Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Motion Control: The Potential for Greatness or Failure

Disclaimer: I'm now trying my hand as cross-pollunation with the community blogs over at Destructoid. Hence i will be posting Monday Musings over there, and their blogging topic of the week over here. Now back to our regularly scheduled writing.

Motion controls get a lot of flak from a large portion of the gamer community. From the Wii to the iphone to Kinect and Move, they're either seen as annoyances or a cheap gimmick to pull in money from the uneducated casual masses (this statement is said with tongue firmly planted in cheek).

Personally I see them as just another tool in the developer's kit. When used well they can enhance an experience. When used to grab market share or not given enough time, they enhance this negative stigma they've come to possess.

It's time for some examples...

When the PS3 was first released, the Sixaxis was sort of a joke. Technically its reputation hasn't improved much as the years passed, and it's now been eclipsed by the Move as Sony's motion control device, but go with me here. Sure Warhawk used it decently enough, but the forced Sixaxis moments in games like Uncharted (and for balancing of all things) were a real turn off. I thought of the Sixaxis as a horrid gimmick. That is till i played Flower. Now as a game, Flower is in a league of its own to start with, but the controls just felt right. It's obvious ThatGameCompany spent a lot of time and effort to fine tune the controls for the most fluid experience they could deliver. Inversely, the Sixaxis segments in Heavy Rain almost made me snap my controller in frustration.

Let's move to the Wii. As always, Nintendo show how their crazy new hardware works, and i still hold that 4 player Wii Tennis is some of the most fun you can have with friends on a console. The thing is, Nintendo only release one or two games a year, and really the 3rd party support for the Wii has been pretty abysmal, with most titles feeling like cash grabs for the new audience the Wii opened up. Some get it right however and I'd like to talk about Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition, and No More Heroes. The controls on RE4 were incredible. Moving and shooting was a breeze, and aside from the quick time events, an example of what motion controls can deliver. No More Heroes is an interesting case. It's an example of using motion controls sparingly and in creative fashions. I'm sure everyone remembers furiously recharging their beam sabers, and the quick swipes to finish off an opponent were always satisfying.

The iphone is an interesting case as both its control schemes are unconventional for gamers. Many games let you have a choice between touch screen or motion controls, and a lot of the time, it is a 'lesser of two evils' decision. Still some developers really take the care with games like Tilt to Live and Labyrinth 2, as both incorporate incredible finesse via tilting the device.

So yeah, motion controls. These are just some personal examples of different systems utilizing these control schemes for amazing game experiences. As for Kinect and Move, while i don't own either, i have heard Dance Central is the reason to own Kinect, and i have to admit that Echochrome 2 looks absolutely fantastic.

While Sony has been somewhat successful with the Eyetoy, it was the Wii that really launched motion controls and since then, they've exploded through videogaming. Like every other control scheme, peripheral, or technical tool, they have the power to be amazing or terrible. It's all up to the design, the development, and the care these titles are given.

Till next time, happy gaming all!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Monday Musings - 25th July, 2011

A rather sparse week in gaming, but some interesting highlights. Let's muse!

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

And we're up to world 5. Barrett and I plowed through Worlds 3 and 4, but after hitting 5 we decided to go back and try some comet stars.

So far most of them haven't been close to as difficult or frustrating as the Spiny challenge. There were a couple purple coin challenges. The one on the slide in that tree galaxy scared the crap out of me upon first entering. "You mean i have to hit every coin on the way down this thing?" The good news was that it became clear very soon that is was virtually impossible to do that, and there were a lot more coins than 100. The other purple coin challenge was pretty damn easy with a 2nd player picking up the slack.

In the end what brought the session to a close was the Hightail Falls Galaxy and its comet. That galaxy almost drove me batty the first time i played it, as i was obsessed with climbing up the left side of the first vertical plank to find what was at the top (this is the level where Yoshi eats peppers that allow him to run up walls). The comet challenge puts a time limit on the level (and the star is pretty hard to get without one), plus there is now a rain of fire comets and a lot of the planks are destroyed. After quite a few fruitless attempts, play was brought to a close.

Vanquish (Ps3)

I'm now at the start of Act 3. Played through most of Act 2, and while there was nothing as spectacular as the first boss fight of Act 1, or the transport ride of early Act 2, there was still some great fire fights. My biggest hurdle however was getting used to the controls again. I guess it's due to the odd nature of the game, but it took 5 mins or so for me to recalibrate my brain and hands. "Ok, that's boost, that's dodge... it engages slow-mo. Good."

One part to mention was the double boss fight of Act 2. It's an old game trope. Well, they've fought some bosses, why don't we throw bosses at them together? It's also a good gauge to show how far the player has come. So far the hardest part of the game for me was the boss fight early in Act 1, but now with some added weapons and some skills under my belt, fighting these two bosses together was doable (not entirely easy as i still died a couple times, but i got through without much hassle).

As a sidenote, it's amazing how satisfying melee attacks are in this game. No wonder using one depletes your power or you'd be meleeing your way through everything.

Fallout 3 (Steam)

I had a bout of insomnia Friday night/Saturday morning. I had watched the movie Winter's Bone earlier and it put me in the mood to return to Fallout (i think it was the survivalist nature of how the characters were living in the film that did it). I haven't touched the game for a couple months, but it didn't take long for the skills to return.

Where i'd left off was i had just discovered Three Dog, and i had to go uncover something from the museum of technology. Making my through DC proved hazardous. Ghouls, Raiders, Mirelocks, Mutants. The whole bloody city is out to get you. Nothing a hunting rifle, a combat shotgun, and Dogmeat can't handle however.

I think it says something that i played the game for an hour or so, and hadn't reached my destination. I'm close though. I had a lot of fun too. I might be returning to post apocalyptic DC sooner than i expected.

Final Thoughts

Being a relatively poor gamer over the last year or so, i've learned to not be sucked into the hype of new releases. With a little patience, games that i have wanted to play will drop in price a couple months after release and i can import them cheaply (living in Australia, paying retail price for a game is just bloody ridiculous). Not everything drops in price however. Nintendo games rarely drop (the first party games at least), and it took a year after release for Red Dead Redemption to finally lower to a price i thought was acceptable for my current situation (with the grim realization that it will probably take a year for LA Noire to reach a similar price).

Another reason for this is caution. Last year both Enslaved and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow looked amazing and were must buys. I waited the couple of months and picked them both up at decent prices. Both games failed to impress me, so at least when i sold them i wasn't out any money (as i would have been if i had paid retail launch price). Inversely picking up Civ5 in April was an amazing purchase and i've gotten more than my money's worth out of that game. I guess the point here is that you never know, and when dealing with affordable prices, the sting of a bad purchase doesn't hurt that badly, but the pleasant surprises are much more pleasant.

So here we come to Catherine. I love Atlas games. Persona 4 was on my top 5 for 2009 (when it was released over here so it counts dammit). Catherine looks amazing. The reviews, especially the one over at Game Trailers makes this look like a winning purchase for myself. I'm even thinking of breaking my release purchase rule. The hype has gotten to me. If the game ends up like Civ5, then even at full price, it might be worth it, but if the game burns me, that's a lot of money to have wasted. Then i look at my backlog (including Persona 4 which i still haven't completed), thinking to myself that i have plenty of games in my backlog to keep myself occupied, and Catherine will drop in price, and the feeling of wanting to play it now will pass.

Heh, i thought i'd weaned myself off the habit of craving new releases. I guess as a gamer, the allure of the new never leaves.

Till next week, happy gaming all!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Musings - 18th July 2011

Wow, another week of waking up early for a Pay Per View (damn time zones), and i'm only having my first coffee now at 5pm. The horror! Let's muse!

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

My buddy Barrett came over on Tuesday and we started up a co-op game of SMG2, passing the controller between stars while the other player killed enemies, and grabbed star bits, coins, and lives. Another session was had on Friday and we are at world 3.

I think i understand why i put this game down. Once you've experienced co-op, single player just feels kind of cold. I had the same problem with New Super Mario Bros Wii. Having a friend there to pass the controller to and share the experience with makes all the difference. I am a fan of shared experiences for single player games as well, but co-op extends this belief. Case in point, we decided to try and grab the first comet star where you have to use invincibility to kill 30 spinys in 60 seconds. We must have spent close to an hour on that. My god was it a test of platforming skill. In the end it was pulled off and we felt like champs. Without the ability to pass the controller to someone else, i don't think i would have persevered that long.

The excellent level design and variety of worlds to play around in helps a bunch too!

Sanctum (Steam)

Gifted to me by another friend who i will call Dakker as that is his game handle, i played this co-op tower defense first person shooter for the remainder of Tuesday evening. This is a well designed game here. You start the map off by building the maze you want to funnel the monsters down, you then build towers on top on the blocks (along with slow fields, and the ability to upgrade your character's weapons), then you click ready and try and survive the wave. You aid the towers by shooting the creatures yourself, and then when the wave is over, the money earned can be used to upgrade towers and weapons, or to build more defenses.

The creatures all have weak points but playing on endless, we quickly got to a point where we could defend anything the computer threw at us. It may be due to the low difficulty we were on. I shall have to see next time we play and i kick it up a notch.

Earthbound (Snes)

Got to Threed, and my party members were captured by zombies. Telepathically calling a new party member, i am now in control of Jeff, boy genius. I have worked my way through an easy dungeon created by a man who wishes to become dungeon man, and have become stuck in another dungeon. It may be FAQ time. I also got to ride a lochness monster.

It's really fun to talk about the things happening in this game as re-reading these paragraphs, it sounds a lot zanier than it feels when you're playing the game. Not to a detriment mind you. The quirky nature of the situations and the dialogue is really what is keeping me going, as the game itself is rather standard RPG fare, except for the somewhat humerous enemies.

Continuity 2 (Iphone)

I'm up to world 6 where i have stopped playing, and am unsure of whether or not i shall return. The first level of this world seems to rely on precision and quick tapping to pass it. Now perhaps i'm approaching the problem the wrong way but i am not a fan of dexterity in puzzle games. It could be my Iphone as well. It's old and swipes and touches don't always register too well.

Still, all the puzzles leading up to World 6 were great. Level 5-8 was a real brain twister for me. I stopped playing and went to have a shower (am i the only one who does their most creative thinking in the shower?). Afterwards i picked the game up again, took one look at the puzzle, exclaimed, "I'm an idiot!", and solved it. Hooray for the wonders of a fresh mind.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent (Steam)

I have a love/hate relationship with horror games. I hate them because they scare the pants off me. Seriously. Just the fact that i am controlling a protagonist in a tense setting is enough to set me on edge. I was scared playing Doom 3! Well, until i got back from hell and the game continued and then i got bored. This genre is more effective then any other in immersing me, but i don't necessarily like being scared or being always on edge when exploring a game world. This is also why i love horror games. I just don't play them often.

I bought Amnesia because of the amount of good press it received (and the glowing reviews of the studio's previous games, the Penumbra series). I finally decided to try the game Saturday night. I played for 17 minutes and i haven't been back. Let's discuss why.

In those 17 mins, the game got me right on board. The atmosphere is great, and the ideas behind the player's sanity and the game taking control away from you at certain points is amazing. Where i quit was right after the prologue. I found a diary which contained backstory (not the initial one, this was when the house opened up a little). I sat there listening to the voice actor read the text in front of me, and realised that this has broken all immersion. I'm hunted and haunted by something, this place is immensely gloomy and suddenly all is safe while i read this book. That really got to me.

Of course this also could be an excuse that i knew the game was ramping me up for danger and a good scare, and i might have concocted a design reason to bail on playing before that happened.

Both points are probably valid.

Vanquish (Ps3)

I finally decided to get around to picking up where i left off with Vanquish. I'm in the middle of Act 2 after a play session last night. I wanted to quit after Act 1 finished, but if there's one thing about Vanquish's pacing, it's that thus far there really haven't been any low moments where one feels they can stop. You keep feeling like playing on, waiting for that break in the action to collect your thoughts. Oh sure, there are sections where there is dialogue, where you're walking, we're you're scanning the landscape, but these don't really feel like breaks, or at least they didn't to me.

The game is a ball though. Once you get a handle on what you can do with the controls, and feel comfortable with the level design (which can be a tad confusing as you're careening down the landscape with your propulsion systems), you can pull off some stunts that give you plenty of, "Oh my god, that was awesome!" moments. I believe they are also known as 'memorable moments' (i like my phrasing more).

There's been a little bit of variety in gameplay, but for the most part it's a lot of fire fights with cover and the chance to do something fun (and there are bosses too). Since i've heard the game is short, this probably won't be an issue as the game keeps propelling me forward with a clear goal and the action is still enjoyable. I doubt the mechanics will wear out their welcome.

Final Thoughts

I think perhaps i need to explain myself more in regards to horror games. I enjoy watching horror movies (although i need to be in the right mood. I can't just pop one on any night of the week). I get scared during horror movies. I cover my eyes during bits, i tense up. Basically the film-maker is able to play me like a fiddle. Why do i subject myself to this? I don't really understand it fully, but i guess there must be a part of me that likes to be scared. Perhaps its seeing how some writers and directors tackle the unknown and play on our fears of safety and social norms (for instance one horror movie that still sticks with me years after watching it is 'The Mist'. The monsters were scary enough, but the true horror for me was the religious zealotry and how the humans turned on each other. Still, teeth spiders? Yeesh!).

Games take this one step further as you are controlling the poor sod who's being subjected to the horror of the game world. You can't put your fingers up in front of your face here. You have to keep a watchful eye out and play things right, otherwise you might have to subject yourself to the same horrors again. Now that's funny isn't it. Just by its nature, dying and re-living a section of a horror game dilutes the fright. You've experienced it once so just by familiarity, it is not as scary subsequent times. Still, the fear of reliving horror is very powerful, and staying alive is front and foremost in your mind as you play these games.

But staying alive is part of every game (well every game that has death in it... or has a negative consequence to death). This is why horror games are so immersive. It's not just trying again with a new life or continue as Mario, or going back to the last checkpoint in Call of Duty. There's something more here. Surviving is in the mechanics of most video games, yet in the horror (and especially the survival-horror) genre, survival seems to be everything. It's like our ability to reload and retry has been forgotten. Maybe it's the strange circumstances and horrific creature design. Maybe it's the sound and visuals. Whatever it is, most horror games don't feel like games, and perhaps that's why they at least freak the hell out of me.

Till next week, happy gaming all!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Musings - 11th July, 2011

Hey dear readers. Musings is a tad late this week as i woke up early to go over to a mate's house to watch the Destination X PPV. Not really worth the money, but if you like wrestling, i really recommend checking out the 4-man match with Austin Aries, Zima Ion, Lowki, and Jack Evans. Really awesome stuff! Anyhow, let us talk games, and thus muse upon them.

Continuity 2 (Iphone)

I used to be editor over at www.appspy.com. My good friend Andrew is now editor, and a new feature of the site is that he makes a 'Best of' video for each month. For June, there was this game he reviewed called Continuity 2. I bought it cause it looked fun ($1.19, why not?), and have been having a blast.

It's a puzzle platformer. There's a door. There's a key. Get the key, open the door. There are also coins. They're a secondary objective. At the end of the level, you get three badges of honour. One for completing the level, one for collecting all the coins, and one for beating the level time. I don't care about the time badge, but have been making sure i grab all the coins in every level.

Anyways i should explain more about the game. By double tapping the screen, the level zooms out and you see the level is printed on tiles that you can swap around. If the edges of two tiles match up, you can double tap back to the game and travel between them. This neat little mechanic is added to by relative gravity. Whichever way you hold the iphone, that's the way gravity works. These additions keep ramping up world by world. I'm on world 5 and levers have been introduced that open different doors depending on how the wires are placed between tiles.

This gets Dave's seal of approval (seal may not be entirely valid).

Earthbound (Snes)

I've discovered the second sanctuary and have Paula in my team. Her addition was one of trial. I remember it was soon after receiving my first party member in Mother that i stopped playing the game. Luckily here in Earthbound i have overcome this initial hurdle, but man, there's nothing worse than being level 20 and having a level 1 character join your party who you then have to keep alive.

Now kudos to the designers as the first hostile area you enter, the exp is high enough that you can level Paula up to a decent level with only a few fights. Still, you have to be very careful. When i finally defeated the Sanctuary boss, Dave (i named my character after myself. I picked 'don't care' for the other three) was level 24, and Paula was level 13.

See i have this problem with magic in RPGs. Well any spell or attack that makes a number of something go down. This is easiest to explain with mana (or pp as its known in Earthbound), so we'll stick with that. I'm a packrat. I don't like to spend mana as i think i might need a large amount at a moment's notice. Now i have noticed that in many RPGs mana either replenishes quickly or there are ways to get it back, and usually it's beneficial to use as much as you can (kind of like that school of thought in RTS games that you should never have spare cash as you should always be spending it). It took quite a few deaths in Earthbound for me to finally start having Paula use her psi attacks every round, and combat has gone much more smoothly because of it.

Beat Hazard (Steam)

How about that summer Steam sale huh? So many great titles at great prices. Enough shilling for times that have come and gone, let's talk about one of my two purchases in the sale this week, Beat Hazard.

I love Audiosurf. I like to think i'm one of the early adopters of the awesomeness of this game, discovering it way back in 2008, but who really cares. It's an amazing blend of combing a person's personal music collection with gameplay and impressive visuals. If you've played it, you know what i'm talking about. If you haven't, it's really cheap on steam and worth the price. Buy it dammit!

Ok so i saw Beat Hazard. It advertised itself as a twin stick shooter using your own music collection. I was intrigued. The game plus its DLC was $3.50. I dived in. I played 20 mins and will probably never load up the game again.

Here's the thing. It's not a bad game. I actually really enjoyed the time i played it. It's just the game physically affected me. After 20 mins, my eyeballs felt like i'd been awake for three days straight, and my heart was pounding with adrenaline. I don't think i can continue to play the game for health reasons. I'm guessing it's the onslaught of colour and particle effects in time with the music. The beam that shoots out from your ship changes constantly and boy is there a lot of visual information taking place on screen.

Aside from a solid gameplay base, the game has exp which upgrades your rank, and you can unlock perks that affect gameplay. There's also multiplayer, which probably is really fun. There's a lot here for the price.

Here's my recommendation then. If this sounds intriguing to you, give it a try. If you can get through a gaming session without feeling like your eyes and heart are going to explode, all the power to you. Enjoy this game. I think i feel safer with the transient motion of Audiosurf's roller-coaster ride.

The Witcher (GoG)

It's been a little while since i've played The Witcher. It's funny cause where i saved, i was pretty much right near the end of Act 2. There was a revelation, a small amount of questing, a showdown boss fight... and then as Act 3 begins, it seems a lot of stuff went down in the meantime. This is actually a problem i had at the end of Act 1. The big choice you had to make at the end of Act 1, it felt like i had missed out on a lot of information that would have helped me in my decision making. What happens before Act 3 is different. You're out, and story happens.

I think it's the pacing that's getting to me a little. Act 2 had a quest where you had to gather stones to open up a tower. I thought it was a neat side quest so i spent the time collecting the stones. The last stone was said to be luck based, as in you'd get it when you didn't expect it. Ok, i thought... a little lame, but i'll continue with the main quest line and come back to this. Well it turns out that the tower becomes part of the main quest line, and you get the final stone as a plot point. It just felt to me that there should have been a greater hint in game that either the tower was part of the main quest, or that the stone will be found on its own, because the quest tracker does show you where you get the final stone, it's just again, you had to wait till the plot was ready for you to receive it.

We'll see if this pacing issue continues to irk me in Act 3, or if i'm just nitpicking.

Final Thoughts

After last week's musings, i thought a bit about my thoughts on Earthbound (redundancy!). I lauded the game for removing the need to fight lower level monsters by having your character automatically win. I must admit, while this is great, it does take away one joy in RPGs i've discussed before. That's the idea of levelling up and then returning to earlier areas and cleaning house. It really gives you that sense of power, and the feeling you've progressed and grown a lot (one great example of this is the three bandits outside Firestone in Borderlands. Oh how they gib once you've levelled up a lot and come back).

Now the argument could be made that Earthbound does the same thing. "Look, i'm so powerful now, i don't need to waste my time with such creatures". I think though that Earthbound accomplishes this better in the caves. In both sanctuary caves so far, after i've defeated the boss, afterwards all the creatures run like hell to get out of my way.

What do you readers think? Do you enjoy the power in RPGs of returning to low level areas and asserting your dominance? For those of you who have played Earthbound, do you enjoy the idea of not having to deal with low level monsters? Do you think that game still holds a sense of power through this? This section is for my final thoughts, but i definitely want to hear your thoughts as well.

Till next week, happy gaming all!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Monday Musings - 4th July 2011

Happy Independence day to all my American readers. Light some fireworks for your pal Dave. Let's muse!

Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3)

Last week we left off in the middle of Act 4. I return last Monday night and plow right into the boss fight with Crying Wolf. Out of the 4 beauties, i think this fight was my favourite (although the Laughing Octopus fight comes close). After that fight Act 4 snowballs. More boss fights, Metal gear appears. There's an awesome Metal Gear fight, and as the Act ends you're just flabbergasted.

Tuesday night i completed Act 5 and finished the game. I will try and collect my thoughts without spoiling anything, cause especially the epilogue... stuff goes down. That fight with Liquid/Ocelot though... wow. I think that's one of the most memorable final boss fights i've had in a videogame (and kind of reminiscent of the Liquid fight from MGS). Sure fighting The Boss in MGS3 had more emotional impact, but this was a nice coup de grace for the series.

That ending though. Yeesh. I had a friend warn me that MGS4 went to many lengths to tie up all the loose ends of the series. While i think he over-exaggerated a tad, the epilogue left me with a puzzled expression on my face. It is a testament to the series though that when it was finally over, i had a sudden urge to play through MGS 1 - 4 again. Perhaps later in the year.

One final note: some fans are aware that due to legal problems, Kojima could no longer use the Metal Gear Solid Theme anymore. There were two ways this was resolved in MGS4. One was that the theme was whistled off-key by a character in the game (which made me smile when i finally worked out what he was whistling), and the second work-around was a similar theme with enough note changes to be its own piece. It actually depressed me a little because the scenes that had this music (most of Act 5 and the ending) just made me think, "Man, they could be playing the MGS theme right now. It would be so much more impactful"). Seriously, that theme has given me chills when played during certain scenes during the series. It's one of my favourite pieces of videogame music. I learned how to play it on keyboard. Maybe this is what prompted the want to replay the series more than anything.

Earthbound (SNES)

Late last year i got the hankering to finally play this RPG classic (that has high praise amongst gamers). Being the 2nd game in the Mother series, i decided to try and play the first game. It was fun, and unique, and i spent many hours on it, but i gave up. This week, i've finally gotten around to trying out Earthbound.

After my first play session, i tweeted that this game contains RPG mechanics that every RPG after it should have had. Let me explain. First off is auto battle. This is commonplace today, but it's only been perhaps in the last 5 years (and thanks in part to the Shin Megami Tensei games) that this feature has become popular. It makes a lot of sense. "Oh there's a creature i've beaten 20 times already. Instead of constantly pressing attack and perhaps healing if my HP gets low, why don't i just press auto battle". Where Earthbound is especially unique and clever is in going one step further. Why should you have to fight a creature you've defeated 20 times before? You're a high level now. It's not worth your time. See, Earthbound doesn't have random encounters (Mother 1 did... and it was annoying). The creatures are on the screen, and they run towards you when they see you, and then battle begins. If you're a higher level then them though, they flee from you. That's not all however. If you still engage one in combat, you don't have to go through the arduous task of fighting them. There's a flash on the screen and you automatically win the fight. How awesome is that? Oh how i wish more RPGs made use of this mechanic!

Then there's the game's sense of humour. From some of the enemy's attacks, to the enemies themselves (The new age retro hippie attacks), to the banter from the townsfolk. The game is not only self aware, but it revels in its goofiness. It really adds a nice dimension to your classic 'Little kid saves the world' RPG tale.

One final gushing observation is how you come by money to buy items and weapons. Everytime you talk to your dad on the phone (which is also how you save your game), he deposits money in your bank account. Often hundreds of dollars. Also, you gain interest on your money the longer it's in your account. Unless you act like a buffoon, you'll never be at want for cash. And if you die? You revive at your house or hotel. Go to sleep, run back to where you were and try again.

It's amazing that an RPG gave this streamlined a game experience in the mid 90s. The only reason i haven't played more during the week is i'm stuck. There's a giant pencil statue blocking my path. I'm pretty sure i have to do something with two inventors named after fruit, but we shall see.

World of Warcraft (PC)

I got the itch again. Checking out my battle.net account, i noticed not only is it free to play the game up to level 20 now, but i had received a free week of gameplay for not playing the game! Woo! Hey, scratching that WoW itch for free sounds good to me.

I rerolled Khalulakhaki (an old troll rogue character of mine) on Khaz'goroth (an oceanic server i've played on in the past year). I still watch the cinematic trailers Blizzard makes for the new patches, and the 4.1 trailer months ago with Voljin and the trolls got me excited to play a troll again. It also helped that the new troll starting area in Cataclysm is pretty awesome.

I also use WoW to listen to podcasts i don't have the time for normally. Thanks to the latest episodes of 'Are You Serious?', and 'Smart Wrestling Fan', i'm now level 15 and in Northern Barrens. The new quest arc to get to the Crossroads was pretty impressive.

The mechanics are the same old stuff, and even with podcasts, i can already feel my interest waning. It's cool though. I didn't pay a cent, and if i do leave it alone after this week, if i have the itch to return again, i can play for free again. All is well.

Chime (Steam)

It's Lumines for PC. I bought it cheap on steam a while back, and if you're looking for a well made rhythm block puzzle game, Chime has got ya covered. Playing again did sadly remind me how out of shape i am when it comes to Tetris type games. "This block fits where? Oh wait, i could have put that block there. Oh yeah, this is the same one. Doh! Next time i'll make something out of those pieces. Next time!"

Needless to say i didn't do very well.

Pokemon White (DS)

Not much to say really. I started playing again last night. 10 mins in, the red light on my DS came on. I saved, and quit. A while back i mentioned how that always seems to happen with my PS3 controller. I forgot the same applied to the DS. Battery packs are conspiring against me!

Final Thoughts

You may have noticed that this week i am listing the system of the games in question (or in the case of PC games, PC, Steam, or GoG). This was recommended to me by a friend a few weeks back and i have just remembered that it might be a good idea to implement it. I have the feeling it might feel a bit redundant, but what do you dear readers think?

Yeah, that's all i have this week, so enjoy a version of the MGS Theme from MGS2

Till next week, happy gaming all!