Sparky's Update - Revisiting some modern classics

Howdy doody, el cowpoke-erinos (if you're not into the whole brevity thing). Gird your loins, says I, because... well... I'm about to do the writing equivalent of whatever would cause you to gird said loins. That's right, sugar dumpling, it's the weekly Sparky's Update.

This week isn't going to center around one or two games per usual. I've really been playing more bits and bobs of games I've played already rather than doing anything constructive like cutting down on my to-be-played pile. Join hands with me, then, as we sing Camptown Ladies, drink some cheap hooch, make up S'Mores, and I tell you some boring ass tales about one man's venture through the gaming world.

Da Randomwilder

Half of you just zoned out and decided to listen to Method Man and Redman instead. I'm perfectly okay with that.

-My progress through Tomb Raider: Legend has been, unfortunately, halted prematurely due to my gaming archnemesis - visual problems. In a tomb in England, I've reached a point that's a bit hard for me to, er, puzzle out. Hee hee ho ho ha ha. I'm such a jokester. Seriously, though, it's been a surprisingly great game so far. I'd hate for it to end here, but if it does, I feel satisfied already with my purchase of the collection. The fact is, I still have two other games on the disc to go, so I've got even more Tomb Raidin' to be done. I will probably alternate in another game before I tackle the other two, but you never know.

-I've been playing Broken Sword III on the PC. It's a game I sort of adore, despite a few niggling quirks. The puzzles are generally logical, though one does require that you either guess at its solution (ahem - as in my case) or that you've watched old police shows and know how to get a key from a door using only a newspaper and a pencil. Thankfully, though, puzzles like that are far and few between, and the game instead relies on basic logic puzzles to push you through its pretty good story. The main characters are voiced by the same actors as in Broken Sword II, and the side characters are a hilarious mix of good and awful talent. There's one French accented woman that sounds like she's reading her lines like the children from the old Charlie Brown cartoons. It's pretty great. I do sometimes take issue with the fact that you can't skip lines, especially when you're hunting down some bit of information from a phone message or something similar. It sounds minor, but in an adventure game like this, you cover a lot of the same ground and it can get old, fast. To balance that out though, there's no permadeath. See, before about 2000 or so, most non-Lucas Arts games forced you to save constantly for fear of dying every few minutes. It was an annoying mechanic that thankfully died along the time quick saves and the early 2000's hit. Everyone started to emulate LucasArts' style of no-death adventure gameplay, and I'm damned glad. You can, I guess, technically "die" in this game, but it will load seconds before your accident and you can easily avoid it. It's a great little adventure game.

-I revisited Borderlands after getting super pumped up about IGN's features on the character classes. Yes, I read other sites than Giant Bomb, and some of them are popular. Sue me. I finally got around to beating General Knoxx on the console, as well as revisiting Crawmerax (Clawmerax?). While I didn't beat the mythical beast (something that's eluded me even on the PC), I did have a great deal of fun. I plan on knocking out Moxxi's Underdome and Claptrap Revolution sometime soon, as they're two of the DLC packs I didn't visit until now.

-Skyrim is still pretty amazing. I finished up the last of the Daedric quests, though the achievement didn't pop. I suspect the reason is that I didn't always side with the Daedric princes. Oh well. It was still fun. I'm now at level 62, and am currently working on getting my Destruction skill up to 100. I'm putting it down until there's DLC. I don't want to burn out on it.

-Saints Row 3's DLC is fun, if a little disappointing. If the packs had been priced at about $5, they would have been worth the money. As it is, I regret buying the season pass, but I don't really regret supporting Volition. Unless there's a sale on these sometime, don't bother with the DLC so far. That being said, the Genki Kitty Yarn Ball mini-game is a fucking riot.

-I've just barely scratched the surface of Star Ocean: First Departure for the PSP. I'm enjoying what I've seen so far. It's a very basic game at heart, as it's a remake of a classic, but the visual aesthetic is super pleasing, combining some great looking backdrops and towns with great cartoony-looking characters. I'm not a fan at all of the anime cutscenes, which are as cookie-cutter as you can get. But overall, it plays great, looks great, and it seems very meaty.

Internet Bag of Fun!

This is a new section of the Update, wherein I throw in some random game-related machinima, artwork, or general links of gaming goodness. I'm deliberately keeping it open to interpretation, so the content might be old, new, or somewhere in between. Today, I'm sharing one of my favorite bits of machinima, from Halo Reach. You've probably seen it already, but oh well - it's a classic for a reason.

Books!

I've been reading some of Raymond Feist's latest. As pure fantasy popcorn, they're okay - you know they're not going to fill you up and they're terrible for your mind, but as a snack now and again, they're not bad. On dankempster's recommendation, I'm going to be moving on to His Dark Materials soon-ish. More to report then.

And that's it for this week! Thanks for reading. Next time, remember the marshmellows for S'Mores, okay?

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5 Comments
Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

Howdy doody, el cowpoke-erinos (if you're not into the whole brevity thing). Gird your loins, says I, because... well... I'm about to do the writing equivalent of whatever would cause you to gird said loins. That's right, sugar dumpling, it's the weekly Sparky's Update.

This week isn't going to center around one or two games per usual. I've really been playing more bits and bobs of games I've played already rather than doing anything constructive like cutting down on my to-be-played pile. Join hands with me, then, as we sing Camptown Ladies, drink some cheap hooch, make up S'Mores, and I tell you some boring ass tales about one man's venture through the gaming world.

Da Randomwilder

Half of you just zoned out and decided to listen to Method Man and Redman instead. I'm perfectly okay with that.

-My progress through Tomb Raider: Legend has been, unfortunately, halted prematurely due to my gaming archnemesis - visual problems. In a tomb in England, I've reached a point that's a bit hard for me to, er, puzzle out. Hee hee ho ho ha ha. I'm such a jokester. Seriously, though, it's been a surprisingly great game so far. I'd hate for it to end here, but if it does, I feel satisfied already with my purchase of the collection. The fact is, I still have two other games on the disc to go, so I've got even more Tomb Raidin' to be done. I will probably alternate in another game before I tackle the other two, but you never know.

-I've been playing Broken Sword III on the PC. It's a game I sort of adore, despite a few niggling quirks. The puzzles are generally logical, though one does require that you either guess at its solution (ahem - as in my case) or that you've watched old police shows and know how to get a key from a door using only a newspaper and a pencil. Thankfully, though, puzzles like that are far and few between, and the game instead relies on basic logic puzzles to push you through its pretty good story. The main characters are voiced by the same actors as in Broken Sword II, and the side characters are a hilarious mix of good and awful talent. There's one French accented woman that sounds like she's reading her lines like the children from the old Charlie Brown cartoons. It's pretty great. I do sometimes take issue with the fact that you can't skip lines, especially when you're hunting down some bit of information from a phone message or something similar. It sounds minor, but in an adventure game like this, you cover a lot of the same ground and it can get old, fast. To balance that out though, there's no permadeath. See, before about 2000 or so, most non-Lucas Arts games forced you to save constantly for fear of dying every few minutes. It was an annoying mechanic that thankfully died along the time quick saves and the early 2000's hit. Everyone started to emulate LucasArts' style of no-death adventure gameplay, and I'm damned glad. You can, I guess, technically "die" in this game, but it will load seconds before your accident and you can easily avoid it. It's a great little adventure game.

-I revisited Borderlands after getting super pumped up about IGN's features on the character classes. Yes, I read other sites than Giant Bomb, and some of them are popular. Sue me. I finally got around to beating General Knoxx on the console, as well as revisiting Crawmerax (Clawmerax?). While I didn't beat the mythical beast (something that's eluded me even on the PC), I did have a great deal of fun. I plan on knocking out Moxxi's Underdome and Claptrap Revolution sometime soon, as they're two of the DLC packs I didn't visit until now.

-Skyrim is still pretty amazing. I finished up the last of the Daedric quests, though the achievement didn't pop. I suspect the reason is that I didn't always side with the Daedric princes. Oh well. It was still fun. I'm now at level 62, and am currently working on getting my Destruction skill up to 100. I'm putting it down until there's DLC. I don't want to burn out on it.

-Saints Row 3's DLC is fun, if a little disappointing. If the packs had been priced at about $5, they would have been worth the money. As it is, I regret buying the season pass, but I don't really regret supporting Volition. Unless there's a sale on these sometime, don't bother with the DLC so far. That being said, the Genki Kitty Yarn Ball mini-game is a fucking riot.

-I've just barely scratched the surface of Star Ocean: First Departure for the PSP. I'm enjoying what I've seen so far. It's a very basic game at heart, as it's a remake of a classic, but the visual aesthetic is super pleasing, combining some great looking backdrops and towns with great cartoony-looking characters. I'm not a fan at all of the anime cutscenes, which are as cookie-cutter as you can get. But overall, it plays great, looks great, and it seems very meaty.

Internet Bag of Fun!

This is a new section of the Update, wherein I throw in some random game-related machinima, artwork, or general links of gaming goodness. I'm deliberately keeping it open to interpretation, so the content might be old, new, or somewhere in between. Today, I'm sharing one of my favorite bits of machinima, from Halo Reach. You've probably seen it already, but oh well - it's a classic for a reason.

Books!

I've been reading some of Raymond Feist's latest. As pure fantasy popcorn, they're okay - you know they're not going to fill you up and they're terrible for your mind, but as a snack now and again, they're not bad. On dankempster's recommendation, I'm going to be moving on to His Dark Materials soon-ish. More to report then.

And that's it for this week! Thanks for reading. Next time, remember the marshmellows for S'Mores, okay?

Moderator
Posted by dankempster

Yay, another Sparky's Update! The reason I look forward to Wednesday nights is up, and I've got some readin' to do!

As I've told you elsewhere, you've inspired me to return to Tomb Raider: Legend myself, and I'm impressed with how well it holds up. I'm playing the PS2 version of the game, and I've found myself noticing quite a bit of frame-rate chugging during hectic gunfights, which I don't remember seeing five years ago. Then again, I was much less affected by such things back then. I'm assuming the version bundled in with the PS3 collection is probably a port of the up-ressed 360 version, so I'd be interested to hear if it suffers with similar problems. I still love Keeley Hawes as Lara, I think she plays the role perfectly. The other thing I've noticed is that the game seems to be a lot more platforming-heavy than I remember, with the emphasis placed more on the environmental navigation than the solving of puzzles in the more traditional sense.

If you're liking Legend, I think you're really going to like Anniversary. It's a re-make of the very first Tomb Raider, and as a result it combines those original puzzle designs with the gameplay of Legend, almost always to fantastic effect. That game had some of the most inventive and original puzzles I've ever encountered, and to see them all re-envisioned with the fat trimmed away and the new mechanics in place made me feel all tingly inside. It's also about twice the length of Legend, which addresses my complaints about that game's brevity. I hope you do manage to make it past the puzzle that's causing you problems and see Legend through to the end, and I look forward to hearing any further thoughts you share on the trilogy.

I hope you enjoy the His Dark Materials trilogy. I'm worried I'm recommending them on the back of pure nostalgia, as I haven't read them in about five years. I'm working just as much off the fact that my mum's read them about once a year for the last ten years and maintains they're among her most favourite books. I really need to re-visit them myself. Perhaps I will, when I'm done with The Dark Tower and the Rothfuss and Lynch books.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@dankempster: I keep meaning to mention Keeley Hawes's great voicework. It's not a terribly complex script or anything, but she does a great job with what she's given and makes Lara sound like an actual human being rather than a sex object or stereotypical femme fatale.

Moderator
Posted by Claude

I wonder what the DLC for Skyrim will look like? I'm sure they won't pump them out like they did for Fallout 3 or Fallout New Vegas. A new world like Shivering Isle for Oblivion would be cool. In some ways, I would love to see Morrowind again. I'm sure it doesn't look the same after the volcano erupted. Great gaming Sparky.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@Claude: I've heard, and someone correct me if I'm wrong here, that Skyrim shipped with the basic landscaping models for Morrowind. It stands to reason then that they plan on doing something with Morrowind somewhere down the line - or simply included it for modders. Either way, it's exciting.

I'm honestly not sure what I want out of Skyrim DLC. For the next Elder Scrolls, I'd like to see a much more vast landscape, possibly encompassing the lands of the first two games and maybe Morrowind or another major continent.

Moderator