Sunday, 9 September 2012

Guild Wars 2 - Queensdale Area Boss Encounter

So I was minding my own business in Guild Wars 2. Trying to complete the map of Queensdale, when all of a sudden I was introduced to the area boss. And good god.. This is one of the very first area bosses of the entire game. I shudder to think what they will be like near end-game. Either way, it was very cool, and a lot of fun to fight. Also, look at the size of that battle chest! ArenaNet don't do things by halves do they haha. It's fair to say I'm enjoying the hell out of this game so far.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Steam summer sale

Ahhh, it's that time again. When our wallets quake in fear as we ravage every last pound to get the latest 75% off item, and remind ourselves that as consumers, we really are reckless, but more importantly, we know a good deal when we see one xD And we see many..

Going to make a personal account of my casualties here so I can keep track of it.

Most of the mainstream games are already in my list thankfully, so that's one saving grace.

As for the badges, I've completed them all, apart from the community voting sales, which I'll have to wait for. Also, please for the love of all that is good, Arma II needs to go on sale. I want to play DayZ so badly.

I'll keep updating the subtotal of this post as the days go on. Interested to see how roped in I get. I seriously don't think it can be as bad as last year though, where I literally ravaged the hell out of the sale..

SpaceChem: £1.74
Trine 2 Collector's Edition: £4.49
Sideway: £2.10
HOARD: £1.74
From Dust, Payday: The Heist, Max Payne 3: £21.72
Alan Wake Bundle: £7.74
Dota 2: Free
Batman Arkham City DLC: Harley Quinn's Revenge £2.71
RAGE: £10.19
Dead Rising 2: £4.99
FEAR Complete £8.99
Age of Empires III Complete: £7.49
Dear Esther: £2.49
Need for Speed Hot Pursuit: £4.99
Thief Gold, Thief II: £3.48
Dragon Age Origins Ultimate: £4.99
Tiny and Big Grandpa's Leftovers: £4.19
Witcher 2: £11.99
Galactic Civilizations II: £3.24
Botanicula: £1.87
Samorost 2, Krater: £6.98
Red Orchestra 2, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet: £6.73
Risen: 3.74
Vampire The Masquerade: £3.74
All Zombies Must Die: £2.79
Arma II: Combined Ops: £14.99
Garry's Mod: £1.49
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3: £19.99
Assassin's Creed Revelations: £10.19

TOTAL: £181.78 (~$282.50)

I have to be sensible this year actually because I have been saving heavily for some expensive music plugin packages (the new 'Komplete' collection from native instruments when it comes out, and also the complete composers collection HD). So that will play on my conscience, which is great.

Hope you all get some nice deals on the games you want and more importantly, viva la PC revolution!

EDIT - Sooo yeah, on Day 2 now and it's already kind of out of hand. Observing your own addiction in real-time has to be some sort of irony surely.

FINAL EDIT - Fuuuuuucck.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend (27th April)

Well here we go!

I had the client all patched up and ready to go, I was expecting the timer on the main website to keep its side of the bargain, and waited for the beta to officially start, but apparently it jumped the gun haha. No biggie. I logged in first time, which is always a plus! Started making my Charr Warrior, which I had already decided to go with beforehand.

The level of customization is brilliant in the character creation. Very in-depth. Eventually completed all the fine tuning, and the personality traits, and got thrown into my opening cut-scene, which is tailored towards the character that you actually make. Personality and everything! Very cool.

This was the first snag I hit, once this cut-scene had completed, I was presented with a black screen (albeit with beautiful background music). It never recovered from this haha, so I had to kill the process and hope it had actually completed and remembered my character that I had just spent a good 20mins creating. I then couldn't log in because the traffic had majorly spiked, as it was past the official opening time. But eventually with perseverance, I was able to log back on, and luckily my character had been stored. A few more problems here and there, but eventually I managed to get ingame, and it was worth the wait. The server was massively congested, but it was fun all the same, and gave me a good idea of what the opening would be like.

Here are a few screenies via slideshow of the opening character creation sequence and ctuscene along with a bit of gameplay before I got kicked off!

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Scramble with Friends

Currently addicted to this game on my Android. It's effectively a mini word-search puzzle on a 4-by-4 box. Each game pits one opponent facing off against another. There's 3 rounds to each game and the players take it in turns. There is a 2 minute time limit on each round, but you can play them whenever you like, so it's really down to you as for what pace you wish to play complete games at.

I'm playing with some random internet players currently. Along with a "Mrbritton", with whom I've had some amazing games so far. Very close matches :) Great game for improving your quick thinking. When I started off a week ago I was only able to manage 35~, but now I can identify around 55~ words in the 2 minute time limit. Quite a lot of tactics as well depending on the bonuses you choose to help during the round (You are able to equip 2 bonuses out of a potential 3 in total).

Theres "Freeze", a one-time use move which literally freezes the clock for a seemingly random amount of time, but I'd say it's usually close to 10-15 seconds.

"Inspiration", which gives you 3 helping hints for words you haven't discovered yet. Very useful as it allows you to work out words that stem from this as *well* as the word it effectively gives you for free.

And "Scramble", which just rearranges the word-search box. Unless there's some hidden use to it, for me it doesn't seem to be that helpful right now. I'm thinking, if you aren't someone who needs the freeze utility, then this could be quite advantageous, as it would open up word possibilities that aren't feasible with the original box. It's worth testing out though :)

My tactic is to basically start out with very small words 2-3 letters, attaching plurals as I see them, make sure all they are all out of the way (important for later, because otherwise "Inspiration" will find these small words instead, which is counter-productive) This takes about 30 seconds in total. Then search for extended words (and variations of them) for an extra 40 seconds until after I pass the minute mark and start running out of ideas with around 50 seconds left on the clock. Now I start using "Inspiration" and getting all the trees that extend from it, it can be very advantageous if you already rooted out all the smaller words.

This brings you to around 10 seconds left on the clock, I like to use freeze around now, and either root out any more words if I still have ideas, or what I sometimes do if I'm completely blank, spam the crap out of my touch screen, and just scribble. You *will* get words from this method haha, it really does work.. You can choose to do this after the unfreeze as well. (Note: don't worry if you completely forget to use "Freeze" by accident. The ability will still start up as soon as you reach :01 left on the clock :)

All in all, great little game, especially for free. Let's hope it doesn't eat up too much of my time!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Review: Sonic Generations (PC)

Sonic Generations: (PS3, Xbox 360 and PC)
PC Developer: Sonic Team, Devil's Details
Publisher: SEGA
Released: November 1, 2011
R.R.P: £19.99 (Steam)

Sonic Generations is the perfect homage to twenty years of brilliance. A cultivation of everything that has been achieved throughout Sonic Teams long-haul. From the 8-bit adventures, straight through to the transition to 3D, and now the current-gen era with every piece of Sonic's legacy intrinsically laid out for us.

The overall game is structured as 2 acts of classic and modern, inside of 3 different zones which when completed offer up extra challenges to the gamer in order to progress to a boss fight, followed by a further 3 zones, and so on and so forth as you continue to unlock the world map from left to right. The first noticeable thing is that the game-play is smooth and fluid. Rarely does the game-play ever seem disjointed, apart from occasionally in the modern acts where things can get a bit hectic and perhaps the level structure doesn't seem quite as intuitive as it could be. These are however problems that are inherent of speed in 3D games, and has plagued Sonic's transition to 3D ever since the first Sonic Adventure. The classic zones however excel in platforming. Although speed is an option, I feel you would be missing out here on what comes natural to the game-play. Exploration is fun. Rarely will two different play-throughs ever feel the same or take the same route, and this goes for the modern acts as well. This is one of the big factors that will keep you playing Generations for a while to come.

Possibly one of the greatest achievements of this game is the audio. Sure, you have all the expected sound effects from a Sonic game, and from that aspect you will find nothing out of the norm here. But where this really excels, is the music. This is an absolute treasure trove with remixes of all your past favorites, but also an endless stream of unlock-able classics and originals there for you to find. The way the acts are inherently structured, you have the classic and modern paths. The classic levels have typically Jun Senoue-esque renditions. Whereas the modern stages will sound more akin to the styles from Sonic Adventure, Heroes and onwards. A really nice touch here is how stages such as Green Hill and Sky Sanctuary are transformed effortlessly into the modern style, and vice versa with City Escape going back to Sonic's roots. They make this feeling stick well in the players minds, and reminds them that the game is running these eras in parallel. It works remarkably well and really helps the game carry its vision over to the player.

Another revolutionary introduction to the Sonic world, is the perk system whereby you earn points during the levels, and spend them on bonuses that you benefit from during play. Such as, after taking damage, rings lost will not disappear for 10 seconds. Your decline in speed will be minimized when going up sharp hills, and so on. This adds another dimension to the game and really encourages exploration of the best combos to make the time-attacks and challenges a lot more competitive and suit your own strengths and play-style.

Speaking of challenges. This is where the longevity in Generations really goes to a new level. I have always felt that previous Sonic games had missed out on this trick, as it is clearly a game that just begs for competitive time comparisons and head to heads with friends. Generations feels like it finally found its footing in this department. After fully unlocking 3 zones, you are introduced to mini challenges within them. Some of these are trivial and short. But others can be quite addictive, and just beg for playback and improvement. On top of this is the online system whereby you post your fastest scores throughout all the zones in the game. As well as the 30 second challenge whereby players see how far they can get through a level before the clock stops, allowing you to compare results with a friend.

The game on the whole feels brilliant. Yet, it is not without its flaws. Frequently I have managed to glitch the PC versions 'Havok' engine. Loop-De-loops getting caught midway for no reason and making the camera shake. Entire zones textures become invisible for no reason (all this on a machine that is clean, and fully up-to-date). Questionable voice acting is still present in cut-scenes with all of Sonics friends and comes across as hammish once again. If you base the games difficulty on the main stages alone, then in actual fact the game is too easy and does not take long to complete. You really have to look at the challenge modes to get the most out of the difficulty curb. The bosses are somewhat scripted, yet remain varied and fun. Frequently the modern stages will adopt a side scrolling platform view. And in some challenges it can be hard to remember which type of Sonic you are playing, and as a result which types of game mechanics you can take advantage of. The minor flaws present in this game though are ultimately few and far between however.

My favorite aspect of the game has to be the rewards system for completing challenges. Allowing you to piece together Sonics legacy bit by bit with unlockables such as concept art, music, characters biographies. If you aren't doing the challenges for the bragging rights, you'll be doing them for the unlockables. A very clever system that will appeal to all types of players.

Final thoughts:

Sonic Generations is a game that will take the hardcore fan a good 5 hours to play through. but the completionist a long time to master. There is a lot to do in this game, and the potential has clearly been realized. You can't help but feel however this is a swan song of the times that have passed, and perhaps a message from Sega to say enough is enough. It is now time to move on, embrace a new style and beginning. But whatever this new-found path Sonic Team shows us over the next 20 years, the game ultimately serves as a sentimental reminder that a good idea never get old.


Pros: Fluid and fun game-play. A whole host of unlockables. The best Sonic game to date.
Cons: Occasionally glitchy. Some challenges seem tacked on.

Reviewer: Barry Griffiths