A thoughtful and personal exploration of games

Continuing Gameplay – Splinter Cell: Conviction, Civilization IV, and an introduction to D&D Online

As the title mentions, I’ve been playing Splinter Cell: Conviction, Civilization IV, and D&D Online in recent days. Allow me to tackle them one by one as I discuss my personal issues and adventures with these three very different games.

Splinter Cell: Conviction has some absolutely amazing co-op gameplay. It’s fluid and fast and if you’re in the same room with your fellow player, you’re set as you can talk about strategy and shout out things that need saying (“He’s coming up behind you!”, “Crap, I’ve been grabbed!”, “I hear a security camera beeping, where is it?”). An issue with this game (that you have to remain aware of at all times while playing) is the fact that the scenery is context sensitive. If you’re next to a door and a light switch, and all you want to do is flip the light switch, you’d better make sure that the switch is highlighted or else you have a good chance of opening that door. The space bar is the initial key for interacting with the environment, so that’s easy enough (like hopping over a box or jumping up a wall). The C key is for kicking down doors (it’s absolutely hilarious watching my friend accidentally try to kick down a door; the metal ones can’t be kicked down, so your foot just bounces off) and grabbing bad guys and the like (when grabbing enemies, you tap C to kill them or hold C to grab them; sometimes it interprets a tap as a hold). Oh, a problem that’s been cropping up is the confusion between the tilde key (~) and the Z key that my friend and I have been experiencing lately. I’m not sure how this happened, but the tilde is used to zoom in and out with your weapon and the Z key is for your sonar goggles (yay cool gadgets). I know these keys do completely different things and are on opposite ends of the same side of the keyboard, but the confusion is still there. It’s a curious development, but the problem is all on our end, not with the game. Yay PEBKAC?

Oh, in reading an article about the game, one of the developers was asked about the amount of talking the NPCs did during the game. The response was something to the effect of “You need it to know where the enemies are”. That makes a ton of sense since you don’t really get the sonar “I can find anyone unless it’s through concrete” goggles until about 5/8ths of the way through the game. In prior games, you had infrared goggles to help out with that, so yeah, I do rely on the talkative nature of the enemies to be the predator the game requires of me. Of course, in prior games you had nonlethal takedown methods and in this one… not so much (no complaints here).

The issues notwithstanding, the game (both single player and co-op) are incredibly fun and highly amusing. The single-player storyline is rather serious, but it has its moments. Further, when you achieve something particularly awesome (like, say, several five man kills without being detected or somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 stealth headshots) the game keeps track of cool things like this and gives you points with which to upgrade your equipment. Yay rewarding awesomeness. I’ve noticed an increase in confidence as I play the game. The more familiar I get with the game, the more daring and the better I become at tackling enemies and complex issues as they show up. I suppose you could note a correlation in an increase in aggression as well, but I don’t really go out of my way to do spectacular kills or anything. I use the Mark part of the Mark & Execute function to keep track of the four nearest bad guys so I don’t run afoul of them and that’s pretty much the extent of my pre-planning for a room. Just go slow and don’t be afraid to be patient (but also, don’t be afraid to get aggressive every now and again; it IS a game).

Moving on to Civilization IV. This game keeps my attention, until I get distracted by some other shiny game, but I keep coming back for my “solitaire”. With the introduction of Beyond the Sword into my gameplay, the game has developed some additional complexities (like espionage, pesky spies and poisoning my water supply!) and I’ve had to retool my usual strategy. I prefer playing as the Byzantine Empire (nevermind that my capitol is Constantinople, which is awesome) mostly because they are Spiritual (no anarchy when changing government civics or state religions) and Imperialistic (50% faster production of settlers means faster city spread!). In fact, having a Spiritual civ is synonymous in my group of friends with feeling lazy that game and just wanting to have an easy go of it. *laughs* My mentioning early on that the Spiritual civ’s are the best kind of means that Spiritual is something of a cheat. We don’t frown upon it, and if you want an easy time, no problem, but having the Spiritual civic definitely makes things easier because you’re not losing turns on production and research and you don’t really have to plan your civic changes.

My latest game of Civ IV: Beyond the Sword has me playing the Byzantine civilization, and I managed to secure a bottleneck while starting up, so I have a continent to myself. The real fight is stemming the spy issue. I keep investing in the buildings that crank up my espionage points per turn and I’m catching an enemy spy or two approximately every turn. It’s frustrating, but throughout the entire game, I’ve only had two incidents of water supply poisoning and they’re not that bad (just a few turns of lost food). Also, after a fashion, maintaining more than 20 cities becomes a real hassle (I’ve got 19 on my home continent, 4 on a large island, and three on a new continent and I’ve got plenty of space to grow).

I look forward to getting back to playing Beyond the Sword in multiplayer with a couple of my friends. We managed to figure out how to be allied from the beginning of the game, so we share research and line of sight, which really helps that early in the game.

On to D&D Online. I hopped on the other day with my level 8 fighter (aka, machine gunner) and I played with my friend’s dwarven dual-wielding fighter of the same level. We worked together for a bit and then another friend came on with his wizard and we had a blast. For the record, my machine gunner with my friend’s fighter are an awesome tag-team and having the wizard around just made things easier. Whenever we split up (or when I had to answer the phone) we wound up getting torn up by the enemies on the Three Barrel Cove map. It’s an odd thing, but usually I have a complaint or two about my playing experience in DDO, but lately I haven’t had any complaints at all. I really enjoyed hanging out with my friends the other day and I really can’t wait to do it again. With our level 13 group (where I play the cleric) I fully expect to have complaints, but that’s probably due to the fact that I’m just a healer with a couple of combat capabilities and we’re doing stuff that’s kind of hard (helps it’s a lot of stuff we just haven’t done yet and there’s this fear of the unknown that everyone comes preloaded with). I suppose with my fighter, I kind of expect to get the crap kicked out of me every now and again (he only does one or two things really well, but damn, he does them WELL) but with my cleric, I’m supposed to keep the party alive and when I fail to do that, I probably feel that I’m not doing my job, and thus, I get cranky. Ah well, I’ll figure it out eventually.

Anyways, I’ve located a video camera and I’m in the process of getting a memory card for it (had to order an adapter online because it’s such an old camera that they don’t make the memory sticks for this model any more). I’m going to try to figure out how to make and edit my own videos and figure out YouTube, so we’ll see if this goes somewhere. You might see some future articles done in video form one day. Who knows? Depends on how quickly I can master the “jump cut”. If I do any articles for this site, be assured I’ll embed the video here so you don’t have to go creeping around YouTube for them.

Until next time, keep on playing!

– Elorfin

P.S. Apologies for my delinquency in writing something, but the inspiration to write sometimes goes away. It happens, but I just needed to build up some material to write about. I think I should get back to the MMO analysis I started doing at the beginning, but we’ll see how I feel in the next week or two.


One response

  1. Stewart Williams

    Hey, nice post. I’ve been interested in both Splinter Cell and Civ IV but haven’t had the chance to play either yet. I appreciated hearing what you thought of both.

    May 13, 2010 at 6:47 PM

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