Sunday, March 6, 2011

Monday Musings - 7th March 2011

It's Monday again! I've been doing this for a month! Let the good times roll! Today's Musings are dedicated to the annoyance of Games for Windows Live.

Final Fantasy XIII

I've found that this is a good title when i get home from work to pop on, and play a chapter or two. Not much exertion or input needed, and as i said last week, i enjoy the story and characters. Also since the levelling system is almost an echo of FFX's, i love the joy that comes from having enough points to travel through the Crystarium and get those new abilities that make your characters even more badass.

GTA IV - The Lost and Damned

I really enjoyed GTA IV but never completed it. There was this mission where you're ambushed in an abandoned hospital. I was playing on the PS3 at the time (I bought the game off a friend. It cost me fried chicken. True story), and the cover mechanics weren't working properly in the hospital. I gave up the game there.

The episodes seemed the best way to enjoy the game as they are short and self contained (along with small improvements like mission checkpointing). A friend gifted them to me on Steam a while back.

First though i had to contend with Games for Windows Live. Turns out you can't save without being logged in (at least that's what the game told me. After my time with Fallout 3, i have to wonder, but more on that later). I have a live account from when i had a 360. Years ago i loaded it up into a friend's 360 and it has been used since. I wanted to start fresh, but my email has already been used for that account (and it seems my other email has been used for someone else's account). In the end i have used my old live account, and everything seems to be working. Man that was a cumbersome process though.

I have played about 6 hours of this game so far. Playing a member of a bike gang chapter is a new gaming experience, and the story so far has been pretty interesting (the main theme being loyalty). The combat is so much better with a mouse (headshots a plenty), and things have been moving at a nice steady pace.

I'm up to a couple of missions that are starting to give me trouble. We shall see how long it is till i start loading up cheat codes (it's how i finally completed my favourite game in the franchise, Vice City).

Fallout 3

Progress is starting to slow on the wasteland front. I'm still exploring. I found a vault with a crazy gas that made the inhabitants mad, and it makes me see blue visions. Combat shotguns to the face are the best way of taking care of said mad inhabitants. Also, enemies using a stealth boy? That's just not cool. Not cool at all!

I bought 'My First Infirmary' for my house in Megaton. It means i could finally fix my broken head injury. It turns out being bashed on the back of the noggin by a raider tends to screw with your cognitive faculties.

On levelling, i immediately grabbed the perk that allows me to carry more stuff without becoming over-incumbered. I've needed this for a long time (i might be a bit of a scavenger).

After getting GFWL to work for Lost and Damned, it loaded up when i opened Fallout 3. Now that i was logged in, i couldn't continue my saved games. I started to dispair, but logging out of live opened up that option again. Bloody system.

World of Warcraft

Plenky is closing in on level 20. I've run a couple more dungeons (not to completion... but to be fair, this was Wailing Caverns we're talking about. I got an awesome staff out of it too), and am now levelling in an area supposedly below my level, even though i have been moving forward quest wise at a steady pace (i have to turn on low level quests to see the exclamation marks now). The exp is still ok and now i kill things a lot easier, so i shall power through!

I helped a super intelligent raptor ready a space rocket to blast herself and her babies to another world. When i let the babies out of their cages, they attached themselves to my face and limbs with their razor sharp teeth. I enjoyed that quest.

Wonder Boy

One thing i want to do with this blog is give myself an excuse to have a look and play older games and talk about them. I have this MAME emulator with 3000 or so arcade titles. I thought now and then i'd pick one and talk about it here. This time i picked an old arcade/console favourite from my youth.

For a platformer, Wonder Boy is actually a strange mix of mechanics. You collect eggs to power yourself up (you need to grab the first egg to gain a weapon). There's a timer that is extended by gathering fruit. If you touch an enemy, you die. If you touch fire you die. If you trip on a rock, you lose a chunk of your timer. If your timer expires, you die. Also, there are speckled eggs that release death. Death eats your timer.

The 2nd power up, the skateboard, can be a help and hinderance, especially in the water/cloud levels. I played for maybe 30 mins or so and in the end gave up on level 1 - 4 because there was this stupid frog i couldn't get past (it's the one after the warthog that runs up from behind you).

I do remember liking a lot of the sequels to Wonder Boy better than the original. Wonder Boy III in Monster Land on the Genesis, and Super Adventure Island on the SNES i have fond memories of. Maybe i'll play the arcade version of the former for next time.

Jack Keane

Who else out there bought the 2010 Telltale Adventure Bundle? I did, and have been slowly making my way through the games. I fell in love with Penny Arcade Adventures, enjoyed the 2nd season of Sam & Max, re-played the King's Quests, and was very happily suprised by how much i liked The Whispered World (Nelson Tethers has a graphical glitch that does not allow me to play past the 2nd puzzle, so i cannot comment on that game). The final game to play was Jack Keane.

After about 30 mins, i'm not sure i shall be continuing with this game. The design is colourful and vibrant, the writing got a chuckle or two out of me, and the puzzles and interface seem straight-forward. The reason i cannot continue is the same reason i stopped playing King's Quest 5. Bad voice acting that you cannot switch off. Well ok, in Jack Keane you can turn the volume of the speech down to 0, but it's not like switching off the voice acting in King's Quest 6. In KQ6, when you turn the game from speech to text, all text is moved forward by the click of the mouse. Turning the volume off in Jack Keane just means you read the subtitles as the speech continues... which means clicking on short sentences might skip the next line of dialogue as the characters don't take that long to say the line and move on. It's quite frustrating.

It's a shame really, since it seems i might have enjoyed the ride. The game is kind of an adventure adventure game (think if Guybrush Threepwood was Indiana Jones). Ah well, i most certainly got my money's worth out of the bundle, and enjoyed most of its contents.

Final Thoughts

With my love of adventure games, RPGs, and constant talk of story and character, i think it's safe to say that i enjoy narrative in video games. One of the more controversial narrative driven games of late was last years' Heavy Rain. Over at Brainy Gamer, Michael has written a wrap up of David Cage's talk about his game and narrative in videogames at GDC. He makes many controversial statements but i think it's worth a read. Have a look here.

Till next week, Happy Gaming!

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