Sunday, March 9, 2014

Saints Row: The Third

I picked this up a while ago in a humble bundle, and a my friend was willing to play through it with me again.

A little bit into the game, we can customize our characters. I pick a female luchador, with a no-nonsense voice, and my friend goes with the silver surfer.

The graphics are a bit dated, but don't detract from the fun at all.

The game systems are solid, the side quests are a-plenty (although we didn't do any of them).

The crit path is an engaging story, with enough of a plot to keep it going, even if the direction is once again, over the top.

The writing is excellent, and the voice actors were great. The voice I picked for my girl was awesome. The voice of random NPC #73 that I almost ran over is also good. The fact that there is also a cheesy movie plot you can do where the voice acting and script writing is terrible was also very enjoyable.

The controls are solid. My friend played for a bit on the 360 controller, but I just stuck with keyboard/mouse so that I could snipe people more easily throughout.

The upgrade system is implemented well, always giving you something to spent your money on that's worth it. Gaining reputation allows you to purchase more upgrades, and you earn rep by doing missions, or just blowing up things in general. We found that taking a tank as the preferred vehicle of choice to get to a far away mission worked extremely well for this.

About half way through the game, we swapped out our characters for a new look. I'm now a Harajuku/hipster, and he's the Joker with a British accent. Hilarity ensues.

When I thought about what I would change on the game if I could, I honestly couldn't think of anything. There were a few bugs I'd like fixed (assuming they weren't intentional). Like not being able to call in a car in certain places on the map.

Needless to say, the game is over the top in every aspect, and was greatly enjoyable from start to end.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ittl Dew

If you like Zelda games but hate all the time wasted between puzzles. Ittl Dew is the game for you!

It's got pretty good writing that keeps the story going.

And it has signs, where needed.

It's got puzzles galore. Each room is a puzzle. It's got tools you need to solve those puzzles. It has absolutely zero filler. Once you are done with a dungeon, you are done. Don't go back in, nothing to see there. Move on to more puzzles (see above sign)

There are also even more challenging short cuts, which have a posted sign to let you know it's harder than the other room puzzles (with a sign to let you know you're going the hard way)

The combat is a bit off in that enemies are not knocked back, and will walk through your hits to get at you. So you have to hit and run back to avoid getting hit yourself. The enjoyable part is the dynamics between how enemies react with the room puzzles and your tools. It's unbelievable imaginative.

There are even multiple ways to finish the game. You don't need to get all of the items!

I salute you game devs for doing an amazing job, and I apologize for not picking this up earlier  on the OUYA. I ended up getting it on a Humble Bundle sale, and played it on Steam.

If your worried that it will take too long to complete, as I said above, there is no filler to this game. It's all puzzles and progress. I finished it in just over three hours. And I tried to solve every room and puzzle I could. Despite all of that, you can finish the game in under 15 minutes if you know exactly what you're doing. So you have no reason to not beat it!

Anyways, highly, highly recommended. The best Zelda non-Zelda game I've played in a long time.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Borderlands (the first)

So I started this a while back with a few friends at work. It was lot of fun. I started with a soldier, but switched to a berzerker. They were just more fun. I loved the RPG elements they added to guns, also random loot is just sweet!

I stopped playing in August 2011, when my group stopped playing together. I had a level 23 berserker. I picked it up again in December 2013, with my friend Bryan, and we crit path the rest of the game. I think I finished at level 32. Right before the last area, we hacked in a few good weapons to avoid the typical grind of do some damage, die, respawn, repeat. We could have avoided that cycle by leveling and eventually building up to better weapons, but this was faster and less grind-y.

Overall the game is quite fun, so let's end this with a bullet point summary.

Fun things:
* RPG elements throughout
* Playing campaign with coop
* Randomized loot done correctly
* Allowing for different playstyles (classes and their specializations, and guns)

Not fun things:
* Getting stuck in world geometry
* Being underpowered for quests (my own fault)
* Having to compare weapons as find them. It tends to slow the game down quite a bit. This is why hacking a good purple weapon for your level, and then ignoring weapon drops is much better gameplay.

Sadly, I missed the sale for Borderlands 2 by about 20 minutes. So I'll pick it up next time it goes on sale.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Kingdom Rush

I played this on the Android tablet I recently picked up.

Let's start with the good, and end with why I didn't play it into the ground.

The graphics, gameplay, controls, and style are superb. The tower defense genre never gets old, until you realize something is horribly, horribly missing.

Here are the major issues I had with the game, and why I didn't play on past the first major boss.
* You cannot restart any part of the level, it's all or none.
* If you are not a high enough level, you will not be able to beat a level, so you must grind levels.
* You cannot speed up the game speed, so it crawls through each of the rounds (there are upwards of 20 in some levels)

Overall it felt unforgiving and lacking game design polish. They do have purchasable items that you can use to beat the level, but I really don't understand the need to pour gems into beating a level. PvZ2 added the power ups for money, and it always leaves me feeling like a cheater.

To put this into perspective:
* In PvZ2, I'll waste 4-5 minutes before failing a level, and I can always cheap my way through the level with spending money. Most of the time it's a planning failure for why I lost, or pour money into a fix in the last 10 seconds of the last wave.
* In Defense Grid, it's almost always a planning failure for why I lost. I can also speed up time, and back up a few rounds to fix what I messed up
* In Orcs Must Die! 2 you need to learn the rounds, and play against two sides. It's not really fun playing solo, but the failure seems to come faster here at least. So there's less waiting to fail. I also feel very empowered to make a change in the loss that might be coming versus just watching it... slowly... happen...

It's a shame I didn't feel like playing this any more than the first major boss. It had a lot of potential.

StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm

I'm really enjoyed this one. The upgrade system is excellent, as it was in Wings of Liberty, but with a nice Zerg twist.

I knew the story would have to slip into some way for you to play the Zerg, and I think they did it rather nicely.

The voice acting and cinematics are flawless, as expected.

The controls are superb, and they recently added (or reminded me) that pressing F2 will select your entire army. This is glorious for Zerg swarming.

There was a day I continually lost connection to and then almost immediately reconnected. Very odd. Since I was achievement hunting, and those are disabled while you're disconnected that was also sad. It resolved itself quickly though.

The evolution choice missions are really well done. You get to see and play with both choices in action before deciding on one. I didn't see myself picking the non-lurker upgrade to the Hydralisk, but the mission really helped show how it could be used. Sometimes though the upgrades choices are not really choices -- the baneling mutation was one of those cases where one option was clearly better than the other.

The achievements are a nice touch, and some required a few plays to get right. I finished Heart of the Swarm with 76% of the achievements, whereas I only had 44% of the achievements on Wings of Liberty.

I would have to say this was better than Wings of Liberty, and one of the best RTS experiences I've had.

I'm really not good at competitive play, so I'm going to ignore that part of the game. I'm sure it's superb just like Brood War was...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dragon Age: Awakening and a few other DLC

So, what do you do after you play Dragon Age: Origins for an astonishing 120 hours? Yep, you start on Dragon Age: Awakening, and prepare to spend another 5 solid days of your life playing the next chapter.

I started this in February of 2011, and just now finished it in January of 2014.

Sure, I finished Dragon Age 2 already, but I still want to hear the story, and take my super-pimped rogue through whatever bloodbath they throw my way...

I had already finished Lelianna's Song, Darkspawn Chronicles, and Witch Hunt. All of which were excellent. I had started on Golems of Amgarrak, but realized I was quite under-leveled for it, so Awakening here I come!

I went with the standard party of my awesome rogue, a tank, and a damaging/utility mage, and another DPS. Anders does a great job of filling the damaging/utility mage, his dialog is also hilarious. All is forgiven for the DA2 shenanigans...

I found myself breezing past the fights, just picking up the loots and hungering for more dialog and story. My rogue could pretty much slaughter anything, and I was just playing on normal difficulty, so I wasn't really asking the game to give me a challenge.

I'm glad I came back and finished it. It's also odd to know so many names in the credits.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fallout: New Vegas + Some DLC

I started playing Fallout:New Vegas back in April 2011 and I just now finished it in December 2013, with a total of 86 hours played.

I kept a notepad document open to keep track of what inventory I had stockpiled at Doc Mitchell's house. I had 28+ fission batteries, and 51 conductors by the end... I also had more weapons than I could manage. I picked my current favorite 3 and went with it. My only regret with all this stockpiling is that there isn't much weapon crafting. There was the ability to craft ammo types, but I ignored guns for almost the entire game. I did fist/melee weapons early on, then switched completely to energy weapons. I heard that upgrading bullets is really good though. Weapon repair kits I found to be very useful, because it could safe you a huge repair bill, or you could use them to repair an expensive weapon (eg: super sledge), and then sell it for some much needed caps.

When rolling my initial stats, I ignored luck and perception, and put the points into the other stats. Once you get the companion, E-DE, the perception issue is fixed, and I didn't really need luck. I also worked on the critical skills as fast as possible -- melee weapons, repair, lockpick, sneak -- then speech, medicine, energy weapons, etc.

I didn't play all of the DLCs, but I own them. I might go back and play them at some point, but I'm good just having this story wrapped up for now. Recommendations of which DLCs are worth playing are always welcome.

I'll compare some high level things in Fallout: New Vegas with what was around in Fallout 3 to keep things simple.

The Good
* It has much better UIs for companion interactions, so you can change their tactics, open their inventory, etc. without having to pull up a speech dialog
* You can pick two companions instead of just one companion and the dog
* The companions come with their own perks, have good back stories and side quests. I personally liked having E-DE and Boone as companions
* Much better use of skill checks in dialog -- speech, barter, medicine, etc. I really enjoyed these
* There are a bunch of new weapons in the game for every play style -- melee/fist/energy/pistol/rifle

The Bad
* Invisible walls are everywhere. Instead of creating a mesa you can't get on top of, there is a ridge you could jump on top of with an invisible wall around it...
* There is almost zero weapon crafting. You can make a few bombs, and different ammo types, but no real weapon crafting

The Consistent
* The quest tracking system is still a life-safer, without it, you could not keep track of where you are going, or what part of what quests you had completed
* The UI system for managing inventory is quite clunky. I'm not sure if they added the category filtering in FNV, but that does help quite a bit

Would I recommend playing it? Absolutely. It's great for sharing experiences with friends at work, even years after it's release date.

For the next 9 hours, you can pick up Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition for just under $7 on Steam.