Thursday, 1 December 2011

November Wrap Up

Thursday, December 01, 2011

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It's already time for the November wrap up?! What happened? Oh well...

Roleplaying Games
  • We played a second session of Mouse Guard. It went well and I think both the players and me as the GM are starting to get more comfortable with it. A session report is forthcoming...
  • I've also started reading Trail of Cthulhu (again). Call of Cthulhu was a true RPG stable for us back in the day and I'd love to re-visit the setting in these new mechanics. Also I hear a lot of good things about the adventures that Pelgrane Press has published for it.
  • Next up on my must-read-RPG list is Apocalypse World. It sounds really interesting!
Mini and Board Games
  • This has been an unusually dry month. Me and Anders played a quick game of Gears of War, using the Roadblocks scenario, but failed miserably yet again. Haha!
  • I'm eagerly waiting for the reprint (and slightly updated) High Frontier as well as the second edition of A Game of Thrones. Also, kickstarter project Exile Sun has caught my eye, it looks interesting.

Painting and Modelling
  • I did do some painting this month although it was commission work for Khurasan Miniatures again. Jon asked me if I'd be willing to paint his new Kilo outpost, which I was. You can see the result above. It's modular and if you buy some extra wall sections you can make it a lot larger.
  • My Yu-Jing are staring at me from the shelf and I've decided to get at least one miniature into the Christmas painting contest. Haven't started yet though. Also the new Crane rank Agent is absolutely spectacular! 
  • Speaking of Infinity I'm seriously tempted to get some Shasvaasti...

Video Games

This one will actually be quite lengthy, and it's all because of SWTOR. Just scroll past it if you don't care about video games. I've played some other stuff as well, so let's just get those out of the way first.
  • I got The Missing Link DLC for Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I had forgotten all about it so was really happy to get it and sneak around as Adam Jensen again. It might be slightly overpriced, but if you're a Deus Ex fan I still think it's a solid purchase. Quite liked the story!
  • had some bargain prices so I got Singularity and Rage. Unfortunately I couldn't play Rage because  I have a Japanese Xbox and Bethseda/ZeniMax often region lock their games (bastards!!). 
  • It was all forgotten once I got The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim though. It's just as great as everyone says! Go get it. Now. Even if you didn't really like Oblivion (like me) you'll like Skyrim. I think it has to do with the more realistic feel of the world. Cyrodill, where you spend your time in Oblivion, always felt kind of cheesy to me, in a cheap American fantasy tv-series kind of way. Skyrim, with its roots in ancient Scandinavian culture feels a lot more real. And the snow is lovely, not to mention the northern lights! Or the music! Or Max Von Sydow!

Indeed, Skyrim would have been the game that would have taken most space in this secion had it not been for me playing in the beta/stress test of Star Wars: The Old Republic this last weekend. And oh what a weekend!

I was let in late afternoon on Friday and could play until early morning Tuesday, and since I had the whole weekend off I could get a lot of gaming in! As I've mentioned before I'm an old SWG player and with all its flaws I still hold that game in high regard, my other MMO darling is EVE online, so although I was hoping SWTOR would be great (hey, it's BioWare!) I was kind of expecting it to be World of Warcraft in a different attire. And sure, it does owe a lot to WoW. But just as much or more is actually taken from BioWare's single player RPGs like KotOR or Mass Effect. And who doesn't love BioWare RPGs?!

What surprised me was how well they've managed to integrate the story (usually a purely single player experience) into the MMORPG environment. I played a smuggler to level 7 and a bounty hunter to level 22 and in contrast to other MMOs it was the story that kept me going, not the grind to the next level. Every class has an epic main quest line and then there's of course loads and loads of side quests, all of them fully voice acted with the now commonplace dialogue system that was first introduced in Mass Effect. Your character is actually just that, a character not just a "toon". BioWare has managed to bring back the RPG bit that's been missing from most MMOs since WoW made it's debut. Thinking of it like Knights of the Old Republic III is not far from the truth.

So the story aspect is great, how about the game play? Well, it might look WoW-esque on the surface, but the creators have made a lot of subtle changes, creating a game that feels very different. First of all you're pretty heroic from the get-go. For example, the bounty hunter get the Death From Above ability at level one, and it's pretty darn spectacular (and powerful!). Also you're constantly fighting several enemies at once. This might seem trivial, but juggling between the different targets, using your different abilities to control the flow of battle and then take them out one after one (or all at once!) is very satisfying! Finally I think they've managed to capture the essence of the different classes very well. I'm not interested in wielding a lightsabre, so don't know about the jedi/sith, but the four other classes feel right. As a smuggler you get to live out your Han Solo fantasy, just as bounty hunters can get their Boba fetish on (loved having all those tricks up my sleeve as a BH!). The Imperial Agent is the James Bond/Jack Bauer of the game and the trooper is the heavily arme soldier he should be. Naturally it comes across in the story and cut-scenes, but also in their abilities and how they play. I'll be playing a smuggler at launch with a bounty hunter alt. For starters.

Just like any other BioWare RPG you also find companions during your journeys and they then form the crew on your ship (every class get an appropriate large spaceship. Think Millenium Falcon). Your companion works kind of like a pet in other MMOs except they also have a story to them and you can actually talk to them. They also make up the crafting portion of the game, basically staying busy tinkering with stuff back on the ship or going on crew missions on their own. The crafting game actually seems pretty cool. Not as deep and complex as say SWG's or EVE's but definitely a step up from WoW. I think my smuggler will be a cybernetics expert, dealing in illegal blaster mods. "You need some extra kick in that Czerka model 19 rifle? Well, I just happen to have something that might fit... if you have the credits."

So your spaceship acts as your home base/house and you can actually fly it as well. So it's cool that we do have some kind of space game at launch. However, it's an on-rails shooter and is more of a mini-game casual activity rather than being an integral part of the game. I spent a lot (most?) of my time in SWG in space and it really was an awesome part of that game, so I'm really hoping we'll see a space based expansion from BioWare in the future. However, I do think that what we have now is a pretty good placeholder! Yes, it's on rails and it's very basic, but the format does allow for some really cool cinematic moments (a destroyer jumping in right in front of you!) and it looks spectacular if nothing else! I'm surprisingly happy with it. For now...

Urm... well, I could go on, but I really shouldn't. Basically I found myself liking the game a lot more than I would and I went ahead and pre-ordered a copy (need the early-access!). If you like Star Wars and/or BioWare RPGs and are not particularely adverse to MMOs in general chances are you'll like it. It certainly has its share of flaws, but it's pretty damn fun!

Other Geekstuff
  • I mentioned The Reality Dysfunction (plenty of spoilers there, watch your step) last month and how I had started listening to it but not really got into it yet. Well, now I have and I'm hooked! It's hard sci-fi but with living starships and satanism! What it really reminds me of is George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series in terms of scope. There are many different factions maneuvering for position, a huge tableu of characters and you learn early that they are all expendable. Almost done with the first book in the series.
  • Watched some movies as well. Enjoyed Captain America, although I can't really recall much about it now. As I started watching the new Conan movie my hope climbed during the first 10-15 minutes only to come crashing down as the film continued. It just felt like a waste of such a good character and world! While John Milius might have got the character of Conan wrong he at least got the world right! Marcus Nispel (who?) didn't manage to get either one right. Conan felt like some brooding emo child, and the Hyboria seemed to be made up of four people - Conan, the princess, the bad guy and the bad guys daughter. Yes, there were some mooks here and there, but you got no sense of scale. Not socially nor geographically. Blergh. A disappointment.

I think that's about it this month. Sorry for the long SWTOR bit. Hopefully some of you found it interesting. :)

2 kommentarer :

  1. Skyrim looks so good! I really hope the 5 year wait after Oblivion was worth it. What you say about the world gives me high hopes as I also found the world in Oblivion a little cheesy. How are the controls on PS3? I played Oblivion on te PC and I'm a little worried that on console the controls will be a little awkward.

    SWTOR is tempting, but with Fallout: New Vegas still needing my attention and Skyrim, Saints Row: The Third, BF3, Uncharted 3, ... the list goes on! I will let this one pass.

    Oh, and Martin: buy a PS3 will ya! ;-)

  2. Skyrim kind of snuck up on me. It wasn't that I didn't know about it or anything, it's just that I'm a sci-fi guy at heart and even though I played Oblivion for more than a hundred hours I was more looking forward to Fallout 4. But then as I saw more of it, especially the new art direction and the land of Skyrim itself (aurora?! Awesome!) I got more interested in it. And it surely does deliver!
    The controls work very well on console actually. It seems like they really thought through how to make most use of it and although there is a bit of menu treking it's much better than Oblivion.

    It's weird though, since playing the TOR beta I can't really get back into Skyrim the same way! I keep thinking about my future smuggler. Haha! But I know what you mean, I have Skyrim and Singularity waiting at me and LA Noir is in the mail as well.

    Don't tempt me! It's something of a secret desire of mine to have both consoles, especially now that the ICO and Shadow of the Colossus double pack has been released! And I want to play Killzone!


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