Tag Archives: review

New Year 2016: Looking Forward And Back

Pink Bed

I spent New Year’s on social media. I didn’t feel too alone. I was in bed with my computer. One time I told my guild in LotRO that I couldn’t do a dungeon run because I was ‘playing in bed’.

This image is what I mean, boys.

Last week I purchased Divinity: Original Sin on sale on Steam. It’s a really polished game, and I was having fun exploring and solving puzzles. At level two I was suddenly told that I was the saviour of the world, and the enemy is a void dragon.

I haven’t played Divinity in several days. I was also dying too much in fights. The same formula made me quit Skyrim: dragons, dying, and ‘chosen one’.

Looking Back At 2015

This was Activision Blizzard‘s year. They were called out yesterday on CNBC as up 92% on the year, the third best performing stock in the S&P 500. They were also cited on Bloomberg as the winner of Christmas based on Call of Duty sales. COD won’t match Star Wars, but it’s in the same ballpark.

Meanwhile, EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront debut was a critical fizzle, a disappointing lump of pretty-looking mediocrity according to this kitty’s most trusted Jedi of truth-telling.

Acti-Blizz also bought King Digital for a ridiculous sum of course, and the breaking news today is their purchase of Major League Gaming.

I’ve mentioned on this blog the large amount of debt Blizz is carrying already. Can they really crush it as the 1000-pound gorilla, or can nimbler studios pull the rug from under Blizzard’s efforts to counter the outflow from WoW?

Even though EA’s stock has sold off on their latest (perceived) IP fumbling, it might still be a better long-term investment, especially if Star Wars sales numbers are solid with casual console players.

Some high-profile Wall Street analysts are making this prediction, calling EA a strong buy in its current trough. I sold at 72. I’ve learned to not sell Blizzard.

Of course, the stocks will now probably go in opposite directions because that’s what happens to the stupid kitty.

What I’m Looking Forward To In 2016

Mafia 3 ~ Not. I’ve been looking forward to this game for two years, but Take Two ruined it. They turned the classy, artsy feel of this game into a knuckle-head brutality fest.

I can’t even bear to watch that trailer again to compound this kitty commentary.

It looks like they just GTA-ified this great franchise. That means it’s GTA, but they changed the Italian ‘family’ into a ‘family’ Lousiana style – or something.

I just know I won’t be playing as that bicep-busting caveman. Goodbye forever, handsome Vito. Thankfully we have another shooter –

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 ~ Yes! I recently found out the game offers a choice of gender! Can this kitty love Acti-Blizz even more? I hope so. Thank you Blizzard. I’m looking forward.

Dogma: Eternal Night ~ The Kickstarter for this vampire-themed labor of love failed miserably this month, and it’s looking more like a shiny pipe dream. I hope those guys get hired by the big companies with zero balls to spend real money on vampires.

You know who you are. (Massively coverage.)

Everquest: Next ~ Who knows! You’re better off watching kitten videos on Youtube than watching EQN news.

More Hearthstone ~ More Hearthstone unless I have heart failure. I hit rank 15 again and quit this month. I feel like I can go a lot higher with my Dragon Priest (yes, I’m aware of the irony).

Hearthstone is giving me a panic attack. That’s the problem. I wish I could just relax and play Hearthstone, with no more anxiety than tossing a ball at a wall for an hour.

The World of Warcraft Movie ~ I’m skeptical I can enjoy this without knowing the lore but who knows. Blizzard is already building a movie studio so this first film needs to be profitable, right? Otherwise a movie studio would be a bad idea.

In other news, this was an all-time record year for Hollywood with 11 billion box office sales in North America. So maybe Blizzard is crazy like a goblin, a very wealthy goblin.

Since I’m ‘meh’ about Black Desert, Blade and Soul, and Camelot Unchained, that’s about it. I’m still working on my ‘bi-adventure’ game project. Here is an image of my first map.

Happy gaming and best wishes for the new year.

adventure map

More Reading: Massively’s 2016 post.


Devilian Headstart: Of Horns And Heroes (Mini-Review)

devilian mmorpg screenshot mount

Devilian headstart was yesterday. Another doomsday has come to a devastated land (and to a bunch of overworked game developers at Trion). So it’s time to become a half-succubus and save everyone.

I’ve had a lot of fun leveling so far to 25. I got the same names as my characters in Rift (Leonore and Leonora), which is nice since character names are region-wide (NA or EU), not server-based. I bought the cheap $20 intro pack for head start access.

Today the game has been disrupted a few times for maintenance issues. Yesterday I saw three or four minor display issues that cleared when I restarted. Most of the typos and grammar issues have been cleaned up since beta.

The intro movie is now translated into English. It’s pretty good, and even delivered a few chills of anticipation. Part of the impact is the excellent Devilian soundtrack.

The game has a lot of quirky, unique characters with sometimes endearing and sometimes goofy voice-overs. The story is understandable and keeps you going.

You’re a half-devil, and the devils are the enemies to the humans, so some don’t like you. They still need you.

Devilian focuses a little more than normal on the player character and ego-stroking, and tries to make the non-player characters memorable by giving them unique roles or making them quirky. This economical strategy is delivered very well.

The anti-heroic stature of the “big bad” looks a little questionable at first glance. He isn’t a dragon though, which is refreshing, at least not yet.

The fun, smooth gameplay, combined with the interesting art and landscapes, added to the music, plus the mostly-nice UI and unique grouping features, are a formula that makes the game feel fresh enough and not like you’re doing the same old thing over again.

Since I’m happy enough with the limited but equal-opportunity character options (two male, two female classes, more are supposedly coming), the only things turning me off are too many currencies (although the local zone currencies are used very well), and the middle-screen alerts when another player gets a legendary/relic item.

I’m also not thrilled about the legions of animals that you have to slaughter, like the “Blood-Drinker Bear”. I didn’t like killing bunches of bears and boars, even while they converged to attack.

How would a bear feel if he watched humans play-slaughtering bears? I’m trying to think of a human equivalent in games to this racial conflict, and I can’t really. I haven’t played Postal.

I don’t enjoy killing animals, so maybe I’m making progress in being more like a real-life elf. Devilian is supposed to launch free-to-play for all today, and it’s well worth checking out.

devilian mmorpg screenshot NPC

Hearthstone: Like A Box Of Chocolates

Tonight I played Blizzard’s newly-released Hearthstone for maybe three hours. This meant that I also installed the Battle.net launcher, which lets you log into most Blizzard games without entering your ID and password, including WoW. I had no idea. The kitty likes this!

Meanwhile, commenters vomited unnecessary negativity on Trion’s newly announced launcher yesterday. The desirability is obvious, which is why every game company is implanting these into your cerebral cortex PC desktop. Don’t worry. Just trust. Play. Love.

Hugs For Hearthstone

Hearthstone is a free-to-play digital collectible card game based on the Warcraft universe and lore. If you’re a fan of Warcraft, everything should be familiar and fun, but you don’t need to be a fan to enjoy the game.

I haven’t played a fantasy card game in eons beyond elven reckoning, and I was surprised by how much fun it was. The tutorial eases you into the concepts and complicated strategies using non-player computer opponents.

If you win three matches in Play mode, you get a mount for World of Warcraft. It’s a beautiful bluish Pegasus mount (“Pegaso” is the Spanish translation in the mount panel, anyway), magical yet earthy and equestrian.

The Hearthstone interface is not so beautiful. If Elder Scrolls Online players think Morrowind is muddy and dull, they should put it side by side with Hearthstone. The interface looks blurry and low-resolution dirt brown, or chocolate if you want to be charitable.

The game logo also looks a wee bit Photoshop to me, but well-adjusted humans shouldn’t have a problem.

I learned a lot about the Mage from just a few hours of play. I made mistakes. My opponents made mistakes. Sometimes a game is an exciting game of inches. Other times you get all the cards, and your opponent is card dead, and victory is inevitable towards the end when you can play more cards at once.

Other times it’s vice versa. You’re mashed potatoes for the ogres.

The luck factor gives you a chance in every match, and it’s worth the frustration. That’s the same frustration that’s supposed to drive you to buy cards one can suppose, or rather packs of cards to open randomly and hopefully like MMO lock boxes.

My question is what is supposed to be my motivation to keep going and advance, aside from just having fun and learning more about WoW lore and heroes. Supposedly there is a ratings or advancement panel I haven’t visited yet.

The murlocs in the game are worth a chuckle. One card played against me was a turtle or something that got buffed if it ate a murloc. Only nine heroes are available at launch, and only two are female. That gender lopsidedness surely goes an orc too far.

Diablo 3 has no such lopsidedness that I know of, to its credit. There’s a free Diablo 3 starter edition on the Battle.Net launcher, but I’ll stick with WoW. My Druid is bearly level 84 now in the Cataclysm expansion.

Weekly Wyrm ~ Dec. 28, 2013

Breaking down by game, comments from gaming this week.

LotRO’s New Secret Feature

Justin Olivetti put up a belated article this afternoon about the recent LotRO producer’s letter from Kate Paiz. The most interesting part of the letter for me is the secret addition they are considering.

Justin is predicting a new class. The folks at LotRO Players are also picking a new class. Leveraging the skill trees doesn’t sound exactly like a new class.

And how much can you “consider” a new class, to quote Kate’s verbiage. You do it or not. You starting building it, and at that point it’s a commitment unless you run out of money. It could be a surprise higher-level-start Ent class related to the planned Fangorn forest and Isengard extensions.

I keep wondering about multi-classing or prestige skill trees like Elder Scrolls Online will offer (vampire, werewolf). The new LotRO class trait panels have a lot of vertical space on the left side. They could add more tabs there for a second class or another type of prestige skill advancement like Rift’s attunement panel.

A plan like this would compete with Rift, Elder Scrolls, and Everquest Next in terms of letting one character do more. It solves problems in LotRO while selling store items. I like it, and something like this is my pick for the new LotRO addition to the game.

How would you level that dual/prestige class now and in the future? That’s a problem that would need solving. Also, LotRO already has a lot of leveling.

Max Payne 3 Review

Max Payne 3 is one of the higher quality productions I’ve seen on the PC. The writers do a great job of establishing characters, but the level of feminism through the first four chapters remains in the stone ages. I’ve trashed Rockstar’s dev ethos on this blog, and I’m about to do it again.

There are two female characters so far in the game. One is the rich bimbo who Max insults in his interior monolog, but who then turns out to be the spoiled princess that needs the epic story rescue. The other is a woman Max meets in a bar, a nameless prostitute who gets thrown to the floor by gang types, serving as an inciting event for Max to shoot a hundred or so men.

That’s even more chauvinistic. There are no girl gang-bangers or lady enemy types the likes of which you’d see in Skyrim, Fallout, or Saint’s Row. They’re all men. This is solid, consistent Rockstar game logic. If women are supposed to look pretty and can’t shoot, then they can’t shoot at you either.

The game so far seems like an excuse for killing tons of people in exciting ways. If Max were tender for the boss’ daughter, that would make the game into a better story, a big help. If Fabiana were interesting, complex, and likable instead of a defenseless doll, that would also help.

I’m putting the blame for this on Rockstar’s production values under the Sam Houser regime’s expectations for success. The box cover for the game even sports the typical GTA curves-girl that seems more appropriate for the 1970s than today.

Meanwhile, I’m getting achievements unlocked for things like “100 shots to the legs”, “100 shots to the arms”, “250 kills”, etc. Good job, Rockstar. I haven’t played a shooter in a couple years, but that’s just freaky. Apparently I downloaded 35 GB so everyone I kill has different face and clothing models and textures, which are important for all of those zoom-in closeup head shots.

Don’t get me wrong. I knew I was buying a Rockstar-made game, and Rockstar can make games however the **** they want for their caveman audience. I was still hoping that the Max Payne franchise would stay true to its great roots, because I thoroughly enjoyed the first two games.

It’s not over yet. I have a feeling there are some twists to be revealed when I work through this next rainy night level. I’ve quit the game for now, hoping for the rain to stop.

Twitch TV

Last night I watched Mike Foster stream a couple World of Warcraft dungeon PUGs (pick-up-groups). Massively’s livestreams never seem to fit with my schedule (sure enough I missed the ones going today), but I thoroughly enjoyed the livestream.

Later I watched Mike’s Tera questing for a while and some League of Legends commentary, but it seems hard to find good streams, and the Twitch search feature is awkward. I couldn’t find anyone streaming LotRO or Rift, for example. I’m inspired to do a stream, but honestly I would bore everyone to death.

If anyone knows any good Twitch game streams that I should check out, I’d love to hear about it.