay as smooth in more congested areas… and especially how things will be later this week when the official launch happens.

 

 

 

Dungeons of Dredmor

I have been trying to pay more attention to the indie titles as of late, you know, do my part to support those that work in the hobby I love.  This week I picked up Dungeons of Dredmor on a wonderful Steam sale, 70% off.  A game would have to be quite horrible to not even be worth the simple $2.25 I paid for it and its expansion pack, thankfully DoD well exceeds my expectations.

Dungeons of Dredmor is a 2D roguelike dungeon crawler but with an added wicked sense of humor.  In fact, it is that sense of humor that has kept me playing the game.  I have uncovered so many small jokes or references that I keep going forward to see what else I can uncover.  I have thus far encountered references to The Secret of Monkey Island, Conan, Evil Dead and just so many other things that the game has endeared itself to me.  For the jokes and attitude alone I find the game well worth the price.

Complexity wise, DoD is actually quite involved.  The game very much follows the basic formula of RPG style games with attributes that increase/decrease based on equipment and such, and skill points are allocated to purchase new skills each level.  You do not pick a class in the traditional sense, but you do start by picking a set number of skills which pretty much determine your class.  Combat in DoD is turn based and adds another layer of tactics to the game.  When facing several batties (an actual name of creature) I can choose to face them head on or funnel them into a tight hallway then unleash a fire strike that engulfs the lot of them.

The levels in DoD are vast, expansive and completely random, so when you die you can start over and not have that horrible experience of running the same content again over and over.  And die you shall.  The game seems quite simple and easy in the beginning but as you descend deeper into the dungeons things become much more difficult.

Dungeons of Dredmor is not breaking any new ground in gaming for sure, but what it does do is make me laugh out loud and that is something I will gladly pay a few dollars for.

I’d buy that for a dollar!

 

I have been spending the last few nights getting comfortable with Diablo III finally and quite enjoying myself even if it is a ‘thin’ game when it comes to story and content… I just enjoy smashing the hell out of stuff ultimately.  The funny thing is that during the downtime with the server issues I have also been replaying an old favorite of mine, Marvel Ultimate Alliance.

For those that never played MUA it is basically a similar title to the older X-Men Legends series of games.  Pick a team of four heroes and battle through level after level of villains on your way to several boss fights.  Simple and easy.  The real joy though in MUA was in the vast amount of unlockable content the game offered.  Players could purchase new heroes such from the Marvel universe to play as, alternate costumes for their unlocked heroes, special abilities to use in combat or increase their existing abilities.  Add to that side missions such as the story levels for each hero to play thru alone and MUA was quite the enjoyable time sink.

So as I was playing Diablo III I was thinking to myself that while I love DC Universe Online, Marvel might do well to go the different route for their planned MMO.  I know they have slowly been releasing concept art of the heroes that will be playable in the game, but today was the first real news bit I have seen about the MMO that gives me a clear idea of what they are doing… and it sounds quite fun.

Check out the brand new teaser trailer that also includes a few seconds of combat!  


The official press release can be found here.

Simply put the game will utilize a F2P model in which players will play as their favorite heroes throughout various locations in the Marvel Universe.  Locations such as Manhattan and Xavier’s Institute will serve as social hubs in which players will interact with other players and collect missions.  Mention is made of constructing each heroes costumes out of their rich history, collecting all kinds of other items and choosing which powers to use as the way to make your hero unique.

Another reason that I found this ironic is I have to admit that I had no idea the David Brevik was the driving force behind Marvel Heroes.  Brevik is of course the co-founder of Blizzard North which created Diablo and Diablo II.  His influence is quite apparent in the teaser trailer above.

I for one can not wait to start spending countless hours unlocking all my favorite characters from the Marvel Universe… Spider-Man and Punisher here I come!

This dragon has no bite

Tomorrow is the release date for the ‘much anticipated’ Dragon’s Dogma from Capcom and I could not be any less excited.  Their marketing for this game has been poor at best with only the occasional banner ad on a site and the demo they released a few weeks ago only did one thing for me, convince me not to purchase this game.  The demo looked pretty but frankly looks are not everything to me.  I found the combat to be fast and hectic but that was not the issue I had with combat.  In the two demo sessions I played on the PS3 I was paired with several companions that seemed to always be getting in the way of the camera.  I often found myself being attacked from off screen somewhere and found it very difficult to locate who was attacking me, then when I did and attempted to unleash one of the special attacks the enemy was engulfed by my companions attacks and dead.  Very frustrating.  I felt Dragon’s Dogma could have done better with a demo in line with perhaps KOA: Reckoning which allowed you to play your character thru several encounters that showcased the various abilities and skills.. instead they felt it a good idea to toss your character right into some pretty intense combat encounters.

Not all was bad with DD though.  I enjoyed some of the settings and really liked the fact that certain boss fights seem to allow you to target the boss in specific spots such as the wings or tail.  Doing so altered the way the boss encounter would play out.  Interesting for sure, but not enough to forgive the fact that I could barely keep my eye on the battle due to the chaos on the screen.  I can not comment on the depth of the RPG experience as that is hardly touched on in the demo.. I have no idea how diverse they allow you to make your character or if it holds any replay value at all.

So for the time being I will not be playing Dragon’s Dogma, at best it looks like a bargain bin purchase somewhere down the road for me if I buy it at all.

Take a number and wait your turn

Today was the day that the 12 year wait for Diablo III finally came to an end for scores of fans around the world.  At the stroke of midnight players everywhere rushed to boot up the game they had waited so long for.  Time to finally venture out and click hordes of evil minions to death!  Then came the log in issues 🙂

I will not waste time on the finer points of this debacle.  Everyone that wants to play this game knows the deal.  It is just sad that even with all the bitching fans did leading up to this moment Blizzard still choose to go the way of the always online requirement insisting it would benefit the player base instead negatively impacting it.  Now we see how right they were.  To be clear, this is not the end of Blizzard.  I am not going to jump up and down and scream that Diablo III is a failure, I played the beta trial and had a blast!  I will however say that going the way Blizzard choose to go was wrong, at least from my view as a consumer.  I understand the need for stretching out the viability of a product via DLC, expansions and various other things.  I even like the idea of the online auction house for the game.  I however have no intention of playing  multiplayer in Diablo III, I never did in Diablo II and had a great time.  Create an auction house, let us sell items on it and take your cut, fine by me.  I am old fashion, I like to play alone.  I work odd hours and sometimes find myself with some time to spare at 4am.  Diablo III will be wonderful for those times 🙂

The issue I have is they made the clear decision to eliminate the offline mode completely and thereby make this game an online multiplayer regardless of weather I want to group or not.  A decision was made somewhere in the production cycle to no longer allow a player to keep their data on their end on their pc and play as they like when they like.  Now, as we have seen already with the Error 37s this morning, we are limited to the server stability.  Ironically as I am writing this I see servers are down to address some issues of stability but we are assured they will be back up very soon and improve the game.  Once again I am not saying “THIS SUCKS AND I HATE YOU GUYS!”  I do however feel that the decision was made and that decision sends a clear message.

The decision fans should be looking at was not the decision to remove offline play and create a more dynamic online mode.  The decision they should think hard about is that Blizzard knew of the communities dislike of this idea of ‘always online’ and went with it anyway claiming confidence in server stability and reliability.  Clearly what they were counting on more then server stability was fan loyalty.

I suppose that is something to think about over the next hour or so… or at least until the servers come back up.

 

oh and FYI Blizzard… I did not pre-order your game nor did I pre-purchase it.  I am treating it like what it is… an MMO.  And with all MMOs I wait till at least the initial wave of errors, bugs and general insanity is over before I play.  And for those that want to nitpick and say it is not an MMO… if they shut those servers off the game would be as playable as Tabula Rasa, Star Wars Galaxies or Matrix Online.  Not at all.

 

KOA:R … combat is king

Another night of questing and thrashing in Amalur has concluded and I can say with great certainty that combat is the feature that is defining this game for me.  While the art style and setting has been enjoyable and the story line created by the developers has been interesting, nothing has been more pleasing and refreshing then the action.  I am really starting to appreciate the fast travel system as well as I find myself hopping between caves to just try out different techniques and fighting styles to find what fits me best.

One thing that has also been extremely helpful and refreshing is the Fateweaver reset.  Nothing annoys me more in RPGs then getting a portion of the way into a game and deciding I want to experience a different playstyle and having to burn thru the same content all over again just to try something different.  I started KOA:R with the decision to go all in with Might as my ability focus but discovered last night that I really enjoy the fast striking of daggers over the slow strikes of the swords.  Of course I have already sunk 30 points into Might and 0 into Finesse, but by paying the fee at a Fateweaver I can reset those points and dump them into Finesse to try my hand at that style for a while.

My mind is now racing with possible skills combinations, weapons combinations and spell combinations.  I love the Quake ability in the Might tree that sees rocks shoot up from the ground damaging and stunning enemies, but now prefer the speed of the daggers… I can easily drop a few points into Might to obtain the lowest form of that ability then dump more points into Finesse to maximize my dagger damage and unlock the multiple strike dash attach.  Now I can roll into combat and hit my target with a fast series of strikes inflicting the DOT effect from bleeding, launch a Quake strike to put them off balance then flow right into a 5 strike dash attack to finish them off.. and it all flows flawlessly.

This is what combat should feel like.

First play session impressions of Reckoning

I have a problem… there are only 24 hours in a day and that is just not enough to do the essential things like eat, sleep, work and destroy mobs of Brownies with flaming combos!

Thus far I have spent about 5 hours in Amalur and must say my journey is already one that I am loving and cherishing.  Game play mechanics to me are the strongest and most important aspect of a title, a game can be the prettiest in the world but if it is not fun there is little reason or desire for me to keep playing.  Thankfully, this so far has been the most outstanding part of KOA:R.  The combat handles so smooth and combinations just flow from one attack to another without a hitch.  I love being able to blast a target from afar with a lightning strike leaving them stunned, then pulling them in close with a special attack and hitting them with a quick freezing  blast from a sceptre and closing with a fast series of knife thrusts.  Ah freedom!  Gone are the notions that if I want to use magic I MUST wear cloth and stand in place and cast bolt after bolt, or if I want to use that big ass hammer I have to wear the heaviest armor and do my best Hulk impersonation.  Of course wearing certain armor gives bonuses that make sense for certain playstyles, but the CHOICE is there if I want to pursue a different way of doing things… and I never get tired of new ways to butcher Brownies.

Ah Brownies…. and not the kind grandma use to make.  These are the oddly shaped little ones chilling in the woods in circles humming songs and participating in some sort of unnatural hedonistic ritual… of course they must perish!  I joke about the hedonism of course, who am I to judge, but they truly are hanging in the woods ‘doing something’.  You can hear the brownies as you approach if you listen carefully, their humming getting louder as you enter the area.  Just like so many other inhabitants of KOA:R they are not just standing there in place waiting for their death.  Bears roam an area and then lay down and roll around and take naps, bandits can be seen doing push ups.  These are not new things in an RPG, but they are nice details that make a world feel more alive.

When playing the demo I was not initially pleased with their choice in art syles, but that was on the PS3.  Now I am playing the full title on my PC maxed out and boy is it impressive.  I think the max settings and the smaller screen help considerably as before I was limited to what the PS3 could do and on a much bigger screen, once again, PC wins for me.  I have read and heard the comparisons to WOW style art and Fable and it is a valid comparison, but not one that detracts from KOA:R.

Of course this is an RPG and what would an RPG be without the hero and his/her story.  KOA:R naturally, like so many other RPGS, places your character in the middle of ‘the great conflict’.  The usual RPG story points exist, there is a war, you are central somehow to the war, you must journey to discover why and how you are involved.  Is the story very original… to early to say.  I believe a true RPG story takes time to unfold and since I have only done the first two steps in the main quest line that will be determined.

Up in the next post, a closer look at another RPG staple… good or evil decisions!

Reckoning is here!

Last night saw the midnite release of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, an RPG I have been following and anticipating for some time now.  Since the game is made by Big Huge Games based right here in the Baltimore area, there was a local release event put on by Gamestop and Big Huge Games.  The turnout was quite significant, though to be honest I think the crowd was 2 to 1 developers over costumers.  The devs treated those of us waiting in line to pick up copies to a good amount of swag, and of course were nice enough to sign our copies.   I was able to score myself a Troll themed t-shirt and also got my PC edition signed by several of the devs including the man Ken Rolston.

I have to say that the general attitude of these people was pretty impressive.  They were having their own cook out in the parking lot, almost as a sort of casual release party for themselves and they were all very friendly and willing to discuss what they did on the project.  What was interesting most of all was to see Rolston interact with members of the team.  Apparently holding hands with Ken and jumping up and down to see how high you can jump is some sort of BHGs inner office tradition as I was witness to this event several times.

Typically I do not attend midnite releases as I am now in my mid 30s and usually prefer a solid nights rest over getting a game just a few hours early, but BHG made this a fun evening.. and now hopefully KOA:R will be just as much fun.

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