Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Holy fuck, I totally forgot about Fallout 3!

I bought the game even though I had the feeling it was Oblivion with guns. Sadly, it is. But they didn't use the stupid levelling system Oblivion had, and went with a standard "put your skill points where you want" type of system. Basically, they fixed one of the major complaints I had with Oblivion.

The VATS system is great for targeting, though I'm much more accurate than my character, so it was kind of useless to me. Most of the times I used it was when I walked around a corner and wanted to blow the head off of an enemy with my combat shotgun. Otherwise I just used the standard FPS targeting.

The ability to pickpocket an enemy and drop a live grenade to kill them is hilarious when you first do it, but when you find that that's the most efficient use of your ammo it loses it's charm fast. If I threw grenades at the same enemy, it might take 2 or 3, but one in the pocket kills any humanoid enemy instantly.

The lockpicking mini-game is the same stupid shit as Oblivion, though this time if my skill isn't high enough I can't even try. It was one of the easiest mini-games I've ever seen.

The hacking mini-game on the other hand is the most fucking frustrating thing ever. I would have been fine if they had simply required a certain level to hack the computer instead. The mini-game is more a frustration than anything.

The AI is still as stupid as Oblivion, the graphics all have that bump mapped shine to them (which makes everything look like plastic), and the environments get very repetitive after a while.

"Ooooh ... more subways!"
"Another cavern. Yay!"
"Ruined office building. I've never seen this before!"

You get the idea.

The setting is a lot better than Oblivion for sure. The foul language, morally repugnant bits of plot and such make the setting very real. And the open world to explore is super cool. The only problem is when you realize everything you see is the same 3-4 tilesets, in different patterns, there's no real incentive to explore. I basically skipped most of the north half of the map, and a lot of the ruins of Washington, DC. cause I realized it was all the same. And finding more of the same guns and ammo wasn't all too thrilling. At least in Oblivion, there were some cool, unique magical weapons and items you could find. In Fallout, there are some unique guns, but they are just a little bit better than the standard guns.

Also, I managed to hit the level cap of 20 far too easily, and had every weapon I could think of at my disposal. Money became completely trivial, ammo was plentiful, and I had almost all the combat skills (including the sneaky thief and conversation skills) near maximum. There wasn't anything I couldn't do. About the only thing that became a problem was the stupid random enemies that I'd run into while wandering the Wastelands. Because of my level (since they used the same dumbass mechanic from Oblivion) the only enemies that would spawn were mutated grizzly bears. And they don't drop ammo. So they simply became a drain on my ammo supply. The meat they dropped was near worthless. I began to use the fast travel option to get anywhere because it was the only way to avoid the fucking bears.

The story is not bad, but like Oblivion, it's not great either. I did the first part (cause you have to), and then wandered around until I was near max level. Only then did I do the rest of it. I spent about 30 hrs on the intro and wandering around. After I followed the main quest exclusively, it was only another 10 hrs. And the intro is less than an hour, easy. So the main story is just like Oblivion. Over before you know it, if you don't do side stuff.

And the biggest kicker is the ending. No matter your choice at the end, you can't continue the game. At least Oblivion let the player keep going, so they could do all the little things they missed. Fallout doesn't have that option at all. Unless you download a 3rd party mod. Ghey ...

Really, if I were to recommend Fallout 3, I'd tell people to borrow it from someone else. Or maybe rent it. Though that doesn't work if you really want to explore a lot. It's not worth it to buy at full price. Maybe when it's on sale.

It's a good game, not great, but it's a lot like Oblivion. And that's not something I look for in a game.

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Just double checking this I realized how much I sound like Yahtzee from Zero Punctuation. But maybe that's cause I just watched like 5 of his videos. :P

Monday, March 23, 2009

Again, I've been neglecting this blog, and I am sorry. On with the updates!

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MMO Land:

War:

This has been quite a dilemma since last post. The lag/desynch problems I was experiencing persisted, and basically made the game completely unplayable. After a lot of frustration, and every possible fix I could think of, I had to cancel my account. It expired at the beginning of Feb.

It really sucked cause I was enjoying the game a lot, and what's worse is that I was finally catching up to my old gaming buddy who lives in another province. He was playing Destruction side, so we'd be enemies, but I was hoping to fight him sometime.

I even tried sending some emails to my ISP, thinking that their packet shaping system was screwing up the game. They said it wasn't, but I was hesitant to believe them. The thread I started on WarhammerAlliance.com (the forums I was using as a primary source, as there were no official forums at that point) eventually became one of the top watched threads. There were a lot of other people, especially fellow customers of my ISP, who were experiencing the same issues. We all ended up unsubscribing from WAR due to the lag/desync.

Well, they recently put out a 10 day trial for the game, after the 1.2 patch, and still being curious about the game, I DLed it to check if the problem was still there. And *poof*, it's now gone. There must have been some weird code that didn't like packet shaping or something, cause it runs great, just like it did before the Xmas patches.

So I got to play a little on the trial servers, try out the new Choppa class (the class I wanted to play from the get go, but was cut before launch), see the new improvements, and had a lot of fun. I'm going to reactivate my old account here soon, and start playing again.

My only issue now is that my old server has become very sparsely populated (aside from Tier 4), so I don't know if I want to go back there. Also, the Order side is now dominating in RvR, as the Destro side has lost players. It was the other way around when I was playing. The other RP server apparently has a much higher population, though it too is imbalanced towards the Order side.

I'm torn what to do now. Should I delete my Order chars on Ostermark and roll Destro instead to be the underdog, and be able to chat with my friend as well? Or should I roll Destro on the other server, so I can keep my Order chars on Ostermark, and be the underdog side on a higher pop server? If I roll Destro on the other server, my friend has his Order chars there, so I won't be able to play with him there either. And there's only 2 RP servers. I'm not too sure I could ever handle the stupid names on a Core server. The only one I saw that was stupid, yet a little clever was the Choppa named "GetToThe". Lawlz. :P

EVE:

Well, EVE has had a major expansion, and has brought a lot of new stuff to the table. There are more exploration sites now (something I dabbled with, but ultimately ignored as the mechanics were mind numbing), wormholes, Sleeper NPCs, Tech 3 ships, and new graphical goodies.

Wormholes are the biggest thing, as they are the main part of the expansion. They lead to unknown space (2500 new systems, to be precise), which have the Sleeper NPCs. The wormhole space systems are the source of all the components for the new Tech 3 ships, as well as routes between parts of the EVE galaxy, and are completely lawless (giving players another place to PvP).

The new scanning mechanics for exploration are /so much better/ it's crazy. The old mechanic was:
  1. Drop a probe to see if something was in the system.
  2. Wait
  3. Get a hit. Drop probes at all the planets, making sure they didn't overlap improperly.
  4. Wait.
  5. Get a hit. Drop a smaller probe near the site to narrow down the location.
  6. Wait.
  7. Repeat from 5. with smaller probes until the site is found.
  8. Warp to the site.
See the biggest problem with the old mechanic was the waiting between steps. And if you didn't have a CovertOps ship, with the best modules and rigs, PLUS all the required skills in Exploration, you had to wait anywhere up to 10 mins. Talk about BORING. Most people who did it before either watched TV or read a book while doing so. It was tedious.

The new mechanic is fast, doesn't require a hell of a lot of skills (kind of a kick in the pants for us highly skilled explorers), and is far more interactive. You have to manually position the probes using trilateration to determine the exact position of the site in 3 dimensions. It's cool, but sometimes a little hard. After some practice it's a lot quicker to find a site. With the new changes and my skills, my scan time has gone from 200+ secs to 5 secs. Talk about fast. I can now find a wormhole in less than 10 mins.

The Sleeper NPCs are a lot different than the usual NPCs in EVE. They are based more on PvP fittings, and tactics than the dumb normal NPCs. See, in most missions, a lone pilot can take on 10+ ships at once, often times multiple larger ships than his own. In a PvP encounter he would be killed almost instantly. And since the focus of EVE is PvP in some fashion, the Devs decided to make the Sleepers different. It also allows people to use PvP fitted ships to fight them, as wormhole space is lawless anyways, so they could end up fighting players at some point. And fitting for PvE and then getting into PvP usually ends in a quick death.

The Sleepers are tough as they tank all kinds of damage equally, will shoot at your drones, can remote repair each other, scramble or webify you and do stupid high damage. They sound more than a little overpowered, and to a certain extent they are, but they are also designed to make people use teamwork to fight them, also useful if they happen to engage in PvP. See how the logic flows?

Well, Kofi has got quite excited about wormholes (WHs) as he sees it as a group activity we can do with his other friend who plays EVE. He really wants us to have something to play together, as that's how he enjoys his gaming the most; playing with RL friends.

There seems to be a snag though, as I found out recently. I've soloed the easier Sleeper sites in my Battlecruiser, and based on the loot and salvage I've got, we'd be better off running level 4 missions in high-security space (where we can't get shot) than doing WH space. I spent over a couple hours finding one WH and doing a couple sites in it (mostly cause I had to fly all over looting the wrecks. Stupid slow battlecruiser >:| ), and I made almost nothing compared to a lvl 4 mission I could have finished in less than an hour. Including looting and salvaging the lvl 4. So, I don't really know if we should bother. Especially since we could either end up trapped in the WH system, forcing us to self-destruct (losing our ships and clones in the process) or get caught in some PvP and die that way. My Battlecruiser is quite expensive, as it's rigged and all, so losing it is not something that will be easy on the wallet.

Overall, I don't know what we should do in EVE. After doing some WH space, I think we should just stick with our status quo for now, which means soloing lvl 4s. And that doesn't work with Kofi's plan to game together at all.

Really, I don't know if I'll stick around with EVE after the next while. I might keep my account training, as the money isn't really a big deal. I have a lot of other things I want to skill up, especially the non-combat stuff. I don't know why, but it could always be useful later on.

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Other games:

I DLed a copy of Call of Duty: World at War and Inferno and I got to play it through co-op. That was pretty cool, even though the missions seemed very disjointed, and there wasn't really a plot (other than it was WW2).

Playing CoD again got me itching to play some CoD4, so I bought it from Steam. Since I got it, I've easily played over 28 hrs of it. It's become my new way to blow off some steam if I'm bored. Inferno has also picked up a copy and we play it together a lot. We don't always play on the same team though. We just auto-assign ourselves and see which teams we're on. It's more fun that way. We're good enough sports that we congratulate each other when one of us kills the other.

I also DLed a copy of FEAR 2 and played through the SP campaign. I played on Hard, but aside from a couple really hard parts, the game was too easy. Ammo was overabundant and most of the time I had max health packs. It's only when I got super cocky that I usually died. The gameplay wasn't anywhere near as polished as the original, but that's also cause the 2nd was a cross-platform game.

The story was much cooler in the 2nd one though, and the creepy parts were a lot better. The ending is right fucked up of course, but a little more disturbing that I had anticipated. Overall a good SP game, but weak as hell MP.

Inferno and I haven't touched NWN2 at all in a while, so I don't know if we'll finish it. Once we leave something this long we usually never go back to it. Plus, whenever Inferno has a spare night off, he usually goes over to his girlfriend's place. Not that I blame him, it's just we have little spare time that coincides, so CoD4 is a much easier alternative.

I picked up a copy of the Witcher from Steam as well, and have played the first part of that. I left it alone for quite a while though, so I really can't remember much of the quests and story so far. It's a really cool RPG game, though the sex plots are stupid as hell, and really only pander to the stereotypical sex-starved nerdy guys. But they are still a bit of a turn on. :P

I also want to get Dawn of War 2 from Steam as well, so I can play co-op with Kofi (if I can convince him WHs are not for us in EVE) and possibly play vs. my old gaming buddy who also plays WAR. DoW2 is more of a real-time tactical game mixed with RPG elements than a RTS game, but that's okay with me. I've always disliked the base building parts of RTSes anyways.

I also played Dead Rising some more on my XBox 360 and beat it. It was a lot of fun near the end, and quite hard as well. I'd have to say it was one of the better games I've played for my 360.

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TV:

I've completely stopped watching Heroes at this point. It's become so fucking stupid. The characters switch alliances so god damn much it's ridiculous. And the show never seems to get anything accomplished until the last 5-10 mins of an episode.

Smallville has been pretty cool, except for the resurgence of Lana, but that's okay as she's effectively been written off the show at this point. They can finally develop the Clark/Lois relationship like they should.

Terminator has been really good as well. It was a little disjointed this season, but has picked up the pace more in recent episodes. I'm really wondering how it's going to work out.

And Battlestar Galactica is finally over. The ending was a little too long IMO, and really was a let down in some parts. There were some great bits, but overall it didn't end with a bang like I thought it would. I actually ended up seeing the 2nd half of the 2hr finale first, and watched the 1st half the next day. But it still didn't make much difference.

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In gaming, I've been able to run my GURPS Fantasy Horror game a lot more since last post, and it's been great. I've used some Warhammer Fantasy RPG modules as the basis of the campaign, so the prep work has been minimal. And the group has /really/ got into some roleplaying. There was one session recently where no combat occurred /at all/, and it was still fun. Quite cool. It seems we've got back to more of the gaming style we had in the past.

Unfortunately, Blake's 2nd child was born a couple weeks ago, so he's been unable to play. As well, the one guy is out of town working for the next month or two, so we're down 2 players. Hopefully, we can play at Blake's house and he can still join in. Cause I don't know if the 3 remaining players will work for the campaign.

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And that's it. I'm sure there's more to tell, but I can't think of anything, and my hands /really hurt/.

See you all later! o/