Tuesday, February 28, 2012


"So welcome to Alabastra!  It shall be the death of you once more."

This is what Gadflow said to me after I freed the House of Pride.  How charming!  Of course, that name makes me immediately think of Alabasta from One Piece.  (Do not bother looking up One Piece.  Do you really think you'd enjoy a Japanese Anime where the main character is named Monkey D. Luffy?  I thought not.)

But back on topic, and the topic is KoA.

First of all, you'll notice a lack of videos in this post.  Mostly that is because I'm better at writing about games than I am making videos about games.  And mostly because I'm not particularly that -good- at playing video games.  And let's be honest here -- you weren't watching them anyway.  I'll leave the videos to the experts.  Not to say I'm an expert at writing, either -- but I would like to think that I am able to keep you relatively beguiled with the magic of words.  Otherwise, why are you here, anyway?

So where did we leave off?  Well, I'd just defeated the Balor at Mel Senshir, which was a pretty big deal.  The Tuatha have been attacking the city for a whole ten years, and I sent them fleeing.  Not bad for a day's work.  It's here that I'm going to actually point out something that KoA does -better- than Skyrim, albeit for a price.

After the Battle of Mel Senshir, I went into a new area called Klurikon.  It's that swampy area I mentioned before, filled with quite an impressive display of immersion -- the sounds of insects, soothing music, and enemies that are quite a bit tougher when compared to the nasties I had just fought on the other side of the wall.  More noticeable, however, is how the denizens of Amalur treat me now.  Their eyes are filled with awe as I approach, and they greet me as the "Hero of Mel Senshir".  This is something that Skyrim hardly achieved -- the sense that you actually made a difference in the world.  It's like only -you- know that you saved Skyrim, and everyone else inhabiting the cold north is rather oblivious.  Sort of like Canada!

But it's not done without a price, as I said.  Klurikon is inaccessible to you until you defeat the Balor.  Do you see?  It's quite simple for KoA to do this because if you're in Klurikon then of course you're the hero of Mel Senshir.  Skryim doesn't prevent you from going anywhere -- you can walk anywhere you choose.  It would take a considerable amount of coding to change the reactions and greetings of the NPCs.  It's a trade-off.  Fully open-world?  Or a changing world?

I challenge someone to do both.

Moving on, let's talk about what happened after Mel Senshir in regards to the main storyline.  To do this, I first have to explain Gadflow's ultimate goal.  It's quite simple really.  He wants to wipe mortals off the face of the planet.  He's a Fae -- a twisted Fae worshiping some kind of new god.  All the Tuatha are Fae turned evil.  (If you missed it in my previous posts, the Fae are basically the elves of this story.  Immortal beings of magic.)

Since comparisons are abound, Gadflow is not unlike Sauron.  Alabastra is not unlike Mordor.  The only difference here is that currently, I don't know of any "One Ring" weakness to exploit.  Gadflow controls an army that only gets stronger as each soldier in it dies.  I can only assume that my ability to manipulate fate will have some bearing on the outcome.

In any case, after getting to Klurikon the order of business is finding a way into Alabastra.  Do you remember the Black Gate that barred the entrance into Mordor?  Think of Alabastra as being just as inaccessible.  But, instead of finding a secret, winding alternate path inside, I'm going right through that front gate.  It's guarded by another group of Fae.  They have not turned into Tuatha, but they are sided with Gadflow because they do not want mortals corrupting their realm.  They are the Fae of the House of Pride.  I defeated their leader, and their people were convinced that mortals were not all that bad.  So, they joined the mortal army, even lending their mages in the effort to stop Gadflow.  I'm slowly building an army.

So now, with my army behind me, it's time to infiltrate Gadflow's bastion.  That's pretty much where I left off last night.  I stepped into Alabastra and was impressed by it.  The terrain isn't fiery with lava like Mordor, but it gives you a sense of foreboding.  It's a bit dark, and the structures are jagged.  Also, the music is very good there.

I did a few side quests then to finish off my evening, and one of these was actually pretty cool and worth mentioning.  On the Caeled Coast, there were two royal families that ruled before the Tuatha came and conquered them.  I found the castle for one of these families, and inside was one of the servants.  He desired to bring the castle back to its old glory, and asked me if I'd be it's new inhabitant.  To make a long story short -- I know have my own castle!  It started out as a dark hunk of ruin filled with rubble and junk.  Each time I'd do one of this guy's quests, he'd improve it.  At the end, I had red carpeting, furniture, seven bedrooms, a garden, a merchant, forges, alchemy tables, sagecrafting tables, and just about everything else I could possible need in the game.  It was brilliant.

What I've learned about this game is that if you're in the mood to just immerse yourself in a fantasy world for a bit with no real desire for a story constantly driving you forward, this game is the perfect choice.  However, if you're looking for an engaging story that keeps you wanting to play more and more, you'll find yourself feeling restless at how slow the game moves along. Last night, I was in the perfect mood to play KoA, and it worked out quite well for me.  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

When Is Long Too Long?

And if your mind went into the gutter as soon as you read that title, congratulations.  You think like me.  However, that's not what I'm going to talk about here.  Sorry to disappoint you!

I'm 46 hours into Kingdoms of Amalur, with still no end in sight.  Typically, I never complain about a game being too long, and I guess this is true because either I don't like a game and stop playing it before I finish it, or I love a game and I finish it with a feeling of wanting more.  It's rare that I find a game that sort of falls in-between that, but KoA might be one of those games.

When it comes to Skyrim, there are still side quests that I haven't done.  Probably not very many at all, mind you, but there are still some.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, and I will certainly take care of those at some point.  (Probably when the DLC comes out and I have renewed interest in playing the game.)

It's different with KoA.  I'm finding myself getting bored, actually.  The last two nights I've tried to make progress in the game, I've ended up dozing off at my keyboard, and just stopped and went to bed.  The game was literally putting me to sleep.

Perhaps the problem is that I know I have other games I need to playthrough that I'm not getting to play through because I haven't finished this game yet.  Or maybe the game is just boring!  Heh.

In any case, the other problem I have is that I really can't just say, "Alright, so the side quests are boring, I'll just do the main storyline and finish the game!"  The reason I can't do this is because I need to get to a higher level so I don't get my ass kicked.  Therefore, side quests.  After the battle of Mel Senshir, the game got really difficult again.

Speaking of the battle of Mel Senshir, I owe you a conclusion to that, don't I?  Righto then.  The following video will show you the appearance of the Balor, and the fight with Malwyn.  He's the Tuatha who is leading the forces that are besieging the city.

After defeating Malwyn, there was only one other thing to do, of course -- kill the Balor.  Oh boy.

I haven't done any of the main storyline after this battle, except one little part.  It seems that we're going to try and get the Winter Fae on our side, so that's interesting.  Aside from that, I've only been doing side quests, because I've discovered that the difficulty level of this new area I'm in is quite high.  I sort of feel that I need to level up a bit more with side quests before I do anything else in the main storyline, to prevent myself from getting my ass kicked.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm Awake Now

I've been wanting to use that as a blog post title for a while now, and just never had a way of doing so.  Seems appropriate now for a post about the end of Alan Wake.  If you're wondering, it's the title of a song by the Goo Goo Dolls.  It's one of the first songs of theirs that was mildly successful -- I'm talking about the days before Iris, Black Balloon, and Slide.  The song actually appeared at the beginning of A Nightmare on Elm Street 6, better known as Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare.  And now that I think about it, it's actually a VERY appropriate title for a blog post about a game that's all about being awake, given the fact that the Nightmare moves are about just that -- nightmares.

Anyway, before I get utterly and irrevocably off-track here, I finished Alan wake in a little over 8 hours on Tuesday night.  The ending wasn't the best, but quite honestly it's rare that I like the ending of a game.  Take the Half-Life series, for example.  Both Half-Life and Half-Life 2 had shitty endings.  (Don't get me wrong, the final PLAYABLE bits of those games were brilliant.  But story-wise, which is what I'm referring to here, they sucked.  It didn't make me feel any different about the games as a whole though, and that's the case here as well.)

I honestly wasn't expecting a good ending, anyway.  The game was an homage to old science fiction TV shows, and those NEVER end well!

So now that I've played through the entire game, I'm prepared to summarize the things I liked the most, and the things I liked the least.  I think most of all I enjoyed the overall flow of the story and gamplay.  The story moved along at a very good pace (until the very end), and it kept me wanting to play and wanting to see how everything turned out.  That's how a story should be.  The gameplay likewise moved along quite well, and the stakes kept getting raised.  Pistol to shotgun, shotgun to flaregun, flaregun to hunting rifle.  Standard procession of more powerful weapons.  Same with the flashlight, which I mentioned before.  Also, flares to flashbang grenades.  Same principle.

I think the thing that I disliked most of all was the movement.  It felt clunky. It felt...well, it felt like it was designed for a console.  (Shock horror.)  Dodging axes with those controls was probably one of the most frustrating things I've ever had to do in a game.  Sometimes Alan just wouldn't fucking move.  It was like he had a load of shit in his pants.  The other thing I hate was how the game enjoyed being a dick to me.  Sending enemies from every single angle and giving me zero escape is not fun.  Stop doing it.  Dick.

The bottom line is that this game is well worth the time and money.  I highly recommend it.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Time to Wake Up, Part 2

Now that I've had sleep and have a bit of caffeine in me, I'm prepared to tell you more about my experiences within Alan Wake.  This morning, I'm going to be making a couple of comparisons.

The first is a bit of an obvious one.  There are parts of this game that remind me very much of Max Payne.  This is obvious because the original two Max Payne games were developed by Remedy, the same developer of Alan Wake.  (They're Finnish!)  Specifically:

  • "Bullet Time" shows up on several occasions throughout the game, which of course was basically invented in video games by Max Payne.  This shows up as a piece de resistance at the end of each conflict with a group of "Taken" -- a slow motion 180 or 360 degree spin to highlight the cool thing you just did in the game.
  • The sound effects are giving me a major case of nostalgia.  Some of them are identical to the sound effects from Max Payne, such as a lot of the footsteps, and most of all the sound of a locked door.  I was really thrilled to hear them again, and it brought back a lot of good memories for me.
  • The overall style of the storytelling is also very reminiscent of Max Payne.  Max Payne was presented like a graphic novel or modern day comic book.  Alan Wake is presented like an old science fiction television program, but the feel of it is very similar in nature.  It's a focus on story.  It's structured and presented very methodically.  And it's brilliant.  The narration that Alan gives while you play the game is very similar to the narration you get from Max, although Max was a bit more melodramatic and noirish.  (Noirish is now a word.  I have made it so.)
  • Vikings.  It's developed by a Finnish company, don't forget.  Max Payne featured a drug called Valkyr, a night club called Ragnarok, a corporation called Aesir, and a -lot- of other references to vikings.  The references in Alan Wake are more scarce, but they are there.  The biggest so far has been the two crazy old rock stars Odin and Tor, and their farm called Valhalla. 
The next comparison may surprise you.  Sometimes this game reminds me of Half-Life 2.  That's probably the greatest compliment I could ever give a game.  Specifically:
  • The game is linear but doesn't feel like it.  Exactly like Half-Life 2 feels.  "Hey I'm going to go over HERE because I feel like it...oh a cave!  Oh look, goodies!  OH CRAP MONSTERS!"
  • Weapon caches.  The paint marking where they are is even the same color as the Half-Life lambda insignia.
  • The thing that really made me go, "This is like Half-Life 2." was when I was driving in a vehicle, noticed a house, and stopped to investigate it.  It had nothing to do with my current objective, but it had stuff in it.  This sort of goes along with my first point about the game being linear but not really feeling like it, but it's a specific thing worth mentioning on its own.
  • Basic gameplay made infinitely more interesting by adding another mechanic to it.  Half-Life 2 gave us physics -- the gravity gun.  Alan Wake gives us a flashlight.  

So what we have here is a game that reminds me of two of my most favorite and cherished games of all time.  Would I call Alan Wake as good as Max Payne or Half-Life 2?  No, I would not.  The gameplay is a bit clunky at times, the save-game system is ATROCIOUS, and sometimes the game is a DICK.  All of these things take the game down a few notches.  But, so far, it's a very enjoyable experience that I recommend to anyone.  

Time to Wake Up, Part 1

I've been playing Alan Wake.  It's that game that came out on consoles over a year ago.  The same game that just came out on PC less than a week ago.  Oh, and I should also mention how the PC version paid for itself in less than 48 hours.  Score.

I'm going to talk about this game in pretty considerable detail, but probably not in this post.  It's 1:30 AM and I'm tired.  The things I want to say before I go to bed tonight is that this game is something different.  For one thing, it's actually rather difficult at times.  I've never had a game own me so often.  I've gotten frustrated a few times, and I've cussed at my monitor plenty.  Sometimes the game is a total dick!

But when the game -isn't- being a dick, it is doing one of two things quite well: Either telling me a fantastic story, or scaring the mother-loving poo out of me.

I consider Amnesia: The Dark Descent to be the greatest horror game ever made.  Alan Wake is a different kind of horror -- it's more of a making-you-jump kind of horror, rather than the slowly building dread that permeates through the entirety of Amnesia.  Alan Wake gets your heart pumping and your adrenaline rushing.  It's a horror-adventure game, really.  Or even a horror-action-adventure game, if you really want to throw all the genres together.  (Use ALL the genres!)

That being said, I would think a lot less of this game if the story was weak.  It would just be a rather bland game that sometimes made you jump.  But the story is fantastic.  It's something right out of a Stephen King novel (who is mentioned several times throughout the game).  And let's face it, you're not going to get a better horror story from anyone else.

There are so many other things to like about this game.  It's separated into episodes, with each one ending in a song and the start of the next beginning with a "Previously on Alan Wake" montage of events, summing up everything quite nicely for you.  It makes me feel like I'm playing an interactive TV show, and that's just the fucking cat's meow.

One other thing sticks in my mind as I'm writing this.  As you may or may not know, the whole "hook" of this game is that you must use light to defend yourself.  There's a darkness chasing you, and the light weakens it.  You use your flashlight to weaken the enemies before shooting them.  It's a cool mechanic, and the stakes keep getting higher and higher as you go along.  I've just finished Episode 4, and I now have a "High-Powered Lantern", which I upgraded from my "High-Powered Flashlight", which I upgraded from my normal flashlight.  I've also used lamps, work lights, car headlights, and even a FIREWORKS DISPLAY to fight the darkness.

To my point, however, there was this absolutely brilliant part of the game where I was running from the FBI.  (Don't ask.)  I had to stay out of the light of their flashlights to avoid getting shot at.  The game utterly turned the tables completely around on me.  Now -I- was the one who had to stay out of the light.  It was as if the darkness was now laughing at me saying, "Ha!  How's it feel, bitch?"

There is oh-so-much more I have to say about this game, but I really need to go to bed.  Expect more on this game in the coming days.  Until then, good night!  

Monday, February 20, 2012

KoA Stories: Part 1

Even through I'm 37 hours into Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, I'm still figuring out exactly how I'd like to present the story.  Because, y'know, it's a good story.  It's hard for me to tell you that, because there's a LOT of content to go through, and the story admittedly moves quite slowly given how much of this game I've played.  That's fine for me, but might not be so fine for other people.  So what I'm going to do from this point forward is kind of provide videos that highlight really important bits, and just tell you about the rest.

When last I left off, I had two quests in the main storyline.  The first was to help the gnome from the start of the game.  I've decided to leave that be for the time being, and instead focus on the other quest with General Tilera.  So, for her, the first thing I needed to do was activate a bunch of stones that were spread out all over the map.  This would allow met to access a cave that she would never be able to -- because Fate determined that she never would.  Since I can change fate, though, I can.  All of this was to retrieve a weapon -- a spear -- that Tilera would use to slay the Balor.
After a long and winding journey through the caves, we came to the room with the spear.  And, naturally, had one hell of a fight on our hands. 

So now that we have the spear, it was time to act.  The Tuatha have been laying siege to Mel Senshir for a decade now, and it would not be much longer before they finally do take the city.  But perhaps I would be able to help Tilera stop it?

After some convincing, the leader of Rathir agreed to make a counter-attack on the Tuatha laying siege to Mel Senshir.  It was time to go!

It occurs to me that this still might not make any sense, so I'll summarize it pretty simply.  When the Tuatha first appeared, they laid siege to Mel Senshir.  The city has been basically in stalemate with them now for ten years, but their forces are weakening.  During that time, Tilera has been sitting at the entrance to the cave where the spear rests, unable to enter.

With me so far?  Right -- so then I appeared.  I can help Tilera get the spear, because unlike her, I am not bound by Fate.  It is Fate that kept her from breaking the seal on the cave.  That spear is what is needed (again, according to Fate) to defeat the Balor that Maelwyn (the leader of the Tuatha forces laying siege to Mel Senshir) will use to destroy the city.

That's probably the most confusing part.  The rest is pretty simple.  The forces at Mel Senshir are running right out of the front gates of the city to meet the Tuatha head-on.  It's a distraction so that Tilera and I can hunt down and defeat both Maelwyn and the Balor.

In the next post:  The battle against Maelwyn and the Balor.  Trust me -- it's epic. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Definition of Insanity

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  That pretty much summarizes my sleep regimen.  I was so tired this morning that I couldn't even open up my eyes all the way.  That's some hardcore tiredness right there.  It's funny, because my desire to sleep is utterly BACKWARDS.  When it's a reasonable time for me to go to bed, I'm wide awake.  When it's time to get up, I'm tired as fuck.  Body, y u suck at sleeping correctly?  

Here, this graph will explain it:

Just ignore the horrible grammar in the image.  I didn't make it.

I trashed a whole evening's worth of KoA main storyline recordings because, well, it was boring.  I'll just summarize what happened, instead:  I tracked down Hugues and agreed to help him out.  I also tracked down the General and agreed to help her out.  That's basically it.  I was tired and cranky when I was playing anyway, so trust me when I say you don't want to hear that.

Damn it's difficult to type when my fingers won't move the way my brain tells them to.

So, it shouldn't be any surprise that as I was driving to work this morning, I had a seething hatred for every atom of the universe.  But right before I got into work, the most wonderful thing came onto the radio.

"Happy Friday, people!  It's the Friday before the long President's Day weekend."

Long.  Weekend.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Plot Thickens!

This is, in my opinion, the best KoA video I've been able to record in regards to the content of it.  In a matter of speaking, it's a place where the story gets blow wide open and you learn quite a bit.  It's excellent.

I think my favorite thing about this is the cutscene with the King.  Specifically, his VOICE.  I freaking love that voice.  I looked the guy up.  He's from New Jersey!  New Fucking Jersey!  Color me impressed to hell and back.  He is BRILLIANT.

That's really all the words I have to say about it.  You just need to watch it to fully appreciate my enthusiasm.  I -will- explain the story a bit, though, just to summarize:

I completed the tasks the tree gave to me, and he gave me his blessing and permission to enter Ysa -- the kingdom of the Fae.  I went to see the King then, and presented him with the codex that I retrieved within the Theater of Fate.  When the two of us touched the artifact, a vision occurred.  (My favorite part of the video.)

It now seems that my power (my control over fate itself) is linked to the Puppet King, who is leading the war against the Fae.  It's time to build an army!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Let's Talk Story

The main focus of this post, and thus the meaning of the title, is the storyline of Kingdoms of Amalur.  You know -- that game I've been obsessed with for a week now.  But I also feel like just rambling about absolutely nothing.  So before I get to the two videos I have to share, there's going to be some of that.  My condolences.

First, let's talk books.  I tried to get into a book by the name of Gardens of the Moon.  It's a fantasy novel by Steven Erikson, and it's the first book in a ten book series.  I was in the mood to read such a sprawling fantasy novel.  That desire was quickly raped and murdered by the start of that book.  I read the words, and it was the English language, but I comprehended nothing.  Eventually I decided that I actually wasn't in the mood to read such a novel after all, and I returned to Black House.  Well that was a novel idea.  (See what I did there?)  The first thing I read about when returning to that book about about a guy lying in bed shitting himself.  SUPER.  However, I will admit that after painfully getting through that oh-so-pleasant section, the book actually started to grab my interest.  The next section detailed a murder scene that no one has found yet, and it seems there's a serial killer on the loose.  Alright.  I can dig that.  I'm all for a good murder mystery.  I also like the style of the writing in this book.  The authors write like they're taking you with them on the story.  ("We look down up on the scene...")  I like that a lot.  If I ever find the creativity, patience, and time to write another anything again, I may try that out for myself.

This morning was rather irritating.  It was about 13 degrees outside, and you would think that such a temperature would prompt our department of transportation to treat the roads for ice.  They may have, I really don't know.  But if they did, they missed a spot.  A BIG HUGE SPOT.  On my way to work, traffic came to a screeching halt, so I figured there must be some kind of accident.  Some asshat on his cell phone probably got creamed.  As we crawled along at a speed that made me want to staple my hand to my face, I began to notice that the road actually seemed to have ice on it.  That's obviously not good if you intend to drive to work without the immediate risk of death.  Instead of finding one accident at the end of the traffic jam (which is a lot less pleasant than the finding of the gold at the end of the rainbow, by the way), I found THREE accidents, all of which happened in the same 500 feet of interstate that the department of transportation apparently failed utterly to attend to in the early hours of the morning.  Can you hear my sarcastic applause?

So on to the topic at hand, yes?  I said I was going to focus on the story of KoA, and these videos will do just that -- it's me playing through only the main questlines.  If you don't have the patience to sit through them (or you abhor the  quality of my videos because, let's face it, they're not exactly stellar now are they?), then I will give you a bit of a summary -- at least as much of it as I understand.

I went to the Theater of Fate with my friend the Fateweaver to try and figure out why I don't have a fate.  I didn't learn much, aside from the fact that the Tuatha are tracking me.  In order to get them off my back, I have to destroy a scrying crystal that they are using to watch my movements.  I do that, and earn the ire of the Tuatha's king.  (He looks amazing, btw.)  Additionally, I have to go talk to a tree (because why not?).  The tree is linked to the Fae, who are basically the "elves" of the story -- immortal beings who are very old and wise and all that jazz.  And naturally, the tree has tasks for me to perform before the story will move any further along.  He sends me to kill the Queen of the Trolls - Gnarsh.  Who, I learn, is now under the control of the Tuatha.  Those guys are really starting to be a menace!

Admittedly, none of this is really all that fascinating.  It's good stuff, and you get to see some great combat, animations, and environments, so that's a bonus.  You get to hear me get pissed at the combat, too, so that's all good. But I will say that the footage I recorded this evening totally blows this stuff out of the water.  So make sure you watch for that posting coming up in the next day or so.

For now, though, I leave you with these videos.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Different Ends of a Spectrum

Bonus points to you if you didn't see RECTUM instead of SPECTRUM.  Or perhaps I shouldn't assume that everyone's mind is constantly in the gutter like mine.

Now before I get completely off-topic, the title of this post is referencing how a game can be both brilliant and utterly crap all at once.  More specifically, how some things can be done perfectly in a game, and others can be totally botched.

There are a lot of things that Kingdoms of Amalur does right.  The story is done right -- it's very, very typical high-fantasy fare.  Which shouldn't surprise anyone, since the writer for the game is an author of fantasy novels.  It's sort of a given.  The inventory system is done right -- it's very easy to navigate, and I love the "Junk" system, where you can send all your unwanted items and them sell them all at a vendor in one fell swoop.  There a lot of other little things too, more that I care to mention in this post.

There're also some things that really frustrate me about this game as well, though.  A lot of it is the combat.  It's the part of the game that really pulls me in two different directions, because at times it is brilliant and exhilarating.  But other times it makes me want to stab babies.  For example, there are attacks from enemies that you can block or dodge.  Blocking an attack you're supposed to dodge doesn't work, and dodging an attack you're supposed to block doesn't work.  With the former, you just get hit, and with the latter, the enemy just keeps chasing you down until they hit you.  That would be all well and good if you knew which abilities were which -- but you don't.  You have to pretty much guess, unless you've fought an enemy like it before and you remember how it goes.  The other thing that makes me want to stab babies is that a lot of enemies have certain animations when they land a hit on you.  Some of these are three separate attacks, with pauses in between them.  My question is, why would you POSSIBLY design it that way if you weren't going to give the player the change to block/dodge any of those attacks when they miss the first one?  It just doesn't make any sense -- the only thing it does is frustrate the player.  (And make them want to stab babies.)

On the whole, though, I think the game is well done.  I wouldn't call it Editor's Choice material, but I would certainly deem a score of 85% or so to be quite appropriate if I gave monetary scores.  (But I don't.)

It's been able to keep my full attention since its release, so much so that I haven't played anything else, to include TOR.  That's saying something.

All that being said, here's a cool little video that is totally unrelated to just about everything.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Funday

It's funny -- my intent on recording just the main story of Kingdoms of Amalur was so that I wouldn't have a ton of footage to present.  But the main bits of storyline that I recorded the other night ended up being like an hour long.  So yeah, I'll be working on getting that uploaded here soon.  In the meantime, I should probably catch up on the other videos that I have waiting to be posted.  Most of it is Serious Sam 3 stuff.  I do have another Jedi Knight vlog to post, which I'll get to soonish.  

Also, I have three screenshots here to provide examples of how Kingdoms of Amalur can indeed be a very pretty game.


So you see, the game can look pretty damned good once you get past the whole "fuzziness" look it tends to have.

And now, it looks like I left off with Chapter 7 of Serious Sam 3, so here's the rest of the videos I have.  I think all I have left to do is the last level, or thereabouts, but it will probably be a while before I get back to it, given the recent releases that have come out.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

A Dragon Age Retrospect

I looked over at that little "Most Popular Posts" gadget today, and saw my article on Dragon Age II sitting there.  (For the record, that gadget is never accurate because hardly anyone will actually CLICK on an article to read it on my blog, because you don't have to.  The entire article is just right there.)  Anyway, I felt the urge to validate the opinions that I made in that article due to how much hatred the average gamer has for Dragon Age II.

First of all, if you are one of the people who vehemently insists that Dragon Age II is worse than Dragon Age: Origins, I want you to stop for a minute and really think about what you're saying.  Are you saying it's worse because you actually think it's worse, or are you confusing worse with DIFFERENT?

Next, I'm going to address some of the common complains I have read about it.

"It feels rushed."
If you are referring to the fact that it reuses the same environments often, sure, I'll agree with you there.  Personally, that didn't bother me, though.

"The combat was designed for Call of Duty kids."
I'm assuming you mean that the combat was simplified from Origins.  All I have to say to that is "THANK GOD".  Origins combat was too tedious, and I'm glad they simplified it.  If that insults you, then perhaps you should take up a different hobby that will more thoroughly challenge your oh-so-superior intellect.  Space travel research, perhaps?  Quantum theory, maybe?  And if you insult my own intelligence by my thinking that simplifying it wasn't bad, well then you go ahead and knock yourself out.  I've been insulted in worse ways, and I can't hear you anyway.  (LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA)

"The story was worse."
I fully disagree.  Period.  Also, allow me to add that your character in Dragon Age II has a VOICE, unlike in Origins.  That alone makes it light years better than Origins for me.

"The performance issues are totally unacceptable."

Ran smooth as a baby's bare ass for me, so once again I fully disagree.

So the bottom line here is that I stand by every viewpoint I made in my original post on the game.  I regret nothing.  And really, I only felt the need to make this post because I'm rarely in such a minority when it comes to the games I like.  Quite honestly, it seems like I'm the only person in existence who actually liked Dragon Age II.  And y'know, I'm fine with that, except that it means that I'll never see another game like it, and that makes me kind of sad.  (Cause Bioware sure as hell isn't going to make another game just for me.)

If I had to make a guess as to the main reason why people didn't like DA2, I would have to say it was because they were expecting Dragon Age: Origins 2. Dragon Age 2 is not Dragon Age: Origins 2.  It really has very little to do with Origins in every conceivable way (story, combat, etc, etc).

It brings up a very interesting contradiction in human thinking.  Because we all know that in the gaming world, for something to be GOOD, it has to do something DIFFERENT.  Remember that?  Well, what DA2 shows us is that if it's something a gamer LIKES, making it DIFFERENT is BAAAAAD!

So different is good, and different is bad.
And that proves that no matter what, people will never be happy.

And before you DA2 haters gnash your teeth and proclaim "NO!  DIFFERENT IS BAD BECAUSE THE CHANGES WERE BAD!", well, I disagree with you.  Simple as that.  Read the article and you'll see why.

Agent Smith was right.  Human beings define their existence through suffering.  And they usually bring it upon themselves.  

KoA Overload

Here are five videos covering about another hour and a half of Kingdoms of Amalur.  From this point forward, I've decided that what I'm going to do is only record the main questline.  Anyone watching should have a pretty good idea how the game goes by now anyway.

I've played another two hours of the game this evening, bringing my total up to four.  I'm digging it.  Actually, one of the reasons why I decided to only record the main storyline is because most of the footage I recorded this evening is just the gameplay with me being utterly silent, because I was too immersed to remember that I was actually recording.

In any case, enjoy these.  Tomorrow I'll probably post another Jedi Knight vlog, cause I won't have much game time.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - First Impressions!

I've played the game for two hours, so I'm prepared to at least provide you with a bit of an overview of what I think.  A lot of what I'm going to be saying here you'll be able to hear me say in the videos I'll be posting -- I've been recording everything -- but just because I've been posting videos doesn't mean I'm going to stop actually writing.  And, well, y'know...I like writing.

First off, I cannot call this game a Poor Man's Skyrim, because it's the same price as Skyrim.  Natch!  And actually, Skyrim is currently on sale on Steam for $39.99.  So Skyrim is actually CHEAPER for the time being.  And let's not beat around the bush here -- this game is not as good as Skyrim.

But enough about that.  The comparisons between the two could go on for infinity (and beyond!), but it's not really going to tell you very much, is it?  Nope.

So let me lay it out for you here real simple like:  You're going to play this game, and for the first hour or hour and a half you're going to be thinking to yourself, "Why the hell am I playing this?"  The graphics are sometimes a bit bland.  The voice acting is a bit questionable.  The facial animations are atrocious.  And the world looks very....fuzzy.  That is the best word I can find in my vocabulary to describe it.  Everything looks FUZZY and just slightly out of focus.  Like it's a dreamworld or something.  I understand the style -- it's supposed to be fantasy, sure -- but I suppose Skyrim's graphics have me spoiled.  Skyrim is CRISP.  It's SHARP.  And I love that.  So that difference really set me off quite a bit -- moreso than anything else, really.

But what's interesting is that after that hour or hour and a half, you begin to notice things.  You begin to notice, "Hey, this dungeon looks pretty cool, I like the design of it!".  You may begin to find yourself starting to enjoy the combat, which probably confused the ever-living hell out of you at the start, but is now starting to make some sense.  You may start to notice there are a LOT of things to do in this game, and they are actually pretty enjoyable and engaging.  Point I'm making is, you just may start to LIKE this game, and want to keep playing.  And I'm saying that because it's exactly what's happened to me.

Do I think this game is going to get the kind of ravings Skyrim got?  No, no I do not.  I mean -- take a look at Steam right now.  See where it's at.  Right now, on release day at 12:18 AM, it's #12 with 4,464 players.  It's peak is 4,940.  That's GOOD.  But it's not Skyrim.  Skyrim is #1 right now, and it has been #1 since its release.

But I do think this game will receive favorable reviews from critics, and I think that anyone who decides to give it an HONEST try will find a lot to enjoy.  As I sit here and write this, I want to play some more.  I really want to go back and play some more right now, and that is always a good sign.  Not many games are able to do that to me.

So, how about I talk about some of the things that I find really cool?  Sure.

First of all, when you level up you get to do a few things.  It's actually quite interesting.  The first thing you do is assign a point into a ladder of secondary skills, such as Alchemy or Blacksmithing.  I've leveled twice so far, and I've put both of my points into this Detection skill.  And it is freaking awesome -- it shows me secrets on the minimap!  Plus, I get gold bonuses while looting.  I love it.  Now, after you do that, you get 3 skill points to spend in the normal trees that you're used to seeing in all RPGs.  Fine and dandy.  But after THAT, you get to then choose a sort of Tarot card-like thingie that buffs you even more, and is reliant on how you spend your skill points on the previous screen in the talent trees.  I really like it.

Next, the combat.  This is what took me an hour to start to like, after I got it all up to where it should be, weapon and skill-wise.  I'm going the mage route, and I have two weapon slots.  I currently have a staff in one, and a sceptre in the other.  The sceptre uses a small amount of mana each shot (it's like a wand) and it's long range.  The staff uses no mana and it's shorter ranged.  I also have one spell, a lightning type bolt, that uses a large amount of mana.  I also have a fate bar that fills up as I kill things,  and when it's full I can go super saiyan 9001, and RIP THE FATE OUT OF PEOPLE.  I know that ripping the fate out of people doesn't make any sense BUT I DON'T CARE BECAUSE IT'S AMAZING WHEN YOU DO IT.

There's really not a lot more for me to say.  The first video I have for you covers the beginnings, character creation, a bit of combat, some dialogue, and me just being a noob and learning how the controls work.  I have enough footage for another five or six videos already, though, so I'll be able to post one a day if I so choose.  For now, though, enjoy the first!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Jedi Knight Vlog: Part 7

Y'know how my videos were kind of not fitting within the blog borders, and the right side was sort of sticking out a little bit?  Yeah, I fixed that.  Was pretty simple really -- I just never remembered to look into it until now.  Looks a lot nicer!

One other thing before we get back into the Jedi Knight story:  My music playlist currently contains 5,744 tracks.  That's a lot of music -- enough for Winamp to continuously play for over a year without repeating, actually.  I keep all those tracks in one playlist, and when I'm listening to music I just throw it on shuffle.  There are times when a song will come up that I really like, but had forgotten about over time.  I love when this happens.  Yesterday it happened to me with a song called "Radiate" by the band "Puddle of Mudd".  Have a listen to that song if you're not familiar with it.  You won't be sorry.

And now, on with the show!

So, when last we left off, I had a choice of where to go next.  Taris, or Nar Shaddaa?  I chose Taris, and received a briefing from General Var Suthra aboard my ship.

Having gotten the information I need, it was time to head out.  I made my way to Doctor Godera's first hideout, and it was utterly crawling with Imperials.

Watcher One is after Doctor Godera, and I really don't know what I can do to stop him.  This guy is crafty, and very well informed.  And he's one step ahead of me.  But, I have RE-M0 on my side, and he has all kinds of information about Doctor Godera and his whereabouts that Watcher One can only guess at.

After disabling the relays as instructed by RE-M0, I had a little chat with him.

Next time:  The inevitable showdown between Kobel and Watcher One.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Gaming in 2001: Max Payne

The year 2000 or 2001 is when I really, really started to get into gaming.  Before that, it was more of this fascination.  It wasn't until after I got a job and could afford a good computer that I started to play more than just Doom.

Max Payne was a really special game when it came out.  It surprised everyone with its style, and I really haven't seen many games quite like it since.

I played through the first level last night for old time's sake, for reasons that you'll hear me explain in the video below.  If you've never seen this game before, well now your chance.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Jedi Knight Vlog: Part 6

Okay, so where were we?  Oh yes.  I landed on Ord Mantell and got a briefing from the General aboard my ship.  Now it's time to actually get on the surface and meet my contact there for a short conversation.

This guy wasn't able to tell me very much about this base, which wasn't surprising -- it -is- a secret island base, after all.  Heh.  No matter, though!  One of my specialties just happens to be the exploration of secret enemy bases!

I have NO idea what's up with that epic heroic music there at the beginning when I zone into the story area.  All so I can...wait on an elevator!  But no matter -- I really like this video anyway because there's a lot of fighting!  And an interesting conversation at the end of it.  I really didn't get anywhere, sadly -- we learned a little bit about Angral's plans, and not much more.  Not a -ton- to go on, but it's better than nothing.  So, having cleaned the place out, I had a few more short words with my Ord Mantell contact.

Nothing much going on there.  So, time to report back to the General from my ship's holoterminal!  Except...there was a bit of a surprise waiting for me in front of my ship.

Sith bastards!  Oh wait, I'm not supposed to show emotion.  Ah screw that.  Sith bastards!

So, all that handled, I reported to the General.  I keep finding more and more secrets about the Republic army.  It's frustrating, but I'm honor bound to serve!

So I have a choice, now.  Do I go to Nar Shaddaa, or Taris?  Both are important, and both need me.

Next time, find out where I decide to go first.  And, shock/horror, there will be fighting!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Darkness II Sampling

This morning was a bit annoying, because there was an accident on I-376 that had traffic backed up for several miles.  It's really frustrating to be a bit late for work only because some asshat was probably driving too fast and caused an accident with their stupid self and their stupid BMW.  I don't wish any harm upon them, because that would be horrible of me.  But I do hope that his or her precious little car is marred beyond recognition.

But, in any case, I'm here now and I have a video to share with you.  The Darkness II comes out next week, February 7th I believe, but there's a demo out for it now.  I downloaded and played through it last night, mostly because I wanted help making the decision of playing that, or playing Kingdoms of Amalur.  They both come out the same day.

I think I'm actually still undecided.  This game has given me mixed feelings.  On the good side, it seems a lot of fun.  It kind of reminds me of Prototype in a way.  On the other hand, it's not what I was expecting at all.  It's listed as a horror game.  This is not a horror game.  There's a lot of horrifying things in it, but it is not a horror game.  When -you- are the monster, you are NOT in a horror game.  It's not possible to be scared when you are the thing causing terror.  It's just as simple as that.  Also, this game is like the SAW movies when it comes to "horror".  Grossing people out is not horror.  At least, not to me.  And that matters, because I am a horror connoisseur.

Enjoy the video though!  It invoked some rather humorous reactions out of me.


One other thing I wanted to mention today, as well.  For the most part, teamwork in games is dead.  Pretty big statement, eh?  Arguments:

  • Guild kill videos of raid bosses for WoW are now less common than videos of Death Knights soloing content.
  • LFD/LFR runs typically have 0 words spoken between the group.  When words are spoken, they are usually insults.
  • No one in LoL wants to play with you if you're new to the game.
  • TOR could be a single-player RPG.
  • Co-Op games are no longer about working together to achieve a goal, but are instead about seeing how creatively you can kill your co-op partner by "accident".  (Portal 2 walks a fine line here, and for the most part is the exception to the rule.  But not always -- there are still plenty of opportunities to be a dick to your co-op partner.)
  • Co-Op games that do not encourage being a dick to your co-op partner are usually crap, with the co-op mode feeling "tacked on".  

I'm sure there are plenty of reasons to disagree with my statement.  Perhaps I'm just having one of those days where I don't like people.  But the arguments here are valid. 


Holy smokes.  The last post I wrote for this blog was on October 18, 2017.  Through the little more than  two years since, this blog has be...