Archive | Holiday

How I Spent my Summer Vacation

I recently found myself with a bulk of vacation time and so escaped from work, turned off my email and stocked up on hot pockets. What follows is a rough accounting of my journeys through the gaming landscape and my occasional stops.

Kingdoms of Amalur: the Reckoning

I’m something in the order of 40 hours committed to KoA:R with an end in sight far down the road.  If I had to guess, I believe I’m another 10 or 20 hours shy of the end by the way I’m playing which is doing roughly 70% of the side quests that get offered to me before getting bored and moving the plot along.  So far, I’ve really enjoyed KoA:R and would definitely recommend it to my Fable-playing friends.  The combat mechanic gets a little frustrating at times, as I can’t dodge around enemy swings and often get ‘juggled’.

There’s a definite order to the quests and a progression they don’t illustrate very well.  I nearly skipped over an entire region of the game styled after some rocky badlands.  It was only by nature of my curiosity that I followed a side-quest through the mountains and into the arid countryside to discover this area.

It’s a large game, varied in colors and styles and easy to pickup and play.  I’ve enjoyed my time with it but by Wednesday evening I’d had just about enough for a bit.

EVE Online

I don’t play often, largely I keep my account active to maintain skill training so that when I do play I’ve cleared 33 day training humps.  I played a fair bit, 2 or 3 hours at a time through my break.  I made money, I lost money.  Tried my hand at marketing.

I found I’m only really good at PvE combat.  That is, I can fit a ship, shoot stuff and generally advise new players on skill progression and ship selection for what they’re looking for.

To date, I’ve lost every PvP encounter I’ve entered.

EVE is a Sandbox MMO, what you do is more a matter of imagination than anything else.  If you’re tired of the Theme Park MMO (of which World of Warcraft and many others are part) then you might give EVE a spin.  Drop me an email and I’ll send you an invite and can give you some rudimentary advice on where to start or what to look at.  There’s a lot of resources and frankly, much of it is rampant with biased opinion.  malformedfork (at) gmail

League of Legends

A friend of mine talked me into trying it out.  Free to Play, you’re offered a selection of Champions from various worlds each week and given the chance to throw down with other humans or against a limited AI.  By Limited, I mean you’ll wind up fighting Trundle Bot more often than you care to count.

A neat game with a built-in progression in the form of talent-like ‘Masteries’ and Runes.  Fights earn you points, points you spend on runes or permanently unlocking Champions.

The only downside to the game in general I found is that if you like say Lulu (this adorably random fae sorceress with her faerie companion) and want to play her all the time you can buy her either with points purchased from real money or with earned points.  But if you enter a match with another person who has Lulu and wants to use her, it’s first-come first serve and you’re likely out of luck.

The upside is that you can usually find a range of Champions that meet your play style or interests.  It does require some research both in-game and out.

I like the game and I’d recommend it to a few of my friends, but I’m hard-pressed to begin comparing it.  That’s the problem with cornerstone games.  You use them to describe other games, but how do you sum up quickly the game that forms the corner?  Try it, it’s free.  Also one of these premises where if you note me as your referrer then I get bonus points.  I never turn down bonus points.  EgoProvince is my handle in-game.

Portal 2

Went from “Haven’t played at all” to “Fully beat the multiplayer portion” inside of six or so hours.  Not terribly long, the puzzles tricky but not impossible in complexity.  A fun romp and fortunately if you want more there are some quality user-generated maps out there.  Not a game I’d recommend to everyone, as this game has the power to induce motion sickness.  It did to me the first time I watched.

Crimson Alliance

I picked this up last summer during XBox’s Summer of Arcade or there abouts.  A cheap little arcade excursion you buy access to the game through purchasing one of the class packs.  For 10 bucks I got the three classes available.  After that it’s a skill-based button smasher with 4 or 5 hours of content.  I’ve given it more than that, as I pursue higher scores and try to perfect my technique.  It really shines when you have more people and are able to employ strategies beyond dodge, slashslashslash, dodge.

City of Heroes

I’m eagerly awaiting Guild Wars 2 and at present CoH is the only game I have access to that really scratches a particular adventurous itch I have.  But I haven’t played since around January this year and though the game is Free to Play I haven’t felt the interest.  I was reminded at the end of my vacation as I tried to login several times and was turned away by the low-grade textures and the stiff animations.  It’s showing it’s age.  If I weren’t looking at prettier, smoother, more refined games in my near future I might look past the failings.

I do eke out some measure of reward from CoH, it’s not without it’s merits.  It’s one of the few places you can build a team of -anyone- and get stuff done.  Full team of Blasters, check.  Totally doable.  Full team of Tankers? Yeah, slow but manageable.  Full team of Controllers? Yeah, I hear of those regularly.  It’s been descibed to me as MMO on training wheels.  And I rather agree to a point.  There’s room for deep technical builds in the mechanic they use, but right out of the box it’s the easiest MMO I’ve ever played.  Yes, even easier than WoW.  Not to say faster, but certainly easy to pick up a character and ride all the way to 50 without knowing what you’re doing.

Unfortunately, for all my time with City of Heroes I’m afraid I may be soon for retirement and never going back.  Only time will really tell.

EPIC SPELL WARS OF THE BATTLE WIZARDS: DUEL AT MT. SKULLZFYRE

Ridiculous and quick to play, this is a card game I picked up a month or two ago and it took me this long to find someone to play with.  It’s great.  I’m just going to say that.  It’s easy to play, the mechanics are simple and it goes fairly fast once you have the basics under your feet.  Much like Robo Rally, you can lose your footing pretty fast as I had to give up a precious artifact to my opponent what cost me the game.  Sad times, but such is the way of things when you bargain with dark powers and throw hastily constructed spells back and forth.

Totally a beer and pretzels game and easily increased fun as you add additional players.

Hunter Prey

A movie in the style of Enemy Mine about some aliens tracking an escaped prisoner after their ship crashes.  The audio is tricky at the start as they were helmets and are semi hard to understand.  Don’t fret, you aren’t missing much as I was able to keep up with the plot through to the end.

Conan: the Barbarian (2011)

I like it, but I’ve been a fan of Conan since the original movie with the Governator.  My only complaint against the movie is that the evil witch-daughter really needed to use more of that magic she was huffing earlier in the film.

Sneakers

A relaxing film about some computer nerds and espionage.  It’s relatively quiet and I spent Monday night curled up on the couch nursing a headache while I watched this for my third or fourth time.

Closing Comments

And that concludes my Summer Vacation.  Seven days of games, pizza, soda and sleepless nights.  See you all next time!

-Mercator

0

July 3: The Day Before

Once a year we in the United States of America gather in groups for celebration.  We spend money to gather explosives, we burn food and mix drinks and watch as colors and light fill our skies after darkness.

Frankly, I don’t care what we’re celebrating, I just appreciate the people I stand with as we witness another day passing.

Thank you for being here.  Now.

Get the hell off my lawn.

1