The Exiled Realm of Arborea or Tera if your not crazy is a Korean action MMO and will soon make it’s US and EU debut. Recently Frogster (The EU publishers of Tera) planed to do a sneak peek weekend, where people could try out the game before it went into closed beta. That didn’t happen. From what I can tell their servers blew up under the load and they canceled the weekend event. Of course this was followed with people on the official forums demanding compensation for all their lost FREE! Yesterday Frogster announced a short two hour test for a “Functional tests of our systems” and I jumped at the chance to check it out.
I’ve heard about Tera for a while now but was never interested until I watched the trailer about politics and the ability to govern in Tera. The biggest thing I miss from MMOs are the social elements something like this has the potential to be very interesting. Unfortunately apart from the trailer I haven’t reached a point in beta where I can see any of this in action but it’s my most anticipated feature by far.
The other main feature that sets Tera apart is it’s combat system. They have gone for an hack and slash style with abilities being triggers for bigger attacks. Left mouse is your basic attack that you can chain up to four times for more damage and right click is dodge. Combat felt really slick. Actively participating in combat is something I feel has been lacking in MMOs for some time. Staring at your hotbar and managing rotations has been the standard for too long. Having to doge because some giant tree dude is about to punch you in your face is far more engaging. Their have been other MMOs that have tried this style of combat such as Vindictus but Vindictus has a Phantasy Star Online structure and isn’t what I would call a true MMO. Guild Wars 2 also came to mind. Looking at the trailers they seem to be going for the same thing in terms of combat. More action based and reacting to what’s happening on screen. While combat felt fluid it must be said that the starting area was incredibly easy. I probably could of used my basic attack and killed everything just fine.
The questing was the usual MMO quest thing. Click the dude, take the quest and hand it in. They have a section of the quest log dedicated to “Story Quests” but they didn’t differentiate in any meaningful ways. There were a few cutscenes but out of the two and half hours I played I would say about 2 minutes of that were cutscenes. Having played a lot of SWTOR recently I did enjoy that I could just marathon through theses quests without waiting for dialogue. One thing that made for stop and think for a second was the inclusion of player collision. I don’t really have anything to say about it... I just thought it was weird.
I kept doing my quests and eventually made it out of the starting area and into the first (maybe only?) city, Velika. Tera already looked good but Velika looked amazing. The buildings were so ornate and looking up you could see all the landmarks of the city. I spent a good half hour just wandering around checking out the vendors, trainers, crafting areas and loot that was way too high level for me. I also found a vendor that got me real excited. Guild hall dude. I didn’t even know guild halls were going to be in Tera but it’s social things like that I really like. Having a guild hall in Guild Wars was a bunch of fun and SWTOR is adding them soon™. It’s something I wish more MMOs had.
I finished my play session excited and wanting to play more. I preordered so I get into all the closed beta events coming up and hopefully get some more impressions out beforel Tera launches on May 1st.
As you have probably already guessed this mod displays your computers current time on the loading screen, so simple yet so elegant. Skyrim is one of those games that people regularly lose track of time in. It’s quite possible that you sit down to play saying that you’re just going to have a quick 30 minute session but oh how time does fly when you’re having fun. This is the type of mod where you either want immediately or don’t see its use but it looks nice and does what it says on the tin.
This is a weird one, I can’t really think of a great advantage to having this mod. It adds little icons to the items in your inventory, they look nice the icons fit the items really well. I guess it could help identify certain types of weapons or armour if they’re enchanted and have a different name... maybe? Like I said I’m not sure about its practical use but I dig it, maybe you will too!
If you are a fan of smithing in Skyrim this is a must! The default ore veins are very hard to see and you’ve probably skipped over them without even knowing they’re there. This mod fixes that by making the veins glow. I quite like the effect but the colours don’t always match up with the ore you’re mining. If that really is a big deal to you I guess give this one a miss but I really recommend it.
How is the mod scene looking for Skyrim?:
Considering the mod tools for Skyrim aren’t even out yet things are looking pretty good. We have already had quite a few cool mods but they tend be small fixes or additions. You got your standard texture packs and nude mods but the real good stuff is still to come. Bethesda recently announced that moders can expect the creation kit sometime in January along with Steam workshop support. Steam workshop sounds cool acting as a mod hub where you can easily download the new/popular mods. I’m not sure how this news makes sites like http://www.skyrimnexus.com feel as they have long been the backbone of the Bethesda game modding scene but hopefully this will just mean bigger and better mods.
On October 15th I will be participating in the Extra-Life charity marathon to raise money for the children's miracle network. I've done this is the past and one thing I like to do is gather a bunch prizes to give away for people who donate. I find that it makes the whole thing a lot more fun and also gives people incentive to donate. Last year I gathered a few game codes to give away and I wanted to get even more stuff this year. I always feel awkward when asking for free stuff but since I'm doing this for charity I think I can get away with it. Greg Kasavin was kind enough to give me 5 steam codes for bastion and I added them to some steam codes I have lying around. Now this is already more stuff than what I had last year but when I was at Eurogamer Expo I saw Chet Faliszek from Valve. Counter Strike:GO was at the show and I knew they were giving away beta keys so I asked him if he could spare a few for people who donate. Instead he gave me his business card and told me to email him after the show. I did that and then this showed up...
E3! Do you like video games? I sure do and I’ve been pretty overwhelmed with the amount of content coming at me from every direction. Through with this bombardment of information there is one game I crave information for more than any other. Star Wars: The Old Republic. Over the past couple of days I’ve noticed TOR catching a fair amount of negative press and I’m not sure why.
When Rift was released I wrote something about how small changes in the MMO genre are perceived as huge changes to the people who regularly play MMOs. This is because real innovation in MMOs rarely happens. Sometimes it’s years or a decade before we really see something different. To me this negative press with TOR seems to have the opposite problem. Things that have never been done in MMOs before are being overlooked. Bioware has repeatedly stated that this is a fully voiced MMO and I really think this has the potential to make everything before completely redundant. No one will want to read paragraphs of text when taking on quests any more. They will want to get the emotion and entertainment that comes with the cut scenes. Voice acting is now a fundamental part of most video games (*cough* Zelda *cough*) and once that leap has been made in MMOs I think it’s going to be really hard to go back.
Now with the full VO comes the story telling aspect. As it stands storytelling in MMOs is nonexistent and remember it's Bioware doing this, one of the best story tellers out there. This is something that can truly mask the grind. Something no MMO has ever been able to do. What if your reason to continue playing was not based on “I have to get to the level” but that you just want to see what happens next. Then you have something like Knights of the Old Republic but in a fully online world with hundreds of other players. Now depending on how you play games this could turn you off and that’s fine. I understand why people wouldn’t want TOR but would rather have KOTOR 3 but personally I’m a MMO kinda guy.
The last thing and really the point I keep hearing again and again is that TOR feels like WoW with a Star Wars skin. Having played about 20 mins of TOR I can see their point but the depth of combat in MMOs is never known till late game. I also think this more of problem people have with MMOs than TOR itself. Let’s take Call of Duty. If you were to apply that same argument you would have a problem with Battlefield and every other first person shooter on the market. The way TOR plays is because it’s a MMO, it’s how the genre plays not the game. Yes there have been some MMOs that differ from the right click/hotbar setup but not many.
I feel I must say that this is all based on TOR coming out and being good. I’m as worried as I am excited. Maybe this negative press will ultimately be correct and TOR will be just another MMO that isn’t WoW but in a genre where you really need to invest yourself for many hours to get just a flavour of what’s ahead of you I feel these criticisms don’t realise how little has changed since World of Warcraft took over MMOs.
This is the most comprehensive video of The Old Republic I've seen to come out of E3:
Damn you steam sales! I don’t even know how I got this game! It was probably part of a bundle but it’s weird that I can own a game and not even realize it. I saw Lugaru HD on my steam games list recently and was met with a screenshot of a rabbit stabbing another rabbit with a sword. Needless to say I was intrigued and after many days of nothing I decided to give it a go. Watch video now:
This game is fucking weird and not good. The whole rabbit thing just freaks me out even more. Rabbits are happy little critters that hop about and eat carrots having a joyful time. Rabbit families being murdered and stabbing other rabbits is not cool! Fuck this game!
Arrival is last chuck of DLC for Mass Effect 2 and is meant to bridge the gap between the end of ME2 and the start of ME3. You start off my receiving a message from your old friend Admiral Hackett requesting that you rescue a Dr held in a Batarian prison. Apparently she found evidence of an imminent reaper invasion but was captured shortly after. You must go in alone as sending in a squad could cause an incident with the Batarians. Like the previous DLC once you get this briefing it’s up to you when you actually want to do the mission.
Once you arrive at the prison arrival starts to differentiate itself by offering the player a stealthy way to find the prisoner. You can go in guns blazing but I thought I would take this opportunity to play the game in a different style and of course there was an achievement for not being seen in this part of the mission. Now the problem with stealth in games that aren’t built for stealth is that they suck, you get the extreme ends of stealth. Either bad guys spot you when they really shouldn’t or they don’t spot you when they really should and both showed up in arrival. It’s a bizarre choice to add this to Mass Effect when the game simply isn’t built for it. Shepard can’t sneak so the equivalent of Sam Fisher sneaking about is Shepard walking REALLY slowly and I’m not even sure if it made a difference. Honestly if it wasn’t for the achievement I wouldn’t have bothered. I won’t go into the story and further but stuff happens you kill some more dudes. At one point you take control of a LOKI Mech but that only lasts for a minute or two.
Arrival is 560 MSP and will probably take you from 1hr – 1hr30m to complete. It’s also worth noting you will not find anything in the DLC that you can take back with you into other missions. No new weapons or anything. Its one thing that arrival is not very long and not very interesting but the real sticking point for me is this. Bioware fucking lied. In no way does this tie into Mass Effect 3 in a way worth paying for. At the end of it all the message seems to be “Remember those reapers coming to kill us all? There still coming”. Arrival was pitched as an important piece of Mass Effect lore that will get you pumped up for Mass Effect 3 but it’s a short shoddy piece of nothing. As I mentioned you get nothing out of this DLC apart from the story and the story is bad. It does end with a reason why Shepard needs to go to earth so I can see how that would set up Mass Effect 3 but to charge for this and call it DLC is ridiculous.
OK the first thing you have to do is watch this sweet live action Street Fighter thing.
Cool right? I thought it was kinda cheesy at first but it was fun to watch those dudes fake fight. Anyway now we got that out of the way, GAMES!
I went to the old truman brewery in London after a long day of D&D hoping that some face time with the 3DS will convince me I need one. Most of the feedback I’ve heard so far hasn’t really gotten me pumped up for it. Before me (and my group) could play any games we had to go through a couple of rooms so we could be sufficiently told how amazing and game changing the 3DS is (At this point I recommend you watch my amazing video at the end of this post). The first room was the Street Fighter live action thing. Second room was a Resident Evil live action thing. Claire Redfield and Chris Redfield (who are apparently British now) led us through a dark room as they fake fought zombies and grunted a lot. I mock it but it was actually goofy fun. The third room consisted of Jonathon Ross (British TV personality) telling us how good the 3DS was and how lucky we are. Once he finished, the nice lady leading us through all of this finally led us into the room with games.
First thing I have to say this event was really well put together. Maybe it had something to do with how little people were in my group but I had access to a bunch of 3DS games. No waiting, no messing about, just me jumping from game to game with ease. The first room was definitely the core game room, it had: Resident Evil: The Mercenaries, Kid Icarus, Pro Evolution Soccer, Super Street Fighter IV, Dead or Alive: Dimensions, Lego Star wars and some other games that escape me.
I’ve never really gotten into the mercenaries mode in the Resident Evil games so when I heard about Resident Evil: The Mercenaries my first thought was that it wouldn’t make much of a game by Itself. After playing it for a bit I realised how wrong I was. It makes a perfect pick up and play portable game. Get in there kill some zombies in a timed round and get a score. The controls were mostly fine but just using the one thumb stick is not ideal. Specifically when it came to turning around I found it lacking. The game plays pretty similarly to its home console brothers but when you go fire your weapon it goes into first person to enhance the 3D effect.
I’m not a big fighting game fan but if I had to pick a fighting game to play it would be Dead or Alive. I know what you’re thinking and no it’s not because of the boobs! I like the speed and multi layer arenas you fight in. Dead or Alive: Dimensions still has all of this and looks really nice. The feature that really stands out is the combo list on the bottom screen. You just tap the name of the combo and your character does it. This sounds dumb and game breaking but it really isn’t, mainly because it’s really hard to hit the combo name on the bottom screen while fighting. I quickly realised that no one is going to play this game using the touch screen due to the combo list being so impracticable.
Super Street Fighter IV is almost identical to the home console versions but you have the option of a different camera angle. This camera angle is slightly over your shoulder and enhances the 3D effect, fireballs never looked so good! Super Street Fighter IV also has the same feature as Dead or Alive where you can hit the touch screen and immediately pull off a combo. The problem here is that it’s well designed. You have 4 big buttons that are very easy to hit while fighting. This really didn’t sit well with me. It felt cheap and unwarranted when I would use the touch screen to do a super move. Maybe you can disable those buttons I’m not sure but it by no means ruins the game. You just have to restrain yourself... or not depending on how you feel about it. It’s still Super Street Fighter IV and that’s still great.
We had about 20 minutes in this room until me and my group were ushered into the next room. Whereas the previous room was dark and had thumping bass, this room was all white with nice gentle music. Casual as fuck! They were showing off some of the 3DS’s built in apps such as Face Raiders and the 3D camera and some games such as Nintendogs + Cats, Raving Rabbids Travel In Time and Pilotwings Resort. I don’t have as much to say about these games as most of them were very quick but I am a absolute sucker for Nintendogs + Cats. Have you ever rubbed a cats belly in 3D? Well you should!
To 3DS or not to 3DS
The best thing the 3DS has going for it is that the games are good. The 3D isn’t really a big deal at all. It’s a cool feature that you can turn on and off at your leisure. The 3D doesn’t change how the games actually play and I don’t think it ever will but that doesn’t mean it’s not cool. After this event I do really want a 3DS but pricing is still an issue for me. Not so much the cost of the unit but the cost of the games. If you can get your hands on a 3DS prior to launch I highly recommend you do as it is something you need to see. I've also bought a clip.
They did it! They finally did it! The Matrix Online now has a somewhat stable emulator that you can actually play. I’ve been keeping track of the different emulators for MXO and how they have been progressing since the server shutdown and this is by far the best. Having said that it’s still pretty damn broken. Combat doesn’t work, the character creation barely works and there’s not a lot to do besides /dance (Always be dancing). I will always have a special place in my heart for MXO and an emulator will never do it justice but I find this sort of thing fascinating. So take a journey with me as Pascual jacks in again!
EDIT: I forgot to add the link to download this magic. Now since the time of recording they have made it a bit harder. For some reason they locked the forums and you have to request a account. If you still want in this site if the place to start MXO Source 49 Comments