Saturday, 21 December 2013

I am a Virgin no more

Bit of a rant. Have been with Virgin for 15 years (from back when they were NTL) for my broadband. I have currently got the 120mb package and earlier today I, without even thinking of it, downloaded a 22gb file. Only took about half an hour. I pretty much stopped looking at download sizes a few years ago. This was a Saturday afternoon. Not long after we note that our internet has slowed to a crawl.

So we phoned Virgin and they advised that as we had downloaded more than 17500 mb in an hour they have capped our internet by 75%. This is completely different details to what is on Virgins fair usage page. After a very long call to Virgin they advised that my internet can't fixed until the lock comes off in 90 minutes and that the fair usage applies evenings and the majority of the weekend 11 to 11pm Saturday and Sunday. I am a heavy user, hell even the Virgin guy confirmed that I downloaded 800 odd gigs in the last month. The only advice they have is to leave downloads on overnight. 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Wii U is for you

Not too long ago I was called a gaming hipster. I took some offence to this. Sure I like the odd indie game but I play plenty of mainstream games. So with the launch of the next gen consoles, I couldn't help but pick up a new box to sit under my TV. So obviously I bought a Wii U, fuck, I am a gaming hipster. Oh well i can console (pun definitely intended) myself with the fact that, unlike the next gen consoles, there are are good exclusive games on the Wii U.
This is the impressions bit then I guess. The Wii U impresses. The gamepad is genuinely a thing of beauty, it is not too heavy, the screen is sharp and from what I have played the screen is wonderfully integrated into most games. I have to confess that so far a lot of the time the Wii U has been streaming LoL games on twitch. That in itself is a recommendation, in that it's internet browser seems significantly better than either Sony or Microsoft efforts (heh including IE on the pc).

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Am I an addict?

I finished Dark Souls, after what felt like literally days of play, oh wait, it was days of play. When I managed to defeat the final boss and the unsurprisingly curt final cut scene kicked in, it was one of the most cathartic gaming moments I have ever had. It wasn't because I now understood the game fully (I don't even after 160ish hours), or even that the plot is fully revealed. I think I finally got one of the biggest highs gaming has ever given me. I am under no illusion, I think I maybe an addict. Humm this Dark Souls blog is turning a bit, erm Dark.

I have recently mocked my lovely co-blogger for being, well, a bit casual now, to the extent that he said to me that about 80% of his gaming was done with me. I thought that there is no way I can game that little. Hell following his blog about Moba's I sort of realised that recently I have been in search of greater and greater hits. Hence the Dark Souls and me playing LoL. The harder and more complicated a game is the better the satisfaction, and the greater the high for me. That's why I think I have struggled with most multiplayer shooters, they have ruined the satisfaction of doing something awesome, with quick respawns and constant unlocks. Getting a new scope for your weapon in call of battlefield is of little joy compared to nabbing the game winning kill in a game of Counterstrike.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

I miss the original Guild Wars. I miss the environments, I miss the characters, I miss the Heroes and henchmen that I had access to. I miss choosing skills from a monstrous pool of options. Most of all I miss the gameplay.

In Guild Wars I would sit in a town or outpost and throw an ‘LFG’ into chat then just wait for the invites to ensue. Once I was in my group we would run a mission or clear an area (whatever the plan was) then part ways, occasionally I would ‘get along’ with someone and end up adding them to my buddy list.

Guilds were great groups of people and friends, who would usually be willing to help you level a character or finish a chapter. A group of guild buddies entering a PvP arena was a force to be reckoned with.

Guild Wars 2 is a different beast though. There are no pickup groups except for end game missions. The levelling system (if you can call that abomination a system) prevents you from having a great time storming a low level area.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Another adventure in the Linux promised land

I have 430 (approx) games on steam. That’s quote a few by my estimation. Of those 430 games, 90 (approx) work in Linux. Back when I was a kid if I had 90 games I would have gone bat poop crazy, but now as a jaded old blogger I don’t look at the 90 games that do work but the 340 that don’t.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

MOBA's may not be for me.

The genre of games known as MOBA (Massively Online Battle Arena) is something that I am quite new to. The first few times I tried League of Legends I found it confusing, difficult and unsatisfying. In fact the first few times I didn't even finish the match before getting annoyed and exiting in protest.

Then my Blog buddy Mr fish became somewhat entranced by the LoL E-Sport scene then as these kinds of things tend to go he began playing the game.As you can imagine it was only a short time until I was sucked into playing his new obsession with him. Once I had gotten over the initial learning curve and went from terrible to not as terrible I actually began to enjoy the experience in a purely curiosity driven way.

Since my initial LoL Boot Camp I have found that it’s DOTA2 that is the game that I like best out of the selection. It’s brutal and unforgiving nature forces the player to give the game 100% attention while the vastly different and 100% unlocked champion selection gives you real options and differing play experiences.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

It is Beyond me how Two Souls got good reviews

I don’t do game reviews, however having just finished Beyond Two Souls I got thinking about reviews. Now there has been a fair amount of, well flaming, of late regarding game reviews on various sites. Obviously gamespot had major issues not to long ago regarding GTA5, by giving it “only” a 9. I won’t rehash that story but by drawing attention to the failing of the game, people on the internet became incensed. Had I had the job of reviewing the game, I would have given it somewhere between a 6-7. Because that’s my opinion of the game. If you want to know more I have blogged about this here.

Now generally whilst I use reviews of games as a guideline to what games i buy/rent, if a big name game is released that I am excited by gets a bad review, I would happily concede that the game is bad. A prime example of this being Resident Evil 6, which, as I loved 4 and 5, I was super excited by. So when the game was released and was reviewed poorly, I was disappointed in the game, not angry at the reviewer. And when I finally got to play it, I found that the reviews were correct, it was a horrible quicktime mess.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The power of Bill

Bill's hat, doesn't sound very exotic does it. however it is one of the rarer Team Fortress 2 items, as the only way someone got it, is if they pre ordered Left for Dead 2, which I did. This was back in the day before TF2 became a free to play game, hell this was couple of years before steam trading even became a thing.

But now TF2 has a whole economy to it, with supply and demand operating as it does (or in theory should) in the real world. And as with real economy, the rarer a thing is, the more it is sought after. To be clear, I don't play that much TF2 and have no interest in cosmetic items in any way, regardless of the game. So about once a week I would get someone request to be a friend, and I would accept, knowing that these people had no desire to play games with me.

And within a couple of minutes I would get a message saying hello, would I like to trade Bill's hat (and occasionally other items). Some would pretend that they were new to the game and didn't know it's value, some would offer vast amounts of TF2 hats and weapons, and some would offer a cheap game. And I would always reply stating that I would only trade for the game of my choice (whatever I wanted at the time). 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Is everything better with sharing?

Me and the other half got into the Steam family sharing beta, so I thought I would share (pun totally intended) my thoughts. Once you have activated the beta you have a new option in the settings, to authorise the computer. On my computer I logged into my wife's account, authorised the account and then logged back into my account. Honestly it is a slightly cumbersome way of doing it, but it works and it is still in Beta. Once authorised you can go to your library and chose between your games and the other user's, or indeed choose to show all games in both Libraries.

So I installed half a dozen of her games, such as the excellent rogue-like Don't Starve, that I don't own, and she did the same. She installed Civ 5 off my account and started playing it, curious to see what would happen, I booted up a game and she got a pretty polite notification giving her a couple of minutes to finish what she was doing as I needed my games. It seems that sharing is as considerate and well thought out as we have come to expect from Valve.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

I must be wrong about GTA5

I am wrong, it is the only logical explanation. I, like seemingly every other person in the western world, have been playing GTA5. I have played about 6 hours worth (Minor Spoilers incoming) and have just completed the first mission for the Fed. And I must be wrong, because what feels like a billion people absolutely love this game, and I don't. Hell I am struggling to find the motivation to play any more. So I am going to try and explain why I don't really like it. But don't get angry with me, because as I have said, I am wrong. If millions of people are saying it is a masterpiece, including many people whose opinions I respect and admire, then it must be me.

First off I have no beef with the visuals or sound design, both of which are top knotch. It is probably the most well realised open world game I have ever seen, with only Red Dead Redemption coming close (which is a far more empty world). However it is what the game offers me to do that I find unengaging. I will say this upfront, I am not a good driver in video games, and there is a fair amount of driving in this game. Hell the first Heist I took part in turned out to be little more than a motocross race. I don't find the driving fun or enjoyable, just a means to get the characters from mission to mission. Not that I find the shooting significantly more interesting either, taking the fairly standard 3rd person cover route. It works perfectly well (better than previous games), but is not hugely engaging, more serviceable than fun.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

It doesn't make my Soul Dark

A couple of months ago I decided to give Dark Souls, which had been staring at me from my Steam list since I brought it on a sale, a decent go. Since then I have racked up a total of about 75 hours, and the end is not in sight. Suffice to say that I really like it. I love the fact that it doesn't coddle me, the fact that I can play for an hour and not make any progress but still learn or see something new, hell I love the fact that I spent a good chunk of time going the "wrong" way.

There is one thing that i do find odd though. Dark Souls is hard, perhaps not quite as hard as it's reputation suggests, but definitely very hard. I have literally had cases where I have spent 10 minutes getting to a boss, and then die within seconds (those bastard gargoyles took about 100 tries). The weird thing for me is that this didn't and still doesn't, make me angry. You see many tales on the internet of people breaking their controller in fury over Dark Souls, however I find playing the game very cathartic, peaceful even. Once I am playing it is very relaxing, almost trance like. Just me versus the game, both of us trying to kill the other. And the reward for me succeeding is to find out what's behind that corner, another little nugget of the story or just the satisfaction of doing what seemed impossible.  

Here is why the 2DS is a genius move

Not too long I bought a 3DS, the XL model to be precise (I have huge hands for a man who is not particularly large) and Fire Emblem Awakening. It was pretty gratifying to discover that both the game and the device were as awesome as I have been told. Since then I have been slowly working through the DSi/3DS (never owned a DS before) back catalogue, discovering that there are some pretty damn phenomenal games on the platform. I am sure a lot of you are already aware of this and are happy 3DS owners.

Which brings me to the 2DS. On face value, why would you buy the, lets be honest, fairly unattractive console, when if you shop around you can get the full 3D model for not a lot more (only paid £120 for mine). Because sometimes £30 difference can turn something from a must buy into a don't want/can't afford. So while the 2DS is very much a poor man's (or more likely child's) 3DS, it is a great move by Nintendo. The reason being that, 3D or not, there are loads of great games that the 2DS will play.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

So Diablo 3 is pretty good then.

The week that Diablo 3 came out I rushed out and grabbed a copy from my local store in something of a frenzy. After some considerable play time logged I decided that I didn't like it. A decision that was wrong because after jumping into the second play through with the increased difficulty I realised that Diablo 3 is bloody brilliant. 

The first play through is a very easy ride, one that is so easy that its less of a game and more of a 'click and move on' experience, no different to a children's web game designed to teach mouse control.  It bored me. the second play through though is an unforgiving torrent of abuse and death. one that is satisfying and rewarding and it only gets better from there on.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Which is more important, gameplay or the game world?

Having been playing Remember Me, I have discovered that I have a dilemma.  As a game it is,  at best, average,  with only a couple of new ideas (the really interesting one only being used twice so far in the space of about four hours). However I am really enjoying the world and the story.  The environments are beautiful realisation of a future "neo" Paris, and the tale of memories and their manipulation as a form of totalitarian control is fascinating.
But in the back of my mind I know that the combat (which is pulling off punching combo's again and again) and the climbing (firmly in the Uncharted mold) aren't very good or original.  But I am enjoying it because it is a different world that is great to see and experience. So where do you draw the line between gameplay and game story. Recently The Last of Us received a great deal of praise, and I understand why.  Like Remember Me it is an evocative world telling an absorbing story,  but also like Remember Me the game mechanics aren't very original.  The Last of Us fairs better because it's mechanics are more solid and satisfying than Remember Me's, but still not a massive step from what other games have done previously.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Choices for game rental now that Love Film has stopped

For those of you that missed the news, Love Film have stopped offering game rentals as of the beginning of August. Their reasoning behind this is not to clear, but it pissed me off no end. I have been using them for about 5 years and they have always been really good. And in the space of 5 years I have rented just 1 film off them, as previously blogged I don't really watch movies/tv. So I decided to check out my other options a few weeks ago and see how they stack up. This only applies in the UK, and I should point out that none of the below services offer a online movie streaming service like Love Film did, this is (as always for me) about the games.

There are three services that I could find, Blockbuster, Boomerang and Paramount Games Rental. I started a free trial with all three of them at the same time and put The Last of US at the top of my rental time in all three cases. I will go through the ups and downs of each but I ultimately went with Paramount. I should point out that I was with Boomerang when I left them to join Love Film and I have used Blockbuster before.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Maybe the Last but not the best

I recently finished The Last of Us, and it was good, however I didn't think it was anywhere near as good as the internet has made out. I have been pondering this disconnect between what I think and what others do, and I think I have sussed it. The Last of Us is, gameplay wise,  very solid, however it doesn't actually innovate very much. In fact the only really original idea is the way clickers use sound not sight to find you.

Don't get me wrong the production values on the game are astonishing,  it looks and sounds amazing. However I could never quite shake the feeling that I was playing a movie, and the options to deviate from the path laid out by the developers are fairly limited. A fact that the gameplay is restricted by only providing the player with limited options at any given time, due to lack of resources such as ammo or crafting materials.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The secret PC gaming meta game

I have recently been reminded of the meta game that all PC gamers go through. that makes PC gaming fairly unique (for better or worse). I am talking about the why won't it load/why is it crashing meta game. Now this is a game that consoles skip pretty much entirely, And that is undeniably a good thing, however I personally really like this game. 

I like it because as frustrating as it is to have a game that won't work properly, the satisfaction you get after you figure out why it not working and fix it is remarkable. Hell it is akin to defeating a boss in Dark Souls. Sometimes the solution is easy, my wife had to reinstall Borderlands 2 to get it to stop crashing. Or hard, I spent days tweaking Sleeping Dogs to stop it stuttering out frames. Or at the moment impossible (I have yet to figure out why Max Payne 1 or 2 refuse to load).

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Defiance is standing alone for me

I finally got around to trying Defiance, rented it on the PS3, as I didn't think it was worth buying on the PC (suspect I was right on that one). Played about 90 minutes before I couldn't stomach any more. After a lengthy patching process I created my characters, the creator is fairly limited in options but I have seen far worse. After which you are thrown into a lengthy cut scene where the two main characters from the TV show make an appearance. Your character is an “Ark Hunter” which I gather is some sort of treasure hunter out to find old technology. If this sounds a little like Vault Hunter from Borderlands, then it should. There are quite a few similarities between the two games, such as lootable weapons and regenerating shields..

Once I finally get to play the game, I find that the world is drab to say the least. Multiple shades of brown and grey, and this colour palette applies to pretty much everything in the game. This leads to one of my biggest complaints about the game. The enemies are often indistinguishable from the backgrounds, to the point where I would start getting shot at and have to look at the minimap for red dots to figure out where the enemy is. This does not lead to fun.

Will Dragon Age have other people in it.

With more details coming out regarding  the new Dragon Age game,  I started pondering about the inevitable multiplayer mode that EA will insist on shoehorning in.  Being optimistic I have decided to predict how the multiplayer will work.  Who know it might be good, after all Mass Effect 3's multiplayer turned out to be pretty good fun.

I can see it going one of two ways.  The first being a Xcom style one on one game, where you chose from a selection of characters from a pool and you have to take out the other players characters to win.  This could easily use cordoned off areas from the single player game, so you could have cover and blind corners. Potentially this could lead to clever mixing of characters abilities, such as a Mage lighting an archers arrows,  leading your opponents into traps, perhaps even having environmental hazards. I think it could be potentially pretty cool.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Rate me and I will Berate you

I have recently been reminded of how annoyed I get at being rated.  I have just played through  Gears of War Judgement, which is a decent sequel, of the not really as good as previous games type. They haven't made many changes to the gears formula,  but one of the few they made annoyed me a great deal. Instead of having a grand sweeping narrative they broke the game into 15-20 minute sections,  and then they assigned a score to each section, with the aim to get up to 3 stars per section, yes, like Angry Birds. So they manage to take a grand sweeping (if massively violent) narrative and turn it into a score attack game. 
                                                                                                                                                                  I as a gamer I don't respond well to being told that I am playing a game wrong,  and that is exactly what this was. You may well be having fun and then the game happily points out that you really should have gotten a couple more headshots and you were knocked down one too many times to get the 3 stars.  Well screw you game,  it is my choice I will play the way I want and not let you put me off having fun.  I had a very similar feeling when they introduced mission completion percentages into the Assassin's Creed games with Brotherhood. The whole idea essentially saying that, well yes you haven't failed,  but you haven't done it properly,  have you.  

Innovation of Goliaths.

After watching the big reveal about the XBone, and the Play station 4 I have been left underwhelmed by the offerings for this next generation of console. Don’t fear though, I’m not going to write a blog bashing the creative choices of multi-billion dollar corporations, that would be redundant.

To hold hate or contempt for Sony or Microsoft for doing what they do best would be like hating a monkey for eating banana’s, or give a cow crap for eating grass.

The offerings from both companies are a hot topic all over the internet but what no one has discussed is that the problem does not sit on the shoulders of the console manufacturer but with the developers of software.

Gaming has been stagnating for a while now with most triple ‘A’ developers churning out ‘safe’ bets. EA are a great example of a company afraid to venture far from the path. It wasn't always like this though. For a brief shining moment EA stood tall with new ideas like Dead Space and Mirrors Edge. Then quickly they reverted back to old habits like Madden.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

The 'Lets Play' battle.

“Let’s play” video’s have been a big part of gaming culture for years. Everything from super short game tips, to walk through video’s to massive play sessions. Some have an entertaining commentary others are just straight game video’s with nothing added. Twitch is a website dedicated to video’s of people playing games. You really could argue that it’s an integral part of gaming culture and its been this way since we were technically able to record and stream games.

At this point software like OBS (open broadcast software) and FF Show make it a simple process to record a game along with another video source (such as your face) and then record that for YouTube or broadcast live to places like Twitch.

Friday, 7 June 2013

You can't be friends with Microsoft

Microsoft have just confirmed some more details about the Xbox One, most of which aren’t exactly great. Very limited options to lend and resell you games, regular internet connection require and some pretty hefty restrictions on what you can do with games you buy. I think all these are pretty appalling, especially as I am a regular renter of games, which presumably will no longer be a option.

I have no desire to defend Microsoft, none of these things are good as a consumer, and I certainly won’t be picking up a Xbone. However I have to wonder if we should be surprised by these choices. After all Microsoft is a business beholden to it’s shareholders to make money, and they obviously think that using these methods will ensure that they will make more money.I think that sometimes people, wonderful, enthusiastic, passion people, forget that companies aren’t there friends. I am writing this right now on Google Drive, because it, like the majority of Google's services, is fab. It is easy to forget that Google is trying to make money out of me (in large part by watching what I am doing).

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Guild Wars 2. Some level 80 observations. (Part 1)

Guild Wars 2 is a fun game. I play it a lot and recently hit level 80 with my main character (a Male Human Mesmer.) I don’t feel like replaying with one of my many alternate characters just yet as with the personal/living story still going on I can't help but feel like hitting the level cap is far from ‘finishing’ the game.

With some MMO’s maximum level means that no matter how many quests are left you pursue raiding or PvP for endgame but with Guild Wars 2 and its single quest line structure hitting level cap means very little. There is still the same to do no as there was when I was level 79.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Does sex sell games?

Having now watched two of the Tropes in video gaming series, which should be at least interesting to everyone unless you are a sexist asshole (if you are, piss off). I realised that the writing and questing in mmo’s is is actually pretty none misogynistic compared to the general game market. From WoW to Neverwinter to LOTRO it is all remarkably gender neutral plotting. Hell half of the Guild Wars 2 narrative super team Destiny’s Edge are female.

It made me feel a little less ashamed of being a bloke when I thought of this, but then the internet kicked me in the balls with the reminder that mmo’s can be shamefully sexist. MMO armour for females even in games like GW2 and WoW can be pretty damn skimpy, and then I remembered the likes of Scarlet Blade exists. This being a game that takes the sex sells approach of having entirely female characters with giant boobs wearing pretty much nothing. Not that I am convinced that with games sex does sell.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Going Home to the Convention

Last weekend I returned for the third time to the MCM Expo in London. For those that don't know this is Britain's version of the American Comic Conventions, and certainly the biggest event of the kind in the UK. As I sat there drinking a coffee, watching people in all kinds of costumes  come and go, I had an epiphany. The general populous may think it is odd that people dress up is comic, anime, game and movie characters, I came to the conclusion that those "normal" people  were odd because they didn't. I looked around and I could see more joy and happiness than I have seen anywhere else.

I think what I was really seeing on those happy faces was a passion and enthusiasm that you rarely see. Only here I was in a hub of passion and enthusiasm. People who have, like me, waited months to come together with those of a like mind. Even when people go on holiday they are rarely surrounded by such, well, not wishing to sound like a douche, waves of positivity. Why on earth would you not want to be a part of that, be a part of that glow. It just makes no sense to me.