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Showing posts from February, 2009

Me Me Me Me

So there's a meme doing the rounds which requires you to post the sixth screen-shot you have stored from any game of your choice. Thanks to Zoso I have been tagged so I opened my fairly slim Fraps directory to find there are very few games I have even grabbed six screenshots of. I have a bunch of lotro grabs and thats about it. Ah well for what its worth here is my sixt Lotro screenshot: Why is Throg gazing fondly at that Snowbeasts posterior? Hard to tell but I can now reveal to the world the coded meaning of Throgs Kin name: Pog Mo Thoin . I didn't make it up but when I saw a bunch of guys runnign around under that moniker I knew they must be Irish and having a bit of fun with Lotro's name checker. I was in that kin for a few months and nobody ever complained. Now who can I tag back? THis is always an embarasssing moment. How can I tag six people when I barely have six readers of thsi blog and most of those havce been tagged already. Well here goes and apologies if you h

Left 4 Dead: Co-operation beats Experience

Needing a pick me up after Far Cry 2's downer I logged into Left 4 Dead for a bit of co-operative zombie killing and quickly got signed up with a random group for the "No Mercy" campaign. It was a spectacularly unsuccessful attempt but raised a few interesting issues none the less. First off let me raise my hand and admit that I was in no small part responsible for our failures. I couldn't shoot straight. I kept running right into the exploding stomach of boomers. Every time the tank appeared I managed to grab his attention and end up splatted. The only thing I didn't do was disturb the witch but my colleagues generally managed to do themselves without my help. The first interesting observation is that our failure was not due to lack of experience. The people I grouped with had played before. This was clear from the way that my colleagues knew the routes, knew where ambushes were likely to occur, knew where to lay trails of fire, knew what corners to hide in and s

Far Cry 2 Revisited (but not for very long)

I had a bit of free time last night so I decided to give Far Cry 2 a second chance. Two hours later having struggled through an enormously tedious mission I noticed that the game had actually made me depressed. Whether it was the demoralising setting, the tedious repetitive game-play or the fact that the mission involved me destroying a factory that produced a much needed medicine I don't know. Probably all three. Whatever he reason I don't play games to get depressed. Far Cry 2 ..... Goodbye.

Mobile Internet

I am writing this on my new Nokia E51 phone. Its the first mobile I have had with built in wifi. Phones have had internet browsers for years but the silly price of data packages has been prohibitive. Wifi allows me to enjoy free internet browsing in any of the growing number of internet hotspots. The E51 is no Iphone but it is a suprisingly capable little phone. The Symbian operating system means you can get a lot of useful apps for it. I have already installed a good scientific calculator and a mobi ebook reader. The screen is quite small but is very clear and has excellent resolution. I got mine with my phone contract but I have seen sim free ones for only €150 which is a great price for such a powerful phone.

Enjoying Left 4 Dead

You have got to admire Valve's ability to take a concept, simplify it to its essentials and then polish it to an exceptional degree. When it boils down to it there isn't all that much in Left 4 Dead but what is there is solid gold and crafted to perfection. As expected single player mode is no more than an extended tutorial, worth playing through once to get used to the maps. Everyone raves about versus mode where teams alternate between survivors and infected but I haven't gotten the hang of playing infected yet so for the moment I am playing mainly co-op, registered as mbp if anyone wants to look out for me on Steam. MBPs tip - when things go completely haywire and you are over-run with an impossible number of infected thn get your back against a wall and melee melee melee.

Maybe I'm not the only Cheap Bastard

Even though I have wanted to play Left 4 Dead for quite some time I still waited until I got it half price in last weeks sale. I do that a lot with games. Price is important to me. Its not that I am badly off. It's just that I am not comfortable spending €40 or €50 on a game. In fact the higher price of console games (€10 to €20 higher last time I checked) is one of the main reasons I haven't embraced console gaming. Thanks to Bill Harris author of the ever entertaining Dubious Quality I now realise that its not just me. Sales of Left 4 Dead went up 3000% last weekend during the sale. It seems I am not alone in wanting better value games.

Why is game purchasing such a gamble?

EDIT: Prompted by DM Osbon's comment I went and re-read The Artful Gamers article and I fear I completely misunderstood it the first time. When TAG said in italics “Game journalism can be just as exciting and enlightening as playing games themselves!” I thought he was poking light hearted fun at criticism that thinks it is art. If he seriously believes that then I have to fundamentally disagree. In fact I think this “criticism as an art form” movement is a big part of the reason why we are currently so badly served by game reviews. Criticism can never be more important than the thing itself. Criticism is a tool to aid the buying process, nothing more nothing less. Once the purchasing decision has been made the critic becomes irrelevant. The game and the playing of it are everything. Anyway - my comments about the difficulty of choosing a decent game still hold so here is the ORIGINAL POST: Thanks to Rock Paper Shotgun for pointing me to a great article at "The Artful Gamer&quo


I am stuck in single player rpg groove at the moment. Having completed Space Siege and spent a weekend in the King's Bounty demo I finally got around to installing a copy of Titan Quest that has sat on my shelf for over two years. I guess I was expecting something like Dungeon Siege with better graphics, a kind of RPG lite with simple levelling and an emphasis on linear dungeon crawling with fast and furious combat. After spending about two hours in game and having reached the heady heights of level 5 I can confirm that the game is a simple linear dungeon crawl with lovely graphics and combat that is even faster and furiouser than I remember from Dungeon Siege. Sadly Titan quest does not seem to have impemented party based combat in single player mode (you cannot recruit henchmen). To my mind this makes the single player gameplay a lot less interesting than in Dungeon siege. Sure Dungeons Siege's henchmen weren't very bright but allocating roles and trying to direct a party

Kings Bounty The Legend Demo

Lots of folk rave about Kings Bounty: The Legend so I had a go at the demo over the weekend. Very enjoyable and quite addictive RPG-lite with turn based strategy combat. I will probably get the full version as soon as I can lay my hands on a physical disk copy. My local game shop has never heard of the game despite it being out for over 5 months now but I amn't quite ready to fork out €40 for a download copy of the game from the creators 1C . I have played as both Warrior and Mage. I probably prefer the warrior path because the units are so much fun although the Mages magic is very powerful. Anyway here are some of my favourite units from the demo: Favourite level 1 unit: The Hunter-Thorn. This handy ranged unit does a lot of damage in large groups and is cheap. It is also fast enough to stay out of trouble and it has no melee penalty which means it is far from helpless if a melee creature actually catches up with it. Its special skill (sprouting new allies from the corpse of a dea

Don't play the game, Play the players.

The epic conflict between Band of Brothers and Goonfleet, the two largest alliances in EVE came to a sudden end yesterday with complete victory for the Goons . This is staggering news in itself but even more staggering is the manner of the victory. After several years of conflict resulting in the largest battles ever seen in an MMO this complete and total victory was not wrought by an overwhelming battle-fleet but by one single player. One single Goon mole managed to infiltrate their way to the very highest levels of Band of Brothers. In addition to pilfering huge swathes of valuable assets he went one step further and disbanded the entire alliance. In that one moment of unspeakable treachery everything that was BoB vanished. All of their sovereign territories were released to be grabbed and the wolves are closing in to split up the spoils as we speak. It was always hard to take sides in this particular conflict. The Goons are an unpleasant group of sociopaths who take pleasure out of

EVE online to introduce Skill Training Queue

One of the last great holy cows of mmorpg space is set to bite the dust as EVE online announces the introduction of a skill training queue. In EVE skills are learned in real time even if you aren't logged on. This allows players to progress their characters without the level-up grind more usually associated with mmo's. However absence of a skill queue meant that you needed to log on every time a skill finished training in order to start learning the next one. This was particularly annoying for beginning players who have a limited choice of skills to train most of which are short (few minute to a few hours). I wrote about this before here and here and the topic seems to have polarised opinion between the casual players who want a skill queue and more committed players who are adamantly against. The opponents of a skill queue point out that once a player gets established they have a range of long and short skills to choose from and with a bit of careful planning they can avoid

Space Siege:

I picked up Space Siege on Friday for a bit of weekend gaming. Released in August 2008 Space Siege was a highly anticipated space based RPG from the creators of Dungeon Siege. The fact that I found a six month old game for €7.99 in the bargain bin of my local game shop should tell you that it didn't exactly live up to that anticipation. Reviews were generally awful with players being even more negative than the professional critics . I can see why it disappointed people. People who expected Dungeon Siege in Space were disappointed. People who expected a simple but engrossing rpg with a wide range of character development options and a superbly intuitive control interface were dissapointed. The game is simple alright but character development is so linear it is hardly fair to call it an rpg and the interface is awkward rather than intuitive. I guess if I had paid €50 for the game on Steam I would have been pissed off too but I didn't. I got it for €7.99 and that makes a world

The Saga of the Office Chair

It was long past time to replace my office chair. Over the years screws had loosened and supports had relaxed into positions far from those intended by the manufacturer. When a arm-rest fell off I realised it was definitely time to get a replacement. How to go about this? I work for a beaureacracy. We have forms, we have procedures, we have departments for all things. Who then is the mandarin of replacing broken chairs? "Health and Safety offficer" one of my workmates volunteered."Get a HSO to certify that your chair is unfit or unsafe an you will get a shiny new one the very next day" "That makes sense, I'll give them a call" I replied. An older colleague lifted an eyebrow. "Don't even think about it" he growled. This veteran has lived in the organisation for long enough to know things. "John, on the second floor", he elaborated, "got a HSO in to look at his chair." "John got his new chair but that HSO didn't