Archive for the ‘General Gaming’ Category

Game Thoughts

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

I have been playing a few games lately:

World of Warcraft

I got the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. I liked it quite a bit, but have not played in a while due to raids requiring lots of time and the fact that my guild starts raiding around midnight my time. This is not good for the job.

  • I never did much reputation grinding, but the curve seems to be much lower.
  • The new vehicle/mount system is neat, but I find it very confusing because the mount’s name is shown instead of the person riding it.
  • The story line, quests, and cinematics were nice. I really enjoyed playing some of the quests and learning more about the story.

Dead Space

This is basically a survival horror type game on a space ship. (Read: Resident Evil 4 in Spaaaace) I finished this recently, and, while I don’t really understand the ending or some character motivations, it was a lot of fun.

  • One of the big features is limb dismemberment. I thought it would become silly and old quickly, but it turned out to be surprisingly entertaining and even satisfying.
  • I purchased a suit off of the xbox live market place for a modest fee, not knowing that it was a fully-upgraded suit. I am slightly disappointed that I did not experience the suit upgrade path.
  • I really like the weapons. They are different enough from the standard game weapons to be interesting but familiar enough to be comfortable.
  • The answer the question “Could things possibly get any worse?” is always “Yes!”

Windows Solitaire

Yes, Windows Solitaire.

  • Vista’s Solitaire is superior previous Windows’ versions of solitaire. Multiple levels of undo is very nice, but not the only improvement.
  • I don’t win very many games of solitaire.

Gears of War 2

My brother and I played through the campaign together on regular difficulty, and I have been playing Horde mode with my friend. (Coop multiplayr against increasingly difficult waves of computer-controlled enemies)

  • The game’s plot is once again a mess and unsatisfying.
  • Fortunately, the gameplay (once again) makes up for its shortcomings in other areas. (Seriously, coop is really good)
  • The Hammerburst was changed from a 3-burst firing mode to straight semi-automatic. (I guess… it’s single fire, though holding the trigger down will fire continuously) I really preferred the burst fire from the first game better.
  • Bloodmounts in Horde mode are ridiculous. Perhaps they were tuned with more players in mind? I found them really really difficult.
  • The new mortar weapon is fantastic.

Is this what it feels like to be insane?

Friday, August 8th, 2008

I recently bought Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2 on Xbox Live. I like it well enough, and I like how the achievements are done more this time around.

But wow, am I ever bad at this game. I can’t hit enemies, can’t avoid running into them, often head straight for them even though I know that they are there, and randomly suddenly turn around to run into enemies.

And here’s what bothers me: I keep saying (or yelling, depending) things like “What??” or “I wasn’t there!” or “There’s no possible way that I went that direction!”

As I see it, there are only a couple of options here:

  1. The games has collision detection or control issues
  2. What I am seeing or interpreting is not what is actually happening

There is something wrong when I see that I have plenty of room between my character and the enemy and then I suddenly die from running into the enemy that I know wasn’t close enough to touch me. Either there is something wrong with the game, or there is something wrong with me, and it’s more likely that there’s something wrong with me.

I can live with this when playing online games. I can chalk things like obviously shooting someone in the head (there’s even blood on his face!) or being killed after I duck around a corner up to network lag, but in a single player game that isn’t played online, I have no other excuse. If it were a skill issue and I was just being overwhelmed with enemies or was bad at aiming (which may be a factor) I would be fine, but I will do things like run directly into the very first enemy I see, even though I know it’s there and I am trying not to do it.

And this is frustrating.

I’m not quite sure what my point is with all of this, but this is something that is frustrating and reduces my enjoyment of the game. Perhaps other people experience similar things? Maybe this really all can be chalked up to my being bad at the game?

First Impressions: Tabula Rasa

Friday, July 11th, 2008

A week or two ago, I signed up for the free 3-day beta of Tabula Rasa. Unfortunately, I only had enough time to get up to level 7 or 8, so I was not able to evaluate many of the later-game or class development features.



  • Immersion – Coming off of Hellgate: London, which is all instanced, being forced to walk everywhere felt fantastic. I felt like I was interacting with the world rather than playing through an artificial level. Exploring the game to find the sigils was interesting as well.
  • Weapons – The weapon ideas seemed interesting, though I wasn’t able to try all of them out


  • Skill/Profession trees – I generally like this better than straight class systems, but this implementation didn’t “click” with me.
  • Universal action key – “T” seemed to do quite a bit — Interact with NPCs, open crates, loot corpses, etc. Unfortunately, I kept wanting to click things to interact with them, which meant that I was often accidentally firing my gun at NPCs instead of talking to them.


  • Lack of Descriptions – Many things could have benefited from better descriptions or tooltip text
  • Line of sight issues – Enemies just over a ridge could be in my (the player’s) view, but not actually in the character’s view, meaning that shots or special abilities would not hit the enemy. This caused frustrations when setting up long-range encounters. (“You can’t see the target” “But I can see it! It’s right there!”)
  • Inconsistant enemy looting – Sometimes items would auto-loot, sometimes I would have to press the action key to loot. Pressing the action key sometimes looted everything automatically, but would sometimes bring a loot window up, and then I would have to click “loot all” to loot the items. I never figured out what caused the inconsistency.


I had fun with the game, but was often frustrated. Many of the gameplay issues could be chalked up to new-user syndrome since I didn’t have time to acclimate myself to the environment and gameplay. I usually encounter some level of frustration and confusion in every MMO game, but many of the issues seemed to be of the kind that would persist after acclimation.

I would probably enjoy the game for a month or two, but there are so many other good games out, and I need to keep a short rein on my MMO playtime since it tends to spiral out of control.

One interesting thing:

During character creation, one is prompted to select a starting armor set. The screen has controls to choose armor color, and I spent about 30 minutes mixing and matching armor, and choosing colors that I liked. I figured this would be an important character decision. Perhaps this armor choice would affect all of the armor that I wore, or I would be stuck with it for some time (a la costumes in City of Heroes).

Not so. Within the first few minutes, I had completed a quest that rewarded me with an item that replaced the armor I had spent so long choosing. Why let us choose armor if you will just replace it immediately? I felt like I had wasted that half hour of my time.

Tabula Rasa

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

I signed up for the three day Tabula Rasa demo and am downloading the client right now. I’ve heard some good things about it, and it looks decent. I’ll post thoughts and comments later.

City of Heroes is mediocre

Friday, April 6th, 2007

There’s a new MMO sub-forum over on the Penny Arcade forums. One of the threads derailed into a discussion about City of Heroes and why it sucks or doesn’t suck or something. I wasn’t really sure. In any case, it prompted me to think about why City of Villains didn’t hold my interest for very long. (I have only played CoV, but from what I understand, it’s pretty much the same as CoH only with villains and different classes.)

I loaded the game up on my new computer and played for a few hours the last couple of nights. I don’t have much time, but here’s a quick run down of things that I remember from playing before, and what I rediscovered recently:

  • Character creation is still awesome.
  • Even though character creation is awesome, it is still not as customizable as I would like. (I can’t make a guy that wears a trench coat and has robotic arms for example)
  • There are entirely too many costume options that involve skulls, bones, and chains or barbed wire.
  • Performance is still terrible for the graphics quality.
  • The user interface is clunky. (This seems to be an issue with many MMO games)
  • Super jump is really fun.
  • I fight way too many snakes.
  • In fact, I fight way too many of the same thing over and over again in the same locations. (Didn’t I just clean out this warehouse? Should I even bother doing it again?)

And actually, this last part is probably my main issue with the game. The game feels incredibly repetitive. Most of the missions seemed to be slight variations on “Go to the warehouse and kill everything inside.”

You may ask how this is different from World of Warcraft or any other MMO. They have quests to go kill tons of stuff, and you end up killing stuff over and over.

I’m not quite sure what the difference is. City of Villains just feels different. Maybe it’s because WoW has larger and more immersive environments including instances instead of smaller, cramped instances. Maybe it’s because CoV’s instances are basically all random rooms and hallways. Maybe it’s the lack of loot that bothers me, or that there are no trade skills or much else to do besides kill guys. Perhaps it is simply because CoV isn’t as polished as other games. I will have to think about it some more.

I want to play console games with my friends

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

I am a huge fan of cooperative game modes. I tend to enjoy working with people to achieve a goal more than working against them. Co-op games are great for when you have a friend over and want to play something. I also do not like 1v1 duels very much. (Local games of console FPS games often end up like this)

This overlaps into plain multiplayer games as well, but I always seem to have trouble finding games to play with people.

Here is an example one of a typical one-friend-over game session:
“So, what should we play?”
“Game A is pretty cool.”
“Yeah, but it’s only single player.”
“Oh yeah, well, how about Game B?”
“That only has online multiplayer. We can’t do split-screen.”
“Oh, that sucks. Oh, hey, you just got Game C, and that does split-screen, right?”
“Yeah, but it would have to be 1v1, since there are no bots.”
“What about Game D?”
“We just played that 10 minutes ago. Let’s play something else.”
“Well, if you want to play a single player game, I could just watch or something.”

Sometimes this problem is compounded if more people are added:
“Let’s play Game C! We have enough people now, right?”
“Well, the game only supports 2-player local split-screen, so we can’t.”

I loved playing through Halo and Lego Star Wars co-op, but those only have local co-op modes. I enjoyed playing Chrome Hounds online (when the bizarre connection issues actually let us see each other in the lobby, but that’s another thing entirely) but that only has online multiplayer.

Now, I’m fully aware that some issues are insurmountable. It’s pretty tough to make split-screen poker work, for example, and some games are designed as single-player only.

I am noticing that more and more games are supporting online or co-op play of some sort. Gears of War is awesome just because it has online and local co-op modes, and there are a number of 360 Live arcade games that have both as well. This is encouraging, and I hope to see more games that support both local and online co-op modes.

Additionally, my console gaming is almost exclusively on my 360 now. I also own a Gamecube, but my brother is borrowing it now. I have some excellent (and just decent) local multiplayer games for the Gamecube, but of course, its online game selection is slightly limited. PC Gaming has much more in the way of online multiplayer, but the nature of PCs makes it tough to have local multiplayer with one machine.