I’ve finished Mass Effect 2 and I’m making steady progress through Mass Effect 3, but that’s not all I’ve played lately. I’ve also played some Splinter Cell: Conviction, ME3 Multiplayer, Mechwarrior Online, DC Universe Online, and Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol.
Once I’ve finished this playthrough of ME3, I’m expecting to cut loose on a few games, namely I’d like to get back into regularly playing Star Trek Online instead of occasionally looking at it wistfully while I do my schoolwork. Further, I’d like to settle into a bit of Neverwinter, some more Star Wars: The Old Republic, and I think I’d like to play some more Diablo III before the expansion comes out.
Oh, I’m very very excited about the upcoming expansion for XCOM Enemy Unknown. Entitled “Enemy Within“, it’s going to include new enemies, new options for soldiers, and I’m hoping some more council missions. I mentioned it in a P.S. a couple of weeks ago, but as it gets closer to release, I get more excited about it!
I’d also like to share my excitement about the new Tex Murphy game coming soon thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. The game will be called “Tesla Effect” and takes place after the last game, Overseer. Check it out. I grew up with Under A Killing Moon and came to love its dry humor and film noir style approach.
Anyway, I’ve got things to do, so until next time!
P.S. “All I’ve ever needed was a soft felt fedora, a well-tailored overcoat and a comfy pair of sneakers. Some people know what they like and they stay with it.” – Tex Murphy, Under A Killing Moon.
I’ve had this craving recently to dive back into a game that I’ve already beaten. I’m not entirely sure why though. Let me try to convey my thoughts on the matter.
First of all, I have plenty of games I haven’t beaten yet:
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Splinter Cell: Conviction
Lord of the Rings Online
Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Police Quest Collection
Space Quest Collection
Roller Coaster Tycoon
X-COM Terror From the Deep
These are just some of the games I have access to right now. I haven’t even touched the stacks of handheld games I haven’t beaten yet or even the console games I haven’t beaten. Seriously, I could focus on one or more of these and actually FINISH a few more games, but I have this craving to keep playing/replay certain games even after I’ve finished them. Here are the siren songs that keep calling me.
Final Fantasy XII
Star Trek Online (I consider it beaten, but since they keep adding new stuff, I dunno)
Mass Effect 2
I’ve successfully resisted replaying a few of those games lately by focusing on LOTRO, but Final Fantasy XII has been calling me exceptionally often lately. Whenever I look at my dormant PS2, I have this craving to play FFXII and I don’t really know why. I beat it rather soundly last time, but for some reason I just want to start a new game and pound the crap out of it again. It’s a massive investment of time though, so I’ve been able to resist it successfully. Resisting Chrono Cross is kind of easy though, however sad because well, I can resist it because it doesn’t have voice acting and I’m afraid the game might put me to sleep without enough stimulation. Strange, right? I know, but I once nodded off while playing Final Fantasy VI on the PSX and that’s my most favorite FF game of all time. I managed to whet my Chrono Trigger appetite recently when it came available on the Wii and I also own a handheld copy of the game (but it’s so much more fun to play on the TV).
Lately I’ve been having this strong desire to play a game where I can shoot things. Obviously, this rules out games like LOTRO and Chrono Trigger, so I’ve been giving sidelong glances at Splinter Cell: Conviction and Hellgate: London and a few other games with colons in their names.
I’m not sure about the details behind my desire to replay a game over finishing a game, but hey, that’s why this little site is here! To let me expand upon my random thoughts and help me discover what’s going on! I seriously think that I have a problem with finishing games because deep down I don’t want the experience to end. Further, I like replaying certain games that are quick and exciting or allow me to carry over information from a prior game. It’s possible (since FFXII doesn’t fit this mold) that I might have a strong desire to replay a game if I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the original playthrough. I did kind of give up on the extras in FFXII when I realized I just wanted to beat the game at level 70 or something as a result of losing to a stupid extra boss that was an hour or so away from a save point. I’ll never understand why they don’t put save points in front of every boss fight, however optional. FFXIII has save points galore, but I guess when you really need one it’s never there.
Anyways, I’m off to work some more on my Captain in LOTRO. I got him to level 50 last night and he’s currently working on upgrading his first legendary item to level 10 so I can go back and put a hurting on the Watcher in the Water. It’s a decent halberd I’m using, but I’d prefer different legacies. We’ll see what happens.
Until next time!
P.S. “Congrats on finishing the game. Now get a life!!” – Eiji Nakamura in the “Programmers'” Ending of Chrono Trigger
Characters are around us every day. They’re in what we see, what we do, what we hear and watch and read. Have you ever seen the commercials for the USA Network? Yeah, those are characters alright. Characters are how we identify with the story or event. We look at certain characters and think, “Hey, that could be me,” or, sometimes, “I wish that was me.”
Games have developed to the point where you can barely see past the deep and highly developed characters sometimes. Take a look at the latest Splinter Cell game, Conviction. This game is about a man searching for his daughter and anyone who tries to interfere with that will not live to see the next day. The story is full of moments of frustration, of anger, and of a strong desire for revenge. Sitting and watching Sam Fisher go through all these things, the player can feel sympathy and their own desire for revenge on behalf of the main character. Sam isn’t a young character either, as this is the fifth game he’s been the main protagonist. In fact, if you go back to the first game in the Splinter Cell series, there’s very little character development aside from playing a super black ops guy. As the series went on though, you began to wonder about this man you controlled and this last game with its serious story and amazing developments was just inevitable. The game of Splinter Cell: Conviction IS the character of Sam Fisher.
Characters can have a lasting impression on players. From my own experiences, I know that I’ll never forget Captain William Eisen for coming to the rescue on the TCS Mount St. Helens supercarrier when my little Durango-class BWS Intrepid was getting kicked around by the TCS Vesuvius and Admiral Tolwyn. I’ll never forget Winston “Vagabond” Chang and his incredible card playing skills or even Todd “Maniac” Marshall for his insane style of flying. In fact, the TCS Victory (“Better known as Tin Can Sally”) was a character in and of herself. Take a look at the Wing Commander CIC and the Wing Commander series of games for more.
Sometimes the characters don’t have to say a lot for you to even identify with them. Take a look at Chrono Trigger. The main character Chrono only ever says one word and I believe it was “Huh”. In fact, the dialogue in Chrono Trigger wasn’t the best or even particularly revealing of the characters’ natures. For some reason, I know that I kind of clicked with these youths and somehow belonged among them. I suppose this sentiment was common as Chrono Trigger is one of the most popular Japanese RPGs of all time.
I recall reading a book once where there was a secondary character that I was particularly fond of. When he clashed with the main character (as it was inevitable) my favorite secondary character was slain. I was crushed. Similar things happen in games today, like in Mass Effect where you’re forced to choose between Kaidan or Ashley in the later portion of the game and in Mass Effect 2 where if you weren’t thorough enough, you could lose all your friends and could even die because of a lack of support.
Characters help you develop an interest in the game. They pull you in and ask for your help. They give you a reason to come back and keep playing and they give you a sense that they don’t know what they’d do if you hadn’t come along. They become friends, enemies, companions to the end of the adventure. They might not like each other (see Miranda and Jack in Mass Effect 2 for a great example of this) but they’ll push past that if you ask them to (just tread lightly).
Games without a population just feel empty. Games without characters aren’t necessarily bad (see Solitaire or any number of casual games) but if you want a story, you need characters. If you want a GOOD story, you need deep characters. If you want a great game? You’ve got to have great characters.
Until next time, be a great character possessing great character.
P.S. “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you, and were helped by you, will remember you when forget-me-nots are withered. Carve your name on hearts and not on marble.” – Charles Spurgeon
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!
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.
Here’s my first In Progress/Impression combo piece! I was fortunate today to have an opportunity to play some of the new Splinter Cell game on PC. I must say that I’m very impressed (with a few caveats, of course). I don’t know if I’ll get back to playing it, but I’m still at my friend’s house and he’s finishing the ridiculously hard mission that I had to stop playing for a bit because I’ve been playing for hours and I really needed a break. Er… hence, the following text is very current to my play experience.
First of all, the story is really cool and the gameplay is very fluid. The game seems to reward cautious gameplay, which I do exceedingly well at because in some games I’m a very timid player. Especially in Splinter Cell.
Some points about the game are as follows:
- Sometimes when I right click to roll while I’m moving, Sam will instead go for the nearest cover and stick to it. It’s awkward sometimes but you get used to it, complain a bit, and move on.
- The guards and such are REALLY talkative. Extremely so. It gets annoying fast, unless you start responding to them, in which case it can be hilarious. (I do miss the classic “Who turned out the lights?” from Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory.)
- Speaking of guards, they’re really freaking skittish in this game. The slightest thing tips them off and they start talking A LOT. On the plus side, that makes them easy to predict because they try to figure out two things: 1) what just happened and 2) where did the problem come from. If you’re not careful, that group of guys clustering around where the light just went out will look to see if there’s a muzzle flare from your next attempt to take out a light. Smart, but annoying too. Understandable.
- When you’re in stealth mode, the screen goes black and white. After a while of this black and white, staring down at my shirt is actually a relief. *laughs* It’s green right now. Enemies remain in color and so do certain interactive objects.
- The mark-and-execute mechanic is a lot of fun but you have to be aware of the scenery. Plus, it’s a good idea to watch the patrol routes of the enemies to see if they’ll come across some obstructing scenery that will foul up your M&E. It’s really satisfying when you get to pull one off successfully. I enjoy the death-from-above move followed by a four kill M&E. Really cool.
- This game requires a lot of patience, tempered with occasional aggression. By that I mean, take your time, but don’t be a pansy when you need to get rid of some threats. Sam can take some hits (on the easiest difficulty level) and sometimes it’s preferable to take a hit or two rather than stop to fight (like for the latter half of the Lincoln Memorial stage). Other times it’s more important to stop, think, and then tackle the enemies (like for the latter half of the National Mall stage). Then you get the opportunity to just stand and fight off a bunch of bad guys (like at the end of the White Box stage… lots of bad guys there).
- The game operates on a checkpoint system. Thus, no more quick saves. This sucks because I’m such a save monkey.
- The guards use the F-word a lot. A LOT. I think this game is rated M, but I don’t recall because it was purchased on Steam by my friend.
- Never has there been a game series that has emphasized the destruction of light sources more than Splinter Cell. Just putting that out there.
So anyways, my overall impression of the game is that it’s really fun. The parking garage in the basement of some place I won’t mention is a real pain to get through. I managed to do the first little bit of it, but then I HAD to take a break or I was bound to get frustrated. My friend is currently trying to get through it, but keeps getting found. Who knew that shooting out lights in a parking garage was so frowned upon by security agents with shotguns? Every time he reloads from the last checkpoint, the lights come back and he’s forced to shoot them out again. His response: The janitors are really quick.
Yeah, lots of fun, good graphics and engaging gameplay with only a few hangups here and there.
Until next time, keep to the shadows.
P.S. For the record, I managed to write this whole thing while my friend was busy working on getting past that insanely hard parking garage level. He’s still working on it as of the time of this submission.