Mass Effect 3 multiplayer is not that bad

So I finally caved in and had a go on Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer. Like probably most people on the server that night, I did so reluctantly, after hearing that it was impossible to get the “preferred” ending (best of a bad bunch by all accounts) unless my Something Something Thingamajig level was at 5000, and that it was practically (though not literally) impossible to reach that through the single-player campaign alone. I’d been so dreading the ending that I’d been stalling playing the game altogether, dragging out side quests trying to avoid the conclusion, but I would have to face it sooner or later, and that included choosing whether to go the multiplayer route. A comment I read last night made my decision for me: “it’s more fun than grinding through that awful minigame”. Aye, the game of chicken with the beacons and reapers is fun for … ooooh, about 25 seconds, after which it makes you want to crawl on your hands and knees back to Bioware and beg for the mining gig back.  Continue reading

Morrowind: A love letter

I wish I had a time machine so that I could go back and play Morrowind for the first time again. That was one of the first thoughts I had this morning. I could vividly hear in my mind the musique concrète of its soundtrack – the ambient noises that give it such an unearthly, magical atmosphere – and wanted to hear them again for the first time. It’s not something I could accomplish, I thought sadly, though I fired it up for probably the thousandth time. It looks old, which it should, after nearly a decade. For me, it looks like this

– better than the game-as-shipped but not as flashy as some have it. For me, I don’t see the point. You could spend hours or days with mods getting it to look like this Continue reading

Platform Wars: Some Consolation

Resident Evil 5 Sheva

Seriously, has he played every game that there’s ever been? I’m staring incredulously at my nephew’s gamerscore. Sure, there’s a couple of games I beat him on, but on the whole he’s got twice as many Achievements as me on my entire game collection, plus at least twice as many other games, including – bafflingly – the Harry Potter games. I’m impressed he got further into Fable II than me. Teenagers must have greater attention spans than easily-bored thirty-somethings. So, yes, I’m making my way through The Pile – this time, of unplayed console games. Since these belong to my husband – Him Indoors, as I call him – he chips in with advice during my marathon play-through.

Him Indoors: You need to try Enslaved first. Seriously. It’s the most excited I’ve been about a game in ages.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

The game hasn’t actually arrived yet. HI ordered it a few days back, but what with the bank holidays things aren’t travelling as fast as they should. So I’ve downloaded the demo, and off we go.

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Fallout: New Vegas – Choosing Sides

I’ve stayed away from the Mojave Wasteland for the past few weeks because I’ve been deciding my options. I think I’ve decided (if that makes any sense) to try to remain as friendly as possible with all factions except Caesar’s Legion, who will be my targets for destruction. I’ll need all the help I can get – if I can elicit some from NCR, the Boomers and the Great Khans, I’ll need it – but I’ve already made enemies of the Powder Gangers and the NCR’s disposition towards me is decidedly mixed.

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I’m going to play every game I own on Steam part 6

<< PART FIVE

Last one!

FEAR

I remember getting excited about the game’s development, because FEAR is a bloody brilliant idea. If Dead Space is The Thing and Event Horizon, then FEAR is all those Japanese horror movies, especially Dark Water. You are a rookie soldier in a special unit designed to investigate paranormal military threats. Soldiers are dying in nasty ways, and a mysterious black-haired ghost-child seems to be responsible. Its heavy scripting is well done and it is all rather intriguing so far, although like Dead Space I find my interest waning after a few minutes of continuous play.

Most of the action stems from possessed soldiers turning on each other, so you’re just a soldier shooting other soldiers for most of the game (so far). The soundtrack is excellent, and the use of visual cues – seamless “hallucinations” and other phenomena – is very well done. There’s also plenty of silence and broad daylight, which I think undermines a lot of the inherent spookiness, though I’m absorbed enough to want to continue the story in a number of short, controlled bursts. Continue reading

I’m going to play every game I own on Steam part 5

<< PART FOUR

Quake

Quake is really fun! I’d always said Doom and Quake in the same breath, thinking they were essentially the same thing, but they’re completely different. Doom is more like something like Bioshock – dark, scary, horror-survival stuff. Quake has a gentler pace and is more based around puzzles and discovery. Yes, you’re still doing a lot of shooting, but in common with something like Thief, you’re looking round all the time for anything that looks out of the ordinary, which may turn out to be a secret passage filled with treasure. Quake feels like a game rather than being a virtual adventure, but is still very playable in spite of its age.

Quake II

Wait, Quake II is from 1997? Really? It looks incredible for a game that age! It’s more of a straightforward shooter but is very engaging right from the start, with an opening cutscene that must have been absolutely jawdropping at the time.

Quake III: Arena

I just played against bots, which mostly consisted of chasing them around the arena with a variety of weapons like something out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I felt surprisingly invincible, having dispatched the first two bots rapidly and with ease, until I got a message of “I’m learning your tricks, Kickass” (my character name) before he started to whup my posterior. The soundtrack is pretty enjoyable, too.

STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl

STALKER is a funny one. It’s very, very Russian, with some pretty bad dialogue translations and thick accents to navigate. It seemed like a relatively engaging story so far and I think I’ll be playing more.  At least to start with, it’s pretty light on combat and heavy on dialogue, but I like that in this instance because it’s doing a great job of building an atmosphere.

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I’m going to play every game I own on Steam part 4

<< PART THREE

HeXen II

Considering its age, it doesn’t look too bad, and the first few minutes were fairly enjoyable. My problem – as with all these games – is not knowing how to use the controls, so I had to give up pretty quickly when after several minutes of pressing every button and remapping the controls I still couldn’t figure out how to open the door! I think I’ll consult a decent walkthrough and come back to this later.

HeXen: Beyond Heretic

HeXen is the sequel to Heretic, hence the similarity. I could actually use the space bar to open doors in this one, so I got a tiny bit further geographically than I did in HeXen II. I’m more inclined to play HeXen II again (once I figure out how to open doors – hell, even velociraptors can do that!) than I am to return to this one, though I’m sure it was a lot of fun at the time.

HeXen: Deathkings of the Dark Citadel

The thing about these really old dosbox games is that they have a sort of intro cinematic which actually serves as a tutorial for the game. It took me a while to pick up on that, but now I pay more attention to the things. Deathkings is a fast-paced fantasy shooter, but isn’t as fun as the other HeXen/Heretic games, based on first impressions.

Left 4 Dead 2

Left 4 Dead 2 is ridiculously good fun. It just works on the principle that 100 enemies that go down in one shot is much more fun than one enemy you have to shoot 100 times. It piles  ’em up and sells ’em cheap for a breathless, ridiculously fast-paced no-brainer. It’s just 100% sheer adrenaline. I had Left 4 Dead and had enjoyed the L4D2 demo, but had never actually played the full game before. I just played vs bots, but had a really fun time.

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