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March 4th, 2012, 02:28
Crusades: Quest for power
Alright, so I did not actually finish this game, but I'll write this as a warning to anyone who considers buying this game.

This game is, according to the box, based on the crusades (which one of them? I don't really know, it had knight templars in it (judging by their markings), but as far as I played, they never actually tell you anything more). In fact, it is supposed to be historically accurate, according to the box.
Well, the box lies. This is a very rudementary base building RTS. You have 4 unit types per side (identical, I think), and each unit has a particular building that they can be constructed from, and there is no tech tree or research going on. All you do is place your buildings (which for some strange reason is done by right clicking, left clicking cancels your action), and then you click on the building and on "create unit" in order to create a unit. The units themselves are rather uninspired, as well. The 4 types are: Light infantry, heavy infantry, archers and priests. Priests works like healers, and will (when they want to) stay behind your lines and throw healing spells at your troops. Though that is just in theory, in reality they will ignore your orders to tell them to stay put, and instead run right into the enemy units. For a game that is supposed to be historically accurate, I find it odd to see priests use healing magic.
Resources are gathered by killing enemies, who will drop bags of gold, which you can then use to create more units. Encouraging aggressive play by rewarding you for killing enemies is not a bad idea, the problem is that if you fail an attack and is low on gold, you have literary no way of recovering, the enemy now has more units because it got the gold that your units dropped, and you can't build a new army.

The graphics is passable, for a game from 2003 (which was when this game was released), but little more. You can see what things are supposed to represent, even though they look very blocky. The sound design though is very poor. Battles sounds a bit like two sides hitting each other with plastic weapons, from 100m away, and the voice clips that plays when you give orders hardly sounds any better than what you would expect from someone mumbling in the microphone on a 15€ headset (it is quite often hard to hear what they are supposed to say, because of the poor sound quality).

The box itself has a few gems. It brags about having "Authentic battlegroudns including: Dunes, Ancient Ruins, Cliffs & Streets (and a few other). And weapons include: Armour & scaffolding (And swords, bows and such).

Don't buy this game, it is horrible. It does not have a single redeeming quality, and thus deserves to be forgotten. I payed 5 sek (½€) for this game, and it was not money well spent.
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March 4th, 2012, 03:02
it's funny that you write about this game, i actually have this one and tried to get it to run back in the day on my old XP system and it didnt work. What OS did you run it on?

I'm curious, despite your warning I may try and give it a whirl again. I'm a glutton for punishment sometimes!
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March 4th, 2012, 12:56
Win XP SP3. My first attempt to run it (with my last graphics card) resulted in a crash, so I guess the game has compatibility issues with some graphics cards or drivers.
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March 10th, 2012, 22:34
Metal Gear Solid 3, and Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker.

I'd not played MGS3 before now, and the game was pretty enjoyable. The annoying top down view of MGS1/2 is ditched in favour of a more standard 3rd person camera in the Subsistence version of MGS3 used in the HD remake. Gameplay is good, with the stealth aspects of the earlier games increased by the removal of radar, an interesting camouflage system and the use of noise to alert guards. In addition there is a food & healing mechanic which works well, despite the fact that I normally hate such things in games. The boss battles are generally long, epic affairs with ridiculous, over the top posturing in the grand MGS tradition. The story is also a fresh take on the series up to this point, going back in time to tell the story of how the original Snake became "Big Boss" (yeah, I know, the names) during the Cold War. Finally the graphics look good, the PS3 offering a nice HD upgrade on the PS2 original.

MGS: Peace Walker is a more recent offering, originally released for the PSP but having a similar HD upgrade for the PS3. Whilst some folk seem to think this is one of the best MGS titles, I found it pretty mediocre. The graphics are OK, not as good as the MGS3 remake and cinematic cutscenes are replaced by a comic-book style (complete with onomatopoeic effects: BUZZ!, ZZZIP! etc) which took some getting used to. However where the title really suffers is the gameplay, with over-small areas making stealth difficult (there are few places to hide if discovered) an overpowered tranquiliser gun and excessive numbers of boss battles, particularly against dull mechanised opponents. The addition of "Monster Hunter" mechanics to capture soldiers and build up your base doesn't really compensate for these downsides. Another unfortunate casualty is the story, with what could be an interesting romp through Costa Rica and Nicaragua turning into a rehash of previous MGS plots, including carbon copies of previous characters and situations, and downright repetitive flashbacks to MGS3 (which it follows chronologically). This was the first MGS game I've really struggled to finish (and yes I've completed MGS2 already). It doesn't really bode well for future games if Kojima is out of fresh ideas.

Oh well - onto MGS4 to complete my MGS run.
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March 12th, 2012, 09:21
Peace Walker is the only game from the series I have yet to play. I loved MGS4. It's a game that really ties the bag together by explaining all the inconsistencies of the series.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
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March 14th, 2012, 22:34
Just finished MGS4 this evening. Yeah I have to say I liked it a lot, much better than Peace Walker and probably more that MGS2&3. It was nice to get back into the MGS1-2 story arc, but also with a lot of references back to MGS3. I have to say that a few things took a bit of swallowing such as

Spoiler


but I give a lot of leeway to the MGS games as they've always contained rather a lot of silliness (I even didn't mind the fourth wall breaking stuff and had a giggle at things like

Spoiler


I was surprised that the amount of gameplay felt reasonably substantial, from the reviews/feedback I'd expected it would be crowded out by cutscenes but there was definitely enough meat on the bones to enjoy it as a game, not an interactive movie (at least in the earlier acts, act 5 was a bit thin).

Reading up on the trivia I see Ocelot in his older years was supposedly modelled on Lee van Cleef. There is a definite resemblance in MGS4, and the music at the end had a real spaghetti western feel which added to the flavour. Great stuff.
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March 15th, 2012, 03:55
I just completed the first Mass Effect game. I bought this game on 360 when it first came out but never got in to it. One of my best friends and my younger brother swore that it was the best game out there. With Mass Effect 3 coming out, I decided to give the series another whirl, on PC this time. About four days later, I already finished the first game. This time, I thought it was an awesome experience! There were some issues, driving the mako was a hassle, your teammates are as much of a nuisance as a help, and the environments are linear and not very interactive (typical for Bioware), but boy do these guys know how to make an entertaining epic story! The choices and consequences were well done, though at some moments my statements didn't align well with what I thought I had selected and other times there was no option that represented what I would have done.

All in all, I came away quite impressed. I think the experience was close to what I had with Dragon Age. The relationships weren't quite as complex (though still quite good), nor was it as flexible with choices, but the story was more original.

I went to begin the second game but encountered the same directx error that prevented me from playing the Witcher 2 a while back ago (I think related to some malware I got a few months ago). So I have decided to reinstall Windows to solve the problem. The default character looks like a wuss, but my Shepard is a hardcore, renegade, badass type, and I am interested to see how my choices affect the next installment!
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March 16th, 2012, 10:58
Captive II: Liberation
Liberation is the sequel to the game Captive. It was released in 1994 (a year after Lands of Lore in comparison) and were one of few titles that were developed primarily with the Amiga CD32 in mind.

Story
In a dark future, the corruption of large companies represents an everyday part of life. Trill was innocently captured in Captive and were rescued by the help of four droids that could be remotely controlled from a briefcase he found.

From his remote location in the wilderness, Trill discovers that a large bunch of people have now been framed by the droid company "BioCorp" for murders that was actually carried out by their own malfunctioning policedroids that the feds payed millions to buy. He sends his droid-allies into the city to rescue the innocents and bring evidence of the corruption to the Emperor.

The game claims to contain 4000 missions but I decided to only play the first since they are just computer-generated anyway. In the first mission you have to find and rescue Toyogon. To find him you have to do some detective work, tracking down NPC's, addresses, places etc to eventually find where Toyogon is being held.

Engine: Graphics & Sound
In the same time Liberation delivers the most beautiful intro made for the Amiga and one of the ugliest games possible. In 1994 the 3d craze had begun, luring several companies to create 3d-games that would have benefited from 2d artwork. Liberation is one of very professional games that uses texture-mapped 3d polygons on an Amiga platform but the 3d is just awful and on a real amiga it were just slow and choppy. The 2d-art, such as inventory etc is good though.

Audio is really good though. It's one of the first and only Amiga games that used voiceacting and the music is quite good as well.

Gameplay
The core gameplay of Captive is like a free-roaming version of Dungeon Master. You control a party of 4 droids with their own weapons/inventory/stats and you see what they see when you walk around in the streets of a dark future city.

Your primary goal is to discover addresses which one by one will get you closer to game completion. You get addresses by speaking to NPC's and sometimes you have to use terminals to track addresses down. You can also access stores in which you can purchase new items like new weapons and upgraded software for your droids.

Let me be honest: The skill system in Liberation is the most complex I have seen in a computer RPG or PnP RPG ever. Even after reading the manual numerous times it took a long time to figure out how it work. I will not go into it here, but you boosts your skills by a combination of chips that can be configured the way you like. 4 droids, 5 configurable bodyparts, 4 chips (that works very differently from one another) in every bodypart equals 80 chips to tweak and upgrade. Finally I was able to go from "1" in Slug Guns to "13" in Energy Guns at which time I could drop a heavy police droid in 1-2 shots.

Final Conclusion
The sad story about Liberation is what it could have been. It's premise just reeks of goodness; a free roaming cyberpunk rpg with almost endless amount of gameplay. But the 3d just tears it down. I also encountered quite a lot of bugs and by accident uncovered a money exploit that granted me some of the best weapons in the game early on. Being extremely hard to understand also makes it very difficult to bother about this game unless you really know what you are doing. Still, I am glad I finally got to play the game.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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March 16th, 2012, 11:03
I remember buying a CD32 console specifically for Liberation. The "redbook" audio was very impressive, as was the intro sequence mentioned above.

Too bad the actual game was crap. I loooooved the first Captive - and I used to consider Tony Crowther a genius game designer. He was also the lead on Realms of the Haunting (IIRC).

I wonder what he's up to these days…
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March 30th, 2012, 19:58
Legacy
The premise of a modern Dungeon Master game have always intrigued me and Redshift's Legacy is one of the newest games of that kind. That doesn't mean it's fresh new however, because it's about 10 years old. Legacy was originally developed with the PDA (Windows Mobile) platform in mind. I bought the game but got stuck about half way through the main campaign, then I gradually stopped to use the PDA and eventually it took a long rest in a drawer and when I picked it up again it was dead. I only recently realized that there's a PC version that could be bought directly via Redshifts website by sending them money via paypal and so I did. I got both Legacy and it's Expansion Pack for 9.95$, which is a quite hefty price for an over eight year old indie game. But being a strong fan of Dungeon Master-clones I decided to grab it anyway. The game also came with two minor expansion packs, Mohr's Plan and Kings Aide.

And no, there won't be an iPhone version. The original developer left Redshift and they do not have the sourcecode. Their newer title "The Quest" is available however, but that's not a partybased game.

Story
The evil sorcerer that used to rule the land was defeated. Two brothers that used to be his servants took over; Sohl and Mersant. However, Sohl betrays his brother, imprisons him and begin to rule the land himself. Mersant might be the only one that can defeat his brother and liberate the land again, but that cannot be done unless he is first liberated himself. For now the only lead to where Mersant might be imprisoned is one of Sohl's fugitive servants who terrorizes the town of Decrantes. You decide to be the hero this time and take the journey over there in order to find this servant.

There are no cutscenes in Legacy. All story progression is done through dialogue. I cannot say that the story is either brilliant or exciting, it's mostly an excuse to go and kill some monsters. And if the main story isn't enough for you, the expansion pack almost doubles the size of the game with some really tough areas for high-level characters.

Engine: Graphics & Sound
Legacy was custom made for handheld platforms and the PC version seems more like a developers version. Left/Right strafe have no key so I had to make my own with the help of Autohotkey and the game is stuck in a 480x320 window so I often had to use the windows magnifier to make it large enough for me. That said, the game looks good. The game uses handpixeled sprites with both indoor and outdoor areas (outdoor reminds me about Ishar). The game definitely could have had a lot more variation for it's length though, which I will get back to in the section below.

Soundwise Legacy doesn't have much to offer. You hear some looped nature sounds when outdoors and sometimes monsters moaning from somewhere nearby, but the sound effects seems like generic soundbites that can be found floating around on the net.

Gameplay
Like I said, Redshifts Legacy is a Dungeon Master Clone. You run around and kill monsters, grab loot, sell loot, update your weapons, repeat. Eventually you make progress to a new area and some progress to the unfortunately weak story. There are tons of puzzles to figure out however and some can be really tricky. Unlike Dungeon Master, Legacy is turnbased so you can take your time to decide what action to do in every turn. Not that it takes that much consideration since most of the time you only attack with hands or throw an offensive spell.

You are given one random character at the start of the game, then you recruit three more. You can exchange characters, including your starting character, by switching them in the tavern. Classes contains a number of variations between mages and/or fighters. The knight for example have access to some spells, the battlemage some more, the cleric have cheaper healing spells and the mage have access to most spells but cant attack. The adventurer, highlander and swordmaster are melee fighters with different types of weapon proficiencies. Personally I finished the game with a Swordmaster and battlemage in the front row and a cleric and mage in the back.

There are about 20-25 spells in the game and you also have access to staffs and scrolls that can be used by non-spellcasting characters as well. There are also bows that eats quivers for breakfast (and you can't pick up arrows in this game). Long range stuff can be quite useful to fend off tough monsters however. Potions is also something that is frequently used here, in fact most of my money had to go to manapotions…

Verdict
With all that on the table, is Legacy a great game? Perhaps the main game is decent. It is a good engine, but it might be a bit too long for it's content. The Mission Pack was a tedious experience that didn't have too much to offer. It reuses too much from the main campaign and do not add enough new for it's length. I found myself taking longer and longer breaks since I couldn't handle yet another room to defeat the same kind of monsters again and again. The miniquests Kings Aide and Mohr's Plan were quite enjoyable though.

I might give one of the other expansion packs a try (Legend, Legend 2 or Revenge) as they are promoted for having strong storylines. Kings Aide and Revenge are done by the same author.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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April 2nd, 2012, 15:43
Dungeon Master
Yes, THE Dungeon Master. Having been a fan of the genré for so long it is surprising I waited up to now to play the original.

I played the game on WinUAE, v3.60 by Psygnosis (original game by FTL).

Story
In a dungeon beneath Mt. Anaias the wizard known as the Grey Lord had his laboratory. The place was rumoured to be the resting place of the Power Gem. One day he send his apprentice Theron to get some rope. Just after entering the teleporter that they use for short journeys the Grey Lord reveals to him that he found the Power Gem and he would go there and fetch it while Theron was away. When the teleporter send him away something happens. He have a brief dreamlike encounter with his wife to be, then he wakes up in a scorched land and when he lift his hands he realize he can see right through them. Soon afterwards he is tracked down by his master who now wishes to be called Librasulus or "Restorer of Order". He reveals to him that something wen't wrong and he was split in two, the other form is simply known as Lord Chaos who now inhibits the dungeon. He also reveals to him that a whole year appearently passed and Librasulus have already sent numerous champions into the dungeon, who are now locked by Lord Chaos in a museum-like gallery. Without a body, Theron can still go in there, release four champions and use them to defeat Lord Chaos. To do so, it's essential that they find and use the magical Firestaff that is sealed in a highly protected area somewhere below.

The story is actually nice for this era. It even have a moral point and a possible twist at the end.

Graphics: Engine & Sound
Dungeon Master is certainly no beauty, not even for a game from 87. Not only does the game use only 16 colors, all dungeonwalls are grey without exception, even character portraits are poorly drawn. There's no music (in the Amiga version at least) and almost no sound to speak about, those that are are quite bad. I actually updated the portraits and made my own for the characters I intended to use.

Gameplay
Dungeon Master won numerous prices when it first came. This is no surprise. It's amazing to consider that this is the first of a kind that spawned the genré that would come out of it, because for a game that have no previous titles to build upon the gameplay is simply brilliant (which I say without nostalgia mind you).

In the beginning you can resurrect or reincarnate 4 champions who will come with a set of items and skills. If you reincarnate you do not get the skills, but you get higher attributes and will probably get more powerful champions later in the game.

The skillsystem is a network that ties classes, attributes, skills and health/stamina/mana together. Experience is gained by using something. Let's say you punch alot, then your ninja class will increase along with your stamina, the attribute dexterity and your ninja skill "fight". Summon a magic torch instead and your wizard class will increase along with your mana, the attribute wisdom and your wizard skill "fire".

Weapons usually come with three specific actions, actions balanced through their chance to hit, damage dealt, staminadrain, duration between attacks etc. So a heavy weapon isn't neccessary the best for your character, as a lighter weapon with a lighter attack may do damage more often and thus win out in the end. There are ofcourse a couple of magic weapons that uses up charges when used.

You also have an encumberance system that makes it hard for non fighters to carry heavy stuff and you might even have to consider what you want to carry when the game offers you some really heavy armor. Carry too much so that one character gets encumbered and your entire party will move slower through the dungeon.

Food and water are here like many old titles. Water can be consumed directly from fountains (in the v3.60 that I played) or from waterskins or filled flasks. Hunting is certainly possible as monsters often drop consumeable items, but I found food to be aplenty and there's actually a central staircase that can be opened up as you go that can be used to access easy hunting areas and watersupplies even on the stages that are scarce with food and water.

Spells are cast through runes of which one rune is the power 1-6 followed by a combination of up to 3 other runes. There are fireballs, poison bolts, shields for your party and a couple of other classic ones. There are also potions, which are the priest spells in the game. Potions need a flask equipped in your hand before you cast it. Potions may increase your attributes, heal or cure poison.

Final Conclusion
Dungeon Master is a classic and carry historical significance to gaming history, but is it worth playing even today? Well, if you are looking for a history lesson you may find it here. That said, Dungeon Master was actually still fun to play even though I had never played the game before. It's one of those titles that captures the essence of old games that actually take an effort to learn how to play, an effort that pays off in the end. There are no best strategies to be found here, no best party. There's learning how to use your characters efficiently and come up with new strategies to face the often quite hard challenges.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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April 2nd, 2012, 15:58
Mass Effect 3. Not bad, until the end. I'm officially done with Bioware now. Since I live in Edmonton, should I be by their offices anytime soon, I plan on egging it. Hard.


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April 2nd, 2012, 22:59
Great Game!!!
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April 4th, 2012, 06:19
I too just finished the Mass Effect trilogy. Completed all three games in about a month. I'll post more of my thoughts about it later, but I have to say I don't really understand what all the complaining about the ending to Mass Effect 3 is all about. I thought it was pretty good! Sure, there are some loose ends, but that's common with most games. At least you're provided with some interesting choices to make to affect the way the galaxy ends up and are left to consider some interesting possibilities. I thought it was pretty decent myself.
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April 6th, 2012, 22:26
I've just finished The Witcher 1, and was blown away by the ending. I got weird hints about it, but never actually realized what was going on until the ending.

Spoiler


Anyway, I loved it. And it was very consistent and long with my playthrough. I'd like to try another playthrough but I'm too excited about plunging into TW2.

Were the "look back on what you decided at a point in the past" still-image videos also in the standard version of the game. Or were they added only in the Enhanced Edition? I remember starting the standard version a few years back, and I don't think I saw any of those videos.
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April 7th, 2012, 21:03
Dungeon Master: Chaos Strikes Back
The one and only free-standing expansion for Dungeon Master. Better or worse than the main game?

Turns out Lord Chaos had a secret backup plan. He created a forge that produces the ore Corbum that shakes Lord Greys castle and will kill him. Unless you do something about it ofcourse. A new party or characters imported from your Dungeon Master save will begin in a dark room filled with poisonous worms, a secret plate that spawns an additional two worms… and no equipment. That sets the tone for this expansion, it's brutal difficulty. Once that room is cleared you will eventually end up in the Junction of Ways. Each piece of Corbum is located in a dungeon unique to each class; Fighter, Ninja, Priest and Wizard. Everytime you enter one of these you are randomly teleported to one of three areas within that path (where doesn't really matter as you can get to all three destinations anyway). This is another special thing about Chaos Strikes Back, the game is very random. Items aren't placed in the same places and you may not even find most of the items you need (I never got a 2nd shield).

After dealing with your disorientation you must fight yourself upwards through fights and puzzles tailored after each class. The Ninja path have a lot of throwing puzzles and was quite fun. The priest need you to use all unique abilities that the priest have which was fine as well. Wizard was a bit frustrating because of at least one room filled with non-material monsters that takes a lot of time to kill, also there's a section filled with traps and another with quickly spawning water elementals (one of the toughest foes in the game). Then we have the fighter path. I actually started with the fighter path and it almost made me want to give up the game. It's filled with rooms that are basically filled with monsters. A 8 square section had 32 antmens, one section have 6 dragons in tiny rooms. So much fighting aren't even fun… Dragging myself through only the first sections of the fighter path took me two days.

The paths meet again in the Diabolical Demon Director, a section of the game that needs you to complete each of the four paths to complete. In each path below you find keys that unlock new places in the DDD. It's here you will find your four pieces of Corbum.

After completing all four paths and the DDD you get access to the Fulya Pit where you need to take all four pieces of Corbum and throw them into the pit, Frodo-style. The End.

I do not know what I should feel about this expansion. It's clearly innovative and pretty brilliant in it's design, but I just wish I could have skipped most of the monsterrooms since they were just too much. I also thought the ending was rather weak after the quite good intro.

I am still happy I finally completed both Dungeon Master and Chaos Strikes Back. Considering I love the genré it's quite odd that I haven't done so before.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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April 16th, 2012, 05:10
I remember Dungeon Master! Wow, that was a long time back. I think it might have been the first game I played with a learn-by-using system. (I distinctly remember casting quite a few fireballs into stairwell ceilings.) The graphics seemed quite impressive to me at the time.

Anyway, I just finished Skyrim. Wow, that game was just flat out epic! Epic mountains, epic music, epic dragons, but no epic bugs. There were problems for sure but nothing outright game breaking.

The interface was certainly harder than it needed to be. SkyUI helped out a ton but, by the end of the game, my inventory was so huge it was a major pain to find anything. It took weeks to get used to the right-mouse-controls-the-left-hand thing. It makes sense for weapon/shield but, with all the other dual wielding, it was massively counter-intuitive.

I did start to run into crashing with some of the quests. At first it was just a "find my quill at the bottom of a lake" quest - any time I got near that lake I would crash to desktop. Once I started trying to do the civil war quests, though, I started getting more and more of them. Since I had finished the main quest by this point, I just gave up and left the civil war for my second play-through. (It's quite possible that some odd mod was causing these problems or a bug that was either fixed by version 1.5 or the massive Unofficial Patch.)

I did get a quick kick to the gut at the end, too. There was NOBODY for my wood elf to wed! Not of either gender! I've never seen a half-anything in an Elder Scrolls game so I was trying to stick to the lore and stay within my own race/species but couldn't find anyone. Oh well.

Aside from those bugs, though, this game was just incredible. It's so HUGE!! It wasn't packed full of repetitive caves and forts like Oblivion. You never knew what was going to be inside a cave you stumble into. It wasn't a big, ugly wasteland with a few recognizable buildings like the Fallout games. Skyrim is full of beautiful mountains, rivers, a marsh, and a Yellowstone'ish area. There's even an area that reminds me a lot of the old Vault of the Drow from back in the early pen & paper days!

I should also note that this is the first RPG I've played where the majority of water falls do NOT have a secret cave or at least a chest hidden behind them.

I expect to do this game in two play-throughs. I was already starting to max out a few of my skills by just doing half the quest lines plus the main quest. I won't get the level 50 achievement this way but it looks to me like it will be a lot more fun.
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April 16th, 2012, 16:18
Legend of Grimrock
In the indie scene, everything old is new (or at least hip) again, and Legend of Grimrock is one of the many "old school" games that have come out in more recent years, targeting people who wish that these old games would make a return.

Graphics
Judging an indie titles graphics is always a bit tricky. From a technical point of view, they usually have trouble competing with the big AAA titles, so most of them don't even try, instead they use their "retro look" as a selling point. Grimrock is not one of the usual indies though, this game actually tries to compete with the big budget titles in the graphics department, and while it does not quite live up to the graphical quality of today's AAA titles, it still looks really good. It also has a consistent art style that manages to evoke the feeling of being in a dungeon, which is what it aimed for.

Sound
Sound is probably Grimrock's weakest side. While there is nothing wrong with it, everything sounds roughly what you would expect it to sound like, some more variety would have helped. The game has an excellent and very memorable theme song, but sadly it does not have any more music. Had the game had some more sound effects, and a few more songs, then there would have been nothing to complain about.

Story
Grimrock has a bit of a throwaway story. You play as a group of 4 prisoners, who gets thrown into Grimrock, for crimes that you may or may not have committed. You know that there is supposed to be an exit at the mountain's foot, so you try to fight your way through it. Along the way you'll find that there are a lot of traps and mechanisms that seem to be in a surprisingly good shape, and you also find a few notes from another person. There is a logical reason for all of this, but it won't win any awards for "best story".

Gameplay
This is where Grimrock really shines. It uses a tile-based movement system, which at first might seem a bit clunky, but once you get into it, you will realize that everything is designed with this in mind, and that the system allows a form of tactics that just is not doable with free movement. Combat is in fact very tactical, and you need to use your environment, and always be careful with how and where you move, in order to survive. Most enemies in the game can in fact rip your party to shreds, if you are not careful, and even at higher levels, many of the mid levels enemies will still remain a threat to you.
Grimrock also uses an interesting magic system, where you combine different runes to form different spells. While the spells are all pre-set (you can't randomly mix together runes), it allows you to experiment, and find new combinations on your own, without the game explicitly telling you what to do. And there are a fare amount of spells in the game.
As for balance, all of the games classes felt roughly equal in power, though rogues did start the game a bit weaker than the rest. By the end of the game, I was glad that I had a balanced party though, with all members being able to pull their own weight. The racial balance also seem to be pretty good. While an insectoid inherently has better mage stats than warrior stats, it has a trait that increases its armour, which means that an insectoid warrior can be quite good to have in the front rank. A minotaur rogue is not a bad idea either, it can deal massive amounts of damage with its throwing weapons due to its high str. The only race-class combination that I suspect is bad is minotaur-mage.

The puzzles were also excellent. They felt well thought it, and were not reliant on trial and error, but rather logical thinking and reasoning (and sometimes quick fingers). Many adventure game designers could learn something from this game.

Overall
Grimrock is a very well designed game. The balance was good, the puzzles were well made, interesting and the difficulty curve lacked any real peaks or valleys. The game was challenging, but never unfair. The only major drawback that I think the game has is its length, but the devs are currently working on a map editor, which hopefully should remedy that, once we start to see a lot of user created content.
This game is a strong "game of the year" contender, and one of the best games that I have played in a long time.
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April 16th, 2012, 16:55
Originally Posted by Fnord View Post
The only major drawback that I think the game has is its length, but the devs are currently working on a map editor, which hopefully should remedy that, once we start to see a lot of user created content.
You thought it was too short? Imo it was almost too long for that type of gameplay. I'm glad it ended when it did.
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April 16th, 2012, 17:01
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
You thought it was too short? Imo it was almost too long for that type of gameplay. I'm glad it ended when it did.
Last save says 8h 24min for me. I expected the game to be somewhere in the 13-15h region.
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