Category Archives: Impressions

The world of Magicka is a rather twisted one, it seems. The main bad guy of the game, from the way the story is presented, appears to actually be more of a prisoner than anything else, chained at the end of the world by a council of wizards who wanted to keep the “bad guy” from developing a super-powerful spell that would, essentially, create peace across the land.

Your first task as a magician? Why, to stop by the farewell party the other magicians are having without you. They even finished the goat cheese before you could get there!

Magicka obviously doesn’t take the game world and setting too seriously, which is refreshing to note in this day and age where every game world you’re in is ultimately in peril. In the world of Magicka, the world has been in peril at least thrice in the span of one magician’s lifetime! They have a horrible track record of maintaining the peace, probably because they chained up the guy who wanted to develop a spell to end all strife.

I digress, of course. Let’s get to the meat, bones, and other choice exploding bits of this game. Once you’re able to find your way out of the magic academy to take on enemies, you’ll realize that combining spell elements together to create flaming balls of butt-kickery and icy death rays is a good idea. Compared to single-element attacks, your damage increases far better with spell element combos, such as fire and arcane, or my favorite, cold-arcane.

My run so far consists of the first three chapters of the game, all done solo, as the game’s multiplayer is a bit buggy at the moment. The game doesn’t care how many people you’re playing with though, because it still promises to give you tense moments of running and casting and bomb-avoiding and dying. It’s just more possible to die (hilariously, perhaps) due to friendly fire with more people in-game.

The game isn’t perfect though. There are points of game slowdown on the rig I’m running, which can run other games without a hitch on relatively high settings. The spell system, while fun to play, appears to reward unbridled use of offensive element + arcane combos, as they create death rays that pump up damage quickly, allowing you to take down single opponents faster and reposition. Fireball damage is a bit weak as well, though it hits far more people.

Much like any magician though, I’m sure that more time spent playing Magicka will result in the game casting its spell over me. I only hope that spell is a healing light and not some infernal death ray come to smite me for not coming up with better words to describe the game.

I spent ten minutes earlier playing Angry Birds on the iPod Touch of a friend. The game is available for play on the iPhone or iPod Touch, provided that your device has the proper updates required to play the game.

Angry Birds is a game starring a bunch of differently colored birds who are angry… angry at pigs who apparently have done something wrong. I do not know what these pigs did (probably mass genocide of birds?), but the introductory cutscene-type deal seemed unappealing and cartoony so I skipped it.

Most of the ten minutes I spent playing Angry Birds was actually comprised of listening to my friends tell me about the controls. Apparently, these furious fowl are willing to jump on a slingshot and have someone finger them into position to be released all cannon-like in order to obliterate some pigs. This smacks of many MMORPG tropes, such as the suicide mission trope and the band of heroic fowl trope. By comparison, World of Warcraft and LOTRO both have chickens in them, and I assume they are also rather angry at the misrepresentation of their species as a fowl race.

Much like other MMORPG’s before it, Angry Birds is actually quite the intriguing multiplayer game, but for a different reason entirely. It involves a system of gaming known as “sharing,” which is commonly unheard of in many MMORPG’s as it requires people to relinquish control of the game in order to allow other people equal time in completing or failing objectives. That said, the addition of a sort of ranking system to determine who should best be set in the sharing roster may become an intriguing development for the game, should its developers decide to implement it, as it opens up an entirely new metagame that can enthrall its sizable fanbase into playing.

With that, it can be said that Angry Birds is one of the most innovative MMORPG’s I’ve had the experience of playing. Despite its lack of a crafting system and its rather lackluster quest implementation, Angry Birds serves as the immutable metaphor for the human spirit, as man, like an Angry Bird, must learn to overcome obstacles together in order to succeed in killing people who want to do other things which you disagree with.


EDIT: For the record, I do not take money from Rovio. They have not paid me to say anything. But I would like some money, so if you could send some my way, that’d be nice, Rovio. :)

While the issue with Mount and Blade Warband keys has yet to be resolved, I can still play Warband up to a cap of level 7, which is a pretty nice chunk of gametime for the purpose of grabbing some idea of how the game plays.

For those who’ve purchased it but have yet to play it, Mount and Blade Warband is an open-ended sandbox RPG with multiplayer elements and a rather extensive modding community, allowing it to potentially become one of the most daunting, yet most rewarding, RPG experiences I”ve ever had the pleasure of purchasing.

Why can I say such a thing after five or so hours of play? Simple really. The game feels like Darkfall minus the consequences of dying, depending on how you set up your saving mechanism.

The game starts by having you pick your lineage through some simple word choices made through lore. For instance, coming from certain heritages affects your starting skills, and further choices down specific paths affect your starting item loadouts, as well as skill and attribute point placement. The game then allows you to allocate statistics to let you further specialize or spread out skills as you will, and moves on to a a rather excessive slider-based face creation system.

The game then basically asks you to choose one of six starting areas to begin your adventure, and offers some introductory quests to get you acclimated to using AI controlled soldiers along with your own fighting skills. The quests given in-game are essentially identical throughout the different lands, but all the initial people you meet, soldiers you recruit, and nobility you hobnob with differ depending on your starting choice, which can significantly help or hinder you in your quest.

As for what that quest is, exactly… that’s all up to you. What starts off as a general quest for survival can become the tale of a young adventurer seeking to wed into love or nobility by rising through a nation’s ranks. It could be the travails of a bumbling merchant, who never quite makes it in time to sell his goods at a profit. It could be the chronicle of a man who would be king of all the lands of Calradia, and all the deeds he has done to get there.  In a nutshell, it isn’t the destination to an endgame that matters in Mount and Blade Warband: it’s the journey and the subsequent after-action report you’ll write on your blog or in your mind that becomes important.

To get to that point where a tale can be told of your adventures, however, you’ll need to either shoot enemies well, or learn how to kill people with a sword rather efficiently. To that end, Mount and Blade and Darkfall have some awesome similarities. Fighting happens in real time, with mouse movement and clicks determining the way your blades travel to strike your opponent. Combat can be brutal and visceral, but never overly gory (and in fact, gore can be turned off entirely), and the AI isn’t dumb that it’ll pass an opportunity to ambush your lone butt as you race to the enemy with your horse, but without your army. Skirmishes can get quite daunting though, as I’ve not yet figured out if friendly fire is enabled, so I always pull back and let my army do my work while I flank enemies with my spear from behind.

Now, given everything I’ve said, it’s actually an action RPG that is pretty awesome in and of itself. If you add the mods available for the game to the mix, you might find that your time spent playing the game will exponentially increase to make up for the conversions people have made to the game. While the Steam sale for the game is over and done with for now, picking up Mount and Blade Warband still feels like a sound decision to make if you’re looking for action RPG fun. Just let Steam refresh their batch of keys for the game though. Cheers.

Yes, I'm dancing. Shut up.

I spent a good chunk of time during my weekend playing Star Wars Galaxies and trying to get a hang of how the game plays. I guess it’s time to write some impressions of my own to add on to or contrast with what Elandarex was saying in his Star Wars Galaxies Impressions article.

For the most part though, let me spoil you now by saying that I am looking at this game without any knowledge of the New Game Experience. Whether pre-NGE was better than its current iteration is beyond me, but as it stands, the game has good and bad points, and I suggest that people try it out for themselves to make an informed decision of their own rather than simply reading my opinion on the matter. After all, I’m on the trial phase still and not the purchased portion of my free game time.

I rolled a Commando on the Farstar server in order to meet up with and get some additional training from Petter of Don’t Fear the Mutant. As such, I learned quite a bit more  about the game than what most newcomers would find, which included hanging out in Petter’s in-game home, as well as learning about beneficial buffs from Entertainers and Medics.

If you’ll read the blog post of Elandarex linked above, you’ll note some minor concerns with the character creation system, and I share those concerns myself. Starting off with a naked body and scaling it first before working outwards onto clothing options would have been a much more useful way of customizing the character you start off with. Luckily, my character looked Asian enough for me to be happy with, so off I headed to Tansarii station with my blaster in tow.


Not even Han Solo himself can cheer me up after this abysmal experience.

As Victor has been letting everyone know lately, Steam is currently putting on a massive sale which will end on July 4th. This was a deal far too good to pass up despite my not really having the financial stability to justify such purchases at the moment and so I found myself taking advantage of the big Star Wars package on offer. Every title in that package was highly desirable to me, chief among them being the Jedi Knight series and KotOR. Secreted away amongst the bevy of FPSes however was a little MMO by the name of Star Wars Galaxies, well known for its exceptional misstep in the release of its New Game Experience. Well now I had no excuse for ignoring this venerable title and so I took the plunge and am now going to give you my first impressions.

Right off the bat: fuck alarm klaxons! Seriously, when I first drop into a new game, especially an MMO, I like to take my time checking out all the various windows and mucking about with the game’s configuration. This becomes an exponentially more painful process when there are alarms going off and I’ve got C-3PO constantly nattering at me to get moving. Dear SOE, this is the worst MMO intro I have ever experienced, you should be ashamed.

Backing up a bit though, character creation was okay, you get to adjust your features with some sliders and it doesn’t look half bad. What’s strange though is that you choose the outfit that your character starts out with before adjusting your features and when it comes to working on your character’s body choosing a baggy outfit makes things a little difficult so I don’t see why we couldn’t have the outfit selection afterward so you can work on a simple canvas from the outset. It’s a minor nitpick I know, but the next one is a little less so. When it comes to choosing your race and class in MMOs there’s never quite as much information to help you along as you might want, some manage this better than others (LotRO has done the best job I’ve seen with WoW in a close second) but SWG tells you practically nothing about your options. The vagueness wouldn’t be so bad but they don’t even tell you what MMO role any of the classes fall into and that’s just sloppy.


Category: Impressions, MMOs

I had the pleasure of watching The Gamers: Dorkness Rising this weekend. It’s low-budget and somewhat campy, but it places a nice portrayal of a small group of tabletop RPG gamers as they go through their friend’s campaign.

Now, I suck at writing synopses, so here’s the best I can do at the time: Lodge is a Game Master who’s trying to write a new module for Dungeons and Dragons, but while he knows how he wants his story to end, he’s got a severe case of writer’s block with everything else. The movie is essentially him and his friends playing the module he’s created, with the beginning actually being the end of their failed second attempt. One of them recruits his ex-girlfriend to become a fourth player while Lodge himself creates an NPC fifth character to get the ball rolling. The rest of the movie chronicles the group’s exploits and out-of-game interactions as they try to find and defeat the necromancer Mort Kemnon, who holds the fabled Mask of Death.

The party composition is interesting, as this main game they’re playing has Lodge’s male friends playing a female sorcerer, a bardic death magnet, and a medieval western monk, with the token female member of the gaming party playing a high dex, high intellgence fighter with low hitpoints.

Anyway, I’m not sure what else to add to this, other than the fact that it’s funny, it has references to pirates fighting ninjas, it has a nod to Gary Gygax, and at one point in the story they use the piled corpses of the bard’s previous deaths as a barrier to allow the sorcerer to cast a spell at a more powerful demonic enemy.

Not bad, in my estimation, as a geek’s movie, but it could have been vastly improved with the use of fewer lens flare effects.


Category: Impressions

It’s hard to put my thoughts into words at the moment, so let me preface this write-up by saying that I am the consummate Carebear. I generally dislike killing other players, prefer killing mobs, and love PVE.

As a simple game, Darkfall has that option for people who want PVE. You can skill up on mobs, acquire their gear, and grow stronger through their deaths.

If Darkfall were a living, breathing thing, however, it would be the equivalent of a wolf playing a Siberian husky: the beast will hide its fangs until the perfect time to show them comes, and when that time comes you should be prepared to fight or die.

I won’t go into too much detail regarding the look of the game, as screenshots on the net will give you a good enough impression of that, and the animations are serviceable enough, so instead, let me just tell you of my experience playing the game, hoping that the information contained inside will suffice for people who want to know about it.


The MAG Boxart

It was only by a stroke of luck that I found myself with a copy of MAG. Some relatives from the United States had come over to visit and, not knowing what I liked, bought a US copy of MAG for me to play on my PS3.

So I fired up the sucker, and after around 40 minutes of updating (had to ever restart the update so it would complete, for some reason), I was ready to play MAG. However, I don’t think the game was ready for my triumphant arrival.

The connection to the server kept getting lost (with a 13:5 error message), and I was only able to get into three games, with two games actually keeping me out of the action as if I were kicked out anyway. The one game I did play, I was slaughtered mercilessly, but did manage to kill one person.

As it stands, I’m hoping my connection can handle MAG, because if not, then I’ll be disappointed that either my connection sucks, or the American server wasn’t prepared for someone halfway across the world to come out and play.

Anyway, time for some research on the issue to see if I can get into the game.

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While this article is mostly an excuse to post the utterly cute picture you see above for My Baby: First Steps, it’s also a long-overdue chance for me to write about a game I’ve been playing and haven’t finished yet. That game is White Knight Chronicles for the PS3.

I believe that there are no unplayable games, only people who dislike playing those games because it’s not a good fit with their personality. To that end, I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out how to best come up with an impressions article for WKC that explains the concept well without sacrificing the idea that all games are just looking for the right audience. I guess we should start with the ending idea, if only to make this clear: White Knight Chronicles isn’t a game for babies. It’s a game that is, perhaps, best suited for people who have never played an RPG before.

The story isn’t WKC’s strongest suit. At it’s core (at least, for the majority of the time I’ve played it) it lends itself out to the Mario Bros. genre of Saving the Princess, failing, then trying to save her again, getting stronger and more skillful as you go through trials. While this type of story may leave long-time RPG players somewhat jaded, it seems like the perfect entry point for someone who’s never played an RPG.

Under normal circumstances, strong gameplay mechanics and assorted other accoutrements would help to make an RPG playable for most everyone. Unfortunately for most veterans, WKC doesn’t serve up the same kind of experience. The main game itself is less of a strategic endeavor as it is the forcible use of a single cheap attack to store up Action Chips to summon your White Knight to speed up the process of killing stuff. While you could kill most everything as a human, it just takes way too much time to do that with the larger enemies, and mastering the art of healing and attacking is basically all you need to survive White Knight Chronicles.

The Georama system for this game, which is basically a town creation simulation and online RPG combined, adds value to the game, but doesn’t do much to enhance the experience. At its best, the game currently only has 50 online quests, forcing you to rerun kill quests if you want to get a higher guild rank and do more quests of the same type. The town creation system is nice, but you need quite a bit of coin to really make it work, which I haven’t been able to do at my current level.

One of the other minor annoyances I’ve found for this game is that you get to create a character for Georama use at the start of the game, but he not only doesn’t speak, he also doesn’t get credit for any of the heroic things he’s done in the Georama questing system. Even if he finds a rare item that could benefit the party in the main game, there’s no mention of him being thanked for it at all.

Does that make the game bad? To me, perhaps it’s a bit disappointing, but if I were to introduce this to my younger cousin, who’s never played an RPG before, he’d probably be in love. The game is a perfect wish fulfillment for being the knight in shining armor out to rescue the princess, and the game’s various systems are easily accessible to just about anyone. Best of all, if you’re new to the genre, and liked what you played, you’ll love the fact that the game doesn’t end here.

The knowledge that this game’s ending is gearing up for a sequel (White Knight Chronicles: The Awakening of Light and Darkness) also makes it clear that this is an entry into a world, rather than a definitive RPG experience. It’s probably not meant for long-time RPG fans, but as an entry-level RPG, it’d probably make for a wonderful first foray into Japanese role-playing.

Speaking of which, did I get to mention that you become a giant armored knight robot thingy?!

This is Victor Shepard. I tried to make him look like me, but I can’t make his face any fatter (BOO!).

Playing an Infiltrator after trying out the Sentinel, and loving the Sniper Rifle (YAY!)

Sniper Rifle has so few shots, it’s not funny (BOO!).

I can color my armor blue (YAY!).

My free mercenary Zaeed is a heartless bastard. (BOO!)

Archangel, who is also a sniper, is wearing blue (YAY!).

Did I mention that playing an infiltrator in this game is tough work? (BOO!)

Headshots very Rewarding (YAY!).

Am Confused as to where to go. (BOO!).

Current Boo/Yay Ratio 5:4

Tentative Booyah score: 3.5/5 BOOYAHs


January 2012
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