Games

I’m not a fan of FPS anymore

Downloaded the free FarCry3: Blood Dragon and gave it a shot. The intro is really nice and the tutorial made me laugh very hard, it’s basically excellent if you love 80s movies (and/or Kung Fury).
Sadly I’m just not in the market for shooters as it seems, I didn’t really enjoy the first level and stopped playing pretty soon after. Which is a shame, it looked tremendously fun at the start. But I am pretty sure it’s because of the shooting stuff, level design and general “ranged mobs are trying to kill me”. I think I only made it through ME1+2 because I could use a Sniper Rifle + cover the whole time. And because I loved the setting, the story and everything. The shooting was… ok.

40 Heroes, yay

Not only did I grind enough Cake Slices in the anniversary event to buy my 39th character (chose Doctor Doom because he’s 600 Splinters), no, I also had 400 Splinters to buy another one, Juggernaut. Already brought that one to 60 this evening.
I also finished my first Cosmic Trial. Of all Heroes it was Spider-Man. Did some equipping for a few days (not really much play time) and with some less than perfect gear I managed it on the 2nd try where I failed spectacularly with Hawkeye and Gambit. Both of those I thought I can play a lot better, having invested quite some time, gear and money.
mh_20160619
 
I also played around 3 hours of Faeria when it was free on Steam. Was a lot more fun than when I tried Hearthstone, but right now I think I don’t want to collect cards, build decks and least of all play against other people. My penchant for PvP in any form seems to have vanished completely. It’s still 30% off (and early access) so maybe I’ll bite tomorrow. I absolutely enjoyed the solo campaign, but as it’s only ~14 games, I managed to finish that already. It reminds me a lot of Magic: The Gathering, but I really like the board game aspect. If only it weren’t for the frustration of other people’s decks with cards you’ve never seen…

Completed: The Nonomancer: Graybeard’s Revenge

It’s only a small game, but a very good one. David Brevik (of Diablo and Marvel Heroes fame) apparently went indie after stepping down as Gazillion CEO and already delivered.
If you remember Mario’s Picross from the original Game Boy days, Nonomancer is basically this, reimagined. Not very creative, but it still works and kept me busy for around 6-8 hours (for 50 levels).
nonomancer
The key difference are that there’s no time limit, and you don’t get penalized for mistakes – which kind of makes it easier, but you can’t take a small hit to get a hint like in Picross. E.g. decide a 50/50 chance by just guessing and get either a correct field or some info plus an error…
The only downsides are that you don’t have a helper to draw straight lines (shift-click like in Photoshop might work) or play it with a controller.
Unlike Picross on most difficulties not all of the puzzles can be solved without guessing, but you get to choose one of a variety of power-ups to get you a headstart – in the picture above a 7×7 field was uncovered on game start.

Completed: Mass Effect 2

As I wrote already, I am catching up on the Mass Effect universe.
I’ve started ME2 not long after I had finished ME1. I imported my original character (would have loved to fix the nose, but it’s not so bad that I have to) and continued there.
normandy
The Steam version of ME2 works a lot better than the ME1 one – I’ve had no problems at all (Win7) with Fullscreen and a 2nd screen connected. Either I grew accomodated or they even fixed the horrible menu PING sound. I am not sure I found any of the Digital Deluxe Edition ingame items – if so, they were unexciting.
Warning: Mild spoilers – it’s been long enough, even I have played it now after 5 years.
I didn’t love the combat in the beginning, but I liked it better than when starting ME1. The whole game feels more like a shooter, but also easier (again on “Casual” setting, I’m not fond of shooters anymore, sorry).
I don’t get why they changed all the keybindings. Space is LShift, E is Space. Quicksave went from F6 to F5. WHY? Not as bad as with AC2 -> Brotherhood, but still.
I do like the Paragon/Renegade system, but it would be cool to see if I *really* am at 100% Paragon already. It looks like it, so I’m chasing some more Renegade points, but whatever.
I do like my companions, but I find it odd that they would add Personal Assistant that only sometimes correctly tells me about my mails (mostly correct, but sometimes too late, when I already read them) and rarely ever about other companions who want to talk – but maybe I was diligent enough that no one felt left out because I’ve been visiting them pretty regularly.
The new scanning mechanics are very good – the old one was ok, but with the probes and the graph it made for an enjoyable 1-2 hours of acquiring resources without having to go on a trip in the Mako – which I didn’t like at all in ME1. Also the research system to use up those resources is awesome, although I didn’t really get why it would sometimes show 2-3 greyed out weapons or armor research items. Apparently I had them, as I couldn’t buy them, but others vanished once I had bought them – weird, but not a big deal.
The dialog menu is still fine, dito the galactic travel. The fuel mechanic is useless so far, and I doubt that will change as I finish it up.
The ingame soundtrack is awesome again, so is the voice acting. I only have one slight complaint – when the characters are looking neutral, everything is fine, but if Shepard or Jacob smile… ugh, bad modelling work.
 
While writing all of the above I’ve been 24h in and finished every single side quest this time. I have all companions, and all are loyal to me – just my love interest in ME1 left me feeling bit ignored.
Update after 27.5 hours: Done. Apparently the “No one left behind” achievement is a bit too hard without reading up, so I lost people.
In general I have 43 Achievements and am missing 9 of them, but there should be 63. I see 12 for the DLC, kind of add up, I guess.
Summary: Awesome game! Can’t wait for ME3 now. Downloading all the DLC for this one right as I’m writing this.
Apparently I should’ve downloaded the DLC earlier, but this is the first game I’ve ever played that kind of did it like this. And last time I didn’t even find anything on that BioWare social site. Too bad, but I’ll just have a look what’s there now. New companion, yay.

Completed: Memoria

On to the second adventure in the Daedalic Bundle I mentioned – The Dark Eye: Memoria (Wikipedia/on Steam).
This was completed in a bit less than 10 hours, I think it was 8 or 9 – but I could ask for help and thus sometimes did not spend ages trying to figure out a puzzle.
It handles just as Chains of Satinav does, that means you need a mouse to click and the space bar to highlight items you can interact with – if you prefer to have this hint. 🙂
From a story point of view, it’s clearly better than Chains of Satinav – even more interesting main characters (and also not so many not-good voice actors for less important characters), but from a gameplay point of view I liked Chains of Satinav a bit more – but the story was more generic.
The puzzles were mostly doable (had to look up a few times again, but I think only 4 or 5 times. What I didn’t like were seemingly illogical solutions to some things – where I had the correct idea but didn’t use the correct item from my inventory – and I mean… not using a belt when you need a torch, more like having to try all 3 “long” objects to try to reach something high above. Apparently the developers thought you must use this 120cm long staff to reach up and the 100cm long sword will not do, even if they look just about the correct length, stuff like that – not a huge problem.
Summary: Really good game again, and also a nice continuation of Chains of Satinav, but it can be played on its own. But if you plan to play both, do it in the correct order, as this will spoil at least 2 or 3 things in the first game.

Completed: Chains of Satinav

There was this enormous Daedalic Entertainment bundle on Steam lately, and I finished the first adventure, The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav (Wikipedia/on Steam).
This was the first point & click adventure I’ve played since Broken Sword. My memory is hazy, I had already pinned that one down as best adventure ever (sorry Indy, Zak, DOTT, and Guybrush) – but I’m not so sure anymore. I think I should replay some of them and ignore some of the pixels.
First something about the The Dark Eye, as you probably never heard of it. It’s the German D&D (and/or AD&D) – created in 1984 and still going strong (although I personally only started with the pen & paper RPG in the early 90s and stopped a few years ago) – but people who do or did fantasy role playing in German-speaking countries probably played this and not (A)D&D. This game also has a lot of references, but I think only one single puzzle that was really easy if you knew stuff from the world and maybe hard otherwise, everything else was explained or didn’t matter anyway.
There’s not much to say, I loved this game – and probably not because of the setting, (because while it did have some in-jokes it wasn’t that good of a world-of-The-Dark-Eye experience for the most part) but because I really liked it as an adventure game.
Many of the puzzles were on the easy side and most were just fine in difficulty, but we (played it as a duo) still had to look up roughly 4 solutions. One was a UI thing, where the correct thing was in the inventory already, but we managed to miss a right-click to examine it further and the 3 others were classic “I’ve no clue how to continue”.
This was also the first game I played via Steam Streaming (to the laptop in bed), and besides a few sound glitches and a weird resolution (black borders) it was totally fine.
I think the total time /played was 10 hours – which is pretty much a length I like. Managed to get through in roughly 3 evenings without having to spend every waking moment to continue if you want to finish it. Right after that, I started with the sequel, Memoria (Wikipedia).
Summary: Really good game, only criticism was some of the voice acting (played it in German, probably the original language, as Daedalic is a German company) – the main actors were all fine to good, but some of the NPCs were kind of horrible. Need to quickly check the English version if possible.

Mass Effect

I bought Mass Effect 1+2 when they were on sale because some people had told me repeatedly that I simply had to play it.
shepard.jpg
First of all, the Steam version of ME1 sucks. Badly. It doesn’t launch from Steam at all, then via finding the .exe, giving it Administrator privileges and compatibility mode kind of works.
Then I was greeted by the most atrocious “select menu item” sound I’ve ever heard. Seriously, this made me reconsider even creating a character for a minute.
Character creation was ok, but I didn’t notice in there that my character’s nose is totally awkward. 4h in this is still annoying me, but I sure as hell won’t restart now.
The controls might be ok, but not for me. R is autorun in all my MMOs, so I keep on flinging grenades left and right. Mousewheel should zoom in and not draw weapons. Gladly nobody minds getting a Sniper Rifle in their face on any planet.
I hate the combat system. I’m playing on the lowest difficulty setting (“Casual”, haha) and I keep on dying left and right. It feels like playing Quake with my hands tied behind my back. QuickSave (F6) is my new best friend.
But the story and real RPG elements are nice. I like the dialogue system and the voice actors. Not sure yet about all the NPCs. Sometimes a line gets repeated too often, but that’s ok.
That was the “first 5h review”, played in 3 chunks of ~1.5h each.
8 hours in, I’ve managed to finish the two combat encounters I ranted about above successfully. Level 15 now, cleared some pirate outpost, got better weapons. Still not sure what the pause function via spacebar is good for, maybe I should use more biotics? But it’s a lot more fun right now
12 hours in, I’ve spent a lot of time on the Citadel, did a lot of quests and less shooting and I’m enjoying it. Now off to Feros and/or Noveria and continue with the story, although the Geth are the least fun part of the game as of now…
15 hours in, I’ve completed Feros (for the main storyline) and generally been destroying everything in combat now. Some things still feel a bit clunky, and as I’m maxed on Sniper Rifles, packs of enemies in melee range aren’t so easy, but overall it works. My combat team is Wrex and Ashley or Kaidan. I’ve also advanced with the romancing… I guess. Still very happy with this game, although now it already told me to hurry up and advance the main plot instead of doing every other quest.
And I finished after 21 hours with Level 42. Too bad I couldn’t continue with my unfinished random assignments after the main plot ended. 🙁
I had been doing mostly side quests until after Feros, then I started pushing through to the end.
In the end I managed to get 16/45 achievements, although the wiki tells me there should be 49, not 45. The romance stuff was ok, but I liked the SWTOR one better.
In summary: Nearly a perfect role-playing game besides the first few fights. Awesome story, some of the crew members are a bit meh and I expected to have more dialog options with them, but overall… pretty cool.

Quick 2015 review

Even though this blog doesn’t have many posts and also not many readers, I like doing review posts of my stuff. Caught a cold these days and didn’t get to play a lot on New Year’s Day.
Some people did cool charts on what they played in 2015, I can skip that fancy stuff and do a short list, especially as I can’t tell what I played in which month, as I wasn’t paying many subscriptions and am generally not good enough at tracking these things.

  • Significant amount of time spent:
    • Marvel Heroes
    • Guild Wars 2
    • WildStar
    • Ragnarok Online
    • EVE Online (only January+February)
    • Trine 2 (via AggroChat Game Club 2)
    • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
    • Shadowrun Returns
    • Lost Lands
    • Xbox 360: Rock Band, Rock Band 2, LEGO Rock Band
  • Insignificant amount of time spent:
    • Mass Effect
    • Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
    • Borderlands 2
    • Age of Wonders III
    • Diablo III
    • Heroes of Might and Magic V
    • SW: TOR
    • Android: Fallout Shelter
  • Log in, play less than an hour, log out:
    • WoW
    • Age of Wonders – Shadow Magic

Gaming expenses in 2015:

Damn, this is a lot harder than last year.

  • WildStar: ~40 EUR for sub in Jan-Mar iirc
  • GW2: 110 EUR: box for 10 EUR, Heart of Thorns Ultimate Edition for 99 EUR
  • Marvel Heroes: ~120 EUR -Magik Hero Pack (16 EUR), ingame currency (~105 EUR)
  • Games on Steam: ~66 EUR – AoW3 (15 EUR), SR: Dragonfall (4,50 EUR), SR: Hong Kong (19 EUR), The Witcher 2 (3 EUR), Borderlands 2 (10 EUR), ME 1+2 + AC4 (14 EUR), Hero Siege (1 EUR)
  • Games on GoG: 3 EUR – Robin Hood (2 EUR), The Witcher (1 EUR)
  • Games on HumbleBundle: 16 EUR – GameMaker (12 EUR), Trine (1 EUR), Talisman (3 EUR)
  • Xbox 360: 0 EUR, unless I forgot a random used game for 5 bucks
  • EVE: 0 EUR (paid in Nov ’14)
  • WoW: 0 EUR
  • Ragnarok: 0 EUR
  • SW:TOR : 0 EUR

To sum it up: 355 EUR in 2015, which boils down to ~30 EUR per month for gaming. (2014: ~450/year or 37.50/month)

  • Amount of MMOs months I paid subs: 5
  • Amount of MMOs I logged into and played truly “F2P” without purchases: 3 (Ragnarok, SW:TOR, WoW)
  • Full price games/expansions I bought: 2 (Heart of Thorns and SR: Hong Kong)
  • Amount of games I feel I supported enough/voted with my wallet according to the amount of time I spent there: 2 of 2
    • preordered the HoT Ultimate Edition because I felt bad for enjoying GW2 so much on a 10 EUR one-time purchase
    • spent about exactly 10 EUR per month for stuff in Marvel Heroes – like a sub, but 100% optional. I never felt pressured to buy something. I <3 you, Gazillion.

A wild single player RPG appears

Recently there was talk about the Mass Effect series and again I noticed I had never played any of them. But I had bought ME1 and 2 on June 20th this year (surely in a Steam sale, or via GOG, or HumbleBundle…). So I set out to at least start playing before half a year is up.
My knowledge of the series was and is still very basic – I only knew about Shepard and that’s a SciFi RPG. I think I’ve never played any of the “big” BioWare RPGs besides KotOR – so even that didn’t help. But now I’m 3h in and I really like it. The music is pretty good, the controls are relatively ok (besides Space not being used for jump – I drew my gun in the face of a lot of people in the Citadel already, but they didn’t seem to mind).
But there’s also a few downsides. First of all the beeping and sounds in the menus. While creating my character I was already close to turning the sound off. WTF. Everything in the 80s on a GameBoy was less annoying. Then I only noticed too late that my character’s nose is not good. I’m usually not the one spending half an hour in the character generator, but I couldn’t adjust the nose, now it’s annoying me in every cutscene. Ah well, the rest of the head is ok-ish. But for a 2007 game I’m a bit disappointed. Sure, that’s 8 years old, but as I wrote above I’ve never played more recent games besides a few MMOs. And while cartoony – I wouldn’t say WoW’s 2004/05 Humans looked worse than the ME1 characters.
I’ve also yet to experience the “great Bioware writing”, Shepard got some introduction and also Captain Anderson, but the rest of my squad haven’t had more than 2minutes of screentime yet. And what’s with the endless elevator rides? Yes, they’re funny the first two times, but I bet I’ll hate them very, very soon.
So yeah, too bad I have a Marvel Heroes character to Cosmic Prestige (hit 56 today and there’s a +200% buff plus event) and a GW2 Guardian to level (40 already) and there’s also the Winter achievements in GW2. I especially like their Rock Band mini game.

Preordering Heart of Thorns and other purchases

A while ago (I’m pretty sure it was in March) there was a sale on Guild Wars 2, it always sounded kind of nice, WildStar was just not cutting it at the time – and so I bought GW2 for around 10-12 EUR. I’ve since levelled one character to 80, reached 500 in one crafting skill, levelled some alts to 30, 20, and 10 and in general had quite some fun and unlike in other games I not once felt pushed to buy something on the Gem store (aka with real money). Then a while later I learned about the upcoming expansion: Heart of Thorns. I didn’t (and still don’t) exactly know what it was going to bring (expansions in WoW have been a mixed bag, and so far I’ve been there for all of them…), but I was pretty sure I’d get it.
So recently the preorder page went up and there were the 3 options: Standard, Deluxe and Ultimate. I thought about it for a little while, then decided the Standard one was a bit plain. The Deluxe looked about right from the contents (but seemed a bit pricy) but in the end I opted for the Ultimate – I’ll get some of the Gem currency I haven’t *needed* so far, but I was looking forward to a few nice things.
Most of Reddit will probably disagree and tell me how horrible I am, taking up what Arenanet puts up as an offer. But still, I don’t see this more as thanking them for my past enjoyment of the game in the last 3 months (for a laughable price of less than a month’s subscription in other games) and trusting them to not fuck this up in the near future and not so much blindly accepting what they give us. I know this can send mixed signals and maybe just buying some currency for the store would’ve sent less mixed signals – but the opportunity was at the right time, for the right price.
 
In other news, I recently bought a few things off GoG and Steam, namely Borderlands 2 (which is pretty good, and I like it a lot better than Borderlands) with all the DLC for 10 EUR, The Witcher 1+2 (was cheap and I’m interested – but I don’t have high enough hopes to stick longer than a few hours, that’s why Witcher 3 was out), Mass Effect 1+2 (read so many good things, can’t wait) for ~7 EUR and Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag for 8 EUR – because the start of Brotherhood wasn’t especially good (after the phenomal AC 2) and when I get back, I might as well play the part that’s widely said to be the best part.
Totally unrelated, but apparently I hate having games on Steam that I had already owned before. It shows “Played: 0 hours” when in fact I spent days, weeks or even months playing them. But it doesn’t annoy me half as much as WoW not retroactively having given me basically all WSG, AB and AV achievements when they were introduced. One does not simply reach rank 11 without a five base win or 2000:1990 or whatever it was. Back then I was very much tempted to open tickets and link to screenshots of my past exploits.