Original Syndicate now on GoG, wooooo!

If you either want to re-live the game of your childhood (like me) or see what the big deal was back in the day, Syndicate is now on GoG for like $6. Not sure when this happened but I think it's been available from mid January. Compatible with Win7 yes please.

It's the game that made me love cyberpunk for the rest of my life, it's the game that made me love top down squad tactics. Shit I'm tearing up ... QQ

You are a god, and the agents are your four horsemen. (metaphorically)

Kidnaping scientists, research budgets, equiping sweet new weapons on your squad, pimping them out with cybernetics. Controlling your 4 killing machine puppets through CHIP implants in their brains, and for those extreme situations mercilessly pumping them full of drugs! Laying waste to your enemies with a hail of gunfire, rockets lazers, whatever. Or "persuading" inocent bystanders to defend you like a personal zombie army. This isn't your generic FPS with some toys and abilities son.

It's a fucking classic godamit! A part of gaming history. I will verbally bitchslap any of you ingrates that dare say anything negative against this masterpiece. So there. :P

(1993 ... godamn) /snif

Atlantic Accelerator was too much for me at 9. Why? Because I didn't use drugs. Moral of the story: use drugs executive.

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F*ck me!

SPOILERS (only a little bit story related)

So I just saved Malik's tight ass while still not killing anyone. That took some fast damn footwork, all the energy bars I had saved up and lots of Stealth usage, as well as a couple of darts and an EMP all in a space of 1-2 mins.
That shit drained a lot out of me, but damn if it didn't feel good afterwards :)
Now to go buy myself a beer. Thankfully there are plenty of shops around still open at 1am

(Edited because when transferring this to blog forgot to include spoiler tags in the title. If a Mod would be kind enough to add them would be appreciated.)

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Games for Windows Live - a fail story.

A brave young man was trying out Age of Empires online a few days ago and finally decided to get the full experience so to say. This obviously required him to spend some moolah. Armed with a credit card in one hand our hero jovially clicks the blatant buy me icon in the game. Up pops up the Games for Windows Live interface. So far so good."OH NO" he exclaims. "microsoft points? WTF is this shit?" instantly summoning the image of Mr. Picard to his mind.

"fine" thinks the man and grits his teeth, "if we have to buy silly points we will buy points. Yes we indeed would like to top-up our points balance, duh." Forsooth another obstacle rears it's ugly head, he cannot purchase the points he needs to the exact amount and will have to part with more money then originally intended. Undaunted by this second obstacle he decides to take it all the way. Another click of a button. "Credit card info, finally" a ray of light starts to shine on the weary hero. Alas it dims just as quickly, for the hero falls down the trap of having to enter billing information page. As he brushes of he notices that the country is already selected and cannot be changed. (in a previous episode he had to select the glorious country of Great Britain to crate the Live account, since his European country of residence was not listed) "Strange," he thinks to himself "why can't I be billed to a different country, that does not correspond to my country of residence?" Finally some wit is required of him, a challenge that he readily accepts. Buy the sheer power of his intellect the hero looks an address of one of his company's offices in dear old London and uses it daringly as the billing info. "HA take that!" With the ugly billing monster vanquished the hero is returned to the door of credit card info.

To be honest I'm tired of this gimmick, let's ditch it:

I enter the credit card info, and this piece of shit tells me that the billing option can't be verified. Well balls. Ok we go to the Games for Windows Live website and try to jump through their hoops from there. Entering the credit card info here I see that once again the country for my credit card is already selected and set in stone. What. The. Fuck. really Microsoft really? I can't own a credit card outside of my country of residence? what kind of retarded shit is this? Obviously now I can't put in my real credit card address info here since my postal code won't match to the GB postal codes. Well fine assholes, I put in the address of my branch office in London as the credit card address and click save.

"Please enter a valid credit card number."

I did. Save.

"Please enter a valid credit card number."

FUCK YOU ... it's a valid credit card number, I use the same credit card to buy games on Steam and toilet paper from the hobo across the street.

You know what Microsoft, fine, if you don't want me to give you money for this F2P game, I'm not going to. Toodles.

Goes and buys Bastion on Steam in 4 mouse clicks

PS: no I don't want to have to create and deal with an additional Paypal account on top of GWL bullshit.

9 Comments

HoMM6 beta digest - maybe I put too much effort into this

A beta for the new Heroes of Might and Magic game came out last week. As one of the people who preordered the title a looong time ago I got one of the codes. Now having had about a week to slog through the content with a fine toothed comb it would be cool to share my musing with you ungrateful cunts in another blog for a demo (see Deus Ex: HR)

Fair warning, this is mostly aimed at people who are at least familiar with the Heroes of Might and Magic series. The reason for this is 2fold, first of all it’s really damn hard to judge the sixth entry into this very unique series without referring constantly to the previous games. Secondly:  If on the other hand you are just looking for a solid Turn Based Strategy in a fantasy setting HoMM6 will provide plenty of hours of content and in a relatively competition free market of this type of game it’s worth picking up.

Overall gameplay changes: bad/good/ugly?

this seems familliar

 
Let’s do some heavy lifting first: if HoMM4 was a big (and disliked) departure from the core of the series, HoMM5 was a somewhat return to the roots albeit with interesting mechanics changes. Most of the people who like Heroes of Might and Magic games tend to agree that HoMM3 was the pinnacle of the series and 4 kind of an abomination with feelings on 5 being mixed.   Personally I really enjoyed 5.

(if the above paragraph didn’t make any sense to you it’s a good indicator to stop reading now)

HoMM6 is basically taking the engine and other basics from 5 and trying to build on that. However in general it seems that the people who are trying to build and improve on the last game are stumbling in the dark a fair deal. That’s not to say that everything is bad it just feels kind of directionless like a blindfolded drunk dude at a party throwing darts. Darts might actually still land on the board. Enough bad analogies time to describe the main changes themselves. (keep Heroes 5 as a jumping off point):

  1.  campaign scren(because why not?)
    The big one is how the mines and towns function. Basically now each town or outpost (kind of like a town without an actual town) has a territory of influence or control around it. This territory seems to be predefined by the map. It’s not spherical or uniform or anything like that, just a set amount of “land” that “belongs” to that particular town. All mines that are on that zone of control will always belong to the player that controls the town. Not at the start mind you, you still have to get rid of the neutral creatures guarding the mines/objects but once you flag them they are now considered to belong to the zone of control and start working. If another player comes around and simply tries to flag the mines they will immediately revert to the player who controls the town in that zone. As soon as you capture the town that controls the area ALL the mines instantly be become yours. Mines in territories that are still uncaptured/neutral basically function like mines in previous games, simply belonging to the player who tagged them last. (there are a couple of hero skills that do affect controlled mines like sabotaging them for a few turns or turning them for a few turn to your side). Whether this change is good or bad is really still to be decided imho. On one hand it makes towns more important and prevent mine harassment with low level heroes , saves a bunch of time, on the other it can take away some for the strategic depth . At this point I say may because of the previously mentioned hero skills.   This is a very profound change on how the map functions, hence why I mentioned it first. (there are also now only 3 types of resources besides gold: wood/stone/crystal)
  2. stats, loot and dudes
    Another biggie is the Hero stats/skills/progression (plus a mention of creatures stats). There are several factors at play here. Firstly the system of attack/defence/spell-power has been modified at the core. Now there are 4 main stats might attack/defence and magic attack/defence.   The way they function is that both these stats affect your creature’s attributes, all creatures have both might and magic defence that protect against those types of attacks respectively and the might/magic defence of the hero affects both respectively. Likewise creatures also have might/magic attack but 90% of the time a particular creature only has either might or magic (with a few exceptions). For example a knights will have a 10-15 might damage base per unit, and a fucked up wizard will have say a 15-20 magic attack. In effect magic oriented heroes will have better functioning units that use magic as main attack and will also be better protected from magic units and enemy spells.
     I got mad skillz
    Likewise for might. Now there are 2 secondary stats that are partially derived from the main 4 mentioned above: hero damage based on might attack/defence; and mana pool based on magic attack/defence. I say partially derived because they can be affected and modified separately by stat boost buildings and artefacts. Hero damage is used for their basic attack. To be perfectly honest I kind of like this revamped system (currently bugs and balance issues prevent it from seeming any good, but otherwise it is sound) There are other hero stat changes like mana/luck/leadership being a bit renamed and now using much bigger numbers but these are insignificant, they still function similarly enough with only a few tweaks. Currently the most divisive hero change (looking at the official forums) is the levelling up of heroes.   It is no longer partially random.   Right from the start you see all the skills that a particular hero type can learn and you are free to select any of them you want (obviously with some levels and pre-requisite limitations)
    race skillism in action (like racism - get it?)
    The downside is that all heroes basically have the exact same skills with the only difference being might heroes not getting last tier of magic skills and visa versa, plus races have one magic school they can’t learn. The argument stems from the fact that without randomness players will quickly find cookie cutter specs and everyone will always use the exact same “best” set of skills, essentially making this similar to WoW’s talent system. Thus making the game boring and repetitive much faster. On the other hand some people hate the randomness in skills of previous games and prefer to always be able to decide what skills to take. The last hero mechanic added in 6 is the “alignment” path tears/blood of Asha, basically depending on skills your hero uses and decision he makes in campaign or action done on map those meters fill up and you can unlock a couple of extra abilities. In theory this is nice for a campaign but when testing out the MP map the speed at which you sway one way and another is too slow to matter.  Whew … SHIT forgot to mention there spells are now learned as skills, no more magic guilds, oh hey look a segway into the next change
  3. The last what I would consider “major” change in game mechanics is unity population growth and recruitment plus town portals. Unlike in previous games where each town has it’s own population growth now the weekly creatures are aggregated in your common recruit pool. So in effect you can hire your entire weekly population in any town of your choice. With the only restriction being that to recruit the said creatures in that town the town needs to have the creature building present (likewise for upgraded creatures) . But if you do have a goblin hut in your barbarian tent city then you can hire all the goblins that were produced that week in all your barbarian tent cities. While I’m not a huge fan of the change I can’t yet put a nail in the coffin and say this shit be bad. Another change that goes hand in hand with the above is that now each town has 2 types of town portal buildings.
    FIGHT!!!!
    The first one allows any hero for a token amount of mana and no movement cost to teleport to any other town you own. The second building allows any hero to teleport to this town (if it’s closest) from anywhere. The two changes in conjunction together seem to make troop movements completely trivial and if I might say so less strategic.
  4. In terms of the combat it’s pretty much unchanged from Heroes 5 with the exception of ditching the initiative system that was introduced in 5 that was very dynamic and allowed high initiative creatures to act more frequenbtly then lower ones. Initiative has basically gone back to how it used to work in 3, only determining the order of unit action in the single cycle. This is kind of a shame for me since I preferred the HoMM5 system of initiative.
  5.  dynasty stash
    posing with a pimp dynasty sWord
    Finally the game seems to be trying to add persistence to heroes and gear. I’ll elaborate. In the main menu you have an option to view your “dynasty” which consists of any number of heroes you either play through the campaign or create yourself in the dynasty menu. They are not related to each other or anything it’s basically your collection of heroes. Then there are also dynasty weapons. These are persistent weapons that will level up over time, over the course of many maps as they take quite a bit of experience, one of these weapons can be selected to be equipped by one of your dynasty heroes. Then there are dynasty bonuses that function exactly like map starting bonuses in previous iterations. DON’T PANIC. The cool part about this feature is that it is an optional toggle to use during a MP and standalone maps, (which is turned off by default by the way) so if you do not want to use this persistence you can safely play with everyone starting heroes on equal ground. Toggle it on and your selected hero starts with the chosen dynasty weapon. Another nice little thingie I noticed is that dynasty weapons actually change your heroes paper-doll , they appear on basically all the heroes models both on the overland map and in combat, it’s kinda neat.
  6. There are no more 7 tiers of units. There are still 7 different types of units for each faction tho. But now they are separated into 3 categories: core/elite/champion. Core being your standard fodder and champion your 1 strongest unit. The units of the same category are relatively of the same strength.   It’s not really a huge difference all in all, just a slightly different way to categorise your dudes, but I felt it should be mentioned lest I get crucified.

So far I am hesitant to judge if the above fundamental gameplay changes compared to HoMM5 are necessarily bad or good.

Balance

-           Is FUBAR.

 spells now act like your skills

For those unfamiliar with the term FUBAR stands for Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition. Balance is a very important part of the series and of TBS geanre in general. If the game is unbalanced then the MP community that keeps the name and the franchise going and relevant will show a middle finger to the product. It’s one of the many reasons why HoMM3 is still considered to be the best in the series. The current state of balance of Heroes 6 in the beta is better imagined as a gang fight: one dude came in barehanded, another is an athlete with a knife or a heavy chain, a third dude brought a gun and the fourth dude came to the gang fight with an assault rifle. And this is not even considering the immense amount of bugs and broken shit in the beta.   If we included the bugs in that gang fight analogy then one dude would be a defenceless 5 yeard old and another one rode in on a friggin tank.

I’m only going to mention some of the balance issues here, otherwise I will never finish writing this damn blog:

  1. Heal spells have been all basically made into Ressurect spells in terms of how they function, healing and all forms of regeneration and HP restoration now resurrect fallen units if they heal over top’s unit max HP. Kicker comes in that 3 of the 5 factions have units with healing abilities in their basic unit line up, and as the stack increases healing increases, way surpassing the healing your hero can do even if he has appropriate skills. This also allows said faction to “creep” and clear neutral stack with 0 losses by rolling their faces on the keyboard. The other 2 factions Inferno and Stronghold are screwed.
  2. Core units (see above) are way way way stronger then the respective elite and champion creatures when stack sizes are taken into account. They are by far the most powerful force in the army and in the numbers that they are usually produced just crush stronger creatures.
  3. Heroes level up too slowly after reaching level 5. Their progress basically grinds to a complete halt. In the MP map in the demo for example you will be lucky to reach level 8-9 without using instant level up “trees” . Treasure chest completely stop mattering after the above mentioned threshold as just one of the side-effects.
  4. The magic heroes who would like to use damaging spells are pretty much useless after 1-2 weeks. As their damage barely scales and becomes insignificant compared to army size and damage output of creature stacks.
  5. Racial skills of heroes are also wildly unbalanced, Necromancers basically have a permanent Raise Dead skills that persists outside of combat and can be done in addition to creature skill resurrection and hero regeneration/vampirism spell. While say the Stronghold racial is a complete joke only raising initiative of your creatures for one round at basic level.
  6.  this seems clear enough
    Pretty much the entire skill system is out of whack, with some skills being super useful bordering on overpowered with other giving you barely noticeable effects.
  7. Heaven creatures for example are basically perfection in raw form. Their core creatures form what in an MMO would be a holy trinity with a tank unit that takes damage and reduces it when next to other units, a healer that can also dish it out, and a ranged dps unit. While all their elite and champion units can completely ignore castle walls, griffins can fly over, champions can use a “phase ability” to run through walls, light elementals just blink through and return and angels also fly over.   Siege, what siege?
  8.  And so on and so forth…

Also do keep in mind the above are just the balance issues that are not because of demo bugs or glitches.

Other stuff worth talking about

 sexy horse

Graphically the game looks really good. It’s a fairly decent improvement on HoMM5 as should be expected. One thing that deserves a special mention are hero and unit designs. Almost all of them look superb and have really cool styles. It’s an improvement not just in the polygon count and shader use but in overall design aesthetics. I think this is the first time in the series when harpies and goblins don’t manage to look like shit. Almost all units manage to look kind of badass. That’s not to say there are not some exceptions to this Cyclops look kind of shit.

 unsexy town

Town screens – there are currently numerous petitions and complains on the main message boards to completely overhaul the current town screens in the beta. And with good reason, the town screens were always a hallmark of the series  showing off your town and all the building that have been built in all their glory. What is currently in the beta is seems pathetic, probably even worse then what was in HoMM4. The town screen is now just another interface window. No creature dwellings inns or markets show up when build. Only the city upgrade itself, walls and a couple of special buildings get added when build. Thankfully it seems that there has already been official word that the devs are working on redoing the town screens, altho verification of this is hard to come by.

Ubisoft DRM and online bulshittery is present here in all it’s glory. If you remember the Settlers 7 Quick Look posted by GB crew some time ago, they are pretty much forcing something similar here.

Closing statements your honour

HoMM6 seems to have generated plenty of negative reaction from the series fanbase, but also some positive thoughts and feedback. In its current state it might rival Heroes 4 for shittyness. However if the monumental amount of bugs are fixed, town screens overhauled and balance issues addressed it might become a decent entry into the franchise on par with Heroes 5
The punch line here is that the release of the game is 2 month away. And with the amount of stuff that needs fixing it’s hard to see everything being taken care of by that time.

So concludes my madness.


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Deus Ex: HR - Demo overview (no spoilers)

As some of you might be aware a demo for Deus Ex: Human Revolution has leaked onto the internets.
Having played through it I would like to share my thoughts, and hopefully people will be more informed as to what the game is like and if it is any good.
 

Some disclaimers:

  1. This is based on the leaked DEMO version so keep that in mind as some of the points might not apply when the game is released.
  2. I have already pre ordered the full game, so please keep the pirate comments out.
  3. This will includes some images from the game, if mods have a problem with this due to forum rules, please PM me and I will remove them, rather then lock down the topic completely please, (Square Enix and Eidos don't seem to mind people talking about the demo so far)
  4. Will try to keep spoilers to an absolute minimum.
  5. If you have questions after this, I will try to answer them.

TLDR version.

Think Alpha Protocol but in a cyberpunk setting and imo better.

Pros:

  1. It's pretty goddamn awesome!
  2. Many multiple ways to complete missions
  3. Well done leveling system
  4. Interesting conversation system
  5. Branching choices/consequences
  6. Looks cool as fuck, incredible style and atmosphere
  7. Expertly implemented game mechanics
  8. Hacking is actually fun an interesting unlike many mini-games in similar games
  9. Runs very smoothly on highest settings
  10. Sense of cohesiveness due to the game systems being explained by fiction

Cons:

  1. NPC conversation expressions are on the wooden side
  2. Long load times
  3. Graphics are inconsistent in quality, skybox kinda sucks.
  4. Some problems with loading in textures (not popin/visivility, but slowdowns)
  5. Weird body proportions for some people
  6. Various minor demo issues (which seem easy to fix in full version)
OK enough bullshit.

Cyberpunk is Back baby!

 All sexy an' shit
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a hybrid fps/rpg set in a not so far flung future. It's a prequel to the previous games in a franchise. Cybernetic improvements and implants are propelling humanity forward and thee is a lot of shit going down. To put a general idea in your mind, take Alpha Protocol as the base, remove the faction systems, add awesome atmosphere, cyborgs, way more ways to go about completing levels and objectives, better shooting feel (if you even want to shoot anyone) and you will be pretty close to Deus Ex: HR . Obviously there is more to it. 
The demo itself is actually quite substantial and I must have spent more then 10 hours exploring every nook and cranny.
There is a short prologue, a hefty 1st mission which is also a tutorial, a section of the city acting as a hub with side quests and it's own areas where you need to complete some objectives main and secondary, and a 2nd mission after which the demo ends.
 
 Ladies like to gossip in bathrooms
When I knew this game way my type:
"After running around the first minor hub area and checking out everything including both men and ladies toilets, I finally went to the required main quest NPC and promptly got reprimanded for wasting a bunch of time and reminded that cybernetic implants did not make me female"  Said NPC also was kind of a dick and gave me a bunch of shit in general.
Whether or not this game is better then the original Deus Ex I cannot say, having played but not finished that one. But it seems to measure up at the very least especially if people don't put on their rose tinted goggles on. It definately does a better job of honouring the old franchise unlike games like Fallout3 or Xcom. Regardless of it's roots, this seems like a very solid game and if you enjoyed the hybrid shooter/rpgs like Mass Effect or Alpha Protocol it's definately worth checking out.
 

Play how you want to.


 layers, cakes have layers
Multiple approaches. Arguably the greatest strength of the game and the most important part of it (and also what the original is mostly known for) The games flexibility works on several levels. Lets start with the basic one, tactical mission approach and level design.
The most straightforward way to go about getting through a level is to go guns blazing if you want to for example. Basic shooting is from the FPS perspective, switching to TPS while in cover. You have multiple tools at your disposal: assault rifles, shotguns, stun weapons, emp/flash/frag grenades, mines etc. (mele is a one shot kill on human enemies but it's limited by your energy reserves). The other directly opposing way is to go all stealthy like and try to silently take out enemies, avoid security, sneak around, etc. The levels themselves offer multiple approaches and many routes to traverse them. The cool part is that you can mix and match any style and any path through a level. This is not like you are picking either to go by path A, B or C, the various routes
a floor plan of a part of one of the levels, not showing hidden routes
through the level can be stringed together in various ways depending on what tools and skills you have access to like hacking, moving heavy objects, breaking through walls, stealth, availability of codes, side objectives. If you are a supreme completionist you can just go through ALL the different routes to explore the maps in their entirety and try out masochistic things to take out multiple enemies that are grouped together silently without raising an alert. You can sneak through vents, use cover to hide, create distractions for guards to kill them or avoid them. Combine the tools and skills at your disposal in fun ways: I once threw a flash grenade at 2 guards talking to each other, ran up to them and did a double take down (skill), was pretty fucking badass.
Oh since we are talking about guards.You can take them out lethally or non lethally (either option from distance or in melee) the non lethal take down creates less noise and gives more XP, the downside is that if you fuck up and the body is found then his mates can wake his ass up.
Another example would be a mission you get in the first game hub, it's not a separate level per se.
You have to get into the police station and retrieve a certain item.
We can: 
  1. walk right in and try to convince an old friend to let us walk around the station
  2. use the sewer system to get in from below but you will have to hack a laser fence with that approach
  3. stack some boxes in the side ally to jump a fence, climb up the fire escape and use the vents at the top of the building
  4. shoot our way in
  5. sneak in through the front entrance if we have stealth abilities
You can even experiment with the game environment to a limited degree to game the system. In the above police station for example there is a hackable terminal behind in a room you can sneak into, unfortunately one of the guarding cops happens to be looking though the rooms window onto the workstation, so if you try to hack it he will see you and raise an alarm. So what I did was go back out to where the cop was standing guard, find a bunch of boxes throughout the level and stack them between the guard and the window, after some tries I managed to block his line of sight and he did not see me hack the terminal.
 
The flexibility is not limited to level approach, it extends to NPC interaction together with choices and consequence. I will have to use an example here, but it's not spoilery. At the end of one of the levels we will confront a "bad dude" with a hostage (our orders are to neutralize him), here are the the various ways to hadnle the situation that I know of: 
  • let the bad dude go, he will take the hostage with him.
  • try to talk him into releasing the hostage (this is hard):
  • if we fail he will get away with the hostage
  • if we succeed he will let the hostage go and slip away
  • if we succeed really well he will let the hostage go and promise to help us out later, then slip away
  • ignore him and go aggressive, bad dude will go into animation to kill the hostage
  • most likely he will manage to kill the hostage at this point we can kill him or stun him (if we only stun him, we can meet him later in the police station)
  • if you are fast enough you might manage to pull out a gun to either stun him or kill him before he kills the hostage (i keep failing but i know it's possible, others have done it)
Depending on weather or not the hostage was killed/saved/taken or bad dude killed/stunned/ran away we will have some different interactions with other NPCs and have some minor variations down the road also. For example the first time around I saved the hostage and let the bad dude go but he came through and provided me with a couple of codes that could be used on the majority of doors and computers in the second mission if I wanted.
Like I said, this is really where the game shines.
 

Better, Stronger, Faster


choosing is HARD :(
The system in which you gain new skills can't technically be called a leveling system because there are no levels. You gain XP and after reaching a certain threshold are awarded with a point to spend on improving your abilities. However you can also purchase these points for a lot of money in the cybernetic clinic (limited supplies) or find them in the world. Another cool part here is that not only all the ingame interface stuff is explained with ingame fiction together with your cybernetic augmentation, so is the system on how you gain your abilities. I found this cohesive approach quite satisfying. Some abilities cost more then one point and it seems like I was always tor between where to spend them, since all the skills seem useful in various situations. Overall it seemed well balanced and each upgrade meaningful. I soon adopted an approach of keeping 2-3 points in reserve rather then spending them, to be used when a situation arose where they would really help out.
 why sawed off shotgun is sawed off, learn bitch
There is an inventory system which limits the items you can carry, with some items taking quite a large part of your space. Advantage of handguns: small size. Disadvantage of a bazooka: it's freaking BIG. Connection here is that you can use some of those precious points to upgrade your carry capacity :P Guns have various upgrades you can apply if you buy or come across upgrade kits. You get XP for almost everything you do, taking out enemies, hacking, finding secret routes, completing an objectives without anyone seeing you, never raising an alarm, reading research data, etc
 

Let us converse dear chap

The dialogue is a mixed bag, but it offers enough depth.
The actual dialogue system is great mechanically. First of all the developers took heed of people bitching about conversation choices in games like Mass Effect / Alpha Protocol /
some options are only available with cybernetic upgrades
DA2 where you are provided with tiny ass one liners which frequently did not match up with what your dude actual said. So: you still have those small choices, BUT wenyou mouse over the choice you will see an expanded dialogue which is almost exactly what your character will say. So both people who don't want to read and who want control over their choices are satisfied! There is also an interesting persuasion system that is quite well done imo, and a way to sometimes force what you want by use of pheromones. Like I said mechanically is satisfying.
The bummer comes in when dudes start talking. After games like L.A.Noire and Witcher 2 the animations are positively wooden. Half the time the only thing that moves on an NPC when talking are their lips. It's downright jarring. And faces themselves are of mixed quality, some have kinda bad textures. Voice acting is hit and miss, with great performances by some NPCs, terrible by others. The main character voice will very likely be a love/hate scenario with a lot of people 
 

Eye Candy

Like the dialogue system this is has some good moments and some bad moments.
Good things first: atmosphere and style are excellent. I mean damn, it looks cool as fuck. The visual design is superb and really hammers in the cyberpunk feel of the game. Seriously 10/10 to dudes who designed the environments and the effects, props. 99% of the time the game also runs as smooth as a baby's bottom on max settings, on my gaming laptop.
Bad things: technically the game is not very impressive. Even on max settings it looks a bit dated when compared to PC games like Withcher 2 for example. Up close most things look good, but the game very quickly degrades object quality with distance. Another issue is that the game seems to not be streaming in textures smoothly, that 1% of the time when you are quickly traveling from one area to another the game starts to really chug for a few seconds before becoming super smooth again. Hopefully whent he game is released we can get some more graphical options and they work out those texture loading kinks. But this is not a simple fix, so who knows. Also some of the NPCs  seem to have weird body proportions. Meanwhile here are some images for you to judge by yourselves, like all of the above this is max settings, 1920x1080:

Hacking

Hacking is a major part of the game. There are many many doors/computers/safes/security systems to hack. Like mentioned in the first main part of this writeup if you don't want to hack shit, you don't have to, there are many ways to get what you want. However I recommend you hack. Main reason is that hacking is actually FUN! There is no usual silly mini game here. Instead hacking is pushed to a more abstract layer, you are not really a hacker, but you are a dude who knows enough, kind of like a script kiddie, you know how to use programs that do the hacking for you, your job as a human operator is not to hack yourself but to decide how to hack. I'm not going to explain the system in full detail,
average difficulty hack
but the basics are that you have a network of nodes that must be navigated to reach target node/nodes, nodes have difficulty degrees, which increase hack times and chances of detection, when you are detected a security countermeasures activate and try to lock you out, at which point you need to works fast. The are different types of nodes that have various effects. The node webs you hack will vary from very simplistic ones to really big ones of 20+ nodes. There are some extra programs you can deploy when hacking that help you out, you can fortify your own nodes, capture bonus nodes for extra goodies, etc. Security systems are way way more effective then you, cleaning out and upgrading all connected nodes simultaneously, hence why the head start before they detect you. Just to give you an idea of how important hacking is in the game 4 out of 21 upgrade paths are just for hacking. I must have hacked over several dozen devices during the demo and not one of them was identical (there were a couple similar topologies but never with the same nodes).
 

Miscellaneous bullshit

Odds and ends that don't merit their own section.
Skybox looks really fucking bad, I mean come on, is see boxes ffs
There are hookers, no you can't solicit their services, it wouldn't fit the character or the atmosphere anyway.
Some serious load times in this demo, maybe they'll fix this maybe not.
Had a couple of crashes while playing.
Tutorial system in the demo has many issues. If you access the tutorials through the game menu they don't have voice overs. They are voiced when you get prompted for tutorial tips ingame, however the text below them is messed up completely seeming to pull from random dialogue. Also the tutorial is for the Xbox controller only even tho this is a PC demo. But the tutorials are easy to fix and stick out so I assume this will not be an issue with the full version.

In conclusion: game is pretty dope imo.

If you have questions, ask.
79 Comments

I have 3 MAJOR issues with L.A. Noire (spoilers)

And they have seriously substracted from my enjoyment of the game :(
 
At the start it was great, the faces the clues the interrogations!
Then shit started floating up to the top.
 

1. Mixed Signals

 
Now I have read a lot on these boards already how people are having trouble with interrogations, yada yada ...
Personally interrogations have been mostly going fine for me, a lot of the time I get almost all correct choices, sometimes all correct, sometimes I mess up a lot (usually due to evidence mismatch)
So you say: dude if you are not having a hard time with interrogations, whats your problem?
My problem is twofold: when NPCs send you completely false signals and the liberties of the truth/doubt/lie system
 
Wait wait!
I know what a lot of people will say: "well some NPCs are crafty and trick you on purpose"
Or: "doubt is just you putting pressure on them without evidence"
There are really 2 seperate problems here that honestly by themselves would not have been an issue for me at all if they did not multiply one another.

Problem A:

NPC will be fidgety as fuck, swallowing, glancing to the side. nervous to all hell. And then the correct question turns out to be: TRUTH
Or the same NPC will state everything with utter conviction and belief, never break eye contact and display all oif the traits that other NPCs have when they tell the truth, correct question: DOUBT 

Promblem B:

Truth is not truth, it is interpreted very very liberaly, sometimes you just passively agree with the person, sometimes you ACTUALLY DOUBT them in your statement after choosing truth... fuck me sideways!
Doubt is not doubt, most of the time it's just you being a dick and putting pressure on the person to get them to break, and by god it varies insanely how you do it, sometimes you are gentle as a snowflake when trying to hint that they are not telling everything, other times you are practically verbally beating the person up.

 

Here is the fun part:

An argument can be made that the NPC is a crafty motherfucker OR that: dude you simply read the signals wrong!
However I present to you the case of the Bowling Alley Mechanic that you interview during homicide desk. Why him?
Because his question/answer session allows us to easily see when he was indeed being honest and dishonest.
1. We ask the mechanic a question.
2. He is sweating out of his ass, nervous, evasive.
3. We choose doubt.
4. You go apeshit on him and he clams up. Telling you to basically fuck off.
5. Reload
6. This time we choose TRUTH.
7. Phelps still does not believe him fully and prods for more info.
8. Bowling Mechanic CONFIRMS in his words that he was LYING to us.
9. Truth choice was correct and we get a tick.
 
FUCK YOU.
SERIOUSLY. 
I'm no longer trying to guess what the suspect is actually thinking/knows.
I'm tired of playing the guessing game with the dude who was designing the interrogations.

2. Homicide desk is a JOKE (spoilers)

 
The second time a temporary bartender was mentioned I knew he was the killer.
Third time I saw a bar matchbook, it was confirmed in my mind 100%
And Phelps was still stumbling around like a blind mofo.
 
By second or third case it can already be seen that everytime there is at least 2 suspects.
Suspects leave their bloody tools in their homes.
Both suspects have access to the same rope used in murder.
OH COME THE FUCK ON!
 
While doing the Homicide desk I felt like controlling children playing in the sand, buliding sandcastles.
All evidence was drip fed to your detectives like to vegetables on life suspension.
You were picking breadcrumbs left to you by the nasty old witch.
Enough metaphors?
 
Almost every piece of evidence collected was given to you on purpose by the BD, and your dudes are eating it up.
Sure Phelps voices his doubts at the start of each case, but then proceeds to just go along with the blatant evidence.
 

Cherry on top:

The end of Homicide desk is as unclimactic as it can possibly be.
Phelps is like: "yo we just need to wait and eventually the BD will slip up"
Guess what, BD never slips up.
He just fucking tells you: "yo im in the church come cap my ass"
You go where BD tells you to go like a nice little sheep that you are and cap his ass.
The end.
 
Never in the entire Homicide desk did you actually solve a single murder case.
All of your arrests are a joke and BD might have as well just come to the station to get arrested.
 

3. Liar liar pants on fire!


Every single person you talk to will try to hide info or lie to you at least once.
Why?
Fuck if I know.
Even when the person has nothing real to gain by lying or not telling something to the police investigator, they stil act as if they just want to mess with you, you know for kicks.
Some situations I flat out put down the controller and laughted.
 
1. Landlady allows you to go up the the victims room to investigate.
2. You find a broken window.
3. Ask landlady about the break in.
3. Landlady tells you she doesn't know anything.
4. What the fuck you stupid cunt! You KNOW I have just been upstairs, why why would you lie about the window! You want to protect your reputation you say? I WAS JUST UPSTAIRS WHERE YOU SENT ME AND YOU KNOW THAT I SAW THE BROKEN WINDOW ........................ 
/sigh
 
Oh and pro tip:  Stop lying to me about your shoe size, I don't care how small your dick is.
 

THE END.
31 Comments

Fallout 3 left a sour taste in my mouth.

Of the different camps of division that grew up around the F3 release I was adamantly in the: "Wait and see guys, I will give the game a shot before judging group."
I was neither with the crowd wetting their pants for a Bethesda game nor with the purist fanboys at the NMA who screamed heresy at it. After playing through the game I hated to admit to myself that the fanboys were (mostly) right. To describe the different negatives of the game would take several hours and produce an essay. Needless to say I did not waste my money on the DLCs.
 
Other then that I generally have good personal video game sense and don't buy or play games that I perceive as Meh.
Every other game lately has been pretty much what I expected it to be. Well Risen was a pain in the beginning but it picked up later on.

5 Comments