Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Warcraft: The Shattering

I know I haven't posted on here for awhile, but that has been for numerous reasons. School, work, and a constant hopping from game to game. And not MMO's, just single player games.

So when all the hype for WoW: Cataclysm started, initially I was jaded self. I had played WoW for several years, not really enjoying it or sticking with it since my initial playing of the game where I lasted around 8 months. Nothing since that point had been more than 2. The hype was still there, constantly wearing away my defenses, until I had to resubscribe.

That was two months ago, and I only subbed for one month at the time. During that month, my sole goal was to get my death knight up to level 80, the first time having a main at level cap since my rogue in classic. That rogue was just deleted two months ago, still level 60 having only walked barely into the Outlands, wearing an eclectic mix of quest blues and tiered items. That was the reason I left the game after my initial burst, I got sick of the rogue play style and didn't want to spend the time leveling up another character.

Fast forward to yesterday. The news that the Shattering was going to take place today got me to resubscribe before I could even think otherwise. Last night was spent doing some of the pre-Cataclysm event quest lines and just kind of lounging around Stormwind listening to trade chat. My goal going in to today was to create a gnome priest. I had always wanted to create a healer, liking the support classes, but had never gotten one past level 12 before. I still have nightmares about trying to kill murlocs in Elwynn Forest in classic and having to runaway bubbled as the priest was so weak at the time. Also, I have never really enjoyed the time at level cap in WoW, so I was interested in going 1-85 again to see how Blizzard had learned its lessons on quest design.

So I created my little red-haired gnome and started in Gnomeregan. Thank goodness all those trips to that dungeon weren't for nothing. It had to be my least favorite dungeon of Classic, so it was nice that the gnomes had reclaimed it so I didn't have to anymore. Man oh man has Blizzard improved the questing flow. No longer is it going into a town/camp and picking up 10-15 quests before heading back out. Now it is 2-3 quests in an area before moving on. You are never bombarded with more quests than you know what to do with and are forced to move through the zones at a quick pace. No more being in one spot forever getting sick of it all. Also, adding flight points at Kharanos and the quarry make getting back to trainers and profession work much quicker.

All in all, I spent 5 hours of /played tonight. The longest single block of playing I've done since I created the death knight. I also made it up to level 15, first time I've gained that many levels in a sitting since I first logged in. Oh and no more running away from murlocs, the priest seems to be able to hold its own now. I did not die once, even in situations where I accidentally pulled multiple mobs. Overall, the Shattering is the revamp that Azeroth has needed for years now. Everything seems to flow so naturally and quickly.

Now that I'm level 15, I can't wait to try out the dungeon finder. I hope that the dungeons retained the old charm of actually having to think. No more AoE spam and rushing through. Here's hoping for the return of sapping, sheeping, the skull raid icon and the x raid icon. Even though I need to go to bed, I already can't wait to get back into tomorrow. Never though I'd say that again.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dragon Age: Origins - Return to Ostagar Review (Spoilers)

Seeing that they managed to put up the latest DLC for Dragon Age after much delay, I jumped and bought it. I am currently working on a Dalish Elf playthrough so I headed right on over into the adventure.

It started off decently enough, with some political intrigue hinted at by finding letters between Cailan and Orlais, and there is the whole idea of going back and finding the King's and possibly Duncan's body to get you into. Sadly that is where any sense of enjoyment for the game ends.

Instead of creating too many new areas, it heavily reuses the camp at Ostagar from the beginning of the game. I end up trudging through the same familiar, boring landscape fighting waves of mindless zombies. There was absolutely no story at all, other than following some Darkspawn necromancer through the ruins killing his summons. Then you kill the necromancer and get a choice of what to do with Cailan's body. Whoop de fucking doo.

For a game so heavily entranced with story, for additional content that is merely a straight-up dungeon crawl to be added is simply unacceptable. It is inexcusable for a company of Bioware's stature to put out the complete and unadulterated shit that was this DLC. $5 for a 1 hour dungeon crawl completely blows my mind. You don't even get to find Duncan's body, the one thing that I was really looking forward to finding.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Star Trek Online Beta Thoughts

After hearing some mediocre reviews from the beta, I decided to go and download the open beta client with a key I received from Gamerzines. It only took about 2 and a half hours to download the client and off I went.

The character creation, like all of Cryptic's games was incredibly deep. There was a dizzying array of options for creating alien species. Not being a Trekkie in the least bit, I decided to go with a custom look rather than an established species. In the end I created what looked to be a female zabrak. If only the fun that came out of the creation carried over into the actual gameplay.

I've read comparisons over this being similar to Pirates of the Burning Sea, a game I loved in beta but never caught on post-release, in relation to ship vs ground combat. I don't really think this is an apt comparison because ship combat is boring in STO in comparison. I even had a friend ask if I was moving during combat it looked so slow. Even using the boosts out of combat did little to make it more exciting. Overall, it just didn't feel as good as PotBS did. Ground combat was also boring, at least in the early stages.

The storyline was just utter rubbish and I found myself just clicking through until I saw the green text telling me what to do. A voiceover system would be a lot more engaging than what is currently being presented. There was no connection for me to even try and engage myself.

For me, a definite don't buy.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Look Ahead

I figured I would take a break from talking about what I've been playing to look ahead to what this year may bring.

My Targets

Mass Effect 2 - Probably won't be getting this right on release as I want to get another playthrough of the original in first, but as a huge Bioware fan, this is a must buy. Still a little iffy about having to reload weapons, but that looks to be minor hiccup in a good revamp of combat. The Must Play RPG of the year.

Alpha Protocol - I am worried about this game. I haven't heard much about it lately though it looks to have an interesting premise. Hopefully the delay means the game will get thoroughly polished, a concern with Obsidian games. I will definitely wait to pick this up so if it gets horrible reviews I won't have wasted money.

Diablo 3 - Yeah, not this year but a major target for the future. Almost makes me want to play the second one again, except for actually having to play for the umpteenth time.

Starcraft 2 - I don't buy RTS games for the story, only the multiplayer, so I hope I don't end up being forced to buy the other two games for more units and the like. Heck, the only campaign I've played through in an RTS is Company of Heroes, and I've played a lot of RTS games.

Supreme Commander 2 - Total Annhilation and Supreme Commander have been my absolute favorite RTS games of all time. Strategies are perfectly balanced and the game is complex enough that it takes awhile to learn and master the game. I am giddy with excitement.


Star Trek Online - I am interested to see how big of a flop this will be. Cryptic is proving itself to be a very poor MMO designer and recent comments and news are pointing to another Champions Online launch. I think their only concern is getting the game out and receiving the money rather than providing a quality experience for the customer.

Star Wars: The Old Republic - A pipe dream for 2010, but this will be the next MMO that I jump headlong into. I have friends to play it with and developer that cares for it players.

WOW: Cataclysm - I really hope WoW doesn't pull me back in for another expansion pack, but if history is a guide it will happen again. My saving grace is that if it comes out in November, NANOWRIMO will prevent me from picking it up, at least for a month.

I really wish there were more MMOs to hop into, but I haven't been impressed with any of the recent offerings. Fallen Earth was interesting, but never hooked me past the trial.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What I'm Playing: Empire: Total War

To start this off, how in the hell did this game ever get a metacritic rating of 90? The game was unplayable at launch without constantly going in and deleting files to keep it from crashing. I had bought this the day it came out and had returned it to Gamestop within a week. Being a steam game though, I still had access to it, not getting the urge to download until recently.

While most of the crashes have been removed from the game, the game is still lackluster. I loved the original Medieval: Total War and enjoyed the Medieval 2, but cannot get into this game in the least bit. I'm not really sure what it is that is putting me off either. The game is sluggish on my computer when it shouldn't be, which contributes to my frustration.

I guess the problems lies in the lack of control I feel over my empire. I've been playing a lot of Civ 4 recently and in comparison, Empire is severely lacking. No peaceful means of expansion, minimal control over territories, and not much city control. I know Empire is more a war game, but a little variety would be nice. The only advantage that Empire theoretically has over Civ 4 is in actually playing out the battles. If only it were true in practice. Shoddy camera controls and overall lackluster AI makes it more enjoyable to auto-resolve every battle. Random point: why the fuck can't troops move quicker on the campaign map. Dear lord it takes forever for them to move.

Another peeve of mine is in regards to the DLC. Really, unit packs? You are going to charge people a couple of dollars for non-placeholder units? It is a big rip to me, as I have no problems with DLC for a game when it actually adds to the playtime. In the old days, this type of stuff would have been free content patch or combined up with a new campaign or something in a full blown expansion. Now they feel they can just nickle and dime us. Needless to say, I don't plan on purchasing any of the DLC.