Friday, January 25, 2013

Now Playing Kingdoms of Amalur, Far Cry 3, and Baldur's Gate

Kingdoms of Amalur: This is a hugely impressive crpg and well worth trying but after playing for a couple of weeks I began to feel something akin to mmorpg burnout. I am going to take a break from the game.

Far Cry 3: The original Far Cry is one of my all time favourite games. I was very disappointed by Far Cry 2 but when 3 won many accolades my hopes were raised once more. Despite the hype my first impressions were not that great. I didn't hate the game like I did 2 but it certainly wasn't love at first sight. The main plot is quite forgettable and the game-play seemed to lack any real challenge. The game does have a breathtakingly beautiful huge open world but at first I didn't see the point of it. It is only when I adjusted my perspective and began to explore the world that the game began to make sense to me. The world is choc a bloc with fun things to do. Hunting games survival games, racing games, target practice and many others pop up all over the landscape. Best of all the quality of these mini games is uniformly high. I have started playing every one I come across and I have yet to get bored. Far Cry 3 seems to have as many side quests as Skyrim and that may be a fairer point of comparison than a traditional linear shooter. Even the main plot is really just an excuse to tie together a series of entertaining missions. I have just completed one which involved setting fire to a series of marijuana fields with a flame thrower while a pounding reggae beat plays in the background. The fact that my character was getting giddy on the fumes just added to the fun. The lack of challenge stems from the fact that the game showers you with weapons and loot from the very beginning of the game. Within a very short while you will be well enough equipped to take on anything the island throws at you which renders the whole collecting and crafting aspect of the game rather pointless. The fact that loot is so plentiful removes any sense of desperate survival which should be part of the main plot. None of this impacts on the many mini games however because they generally equip you with a fixed loadout be it a knife, a bow, a specific gun or even grenades to accomplish your objective.

Baldur's Gate: I have never played Baldur's Gate even though I have played many of Bioware's later games. Nevertheless Baldur's Gate and its sequel BG2 remain huge my memory, huge in reputation and also huge in physical form because they came with hefty manuals that apparently had to be read from cover to cover to play. I guess I always intended to check out BG1 and BG2 some day and never quite got around to it. Well Gamestop have a D&D pack on offer for less than €4 which includes all the Baldur's Gate games, Icewind Dale, Planescape Torment and the Temple of Elemental Evil. Any one of those titles is worth the price so I snapped it up. There is a similar deal available for the Neverwinter games but I already have those.You can get DRM free versions of these games from gog.com (for a higher price)  but the Impulse client that Gamestop uses is actually quite pleasant and Baldur's Gate installed and worked first time with no hassle on my Windows 7 64 bit machine. If I am honest I don't have time for this 100 hour+ game but I did start a character last night. It only took a few minutes for me to see beyond the blocky graphics and to begin to get sucked in. I am probably going to have to read that chunky manual (in pdf form nowadays) because BG uses an earlier version of D&D rules than I am familiar with and things like armour class and attack bonus all seem to work in reverse with armour of 0 being better than armour of 10 for example. At least I can finally say I have used the infamous THAC0. I finished the prologue and my fledgling mage had begun her adventures in the world proper but for some reason I was unable to save progress at the end of the session. I have a save from about half an hour earlier so don't know if this is a bug or a feature but hopefully I can figure it out on my next attempt.

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