Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Saturday, December 19, 2009

IGN Redesign and Quake Live

Okay, wow. If you thought IGN was difficult to navigate and poorly organized before, wait until you see the redesign. Now it's going to be that much harder to find seriously screwed up quotes from their reviews to amuse myself and others.

First off, who's bright idea was it to sort the reviews by highest score as the default instead of by release date?

I guess a big thing about the new look is that the game's box art is supposed to be displayed next to the title, but half of the things on there don't have any art, and it looks really lame.

Then, when you actually click the review, you don't GET the review. You go to another page in which you have to click again to read the review. Yeah.

It's possible that they no longer list the same game over and over each time it's reviewed in a different country. That, at least, would be a blessing.

In other news...

I've never been a seriously hardcore Quake 3 player, but I do consider it to be the best multiplayer/online game I've ever played. As the years went by, and more and more new games/garbage was released, I naturally assumed that the game was now dead outside of single player bot-fighting.

But Quake Live is totally amazing. It takes Quake 3, makes it into a browser plugin, includes skill based matchmaking, awards to earn, stat tracking, and it runs flawlessly. It is also FREE and OFFICIAL. Set it to full screen mode and it's just like playing the standalone game, but full of people to play with.

Now, I imagine that this could evolve into a pay service, but if they throw in new arenas and additional content, that might even be a worthwhile subscription. Do check it out.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monkey Island and Links on a Train

Having never played a Monkey Island game before and wanting to try the new Telltale ones, I decided to catch up by playing the recent Monkey Island Special Edition. I've completed about 20% of it so far and I have very mixed feelings.

                                                                      Ooh, Perdy!

The graphics are very attractive and you can instantly switch to the old school graphics and back by hitting the F10 button. It can be interesting to just do comparisons in each area. The voice acting is pretty good. Some of the puzzles are a little bit out there, but most can be solved using somewhat logical thought. The main problems I've had are control related.

It took me a while to get used to the cursor seeming to lag behind my mouse movement. It could be that this is just a computer issue, and in any case, I finally did get used to it. The larger problem has been with the slow walking speed and the difficulty I often have with getting Guybrush to move to the next screen instead of standing at the edge doing nothing.

For a lot of the puzzles in this game, you simply have to go from person to person trying different things, but they're spaced pretty far apart, and the time you waste just traveling around can be infuriating. I feel like the vast majority of the time I spend on the game is just on walking back and forth.

The game has just been wearing on me lately and I'm probably going to take a break from it to play Trauma Center on the Wii. With new Christmas games coming up, I'm not sure if I'll ever come back to it or not, but those who know me probably know better than to count on it.

And yeah, the next update on my Zelda playthrough probably won't happen for a few days, weeks, or years. You see, I got distracted watching DBZ in Japanese from the beginning ( have a problem with that?) and now I'm just not in the mood, anymore.

                                               IT'S OVER (nah, I'm not gonna do it)
If I end up trying Gamefly again any time soon in an attempt to catch up with the horrors of modern gaming, I might torture myself with the new Links on a Train or whatever it is and you can get your Zelda fix that way.

                                                           I just died a little inside.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Link to the Past Run Through Part 1

I've been playing a little bit of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I've completed the game countless times already, but Torchlight has gotten pretty stale and I wanted to move on to something different.

I found myself a little bored with rescuing Princess Zelda and getting through the Sewers for the 23rd time, but the first dungeon was pretty solid. I can still remember playing these areas for the first time when the game came out and how huge and confusing the dungeons seemed back then. but even when you know exactly what to do, you can still have a pretty great time.

The desert dungeon was never really a favorite of mine, and so it actually surpassed my expectations during the replay. Still, I couldn't believe how quickly I found the Big Key and made it to the end. I guess figuring out how to get into the dungeon was supposed to be a pretty big deal on it's own. I probably used that tiny little hint guide that came with the game the first time I did so. I did have to use a potion for the boss, so you can't just breeze through this thing. Unless you're better than me, which you probably are.

The Tower of Hera is really cool. Except for some minor tinkering with the red and green switches, and finding the moon pearl, it's almost totally linear progression with a lot of enemies to fight. Some of those guys can really take a lot of hits and you have to make sure not to bounce yourself into a pit.

I also think it's funny how missing the Moon Pearl has some pretty major repercussions. Internet forums still seem to be littered with people who can't figure out why they're now stuck as a rabbit. Moldorm is one of my favorite boss battles as well, except people who have no gaming ability seem to hate him.

Getting the Master Sword and storming Hyrule Castle makes for some very exciting times.


The upper part of the castle is another linear area with some challenging minor enemies culminating in the loss of Zelda and an exciting battle with the mysterious Agahnim. Defeating this boss throws you into the Dark World, ready or not. Not exactly a victory.

Next time... The Dark World!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hey, it's that guy I am.

This uses a mod to remove the level cap and fame cap, increases max skill levels to 20, and add a new tier of Legendary equipment (of which I don't have anything equipped yet).

My character's title is permanently stuck at Unattainable due to the mod not being that comprehensive, but I just imagine that he's so awesome at this point that nobody could ever attain such a high rank as him, thus Unattainable.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Torchlight Endgame

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had our dinner yesterday and it wasn't the best day in the whole world, so I'm going to rant about Torchlight some more while you folks eat.

I've spent a lot of hours in the world of Torchlight and had more fun with a new game than I have in a very long time. I've completed the main dungeon and defeated the final boss with my Destroyer character and I've started playing around in the infinite dungeon, about 10 floors worth. I've decided that the Torchlight endgame is still fairly weak.

I'm only at level 50 and playing is starting to feel kind of bland. I've tried some mods to remove the caps and add some new equipment, but the game still doesn't really have enough life to it.

Hopefully there will be some kind of official expansion in the future, or at least some quality fan content. I'd love to see totally new dungeons, environments, monsters and quests. And not just new layouts for the existing areas. They're already randomized, and I can't imagine someone redesigning the dwarven ruins or lava schemes in such a way that I'd feel excited to play them for the 40th time.

The game really needs a ton of new equipment because that's what really keeps me coming back to this sort of game... cool stuff. I keep finding special rare gear but then I look and 90% of it is more suited for lower level characters. It's also irritating that you find most of the best items from the gambler merchant in town rather than by killing enemies and searching dungeons like a good adventurer. How'd the gambler get these incredible and impossible items.

Even after you completed the main game in Diablo II, you always wanted to keep going back to see how great you could make your character. Not that I ever reached the crazy state of fighting the same bosses online countless times hoping to beat the other players to some item that had a 1 in 1000 chance of dropping or some nonsense. But I feel like in Torchlight, the total number of possible items is small enough that I don't really have any chance of finding something that most of the other players don't already possess.

It's definitely a recommended game. You get a lot of hours of play for your $20 bucks and there are three character classes. I'll eventually have to get around to trying the other two.

My plan originally was to go back and replay Diablo II, but it seems that Blizzard is being somewhat unreasonable with the price, even all these years later.

Instead, I remembered that I had purchased Titan Quest and its expansion a couple of years back and never got very far. Now I'm starting to remember why. The controls are kind of clunky, you can hardly carry anything and have to go back to town all the time to sell, the voice acting is really weak to the point where I had to turn it off, and the setting leaves a lot to be desired. Still, I'll try to stick with it for a little while longer and hope that it gets better.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Go fan heaters, go!

My plan for getting through the winter minus poverty is to use a couple of fan heaters in the sections of the house I spend the most time in. This allows for the central gas heat to be kept at somewhere between low and absurdly low so that I don't heat rooms I am not using. I mean, I might want to use those rooms, but I have free will. And the heaters are pretty portable.

November is pretty early in the heat-using season, so it's hard to find anything too conclusive about how much money I've saved. I got the gas bill today and I can see that there's a clear difference between usage this November (far right) and last November (far left).

There. I also went back to the previous year and saw that there was an even bigger improvement this year over 2007 for November.

The other side of this is how much the electric bill has increased, but I don't have that bill at this time. I did however give myself a crash course on reading the electric meter and it seems that the bill is on track to be only slightly higher than October's, which hopefully means I've made a net profit here.

The true test will probably come in December, where as you can see on the above chart, our use of the central heat skyrocketed.

Even if the amount of money saved is pretty small, I'll probably continue with the plan if only because the gas company has given me more headaches than the electric company in my life.