Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gone 2 Europe 4 two months!

"Gone gone, forever on-
wards toward the flashing lights and sounds
of another realm"

See you in a few months!

Dear Reader, (there is only 1 of you right?)

I have finished Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, much to my chagrin it was cute and mildly humorous till the very end, but the story was complete and almost all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. I'm not too sure what I was supposed to do with the girl pirate, and I never found the mermaid. So even without those tidbits or add-ons I still give this game a 5 out of 5, particularly because it was on the DS. I've never enjoyed an RPG / Action game so much on a handheld.

Now I've moved on to Final Fantasy III, which has filled that emptyness inside that appears when you finish a good game. Having never played FF III before it is a real treat. I believe this is the first FF game where they introduced job classes, which are annoying when you switch back and forth, but add enough interesting aspects to the game that they become enjoyable. I'll have to wait until I return to give a full review.

However, dear reader, I do want to leave you with something to tide you over. Here are a list of my favorite webcomics, the majority of which are gaming related, and most of which are excellent wastes of time. Read them all from the beginning of the archives, you will enjoy them much more that way.

Hookie Dookie Panic
8bit Theatre
Penny Arcade
PVP Online
The Adventures of Dr McNinja
The n00b
Three Panel Soul - (from the creators of Machall)
Girl Genius
Looking For Group

Enjoy! and feel free to leave your comments :)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass DS ... Plus More!

So many things to say, so little time. This post will be a brief overview of some of the key features of The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass DS. I won't go into too much detail because so many others have covered the bases. What I will say is that as far as DS games go, the hype was well deserved for this little title. It's taken me about 20+ hours to poke through about 85% of the game, and everything that keeps the game cute and interesting is still prevalent.

Issues - the saving "anywhere" feature is deceptive, and though I'm sure it was an engineering limitation that prevents players from saving in the middle of a castle / dungeon, it would have been really nice to see. Instead, whenever you save, if you were in a castle, you keep any doors or switches that you've hit open, but you start back at the beginning of the castle again.

As for the gameplay and the cuteness (plus most of the original reliable weapons / tools) everything works well. As many other reviews have pointed out it's the stylus
that makes this nugget of triforce goodness fall into the "legendary" category. Taking the ability to draw paths and making it integral to the game really expanded the puzzles and style of play that a portable Zelda game can offer.

Anyway, no more babbling. Go buy it, it's good, you won't be dissappointed, I'm not going to use any more commas ... I swear ...

As for the other stuff! Well, I've finished a few additional games and decided I'm going to start tracking them over there---------------------------------------------->
Each has a relative rating, but if you want details or to form your own opinion (which I highly recommend), take a look at any posts on said game, or click the title to get to the official site (that's what's usually linked there).

That's all for now, and may the triforce be with you ... (nerd thought .. I wonder if the triforce is like a focus for "The Force", Link woulda kicked Luke's ass anyway ...)


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Witcher ... now loading

Now is the time to take up your sword, to recall the holy grail of clickdom and to renew your vows as a knight of the RPG realm, now is not the time to be sitting and waiting for a load screen, which is exactly what I've spent a good 25% of my time doing while trying to enjoy the glorious world of The Witcher. It could be the install / setup I'm running, but my skepticism leans toward a common culprit; lazy programming. No pre-loading zones in the background, no free roaming cities, no flow.

What's really amazing though, is that despite this issue which could frustrate many players into seeking an alternate source of on demand entertainment, I am still playing.

I am just breaking out of the novice ranks, with my sword in hand I have successfully overcome the Beast of Vizima's outskirts and have defeated the evil leaders of the village. I met a charming girl named Vesna Hood (if you don't get the hilarity here, go back and try and find her at night in the village). I rescued a young boy with the powers of a seer. I helped a witch avoid being torn apart by a mob. Generally, amidst some drinking and monster slaying I had a pretty good time. Now I'm off to save the city from corruption and degradation.

I just hope I don't have to fight this guy any time soon... yikes!

Wish me luck!, oh and I'd still love some hints if you have any.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Which Witcher is Which?

Ahhh yes, it's like getting into a warm bath that soothes every aching gaming thought I've had while weathering through the last few months of gaming. This game has been given RPG of the year for 2007 with good reason.

The Witcher (Click here to visit the official website and possibly download a demo). Is a sweet return the days of Baldur's Gate and Diablo. I won't get into iteration wars here, suffice to say if you enjoyed one of those games your probably played all the sequels. That's the way it should be for the The Witcher.

To give you a taste of the story, which comes from a number of tales written by polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, the game gives you a well narrated action packed CG intro movie, in which you will probably come to appreciate the character Geralt, whom you play. You are then thrust into a future where you have no memory of who you are and get to avenge your past and carve out a new name for yourself in a dark and hostile land.

I'm only a few levels into the game so far, but there is more than enough depth to keep me interested, the plot so far has given me a taste of good things to come, and the adult aspects of this RPG lead me to believe we can only expect true to life characters throughout this tale's twists and turns.

I will keep this blog posted with updates on my progress, and all you veterans out there feel free to throw me a bone with helpful suggestions.

Here's to a beautiful dawn in the RPG gaming era.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What the Hellgate?

What the hell just happened?

I think I just finished Hellgate: London last night. I put emphasis on the "think" part because I'm really not sure. You see, like most people I was intrigued and drawn in by this gorgeous intro movie, but I think it was a sham, they sold me snake oil and took DAYS of my life away.

***Warning: Spoilers Below***

So as you can see in the video above, there is a well laid path for an intricate and deep plot. A young daughter gets saved because she has a destiny. But in reality, that destiny doesn't turn out to be all that interesting. You get a small hint late in the game that the little girl's father (who you will see in a full intro movie from the game) sacrificed himself so that humanity's survivors could go into hiding, but this is where things start to unravel.

You see, to make the plot a little more unnatural and epic they included these "Truths". They give all these speeches about the virtues that will save humanity, that will allow you to fight the demons, to attack the Hellgate itself. But they are incredibly overdone and the "glamour" fades long before the end of the game. Even the final speech about "hope" seems more of a cop-out on the game's part than anything else, like saying "oops, well we can't build up to a really terrific ending (especially since that might stop us from making tons of sequels), so .. we'll just have to send you to battle in Hell ..."

Then on top of that .. well .. here watch this movie of the end of the game.

Now, have you seen everything? That's you, battling in hell, ouu scary! :p See I know this falls into myth and religion, and that Hell is supposed to be the ultimate "bad place", but really can't you get a little more creative? I mean your dealing with "the dark" which has supposedly destroyed thousands of worlds, why can't you be taken through what you've called a "Hellgate" (accept the fact that it's just some religious archetype that your culture or history provided) and end up on a more interesting wasteland of a world were the demons .. or "the dark" began, or are at least based out of.

On TOP of the poorly pieced together ending, the game isn't really over .. AT ALL .. in any sense of the world "over". They want you to keep playing on and on, until the expansion comes out .. then you can play some more. All the buildup leads you to a battle that you obviously cannot win, and Earth is still stricken with the plague of demons. I mean, there's really nothing good about this ending at all. You kill one big baddy, you lose your sorcerer, if you hang out in the hellgate entrance long enough you'll see that all the templars DIE, and the Hellgate is still there, just hanging out .. letting demons pour through it. They even put effort into developing the pseudo-science/magic of this universe and they don't even apply it to the hellgate (something which must be maintained, or powered, and can be taken down or turned off).

Anyway, I think the moral of the story is that my original fear is partly well founded. Gaming companies are being run as successful businesses, but the business has been inbred into the games. It's all about only putting in enough effort to sell the game, not develop something awesome. Even games like Gears of War ended this way. They only include enough cutscenes and content to keep you playing until the next add-on comes out for sale. I'd love to see how much they spend on advertising and how much is actually spent on the game. On top of this the online was very buggy on its initial release, which was supposed to be a huge part of the game.

For those interested, here's a movie of what looks to be the expansion. Here's hoping it's a little more content oriented.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Mmmmm PORTALicious

I recently read an interview on WIRED.com with one of the original bloggers. This guy looks like he's seen a lot, and done a lot, and missed his barber appointments for the last 10 years, but he made some vital points.

1. Blogging isn't about re-hashing some topic you're interested in, it's about searching for articles that already exist online about said topic, and linking to them.

2. Original BLOGS were just logs were people tracked URLs.

Now these points aren't an attempt at shooting myself and many other bloggers in the feet. I believe part of blogging is sharing an opinion or perspective, that someone else might not have seen before, and hoping that someone finds it funny, or interesting, or enlightening.

The problem with blogging about video games is that there are A LOT of people that do it already, and for the most part you can do a random google search and find out whether or not a video game is worth buying or playing etc. So why read? Well I guess here, and in many other blogs (but not all of them) I will try to stick to the habit of actually posting worthwhile links. That old somewhat scary looking guy had a point, or 10 ...

Useful Portal Links:

Fileplanet Free Maps
- These are a fun, but hard, way to fill that empty hole Portal leaves in a wall somewhere (and in your heart) when you finish the game.

Portal Maps Fansite - There are a lot of maps here, and though they seem poorly organized, I'm sure there are some winners.

VG Cats Flash Portal Video - This one is only for when you've finished the game, it will make you laugh and reminisce and want to play it all over again ... maybe for some cake?

So, in case you haven't seen any other sites about Portal, played the game, or heard that the hype is reality, turn off your computer and go to the nearest shrine of video game provisions. Go buy this game, you'll get 4 other games with it in the Orange Box and you too can have cake .. maybe.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

New Year, New Fear

To all the ladies out there who used to think of Heath Ledger as a heart-throb I have nothing to say except,

"...what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger." - Joker (Dark Knight 2008)

To all the guys. If you haven't seen this yet, please indulge yourself. It's decadent like a velvet chocolate cake with scary little leprechaun hallucinogens baked in.

Now if they can keep this new birth of the Batman series alive with as much grit and Gothic texture I'd love to see what they continue to do with Lazarus, The Riddler ... and all the other worthwhile villains of Gotham.

And now for something Completely Different!

Actually I lied. I justed wanted to quote Monty Python. This is another fear, relating back to a previous post about the BEASTLY nature of Hellgate: London. I'm sure given the thorough discipline of any high school computer geek you could zip through this game in a few all nighters, but it's taking a hell of a lot longer to get through it casually. I'm lvl 21, and I've beaten a number of big baddies, got some neat gear, and enjoyed it all so far, but I've yet to see another cut scene!

I fear that my most favorite form of video game reward has gone the way of genital piercing, companies only do it once and then lose the balls to do it again. Is it really that painful? (making cut scenes .. not piercing your nibbly bits) Sure it takes time, but you can often use it to market the game, and then the full version of these videos live on inside and out of the game as a vivid memory of awesome moments, forever immortalized in online music videos. I mean, if you've played Diablo do you think it would have been the same without the great story and well placed CG movies to drag you into hell? I really hope this fear is unfounded and I get rewarded with more videos as I finish the games I've enjoyed so far this year.

Back to the grindstone, lvl 25 hear I come!