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Absence of Heated Water

March 16th, 2016 1 comment

I apologize.  I was in Palm Springs, CA for business and was unable to spend any time on my Steam backlog.  I didn’t have time to do much of anything, honestly.  However, I have played a few more games and I’m ready to talk about them.

Game #10: King Arthur’s Gold

I wanted this game forever.  It finally went on Steam sale, so I bought it.  From the videos I watched about the game, I hoped it would be a spiritual successor to King Arthur’s World.  The graphics are a spot-on rendition of the old SNES game, but I have to report that this game is NOT related to King Arthur’s World in any other way.

noKAW

The controls are super janky with a point-to-aim and WASD keyboard movement while also hitting tons of random other buttons to time everything just right.  The preview videos showed what looked like an open-world game where you could wander around with your troops and have them do different things like collecting rocks or building walls while you adventure ever onward.  This is not the game I experienced.  It took about 45 minutes to get through the tutorial and into the real game.  The tutorial was fine and I bumbled through it fairly well, but some of the controls, as I said, were not conducive to the playstyle I’m used to.  Once I opened up the real game and understood what happened, I fell into a deep malaise.  The game is online play with other people.  As some of you may have noticed, I’m not a huge fan of this (which is why the result of The Division’s Dark Zone PvP is so amusing: nobody wants to be a bad guy when playing online with others).  So, I attempted a single-player mission where I quickly discovered you are in charge of only one single character.  You can’t switch, and once you’re dead, the level is over and you failed.  The single-player missions are all timed, and you must accomplish one of several tasks.  The tasks ranged from ‘Get to the finish’ and ‘Kill everyone’, to ‘Destroy an object’ and ‘Capture the Flag’.  None of these are my game.  I wanted to build a castle while commanding hordes of characters to do my bidding.  In the hour I played, I never found this option, and the world is a sadder place.

 

Game # 11: Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations

I love Adventure Time, but I have yet to play an Adventure Time game that I enjoyed.  This is still the case, but at least I didn’t absolutely hate this game.  The graphics are 3D, and the controls are a little iffy.  The tutorial system is atrocious, so try and stay away from that.  During the tutorial, they never actually say what buttons do what, so the combat was completely alien the first time (even after listening to the tutorial).  The game is a little long-winded at times, and the going back-and-forth aspect is a little dated.  The game hearkened back to the old King’s Quest point-and-click adventure games, which was pretty cool.  It sounded like they licensed the real voice actors and music for the game, which added a squee factor.  However, after one hour, I really had no idea what the point was, what my quest was, or how to actually combat anyone.  I received treasure, I guess, for defeating warriors in combat, but I don’t know where that treasure went.  The first ‘mystery’ I solved was done purely by accident as the game wouldn’t let me progress the normal way.  I actually found the end before anything else and then had to go back and gather the necessary ingredients to activate it.  If you are looking for a game to waste your time, this is the winner.  You will not get anything else out of it.

 

In other news, my video game company was signed on by Sony as a partner, so I will have to get my rear in gear to produce the newest indie game on PS4: NeverEnding Barbarians.

We’ve got to go back!

March 2nd, 2016 1 comment

Ok, so I slowed my Steam roll a little this week.  That’s because of all the Alphas and Betas I’ve been playing.  I never thought it would come to this, but I am testing too many games.  Paragon was the most recent, and due to NDA signatures, I cannot talk about it.  Suffice to say it is a third-person MOBA which gets you closer to the action.  I also played The Division, Dreadnought, PvZGW2, and a host of others on both PC and PS4.

With all that going on, I didn’t want to keep barreling forward with my Steam backlog, as several people have said my ‘reviews’ were a little lackluster.  This is true, because I’m trying to play through a game a night.  I’m not really set up for that, and my family hates the idea.  To satisfy myself, I went back and played some games.  This is mainly because I finally threw off the yoke of Destiny.  The latest Iron Banner was a travesty and I happily stopped playing after reaching level 5.  It has just become too difficult to find good people to play with and the RNG aspect is grating on me.  So, I freed up some hours to just sit back and enjoy some games.

Game #A: The Witcher 3

I liked it.  I didn’t feel pressured to blow through as much as I could and I just wandered around looking for Gwent opponents.  I modified my deck a bit and just dominated my competition.  I think the funniest part is when you place a weak soldier on the battle mat and then instantly Decoy them out next turn.  I have had several opponents just quit at this point, where I play a slightly tougher card and win.  It’s silly and fun.  The graphics of The Witcher are great, and the controls are pretty good.  I’m still not very adept at the fighting aspects, but everything else about the game will have me coming back.  The voice acting is wonderful, the character development is top notch, and the roleplaying element is fully fleshed out.  The conversation choices are both entertaining and accurate.  I very much enjoy being Geralt, the jerk.

 

Game #B: Just Cause 3

So, I had played Just Cause a few times and never attached myself to it.  I recently picked up the newest version and found that while it installed the massive files (12GB!?), I got to run around a tiny little island populated by goats and explosive canisters.  You have unlimited ammo and grenades (and I don’t think you can die, but I didn’t push it) for running around and just getting used to the controls.  There were a few vehicles you could drive around, but the real star was the tether gun.  I know that this is a standard in Just Cause, although I don’t know why.  It allows you to rock climb, rappel, and attach various objects to the wall or each other.  I attached a tether to an explosive canister and to another canister.  Then I attached two more intertwined with the previous two.  I shot one canister until it arced into the sky and exploded in fire.  The additional canisters flew around and exploded in spectacular fashion.  It really puts into perspective the bizarre videos you may have seen on the internet using the Just Cause tethers.  I think my favorite was the connection of a tether to a windmill and then a cow.  The windmill just started swinging the cow around and around and around.  Hilarious.

 

In other news, I still play Critter Crunch most days.  It’s still challenging and cute.  I still won’t buy The Division, but the commercials and trailers have me passively forgetting what I didn’t like about the game.  The bottom line is that I hate playing with other people most of the time!

Categories: Columns Tags: , , , , , ,

Steamed Vegetables

February 23rd, 2016 Comments off

Continuing on with the Steam playthrough, I played two horrible games this round.

Game #8: Postal

When Postal came out, it was heavily criticized for being basically a ‘murder’ game.  This is entirely accurate.

The Steam version I played didn’t work properly during any of my time, and it’s a little difficult to play a keyboard game when you’re used to mouse-clickers.  Also, I couldn’t actually find the keyboard controls anywhere within the game menus, so I had to improvise.  Having said that, I started a new game and found myself outside a house in the woods.  I had a machine gun with unlimited ammo and a bunch of police were shooting and throwing grenades at me.  There were also innocent bystanders running around, but the graphics are so dated I couldn’t really understand who to shoot and who not to shoot.  This might have been a design purpose, but I don’t know.  The ticker at the top of the game screen shows how many people are left alive (population), and once I subdued all of them, nothing happened.  I was just left to run around the one level with nowhere to go.  This was frustrating, so I quit for a little while.  I came back and tried again with the same results.  I honestly don’t know how to progress to the next level, or even if there are any more levels.  So, I have to say that Postal wasn’t very good.

Game #9: Monaco-

The second game I played wasn’t very good because it’s online.  The game is a top-down collection game that throws information in front of you in helpful popups that disappear almost immediately, especially if you are playing with people who already know what to do and where to go.

I played through a few levels, I guess?  Other players just kept hopping in and out, and I wasn’t really enjoying my time with the game.  From what I gathered while I played, the game is about four criminals who must escape from prison and pull a big heist.  The gameplay didn’t really feel like this was the actual point of the game and the scoring system didn’t support this as the point of the game either.  I collected coins, avoided prison guards, picked a few locks, and then escaped.  On the next level, I grabbed a shotgun, but couldn’t figure out how to shoot or aim it.  The third level I played encompassed the entirety of my play experience: I followed some guy who got all the coins and opened all the doors before I could do anything while a third player followed me.  After that, I was basically done with the game.  The artwork was a little old-school, and I normally like bitmap artwork, but the confusion and always online didn’t help me feel better or bring me back to play again.

Other information:

Did you hear Activision Blizzard BOUGHT King, the developers of Candy Crush Saga?  That would be crazy, but the price was $5.9 billion.  If your eyes didn’t pop out of your skull at that point, you might already be dead.  I never received my chocolate ghost in Destiny, so I’m basically done with the game right now.  My normal routine was to play on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for a few hours with some an hour or so on Monday or Tuesday.  Now I am down to just Friday for an hour as I am just so disappointed that I won’t get a 320 ghost.  Time for more games, right!?  On the Division, I have to point out that I loved the pistol ammo was unlimited.  With the skill I selected, my character pulled out a bullet shield and a pistol, and I ran through many encounters with just my pistol, firing endless bullets.  I’m sure my accuracy is terrible.  The Division at least got that right, along with the wonderful graphics.

I also played a ton more of Critter Crunch, as I love rainbow vomit:

Steam Raider

February 18th, 2016 Comments off

I have played more Steam games.

Game #5: Stacking

stacking

A cute game where you are the smallest doll, Charlie Blackmore, inside a set of very poor Russian nesting dolls (the Blackmore family).  They are kidnapped and you set out to rescue them.  The gameplay is solid, and you can ‘collect’ other nesting dolls which all have special powers.  It’s more like possessing them, as you somehow open them and jump inside, thus controlling them.  One of the first dolls you collect can sip tea.  That’s pretty cool, but largely useless.  Other dolls can move people out of the way by farting or pushing them around.  I only played about twenty minutes or so of the game, but the graphics are really great, and it’s a fun idea for a game.  Double Fine has produced some really great games over the years, and the quality of their product is abundant in Stacking.

Game #6: DuckTales Remastered

I remember when they first started talking about this game.  I played the original NES DuckTales basically as a second job when I was younger.  My first job was Elementary School, but I could beat DuckTales in an hour or so.  I had such amazing reflexes and planning, I bet I could have put together a pretty good speedrun.  However, DuckTales Remastered has very little in common with its predecessor.  The controls are the same: you can pogo bounce with Scrooge MacDuck’s cane and golf swing, but the response time seems slower (which may be my age catching up with me), and the levels are slightly different (and more difficult).  In my ‘hour’ with DuckTales Remastered, I struggled through three levels.  The first level pits you against the nefarious Beagle Boys as they rob Scrooge’s illustrious vault.  This was not in the original NES version and was honestly kinda hard.  Then you can pick the next level, so I attempted the Amazon rainforest.  It was much harder than I remember.  However, I made it through.  Next, I tried Transylvania, and it was WAY harder.  I got turned around a few times, and eventually made it to the boss (Magica De Spell), who killed me rather quickly.  This was one of those slight differences: the bosses do not follow the same pattern they did in the original and they’ve developed new skills and powers.  This explains why I only made it through three levels in the time I played (which was more than an hour).  It was still a great game, and the improvements to the graphics are substantial and enjoyable.

Other things:

Bungie has reported that Destiny players who competed in 7 matches of Crimson Doubles will get their light level 320 candy ghost shell by February 23rd.  I think they have to go through some of the gameplay and verify if teams were just suicide runners or actually playing.  As an added bonus, I received an exotic Hawkmoon for no reason in my Destiny mail.  I thought it was super weird because I had literally mentioned it to one of my friends the other day that I hadn’t gotten one yet.  I think the Bungie teams are actually listening in on our chats!  Well, probably not.

Steaming ahead

February 16th, 2016 Comments off

I am currently playing through my massive backlog of Steam games.  Here are the games I played recently.

Game #3: The Witcher 3

Ok, I missed the boat on this series.  I was never truly intrigued with brutal, bloody, gory, monster-fighting games.  In fact, I hated (HATED) God of War.  Yes, that will totally turn many of you away from my future columns, but it really shouldn’t.  I’m sure there are people who hate games that I love.  That is the beauty of games: we as players can make our own decisions.  One of my favorite games of all time is Timesplitters 2.  Some of you may also love that game and some of you may hate that game.  Others of you may have never even heard of the game, and that’s also fine.  I don’t hate many games, but I certainly hate God of War (the entire series).  I felt that the controls were super clunky, the graphics were overtly mature for no good reason, and the storyline didn’t make any sense.  Those are my personal opinions, and you can agree or disagree with them.  I also didn’t have fun playing the game.  That’s why I avoided the Witcher series for this long.  It looked similar to God of War with the very gory animations and the gameplay looked to be the same (link up heavy and light attacks for combos and chains while killing monsters).   After playing The Witcher 3, I can say I didn’t love it.  The game is a third-person game, which I loved in the Elder Scrolls series.  The game is also a hack-and-slash, which I am still in love with in the game Castle Crashers and, more recently, Fat Princess Adventures.  The game is also an adventure game, which I love in Fallout 4 and Uncharted (also third-person).  I guess we could say I just don’t love third-person hack-and-slash adventure games.  I played it for a few hours because I wanted to give it a fair shake.  My favorite part of the game was Gwent.  Gwent is a card game built in as a side-mission thing.  It is very similar to the card games included in Final Fantasy 8 and 9.  I spent the entirety of my gameplay in Final Fantasy 8 actually playing Triple Triad.  I never left the first town (therefore, my review of FFVIII is: “Triple Triad is fun”).  So, The Witcher 3 has Gwent, and all I wanted to do was sit in the Inn and play Gwent.  I went out in search of other Gwent players in the realm of Temeria, and the game is just too big to realistically achieve this without progressing.  So, I spent a while playing Gwent, went on a few quests, and then looked up the CD Projekt RED website and applied for jobs in Poland.  It was a pretty good day.  I’m sure I will pick it up again when I have tons more time on my hands.

Game #4: Boson X

After playing The Witcher 3 for so many hours, I wanted a quick game.  Boson X is quick because of the punishing difficulty of the game.  You are a scientist trapped in the Higgs-Boson supercollider, and you must run and jump through puzzling platforms simulating the experiments done in the actual supercollider:

I played most of the game as Erik, the nerdy scientist dude.  You must jump between platforms and time spent on the blue platforms increases your overall ‘study’ of the particles in the ‘experiments’.  The gameplay is reminiscent of Tempest, where you are constantly running towards the middle of the screen:

As you can see here, this level (the graviton particle level) has just begun and I’m going to have to jump to the left to continue running towards the middle of the screen.  There are some blue platforms coming up, and I might be able to catch the double blue by jumping to the left four times.  I probably didn’t make it, as this level was the majority of my hour-long playthrough.  The game was a great distraction from the sprawling roleplay of The Witcher 3, and you can grind through a dozen plays in a short amount of time.  I very much enjoyed the game, even though it has quite simplified graphics, the gameplay was rewarding (if a little slower than my actual reflexes).  We did notice (while my wife watched me play), that there was a pronounced delay in the push of a button and the resulting action of the character on screen.

Additional Items:

I played in the Destiny Crimson Doubles tournament and finished a few matches with wins.  I got a surprising delivery that I doubt many others did get: a 290 Exotic Hawkmoon.  That was pretty cool!  As for the rest: if you played seven matches (each match was a race to winning 5 rounds), you will also receive a 320 chocolate or candy ghost shell.  Bungie realized the drop rates for these items had been messed up (even though I did get one), and they wanted to apologize to players.

Lastly, I was invited to play in the Dreadnought Alpha.  Dreadnought is a seriously intense space-battle game where you command a massive battleship in an ever-expanding sci-fi universe.  I personally plan on piloting a Corvette or Destroyer into battle.  I was really excited to be invited to play, and I look forward to talking about it once the NDA expires.  I apologize that I will be unable to post any screenshots or gameplay videos until a later date, but I will certainly collect them now and post them when (and if) I can later.

Let the Steaming commence!

February 11th, 2016 Comments off

For those of you following along at home, I have 372 games in my Steam library that I have NEVER PLAYED.  Well, I am going to spend some time every day trying to play through some of those games.  This is the documentary of that endeavor.

 

Game #1: Banished

I know I said I would start with the letter ‘A’, but that was a lie.  I’ve always like the look of Banished, so I thought a simple city-building strategy game would be first on my list.  I always liked SimCity, and simulation games in general.  I spent about a half hour going through the very thorough tutorial system.

I loved the idea of creating a little town and seeing if my people would survive.  As I started playing the actual game (on Medium difficulty), it started raining.  Basically it would rain every few hours on my poor people.  The first step was to get a house so they had a roof over their heads.  To build a house, I needed them to cut down some trees.  So, I sent my poor people, who have ended up exiled to a new land, out into the woods.  They were hungry and cold, but they powered through and I built them a house.  However, I also wanted to build a bridge, because they looked so pretty in the screenshots I had seen.  So I set them to build a bridge as well as a house.  Then I had them collect rocks to make streets.  Then I realized I had no builders, so I assigned my new flock to build the magnificent streets, house, and bridge.  I played a little longer than my allotted hour, but I had a prosperous community who would all die from starvation long before they would build another house.

 

Game #2: Critter Crunch

I had played a demo of this game a while back, and I bought it.  Now, I’ve finally played the real game.  It’s hilarious.  You control a little creature (called Biggs), who uses his tongue to grab smaller creatures and feed them to larger creatures in order to generate jewels, which Biggs lovingly regurgitates in rainbow fountains to his son, Smalls.  The game is reminiscent of Tetris Attack, with some Bejeweled thrown in.  The artwork is lovely, and the game is a blast to play.  After an hour, I could have played another hour easy.

 

Other stuff:

Destiny launched the new Crimson Days event thing.  I was able to log on and play with one of my many PSN friends.  The event is a PvP 2v2 deathmatch with revives.  First team to win 5 are the champs.  Our first match went badly 0-5, but we started picking things up quickly.  I’m not a great team player, but I know my role.  I run in and while I get killed, my teammate cleans up.  We had one match (remember there are basically 2 kills per round for a total of 10 for a win) where my teammate had 16 kills and I had two.  That was pretty embarrassing, but most matches we both had 7 or 8 each.  I got a special shader and a new emblem, but I will have to play again tonight in order to finally achieve the coveted ‘chocolate ghost’.

candyGhost

Steam, as powered by Valve

February 9th, 2016 Comments off

Steam.

I have 409 games, and some I’ve played. In fact, I’ve even completed a few. My most played games are: Dungeons of Dredmor, Card City Nights, Hero Siege, Puzzle Kingdoms, Borderlands 2, Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey, 10,000,000, and Rogue Legacy in that order. Sid Meier’s Railroads is up there, but only because the Tutorial takes about an hour to play. If you were counting along, that means that I have very few games I’ve played continuously. In fact, to further clarify, I have played 37 of my Steam games. For those math people, that’s 372 games I have NEVER played. This is called a backlog. For the rest of the year, I will attempt to play one game every day for an hour. That means it will still be next year when I finish my backlog. Considering I buy 5 games a week, I may never finish my backlog. However, I will document this endeavor here, as well as mentioning other things. For example, I totally wanted to talk about the NES tournament I was in!

So, a local group wanted to have a re-enactment of the 1990 NES World Championships. We had an original NES, and a copy of the competition cartridge (available from RetroUSB ). We started by deciding the order of play, determined by who showed up first. I wanted to go in the fifth slot, so I could see how other folks played. There would be two rounds and they had some practice games set up around the room. The NES World Championship cartridge is very interesting. It is set to run for exactly 6 minutes and 21 seconds. The cartridge will cycle through Super Mario Bros (once you collect 50 coins), Rad Racer (you must drive to the end of the first course), and Tetris (your remaining time is spent on Tetris). I was pretty sure I knew Super Mario Bros and how to get 50 coins, so I focused on practicing Rad Racer. Rad Racer is hard. The controls are crappy, the graphics are quite dated, and the AI is ruthless. I did not once finish the first course during our hour-long ‘practice time’. When competition started, I watched the first three contestants play three different methods of gathering 50 coins and racing in Rad Racer. I don’t even remember the guy who went before me because I had some major shakes. When it was my turn, I was able to drown everything else out and start. My method was to collect exactly 21 coins in the first level, and then finish out in the second level. It took painful seconds for the animation of Mario going down the tube to level 2, and a ton of time to get to the 50th coin. Then Rad Racer basically bent me over a chair and spanked me until I cried. When I got to Tetris I had an unknown time remaining and I just started getting single lines. My pieces were crappy, so I had little to work with. The cartridge just stops you at 6 min 21 sec so abruptly, you are a little taken aback. Then the scores are displayed. The Super Mario Bros score is whatever you did in the game (I had like 10,000). The Rad Racer score is the exact same for everyone, as it is based on the distance you went. Since everyone went the same distance, it is the same score. This is followed by the Tetris score, which has a 25x multiplier. My overall score topped out at 159,850, which put me in the lead! It turns out the pro players were waiting until the end. The next guy scored 360,730 and the last guy scored 408,925. The scoring method for the second round was the exact same, but they would take the higher of the two scores. Folks learned their lessons quick and we all mimicked the pro dude (collect 20 coins, die, collect 20 coins, die, collect 10 coins). By the time it was my turn, I was in last place with 159,850 and a few players had just barely cracked the 200,000 mark. I stepped up to the plate and blew thru Mario. I had the fastest time, but Rad Racer glitched out and my car flew off the track from one side to the other. Nobody had ever seen a wreck so bad. When I got to Tetris, I had no idea what time was on the clock, and I again got crappy pieces. However, I scored a solid 207,650, which put me in third place. The first place guy told everyone he had actually owned the game, so they disqualified him. Turns out the pro dude had all the tricks up his sleeve anyway and scored a final score of 436,500! I did some research and found the original champion, Thor Aackerlund put up 2,800,000 in the actual competition. It was truly amazing, and you can still find some of his amazing Tetris play online. The highest score I’ve seen on the NES Championship cartridge is 4.5 million. I finished second with the DQ, so I was pretty happy. I’ve often said that I’m at the top of the mid-tier players of the world, or the bottom of the top-tier, so taking second was pretty good. I wish I had practiced more with Tetris so I could overcome some of the poor play I had.

Anyways, stay tuned for some reports on my Steam games. I hope some of them are good. I plan to start with the A’s section and just select a new letter every day, but I promise nothing.

The Cursed Crusade from Atlus

November 15th, 2011 Comments off

IRVINE, CALIFORNIA —- ATLUS announced that The Cursed Crusade, the action adventure epic set during the Fourth Crusade, is now available in stores across North America for PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system (PS3™), Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, and PC download via Steam.

A story of salvation and survival, The Cursed Crusade brings to life the mystery and allure of the Middle Ages. The game’s main characters are not heroes; they’re just men, susceptible to temptation, easily made to feel doubt and despair. The raw, gritty accuracy of many of the game’s historical locations is sharply contrasted by Denz and Esteban’s supernatural struggle to save their souls. Their affliction, the Templar’s Curse, threatens to accelerate their descent into hell, burning their humanity away as it engulfs the space around them in demonic flame. A tale of retribution and survival, The Cursed Crusade is sure to satisfy action gamers everywhere with its violence, gore, and drama.

In addition, a demo that takes players through the “Assault on the Castle of Biron” mission, a fortress siege set on a fiery summer’s eve, is currently available via Xbox®LIVE (initially only to Gold members) and PlayStation®Network.

The Cursed Crusade is out now for PlayStation 3 system, Xbox 360 system, and PC. For more, including screenshots, videos, concept art, wallpapers, and a special “Launch The Crusade” section, visit the official website at www.thecursedcrusade.com.

Categories: News Tags: , , , , ,