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June 29th, 2013, 02:02
You finished Halo in a day?

That's pretty impressive considering how repetitive that game is at times. I remember taking breaks because I would get bored from how samey some of the levels were. I also recall it being fairly long for a modern first-person shooter.

Despite the sometimes shitty level design though, I quite liked it, and I completely agree about the music and sci-fi atmosphere. I also liked the story despite the cliche characters. The vast majority of PC gamers will tell you that Halo is just a generic console shooter, but I actually think it's a bit underrated myself.

I'm interested in hearing your impressions of Halo 2. I quit after the first few levels. It looked and felt inferior to the first game in every way to me.
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June 29th, 2013, 02:35
I'm thinking of challenging Maylander once we're close to a release that interests me

I didn't realize Halo 2 was an XBOX game until quite recently. The whole Vista exclusive thing had me believe it was a 360 launch title but it appears I won't get the chance to enjoy the series' style with modern gfx. I expect to have finished it by Monday but will waste some time giving Heroic a chance to see if it's as hard.

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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July 3rd, 2013, 06:53
Halo 2

Didn't touch it until today but finished it in one sitting. I think it's fair to say it was about 20-25% shorter although the noticeably higher pacing might have affected my perception. My notes are also quite short.

For good or for worse Halo 2 is not a significant departure from the original. The mechanics are largely the same so any improvement comes from various additions and tweaks in the quantitative balance of the content. The much more elaborate treatment of the Covenant (the antagonists) was by far the biggest change due to it affecting both the story and (to my surprise) the gameplay to an important degree. To cut a long story short you get to play as the Arbiter, an alien of the Covenant , which allows for some stealth and melee in the regular parts and a few very entertaining vehicle wieding sequences with an airfight being their high point.

While the shooting mechanics are virtually unchanged and thus as average as beforehand, the FPS part of the game has been enriched by doubling the number of available weapons and the number of opponents which provide and force different tactical approaches. It was also possible to dual wield a few weapons which made for some interesting mixing. As in Halo:CE I started on Heroic but had to drop the difficulty down to normal after a level or two. The game was a tad easier this time on normal and only became challenging after about 3/4ths and mostly due to the absolutely retarded checkpoint system.

The driving parts felt more linear this time around but Bungie certainly tried to make them more spectacular with a tank blasting its way through a city and the aforementioned airfight standing out. It was still more free than what you'd get in a CoD although I think it's mostly due to the engine and the importance of fun multiplayer.

I would say the first and the last 20% of the game are its weakest parts and its peak is about halfway in. The early maps of the game are urban and alongside the more detailed visuals made the game look very KOTOResque rather than close to the visual style of the first game. Luckily the game leaves earth for good after a while and starts providing the good stuff (some Alien ruins actually looked like the ruins towards the end of KOTOR1) . One major difference is that there is, in striking contrast to the original, very few occasions of reusing parts of a map and setpieces. This fact along with the jumps between controlling Master Chief and the Artiber made for a much less monotonous experience with what however felt like higher pacing.

The higher pacing was amongst other things caused by the ability to be stealthy and the easier difficulty, which allowed me to just run past opponents in some cases and was actually encouraged late in the game. While there is no blatant repeating and the game did provide me a considerable number of sightseeing moments I found myself admiring the scenery and the visual style less often than in the original, both the music and the art direction felt less prominent in the experience. The pacing and my being more used to the building style of the Covenant are probably the main reasons.

The story of Halo 2 was undoubtedly under a more prominent focus than in Combat Evolved. The game had at least double the number of cutscenes of the first and while they weren't all of a great quality and bits of the story felt forced or even confused I can't fault Bungie since it was clearly more of an attempt. I certainly appreciated how the covenant got speech, a civilization, backstabbing politics and a protagonist all of a sudden. On that note I have to admit I liked the Arbiter a fair bit more than Master Chief who didn't say too much and only bothered uttering cool one liners, I can see how that work but didn't do much for identification. The ending is a cliffhanger which apparently got a lot of critisism but I can't say I disliked it, even knowing that I'm not likely to play Halo 3. While the writing wasn't anything remarkable I'm glad to report that there are less cringe worthy-roll eyes moments and that Sergeant Johnson only extreme case of bad writing left.

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
Last edited by Kostas; July 3rd, 2013 at 18:45.
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July 6th, 2013, 02:55
Driftmoon
Driftmoon is a relatively recent indie RPG with a rules-light system and a rather humorous tone.

Graphics & sound
The graphics in Driftmoon is bright & colourful, and while the game does not use the latest and most technically advanced game engine, it does look pleasant, and everything is clearly identifiable. The graphical style does suit the game's tone and is quite pleasing to the eyes, even if it won't wow anyone.

As for the game's sound, the sound effects are functional but not spectacular and the music is calming and again, fits the tone of the game. I would have wished for the music to have played a bit more often though, although I guess the slightly limited soundtrack means that if the music would have played all the time, it might have started to get repetitive.

Gameplay
Driftmoon has a rather rules-light system, which makes it well suited for beginners to the genre. There are 5 different stats, and all rather obvious in what they do (strength increases melee damage, constitution gives you hit points), and a small skill-tree with some rather self explanatory skills.

The combat system does suffer from being a bit on the simplistic side though, you swing, and if you have the mana for it, you can also use some special abilities. Alternatively you can use a bow, which generally means moving away from the enemies while shooting. There are no spells in the game, so for those who want to play a mage-type character, that is not possible. On the plus side, the game encourages you to both use your bow & your melee weapon, which does add some variety.

The games has quite a few puzzles, though none of them were very challenging. Puzzles includes navigating a maze, a slider puzzle, riddles and so on, so there is at least a good amount of variety to them. But it would have been nice if they had been a bit more challenging.

Story & Setting
The story is relatively simple. A big evil has come to your village and petrified all of its inhabitants. You need to find this big evil, kill it, and save the village. Obviously things get more complicated, as the big evil has managed to wreck some havoc in other places of the world as well.

What sets the setting apart from that of other CRPGs is its tone. A lot of the dialogue has a rather humorous tone to it, and there are also many other silly elements to it (you gather goldfishes on land because they give you power?), and the characters do seem to be slightly aware of how odd some things are, but without breaking the 4th wall (why are for an example the most common fruit in the setting known as "evil berries"?). There are also some references to other CRPGs, like Ultima 7 in the game, and if you know a thing or two about Finland, some things in the game might seem familiar.

Closing words
Driftmoon is a short and rather easy CRPG, and its simple rule system might bore some CRPG-veterans, but for beginners or people who just want something simple to play, it will probably provide a few hours of entertainment. It is also not a very expensive game, and it does have support for modding (and there are a few mods out there for the game).
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July 7th, 2013, 01:39
Well, just wrapped up Shadows of Undrentide + Hordes of the Underdark for the first time (yeah, I know, I'm just a wee bit late to the party).

Both titles had me cursing up a storm at times due to the limited party control. In spite of making use of TonyK's AI mod, it was still not possible to give even simple commands to NPC's during fights such as, "heal yourself, stupid". Additionally, with no cleric henchmen for the vast majority of SoU, it was pretty annoying at times to run into level or stat drain. So anoying in fact that I resorted to cheating in some restoration scrolls - something I rarely if ever do.

Undrentide was very by the book as far as fantasy plots go. While I found the exploration of the Netherese civilization pretty engaging, it was all fairly cliche and dull at times.

Underdark… well, quite frankly I think it's overrated. I was expecting far more give all the praise it has received. While an ok story (certainly better than SoU's), my two major gripes with this expansion stem from the loot progression (really, it felt like even the rats would drop artifacts at times) and how the story felt so disjointed. First one archenemy, then another, and finally a third. This awkwardness wasn't helped in the slightest by how you were served up throwaway henchmen with each chapter (aside from Deekin).

All in all, I don't regret my time playing these two titles but I'm definitely of the opinion that, for campaigns, NWN2 is far superior in terms of story, game progression, and party control.
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July 8th, 2013, 22:36
As for the healing in NWN and Hordes and Underdark, I've read somewhere (in a walkthrough, I think?) that if you give your henchmen healing potions they will drink them, if they get down to say the 'badley wounded condition. Also, you really should get healing kits, and have your main character (pc) learn the heal skill (put 4-6 points into this skill, as it is really, really helpful).

You should download Pirates of the Sword Coast and Wyvern Crown of Cormyr.
While at first, Pirates seem to be about, yes pirates, the story branches out into a full fledged adventure. I played as a rogue and a gnome. I just forgot that rogues get access to a skill called Use Magic Device. However, in the last battle, I had to cheat (via god mod) to beat the last aspect of the game. Very annoying it was, but finally the game ended.

Wyvern Crown of Cormyr - I've just finished this fine mod/game. Wyvern Crown of Cormyr has an great story, and you get to ride horses and compete in a jousting tournament. The characters you meet have a great backstory as well - be sure to talk to them and ask them about themselves. Be warned though: In a pivotal part of the game, you'll need a horse. And there's no foreshadowing of this. Very annoying. Also, it features and underwater area, also very annoying, at least to me. But overall, a great mod/game.

I can recommend Darkness over Daggerford as well; as far I'm concerned this is by far the best module of them all to date for NWN. Great story, great characters, and a challenging but not diffucult battle at the end.

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July 15th, 2013, 19:18
Neverwinter Nights 2 - Official Campaign

Any attempts to review NWN2's OC lead me to comparisons with Dragon Age: Origins. It's possible my being away from the genre for so long distorts my views but I'm certain there are significant similarities in gameplay, story and scale.

To say that the game's start is slow would be understatement. Apart from gaming disasters which I either didn't invest time in or regretted doing so NWN2 must be the least inviting game I've played.

On the one side there's the introductory areas which drag for about 5 hours and deservedly gave the game the reputation of a slow starter, And while I did arm myself with plenty of patience to play through that I never expected to find out that even beyond those areas, about 80% of Act 1 was filler. To put that in perspective that's about 25-30% of the beginning of the game which translates into 10-12 hours (the length of the average modern game), all that while looking past the initial 5h intro.

On the other side you've got an enormous amount of technical issues (not bugs by the strictest definition) which ensured that that first part of the game was not even remotely entertaining. I've mentioned them in another post but it here it goes again: horrendous camera system, terrible and tiny UI, least reliable autosave ever (lost about 5h in total and more importantly ended up supporting a faction I didn't want to in Act 1), bad AI and lengthy loading (10seconds to load a 3 room building on an SSD?!). While I (to my surprise) got used to that feeling of struggling against the engine in order to progress in the game, even after finishing it I can't say this wouldn't have been better in 2D or another medium altogether, at times it felt like the game agreed.

By contrast DA:O was both easier to play (regardless of rulesets) despite the evidently similar engine and some of the origins were as good as any part of the game. Unless the (Dnd)ruleset is by far the most important part of a game for some I am somewhat baffled by the various projects that sough to recreate games in the NWN2 engine.

With that said, the game does get much better. Act 2 (and a large part of Act 3) is genuinely good in all respects and while the city of Neverwinter never turns into a memorable hub the questing done in and around it in that part of the game is of a high quality. My playing routines are a testimony to how much the game improved, Act 1 took me ~10 days of on and off play while the subsequent Acts took me 3 and 1/2 days of (almost) non-stop play. Despite the wasted hours the length is one of the game's strong points.

The gameplay is solid, if unspectacular. The (implementation of the) ruleset is obviously the selling point, with the depth, complexity and sheer amount of different combat approaches pretty much trumping your average cRPG by an order of magnitude. The game's items and crafting are similarly intricate. For anyone big on those specific aspect of cRPGs the game must have been a goldmine. One minor complaint from my part if the (possibly set by the difficulty level?) ability to rest pretty much anywhere. My fairly basic wizard never run out of spells and I feel like I hardly exploited that particular mechanism.

From Act 2 onward the quests were mostly interesting. Most of them (obviously) led to resolution by combat but there were about half a dozen puzzles included and numerous chances to resolve quests through dialogue. Unfortunately any skill checks were usually insta-win options and there was little of the famous Obsidian reactivity. Much like the (binary) treatment of morality and the quality of writing, NWN2 wasn't bad by the industry or the genre standards but it was underwhelming in comparison to their own work.

I suspect the designers intended the companions to be the showcase of the game's reactivity. However the fact that more than half of the 12 (!) companions were either not interesting or simply annoying coupled with my intention to roleplay rather than powerplay and babysit each one of them meant that when that reactivity mattered in the main-quest I simply nodded in indifference to the [Infuence: Success/Failure] the game started throwing at me. In fact the only Act 1 companion I bothered dragging with me was Khelgar (the dwarf) and stuck to the 2 most developed by the main quest (Sand, Jerro) + the Gith (due to my fondness of Dak'kon) whenever possible. With that said props to Obsidian for designing the most annoying companion yet (Qara) and
Spoiler – slight ending spoiler
Grobnar is also memorable, must have been fun to write.

As far as the story is concerned it's your typical fight the bad guy thing. In comparison to DA:O's they come up about even with DA winning on the details of the story and NWN2 handling the sequence of events better. It's (I guess) fairly epic but the lack of any significant twists or any involving qualities (was I supposed to care about Shandra?) ranks it lower that most decently written RPGs. All in all the story is worth your time but it's not something that one just has to experience.

As far as art direction is concerned I found the OC to be somewhat bland. The music is forgetable although it's possible the lack of dramatic highs or lows undersells it and the locations are, with a handful of exceptions, standard generic middle-age forests, buildings, caves and crypts. It's again possible that Faerûn is to blame but when your engine is so limiting in terms of immersion your art department better make up for that.

A couple of sidenotes:
  • As far as the scripts are concerned the game was mostly bug-free. I only noticed about 5-6 occasions and they were at best immersion breaking. Some scripts needed a reload to initiate but given the scale of the game that's pretty forgivable. The most annoying pure bug was the rubberbanding that plagued my prefered camera mode but as with every other engine problem I got used to it.
  • Given how often it's been mentioned in the Kickstarter campaign I guess Crossroads Keep is worth a word but I just found it a decent time/money sink. It's infinitely better than the stupid minigames every other RPG has but apart from that it's merely a good excuse to revisit certain places.

All in all I'd give the OC a 8.7 for a good, lengthy but not particularly memorable or exceptional RPG experience. I'm looking past the issues in ¶ 2-4 (as it ultimately wasn't unplayable) and concentrating mostly on the good qualities (or their lack). I can see how this can be 9+ game for someone who only cares about Dnd or a 7ish game for anyone not into the kind of RPGs that Obsidian and Bioware develop.

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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July 15th, 2013, 19:23
8.7 seems quite generous based on that wording, to be honest.

But I largely agree with everything you said.
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July 15th, 2013, 19:32
The rating was all about the time I invested and my comparing it with Dragon Age. I was torn between 8.6 and 8.7. Given that I'd give DA:O no less than 8.5 the fact that I played through the truckload of content Act 2 had without tiring gave it a slight edge.

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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July 15th, 2013, 19:51
Originally Posted by Kostas View Post
The rating was all about the time I invested and my comparing it with Dragon Age. I was torn between 8.6 and 8.7. Given that I'd give DA:O no less than 8.5 the fact that I played through the truckload of content Act 2 had without tiring gave it a slight edge.
Fair enough… Overall, I'd probably rate NWN2 OC 7 or 7.5 - mostly because I'm such a huge fan of D&D 3.5.

I found the story somewhat interesting - though the ending was a bit of a letdown. But the engine, UI, camera, beginning and so on all drag it down quite a bit.

I found the original NWN miles ahead of NWN2 in terms of UI and controls. Visually, NWN2 is an improvement - but it's also incredibly slow and clunky.

I believe I argued those points when I spoke against the engine in relation to the recent BG mod release. I really think it's a bad engine to pick for such a mod.
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July 15th, 2013, 20:48
Kostas, I could have provided you with links to mods to improve the UI, font size, plus config settings to fix the camers. I've posted this info previsously, so if anyone wants to avoid those issues, just search for my posts. I am starting forget how I did it back then…

Cheers!
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July 15th, 2013, 21:11
I need to revisit NWN2 sometime. I especially miss the exploration aspect of Zehir.
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July 15th, 2013, 21:21
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Fair enough… Overall, I'd probably rate NWN2 OC 7 or 7.5 - mostly because I'm such a huge fan of D&D 3.5.

I found the story somewhat interesting - though the ending was a bit of a letdown. But the engine, UI, camera, beginning and so on all drag it down quite a bit.

I found the original NWN miles ahead of NWN2 in terms of UI and controls. Visually, NWN2 is an improvement - but it's also incredibly slow and clunky.

I believe I argued those points when I spoke against the engine in relation to the recent BG mod release. I really think it's a bad engine to pick for such a mod.
Interesting, I frequently find my own ratings be a solid point above those of other people. 9s and 10s are no-man's land but if I can firmly say something has been worth my time it's more than likely to get an 8.

I noticed the ending discussion thread in the spoilers subforum and couldn't initially understand what it was about. I was certainly less invested in the characters than most.

Originally Posted by Thrasher View Post
Kostas, I could have provided you with links to mods to improve the UI, font size, plus config settings to fix the camers. I've posted this info previsously, so if anyone wants to avoid those issues, just search for my posts. I am starting forget how I did it back then…

Cheers!
Would have been easy had you not had 8K posts I'll look into it.
I used the 2 mods mentioned here. Regarding camera I found Character Mode to require the least mouse-fu and since it worked 90% of the time I got used to it.

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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July 15th, 2013, 22:04
Ah good, yes, Fire and Ice's Big Fonts mods is what I would suggest. It looks like you found it yourself. Great. There is also an inventory mod that uses bigger and re-arranged icons, I believe. Very helpful.

Regarding camera settings. I posted my config settings and can repost if anyone wants. The most important tweak it has is to reduce sensitivity. Strangely, the solution is not obvious, but it's SO important.
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July 21st, 2013, 04:45
XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Continuing my trend of being late to the party, I just finished up the new XCOM. Overall, a very fun squad-based game with which I had very minor complaints.

The real fun in the game (for me) lied in researching new tech and interrogating captives. The campaign's reveal of enemies was also very well-paced and it was interesting to see their different abilities played out.

The missions themselves, however, often felt fairly tedious, at times making me wish there was a setting to enable real-time movement until enemies were visible or you specifically wanted certain squad positioning. The ease with which enemies seemed to hit my squad-mates was also annoying - forcing me to reload more often than I wanted. I'm not sure how players manage Ironman.

I'm looking forward to a second playthrough as I'm wondering what will be different (if anything of consequence). At the least, I hope to garner more than a measely two psi soldiers as I did in my first playthrough.

Best moment of the game: the first mission with Chryssalids, when my entire troop is in Overwatch mode, going through clip after clip, desperately trying to keep the things out of melee range and their one-hit kill attacks. And, meanwhile, being assaulted by the army of citizen-turned-zombies that I can't get to in time. FUN!
Worst moment of the game: being super broke and unable to do much of anything for 2-3 months because I didn't understand the importance of satellites.

Rating B+

Last edited by Drithius; July 21st, 2013 at 04:57.
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July 25th, 2013, 01:36
Neverwinter Nights 2 - Mask of the Betrayer

I feel like I have to make clear that since the following is going to be heavily skewed by expectations that MotB was not just a thoroughly enjoyable experience but also one of high quality. There's an interesting world and story to explore, the quality of writing and degree of reactivity is probably good enough to be compared with any remotely modern game. All that coupled with the perfectly adequate levels of polish and production values should be enough to produce a modern classic or a least the closest thing (expansion) to it.

With that being said and knowing just how ridiculously hard this test would be for any game I have to make clear MotB is not as good as Planescape: Torment. It's not even in the same league. While it clearly draws some inspirations from PS:T, they‘re more evident in its stylistic rather than the thematic focus (hope that makes sense) . Most importantly the actual effect itself is not comparable.

I'll begin with the story and try to keep is as spoiler-free as possible. My main gripe with MotB's plot is that it's just not personal enough. The Betrayer's story is interesting in itself but since it's about someone else's "torment" (pardon the pun) rather than your own your character's involvement in it is rarely more than an inconvenience or an attempt to deal with bad luck. The difference with the identity searching that PS:T is all about is tremendous. The fact is, I already had a sense of identity for my character due to him being the OC's harborman so the entirety of MotB felt like a mere case of "new lands-new adventures" and not something deeper.

My second point is related to the story's delivery. There's a chance the fault for what I'm about to describe lays on my end but the fact that the game even allows that to happen is bad design. Let's just say that after less than 20% of the game you'll reach a hard area which has a door that you won't get to open until very late in the game. I'm not sure when is that area supposed to be explored but the game really just seems to leave it up to the player. With enough patience and a correct use of the ridiculously overpowered epic spells and the tank companion Okku it can be thoroughly explored as soon as you find it. The problem is that apart from the main-quest related door there's also a library in which you can find a scroll which recounts the Betrayer's story in detail. Since you spend 80% of the game collecting the pieces of that very story and just 20% in trying to figure out how your character got involved, reading the scroll pretty much spoils a huge part of the game's story and puts you firmly ahead of your character in terms of knowing what happened. The quest tied to the scroll was the 13th quest I completed in the game, out of probably over 100. Furthermore even when it comes to the rest of the events, the connections (when some bits of info are presented) are fairly easy to make and I can honestly say I figured 90% of the stuff way before my character.

Another major issue that wasn’t strictly connected to the main story’s focus but should have annoyed me more than it did and is generally just inexcusable is how the game misguides you until the very last moment into believing that you can actually have a huge effect on the world but has your character walking away from the action as soon as your own little problem is solved.
Spoiler


On overall, if I had to compare MotB’s tone and story with another I think the closest would be KOTOR2:The Sith Lords rather than PS:T. Aside from the setting and universe which are obviously much more suited to the themes and the ending which is certainly closer to a proper closure than a disaster, it really felt like a better TSL set in Dnd.


Having covered the story extensively I think the rest of the game can be summed up as NWN2 with the very bad bits fixed. Case in point the beginning which not only doesn't waste endless hours but spends less than 1h before you're both properly introduced to the story and free to go your own way. The game is deceptively long with its 2nd act lasting 4 times as much as the 1st and 3rd put together.

One of the most apparent improvements is in the area of companions who while limited in number (3+1 depending on your choices) are both better written and better voiced. Gann is particularly good but my personal favourite is the criminally underdeveloped Kaji, who is as good in terms of comic relief as HK47 or even Morte. The voice-overs are better all across the board and thankfully the difference (with NWN2) is most noticeable when it comes to game's narrator who actually does a solid job reading even the lines describing your character's inner thoughts.

It seems the less generic plot also helped the art department be more inspired since this game easily matches any other of its kind in locations and maps. Even the depressing/dreary maps are well designed and the various dreamwalking and plane-traveling offer a variety which puts NWN2 to shame. The astral plane in particular is the best location created in a Bioware/Obsidian 3D engine (Aurora/Odyssey/Eclipse/Electron) and so good on its own I'd be willing to pick up any other Dnd game that features it.

One important reason the level design was so much better is the fact that in MotB the concept of planes is much more prominent than in NWN2. I find that (probably due to their importance in PS:T) I enjoy the lore around Dnd more than the actual mechanics. This was certainly the case in MotB as the high-level Dnd gameplay as a wizard was probably its weakest point. Since there weren't any spells past the 9th circle the existing dozens of spells were mostly useless and the new ones were delivered as Feats (with a Spellcraft requirement) and so had to make up for their scarcity in power.

The rest of the mechanics were definitely improved. Resting stopped being a glorified 5sec break and was turned into what I expected from my IE experience. The difficulty was bumped up significantly with each major fight needing a couple of reloads to get right, one could use Okku but the other companions were more interesting. Crafting was simplified although my NWN2 experience kept me away from it. I'm not sure if the notorious soul eating mechanism was tweaked since release but apart from the first hour or so of realizing it was there (late) and suffering the Stage 4 problems it was hardly a problem. Sure it wasn't introduced properly but it's not like any NWN2 mechanism was. Giving into the craving could potentially make it a significant gameplay element but in my case it just wasn't.

MotB also gets bonus points for providing what seems to be a genuinely tempting evil playthrough. The game presented me with enough occasions where it was impossible not to be vengeful and even beyond those the whole soul eater thing is much more than your usual puppy kicking bad guy. Had I not been so saturated I would have fired up a new playthrough as soon as I ended the first one. Having read how different some seemingly trivial encounters could have gone if I wasn't trying to suppress the craving I know I'm going to return to this game soon.

All in all I think by the end of it I was becoming a little sick of the NWN2 gameplay and would certainly appreciate an engine that allowed for more open gameplay with less number fiddling. This is mostly related to my FN:V comparison at the end but if I had any doubts over which type of RPG I generally prefer I don't have them anymore.

Trying to rate MotB has made me question whether the rating I gave the OC was too high (as DArtagnan had pointed out). I'd give MotB a 9.2 but the quality gap between it and the OC is certainly bigger than 0.6 (even taking into account how important decimals are in the 9s). Someone mentioned in another thread the other day how MotB is (regarded as) Obsidian's magnum opus. I disagree. To put things in perspective, I'd say it's about as good as The Witcher 1 but not quite as big an achievement as their own Fallout: New Vegas.

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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July 26th, 2013, 12:10
Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light

Metro 2033 was a replay so I won't bother going into detail on that. I'm pretty sure I talked about it somewhere in this thread in the past. Bottom line: it's one of the better modern first-person shooters imo, and anyone who's a fan of the genre should play it.

Metro: Last Light starts up 1 year after the events that took place in Metro 2033. You again play as Artyom, but unlike Metro 2033 which was based on the novel of the same name by Dmitry Glukhovsky, this game isn't based on a novel. The writing didn't blow me away, but I thought it was above average for the genre. Afaik, the plot for Last Light was also written by Glukhovsky.

Metro 2033 was one of the more impressive games from a visual standpoint to be released in recent years, and Last Light is no different. The graphics are impressive to say the least, but they come at a price. Make sure you have higher-end graphics card if you're going to tackle this game.

If you've played Metro 2033, then Last Light won't throw too many surprises your way. It's basically more of the same which is a good thing imo. The game relies heavily on atmosphere and tension throughout, and does an excellent job of it. Like 2033, the sound effects are top notch and do a geat job of adding to the atmosphere.

The levels are well designed if somewhat linear, and there are lots of hidden nooks and crannies to discover. The attention to detail is superb, and I'm not sure if I've ever seen a more convincing post-apocalyptic world in a game. I also enjoyed the little details like Artyom's watch showing the current real-world time.

The animation is also excellent and combat is tight. Many of the levels also have a stealth option that generally works well. I did think stealth was done a little better in Metro 2033 though. It seemed a bit on the easy side in Last Light. There were times when it seemed like human enemies were extremely near-sighted.

The game is a lot easier than Metro 2033. I was aware of this prior to starting though and played on Hardcore difficulty. I found that setting to be about on par with the Normal difficulty in the prequel. On the other hand, Last Light is also a lot longer than 2033 which is known for being a very short game. I'd say it's around double the length.

Overall it's a very solid game. If you're a fan of Glukhovsky's work or post-apocalyptic settings in general, you need to play it. It's a worthy sequel to Metro 2033.

I give both games an 8.5.

If I had to choose one or the other, it would be Metro 2033 by the tiniest of margins. I enjoyed them both equally, but I feel the superior enemy AI and stealth elements make 2033 slightly better despite its brevity.
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July 28th, 2013, 16:53
Gunpoint

Saw it during the Steam Sale, tried the demo, and instantly bought it. It's a very interesting concept imo. You're a freelance spy, with pants that allow you to jump really far/high (long falls don't kill you), who witnessed a murder next door. You are essentially the prime suspect as the building next door has you on camera in the building when the murder happened. The goal is to unravel the mystery, the main quest line splits into 2 factions.

The missions require you to break into buildings to hack computers to wipe data/planet data/steal data. This requires breaking through computerized security systems while eluding/incapacitating/killing guards. Missions are basically puzzles; how can I get to xxx and which is the best way to go about it? Some of the later puzzles are very well put together and a few times I found myself sitting there pondering how to attack the problem.

There's a very limited upgrade system (3 upgradable abilities, and maybe a dozen skills to purchase). Biggest complaint is the lack of content, 2 hours tops. The Dev has expressed an interest in adding Steam Workshop support. I think it's absolutely worth checking out the demo but, I doubt most people will see value in it outside the bargain bin.
Last edited by greywolf00; July 28th, 2013 at 17:36.
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July 28th, 2013, 17:28
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

Hack & Slash with a couple new/unusual approaches. As much as I enjoyed it, will pick up the next one, it just doesn't offer anywhere near the content of TL 2.

A couple of missions function like a Tower Defense game. Enemy is trying to invade your hideout, usually from multiple points simultaneously. Goal is to stop them from getting in obviously by kill them yourself, or the use of traps. After the first mission like this, the attack pattern was pretty clear and it was very easy to shuffle traps around for future invasions to prevent all but 1 monster from getting through.

Every attack skill has 3 possible addons. These addons modify the skill, kind of like D3. These addons can be stacked in any combination of 3 you wish, 3A or 1A + 1B + 1C for example, and will proc the addon's special effects when you spend Rage.

Much like TL 2, you have a pet that can buy/sell gear for you. Unlike TL 2, she actually levels up and you get to spend points on attributes & skills. I definitely noticed a difference in my melee combat effectiveness without her buffs. Also, in TL 2 reputation level ups resulted in an extra skillpoint, in Van Helsing, it results in a perk. You only get 10 (I think) through the entire game with a total of 38 (not all available at once, have to be unlocked) to pick from. For the most part, I felt these were well done. Some clearly targeted for ranged, other for melee, and some with universal usefulness.

Really liked their approach to the major boss fights. The boss for Chapter 1 for example, could be "face tanked" or you could run around and utilize the environment to speed things up a bit.

I also enjoyed the story and banter quite a bit; I did LoL on a couple occasions. There's a fair amount of side quests too but, outside the tower defense stuff, nothing stood out as new.

As said, as much as I enjoyed it, TL 2 just offers more content. You only have 2 skill trees & passives + a buff/utility ability tab filled from buying them from teachers (as opposed to 3 & passives in TL 2), Ranged and Melee. You're limited to 2 active skills and a combination of 2 buffs/utility skills. When you compare this to other games in the genre, it's very limiting. The 2 skill trees also amount to only a handful of classes/builds. Each tree can do physical or magic damage with a couple AoE skills in both. Again, other games in the genre offer much more variety.

I also noticed a slight issue with ranged balance. Most games like this melee has a problem, have to be in range to take damage to deal it and have to close with ranged opponents. In Van Helsing, it seemed like ranged lacked damage/survivability in comparison to melee builds. Entirely possible it was operator error, I make a good tank and a horrible kiter, but it stood out to me here where it normally doesn't.

Mobs do not respawn, ever. The game is hand crafted so you'll never seriously out level content but, if you get stuck or want/need better gear, you won't have many options.

And finally, the game isn't very long. Took me slight north of 10 hours to finish without skipped side quests. At release, there was no endgame at all. You killed the final boss, you're done. They have since recycled 3 (or 4) maps for level 30+ monsters (30 is level cap). They offer absolutely nothing new or different besides enemies that out level you though. There's no NG+ or random affix Maps.

TL;DR Good game for fans of genre if the above isn't a deal breaker. I will buy the next one they roll out, but it simply doesn't compare to TL 2 in terms of content/variety.
Last edited by greywolf00; July 28th, 2013 at 18:00. Reason: Punctuation!
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August 15th, 2013, 12:53
Finished Aliens: Colonial Marines.

I know, I know…. Why, right?

Well, it's because they recently released some DLC that caught my interest. People are saying it's much better and much more "Aliens" than the actual game.

I'm such a huge Aliens fan that I just couldn't resist. I got a cheap key somewhere and bought them both.

Oh, boy…. A:CM is a very, very bad game.

It's basically a game without tension and some very bad writing - and it's really 95% mindless aliens or enemy soldiers coming towards you in very, very similar corridors or rooms. There's almost zero variety - and the hardest part of the game is standing it long enough to finish a level.

Every time you think you're getting to something interesting, they decide to put you in another corridor or wide open space with more enemies doing the exact same thing they always do: die as they're coming closer. Sure, sometimes there are enough aliens to make you miss one or two of them, but you're rarely in danger anyway. They're stupid and slow - and they tend to get stuck on the terrain.

It does have a few glimpses of quality - and most specifically during an early level of unarmed stealthing - where there's actual tension and a few cool touches. That's IT for the good stuff.

The few setpiece battles including the Power Loader are universally awful - and the final battle is especially uninspired.

Oh well, I just wanted to get through it so I could check out that DLC. I played it for 20 minutes last night and it's certainly better already.

I always liked the 2010 AvP game - and A:CM makes it look like System Shock 3.

I think I'll just play that next time I'm in the mood for some sci-fi horror with my favorite beasties.

2/10.
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