Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Well, it didn't take very long for me to re-install XP and get everything updated. My main machine has all the programs re-installed on it as well. I only re-installed the games I've been currently playing, as some of the games on the machine before I hadn't played in months.

Anyway, now I've found I have no games to play anymore again. Oblivion was pissing me off with it's stupid levelling/difficulty scheme. My Paladin-type warrior was about lvl 12 or so, so when I went to start doing the main quest in Kvatch (a city), I ended up having to fight 8 or so creatures. And not like simple demons or something. There were lots of fire-tossing Fire Atronachs (sp?) and a whack of Clannfears. Suffice to say it wasn't very fucking easy. Then one of the other parts of the quest make you team with an NPC to open the castle gate. He was somewhat holding his own, until that is, we stepped outside the tunnels ....

And into about 9 enemies. He dropped like a sack of potatoes. And I was stuck trying to fight creatures that must have a near immunity to normal weapons. With all the magic weapons being limited use ones, I kept using up all the charges and getting raped. After a couple /hours/ of attempting this one quest over and over, I simply looked up the cheats online. At that point I was done with the stupid system, and I simply wanted to see how the story unfolded/ended.

Luckily I did cheat, as once the gate is open and you go fight in the castle, I had to fight a Daedroth. Think giant crocodile man. Yeah ... fucking ridiculously strong and lots of HPs. I also just checked and all the oblivion creatures, which you seem to fight all the time in the main quest, have Reflect Damage. So they cause about 15-20% of the melee damage you inflict back on yourself. No wonder I was getting my ass kicked. I also had very limited Healing, Potions and Scrolls (at least useful ones) cause all the magical stuff costs tons of coin.

It seems like if you go "straight up fighter type", like I did, you're fucked. You /must/ have some magical damage stuff to even influence some of the enemies. I did have a couple weak Destruction spells, but doing 5 pts of Fire to enemies that have 200 HPs is kinda slow. And without increasing your Intelligence, your Mana stays the same. But all the better spells cost more Mana. It basically makes Mages the only ones who can use all the spells above beginner ones.

Anyway, so I cheated. I don't really care, as the character I /was/ having the most fun playing was customized to level the slowest. All his Primary skills were things devoted to combat, and he only used 3. So he was level 2 after about /20 hrs of play/. I'm also glad I cheated, as one of the main quests (at least an optional bit, tied to the main quest) has you doing the /same damn thing, 7 different times/. I'm not lying. You have to go to the other cities and get them to send you help. But they all have their own problems. Or more precisely, they all have the same problem. They're all being besieged by Oblivion gates. So you have to go into the gate, fight your way to a tower and get to the top, grab a stone, and it closes the gate. The only thing different is the layout of the Oblivion map. But they are random, so you could actually do the same map 7 times. Though the odds would be quite small.

This actually took me the longest out of the main quest. All 10 hours of it. That's right. I played the game for 20 hours before I even did the main quest. And once the main quest is done, there's no real incentive to do all the small side ones. It's so freaking epic, that a "help me my son is missing" type quest is fucking beneath you. It's much like Freelancer's main story. You end up with so much stuff by the end, that all that's left seems hollow in comparison.

And what's worse, you could do the main quest right off the bat. People have, and finished it in record time, as well as they've finished winding up at level 5. Doesn't really make sense, especially compared to Morrowind, where you had to be a certain level to advance the main quest, giving people a reason to do the side quests. As well, in Morrowind, there was parts of the world that were dangerous from the beginning. Not dungeons initially crawling with rats and Mudcrabs, then later on littered with Vampires and Dread Zombies. There's no consistency, no sense of accomplishment when everything gets tougher with you. You wind up getting jumped my Trolls on the roadways, instead of regular bandits with their cheap weapons/armour.

I dunno. I'm just ranting. But it does irk me a little, as it seems they "dumbed down" the game for the XBox audience. I don't care if they want to port a game to multiple systems. Just don't change the mechanics of the game for all the users, just so it's easier (or more accessible) to some of them.


Onto other news:

Heroes has been fucking great. I watched the last episode the other night, and I'm amazed at how the writers keep bringing up new stuff. You seem to find out something new and interesting every episode. And it's not something that's seen coming from a mile away either.

I also watched the recent episode of Smallville the other day too, and after watching Heroes, my love for Smallville is waning. I hate to say it, but they have been getting a little too campy in the last few episodes. Oliver Queen/The Green Arrow is a cool character though, and I'm glad they added him in this season. But the last episode had Bow-Wow in it. Fucking Bow-Wow.

Ugh ...


So back on the original topic, before I got sidetracked with my Oblivion rant.

I've found myself short on games again. At least, for the last week or so. I can't make myself play Call of Duty any further, as the bugs have drove me insane, and have rendered some of my savegames unable to finish. I lied the game at first, but over the span of the British missions, it's become more of a James Bond/Super Spy/Return to Castle Wolfenstein type of game than a war game. There's missions where you have to single-handedly wipe out a dam /full of Nazis/ to get to the bottom and lay some explosives. Then ... you have to go back up to the top, killing another shitload of Nazis. It's stupid, and completely unrealistic for a WWII game.

I was thinking about getting Call of Duty 2, but with my turnoff for the first one, I doubt I will.

I've been playing FEAR as per usual, but it seems like there's fewer people playing now, and the Friendly-Fire on servers are normally empty. Plus, during my playtimes, there's barely any servers with a decent ping for me to play on. They're all in Europe or some dumb place.

I've played a few rounds of Zombie Mod for Counterstrike: Source, but without my friend Kofi, or his buddies, it gets pretty dull quick.

I've played the odd bit of CoX, but as before, it's not all that engaging. Even though the combat is fairly fun, the repetitive nature of the missions is totally boring.


Speaking of an MMO, this brings me to my next topic:

I watched a video of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, the MMO being developed by two guys from the old EQ, Jeff Butler and Brad McQuaid. Now I never played EQ, and I can barely stand EQ2, so I don't really hold these guys in high regard, as some people might.

Now, in the video they give you a basic tour of the gameworld and talk about how things work, and some of their features. One of the biggest things you'll notice, right off the bat, is that both of them (Brad moreso than Jeff) sound like they're either half-asleep, or stoned. Brad's voice is like that really dull professor in Ferris Bueller's Day off (played by Ben Stein). You know the one ... "Bueller...Bueller....Bueller.....Bueller...."

You get the idea.

So, these guys give you a truly epic (-ly boring) tour of the game, and tell you about all it's wonderful (-ly dull) features. There are some cool aspects of it, but after taking one look at the combat video, there's /no fucking way/ I could ever get into it. It's more boring than EQ2 was when I played the trial. Killing what looked like one skeleton warrior took like over a minute for a /group/. There's no way that's fun.

Also in the video they seemed to be trying to convince you (the viewer) that the game is more solo and team friendly, and doesn't require large raid groups and tons of time. It almost seemed like they were desperate to prove themselves. They must be seeing more of the negative word of mouth on the Net that I've seen for quite some time. People just don't want the old school EQ days back. They want the "feeling of the old school EQ days", but they don't want the exact same thing over again. Even people I know that played EQ, or still play it, don't want the same thing. Jeff and Brad just don't seem to be moving forward in their thinking. More like sideways. They're taking all the ideas that they liked in EQ and improving them. But not really changing anything.

MMOs, and games in general, need to evolve, or they risk being left behind. All of the numerous people I know who played WoW (except for a couple) have quit. What does that say? The Burning Crusade might bring some of them back for a short while, but from what I've heard/read, it's simply more of the /exact same things/ from 1-60 in WoW, just repeated for another 10 levels, and some smaller raids added in. Still raids, with the same endless requirements to play countless times for a single epic drop, just less people.

WoW and the EQ clones are going to suffer a bust soon, IMO. It's like the economy here, where I live. Oil is huge, and the demand for workers has given the economy a huge boost. Thus, everything is getting more expensive. But the growth can't continue like this, there has to be a levelling off, or even a fall. The same thing is going to happen to MMOs. The ones that keep doing the EQ copy are going to fail, and the new ones, with fresh ideas will flourish. Now I don't think all of the EQ ones will fail, nor all of the non-standard ones will boom, but it will be more of a general trend. I do think that MMOs will have a drop in overall subscriptions across the board, as a lot of people, for whom WoW was their first MMO, will realize in short order that MMOs are simply timesinks. Plain and simple. These people will long for their fucking lives back, and quit MMOs entirely. Online gaming will still be big, but until MMOs can move from the "time invested = character power" to some other method, regular people will abstain. I can't count how many people I've read about who've quit MMOs (WoW especially) cause it was requiring too much time, and they had RL responsibilities to take care of.

Okay .... these last couple of paragraphs are probably completely confusing, but I'm sure you can get my general point.


Back to how I'm short on games:

I need to get the San Andreas DVD from my friend Inferno again, as it was deleted with the re-install of XP. I might just buy it, as it's a good game, and I want to support Rockstar for their hard work. I've played ~25 hrs of San Andreas and I'm still not done. Not many other games can boast that.

I also tried the demo for Need For Speed: Most Wanted, as Kofi was talking about it (he has the full game). It's actually pretty fun, and tremendously thrilling, especially when you've got 7-8 cop cars after you, trying to take you off the road. There's even a slowmo ability that helps when getting away from the cops, as well as a Nitrous booster in your car. I tend to use the nitrous moreso than the slowmo. It helps you get that extra distance from the cops in hard situations.

Anyway, Most Wanted is only 20 bucks so I'll probably get it, as I'm sure I'll get my money's worth out of it.

I'm torn if I want to get Dark Messiah or not. It's got some great reviews, and some really bad reviews. Usually the game reviewers are near to each other. For this game it's night and day. Plus, I heard that it can be buggy, and after my experiences with Call of Duty, I'm very wary of playing possibly buggy games.

Also, I'm thinking about getting Neverwinter Nights 2, as I have the first one, and the two expansions. I liked the first one, mostly the Shadows of Undrentide expansion, so I figured the second game should be a no-brainer. But there was the 5/10 review on 1UP.com, which later got pulled, that cast some doubts. But unlike Dark Messiah, the rest of the reviewers seem to give NWN 2 a very good grade. Tycho from Penny Arcade said it did run slow, on his beast of a machine too, so that might be an issue. It would be cool to play it multiplayer online though. I doubt it would run on my second machine, I'd most likely need another copy, and my friend Inferno can't run it on his own PC, so my ability to play it with him is almost nonexistent. We played the first game, and the expansions cooperatively, so I was hoping to recapture that enjoyment with the second game.

Perhaps I could find people online to play it with, with set days to play on, etc. I doubt any of them would want to set their schedule around mine, so there's little hope there too.



Okay, I think that's enough. I've been typing for like an hour or something stupid, and I should be going off to bed.

The Rev.

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