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Month: January 2013


There’s been a trend of unfairly assessing movies recently based on their predecessor.  This isn’t just unfair, it’s downright unkind.

I recently watched Dredd, not willing to give in to the negative hype.  I will freely and openly admit I enjoyed the movie.

I’ve been and will continue to tell people that it’s very visual.  Video technology is one of those developments that mandates demonstration pieces.  If it weren’t for the violent nature of the movie, I would be recommending this to anyone with an HD television and blu-ray.  I half attempted to read a book I was studying for a later-that-night game I was running with some friends.  It was very apparent early on that this would take all my eyes and attention right from the intro credits where i’m made to watch a spray of water sparkling in the light.. slowly.  Wow.

I can’t objectively speak to the violence in the movie.  As a product of the 80’s, if it isn’t open-heart surgery on the Medical Channel, i’m not phased by it.  I don’t find the movie that horrible as I’ve seen many worse though there are some parts that might bother you if you find yourself bothered by blood, gore or the sickening splat sound of a falling body.

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Ring My Bell

And thus it comes to a casual, lethargic, Friday wherein I reveal to you one or more games you may not have ever heard of or anticipate the release of.

I’m a casual fan of Heist movies, Italian Job, Ocean’s 11, etc.  They steal it, I’m likely to watch with a mild level of amusement.  Monaco (the game, not the city) is a fine enterprise showing up in April via Steam and XBOX Live.  You play one of several characters with a specialized focus on several fronts destined to rob or escape authorities and make fabulous money.  Done in a relatively low-graphical scale but colored and designed well, this is a game that excites me for a loose party opportunity to drink some mixed cocktails and hammer at my controllers while we evade guards and let the monkey grab the prized possession.  Got some friends? Like 4-player games where you can steal things? Hit this.  15 bucks preorder for instant receipt once it goes live and I’m happily dropping my cash in on it once it shows up.

The other that showed up on my radar this week was Path of Exile which entered Open Beta thursday afternoon.  Diablo-esque hack and slash with an amazingly large character trait map letting you fine tune your character choice into the position you want.  Skills tied to gems you slot vs classes, you’re allowed to be whatever you build into and less what titled picture you selected.  Need some casual Gauntlet styled mayhem and slaughter, then this might be up your alley.  Open Beta and once fully released, fully Free, this will be another game I say “Try it out, worst price is the 5GB on your hard drive you can recover later.”


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The Search for Squire, Part 5 – South Seas

The goblin I hired..  Some jack-fool named after a fine range of saltwater cuisine did me no good.  I let him roam for two weeks before I found him drunk and passed out at the controls to a very expensive looking flying contraption I’d seen Gnomes piloting during my time with the Alliance.  I was less than thrilled that my money had gotten him booze, a vehicle and not the common sense to solve a query granted by a Mage as powerful as I.

I should warn people about the smell of charred goblin and wrecked machinery near Camp Winterhoof.  Should, but I won’t.

My ire spurned, I masked my form with a powerful illusion and traveled among the goblins of the South Seas in search of my diminutive green companion.  This took a year, goblins are all short and green and from the air it’s hard to spot the difference.  And then there’s the money.

Broke and tired of seeing things from the 3ft perspective of a greedy big-nosed flop-eared jack-fool I returned to Orgrimmar to coordinate a new search.  At least I had tried to return.

A dangerously thick misty-fog crept up from the seas and I found myself utterly bewildered as I lost control of my carpet and spiraled towards what I’d hoped was the ground.

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Precedence and Historical Ordering

Star Control and it’s sequels came out years if not decades before Halo, Mass Effect or their ilk.

So when someone is telling you this game or that game is like that game or this game you hopefully will remember that some of them are copying ideas that haven’t been new since long before the Carter Administration.

Star Control 2 puts you in position as the captain and leader of a ship destined to try and save Earth and the Universe from oppression by the Plot Enemy “The Ur-Quan Hierarchy”.  It’s one part space strategy game with plenty of action combat.  Presently it’s free as released under Open Source licensing and I highly recommend giving it at least a few minutes search in YouTube.  I’m not really sure what I’d compare it to at this point as the style isn’t really like anything else I’ve played..


..Wow.. I’ve never had this problem..

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I was trying to work out a clever sub-title but I couldn’t come up with one specific to DC Universe Online.

Originally, I wasn’t a big fan of DCUO.  I spent a number of years with City of Heroes and had a lot of time and fond memories invested.  There was a depth of character design with the class-based structure and variety of powers inside those classes that made for some excellent and varied concepts.

So for a while I passed on DCUO.  CoH closed it’s doors for good in November and with that I’m left looking for a new surrogate cape game.  As sometimes I just wanna bounce thugs.

DCUO is pretty, steeped in DC Lore and riddled with characters guiding you to missions or advising on strategies.  You play as your own hero within one of their few powersets.  Each powerset comes pre-packed to do damage with an alternate roll unlocked later.

The game is well engineered and available on PC and PS3 with separate servers for each.  It feels like a console port which is bad, but it feels like a well-built game which is good.  The balance has prompted me to plug in my old gamepad for the first time in years and give it a go.

As another F2P game it’s worth giving a look at if you like Superhero games and are interested in playing as someone other than Superman or Batman.  This isn’t an iconic character game.  I’d also more heavily promote it if you were a fan of DC comics.  I’m not as big a fan as I could be and so the encounter with Gorilla Grond was almost lost on me.


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The Secret World: Bump Uglies

I’m still adjusting to TSW and I’ll be back with more details later as I give it a cursory week of play during my core evaluation.  It’s B2P following conventional MMO design ideas.  Those ideas are pretty easy to follow: You have gear that mandates what content you can push into such as dungeons or quests, you get xp that lets you improve abilities and you have quests that involve running around and picking up things you might rather reconsider.

TSW approaches the conventional ideas unconventionally and to a point I find amusing.  While you will find hubs like the local sheriff station that has various people in need of help or instruction, you’ll find other details and items around the world that will add further clues to the events at large.  I’ve since returned a bit of bone that has lead to further instruction on travelling to Cairo, for instance.  You are limited in how many you can pick up, forcing you to choose on what paths you work and emphasizing the story elements tied to each quest.

Skills and abilities are tied to experience you earn as you complete quests and vanquish monsters, these points in turn being used to buy abilities on the Ability Wheel (Google Image Search: TSW Ability Wheel).  You’re not forced into a canned class or path instead allowed to pick your road down a winding variety of powers that synergise into your character.

I’m not sure what else I’ll see in the game that could change what I’ve said.  I find it amusing and I’m deeply thrilled by the freedom of class design.  My only qualm about the game is the minimum barrier for entry as it cost me via Steam Sale $22 and I’ve heard you can get it for less via Amazon.

Otherwise this is a game of modern horror with supernatural elements.  I’d recommend TSW to anyone a fan of Lovecraftian horror or looking for a World of Darkness approach to online gaming.

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MMO’s and me: How my next month or two is going to go..

Some time ago I gave up World of Warcraft for a variety of reasons.  The highest on my list was a personal insult of RNG vs You problem of not getting one recipe for a stupid achievement I didn’t need but I sure as hell wanted.

With Guild Wars my interest in subscribed online gaming has moved into Free to Play and I’ll give you money for amusing things I want idealism.  To date I’ve put cash money on starships in STO, locked chests in GW2 and an occasional costume DLC from CoH or DCUO.  Acronyms are probably boggling you at this moment.  I’ll clear them up farther down for your digestion.

I have a range of itches that form gaming habits as the year rotates.  Strategy empire-building games, space combat, superhero, fantasy dungeon marauding and treasure collecting.  My interest shifts and follows a fairly well structured path I’ve failed to note.  Here in the mid-winter I tend to drift a bit.  Poke around and see what’s out there.  For your benefit you’re going to see some posts about various MMORPG’s that are F2P and worthy of my interest.  I’ll talk about some other games too, sure.


DLC – DownLoadable Content (Usually for money.)

F2P – Free to Play (No box cost)

B2P – Buy to Play (Box cost, no subscription)

STO – Star Trek Online

GW2 – Guild Wars 2

CoH – City of Heroes (offline and no longer in service: for the record)

DCUO – DC Universe Online (my fallback Superhero interest approach)

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Star Trek Online: How I spent my Winter Holiday

During the last week of December I made a cursory recommendation to a coworker regarding STO.  In hindsight I thought maybe I should eat the porridge I’m going to serve and play the game for more than 5 minutes during beta several years ago.

So it being Free to Play and me being something of a Star Trek fan I set my download for Friday night and started in Saturday, December 22nd.  At no point in the following week would I have told you with a straight face that “I liked the game”.  66 hours in, it became rather apparent that whether or not i could vocalize my appreciation, I found something there worth my time.

STO breaks the traditional quest model a little with allowing you to phone in your completion, saving you a lengthy trip back to Spacedock or Planet 12 or wherever you need to go.  Space is big and reading your mission text carefully is necessary to know where you’re going.  All the missions are level adjusted to your character so as you move along you’re constantly fighting klingons and romulans and borg within your reach.  Missions are a nice variety of exploration, combat vs the local antagonist (I killed a LOT of Orions Raiders) all with a mild level of puzzling built in.  At one point I had to help a Ferengi put his replicator back online by routing power in a necessary order.

For all my time playing I only got 1/3 the way through the second mission ‘Episode’ arc, involving Romulans, and can easily guess I’ve got another week of just solid story mission progression.  Each arc having a theme, i’m looking forward to the Borg arc.

If you like Star Trek, don’t mind the massive multiplayer nature of MMO’s and have a hankering for space combat you should give Star Trek Online a chance.  It’s only available on PC and for Star Trek there aren’t a lot of alternate options out there.

Addendum –

There I was.. midweek.. sitting at my computer exploring some cluster on the edge of space at 2am.  I beam down to a planet that some colonists had commented on strange detections.  I’m scanning a plant-pod and look up to see the rocky formations that form shaded areas.  The abstract nature of it all just kicked in.  “Oh yeah.. i’m playing Star Trek.”

Strange new worlds indeed.

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