The State of the Game: Revisiting The Past

This week I delved into the past a bit, playing games I hadn’t touched in a while, and in one case playing a game that released when I was still in high school, for the first time. I did play one new game, and I did end up lying about not wanting to make any new purchases, as I did grab a couple of sale items last Tuesday. The playlist this week: Borderlands 2, Dragon’s Crown, Dyad, The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 1, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, Planescape: Torment, and League of Legends.

The new game I picked up for my PS3 on Tuesday was the first episode of Season 2 of The Walking Dead game. I have already made a post about my impressions of that game, and you can view it here. I won’t go into it again. Dyad was the free game last week for Plus members, and having played it a bit, it is interesting, but not a game that really sucked me in. It reminds me of an old Atari game called Tempest (and probably other games that have a similar premise). It has its charm, but the psychedelic nature of the graphics made my eyes hurt after a while. Best played in short bursts!

I also had mentioned wanting to get back into Borderlands 2, as there were parts of the game I hadn’t explored yet, but after looking at my trophy list I decided it would be better to just jump on my Gunzerker and level him to the point where I can get his class specific trophy, and then retire him for good. I started off doing that solo, and it got boring really quick. This week, I did something I hadn’t done before in the game, I played multi-player. Well, actually I did do that with my roommate when he got a copy of the game sometime after I had beaten it the first time. But we just played together privately over the LAN, not over the internet. Because I was so bored playing by myself and doing the same damn story missions over and over, I decided that I would just join some random person’s game. The matchmaking works fairly well, and it tries to match you with people who are on a similar quest or of similar level. I ended up in a group with three other people, and being in a four person group makes the game quite a bit more difficult. I was impressed with how the mechanics changed so drastically, and I now kick myself for never having played online before — in this game or its predecessor. I’m still a few levels off from where I need to be to complete the Gunzerker, and then I can go back to my main (Siren) and level her up some more and finally get through the remaining DLC. This is still on the to-do list.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times about having played Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, and I finally sat down and finished it. Overall the storyline was the strongest part of the game, I really enjoyed feeling like I made major things happen in the old west. The revenge was sweet when finally finishing off the major “villain” that you had been chasing down the whole time. I will say that there are some stupid parts of the story that didn’t make any sense though, especially towards the end. The duel system got worse as time went on as well, as at one point you have to take out two guys and not get shot, which seems a bit unrealistic. All in all it was a cool game for the cheap price I got it for, but it would have been disappointing for full price. There are other game modes and things to do with it, but I am done. It’s already been removed from my hard drive. Moving on.

Dragon’s Crown is another game I already gave my impressions of, and I still stand behind the things that I said. It’s still a great game, a few months removed from release. Recently, a new patch was put into place (yes, a patch with new content, not DLC!) adding 156 new levels (cap raised from 99 to 255) and a new dungeon. The original progression of the game was beat the levels on normal, then go back and do the alternate routes to get all of the gems to get access to the final boss. Then you open hard mode, where you start from the talisman gathering quest, and do it again. Then the “Labyrinth of Chaos” opens, and you progress through its floors, and at the end you fight another new boss. By then you should have been level 99 or close to it, and had “completed” the game. Now, another new dungeon is added, that is randomly generated and supposedly contains “tens of thousands of levels.” As such, I can’t access the new stuff just yet, because I have only beaten the game on normal. I decided it had been long enough I could go back and play the game and enjoy it again, so I fired it up after the patch dropped. I also decided to play in online mode, so when I jumped into the Labyrinth of Chaos, I was able to play with people through the first 3 floors I had access to. Those floors actually took almost three hours to complete, so that was the only session I’ve had so far, but I made some progress with my character as a result:

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The other sale I took part in was on GOG.com, and it netted me a copy of Icewind Dale, Icewind Dale II, and Planescape: Torment. These are all games that released when I was in high school or shortly thereafter, but ones that I never got around to playing. I loved the old Infinity Engine games, and these will be no exception I’m sure. I also picked up Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout: Tactics when GOG announced that they were free before they removed them from the site. I never played those either, so put them on the the to-do list. Rather than starting up a game in all of these games, I decided to pick one and stick with it until it was finished. It was a hard choice as I haven’t played any of them before, but I went with Torment. I completed the first area and have been exploring The Hive, picking up sidequests and talking to everyone I can. The ever faithful ! or ? above quest givers head is missing, and that’s something that I have grown accustomed to. Now I have to actually pay attention as there really isn’t a quest tracker or way to know who gives out quests or who you need to turn something in to. I do find this more immersive, it’s just not something gamers are accustomed to anymore. I will have more on this game as I get further into it.

Finally, I have been playing League a bit more than I had in the past month. The Snowdown event brought me back, and the Showdown featured game mode has kept me interested. It’s funny how changing the ruleset ever so slightly can make for intriguing gameplay. It’s still the same old Howling Abyss, but the mechanics have changed enough to make things fresh. I am still dominating with Ziggs, but have had a few good games as other characters.

Loading screen for Showdown
Loading screen for Showdown

I did have one of the shortest games ever the other day. I was going to play as someone AP oriented (they seem to have a poke advantage in this game mode) but my partner picked Morgana, so I wanted to have some AD balance. It really doesn’t matter, pretty much anyone can pick anyone and still have success in this mode, but old habits of searching for balance die hard. Anyway, I picked Ezreal, and we were matched against a Graves and Zilean team. Under normal circumstances, this probably would have been a fairly even fight, although post level 6 (if it went that far) we might have been screwed because of Zil’s resurrection ultimate. So the match starts and me and Morgana are standing by our turret when Graves comes charging up to us. I shot him a time or two, and he stayed in turret range until he died. I thought maybe he lagged out, but then the Zilean came charging at us as well, and Morgana scored that kill. The match ended, and we were told that “Graves had to go” so they effectively suicided to end the round. Still, check the time of completion:

Call Guinness
Call Guinness

Yeah, 56 seconds. Fastest game ever. I don’t see that ever happening again. Even the 1v1 I played at some point was over quickly, but not that quickly, it clocked about 2 1/2 minutes or so. In other news I managed to open the Poro summoner icon, its requirements were only to win three times in Showdown. I don’t think I’ll be earning any of the other icons this time around, but that’s ok.

There you have it. Another week down. This week we see Christmas come and go, so I might have a little less to write about. The plus title is for the vita, so nothing new there for me. I am off of school until after the new year starts, so I will have a bit of extra free time though, so it could go either way. Time will tell.

State of the Game: 12/10 – 12/16

This week I fell back on some of the old standbys. I played more League of Legends, but also played some other games I haven’t written about all that much recently.

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger: I jumped back into the game, and played through about half of the campaign. I really like the atmosphere of the game, portions look and feel like a comic book, and the story-line feels like some pulp western mag from before my days as a child. But the history behind the story-line is what is intriguing, playing an unknown or unmentioned character that lived through many of the old western stories, and killing some of the most memorable characters. Earning experience has been easy; being the Ranger, I’ve gone down the tree and earned the Inlaid Six Shooter (upgraded sidearm) and am almost to the end of the tree, where I’ll earn the Golden Rifle. Boss fights are challenging but winnable. I really don’t care for the duel system in the game. Having to coordinate your “focus” with the right stick is tricky enough, but then you also affect the speed of your draw with the left stick. Knowing exactly when to draw and fire to get an honorable kill is also nearly impossible, as I’ve made it through a few duels, and always seem dishonorable. But that’s ok, they needed to die, and I needed to live.

League of Legends: I have fallen back on old habits. I have been playing ARAM mostly still, and am having fun with that despite currently being on a three game skid. I still have more wins than losses in the mode over all though.

aramstats

I noticed that my LP was going to start decaying in ranked, and despite the fact that it’s preseason, it has already been said that preseason performance will affect your early placement in the beginning of the 4th season. That said, I haven’t really been playing ranked (obviously), but didn’t want to drop back down into bronze (I had 0 LP), so I played a game of ranked, my first since some of the preseason changes dropped. I played support, and ran Sona as usual, though I had a slightly different build by the end of the game. The differences were mainly starting with the Spellthief’s Edge and later upgrades, and the use of a trinket for the first time. I decided to go with the scrying stone to help with the vision battle, as vision totems are no longer stealth and you can only place one at a time. The scrying stone allowed me to effectively clear out enemy wards time and again. However, not having the extra trinket ward meant I needed to rush a sight stone quickly. The game I played actually seemed like it would be a loss and came down to a final teamfight and push into their base. I was laning with a Quinn who was far too aggressive and thought I was an MMO healer, so she fed. Jax on the top lane was having trouble with Renekton, but our mid lane Xerath was getting fed, and I was simply not dying. I ended up taking out the bottom tower on my own, and had the most assists (25) of the game by the end. Good fun, and I enjoy the more active role I get as a support now, along with being able to build some AP without sacrificing my utility. For shits, here’s my Sona stats:

sonaranked

 

Defiance: I decided that since I didn’t know much about the lore of the game that I needed to watch the first season of the TV show version of Defiance. Having done so, I can say that I have felt more of an attachment to the characters, and have gained a better understanding of the lore of the game, and the overall world. The TV show was well done for the most part, my only issues coming from some cheesy dialogue (schtako = shit, and is way over used, in it’s many forms) and some poor CGI here and there. Overall though, the special effects were well done, as was the makeup and costume design. Some women (if there are even women who watch the show) might be offended by the fact that there is a lot female subservience, sexism, and of course, more skin shown by the women. There is also some brief girl on girl action between two of the hottest women on the show, but I’m definitely not complaining. Still, if you can look past any of these flaws, the show is enthralling, and I love the new universe that’s been created. This has motivated me to play the game some more, though I didn’t get any time in this week (I did patch up last night, but by the time it was ready, I was ready for bed).

Borderlands 2: I mentioned that BL2 was going to be on offer for free through Playstation Plus, and that was making me want to play the game again. It has been on my to-do list for quite some time, as I own all of the DLC but have played very little of it. I think had I loaded up my “main” (Siren) and played through some DLC I would have had a better time. But instead, I looked at the trophies I needed to earn, and decided that I should level up my Gunzerker first, as after he reached a certain level, I could get his class-specific trophy out of the way and never have to play him again (really don’t enjoy the class). But this was probably a bad idea, as I started to play and maybe thirty minutes in I was over it. This is partially due to the fact that I’ve played through the game more than once already, and I was never the type to play through with every class available, especially when the story is exactly the same. But being so close to the platinum for that game (and it’s over a year old, so I could have done this forever ago) has made me want to do things a certain way, but it would definitely be more appealing with more people. I will be going back to this, and this time I’ll try to bring someone along. Or maybe I’ll just join someone else’s game and get leveled that way. Without paying attention to quests. Either way, I want to finish what the game has to offer soon.

Normally I’d say something about what’s on the horizon at this point, but I don’t think I’m going to try and call what I’m going to be playing. Dyad is the new free game through Plus, but I’m not even really sure what it’s about. Due to expenses with my vehicle popping up and it being the Christmas season I’m not going to have money for sales or any other new stuff, so I’ll probably try and make some progress in the games above, but my finicky nature as of late keeps me from knowing what will happen. Until next time.

The State of the Game: More Sessions

In my last post, I mentioned the sales I got in on as a part of Black Friday. Of the games mentioned there, I didn’t play all of them all that much. I did at least try them all, but I didn’t play the four games I purchased from GoG.com beyond their tutorials. Of those games, I liked Celtic Kings and Imperial Glory the best, and will probably pick one to delve into at some point. For this week though, I was concerned most with the following: Faster Than Light, Rogue Legacy, League of Legends, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger and God Mode.

Faster than Light:
I finally had a multi-day session with the game. I decided to stick with Easy mode just so that I could possibly make it far enough along to unlock another ship that could possibly make normal a little more do-able. The progression of these rogue-likes is so much different than games of old, or even the way traditional games work these days. Rather than playing to a save point and then returning to it upon death, you are constantly starting the same journey over and over, but earning something more valuable than gear — experience. That experience will allow you to progress further than before. The mechanics of earning something to advance further play-throughs (new ships in this case) makes starting over feel better than it would normally. Maybe I’m a sucker for punishment, but this is something that kept me coming back for more with games of my childhood, and it keeps me coming back today too. I managed to make it to the final sector of the game on this run over the course of the week, though I died while en-route to intercept the final boss. However, many records were set:

FTLnew

It was that experience of previous runs that lead me to such a great success this run. I learned to upgrade shields and that made a world of difference. Luck also provided me with better weapons than in previous games, and I took that luck with me to the bank. My reward for the run was the Engi ship, which I have yet to take out for her maiden voyage. Soon.

torus

Rogue Legacy:
I have completely fallen in love with this game. When I was toying with the idea of buying it last Friday, I could only look at the video and be reminded of the countless hours I spent playing Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins and Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts on the NES and Genesis respectively. Really, the similarities stop at the pixellated graphics and the overall feel of the game.

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The makeshift town outside of the castle

The mechanics of this game are definitely rogue-like, where the castle your adventure takes place in is procedurally generated, and death is permanent. There are no lives. But Rogue Legacy takes this a step further in that death is a tool for progression. You are the heir of a Legendary Hero. When you die, your heir will take up your crown, and delve into a new version of the same castle. This means you get to keep all of your equipment and runes and skill points as they were bequeathed to your children. Upon death, you return to the title screen, where you are prompted to choose your heir. You are then taken to a great wall of portrait paintings of your family line, and the newest addition to the line will be your next character. There are four classes to choose from at the beginning of the game, with more unlockable classes in the skill tree. You can choose from one of three options for your heir, each with a name, class, spell, stats, and negative “birth defects.” Not all heirs are created equal, and sometimes you will have to choose the lesser of three evils.

Sir Useless, I choose you!
Sir Useless, I choose you!

Some of the birth defects aren’t so bad. O.C.D. gives you MP for smashing breakables, and there are a lot of breakables in the game. A.D.H.D. makes your character move faster. But some of the defects are detrimental, and quite annoying. Nostalgia makes the game a sepia tone; similarly there is a “colorblind” grayscale version. Dyslexia makes things harder to read, and Dementia disables your map. Still, this all adds a dimension not seen in the classic games from generations past. The skill tree adds another level, and in it you can upgrade your character, but also open new classes, which can make playthroughs a bit easier.

tree

This stuff isn’t cheap though, and as of right now I’m on my 26th heir, only having beaten the first boss monster once. It will take some time to build up to a level to be able to clear the whole game, this is for sure. But it took me months, maybe even years to get good enough to beat the GnG games I mentioned from my childhood. So no harm, no foul. Get this game if you are a fan of these types. I would recommend using a gamepad though, as platformers aren’t great with a mouse/keyboard. If you’re like me and don’t like the Xbox controller, there is also software that you can download so you can utilize your PS3 controller, which is what I did.

League of Legends:
My play time has consisted of getting my first win of the day and then logging out. I’m really looking forward to the new featured game mode, Snow Down and further preseason changes, so until then I won’t have much to say about the game. I did decide to roll the dice with a mystery gift and ended up getting the Full Metal Jayce skin, which is normally a whole lot more than 490 RP. I’m glad Riot gave us the opportunity to self-gift, because I don’t really know too many people in-game that I’d want to spend money on, but the gamble from the mystery gift is worth it. At the very least, you get a skin that is normally 520 RP for 490. Best case scenario you get an 1820 RP skin for 490, which is what happened for me. Worth.

Samus with a Hammer
Samus with a Hammer

PS3:
I spent most of my time playing God Mode on the PS3. I really like this game in that you get to mow stuff down and it’s light on story. Like the Call of Duty multiplayer, you get experience and gold with which you upgrade and customize your character. Mine is starting to look pretty cool, and the upgrades to the weapons are making the game easier, even when I can’t find someone to play with. However, as of late I have been finding random people online at random times, and that has made the game much more fun. I still have yet to play a game with a full party of four, but even with just two people it’s good fun. The only detriment to playing with others is that your lives are shared, so if you have a weaker player, you can suffer the consequences, even without dying much. My first game the other day I managed to beat a level and me and the other player only died once each. The next game I got into was with a different player, and he died 7 times to my 2, effectively causing us to lose. This is where I need more people on my friends list to play the game with, but that’s life.

I got a bit more time in with Call of Juarez, and it’s fun, if nothing else because the setting is different from most games out there. Aside from the Read Dead series, there isn’t another western themed game I can think off of the top of my head. Though it isn’t session based, I still feel like I can drop in, complete a chapter or two, and not play again for a while. Somehow, I’m turning into the most casual of gamers, where I don’t complete anything and add more games to the collection than I can play. Speaking of which:

On the Horizon:
The first round of December’s PS Plus dropped today, and along with the free game Grid 2, there were quite a few sales. Of what was on offer, I pulled the trigger on this year’s weird TV-show cross-over MMO Defiance, and the 2-d Minecraft-like Terraria. You may recall I had played the demo of the latter, but never bought it for the asking price of $15. Between the two, I spent $6.25 so I don’t feel like I’ll lose out on much if I don’t really get into either. I just can’t pass up a good deal. I’ll go over my impressions of these in the coming week.

The State of the Game 11/12-11/18

I’ve had a more social week, I didn’t do quite as much gaming as usual, mainly due to my birthday landing on the 14th and a few other occasions where I had company or went out. Still, I managed to play my regular standby games, and tried out a few new ones. Too many sales have been going on lately, and as such I’m always finding games that are super cheap and worth playing, or at least super cheap. This isn’t good for my backlog though, and it’s been a couple of months since I played a game to completion. My playlist this week was: Awesomenauts, League of Legends, Beyond Good & Evil, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, Cloudberry Kingdom, Faster than Light, Civilization Revolution, Kingdoms and Lords and Pocket Army.

Mobile

As I mentioned in my last post, the “Bux Bug” in Tiny Death Star killed the game for me. As of patch 1.0.0.18 that came out a few days ago, the bug isn’t fixed so I’m not playing. I ended up downloading some more mobile games trying to find a replacement, and this was no easy task. Most mobile games on the Windows Marketplace are pretty bad. There are Xbox games that actually have achievements and whatnot, but as a pretty anti-xbox gamer, that really doesn’t interest me. I’m mainly looking for something that I can play for a few minutes and feel like I’ve made some progress, and then come back to it later. TDS was awesome for this, as when I came back a couple of hours later, my game had progressed without me. These types of games are in short supply. I downloaded Civilization Revolution which is a port of the console game of the same name. This wasn’t free though, only a free trial. From what I played I enjoyed, but it really didn’t sell me. I don’t want to spend money on a game on my phone… it just doesn’t feel worth it. Next, I downloaded another strategy game called Kingdoms and Lords. This game plays more like a social game, but also similar to the Heroes of Might & Magic games. You have a plot of land and must build various structures to accumulate resources. When you enter combat with your soldiers, it becomes turn based and sort of whack-a-mole-ish. Social features include visiting your friend’s plots of land, and fighting other players. It seemed interesting enough, but felt as if it would be better played on a tablet, as the menus are a bit on the small side on my HTC 8x. Lastly, I tried out another game called Pocket Army. This one seems to be the winner. It’s a series of battles that play our like Swords & Soldiers type games, except you also control a main avatar. Your trained soldiers (clubmen, swordsmen, archers, etc) run straight at the opposing army and hack at each other til someone dies. You control your avatar in the same fashion, but also gain abilities that you can use to turn the tide in your favor. Experience and loot is rewarded after each battle. In between, you can get side quest battles done, or upgrade/purchase more troops/spells/etc. This game is simple enough that I can play for a few minutes and accomplish something. It is also fun enough that you get into the “just one more battle” state of mind after playing for a while. Out of all of these games, Pocket Army is the one I would recommend checking out.

PS3

Awesomenauts:
Awesomenauts has stayed in my steady rotation since I got back into it a couple of months ago. I am still trying to run through all of the prestige levels, and am currently on my 7th. I have had some recent success, where I have climbed the leaderboards from the high 3000s to the low 2000s. My rating has also creeped over 15k. I’m in 2nd place overall on my friend list (Built4Sin82). My roommate (kaznski) had been ahead of me at some point, but I have leap-frogged him even though I’ve played quite a few less games. Proof is in the pudding:

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Sales:
Last week’s Playstation Plus sale saw me spending $8.75 on three games. 2 out of the 3 games were released earlier this year, and the other is a classic PS2 HD remake that I finally got around to buying. The games: Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, Cloudberry Kingdom and Beyond Good & Evil.

Gunslinger is an arcade-y FPS that is set in the Wild West. I haven’t played too many FPS games in this setting, and as such it makes for a slightly different experience — even if it’s in atmosphere alone. I only played through the first couple of missions, but it was fun to just run around and blast people… I haven’t been playing any FPS games for quite a while. Feels like a game that will be easy to finish.

Cloudberry Kingdom is a rogue-like platformer. This seems to be a bit of a trend recently. Like Spelunky (the most similar game I have played recently) you run through a series of random levels in an attempt to grab up treasure (in this game it’s gems) and not die. The levels aren’t randomly changed when you die, but are supposed to be randomly generated each time you play through the game. I completed 60+ levels and they are short and sweet, but the difficultly ramps up as you play. Variables that can be added in affect how your character controls. Sometimes you’ll get a double-jump, sometimes a rocketpack, other times you’re tiny. Still, the game breaks down to running and jumping — good timing is key. It’s fun to play here and there, but there’s no lasting appeal. I will probably play through the game and uninstall.

Beyond Good & Evil is a PS2 game that I owned and loved. I’ve always looked at the HD update and wanted to buy it, but never did. This sale gave me a reason to, and I remember now why I loved the game in the first place. It’s a 3D adventure game, and it really stands on it’s own. With it being such a long-standing game I’m not going to say anything else about it, if you don’t know what it is I’m sure there’s plenty of stuff written about it elsewhere. Worth owning for sure!

PC

League of Legends:
I earned enough IP to purchase a 4800-tier champion this week. I decided on picking up Vayne, as she is the only ADC from that tier that I don’t own, and because she just seems so damn good. I don’t play her regularly, but I think with some practice I could do pretty well with her. I also had some RP lying around, and picked up one of the Harrowing ward skins permanently (now I own 3 ward skins) and another skin for a champion I have fallen in love with as of late: Shen. Here’s the splash art:

The Doctor has arrived
The Doctor has arrived

Faster than Light:
I absolutely love this game. I have heard commentary around the web, but it really doesn’t hook you until you play it yourself. I was gifted a copy of this game via GoG.com (Good Old Games), and as such also opened up an account there. This account also came with some free games, though I haven’t really played any of them. I was really paying attention to their DRM-Free Fall sale, but each time I checked in on it, the game on offer was one that I wasn’t interested in. I have a rather large wish list through the site, and will probably throw money at that in the future. Playing all of the old Black Isle and Bioware games is on my to-do list. All of that aside, FTL is a great game. The randomness of each encounter and the ability to die and have to start over again without feeling upset about it is what makes it a gem. My first run ended in the first sector due to oxygen systems failure (and door systems failure). My second run ended in combat with some alien race that really kicked my ass… this time I made it to the 2nd sector, but getting all the way to the end of the game feels like it will be a challenge. I’m sure I’ll have more on this game to come.

That’s all for this week.