Sunday, 27 February 2011



hexAs many like minded gamers have done i have recently jumped into Rift. I’m Not going to bore you by trying to write a review of the game as so many bloggers do but I will tell you as honestly as possible what i think of the game, I’m going to do this as simply as possible.

Rift has borrowed all of the best things from every MMO ever made, its like the developers sat down and said ‘Hey lets use all the lessons learned from the MMO genre and make the best game possible’ in some places its shamelessly lifted from other games and in some places they have actively improved on an idea.  However the result is a rock solid game with a familiar feel that i can see being a massive and long term hit.  Rift is Excellent.

I loaded the game after buying it on something of a whim, ignoring my own rules about never buying a launch title and the first thing i saw was a traditional login kiosk (Launcher), now please remember i was going into this game with out playing the Beta so it was all new to me.

Rift-Official-HD-Intro-TrailerI patched up and hit the ‘Play’ button to be greeted with a rather nice video sequence that set the tone nicely.

The video reminded me of those blizzard Cut scenes and i rolled my eyes thinking that even thought i was entertained i had just dropped £29.99 for a WoW-Clone.

Then came the character creation screen I selected the Defiant Faction (after selecting the Blood-iron PvP Server) where i chose a human type (‘Eth’ i think they are called) and went on to choose a Cleric because i liked his outfit, not the best reason to choose a class i know but in any MMO i rarely keep my first character, i use my first for getting a feel for a game, then i role what i really want to play.

I was thrown in to a rather dingy mad science themed dungeon looking basement where i chatter to strangers and pocked things to see if they moved, none of this was what i was supposed to be doing but a popup that informed me some of my files where corrupt left me expecting a crash at any moment.

When my crash never occurred i did what every diligent MMO player would do and duly ignored the message and began following the objective arrow on my compass. i was given the option to select something called a ‘soul’ I had no idea what this meant so i selected a little icon of a tree and moved on wondering what that was all about.

I came to the outdoors and began whaling on sick looking bipeds who had a strange desire to kill me. the next hour was something of a blur as i smiled and giggles my way through the opening tutorial section, i realised quite quickly that this class was not for me. it was too serious and demanded more attention than i wanted to give it, i selected another soul this time was given a new ability, i had a twinkly little fairy pet why wanted to help me kill sick angry bipeds… the little fella irritated the hell out of me.

I did enjoy the last moment of the tutorial a great deal and came to understand that i had to go back in time to stop these events happening, the narrative was lost of me but i did end up ‘back’ in time where everything was pretty and clean. it was nice but i logged out and had a coffee.

Within an hour i was logged back in and this time knew i wanted to know more about this strange new world so i took the time to crank up the graphics and ‘recover’ my corrupt files to ensure maximum pleasure, the game instantly looked ten times nicer and the dynamic lighting was very impressive, there was none before so everything looked dull and lifeless. created a Mage this time a Bahmi and i made him look like a large angry purple Mr T and named him ‘Laird’ (my stock MMO character name) Laird and I then loaded up into the same dungeon my last character arrived in, this time i read every scrap of text and diligently mopped up every quest and again was impressed by the ending to the tutorial zone (this time correctly lit). I spent the next six hours questing and enjoying the wonderful environment that the game had to offer. When the first ‘rift’ opened almost above my head i was sure i was done for but many a helpful gamer came to aid me and thanks to a wonderful public group system we all got our due XP.

Rift does however have allot in common with other games, for instance the Public groups are taken almost verbatim from Warhammer online and the interface is a very refined version of the WoW UI.

The loot system and style of explanation has lots in common with LotRO as does the look of the buildings.

As a whole though the game benefits from this and at no point did i find its rehashed concepts tired or needless, they have as i said earlier improved on every aspect of the things they have nicked.

Rift is a wonderful system and has had a near perfect launch the real test is not in the mechanics of the game but in the world and story, will this place they have made be ‘full’ and rich enough to keep me away from my LotRO love affair? To be honest i don’t know but i will be keeping you informed.

If anyone in the EU is playing this game please tell me about your server and class as i may be jumping off this PvP one i am on and joining you as soon as the ganking starts Winking smile 

Also, before i forget, the queuing has been greatly over exaggerated, i only queued for 20 minuets to get into a ‘FULL’ PvP server and on launch week for a popular MMO that’s actually pretty good.

Riding off into the Azarothian sunset



fish[4]_thumb[1]So not long after I write a blog about getting to level 85 in World of Warcraft, I have now quit. I have to confess that I didn't even finish off the questing areas.

So what was it that pushed me to stop playing ? It was a combination of dungeons and gear. Now don't get me wrong WoW's new dungeons are great, the layouts are well done, bosses are interesting and they look good. However when I figured out how many times I would have to run the same dungeons, just to get good enough gear to run through the hard versions of the same dungeons, I was put off to say the least.

However running dungeons time and time again is not exactly new to me, and I have been happy to do it in previous WoW expansions, so what changed? I think I know. I think it is largely down to the dungeon finder. The dungeon finder is an amazing piece of software that puts you in a dungeon with a full group of people from across a dozen or so servers. This funky system take a lot of the hassle out of trying to find people for dungeons.

So what is my beef with a system that makes life easier? Well while it is true that it wow_dungeon_findertakes a lot of the hassle out of finding people to group with, it has also made finding fun people to play with harder. Basically you get teleported to a dungeon, you do it and everyone leaves. Most of the friends I ever made whilst playing WoW were through trying to find groups for dungeons. The dungeon finder has killed that for me, and WoW now feels more like a single player game.
I was very tempted to just go back and level up another new character, because there are still plenty of new areas I haven’t really explored, but that just seemed like delaying the inevitable. Humm now I am forced to wonder if I would ever be enticed to return back to WoW a 3rd time. I can’t see it but you never know.
I am beginning to think that WoW despite all it’s changes since I started playing, it hasn’t really moved away from the game I once loved to bits, and it is me that has changed in my perspectives and tastes. Either way Blizzard are missing out on their £9 from me.


Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Rift may drive people apart

fish[4]_thumb[1]As you will no doubt aware Rift recently had
their last beta, so me and the Lady Fleata jumped on to see what it is like in its launch state (in the moments when we had internet, but that is for another blog). Now any one who has listened to the podcast, or indeed read my previous blogs, will knows that I wasn't to impressed with Rift. However in the spirit of fairness I played a reasonable amount, so I share my powerful insights.

The first thing that should be apparent to a Rift player is that the have very firmly taken the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach. Anyone who has played World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online, or indeed any number of a dozen other games will instantly be familiar with how it plays. Yep we are talking the standard running around, picking up quests and killing 8 of a monster of some kind because some dude tells you to.

And Rift seems to do the basics pretty well, it looks good, the character creation is pretty detailed and even though it is a beta it was remarkably lag free. So what distinguishes Rift from from an increasingly crowded market? As far as I can tell two things.

41459_rift_2010-12-19_02-55-11-92_normalThe first is the the way you build you character. You pick one of four bog standard archetypes, the warrior, mage, rogue and cleric. you get the choice of fitting  three souls into your character, each soul being a unique set of abilities with their own talent tree very similar to that of WoW. Brilliantly you get to pick what skills you want from each tree. So if, for instance you want a healer that can raise a undead minion and fire of nature spells you can. It balances it by unlocking skills according to how many points you put into a specific tree, so you can specify down one soul, or take bits from all three. This system works pretty well and gives a remarkable amount of freedom.

21709The other way it distinguishes itself from other mmo's is through the rifts themselves.Essentially not to dissimilar from Warhammer's  public quests, a portal opens and monsters start pouring out and players in the area have to fight off the invasion. It automatically drops you in a raid group and rewards you for being part of the fight.

So is it worth a purchase? In my opinion no. The best thing about the game by far is the way that you can tailor your character. The amount of flexibility it gives its great, it is just a shame that it is bolted onto such a generic world. The quests I experienced where generally very bland and fairly dull.

Of the rifts themselves? Well they are kinda fun with everybody hitting stuff and trying to stay alive. Though I certainly wouldn't want to pay ten pounds a month for something that is kinda fun. In my opinion the rifts really need some active objectives to complete, to give players a focus rather just randomly hitting stuff.

I am a little disappointed by Rift not because it is bad, but because it is decidedly adequate game with some brilliant ideas.

Monday, 21 February 2011



hexI love to play LotRO but recently I have been at a loose end with my questing. My Lore Master is level 62 and is at an unfortunate loose end when it comes to quests, so i decided to try some Skirmishes, I have not done all of them yet because i have been preoccupied with the questing.

My dry spell in questing is probably my own fault, I have yet to do some of the book quests which seams to have resulted in a block with the Mirkwood content.

Skirmishes are remarkably flexible so i choose to do some at level 59 (making it a little easier on myself) on a ‘solo’ setting. Then, after failing repeatedly I tweaked my soldier (AI assistant). I chose a Herbalist and spent some time earning Skirmish Marks (rewards for doing skirmishes) to flesh out her skills.

About six failure's later I began to get the hang of multitasking my way through the large selection of very naughty people trying to kill me.

The skirmish systems remind me allot of the missions in Guild Wars and the sense of accomplishment when the mission goes well is also very similar.

For anyone who has not already tried the skirmishes i suggest starting with the defence of the prancing pony (its really fun)

My only negative thought is that the skirmishes are a little too long, they could do with being ten minuets shorter on average.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Are we there yet



fish[4]_thumb[1]So last night was the conclusion of journey that I was not sure I actually wanted to take again. Yeah I managed to get my new World of Warcraft character, the paladin, to max level, which is now 85. It has taken a good two and a half months, and for the majority of it, it has been very enjoyable.

Now I suppose there are two pertinent questions that I have to ask myself. Do I want to continue to play the game, and would I recommend it to someone else. Because I am a coward I am going to answer the second question first.

If you have never played WoW before then I would definitely recommend it, this is n753070250_4506695_8417doubly so it you don’t play mmo’s at all. The levelling up to level 58 is a lot of fun, hugely entertaining quests that seamlessly funnel you from area to area. Hopefully by the time you are 58 you will know whether you want to continue our not, as the levelling from 58 to 80 is no where near as much fun. To be honest I am tempted to recommend just picking up a copy of the original game and not to buy the expansions until you are certain you want to continue.

If you have a level 80 you haven't touched in ages it is also probably worth getting Cataclysm. You can go from 80 to 85 in less than a month and the new areas range from very good to excellent. Perhaps it is just me that is like this, but in an mmo I really enjoy questing, being part of the world and a greater story, and the Cataclysm expansion really satisfy that itch.

Now I guess I have to man up and give an answer to my first question. I think on the short term I will continue to play, if only because I want to see the remainder of the new areas quest content. That in itself is a testament to the quality of the new quests. Beyond that?

I have to confess that the thought of grinding dungeons and then raids to get gear isn't very appealing. Don't get me wrong it can be very enjoyable, it is more the repetition of the same dungeons that is a bit off putting. I was in that groove a good while ago and I don't really have any desire to get back to that. To be honest there is probably a greater temptation to start a new character again, just to see some more of the new content, but that seems a bit like delaying the inevitable.

Sorry I haven't really answered that question for you have I. Tell you what, I will let you know in a month or so.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Global agenda, triumphant with age?


hexI have had something of a love/hate relationship with Global Agenda over the last year. at first, i loved it, i played it allot but eventually the shine wore off as i moved back to more traditional MMO’s, then it became a box purchase/free to play game and they added a the first ‘zone’ (and still the only one) then they re balanced the game and couldn't get a match, then i couldn't get it to load after another patch. but still, somewhere in there was an excellent game that i wanted to play, so i decided to leave it for a few months,

The first time i returned to the game i just couldn’t figure out the crafting system at all and the vast sandy area was far too hard to i left after a few hours in a huff.

The second time i returned to the game the crafting seemed more relevant and a little easier to understand but i had to rebuy all my skills  and couldn't get a match. then there was that sandy area looming over my gameplay.

this brings us to present day, well present month i suppose, this is the month that i have rediscovered the joy of Global Agenda, that sandy area is where i muck about while i wait for matches to start and those crafting mods make sense to me now, the XP curve is more friendly (if still a little obnoxious, i don’t think this game needs traditional levels) then when the PvP does start its more often than not played by consummate professionals who know how to play their class properly and gone are the trolling children who want to run about screaming down their mics.

I think that the wonderful game inside is finally being left to spread its wings and any future patches only serve to shine this pseudo MMO. finally i can tell people that its time to come back to the fight as Global Agenda is finally out of its unofficial beta and is a game worthy of your attention.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Movies that you SHOULD see.

In my experience there two types of movie, Good ones and bad ones, but some times a movie, good or bad transcends these barriers and becomes ingrained in the social consciousness of the entity known as  ‘pop-culture’

So, in order to aid some people i know and some i don’t i have compiled a list of movies that you should see, some good, some bad but all parodied, quoted and loved much.

Please remember this list is in no particular order.

Indiana Jones, All of them.

indiana-jonesIndiana Jones movies are wonderful, every movie shows our pal Indie doing stupid things in the name of archaeology. the franchise has been referenced in everything from Family Guy to Clerks and inspired movies like National Treasure and some would even argue that Indie’s legend inspired Lara Craft to raid some tombs.

The latest Movie was however a shocking example of how not to make an Indiana Jones movie. While fitting nicely into the look and feel of the Indie universe the plot was shockingly bad and Shia labeouf’s character was completely superfluous to the story and served only to irritate. however even with all these faults this movie should be seen.


Napoleon Dynamite.

10202946This movie is stupid. the plot is almost none existent, the acting is dubious and the direction is awful. however all of this is intentional as it serves to make the antics of the characters some how funnier.

Its about a socially awkward family in a socially awkward town all trying to get along. There is also the funniest dance sequence of all time at the end. If you have ever seen a guy wearing a tee shirt with the slogan ‘Vote for Pedro’ or heard some one shout “Tina, Come get some ham” then you simply have to watch this movie its just very very funny not not exactly ‘good’ in the traditional sense of the word.



clerksClerks was the first movie from director Kevin Smith its as close to what you may call a ‘home made’ film as possible it was self funded and filmed in the shop where Kevin Smith worked. with only two or three paid actors and a collection of friends its a really great movie with an interesting story behind it as well as being the first movie from a now legendary director who’s work is excellent but appears to be a total douche bag in person.

The movie is black and white and the quality is ropy, this gives you a sense of discovery the first time you see it and sets it apart from other ‘life style; movies of the 90’s. its really hard to say anything bad about Clerks.


The Karate Kid (Original not god awful remake).

KARATE KIDThe Karate kid recently made its way back into the public eye when Jackie Chan and the spawn of Will Smith butchered the story. the karate kid is a classic movie that has dated well. With very little actual violence and a focus on personal development and discipline this movie is great, really, its excellent. so go and find a DVD. But i warn you, do not watch the remake.

Also, as you watch this movie you will come to see the mentor character Mr Miyagi as the legend that he is and finally have a reference for all those Family Guy references.


Star Wars (Original 3).

esbIts a shame that i have to add this to the list. Star Wars is the movie that defined a generation of science fiction fans. Its the single most important Science fiction movie franchise in history. Watch the original movies, there is no reason not to, and at some point you will come to the realisation that ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ is the best one, and then you can argue that point with heretics who like 'A New Hope’ Better.

If however you watch the greatest sci-fi movies of all time and don’t think that ‘Empire’ is the best one then you are wrong. feel free to argue this point as much as you like, that is kind of the point after all. Oh, The newer three movies are not so good, another argument that your welcome to engage in.


Full Metal Jacket.

Full-Metal-Jacket-DVD.320130322Strangely I don’t really like this movie, however it is a pop-culture gem that everyone i know has seen at least once and have given a reasonable amount of thought as it was one of the first movies to tackle the topic of a soldiers mental turmoil. its also funny in some places and is worth a few hours of your life.

This movie has been referenced and parodied more times than i can count so its probably best to know what tis all about.



tron_1982_movie_poster_01People have mixed feelings on Tron, I think that that its one of the best movies ever made but lots of people disagree. The visual style of the movie is unique even now its the only movie that looks the way it does. The story is strong but in places its not perfect however it is a great movie that has inspired the visual look of many video games as well as inserted the idea of sentient computing to the public consciousness. watch with an open mind and a pack of aspirin because the neon can get a little overpowering in places. the sequel is a masterwork, that is if you can appreciate the original movie, if not then you should probably skip it.



stargateStargate is another science fiction masterwork that is often over looked but is the reason for the SG1 franchise that ran for a very long time. the original movie is not very much like the series but i do mean that in a good way.

Kurt Russell is surprisingly great in this movie and that maybe the biggest shock but if you have ever seen an episode of SG1 you really should know what Jack O’neil is supposed to be like.

strangely this movie is not what i consider to be traditional Science fiction its more like a war movie in places and then more like a historical recreation in others. its like ben-hur with space ships and marines.


Wrath of Kharn.

khanThere are some good Star Trek movies and some that can only be described as total crap, but Wrath of Kharn is by far one of the best. its a classic movie that is about two skilled warriors fighting a personal battle against each other using space ships and friends to fight the battle.

Its the best movie of its kind and it should be watched attentively. if you can get hold of the directors edition DVD then all the better, the movie is the same but the extras are great and this movie only making of documentary's will satisfy your itch.


These are just a handful of the movies that i consider ‘must see’ I’m sure i can top up this list when i have more time but for now you should go and watch any movie that you have not already seen, aslo feel free to throw in any recommendations you have.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Press Tab, it is awesome



fish[4]So I recently brought a Samsung Galaxy Tab (for my birthday, I treated myself). Now this isn't the first Android Tablet I have had, having previously purchased a generic 7 inch Android 2.1 tablet off Amazon for £160. Now the original tab I had was heavy, under powered and unresponsive. It also broke rather easily, which 412e6qNp5AL._SL500_AA300_is partly why I decided to give Samsung my money.


You see while the original tablet showed me the potential off the android tablet,it couldn't quite live up to what I had hoped for. So I have spent over twice as much on a tablet that is not miles away in terms of cost compared to the entry level ipad. So why not just buy an ipad you may ask, and I respond with one simple word, Itunes. Itunes, in my opinion, is a horrific piece of software, that is only half a step away from a virus (if that).


google-androidSo am I impressed by Samsung’s efforts? Oh hell yes. Let us start with the improvements over the pad I had previously. First of there is the matter of the battery, my old tablet would struggle to last much above 5 hours, however the galaxy seems to be closer to 24 hours (i have been hammering it since I have brought it).


The screen is also lovely, very responsive and quick. The device itself is quick and runs very smoothly. In theory, power wise my old pad and the galaxy are very similar. However there really is no comparison, samsung really have put together a lovely piece of kit.


Do I have any criticisms? Well yes and no. I have absolutely no issues with the tab, it is light, quick and very easy to use. The only real issue I have is the lack of tablet specific apps, as most of apps on the market are designed to work on phones. Still it does work exceptionally well and aside from playing games, I imageshave barely touched my pc since getting my galaxy.


I know this has been a bit fan boyish but it really is very nice. Plus I get to have a lovely tablet without being one of those pretentious ipad owners, who lets be honest  all come across as twats.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Role play the seven dwarfs



fish[4]Role-playing is pretty popular in mmo's, but I have been thinking that a lot of people are perhaps not taking things far enough. I mean yes it is all well and good pretending to be an alcoholic dwarf, but the role playing never seems to have a bearing on the character.

I should explain, I suffer from fairly regular bouts of insomnia, so it is not unusual for me to get by on a couple off hours sleep a night. Now generally I don't let this bother me, but sometimes I get hugely tired or grumpy.

Now here is the thing, a lot of us spend a great deal of time in the company of our cf5fe_ORIG-grumpy_dwarfgame characters. Now these characters never get tired, sick or grumpy, and maybe it would be a little more interesting if they did.

Can you imagine having too put off doing that raid, because your character has the flu. Ok so maybe not the most practical of suggestions, but it might at least be fun to role play it, at least for a bit. Imagine just hanging out at the pub instead of going questing because they feel a bit sick. Or just sitting your toon in the toilet because they have a dodgy stomach, because they at some bad crab (every mmo out there asks you to get crab meat at some point).

Well irregardless of what you think, my next character is going to be an insomniac  that sometimes drinks to much to help him sleep (nothing like me at all).

I tried Star Trek Online



hexAfter literally months of intent i have finally downloaded a Star Trek online trail. The download its self was quite a large file sizes i assume, from the size that even though its marked as a trial client that it is in fact pretty much the whole game. The trial has no time restraints and gives you a fairly hefty chunk of the opening game.

The character creation is simple but satisfactory i chose a Trill character. and grinned to myself as i selected my uniform.

The original and only Mr Spock gives a wonderful voice over about what it means to be in Star Fleet and some blah blah blah later you start your game.

The game is in many ways a fan boy paradise, 188366you open on a space station (or ship I’m not sure really) that is under attack from the Borg, like any Star Fleet officer worth his salt you quickly spring to action and run about the station shooting Borg drones and messing with important looking panels, that is after a conversation with the commander in his big chair.

Then after some more running about, and some destruction of Borg property you get on a transporter pad (that’s very over sized) and next thing you know your flying a space ship (impressive looking 3rd person view not a command chair on bridge as I had hoped)

Please be aware that this this is over simplifying a very sold plot sequence. I must say i did squeal to myself when i saw a run-about in a hanger and my first moments commanding a ship where very entertaining.

The problems i had with the game cropped up very quickly. i was given a phaser rifle as soon as i started my first away mission and spent the time shooting Borg’s i realised that this would not be a game about diplomacy and discovery and would be  about shooting things and getting loot.

facepalm_picard2Then when I eventually got to a station (a very traditional earth style mushroom looking station) i had the immersion breaking slap in the face of a large display that ready ‘happy anniversary star trek online’ and then after face-palming in the style of Captain Pickard. i moved on to an entertaining party that was making some noise just down the hall, to find that the party was being thrown by none other than Q… who apparently thinks there is no point being omnipotent if you can’t have a little fun.

I think that the game is fragmented and the more traditional ‘away mission’ type sequences feel detached from the space combat almost like i as playing two different games. as for the MMO aspect, it felt almost an after through to the strong single player experience i was having, this is becoming a trend for Cryptic Games though, they are more co-op than MMO and on a whole they have not got the sense of environment that you get from other games, each area feels more like a ‘map’ than a part of a world or in this case galaxy.

The game is great looking and handles well but there are issues. I think STO will fair much better as as free to play game, and at this point we can all see that that’s where the game is heading but even as a free to play title I’m not sure i can forgive the immersion breaking events that Cryptic seem so happy to insert into the game.

I’ve seen allot of star trek over the years and have loved deep space nine and the original series but its rare that star trek is about shooting and running, its never about loot and its always about the human condition and the constant striving for self improvement and peace, this game misses that point completely. i was in the end left unimpressed.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Headed for a crash



fish[4]Supply and demand, it is a simple concept. People have stuff the want to pay for, and other people supply those items at a charge. There is a problem with this basic premise in that sometime people produce way more of an item than there is demand for, and subsequently go out of business.

This has happened before with things like the housing market, and I think that we are perhaps not too far away from it happening with the games market. We have already seen the respected developers like Realtime Worlds and Bizarre Creations go under/be closed, and they are far from the only ones. I fear that while the games market has undoubtedly increased, we are getting to a game saturation point.

This, when combined with the pure amount of money a lot of games now cost APB_Which_Side_Will_You_Chose_by_Eludajaeto make, it is only too easy for game companies to fail, like the aforementioned Realtime Worlds. So when publishers are pumping out games after games to an expanded market, are they all headed for a fall? I think that currently the volume of games being produced is getting to the point of outstripping the game demand.

I think that this is a case well exampled with the free to play model, which I can see a lot of free 2 play games failing in the next couple of years. The big titles have done well and will probably continue to do well, however the smaller titles could well go under, especially as people seem reluctant to actually pay money to free 2 play games. This has only recently been seen in THQ shutting down Company of Heroes Online (though Company of Heroes Onlinedevelopers Relic are fine), in the face of profit losses.

Course I could be wrong, however when some talented developers (ok and probably some shit ones) started closing I won’t say i told you so (ok you know I will).