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November Gaming Update

November 30, 2013

I’ve been into SWTOR, GW2and PS2 again. I’ll create a section for both to post my complaints and compliments. I’ve taken quite a long break from console gaming, I’m not entirely too sure why other than I got a bit frustrated with Darksiders and Dead Rising 1.

It looks like I haven’t posted about Darksiders – which surprises me since I like(d?) that game so much. It’s basically a pastiche of Ocarina of Time, God of War, and the Spawn universe. I’ve heard other comparisons too – but those are the three games that I would definitely say are unarguable core material for Darksiders. It has an overlap of item-based RPG progression (Zelda style) and “experience”-based RPG progression – the combination works really well – and I wish that system would get implemented in more action RPG games. The atmosphere and art style seems largely influenced by comic books, the one in particular that I liken it to is Spawn. I can’t help but wonder if the entire premise wasn’t inspired by someone’s personal interpretation of the 8-Bit Legend of Zelda. With such low fidelity graphics, it requires quite a bit more imagination. When I first played the original Zelda, I imagined the protagonist, Link, as being a badass swordsman, not the itty, bitty child that Nintendo later revealed him to be. So I can totally buy into War being someone’s interpretation of Link, as he is much closer to my original imagining of 8-bit Link. The only catch is that Darksiders borrows so heavily from Ocarina of Time’s dungeon format that it feels a bit stale and frustrating at times. There are quite a few puzzles with unconventional solutions and a lot of backtracking. In fact, 90% of the game seems to be in dungeons, with very little overworld to explore. <shrug> I got a bit burnt out with the platforming and lack of direction, so I migrated to Dead Rising 1…

It looks like I didn’t post about Dead Rising either. My first attempt at the game was when it was fairly new, in 2006 or so. I found it too difficult, too obscure. I didn’t realize there was a leveling mechanism that preserves your character progress if you restart – I kept loading my last save after I got too far into the game. Of course, I got my ass handed to me and I simply moved on to other games. It’s a shame because I really looked forward to the game, it sounded like a great idea – basically John Romero’s Dawn of the Dead – running around a shopping mall, having fun with the various crap from shops in the mall. I was bummed that the game didn’t quite work out to be as fun as I imagined.

Fast forward seven years and Dead Rising 2 becomes free to XBL members. I decide to give it a try… This time it EXPLAINS the leveling mechanism… I finally “get it”. I had a pretty goddamn good time, even though I still found the game occasionally overly difficult and obscure in an way all-too-typical of Japanese games. I went out of my way for a few of the less insano achievements as well – which is something I rarely do.

With the XBox One and Dead Rising 3 slated for release I decided to try DR1 again – to catch up on the lore (since it seemed semi-interesting). Yet I find the game still overly difficult and time consuming – it’s just a chore to play, especially considering it has the absolute worst gun combat controls /EVER/.

Otherwise I haven’t done much console gaming over the past month or two. I’ve spent most of my time with three PC MMOs.

The first that I got back into was Star Wars: The Old Republic. I had already written a few fairly lengthy posts, so I don’t have a lot more to add since the game has changed very little since release. My girlfriend’s son is HUGE into Star Wars (for now, he seems to be into it pretty heavily for a month or two each year) and I asked he if knew about SWTOR. He didn’t, and once he found out about it, of COURSE he /had/ to play it. We haven’t co-oped for a while, since he falls into the Blamer and Lone Wolf co-op partner type*. I figured we should give it a go. He found the game too difficult, mostly because the mechanics of WoW clones are completely alien to console gamers. Likewise he found the combat pretty boring, and he got overwhelmed with the fetch quests etc. He tried to just bomb through his class story, but hit a brick wall pretty quick since the game basically requires you to grind on generic quests in between core story missions.

* I grew up as an only child (other than a gazillion cousins and step siblings), so I always wanted a co-op buddy for my games. I’ve had a few temporary co-op buddies, but no one to game with for very long. I bought quite a few co-op XBox 360 games in the hopes that my girlfriend’s kid and I would co-op, but he doesn’t like to approach things tactically. He likes to run in, mash buttons, and then rage when he dies and has to wait for me to rescue his corpse. I’ve tried repeatedly to calmly explain why it’s important to strategize before rushing in, and on occasions he was willing to take a planned, cooperative approach, but it usually lead to him getting bored and quitting. <shrug> In fact he had the patience to strategize well enough to play through the entirety of Army of Two and AoT: 40th Day (we even beat most of the first game on hard mode too), but it wasn’t too much longer before he started getting very frustrated with waiting, upgrading items, etc. Ironically he is very patient when playing single player games – he takes time to upgrade his character, to think through tough battles, and to watch the cinemas; yet in co-op he’s in a frantic rush to just pull the trigger, die, then get mad. At this point we don’t co-op together anymore, I think we have a mutual understanding that I play the game too slowly for him, and I don’t care for the constant blaming of why he died after rushing in on Hard Mode. The good news is I have another co-op buddy in the works! My son already seems to like to watch me play games, and he’s pretty sharp (for a baby), so my hope is that I can make a co-op buddy out of him. 🙂  I’ve got an entire library of 360 and OXBox (what I’m going to call the original, 2001 XBox) co-op games that I’ve been just dying to try out!

Back to SWTOR: I continued playing Justin quit as I really enjoyed the main story of my characters. I recently quit however, after spending stupid amounts of money on the game’s shitty Cartel Coins currency – because you can’t pick up missions after they were abandoned. Read my post here to find out more, as I’d otherwise just be repeating myself… But, suffice it to say, the planet of Hoth is essentially broken to my main character, and I’ve lost interest in playing the game at all. I spent enough on Cartel Coins that I’ll likely get back into the game to finish the main story on the characters that I’m interested in, but it’s going to have to be after I’m bored with other games that I’m interested in.

I’ve been playing Guild Wars 2 quite a bit lately. Mostly because it’s FREE and because I really don’t like the WoW / SWTOR gameplay and combat. The GW2 developers (Arena Net) keep adding more and more content to the game, and I feel like I’m missing out. I don’t care for how difficult the dungeons can be, especially in a group full of inexperienced players – but there seem to be fewer and fewer players in the game that haven’t beaten the shit out of every dungeon – you can almost count on at least ONE expert with ten alts being in every dungeon run. I still don’t bother much with WvW due to the marching band / blob mechanics, but the sPvP is pretty fun and WvW has its moments. Ultimately I don’t agree with the idea that numbers should always, always defeat skill. The fact of the matter is, Planetside 2 is a perfect example of skill and strategy taking precedence over numerical superiority…

Planetside 2 is back on my daily list as well. Sony has gone out of their way to make the game better… The performance improvement is noteworthy, and server / game stability is where it should have been at launch. 100 vs 100 battles are very stable and the game completely lacks the ruinous bugs / jittering / warping that were oh-so common during the first few months. The game is simply amazing to play. I’ve also AVOIDED joining an Outfit (PS2’s version of a guild), simply because I fucking hate following orders from some mouth-breathing, basement dwelling nerd that treat the game like a real world military operation. It was fun at times when we would use tactics to overwhelm larger groups, but was mostly just standing where my internet-boss wanted me to stand, doing what he wanted me to do. Fuck that. My advice to other solo-ists in PS2 is to simply go where the number of enemies and friendlies are roughly equal and greater than 12 – that’s going to be a fun fight, and you can do whatever the hell you want. Want to fly a jet? Do it. Want to man a turret and shoot down enemy bombers? Go for it. Want to stealth around as ninja and plant traps and jack people? Be my guest. Basically, you’re more likely to /win/ if you are in an organized Outfit, but you’re more likely to have /fun/ if you’re not in an Outfit. This is probably less true for brand new players that don’t have the knowledge necessary to survive very long, but I firmly believe that experienced players can have a great time running solo.

My most recent stints have been playing Engineer in a Skyguard. The addition of the M14-like Battle Rifles, the Engineer has some SERIOUS punch at long range, and the rifle really isn’t that bad at close range either.  (EDIT: apparently these have been in since release but the filter was “broken”, so you couldn’t find them with the weapon filter?). The addition of the anti-vehicle turret has really made the class a lot more fun for me as well – it allows the Engineer to engage base turrets and enemy tanks from a good distance, giving me something to do when there aren’t any aircraft for my Skyguard to eat up. Speaking of the Skyguard, since the complete nerfing of the Rocketpods (aka RAWK’IT’PAWDS’LOL) and the Dalton (aka ZOMFG’1’SHOT’HEAVEN), the power (and also the presence) of air to ground has been SIGNIFICANTLY reduced. I can usually stay in the range of 3:1 KDR while in the Skyguard or while defending a base as an AA Max. I’ve only encountered ONE Liberator that gave me any trouble and ZERO Fighters. Not to say that there aren’t good pilots playing the game – I just don’t encounter them.

If you want to have fun shooting down aircraft (and generally ruining pilots’ days) just find an active battlefield, get in a Skyguard, and stay about 100 to 300 meters behind the friendly firing line. Be sure to hide in adequate cover, in a crevasse or rut, and just light up the sky for some easy kills. Playing a Max can be a lot of fun as well, especially since you can act as AA within buildings, and switch to Anti-tank or Anti-infantry very quickly when the situation calls for it.

One of the other great additions to PS2 is the VR Chamber – where you can test any weapon or vehicle for free. A few things that I’ve been able to discover in the VR Champer: I love the SMG (preferably with Flash Suppressor) for most classes, I don’t like shotguns, and I think assault rifles are just OK (I probably just need to learn to use single fire at range).

The only thing else I have left to talk about is my PC, and how I “fixed” it. I found out that the lugnut at BestBuy’s “Geek Squad” didn’t install my heatsink right. When I realized that it could be the ONLY culprit in my system performance issues, I tore apart my computer to see what was wrong and to give it a dusting off. The first thing I noticed is that there was at LEAST a quarter inch of dust on all parts, including the fans. More importantly, I discovered that THE CPU FAN WAS OFF OF THE CPU! It was dangling, it wasn’t installed properly and was just kind of “hanging there” a full eight of an inch from the CPU. I was so incredibly disappointed, but I felt so lucky that my CPU didn’t fry. It’s probably been this way for quite some time, as I never remember my PC performing very well. ANYWAY, after watching some YouTube how-to videos I reinstalled it PROPERLY. My CPU temperature dropped massively, to an ordinary range, and my game FPSes went through the roof.

Interestingly enough, TF2 and WoW have have always performed very well – indicating that they are GPU bound. GW2, SWTOR, and Planetside 2 have always performed like a bag full of assholes, so, they must be CPU bound. The bump in performance on the aforementioned 3 games was absolutely mindblowing. SWTOR rarely runs under 30 FPS, likewise with PS2, and GW2 is usually between 20 – 40, and that’s with every game on ULTRA (minus a few tweeks). Wow. The Intel Core i5 2500 is just amazing… when the heatsink is PROPERLY INSTALLED. 🙂 Now I feel a lot less cheated about having upgraded my computer.

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