Dead Space 2

This is a short one, just a little thought: 
 
I don't like it when they (movies/games/other) do the whole "the evil we said was beaten has impossibly returned" because it always feels funky (though not everything that used that excuse turned out bad or anything. i.e. evil dead and so on). 
So from what i've seen in the trailer for Dead Space 2, I would love to see something like "Issac Clark is safe, only he's crazy and OH MY GOD MONSTERS... BAM BAM BAM" 
 
BUT ! 
the big bad evil is gone. Issac is just insane and he's been shooting regular people through the game. 
 
I haven't played Dead Space, so a probable loop hole might be there and be o.k. 
 
I'm no doctor, so what the hell do i know ?

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blogging about games out of boredom between classes

Hello internet people, 
 
I've been playing mainly 4 games lately, all '09 games for some reason.
 

Borderlands !

 I got the game on a steam sale because for all the good things Jeff was saying about the game, I didn't really think it would click with me. So buying it at the original cost was a no sell. But one day, one of those horrible steam sales appear and what do my eyes see but Borderland for quiet cheap (don't remember what it was though) and so I dove into Pandora, thinking "hey, I'd give this a shot. Maybe some multiplayer with some friends." 
No long ago, I finished the game playing as Lilith, while actually playing very little online. It seems like that game has one very big plus for it: it's fucking fun. It gets a little repetitive, the game felt a little unbalanced (more on that soon), the plot was silly and not very interesting, and at some point the quest dialong became a chore to read. So how come I've spent the better part of two weeks playing nothing but Borderlands ? 
 
Because shooting dudes in the face with a ridiculous gun is a blast. pun intended. Someone should probably do some research on why gamers enjoy shooting things in the face. 
 
Maybe because the game was a little unbalanced and I kept being 3-4 levels above the creatures I was fighting that made it fun and not this intense, hard experience. In an early stage of the game I bought from a special sale a shield that regenerates health, and not long after got a shotgun with high accuracy. Those two items remained equipped for a long long time. 
In the beginning, I was doing all the side quests in the hopes of finding great loot, but soon found out that all that XP I was getting had me over leveled for most of the game. 
So it's easy to see why my experience felt unbalanced. 
 
I did have a great time playing though. 
 
Maybe the two are related. 
 

Dirt 2 !

 The reason for me having this game is similar to that of Borderlands. While thinking that I'd enjoy playing it, because I really enjoyed Grid, the original cost of it made me go "aaahhhh....... another time". Steam sale and boom. Dirt 2 for around 10 bucks. Talk about a steal. 
 
Maybe it's just my machine, but the game won't run on full screen, only windowed (proper resolution though) and it keeps resetting my controls because my gamepad is this cheap little (though physically huge gamepad) thing and I have to retell it that left on the left stick means I want the car to go left. 
But other then those two things, Man... what a great driving game. Now, I'm really not "That" guy about driving games. I hate GT and never played Forza but I loved Grid and Burnout is a long time romance with me. So I'm kinda in the middle maybe. 
(I just now realized how many times I used "maybe" in this blog until now. Let's see how many more will be) 
 
It feels fast. It feels responsive. You drift, you chew dirt and road, you race Point to Point in the desert to see if you can beat Ken Block's best time. I don't really know what there is to say about this game (So bravo Drew for writing a full review) because It's a racing game. A good one. Licence cars, good number of tracks, what more do you need ? 
The difficulty seems a little too easy on the scale though. I'm playing on the 4th out of 5 (or is it 5th out of 6) and beating most races in first place. Maybe (!) it's just me though. 
 

Assassin's Creed 2 !

Got it in the Platinum Game of the Year edition, so pretty cheap too (a common link ?!). Holy shit what a game. Almost every gripe I had with the first is gone and replaced with a better system/gameplay/direction. All that and keeping what I enjoyed about Assassin's Creed. Leaping from tree to tree on the mighty rivers of British Colombia... (Or from building to building in the watery city of Venice) still feels great and smooth. I still feel like that deadly dude that can strike from the shadows (although I don't do a lot of that). More tools, more weapons, better story, less Desmond walking around a 10 by 10 room, A lot of game in one package, and so on. Really a great game. Might be my 2010's 2009 game of the year.  
 
It still has it's awkward moments, and the combat (while improved a lot) still feels a little slow because counter kills are easy to do and they kill the dude right there. So Ezio usually stands, sword drawn, in the center of a circle of dudes. All looking at each other with dumbfounded looks. Waiting for someone to do something. 
Also, in big battles, it's a little hard to pick and choose targets.
 
But you still leap 50 feet into a little pile of hay. WHAT THE FUCK ?! it bugged me in the first game, it bugs me now, and it will probably bug me in every AC game in the future. 
(Also, I'm just starting chapter 14 so please, No spoilers in the comments) 
 

The Beatles: Rock Band

It's rock band. 
 
IT'S FUCKING AWESOME. 
 
plus, I am meeting the Beatles for the first time (didn't really had an opinion on them before) and learning about great music, AND my girlfriend loves singing while I play the guitar. 
 
 
That's about it. I played Civ 5 (you can read all about that in the post below) and loved the shit out of it, but it's way too time consuming and the above games are all games you can pick up for a race/song/kill or two and put down. So they are easier on the schedule on me.
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America - The civilization story

Bought Civilization V about a week and some ago. Loaded it up and hit "quick-play" and here I am, a settler and a warrior in an unknown land. First Washington, then New York and Philadelphia, all the while fending off barbarians and dealing with two city states. Soon, I learn that we three are on a continent of our own. Pleased, knowing that I wouldn't have to deal with any civilization trying to do something stupid, I focused America on culture, science and sea fearing. Building costal cities and eventually conquering one of the city states that was positioned on a critical choke point. 
 
With ocean crossing ships, came the knowledge that  Napoleon was a skip over a small canal on a continent to the east. Being cautious, I decline opening my borders to him and decide to explore his mass of land. Soon I learn that France is sharing its borders with India on a fairly large continent. Of course, they are not so pleased with each other and continually ask me to aid one of them. Not wanting to pull hostility towards my quiet land, America remains neutral. I order my ships to sail further east, finding the Egyptians and Siam sharing a massive continent, the 3rd and final on our little plant. The most comforting thought in this excursion, is that America probably has the largest fleet in the world which, hopefully, will prevent the need of a large land armies to protect my country. Leaving my coastal cities building more ships and expanding my fleet, and my inland cities building wonders, buildings and improvments instead of soldiers. 
   
Knowing that on my small continent, I will forever be restrained in resources both luxury and stratigic, I decide that to further America I must invade the french, which will be the easiest target seeing as they have multiple coast cities and their army will be spread wide after conquering the small nation of India. I build up some more ships and a few minutemen, because obviously, you can't conquer without a land unit. My ships set sail, parting my fleet to attack three cities at once, Two on the south and one in the north.  Napoleon, one of the great generals, doesn't believe my lies and amasses forces in the south. Keeping my invading forces to the north a little behind makes him believe the south is the only front and I get to pummle three cities with bombarding ships, weakening thier defences and keeping the french army wounded. The stage is set for an invasion and American minutemen land on the beaches and conquer one city to the south, and one to the north. Sadly, my intelligence was not up to date with the armies that  Napoleon has built, and he takes back his southern coast, but not long after realizes that his northen city is lost, begs for peace. Offering gold, resources and payments in the negotiations. 
 
Peace remains for a long while, but it is no surprise to see the French building forces that will one day try to take the city back. unfourtunatly, my borders on the french lines do not stretch wide and I have little room to plant defending forces. Things look bad on the political stage, as the world leaders view my actions as hostile (well... they were) and it becomes harder to sign trade agreements and research pacts. So I focus on my America, building schools, libraries and universities to educate my people and make America known as a leader in technology and science. 
But this endeavor doesn't really succeed. In the past, I wasn't focusing on it and it seems like America is always a step behind Siam. So if I can't be remembered for scientific achievments or being culturally magnificent, America will be remembered as an all around civilization. Spreading wide on the land, being strong and smart while also developing culturally. 
This means conquering Egypt. 
  
Egypt only has three cities, all three on this penninsula, meaning that using my fleet will make conquering them an easy task. I send my fleet and ready some invading forces, only this time I know Egypt barely has any armies. Everything is in place, I begin my attack and... France Attacks ! In my foolishness, I forget about  Napoleon and he tries to take back his city. I resist for a while, but eventually lose the city, pulling my ships back to avoid losing them as well. In Egypt on the other hand, America has great success as we devour the small civilization. From here, I think to myself, i'll be able to keep hold of these cities and grow my civilization enough to edge out Siam when the book is closed. 
Siam has other ideas... 
 
Not long after taking Egypt, Siam attack my newly taken cities and all my forces are just no enough to withstand the huge land and air units storming the land. So instead of trying to keep my new land, I decide to make Siam pay. I'll take over thier eastern shore with the large naval fleet America still has in those waters, together with some B17 bombers to help weaken the coast cities to a point where it will be easy to just march into the city. All this, while Siam has it's forces to the west of the land. Taking over the first two is easy, but takes time because this was not planned before hand. From there, I move my bombers over the small ocean and begin bombarding 3 more cities with air strikes and naval cannons. I take two more cities before I see the mass of armies that Siam still had closing in and tell Siam I'd rather end the conflict here than have more bloodshed. They agree and "peace" is present again. 
 
Now, seeing the end near, I see that just trying to be memorable won't be enough, I pour all my resources into researching space exploration. Building each part of the space ship as fast as I can, but alas... 
 
2050 AD comes and I have all but one piece of the space ship ready. The book is closed and America will never be remembered as the greatest civilization ever formed. Instead, it will be remembered as those who are always a step behind Siam and their king.

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My Comprehensive Comparison of ME2 and DA:O

 Alrighty… at some point during playing ME2, I decided I want to do this, so here goes… 

First of all, a disclaimer: I finished DA:O before playing ME2, both on the same PC, and both on the default difficulty level.

Graphics

 I'll begin with the character themselves. Mass Effect hands down has better looking dudes and dudettes. The design in more interesting (of course, having them aliens helps because they have zero restrictions) and the faces look amazing. Except on the humans, which has the whole (link) uncanny valley thing going on. Maybe because of that, I was connecting much easier to the characters in Dragon Age.

 Traversing the universe of ME2, you'll visit spaceships, colonies, harsh desert planets, lush jungle areas, box filled warehouses and so on. All look amazing with very high details and a very "alive" feeling. In Ferelden, you'll visit… well, Ferelden. Because the world of DA:O feels consistent, its locations don't differ much. You'll see some settlements, some mountains, and a shitload of trees. Sadly, having Denerim being a fairly large place costs by having less detail and effects. Having a numerous levels of the magi circle means you'll re-use some graphics and so on. Not that ME2 doesn't have huge places, but for some reason they felt smaller.

 Dragon Age - 0, Mass Effect - 1

Controls

This category is actually just here to tell you that both games control awesome. The two games have completely different controls that are impossible to compare. One is an old school RPG control scheme with hotbars, character indicators and so on. The other is a modern day 3 person shooter. Both handle great, either shooting Geth in the face, or pausing to tell Alistair to slice that Darkspawn Emissary up. 

Dragon Age - 1, Mass Effect - 2

Gameplay

It’s no surprise what you are getting in terms of gameplay with these games. One is a 3rd person shooter with some running around and flying through the galaxy and shooting probes at planets to mine them. Oh, and hacking minigames.

The other is an old school RPG. You talk to a whole bunch to people, you explore caves and dungeons, you pick up loot and you pause the game a lot when in combat. Yes, you can do the combat in real time, but I think you only take away from the game when playing like that.

I'm giving this round to the age of dragons, because that mining stuff was boring and I enjoy pausing and giving orders to my crew.

 Dragons - 2, Effects - 2

Story

 Don't worry, no spoilers here…

With DA:O, you get the framework of a classic, dark fantasy. But the interesting world bioware built, combined with well defined characters and interactions results in a great story that takes that framework and turns it into a deep game that really sucks you in.

With ME2, you get the framework of a classic, sci-fi action movie. But the interesting world bioware built, combined with well defined characters and interactions results in a great story that takes that framework and turns it into a deep game that really sucks you in.

I know. I did that on purpose. Both games use brilliant story and storytelling to keep you interested. Dragon Age tells the story of your character as it becomes a grey warden and its quest to stop the blight and off the archdemon. Mass Effect continues the story of your Shepard as he (or she) fight a new threat to humanity. 

Dragon Age's story is like a long fantasy novel. A long build up, with slow and deliberate advancing story. Mass Effect's story is more like.... Space Mountain. It's fast, it's exciting and it's flowing effortlessly. 
This was a tough call for me, but (and remember this is a matter of taste...) I like books, so: Dragons aging – 3, Effectively Massive – 2

Audio

You get really good actors in both games, so hearing Alistair argue with Morrigan sounds really believable and balanced. The ambient sounds in the world are pretty good too, with battle-cries, fireballs exploding and drunk dwarves drinking ale. But if I hear "Enchantments" one more time…

Mass Effect really delivers in this area in my opinion. The dialog is delivered well, everything is beeping and booping as all sci-fi themes do, and a lot of little touches like the hiss in the way Volus speak or the sharpness in the way Salarians talk. Besides the character stuff, the world sounds right, even for a world I'll probably never see for myself, I know that  the guns give out that metallic pings, biotic powers have that "whoosh" to them and so on. 

Origins - 3, 2 - 3

Dialog Trees

Bioware knows how to do dialog trees. Simple as that. The choices are there and the results aren't directly known. Dragon Age uses the classic "pick a line of dialog" way, while Mass Effect continues with its dialog wheel from ME1 that only gives the general direction of what Shepard is about to say, and not word for word stuff.

While both games do a great job in (usually) giving you all the choices you would want in a RPG conversation, Dragon Age's trees would feel a lot more like role playing while Mass Effect's ones felt "game-e". In more than one place, DA:O put me in a tough situation that can't possibly have a "good" result and left me to choose my path. When faced with these problems during play, I'd often stop and think what my character would say and what were his motivations to pick that option over the others. On the other hand, more often than not, ME2 would put me in a "tough" position, only to give me a "renegade" choice that would usually end in the "best" way.

When faced with that option, knowing that going a certain way in the tree will still feel RP while not having a negative effect, it's hard to turn away from it. 

Dragon effect – 4, Mass Age – 3


The Nit Picking Stage

In ME2, you can do missions for specific party members to gain their loyalty, which flips some doohickey backstage but also unlocks that party members forth ability.

I played my Shepard as a "Get the job done" soldier, and most of these loyalty missions felt out of character to me, but knowing that I'll gain so much for it, I went and did it anyway. All of them. In Dragon Age, side missions and quests didn't feel like that, and they all felt negligible. And I really didn't do much of them.

In Dragon Age, the way relationships grow feels a little odd. Conversations and learning about a character advances it a bit, either for better or for worse, but giving gifts can make someone love you. 

So lets say the score stays the same...

BONUS ROUND

While in DA:O, your character faces difficult decisions, which I made ,lived with, and think all the more highly of DA:O for them. But something happened in Mass Effect that I didn't see coming. Without noticing, my Shepard grew. Now, that's not a euphemism for something dirty. As I said before, I was role playing my Shepard as kind of a hard ass. Which in early stages of the game presented in having sex with Jack, and that felt very "in character". But as the game blazed on I felt more and more connected to my crew. I was going over to talk with Mordin because I wanted to learn more about him. I was visiting Thane to hear more about his past. I was actually enjoying talking to Tali, which resulted in a relationship with her, moments before going on that suicide mission. It all felt "canon" and nothing felt out of character. My Shepard has changed. The crew aboard the Normandy changed him. Now that's not something I've seen happen in a lot of games.

Massive Dragons - 4, Age of Effect - 4 
 

Yes. It's a god damn tie. To be honest, when I started this I thought I'll be giving it to DA:O because at heart, I'm an old school RPG player.  

But what the hell do I know, right ?

   

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Spoilery blog about DA:O

WARNING ! THIS IS VERY SPOILERY.... I FUCKING MEAN IT.
 
Something about Dragon Age's story and how things evolve just makes me want to discuss it with others. Yesterday, I faced a decision I could feel in my gut would come back to haunt me whatever choice I make. So here is the story so far:
 

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Home Sweet Home

I am about to close the cover on the 25th year of my life, and around the 18th of my gaming life. Ask my friends today and they'll probably all say that I am a console gamer, and they'ed be right. But this wasn't always the case. Even when I had my first console, the Mega-Drive, I was still thinking of myself as a PC gamer. This was mostly because of RPG's. I poured hours and hours into games like Planescape Torment, Baldur's Gate, Fallout 1 and 2 (and yet i love fallout 3...) and the likes. Then things started to change. the genre changed and me with it.  
 
During the late 90's, RPG's became the dungeon cralwer, action heavy, Archer lady / Brooding mage guy / Warrior big dude, and so on, but you still had a skill tree and loot... Don't get me wrong, I played the shit out of Diablo and still enjoy Titan Quest, but for different reasons. Combine that with the way that RTS's all became the same generic stuff (I haven't played any RTS between Starcraft and Company of Heroes...), with my Playstation starting to get really awesome stuff like Metal Gear Solid and TEKKEN 3, my relationship with my PC altered. It was now second bananas to my console. 
 
The reason I am gushing over this, is that I got Dragon Age: Origins and all those old feelings came rushing back. This isn't the first step to going back to being a PC gamer, but seeing the RPG genre rise it's zombifide hand out of it's grave like this is..... fucking awesome. I only played about 4 hours of DA:O and i'm already inlove. This game is sending me back to a time where all i needed was this one game to last me 6 months (and then some with replays) . Add to that the fact that it is now 11 years after Baldur's Gate, which means some serious technological advancments were made, which mean an impossible amount of story lines among other things. 
 
I love that they didn't shy away from making it balls hard. I'm playing on normal and got a wipe 3 hours into the game. Dude.... 
 
I'm just a happy gamer right now, that's all.

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From the diary of a non-trophy hunter


Well, by the title you probably guessed that I have a PS3....
 
I don't do "Trophies". I don't see the point of them and frankly, I have a feeling that these things did something to games that I don't like. It is of course true that no one is forcing me to chase after them, but it does change the game. I can see in my mind's eye how a developer thinks of trophies to make me play the game again, or other reasons for me to go through it again. When what I am hoping for, is that they can make the game so good, I'll want to do those things without the stale carrot on the end of the stick. 
 
I decided to go on an adventure. To see things from the other side and get a 100% on a game. After finishing Uncharted 2, the thought popped in my head: "Hey, if you're going to do this, at least do it with a game you will actually enjoy playing again". So I have, and since last night I am an owner of a platinum trophy. 
I'll admit, I used help to find the last 25 or so treasures because they are mad hard to find on my own, and maybe this is a part of the point I was trying to make. Without my quest, I would have gladly left the game at the 70% (just like I did Uncharted) and be done with it. So why can't I get 30% more reasons to play that doesn't involve a FAQ ? 
 
I am a firm believer of unlockables, art gallaries, hidden movies and secret stuff. When I get something tangable (electronically tangable...) for my extra effort, then I'm down like a clown. I replayed probably every Ratchet I had, but I'll never delete my Burnout Paradise save just so I can start over and get those trophies for it.  
Hell, I got a bit of a complitionist in me. I mean, even in Burnout (before it had trophies) I think I'm short of two gates and a Big Jump from completing the task list that only opens a couple of cars when I only use two or three to begin with.
 
But maybe it's a different thing for different people. I mean, the whole of Giantbomb.com swears by them, often proclaiming "I need to get the full THOU". So why am I feeling so robbed ? Why do I have the feeling that "You Bought The Game" tropey/acheivement/... is a retarded thing that was born only because of this thing ?
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Finally getting my rock on

rock music that is.


I got my PS3 almost a year ago, promising myself that the minute i get one, i'm getting Rock Band. That didn't happen and while I kept dreaming, GH:WT was announced and then RB2 and I was like "god dammit...."
while i am still without a band instruments, i did just got a second hand GH Gitar and disc. so after mastering (not really... i still can't even 3 star "blood rain - expert" on GH3) on the ps2, i am finally in the new age of rocking virtually.

with that in mind, if you are looking to jam: JoH_yk on the Playstating PSN networkings.

for some ports, but i haven't seen any change. meaning, the connection is working fine and fast with PSN, but it doesn't find any players. (LBP also has a really laggy online for me. but Burnout works pretty good) so if you got some tips, bring'em.

see you in the heavens of rock.
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