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Showing posts from June, 2009

Why I amn't Playing Multiplayer (Company of Heroes)

1. I have mislaid my original game box and I don't think I can patch the game or add expansions without it. This is a pretty lame excuse, I know I could find it if I wanted to. 2. Patches: "Last year everybody spammed tiger tanks, patch 923.11 nerfed the tiger but water pistols are way overpowered now." I'm a slow learner, I want the rules to settle down so I can figure out what's going on. Chess has survived as a popular strategy game without any major rule chages for almost two centuries. Why do computer games need to change the rules every few months? 3. I am a little concerned about the level of maturity of the games player base after reading some fan forums . 4. I am a big wuss. I am afraid I will get my ass whooped. 5. I am a slooooow player. Recently I spend a leisurely four hours completing the "Hill 192 mission". The medal reward required it to be completed in 40 minutes. Chance are I would still be figuring out where's the best place to p

Getting the medal: Company of Heroes St. Fromond

Each mission in Company of Heroes gives a unique medal for achieving certain bonus objectives. In the St. Fromond mission playing through in the obvious way pretty much guarantees you won't get the medal so here for what it is worth is the strategy I used last night to clear all objectives in the mission and get the medal. (My play through was on hard mode). SPOILERS AHEAD naturally enough. A brief description of the mission and objectives: You start at the Southern end of the map and are tasked with repairing the only bridge leading to St. Fromond and then with taking the adjacent moderately defended town centre. Once you have captured the point in the town square you trigger the main objective of the mission which is to defend the town square for 30 minutes. You get a brief period to set up defences and then must hold off against wave upon wave of German attackers including tanks, armoured vehicles and heavy infantry. To add to your woes three Nebelwerfer batteries start bombard

Company of Heroes: Vicariously Enjoying Multiplayer

I heartily recommend the Tales of Heroes videos on Gamefire TV. Each show is based on a replay of a multiplayer Compny of Heroes match complete with commentary. If you have never played the game the epic battles featured in these shows will surely whet your appetite. If you have played then you will be fasciniating to see how skilled players choose and use their forces. The commentators are knowleagable but apt to use a bit too much jargon. If you have never played then here are a few terms that may help you decipher what they are talking about: PE: Panzer Elite a playable german force focussing on speed and vehicles Wer: The Wermacht, another more balanced German playable force. Resource Point: Territorial points that must be captured in order to provide an ongoing stream of resources (manpower, fuel or munitions) VP: Victory Point, capturing and holding more of these than your opponent will reduce their score down towards zero at which time you win the game. Tank Killer: A light

Single Player gaming in a multiplayer World

Nope, I am not talking about MMORPGing. I am actually replaying the single player campaign of Company of Heroes. Despite enjoying it very much I am aware that the real value of CoH as in any RTS lies in competitive multi-player matches. Single player RTS gaming is a fairly ponderous cerebral affair favouring a slow defensive strategy ( turtling ). In almost every case one's computer opponent starts out with the lion's share of territory and resources. A players best strategy is almost always to mount a strong defense from a small region around your base, holding off any attackers while slowly amassing resources. Don't attempt to break out and actively engage the computer opponent until you have managed to build up a substantial army. An unfortunate consequence of this is that tipping point often occurs long before the end of the mission after which the player is clearly in a winning position but must still go through a long tedious process of mopping up enemies and ticking

Is video game violence immoral.

In a cut-scene from Company of Heroes last night I watched a frenzied young machine gunner mow down dozens of retreating German soldiers. The scene was meant to be gritty rather than glorious and an officer halts the slaughter with the command to "stop wasting bullets". Nevertheless it caught my attention and made me think. Was it wrong for me to enjoy a game that portrays the infliction of suffering and death? Almost every game I enjoy is based on violence. Company of Heroes is perhaps one of the starkest examples because it offers a photo-realistic portrayal of a conflict that still remains in living memory. Real people died in the battles of Carentin, boys and men with mothers and families who mourned them. Is there something immoral about my enjoyment of a simulated re-enactment of their conflict? Would it make a difference if the setting was fictional or if the victims of my simulated violence were not human? I know that there has been yet another call to ban violent vid

STEAM now publishes Weekly Top 10

Steam's weekly top 10 sellers by revenue can now be seen at this link . Valve's own titles "Left 4 Dead" and "Team Fortress 2" are still selling strongly. It is perhaps more surprising that titles like "The Penumbra Collector pack" and "Freedom Force freedom pack" are in the top tell sellers by revenue despite having ticket prices of less than €6 each. Valve have already admitted to us that selling stuff cheaply works. Now we can see the truth of this for ourselves. It is annoying to miss a special offer on a game you want to buy so it is nice to see that Valve have made it easier to keep up with their special offers by including a new "specials" tab on their main page . I wish they would make this into some kind of feed but I guess they still want folks to visit the website to checkout all the full price titles.

Do video games ever make you nauseous?

I splashed out on Steam's "bargain of the week": the Penumbra Collector pack giving you the complete set of this episodic horror adventure including "Overture", "Black Plague" and "Requiem" for only a fiver. The general review consensus seems to be that the low budget series is a bit rough around the edges but does deliver genuine scariness. I planned on giving it a go with the lights off and headphones on for maximally terrifying immersion. Sadly I cannot give you more than the barest of first impressions because I quickly found that the low quality graphics and dimly lit corridor setting combined to make me nauseous. Back in the days of Doom I actually forced my way through nausea to play but those days are gone and unless I can find a graphics setting that solves the nausea issue I will write off my €5 investment in this game. Suggestions welcome.

Lessons from an Examination Leak

It is examination season in Ireland and thousands of 18 year olds are taking the official state examinations (the Leaving Certificate) that will set them on the path towards college education or a career. Yesterday there was an error made in one school which resulted in a small number of students seeing an examination paper the day before it was officially intended to be sat. Once the error was spotted it was decided to pull the compromised paper nation-wide and replace it with a backup which has resulted in a delay for every student taking this exam. There are checks and balances in place to prevent this type of thing happening but what ever went wrong it appears that human error in one small school has resulted in disruption for every student who is taking this exam. You can read more about the story here . The story is currently getting its 15 minutes of fame on Irish media but two things strike me about the occurrence. Firstly it is noticeable that within hours of the leak a storm

MMeow is Giving Away Lotro for Free

The excellent Lotro blog MMeow has six codes for the US version of Lotro to give away free. These give you the full game (SoA and Moria) and 30 days free play. If you live in the USA and haven't tried Lotro yet that sounds like an unbeatable offer to me.

Some handy files to test your audio set-up

To test your surround sound speakers use a 5.1 surround test file from Lynnemusic available here . To test the frequency response of your audio system use the free audio sweep generator available from David Taylor here . I reccommend listening to a 20Hz to 20kHz slow loop. I find it easy enough to pick out highs and lows in the response but if you want to hear the "ideal" version test your system with a good set of stereo headphones first. Just remember that your high frequency hearing starts dropping off very significantly after the age of 25 . I had to use both of these tools recently to set up a new set of 5.1 speakers that came with a wildly over enthusiastic subwoofer. Some carefully placed padding and duct tape calmed down the subwoofer and the sweep generator allowed me to check that I hadn't done too much damage to the overall frequency response.

Mixed Feelings about Valve's Left 4 Dead 2 Announcement.

Valve have announced a sequel to their 2008 Zombie survivial hit Left 4 Dead to be released later this year. I am slightly confused by this. A hallmark of Valve's previous multi player games has been longevity. There has almost been an unwritten contract between company and players. The company provided games like Counterstrike and Team Fortress 2 that were superbly designed to withstand the test of time and backed them up with ongoing support and updates. Players for their part continued to buy these games years after launch knowing that they would still find an active community and a well supported game. Bringing out an incompatible sequel only a year after the launch of L4D is a change of business model which surely signals the death knell for the original game. Why are Valve choosing to do this? Even in business terms it doesn't seem to make sense. Why kill off your own cash cow? Surely a few low budget updates could keep the original game alive and selling for quite some

Jade Empire Finished

Two weeks and 43 hours of gaming later and I have finally done in the big bad guy and righted the wrongs of the Jade Empire World. The picture is me and my buddy (I'm the pretty one :) ) tackling a bunch of stone demons in the penultimate fight, a battle that took me longer to overcome than the final boss himself. Great game and the story telling doesn't let up until the very end. I even came to terms somewhat with the combat system in the latter half of the game. The difficulty of the encounters ramps up nicely and there are far fewer easy matches in the closing chapters. This in turn gives greater scope for exploring the variety of skills available. You need to abandon your rpg mindset though. You cannot really focus on any line of skills, all have their uses and you need to pick the best skills for the job you are doing regardless of your characters specialisation. The manic button mashing never really lets up and the movement and attack buttons continue to get hammered in