Well, consider my plate cleared for the moment. After the glut of gaming options a scant month ago, I'm now down to two games.
I'm going to try and streamline this so I don't ramble on like I normally do. Mostly cause I'm doing this rather late, and don't want to be typing forever.
First off, I /finally/ finished Dragon Age. This was in the most part due to a week's holidays I recently had, which gave me a lot of time to hammer out the end half of the game. Dragon Age was one of the best games I've played in a long time, with a few minor annoyances, but all in all it was great. Although, like most Bioware RPGS, it has the beginning, a totally open 2nd act where the bulk of the gameplay time comes from, and a tight and focused 3rd act and conclusion. I'm kind of getting bored of this type of RPG setup, as the game gives you all this wide open space to do whatever you want, then when you finally get back to the story, you're back on rails and stuck there.
I'd much rather have wider open acts that all have side stuff to do until right up to the end. Dragon Age was just like Fallout 3 and Oblivion for me. Spend countless hours doing everything I could find after the story is set, then get back to the main quest and finish the game off in a few hours. It's the side quests that make up the bulk of the time to finish the game. If I just did the main quest chain in rapid fire succession, I'm sure I could wrap the game in no time. Where's the fun in that?
Sure, games like Call of Duty 4 or Bad Company 2 have quick, epic singleplayer campaigns. But the games are sold for the multiplayer component first and foremost, games like Dragon Age have no multiplayer. They should be a better campaign design than simply designing the game to get players to replay it with a different characters. Sure, the origin stories in Dragon Age will be different, but I can bet the game is near the exact same with another character, so what's the point? I'd rather have a battle simulator that I could replay with different characters, so that I could see the other classes, try out different group setups, and use different tactics. Maybe have all the boss fights be replayable, or have free re-specs of characters. Borderlands actually has this, which I was unaware of until recently, and it is an awesome design.
For the cost of less than the money you get for vendoring a gun, you can completely re-spec your character. No worries about gimping yourself, nor about trying out different builds. You don't have to spend the countless hours replaying the game again, just to see how the end fight would be. Easy. Why can't RPGs be the same way?
Anyways, I went off on a tangent, exactly as I hoped not to, so I'll get back on track. Dragon Age = good. Replayability though, is not quite there I think. Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2 were the same though, so I'm not sure it's just a Dragon Age thing.
Shattered Horizon has pretty much died now. It really took off after the free weekend, but since Battlefield: Bad Company 2 has come out, SH has gone to 1-2 populated servers in the evenings, one of which is usually in Europe. SH simply doesn't have enough for the CoD style FPS fans out there, where BC2 has it in spades.
Sorry SH, it was a good run. :(
Speaking of Bad Company 2, I finally picked it up, after beating Dragon Age, as Kofi already had it and I wanted an FPS to play since SH was dead. Unfortunately, Kofi's PC isn't up to snuff so we can't play together, but I've had fun playing on my own. Definitely not as fun as with Kofi, and the players of BC2 are most definitely not up to par compared to the BF2142 days.
Simply put, there is a very small minority (maybe 2-5%, IMO) of the BC2 players that actually know how to work as a team, or even in squads. CoD style FPSes are all about the individual player, not the team, so everyone does whatever they want. Back in 2142 players would actually work as a squad, and were usually complete strangers. Now in BC2, I can almost never even get a rez, or a healthkit, as every damn player is either Assault or a Recon (sniper). And god help you if the other team has even 1 squad that actually works as a team, cause then you're pretty much destined to lose. It's kind of saddening.
Hopefully though, Kofi will be able to upgrade his PC, as he said he's figured out he's got more money than he thought. Then we can actually work as a team. Kofi is /really good/ at working as a team, mostly cause his online gaming has pretty much been him and RL friends teaming up for YEARS. That's just how he games, and that's why they almost always win.
BC2 did have an awesome story, pretty standard fare, but coupled with the epic in-game combat, explosions, and destructible /everything/, it was a hell of a ride.
BC2 has taken over SH as my FPS game currently. It's also my filler game too, since it's "hop on and play", and doesn't require more than 15 mins or so per round.
My other game is Mass Effect 2. Yes, I finally opened the package and started playing the game. :P
I have noticed a few things so far that irk me, like the modified classes, no inventory, and reduced RPG aspects of the game. It feels more like a semi-TPS game now, like Gears of War, than the RPG I loved so much. The characters are still very cool and the story has me going, but so far, it's not hooked me like the first one, or anywhere near like Dragon Age did.
We'll see how it pans out, as I've only got a little into it so far. I'll update you on it when I've got some more hours in, or when I finish it. Whichever comes before my next update, I guess.
In guild news, pretty much everything has fizzled. Allods has lost almost all it's following, even the vocal Keen from Keen and Graev has put it aside for WoW (that's saying a lot). Star Trek Online is maybe played by 1 guildie, if that. Guild Wars seems to have been abandoned again, though any of us could rejoin later, so that's not a total loss. The few that were playing Global Agenda have left it, and all that's been talked about on the boards is chit chat and "what SP game are you playing?" type questions.
Hopefully something comes around to get us all back together again. Probably won't be until Star Wars: The Old Republic though. And that's like 1+ yrs at least. Sigh ...
Oh, in unexpected news I picked up a deal on Lord of the Rings Online the other day. They had a PAX East sale and had the base game + all expansions + 1 month of gametime for only $9.99! Since this can be applied to an existing account I simply couldn't resist. Even if it only grabs me for a month again, that's still less than if I had simply resubbed to my old account. And now I can try out all the expansion features as well. Double win!
Oh, and I'm sure Inferno will be super happy about it as well. Though his internet has been shit for a while so he doesn't play much. Should be resolved in the next month or so though. Cools. :D
In tabletop, we're /just/ wrapping up Inferno's Cyberpunk game. It's looking like we'll actually succeed even though I figured we'd TPK (Total Party Kill) on this last part. I actually got some bonus character points at the end of the session for great roleplaying and thinking on my feet. I have to say I did do a pretty bang up job. I figured my character was completely dead at one point, as I was alone vs. one NPC and my guy has shit for gun skills. Put it this way, he missed shooting a guy in the head at like 3 ft away. /facepalm. Yeah, he's the techie guy, not a combat character.
BUT ... due to his better than average Fast Talk skill and some quick thinking on my part, I got him out of a MAJOR jam with the NPC and the Police afterward. It was pretty effing sweet.
Up next on the agenda, and I'm totally stoked about this, is Nihil's Urban Fantasy game. He still hasn't typed up all the world info and stuff to email it to us, but we spent the one night making characters and running them by him as Blake had to cancel. I think Nihil is worried about how things might turn out, as he hasn't put concrete rules on character creation, also cause it's his first time GMing GURPS. He's GMed a lot of other games, plenty more XP (lol!) than me, but he's not 100% familiar with GURPS. I think I'm going to have to help him out a little, as I've GMed GURPS the most I think. Maybe Inferno has more XP with GMing GURPS, I dunno. Both of us are very good though, so Nihil should be fine. Blake is well informed on the system too.
Anyways, my character for his game is a Stone Golem. I pretty much ripped off Shale in Dragon Age initially, but I would really like to grow him into something more my own. I might throw some more Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation in him, as it's more what I was aiming at. More clueless non-human being than callous, uncaring machine creature. Shale is cool, but he's more of a non-good aligned creature than my guy is going to be. Especially since we're all supposed to be good types and we work for what is essentially a government organization to protect the people from the scary, supernatural shit they have no idea about. Very BPRD.
Oh, and my guy is called Jasperoid Slate. Both are types of metamorphic rock. I think it's kinda cool. Not sure if I'm going to go by "Jasper", or "Slate".
Hopefully it'll be fun, we'll see.
And TV has been pretty quiet, but that's not that unusual for this time of year (2 week hiatuses all the time).
That's about it. I'm sure something will come up soon enough.
Till then my friends!