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Default Last game you finished, tell us about it

September 6th, 2012, 21:10
It's way better than on consoles, and it actually arrived on PC (which was a really slim chance) that's what matters

Yes the level design is just pure genious, it's also extremely rewarding for an open world game, because "beating" an area, or just getting through it, can be a very demanding task (compare to Oblivion or Skyrim where you can explore the whole world as a level 1 and without too much trouble).

It does have some forest areas, but they're not that large.. Still haven't explored the whole game though (40h into it)..

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October 2nd, 2012, 11:59
Torchlight II

Torchlight is one of those games that its high praise and popularity always makes me wonder. It was an ordinary Diablo clone you see every year without any special features, (Actually, it lacked multi-player which is an important feature for this kind of game. ) and all of its other aspects like visuals, classes, story, characters, dialogues, quests, etc. were either standard, derivative, mediocre or below average. Why it was treated like it was the next big thing while there are many other clones that are as good (if not better) is beyond me.

Now, Torchlight 2 is definitely an improvement. Instead of dungeon descending structure of Torchlight (similar to Diablo 1), Torchlight 2 has vast environments and each one has various dungeons in it which sometimes have more than one floor. This way, the whole running and hacking and slashing is less repetitive and more encouraging. Also there is more of everything. There are more classes (4), more pets to choose from (8), more items and enemies and overall, more hours to burn. There is multi-player too of course which adding it was definitely a no-brainer.

Torchlight 2's story is pretty simple and shallow (anything other than that for an ARPG is a BIG surprise.) Alchemist, one of three characters you could choose in the first game, is corrupted (Diablo 2 anyone?) by the heart of Ordrak's emberblight essence which was the main source of corruption under the town of Torchlight. He gets mad, destroys the town and decides to do some stupid nonsense involving threatening the world and such which you have to prevent blah blah blah

Cut-scenes of the game which push the story forward and are shown at the end of each act are made by Klei Ent. , developer of stylish games, Shank and the recent arcade hit Mark of the Ninja. Although it's a good sign that Runic cared enough to give the responsibility to another professional studio, cut-scenes are not distinct or long enough to make it worth the cost.

Torchligh 2 classes are very different and their 3 tabs of skill in their skill tree are also different. I personally played with an embermage which I found most of its skills useless. But the few ones that were useful were both powerful and fun to use. Each skill has 15 levels and after each five level, a new ability or aspect of it is unlocked. ( 3 in total ) The interesting thing is that in your first play-through, you can't max (or even make it near max) any of the skills, even the initial ones. After the first few upgrades, the gap between the levels you get allowed to put a point in a certain skill gets bigger and bigger. So if you want to see the full potential of a certain skill, you'll have a long way ahead of you.

Torchlight 2 has the highest play hour/level up ratio in any RPG I know. In my near 3o hour play-through in the elite difficulty ( lower difficulties will take a lot less time. ) I was at level 53. Level-ups happen fast in T2 and this makes it a very fluid game with a fast pace. It also adds to the addiction. You're always like "one more level and I'm done for now" but you'll notice you can't ignore the lovely progress bar. It's just moving so fast.

Another thing that adds to the fast pace is the fact that nearly all of the side quest givers are at the entrance to the place where you have to finish the quest. This saves you from a lot of backtracking and checking the town to see if anything new is up.

T2 uses an interesting method for item requirements. Instead of having a restriction on both character's level and stats like other usual RPGs, T2 turns the "and" into an "or". Means you either need the right stats to use an item or the right level. For example, you can use a weapon 6 or 7 levels higher than yourself if you focused on increasing your strength. I don't know if T2 is the first game to use this method, but anyway, the implementation is great and it never breaks the game's balance.

Torchlight 2 visuals are pretty similar to the first game, but with more variety and it's also a lot smoother. There are 4 different areas in the game and each one is different compared to the other. Snowy plains, desert, forest and a mixture of a mine and a forge and all of them are changed before outstaying their welcome. Also dungeons of each section have a great variety and they range from spider nest and cockroach ridden sewers to temples and magic vaults. Overall, T2's graphical style (both for environments and monsters) has a nice vibe to it, albeit a bit clichť-ridden and generic.

Torchlight 2 soundtracks are very forgettable and none of them really stick in your head which is a shame considering the fact that Torchlight town's music in the first game was very good. Also some notes in some tracks are very similar (identical) to Diablo 2's soundtracks which is maybe Matt Uelmen's way of paying homage to his previous more memorable works. They better hope Activision/Blizzard doesn't sue.

Overall, T2 is an entertaining and addictive ARPG which rarely gets boring (because of the fast pace which is already mentioned) and that's a big plus for it, but being a pure Diablo clone, delivering all the goodness and badness of this overused sub-genre, is not enough anymore.
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October 2nd, 2012, 17:07
Also finished Torchlight 2 over the weekend, at least for now but I know I'll be going back and doing it again with another class. Pricepoint, LAN-use, and not requiring me to be online were all good bonuses, but the real joy in this game is that it's actually fun to play. I gifted a few copies to some buds that, like me, felt Diablo 3 was just a fiasco, and for a solid week we immersed ourselves in Torchlight 2, and got the taste of Diablo 3 away from us, forever. If you like action rpg's, you cannot go wrong with this one.


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October 2nd, 2012, 18:46
Replayed Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire - It was fun, but definitely didn't hold up as well as I would have liked. I now understand the complaints about it not being very 'Ultima.' Still fun and worth a go around, but I'm playing Ultima VII now rather than going on to Martian Dreams, though I'll probably go back later and play it.

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October 27th, 2012, 04:07
Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition

There are games that make you forget the passing of time and fill you with joy and the hope of seeing another day to continue playing them. It doesnít matter whatís their genre, release date or critical score. But we know that they have a place among our favorite games. Dark Souls can easily fall into this category for people who manage to get into it. It happens a lot when you get incredibly angry or annoyed with a certain obstacle, but the feeling you get after overcoming it canít be described by words, video games can hardly bring any higher level of enjoyment. Dark souls is a mixture of hellish and heavenly moments, but when all is said and done, you mostly remember the latter.

Dark Souls way of storytelling is a bit unorthodox. There isnít any solidarity plot, but in the other hand, there is much effort to present universe lore and story fragments in implicit ways like item descriptions and random NPC gossip.

Basically, youíre an undead who isnít hollow yet. ( means you still have control over your actions. ) Youíre imprisoned in undead asylum, but another undead drops you the key to your cell from a hole in the ceiling. You manage to get out of the asylum with the help of a giant crow who drops you at Firelink Shrine ( which acts as a hub ) in the land of Lordan and learn about the prophecy concerning the chosen undead who will ring the bells of awakening and succeed lord Gwyn.

DSís story is rich and a bit complicated (mostly because of its presentation ) and there are interesting facts here and there about the characters and events , but ultimately, you will have a hard time caring about any of it because youíre way too busy with combat and trying not to get slaughtered in the gameís harsh and cruel world.

Being able to manage your souls, stamina and for mages and pyromancers, attunement slots is the way of gaining success in DS. Soul acts as both experience points and currency. You can either increase your stats or buy and upgrade equipment and useful items with the souls you gain from killing monsters and bosses or finding and using soul pieces scattered around. But the unfortunate thing is that when you die, you respawn in the last bonfire you rested at and your souls and humanities ( you can use them to turn from undead to human which has its own benefits. ) remain in the point where you died. If you donít manage to get there and retrieve them, then you lose them and the time spent on gaining them permanently. This is the main reason why this game is infamously known to be hard, your mistakes lead to hardest punishment. Thereís no room for fooling around or playing casually, you have to be sharp and ready for anything when youíre playing Dark Souls.

Another aspect you have to keep your eyes on is stamina. Running, evading, attacking and blocking all cost stamina and you have to be careful not to run out of it. Lack of stamina means lack of defense and in tight situations, lack of defense means imminent death. If you overburden yourself by wearing heavy armor, your moves and stamina regeneration both become slower, so better defense means more chances to get hit.

Dark souls uses a D&D style magic casting. Instead of mana, you have certain slots ( Their amount is determined by your attunement stat ) to fill with magic spells and until you rest at a bonfire to reload them( which also leads to respawning of normal enemies ), thatís all the magic you have. There are three types of magic: pyromancy, sorcery and miracles. Pyromancy as the name suggests, consists of fire spells and is considered by many the strongest class in the game and rightfully so, because you can easily kill many strong bosses by a couple of fire blows. Sorcery is a bit more professional than pyromancy, but it can be as much effective if itís used rightly. Miracles are usually defensive or supportive spells and I personally didnít use them at all, but according to their description, they can be life savers in certain situations.

DSís combat system is simple, but extremely addictive and enjoyable. There are no combos or super moves, just simple normal or charged blows which can get stronger if you put down your shield ( which is a great risk ) and hold the weapon with both hands. Although contrary to the main character, enemies and bosses will do every kind of super natural and unearthly move which sometimes becomes annoyingly ridiculous ( like in the case of Ornstein and Smough ), but acknowledging the fact that you beat all these enemies with your simple moves grants you a certain sense of power.

Youíll encounter a couple of NPCs along the way which sometimes give you useful hints or sell you stuff useful for the surrounding area. Sometimes they ask you some favors, but it canít be considered any official quest. Although thereís not much character development and NPCs in the game are usually very mysterious and end their speech with a creepy laugh most of the time, but they do a good job giving the game a certain RPG atmosphere.

Thereís a lot of diversity in terms of weapons, armor and enemies. There are swords and spears which are fast, but have a short area of effect. Opposite of them are axes, great swords and halberds. Crossbows and bows can get very powerful if they are fully upgraded mostly because you hurt enemies before they can reach you or even see you, but that requires some resources which are hard to find .

There are many armor sets in the game, but unfortunately, few number of them are useful. Usually the ones with highest amount of protection. They slow you down, but you really donít want to lose half of your health by a normal blow from a normal enemy, no matter how fast and agile you are as the result.

As already mentioned, enemies have a lot of variety too. Even for a small part of the game, a brand new kind of enemy is designed which always makes you think theyíre a big deal, but theyíre just normal enemies like the ones in other sections.

Unlike most of the developers out there who are eager to show-off all their effort to the player, people at From Software were very hard on showing the content they designed for the game. There are large areas like painted world of Aratmis or the DLC content which are very well hidden and itís not easy to figure out the way of accessing them. Without a guide or information, itís even possible to finish the game completely unaware such areas even existed.

Dark Souls visuals are technically weak, but the unofficial mod solves this problem ( and many others which are caused by the bad port ) by unlocking higher resolution and graphical options. Although artistically, Dark Souls can be breathtaking sometimes. Bosses are greatly designed and some of them fill you with wonder and awe with their epic-ness. Areas are different enough to satisfy any kind of taste. They range from Darkroot forest and bright beautiful deity city of Anor Londo to dark catacombs and snowy castles and yards.

There was a bit of talk about the game being nearly unplayable with mouse and keyboard. But I personally played the whole game with them and never had any serious problem. Just a simple key configuration was all I needed.

On the sound, voice and music department, DS surpassed my expectations. Little sounds in the game like sound of that slash after enemies getting killed, rattling of your heavy armor, that beautiful and badass sound after you beat a boss mixed with that lovely yellow text ď victory achieved ď on the screen, All these little sounds makes the whole experience more satisfying.

Voice actors have very deep voices ( maybe itís the way their voices are recorded ) and absorb you into dialogues. They usually provide a great relaxation after long and stressful battles.

Soundtracks are few and only play during boss battles or dramatic moments. But they do a great job setting the mood. If itís a ferocious boss like Great Grey Wolf Sif, it has a threatening tone. If itís a slow and magnificent boss like moonlight butterfly, itís slow and calming. ( which leads to a very surrealistic experience. ) Boss battles owe half of their splendor to the music playing in the background.

After you play games for a while, it gets hard to get 100% immersed in them because you always have that critical look, always looking forward to be impressed like youíre some sort of king and the game is a clown. The best thing a clown can do is to make the king laugh or in other words impress him. King might clap for him or even reward him, but this clown will never have a place in his heart or long-term memory. But what if the clown is so good and clever that king gives him a place in his court? Thatís what Dark souls did for me. A video game that not only deserved my time and effort, but also a big place in my memory as one of the most rewarding and engaging experiences I ever had.
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November 4th, 2012, 19:09
Legend of Grimrock

This is an exceptionally well crafted game, and a ton of fun to boot! After finishing with my four person party, I fired it up with a solo Toorum run. Few games do I replay right away. The sounds and visuals are just about flawless, but the superb puzzles are what really hooked me. I only disliked the final fight and the fighters challenge since they both seemed like luck to win (although the end boss was one of the coolest in memory). Also one twitch puzzle was undoable until I turned the graphics settings almost all the way down.

Combat was OK. Playing a solo fighter really requires a lot of hit and run, and square dancing. I am curious to see how speedy Toorum does on some of the challenges.

If you like dungeon crawls and puzzles you must play this one. I found it much more engaging than Mass Effect. Kudos to Almost Human!
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November 5th, 2012, 10:09
X-Com - Enemy Unknown

First game I've finished in ages. I played it mostly offline (No connection in the summer house) - and I estimate it took me around 20-25 hours on Classic difficulty.

For the most part, I think it was a decent modern iteration of an old formula. They certainly captured the heart of the original game - and though it has been quite streamlined, they've managed to keep it reasonably interesting.

Some problems with the game is that it's quite short and there's not enough variety in the maps and activities.

Beyond that, I don't like the way enemies "pop up" when you encounter them and they get a free move. It makes no sense, really - and it disrupts the natural tactical flow I'm used to in games of this nature. It's just gamey without a good reason that I can see. Well, I expect it's because they had limited CPU power for ongoing AI routines and perhaps memory issues. Typical console bullshit limitations. It reminded me of the awful Dragon Age 2 spawning mechanism.

The single worst aspect is probably the ending, which I won't spoil. But suffice it to say the last part was a letdown of a significant magnitude.

I miss the time-units and I'm not a fan of streamlining that into two "phases", though I get the reasoning. I've mentioned that somewhere else, but I find that they've made potential actions too obvious and it removes some of the mystery and tactical flavor. It just takes something away from the player and there's too much hand-holding. I miss the timed grenades (and in general, grenades/rockets are weak) - and I really miss the waypoint launchers. I miss the crouch/stand options and all those things. I do appreciate the cover mechanic - but again, they've made it too obvious - and it becomes a game that's ALL about cover and nothing else. Overwatch is poorly implemented, and everyone shoots at the same target, etc. Just a lot of design omissions that are pretty inexcusable when you consider the resources and experience that should have been on the side of the design team.

Maps are generally 50% too small - and I miss some of the variety of the old game - like base invasions.

Ok, sounds like I didn't enjoy the game - but that's not true. The first half of it is very good, and it was a decent challenge on Classic mode. I don't play Ironman - because I get attached to my characters - and I focus on a small selection of them from the beginning. I did that in the original X-Com as well. I'm more into the roleplaying aspects than the strategy in that way.

For parts that were actually better than the original, I'll mention the soldier abilities. That was a really welcome addition. I love some of the powers you get - and especially the Sniper tree. Great stuff and a significant improvement over the original.

Also, I don't recall the various buildings having proximity bonuses and such in the original, which adds a somewhat interesting strategic layer. Sadly, it's very underutiliised and seems completely superfluous for success. Some really redundant buildings like the steam-based power stations that you definitely don't need. I think the strategic layer needed extra months in the oven - and it's clear they didn't balance that part of the game at all. But the parts are in place for future patches and modding.

The production values are obviously better - and the game looks very good, especially later on when you get Archangel armor and advanced weaponry. I love the research/interrogation sequences - and that's exactly the kind of modern stuff that suits the game so well.

Overall, I just can't help but think that they should have evolved the game a LOT more. I'll give them credit for "getting" the original flavor for the most part - but after 18 years, it can't be that hard to take the concepts to the next level. There are already several games out there (or in production) that mimic the original - so when you have the money and the opportunity - it would suit you to take the concept beyond that. Maybe that's just me, though.

7/10 - Game is worth playing - but ultimately failed to impress.
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November 7th, 2012, 17:12
Finished King's BountyWarriors of North.
Took me 64 hours, but it was fun and I still want more.

What can I say that isn't said already about it.
Pros: the game contains humor, it's not boring, it's fun, great music, valkyres are awsome and etc.
Cons: dunno… perhaps not many boss battles? also the 9th rage skill cannot be upgraded

The game is not buggy as hell as some claimed. I did get rare crashes and there is a fix to a particular one (ice dragon dying possible animation problem). Also there are 8 quests I couldn't solve. 5 of those are definetly a bug (confirmed on the official site, there is already a patch for that), but the rest 3 could be connected to some unknown and unconfirmed problem with the inventory, I did have an item needed to solve the quest, but nothing happened when I brought it to the quest giver (one of those is a horn of the black unicorn). In the end I've solved exactly 112 quests.

No I didn't number them. When you finish the game, it asks you do you want to save your stats - I said yes and got a nice desktop pic with you (the hero) surrounded by all 5 valkyres and stats including how many quests you solved. I'm keeping the pic as the background as I really like it.

The most positive things IMO are removal of the yucky mini dragon and there is no abusable area for easy item upgrading like in Crossroads.
And I'm definetly buying the fourth KB game, whenever and if it gets released.
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November 11th, 2012, 09:22
Well, not a game … as the only 'real' game I'm currently playing is Skyrim with addons, and I don't plan on finishing that one. - Anyway, I just finished the Golems of Amgarrak DLC for DA:O, now that the DLC finally showed up.

Sheesh! It was entirely doable, but I was grateful it's so short … especially after I stood in front of the final boss with my imported character (the Lvl 30-something 2handed warrior from Awakening) and discovered that I was, figuratively speaking, naked.
After getting my butt and those of my unfortunate teammates handed to me on a silver plate for the twelfth time, I decided to create a new character specifically for this. I needed a mage badly to get through the final battle, the party you collect has none (unless you count the, well,
Spoiler
), and none of my main characters were mages to begin with.

With enough healing and resurrection power it was over really fast - three attempts, and two of those misfired due to my elven mage in his nightgown getting stuck in well-populated corners.

Now I'm done with all the out-of-game DLC quests … back to DA:O proper.

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November 25th, 2012, 19:47
I finished Mass Effect 2 and started 3. I liked the companions and their stories in ME2, but was dissappointed by the planet scanning and not seeing Tali's skin after romancing her. The writing in ME3 seems to have gone seriously downhill - trite and depressing at times. But it sure looks good. And planet scanning is simplified by just pressing an awesome button. Oh well.
Last edited by Thrasher; November 28th, 2012 at 21:21.
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December 8th, 2012, 13:55
I decided to clear Jade empire of my backlog and finished after around 20 hours of playing.Story and characters are well written and well acted there are not many side quests but there are also no fetch quests all are well written with story behind them, also setting is nicely done inspired by legends and myths of east it wells fresh(at least to someone like me that only play wRPGs).Overall writing is good but not bioware's best.
From gameplay stand point game is pretty weak very limited character customization.Only 3 stats,nearly no equipment except gems that give some passive stats,on level up you gain 3 points to put in stats and few depending on level for styles that gives flat increase to their damage,speed,reduction to chi/focus etc.. which makes leveling up pretty unexciting.Combat is repetitive and boring only normal and heavy attack,block and heal and switching styles,also character doesn't feel responsive especially when using block/dodge .I can't say combat is broken or anything just it feels flat and unexciting and very simplistic.
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December 8th, 2012, 14:09
You forgot to say either:
- no wonder there is no sequel
or:
- can't believe there is no sequel.

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December 8th, 2012, 19:36
Yeah, from a gameplay perspective, I thought Jade Empire was Bioware's worst game by far. The setting and characters were good enough for me to finish it, but I doubt I'd ever replay it.
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December 8th, 2012, 22:10
Excellent points. Better variety in character options, combat, and sidequests, and you have the foundation for a really good sequel.

Originally Posted by Nameless one View Post
I decided to clear Jade empire of my backlog and finished after around 20 hours of playing.Story and characters are well written and well acted there are not many side quests but there are also no fetch quests all are well written with story behind them, also setting is nicely done inspired by legends and myths of east it wells fresh(at least to someone like me that only play wRPGs).Overall writing is good but not bioware's best.
From gameplay stand point game is pretty weak very limited character customization.Only 3 stats,nearly no equipment except gems that give some passive stats,on level up you gain 3 points to put in stats and few depending on level for styles that gives flat increase to their damage,speed,reduction to chi/focus etc.. which makes leveling up pretty unexciting.Combat is repetitive and boring only normal and heavy attack,block and heal and switching styles,also character doesn't feel responsive especially when using block/dodge .I can't say combat is broken or anything just it feels flat and unexciting and very simplistic.

To sum it up, I feel our space program ended up like this. "It's one small step for man. One giant leap for man kind. Oops I fell on my butt after that leap and can't get up anymore."
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December 9th, 2012, 20:54
Originally Posted by buckaroobonzai View Post
Excellent points. Better variety in character options, combat, and sidequests, and you have the foundation for a really good sequel.
It's highly unlikely that there will be sequel since 2k games own rights.Personalty I wouldn't want sequel but I would like to see setting reused in KotOR style game,also classic isometric would be good too.
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December 11th, 2012, 17:50
Jade Empire was the only Bioware game I could not play for more than a few hours. Mind you, I still think NWN was their worst game; JE at least didn't seem boring or cliched from a setting and story point of view for the 3 or 4 hours I played it.

But the gameplay was just too simplistic and linear. It just felt too much like an action game and I gave it a chance twice and quit at the same point each time. Shame too because the setting was pretty novel.

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January 28th, 2013, 00:03
Legend of Grimrock
Hardcore dungeon rpg for a new generation, or a nostalgian trip that only oldschoolers enjoy?

Story
Four prisoners are taken to the top of Mount Grimrock where they are thrown down into a dungeon and then pardoned for their crimes against the king. Of course, no one who got tossed into the dungeon have been able to come back. Soon after the new prisoners begin to explore their grim fate they are contacted in their sleep by an unknown voice who call to them from deep down below. If they can reach whoever carry that voice they might be able to get out. Along the way they begin to find helpful notes left by an unknown person called Toorum, a friendly beacon among grissly monsters and an occasional earthquake that feels that the whole dungeon is about to crumble down over their heads.

Engine: Graphics & Sound
The greatest part of Legend of Grimrock is it's presentation. Legend of Grimrock isn't just a polished dungeon crawler, its above average when it comes to beauty. The modern engine is capable of rendering light and darkness in real time which offers an unique eperience where light becomes an important gameplay element, both for puzzles and for spotting enemies. Only games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R or Amnesia have delivered this level of atmosphere to me before. This is a game to play when it's dark to get fully absorbed. This is the first game that captured the horror of a pitch black dungeon and it actually made me feel claustrophobic at times. The monsters very detailed and beautifully animated. The noises they make (or the noises you hear when there's no monsters around) really add to the atmosphere and keep you on your toes.

Gameplay
Legend of Grimrock is a hardcore partybased roleplayinggame in first person. Its greatest gimmick is an attempt to go back to the gridbased dungeonsystems of the early 90'ies. Before "isometric" was "in", these first-person crawlers allowed you to look and move in 4 directions but not diagonally, up or down. If you stood in a 1-square-wide corridor you cannot strafe an incoming fireball. To create these limits in a modern engine might sound a bit odd, but this actually creates an unique gameplay with many special strategies. If you run on the "hardcore" setting you won't get an automap at all and you have to memorize the dungeon with pen and pencil or in your head. This might be neccessary to be able to find all the hidden secrets and there are almost a hundred throughout the game.

Another aspect with dungeons like these is that they offer logical puzzles. There's often just one solution and you need to figure it out based on what you have and sometimes based on notes you get. These can be everything from pressuring plates, pulling levers to using torches to placing the right item into an alchove. If you are the kind of person who enjoy puzzles this is the game for you. Otherwise you are likely to get frustrated.

The party system allows you to create four characters out of four races and three professions. Each profession gets access to six talent trees of which you are probably just going to explore 2 or 3 in one playthrough. Magic is cast by clicking in runes that must be found (or guessed) before a spell can be used. Naturally the monsters are vulnerable or immune against certain magic so I am glad I had access to all four spellschools even though it took awhile to get good. Fighters can specialize in swords, axes, maces and knives (for rogues), each with their own speciality. There are also three kinds of protection; light, heavy and evasion. The former reduce damage taken and the latter avoid damage alltogether (if you are lucky).

Verdict
The atmosphere and beautiful graphics makes LoG a modern game. It's not for "hardcore oldschoolers", but it's really for players, young and old, who enjoys thinking over action. This is a game that will stretch your brain in many different aspects, from logical puzzles, to character planning to spatial ability. It's a fairly unique game and rather cheap as well. All things considered it was the best RPG in 2012 for me.

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January 28th, 2013, 01:02
Nice review Jemy. It is my favorite Rpg from last year too.
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February 2nd, 2013, 03:51
I just finished Borderlands 2 playing as a sniper Assassin solo the whole way through. I didn't get any DLC or pre-order bonuses. Overall it was good stuff but it had some problems that are really going to annoy some folks.

Like the first game, the characters are WAY over the top and quite well done. Several characters from the first game return along with several new ones. Your arch-nemesis, Handsome Jack, is very well played and has some interesting motivations.

Unlike the first game, the story is well done, too. There are plot twists, betrayals, and an ending that's really fun instead of a total let-down like in Borderlands 1. In fact, the story is good enough that it actually makes the story from the first game interesting!

The quests are typically weird and fun. They're still mostly the standard fetch this, go trip that lever, kill this other boss stuff but that's the basic ingredients of RPG quests. It's how you write and execute them that makes the game fun and this game does them very, very well.

There are also a LOT of them. It didn't take long to figure out that I needed to start skipping quests if I wanted to have any challenge doing my story quests. Even skipping some quests, I got 70 hours out of the game so I definitely got my money's worth.

While there are a lot of different zones, there are way more quests than zones. If you can arrange for quests in the same zone to be done at the same time you can save yourself some repetition but the game doesn't make that easy. Some quests won't even open up until after you go through the zone the first time. This is unfortunate as the enemies you face are mostly the same ones spawning in the same locations.

My biggest con against this game, though, is the save system. I don't know if its the console roots or the multiplayer but the practical upshot is you get a terribly weak checkpoint save system. I guess it does save your character when you pass a checkpoint but it also saves when you quit out of the game so, unless you're prone to crashing, all the checkpoints do is update your respawn point. Worse yet, they don't really even do that in a permanent way. If you quit out of the game, you'll find yourself at the starting point for the zone when you come back in.

I found this out the hard way. Early on in the game I was doing a story mission where you go through something like 7 checkpoints. It was pretty rough and I had to go to bed at the 5th checkpoint. The next night I start up the game and found myself with all the loot and experience I had when I quit but I was standing clear back at the start of the hostile zone. I almost rage-quit right then and there! I got used to the save system (quiting and restarting can be a handy way to get back to civilization fast) but it was a real problem throughout the game. If it gets late and your half way through a mission your choices are to lose all the progress you made or to leave the game running all night long.

The other big annoyance is respawning. Enemies don't just respawn when you quit. They don't just respawn when you leave a zone and come back. They actually respawn after, oh, maybe 15 minutes. Loot left lying around de-spawns, too. However, any loot boxes you've opened do NOT respawn. If you forget something and have to run back to a previous area, you can find yourself having some major ammo issues.

Gameplay variety is a strong point in this game. Your skills change how you play, the loot you find can really change how you play, and different enemies require very different tactics. I never really got bored except a few times when I had to go up against the same enemies in the same zone with the same weapons and skills.

The graphics areÖ wellÖ comic book style right down to the black outlines. I never really liked that style but they do a pretty good job of it. The music they had was good but they needed more of it.

Overall, a good RPG/shooter. It could have been nicer (especialy wrt the save game system) but the story and characters are strong enough to cover for the problems.
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February 26th, 2013, 13:44
Finished Dead Space 3 over the weekend.

DS3 takes place 3 years after the events of DS2, and you once again find yourself in the boots of Isaac Clarke as he battles another necromorph outbreak.

Unfortunately, that's about the only similarity between this game and DS 1&2.

Visceral Games decided to focus more on action and co-op aspects in DS3, and the result is a very different feel compared to the prequels. Unlike DS 1&2, there are quite a few NPCs in this game, and a significant increase in the amount of interaction with them. There's also a *lot* more action - which is saying something considering that DS 1&2 weren't exactly lacking in action to begin with. There were long stretches where I felt like I was playing a Gears of War clone rather than a Dead Space sequel.

There were also a number of fundamental changes to this sequel that rubbed me the wrong way.

For one, the amount of loot is ridiculous. The prequels weren't the epitome of realism when it came to finding health and ammo, but DS3 takes it to a whole new level. There's way too much stuff just lying around, and, to make matters worse, items actually respawn in some places. It's possible to farm for health/ammo/materials by simply walking into some rooms, collecting the item, and then exiting and reentering to find another item. That pretty much destroyed any sense of immersion for me in those areas.

If that wasn't bad enough, item crates also respawn upon reloading a save even if you've already cleared that area.

That leads me to mention the new save system, or rather lack thereof. In DS 1&2 there were save stations that you had to reach in the game to manually save your progress. Although it was a console-like feature, I liked it because it added to the tension when you were running low on health and trying to survive to reach that next station. They decided to eliminate those for DS3 and go with nothing but an autosave. Even worse, you're also confined to a single save slot now.

There's an option to replay any chapter you've previously completed, but then you'll lose your current progress as soon as the game autosaves. So if you want to replay an area that you particularly liked, you'll have to manually back up your save file first. I think it's a terrible system any way you look at it, and I don't understand why they chose to go that route.

They also got rid of all the different ammo for the weapons in the game. Now everything uses the same ammo clip ala Deus Ex: Invisible War. I can understand why they did this because of the focus on co-op and the weapon building, but it was another immersion breaker for me in single-player. I would have prefered if they had just reduced the amount of ammo instead. For instance: instead of having unique ammo for every weapon, why not just have three main types? They could have broken it down to ammo for energy weapons, projectile weapons, and flame weapons. I realize it's probably just a minor change to most people, but I couldn't stop thinking of how ridiculous it was that my pulse rifle and flame thrower used the exact same kind of clip.

DS3 is also much longer than the prior games. There are 19 chapters in all, and I'd estimate that my play time was roughly equal to DS 1&2 combined. It's not a good thing in this case though, as there's quite a bit of filler compared to the prequels. Some of the side missions feature layouts that are almost identical, and it's hard not to notice.

I won't go into any details about the plot except to say I wasn't impressed. There are a few things that just don't add up compared to the other games, and the writing is inconsistent at best.

The game does have its moments. In particular, I thought the second main area you reach was fantastic at times. Unfortunately, you don't spend a whole lot of time there, and then it's off to where most of the game takes place.

You also get to build your own weapons in this game, either from blueprints or just randomly putting parts together yourself. I enjoyed experimenting with different builds, and it was one of the few redeeming aspects for me. Most of the weapons from DS 1&2 are included, although some of them look different now.

Ironically, their decision to go for more sales by making DS3 more action and co-op oriented may have backfired. Their opening week sales were down by 26.6% compared to DS2, and the user scores on Metacritic are significantly lower than DS1&2. I can only hope they learn a lesson from this and go back to what made the series so popular to begin with.

6.5/10
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