Skyrim - The Completionist Saga

Well it's official, i broke the 60 hour mark on Skyrim today and I haven't even completed the main storyline. While I have taken shots at it from time to time, I have for the most part done my best not to make it my main priority. Were there a main priority for myself in this game it would be to obtain level 50, and being at level 30 now I can safely say that will not be occurring anytime soon. If there's anyone that even bothers to check my updates here on Giantbomb, you would have noticed that I just completed the Reader steam achievement, and I am 42% done with the achievements. For all intents and purposes, the completionist in me is very happy and ready to continue. But im somewhat concerned as to how much I still have left to do in this game.

As far as exploration goes, I have only managed to fill out the areas around Whiterun, Riverwood, and Falkreath to some degree, and due to a bug in the PC version, I have had to omit a cave that is nearby because of a game-breaking bug that causes a nearly instant crash upon entering the cave. I can't remember the name of the cave off the top of my head, but it leads to an area where a dragon resides. Despite this though most of the south-western portion of the map is completely explored, with inklings of explored areas in all other portions of the map. I have stopped randomly exploring everything I find to finally begin putting a dent in my sidequests, and the miscellaneous quests. But the main quest line I am enjoying right now is the one involving the College of Winterhold, and im finding it to be more fun and engaging than the Companion quest line (yes, even despite the awesome twist (spoiler omitted)). Im not sure how this will affect my general exploration, as I have a ton of quest items that I have no idea to do with, but im looking forward uncovering additional information about the (omitted) and if you can eventually become part of the (omitted).

Anyways now im just jabbering on about how much I like doing things in the game. This living breathing world of Skyrim is fantastic and really engages you to the point that you think about it even when your not playing, and lately I've been thinking about is my second character. I've had musings of a stealthy assassin like character that is capable of smithing and pick-pocketing with the best of them, but i've also considered going all mage, or in the characters case, witch, as I enjoy how the general application of spells works in the game, and not to mention all the awesome spell effects. My current character is lovingly called Geralt of Rivia, as he looks like the famed icon of The Witcher series, and even enjoys hack-and-slash as much as he likes to lay the smack down with an inferno of flames.

As I got to thinking of my second character I thought of a fun idea to implement as well. Since many people are doing play-throughs of their first character, I thought it would be more interesting to do a play through of a second character. My reasoning for this is that you already know the lay of the land, the quests to be expected, and the in's and out's, so when you are playing you are able to give additional information of a locale as you go through it. Previous knowledge can be used as a heads up not only for yourself, but for others as well. And secondly if things deviate from what you experienced before, you can note it on video and provide viewers the chance to see not only what you are currently experiencing, but an idea of any other possible interactions. So consider this a general heads up on my idea, and don't expect that anytime soon as I still have plenty of time ahead of my on Geralt.

So i'll end this blog with a general heads up of recording my second character, and just a two cents on the sneaky Skyrim update that Bethesda did so you cannot launch Skyrim without steam running. I hate it, but it wasn't really bothering me before. In any case, happy dragon hunting!


Minecon 2011 - I survived

I have just successfully attended, and survived, Minecon 2011 in what is known as 'Fabulous!' Las Vegas. And despite various issues on the part of myself, and on the part of how Minecon and it's subsequent after party were organized, it was an awesome time and a success on the part of everyone who put it together. You will probably hear otherwise by others though, but I will address those qualms as best I can after just waking up from my recovery sleep. Anyways, on to the good stuff!

Because of personal issues I was unable to attend all of Minecon, but I spent much time in the main exhibit hall, popped in and out of a few panels, and missed the costume party. What I did see though was amazing and fun. I arrived at the convention around 10:30, bypassing the large line that was awaiting to get inside, and managed to find large lines leading to everything in the area. The first thing that struck me was that for the amount of people there the amount of content was a bit on the low side, and the main hall was a bit small. Nevertheless I spent a large amount of time heading back and forth between IGN, Curse, Razer, and any other booths I could find my way into. It didn't seem like long, but soon the mass exodus from the main hall gave way to the opening ceremony in one of the ball rooms. I feel that this was one of the high points of the convention to be able to see the official release of 1.0 in all its glory. Notch was exasperated, as was everyone else on stage, and the event was amazing. It really helped solidify the community as a whole and showed the Mojang staff how committed we were to the success of Minecraft, Cobalt, and Scrolls. Around mid-day I left with my brother-in-law to grab some food before coming back in. By that point we had already missed out on getting a sweet limited edition creeper that ran about $40. I was somewhat disappointed, but at the same time I hadn't planned on buying alot at the convention, and I more than made up with it by picking up tons of free shwag. We didn't return to Minecon until after the costume party was over, but in a stroke of amazing luck we were among the last to get autograph's from the entire development team. We had the chance to ask a few questions and praise them for their work before shaking hands and letting these star struck folk get ready for another day of excitement. And so ended the first day at Minecon.

The following day I missed a large part of Minecon due to my family, who had come to see me, leaving that day. So I ended up spending most of the day with my mom, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew before they had to leave. It wouldnt be until 1 in the afternoon that I would finally get the chance to switch to my second hotel, and get my ass back to Minecon. By this point it was nearly 2:30 and I had just missed the yogscast panel, and was about to find a second disappointment waiting for me. I am a huge fan of the Yogscast, and I had originally planned to attend the panel and get their autographs. Since I missed the panel it was onto the autographs, but as I was about to realize things weren't so simple. A large line had gathered for autographs, but soon after an announcer stated that if you had no autograph ticket you would not be getting an autograph. How and where was I supposed to obtain this ticket? It turns out that the tickets were handed out to folks in the main exhibit hall, while those in the ballroom attending the panel were not distributed tickets. It seemed like a really piss poor decision to hand tickets to those who weren't attending the packed panel, and instead give them to people in the exhibit hall who may or may not cared to get the autographs. I ended missing out on getting autographs, and attended the closing ceremony somewhat bothered by my sad state of events. In any case the ending ceremony was a blast as a packed hall attempted to get the wave going before Notch and crew hit the stage, and the donations to the Make a Wish foundation and the individual who got to attend Minecon because of the foundation nearly brought a tear to my eye. The development team gave us their heart felt thanks, and the lure of a potential Minecon 2012 hung in the air. And with that my second day at Minecon was at an end.

And so it was to the after party. I've read a bit about the after party in the wake of Minecon and most of it seems to be in the negative. Minecon attendee's were supposed to have been the only one's attending the after party, but the allure of deadmau5 brought a wide variety of regular club-goers to the XS. I've also heard that the after party wasn't the ideal scene for the general Minecon populace, and that the show was so packed that it was impossible to get around and just as hard to get a drink at the bar. I can state that all these problems were indeed there. Deadmau5 attracted such a large group that I could barely get in, and at one point I thought the main room would have to be evacuated due to the large amount of attendee's. It was a bit of a disappointment to see the Minecon crowd lumped in with regular club-goers, but as the party wore on I realized that it was mostly the regular's that were dancing and having a good time. I attended as long as I could, until 3 in the morning, and had a blast the entire time, but I guess im a party-goer, or maybe I just know how to have a good time. In any case I can understand the qualms that the general Minecon group could have with the after party. It didn't cater exclusively to us, and im sure many felt it was a disappointment. I on the other hand had a blast and am already planning on seeing deadmau5 live again. On top of this the showing of Minecraft videos and the decorations were spot on, and deadmau5 even put a creeper head on for awhile. There was even some remixes of C418's more well known in-game songs that really made the after party feel that it was intended for Minecon attendees. For all intents and purposes the after party was for us, but deadmau5 really is that amazing and brought everyone in.

Minecon 2011 was a success, no doubt about it in my mind. Alot of people thought Las Vegas was a poor place to have the convention, but Las Vegas is host to conventions year round, and even despite the general mood of Las Vegas, the convention was for all ages. There was plenty to see and do, actually there was too much to see and do. I missed out on so much because of the large amounts of people, the way the panels were structured, and just personal issues as well, but I wouldn't have changed a thing. If I were to pick one thing that stuck out in my head that bothered me the most, it would be not having attending the Yogscast panel or getting their autographs. But this is a small blemish in the scope of a convention that gave Minecraft fans just about everything they could possibly want. And I hope that Mojang decides to have Minecraft 2012 in Las Vegas again because it's in my neck of the woods and I do like having my car when in Las Vegas, it makes transportation so much easier, and cheaper. Thank you Mojang and all the people who put together such an awesome two days.


Fresh impressions of the Skyrim variety

I just finished getting in about 4 hours of gameplay, according to Steam, in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and im already yearning for more. But that's no different than any other Elder Scrolls game i've played. What is different is the level of polish and sheer magnitude that I feel exhuming from Bethesda's latest product, and in an effort to understand this cavalcade of emotions I need to get something off my chest before it completely wears off.

Skyrim is majestic, it is the sum of Bethesda's nearly 20 years of producing Elder Scrolls games and their dedication to loyal fans that play these games year after year, while silently yearning for the next big release. I know this because i've been with the Elder Scrolls games since Daggerfall, and with each subsequent release i've seen Bethesda's effort and dedication. I fought against Daggerfall's buggy nature every step of the way, because the game world was expansive and nearly unlimited in scope. And when Morrowind came out I relished in that too, hours and days melted into electronics that produced one of the finest gameplay experiences I'd ever had in my life. Buggy yet still, I forgave the small short-comings for an inspired game world with incredible variety and unique locales that excited the imagination. The fourth Elder Scrolls title, Oblivion, was just as quickly absorbed and consumed like its brethren, even though I felt it was a step back in terms of creativity and overall fun factor that Morrowind offered. And so I continued to make a variety of characters in Oblivion, and Morrowind, exploring to my hearts content and never looking back.

So here I am with Skyrim, and I feel as if it is Bethesda's magnum opus. A game that defies everything that came before it in an effort to create something unique not only in game world, but also in gameplay. It is hard to consolidate each small portion of Skyrim and say that this is what makes the game great, when everything in total sets it above everything i've played this year. Maybe it's the few hiccups i've experienced, but I feel a certain elation I haven't felt in a long time from any video game. It is highly reminiscent of how I felt when I was only 10 years old, sitting in front of my TV, and playing Sonic the Hedgehog for the first time. I can still remember the sheer joy the game elicited, and the amazing variety in levels that encouraged you to keep moving forward.

Perhaps that is what Skyrim makes me feel, the urge to continue moving forward. To experience everything the game has to offer, and soak it all up like a sponge deprived of the water it is meant to hold. The Elder Scrolls games have always meant a sprawling game world with nooks and crannies for me to discover, and then finding something I never expected to find. Perhaps one of the best examples of this was in Oblivion when I found the underground home of a daedra, where large versions of mundane items like tables and chairs were in rooms, and a black void urged you to continue to explore rickety wooden bridges. It felt fresh, it felt amazing, and it really made me want to turn every corner to see what was waiting for me.

Skyrim has done this not only on a exploratory level, but in a certain sense that it makes the entire game feel like you are constantly uncovering something that will drive you forward. Be it something as simple as the intuitive interface, or just the extremely quick load times. Bethesda is notorious for making game of the year games, but I think Bethesda has made a game of the decade. A game that will appeal to not only casual and hardcore gamers, but those interested in the most primal of human desires, discovery.


My 2 Cents: Killing Samus

Im omitting some sleep to write this down, but after reading this article I can't help but feel the need to add my 2 cents. Before I begin though I want to add that I have not played, nor own, Metroid: Other M.
Other M was on my preorder list for awhile there, but close to the last minute I decided not to purchase the game. This decision is primarily based on financial, and time reasons, but there is another factor that has always weighed heavily on my mind with this game. Ever since the game was announced I've had a strong apprehension towards this game.  Watching a young blond haired Samus with a melancholic voice, and emotional feel to her felt so alien to me. Watching the cinematics from the game do nothing to remove this feeling. And after reading this article this sense of apprehension has grown into a full blown disdain for the character that is being portrayed in this game. 
Far be it from silly for someone who has grown up with a video game character over the course of many years, and games, and seen her retain a resolute and powerful demeanor, to be concerned about a sudden change in what originally made the character memorable, unique, and iconic. I completely understand where the author of this article is coming from. I now understand fully why I have have felt such a strong sense of apprehension and disdain. This game does not exemplify the character that I knew and grew up with. 
While there might be some concern over attachment with a game character, this is not completely unfounded. In much the same manner gamers become attached to their favorite hardware manufacturer. Be it Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, even Sega, and Atari. The gamer feels a sense of attachment in this case to a quality of game, or a brand of games. The attachment to a video game character is something far more consequential though. As hardware changes though, the fundamental form of a character should remain consistent throughout releases if only not to alienate fans. This is obvious for such popular characters as Mario, or Link. If Mario suddenly becoming a depressive plumber who can't get himself out of bed to save the Princess, and requires Luigi's assistance to even go about menial tasks any fan will immediately come to the conclusion that it is not Mario. Fundamentally Mario is an energetic character, and Nintendo wouldn't change this form for the life of them. Link traditionally is also an energetic character, but he combines this with a wide-eyed veneer and stoic heroism that makes him representational of a child who is naive to the world, but is willing to overcome impossible odds to save it and those around him. Samus, or what she used to be, was a lone silent protagonist that spanned the galaxies in search of terrible foes that destroyed her childhood, impossible odds to overcome, and all while remaining a powerful and imposing figure on her own. Samus is not Samus anymore, at least in Other M.
Just a brief cursory play through of the Metroid games is evidence of this. And it doesn't even take an observant eye to notice this. In nearly every game she is a lone protagonist, this changes in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for brief cinematic segments but even these are respectful to the character as she has traditionally been. In Other M she is constantly checking in with her commander, she seems to exhume a necessity to constantly narrate how she is feeling at any given moment, and is completely out of character. It is as if the developers of this game decided all existing games, and their portrayal of Samus, were not only wrong, but also out-dated and unneeded. This bothers me greatly.
Samus is one of my favorite characters in gaming history. She exemplifies the powerful heroine that needs no excuse to do what is right, and is capable and intelligent to know when to use her best judgment. Whoever this character is in Other M is not Samus. So what it really comes down to is that Other M may play like a Metroid game, but it's missing the most important aspect of a Metroid game. And that is Samus.

A Guild Wars 2 Calendar to Remember

This little nugget of joy was just released today on the official Guild Wars 2 site under the shop section. Let me make something perfectly clear. This is effing awesome. Every bit of artwork I can get out of the Guild Wars 2 team is like a momentous occasion for me. I own all 3 original artbooks, and the Guild Wars 2 artbooks, and the thought of having this stuff pinned to my wall showing me every day of the next calendar year makes me salivate. And i salivate even more when I realize that i'll be marking the Guild Wars 2 release date on a Guild Wars 2 Calendar. So awesome.

Gamestop, and Why Im Not Buying Anything From there Ever Again

I've been a pretty loyal gamestop consumer for what I can say is roughly a decade now. They've supplied me with some of my favorite releases over the years and for the most part have been....well decent actually. I've never been exactly pleased with the how gamestop does it's business, and their practices leave much to be desired. For one thing I've had 2 accounts now for at least 3 years, and games get pre-ordered on whichever account a gamestop employee can figure out. And no one has ever been able to solve that issue for me. Secondly they have lost a pre-order of mine in the past. I can't remember the game, but luckily for them it was only a measly $5, and I actually never picked up the game. See I have this problem where I pre-order a game, then either never pick it up, or pick it up way past it's release date. This has never been part of the problem, well until now. 
Yesterday I went into Gamestop to check on some pre-orders, two of which are upcoming (Etrian Odyssey 3, and Civilization V), and one of which already came out (Metroid: Other M). When I went in I had one objective, and that was to somehow pre-order the Civilization V CE that will release this coming Tuesday. Needless to say I couldn't do that, but I was a bit confused when the store clerk told me that no Gamestop would have additional CE's to buy locally. And he went on to say that no one had pre-ordered the CE in my area. Fair enough I thought, Civilization V is Halo: Reach, but still I felt it odd that they would have no extras at all in my city (Albuquerque). So, committed to obtaining my CE, i instructed the clerk that i'd like to recover pre-order money in Civilization V and Metroid: Other M so I can buy the game from another store in the are that would have it (Best Buy would have it, and they would get 4 copies in).  This is where things began to bother me. Neither of my pre-orders for these games were in the system, and despite the insistence of the employee after checking both my accounts, and the pre-order list for my name on these games he turned up nothing. This was quickly becoming alarming because I am convinced I at least spent $40 on these pre-orders in the last month. Now I couldn't recollect exactly when I came in, or how much I put down, mostly due to the fact that I come in Gamestop maybe once or twice a month, but still in the back of my mind I knew that I put money down on these games. And especially right now after starting a new job, and balancing funds back and forth this sounded disastrous to me. Despite my rising confusion and ire I went ahead and remained patient with the clerk. So I chalked it up to bad luck, i'd have to go home to retrieve my receipts as proof of what happened, and a permanent mental note was filed that Gamestop's computer systems either aren't worth a shit, or they deliberately like losing your money. Now as a quick meta argument to those of you who are already coming up with arguments to the money loss issue, would you be so kind or forgiving to your bank if they lost $40 of your money? This is of course similar because you are pooling cash into an account that will be later used, but in this case the account is held by the store, and should be just as secure and well-guarded as that of a bank, at least in my opinion. Anyways onwards. 
There is something i've learned in customer service, and it has nothing to do with the customer is always right. That is a lie, and everyone in customer service knows its a lie. The truth is that you should always give quality customer service. No matter what. A fellow employee of mine put it in the best possible light. Imagine you go to the gas station and you pull into a pump to put gas. At this particular pump, before filling up, you have a hard time swiping your credit card. This makes it take longer than usual to pump gas. As you are pumping gas you notice that the pump seems to pump gas slower than usual also adding to the time spent. To make matters worse the controls on the screen don't feedback correctly when selecting to opt in or out of a receipt. And when your finally done, and think the gas pumping is finished instead it sends a stream gas all over your shoes. The likelihood is that you'll leave this gas station extremely fed up with what has happened, and are likely never to return again. Now here's the kicker. All the other pumps were operating normally except for this one, but incidentally all it took was the bad pump to cement the bad experience in your mind and make you certain that you'd not return to the gas station ever again. Substitute gas pumps for employees, and gas stations for any type of store, in this case Gamestop, and I think you get the picture. 
Admittedly this isn't the first time that I've run into this particular employee at Gamestop and felt that he really needed to rethink his choice of job in customer service, and his cohort did a good job in mirroring their general lack of customer service. Unfortunately during this entire episode these guys were mostly unhelpful, or secondly unwilling to help me. It seemed like I had to pull teeth just to get these asshats to see where my money went, and try to get a resolution. At the end of all this, I just wanted to get out of the store and not come back. So when I was fed up trying to find where my money went, and he was at his limit for pretending to try to give a damn about what his store did with my money, I just had one thing I wanted. I wanted my Etrian Odyssey 3 art book. I pre-ordered the game, and it was shwag I got before the game released, I checked the web site. I'd talked to him about the damn artbook before, and for some reason now he was acting like he had no idea that I got it before the release date. He made some backward comment about how 'I guess i'll give you the artbook before its released', and I could tell that either he had no clue what he was doing, or purposely trying to drive me over the edge. I really just wanted to tell him that it was my damn artbook whether or not the game was released, because I pre-ordered it, but I decided to be reserved. And after having my artbook I gave them both a fond farewell upon leaving the store, perfectly content with the fact that I was only coming back in to pick up Etrian Odyssey 3 on Tuesday, and no more.  
Now this has already been pretty long-winded up to now, and whoever is reading this is probably wondering, 'Well how are you so certain that you got jipped out of your money?' Well im certain because when I got home later I found my Civiliation V preorder receipt. And although I can't find the Metroid: Other M preorder receipt, im feeling pretty confident that I put money down, and secondly that im probably not gonna get it back. This is damn infuriating, and anyone who is content with merely giving their money away and can make excuses about this is just trying to make excuses for some really archaic and dangerous policies.
Now this account may not seem like that big of a deal, but again this has everything to do with how i've been treated by other store employees. I've had a good rapport with the manager for awhile, and when I go in we chat about our favorite games, whats coming out, and pc stuff. There's a girl that works there too and she's been very friendly, and has given me stuff that they've had extras for nearly every time i've seen her, and she's always given good customer service. But then there are these two that only know the blank stare of the abyss whenever the customer comes in, and is coincidentally the reaction they give to all customer inquiries. I have a good experience with some of the employees of that Gamestop, but it's come down to repeated issues with the way Gamestop does things, and then some really bad apples at these stores that makes me come to the conclusion that I no longer want to give them my business. I've decided to go with Best Buy for the time being. Now while I know there are many problems leveled at Best Buy I have to say several things for them. First, their customer service for me has always been good, and secondly, and most importantly, they will actually have copies of what I want to pick up and not order games based upon a fixed demand policy. And well this policy is how Gamestop makes the most of its reveneue, it makes it revenue by catering mainly to preorders, and then shoving used games down your throat. I'd like to know an actual percentage of used to new games in the store, because im absolutely positive its in favor of the used. And that really is just shit business practice. So thanks and good luck Gamestop. You've given me many years of games, but im tired of your bullshit. Your a fickle bitch, and your prostitution like practices are gonna make you get an STD.


Amnesia: The Dark Descent or the Game I'm too Scared to Play

So during my normal web travels I came upon some serious loving for Amnesia: The Dark Descent on Reddit, and some other sites I visited. I hadn't heard of the game, but I was familiar with Frictional games. Frictional is one of the few talented developers out there making games for Linux and I spent some time playing the Penumbra demos, but never got around to picking up the actual game. Well after hearing so much praise for the game, and reading IGNs 8.5 review, I had to drop the 20 bucks for the title and indulge in one of my favorite genres, survival horror.  
Before I even began the game I had heard lots of talk of how scary the game was. I wasn't sure if i should be concerned, or just dismissive, because I really haven't been all that scared by a game before. I only really found the Resident Evil for the GC scary, and Eternal Darkness didn't so much as scare me as it did enthrall me with it's gameplay innovations. I missed out on the Silent Hill 2 scare craze, but as of recently Minecraft has given me mini shocks when enemies unexpectedly jump out of nowhere, or seem to encroach on me from all sides. So going in Amnesia I felt that things couldn't possibly be that bad. Afterall I read Stephen King, HP Lovecraft, and as much scary fiction I can get my hands on. I consider myself a pretty sturdy individual. 
Well after spending an hour in the game, and not having seen a single enemy I have to say I was tense and distraught the entire time. It was a mind-fuck of the finest pedigree and I loved every moment. Even if i'm currently scared of reliving those moments! At one point I continually stared at the ceiling of a dilapidated laboratory as strong foot-prints fell on the floorboards, causing dust to fall down, then stop. Swirling winds where there should have been no wind caused me to reel on so many occasions I've forgotten how many times it happened. The strange clicking of a monster that seemed to be only rooms away from me in a library caused me to double check where I came from, and check every room I was about to enter thoroughly. And the crazed howling of some gigantic beast made me hide in a cupboard when all the lights I set aflame went out. This game knows how to create atmosphere, and if all of this wasn't enough, but being in the dark can make you loose your sanity. Your loss of sanity makes your character see bugs crawling on him, and as the effect occurs the scratchings of what I can only believe to be on his brain intensify and made me grate my teeth and shrink between my shoulders, making me yearn for the next patch of light that could alleviate the torment. The whole thing feels like being in an HP Lovecraft story and I couldn't ask for more. I play Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth when it came out a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but none of the scares it made compare to the visceral feeling I get from this game. 
So hear I sit, aching for the cold stone walls of the castle that I should be exploring. Unknown stories, and strange items await me within and as each moment passes by I know I am losing my chance to savor the thrill of what comes next, but simultaneously I feel a stark feeling of dread. Will the bugs finally eat my brains from inside out? Or will the beast that beset the screaming and tortured girl find me and I be it's next victim? The contradicting feelings of wanting to be back within the world of the game, while being scared of the indescribable evil that will haunt me once inside reminds me of one thing. Nearly all of the poor victims of HP Lovecrafts fine work. Dare I say I am actually playing through a Lovecraftian styled nightmare that pays perfect homage to one of the finest horror writers of this time or any other? I'd have to say a definitive yes. 
 This game reminds me exactly of the those same stories that made Cthulhu a household name, and knowing that I know I have to go back into the game. But it's way too dark now, and im scared shitless. Tomorrow i'll brave the castle again, and hope I don't go insane.


Addicted to Minecraft

It's hard to say if its'a  real addiction as I really don't have that kind of personality. I've done a number of things in a manner that could be labeled addicted, but I have successfully quit them all without any physical or emotional reaction to the loss of them. This includes smoking as well since it is often stated that a smoker that quits smoking will have physical withdrawals....but now i'm just getting off-topic. 
Minecraft. Yes the little game that could has officially taken over my gaming life. And for due reason. The game hits every niche for me. It satisfies my love of open-world games. It satisfies my niche for infinite customization, and even more important in this regard it gives me complete freedom over what I create and the lighting on said objects. The last game that gave me this kind of freedom was Morrowind, and my incessant hoarding of candles and all manner of light sources just to make my choice of living quarters look like an acid trip. Minecraft though just blows this straight out of proportion. Sure I can only use a standard torch for a light source, but that doesn't mean I can't fill 5 sides of a 6 sided cube with said torches making look like some rejected enemy from a Doom game. 
But still I digress from the point. My previous post was a illuminating view on what by all accounts is scheduled to become one of the best indie games to come out since World of Goo, and Braid. Minecraft is still in Alpha, and has no immediate plans to hit beta, but it is still available to everyone and anyone who just can't wait to sink their teeth into an experience that will enthrall you on multiple levels. The most obvious of these level is the construction aspect, but there is also the survival 'horror' aspect. I put 'horror' in quotations because there really isn't much horror until your a mile below the surface and you hear the groaning of enemies from all around you and you are uncertain whether to run all the way back to the surface, or blindly hope that a creeper won't ice you a moment later. Above ground these enemies typically aren't very scary. The zombie will moan like a zombie, and just wander around waiting to run into you. The skeleton will take matters a little more seriously and lob arrows at you at a distance, but they have terrible aim. Things only become somewhat horrific with the spiders and creepers. Spiders are fast, jump higher than any other enemy, and can hit multiple times before you realize your down to 2 health. And, well, creepers are silent and extremely deadly. If you hear the fuse then it's already too late. This tiered form of terror really helps to elevate the reason why staying in-doors at night is a good thing, and that exploring a dark underground cavern is a fool's errand without enough torches to light a small city.  
It is infinitely easier to talk about the atmosphere this game creates than it is to get in-depth into the construction aspects. Mainly because the sheer variety of what you can collect and create requires an entire wiki entry just to begin to satisfy just how deep the game really is. Since I began playing the game, the Minecraft wiki has been my constant companion. And if you want to get the most out of the game then you will be knee deep in crafting, and farming. Crafting is the heart and soul of Minecraft and you will be spending much time collecting, then crafting, in order to be able to create whatever you want to imagine up. The nice thing about the crafting is that it isn't just merely the process of making building blocks to erect giant stone, wood, or gold structures. You can also create elaborate mechanisms with wire and levers. Traps are also an important variety to be created in the game. And couple this with some seriously inventive contraptions, such as an airlock and other similar devices, and the game can really make you think. There are also mine carts and rails to be made in this game, which ultimately leads to roller coasters. And did I mention someone made a freaking water slide in this game? Just incredible. Although this is only one of numerous slides and other crazy stuff that is made. And here's one more because I can't get enough of the cool stuff possible.
I'd probably go on and on about this game right now, but I actually should probably get some rest. Although there is a high possibility i'll continue updating my blog with my continued adventures in the game along with my own personal ravings about how great the game is. So until next time, and hopefully these posts help up the player count for the inevitable multi-player release!


Move over Starcraft here comes...Minecraft?!

I mean this quite literally. Starcraft 2 is taking a hiatus from my most played games list for this gem of a game that I found. Minecraft isn't even a finished game yet, its in alpha as of this entry, but it is without a doubt one of the finest games i've ever played. Minecraft belongs to the genre of games that can only be defined as a sandbox construction game. Imagine your lego collection gaining attributes, a finely tuned crafting system, a day and night setting (where baddies come out only at night), and put the imagination and creativity on overdrive. That is Minecraft. The game has a myriad of tools at your disposal to make anything you please, so long as you can survive. During the day it's a collect-a-thon to craft items to make buildings, I use this term loosely, harvest logs, acquire hides and meat, and just generally use every aspect of the world to make a home for yourself. And at night you just need to survive. Enemies populate this strangely charming world, and they are out only to see you dead. Once day comes back though your free to run around the overworld. Although that's only part of the joy of the game. One of the first things I took up in Minecraft is what I called a mining expedition. Underneath my burgeoning castle I began a search for rare ores and minerals to continue making my fortress. There is no 'money' in the game, so everything comes at your own hard work and expertise with what is around you.  
Minecraft has primarily simple graphics in order to accomplish the amazing feat of being able to manipulate everything in the world. It's like looking back at a PSN or N64 era game, and it reminds me of cubivore. But underneath the simplistic graphics it has a stunning sort of breadth to it. Everything is colorful and stylized, and when you stare down a valley to see large imposing cliffs ripe with mineral veins, and animals frolicking along the plains you will feel a sense of awe with this game. Couple this with the fact that you can tunnel down anywhere, or build your home anywhere, and you have something incredibly special.  
Minecraft is only in alpha and im willing to call it one of my favorite games of all time already. Rarely does a game come along that can acquire my attention so thoroughly as this game does. Enveloping the experience is an atmospheric tone that can make the game creepy at times, and at other times quaint and wonderful. The soundtrack is also really good, and it makes me look forward to what the finalized copy will hold.  
Right now Minecraft is out for sale for roughly $13 (9.00 euro), and when the game is released it will sell for roughly $25. This is a steal because the game gets updated regularly for bug patches, and various other add-ons, but the game is fully playable. Admittedly I lost a bit of progress during a strange crash, but this was hardly detrimental to the entire experience. I really can't emphasize this enough. If you like your Oblivions, Fallouts, Grand Theft Autos, Dungeon Keepers, or any other remotely sandbox game then you owe it to yourself to give Minecraft a shot. It'll hook you. 
As a side note the game comes in several flavors. You have a downloadable and web browser version, and a multiplayer and singleplayer. The single-player is much more stable than the multiplayer, but the thought of playing this game with thousands of people makes me salivate.


Starcraft 2 not letting me in, and the Alien Swarm

Today, as many steam-users known, marks the day that Alien Swarm was released. This is also the day that I can't seem to get into Starcraft 2 Beta. Everytime I start the game up, upon it loading, I get a message sayings im trying to access the Starcraft 2 beta with an unsupported client version. I did have a very small patch go through earlier, and I really didn't feel like searching the internet, and messing around with it in order to play some SC2 Beta. Instead my download of Alien Swarm finished and boy did it make me forget about the fact that I couldn't play SC 2.   
For those that don't know. The game is free. So if you like free things then this one is in the bag. Secondly, the game is really good. I just got through on the easy mode, and it plays like a squad tactics game with a top-down view. Most of the time my random team-mates were running around hitting each other, and generally not acting as a squad, but even on easy the game is pretty lenient about that. Once you hit normal you need to work as a group, and using the available classes to their best effect. The game looks stunning, and has a certain addiction to it that will see repeated play-throughs. There is one game that Alien Swarm reminds me of, and thats Cannon Spike. Due to the fact that you can aim interdependently of your movement, and can see all around you, you'll be able to handle enemies from all directions. And the intricacies of working as a group to handle the various locations, and types of enemies, makes for a thrilling experience. As you progress through the levels your characters are awarded experience which translates into level ups for your character that unlock new items. Each class has a choice of two equip-ables (weapon or non-weapon), and a sub-item that is used with the 1 key. It makes for some deep variety and some very interesting strategy. I really can't wait to get into this game in hard mode with a seasoned team who is interested in squad tactics. 
With that said just download the game. It's stellar and a blast to play. It looks great, and its free! Just download it. And with any luck i'll be reviewing this game within the next few days so I have my official thoughts to share. 

  • 14 results
  • 1
  • 2