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Showing posts from August, 2010

Lotro Update: Onwards into Mirkwood

At level 63 Throg is about a third of the way through the soloable content of Mirkwood, nicely on track for the upcoming expansion to be released with free to play in 12 days time. Although it is over a year old now Mirkwood is new to me and it is interesting to see how many of the subtle changes that previous expansions played around with have come together in Mirkwood as a unified whole. A players progress through through the Forest is driven by quests in a linear progression from hub to hub. As you finish the quest chains in one place you are directed to the next hub. Itemised quest rewards have been replaced entirely by collectable tokens. Tokens in various quantities can be exchanged for gear and consumables. In considerable contrast to the radiant elven forest of Lothlorien , Mirkwood is a dark and dangerous place populated by Orcs and savage beasts. All of the quests I have come across so far have been solo-able but soloing still presents a challenge. Much of the action take

Mafia 2 Reviews are out ...

... and they are to say the least mixed . Top marks from Gameinformer and a miserable 4/10 from the usually reliable Eurogamer except that there is also a 10/10 from . As I said, mixed. Most worrying is the fact that even reviewers who seem to understand that Mafia is not GTA have still scored the game badly . Given my impossibly high expectations I am genuinely worried now. The one glimmer of hope comes from Bill Harris at Dubious Quality . Bill is not a professional reviewer but he is someone who's opinion I trust, particularly on games that don't appeal to everyone like Mount and Blade and Red Faction Guerilla. Bill has only played the game for a few hours though. I have decided to hold off purchasing. Partly because I am as a rule frugal about buying games and I don't want to waste the price of a new release on a turkey but also because I don't want my dreams of a superb Mafia sequel to be shattered.  At very least I will wait for Bill Harris to

GET ME OUT! Unsubscription blues.

About once a week I get a large email from a large concert ticket selling agency detailing their latest offers. I have grown almost immune to to the flood of Viagra emails that have thankfully reduced to a trickle now that spam filtering has matured but this particular email really bugs me. The thing is I know this is a legitimate company because they are a well known a subsidiary of the largest ticket distributor in this part of the world. What annoys me to the point of frustration is that I am utterly unable to un-subscribe from their mailing list. Each new missive starts with the line "This is not unsolicited email - you have previously opted in to receive XXXXXX mailings" I am pretty sure this is not true. I have never bought anything from this company and I have no interest in their particular line of business. I may have bought stuff from their parent company but I am pretty fastidious at finding and ticking the box that says "don't send me spam" and

The City of Trees: a Lotro Update

I am back playing my dwarf Champion Throg with the general intention of soloing him up to the level cap in time for the expansion that comes with Free to Play on 10th September. After all this soloing It will be nice to be part of the buzz that comes from everyone doing new content for the first time together. Throg had languished just outside Lothlorien since last October but thankfully he was very close to the rep level needed to proceed into the Elven forest itself. This unavoidable grind with only a limited number of rep quests to repeat  was one of the contributory factors to my quitting the game for almost a year.  Imagine my delight on getting in to discover that yet another rep grind is required to get into the city itself. Happily there are more than enough interesting quests in the forest to allow you to build up the required level of rep without repeating anything. Indeed Lothlorien Forest offers the choice between combat against an orc incursion in the North West corner o

A Personal Viewpoint on Buying Used Games

Today's hullabaloo is all about the ethics of buying used games. Cory Ledesma from THQ started it by declaring  in a CVG Interview that "when the game's bought used we get cheated". Tycho from Penny Arcade rowed in in support here and here . Hundred of commenters have come out on either side of this debate and in the blogosphere Syncaine has declared his agreement while Syp and others have come out strongly against. I firmly believe that I should obtain a legitimate license for every piece of software I use but I don't feel particularly philanthropic towards game developers and I will try and get that license legally the lowest cost to myself. If a developer allows their game to be legally traded second hand, or if they allow it to be deeply discounted on Steam or if they choose to offer it in a "pay what you like" sale then I will happily take that license for the lowest cost possible and feel good about it. I will admit that my conscience genui

This made me chuckle

A poster to Slashdot talking about the first instance of a video ad in a printed magazine : And which high-tech magazine is leading the charge? Wired? Popular Mechanics?   Nope. "Successful Farming."

Want Bad

this I never buy new releases but as soon as I can scrape the cash together I am going to break my self imposed rule for this game . Mind you I won't be buying it off Steam despite my ongoing love affair with digital download.  While Steam and its digital download rivals continue to provide unbelievable value on slightly older games they remain the worst place to buy new releases. Mafia 2 digital download from Steam: €49.99, Mafia 2 in a box from the first online retailer I tried: €34.99. Over 40% extra is too much to pay for the instant gratification of digital download. I have said it before and I will say it again: We live in an era of game pricing madness.

LOTRO, Painkiller and a Kick Ass Movie

I have spent quite a few hours soloing my Lotro champion Throg though Lothlorien. Lots of picking up flowers and singing to trees  as I try to build up enough rep with the elves to get into the city. I could bypass a lot of the rep grind by completing Vol 2 book 6 but that needs a group for some tough instances in Moria and that places is pretty deserted these days. I could ask some level capped kin mates to boost me through it but I don't like sponging off them when I am unlikely to ever be able to return the favour. I am hopeful that when F2P happens in a few weeks there will be a flood of new players and I will be able to get pick up groups. For a competely different gaming experience I bought Painkiller Black edition for $6 in Good old Games sale. It is probably the pinnacle of old school mindless shooters with hundreds of enemies and non stop shooty carnage. Based on an hour or so of play I can vouch for its mindless ultra violenct goodness It lacks the humour of Serious Sa

WoW account hacking and phishing - Some indirect evidence

Wilhem2451's made some intersting posts over at the Ancient Gaming Noob recently about WoW account hacking . The problem appears to be absolutely massive with Wilhelm's back of envelope calculation suggesting that up to a quarter of accounts may have been hacked . I naively assumed that all hacking was due to people falling for phising scams or being otherwise promiscuous with their passwords but a commenter on Wilhelm's blog opened my eyes when they pointed out that after a major web forum (to which I subscribe) was recently hacked a    lot of users subsequently had their WoW accounts hacked using the same usernames and passwords.  It appears that WoW is now on the the goto list for purchasers of illicit usernames and passwords so if you get hacked anywhere you can bet that your user details will be tried out on WoW next. This was brought home to me recently when I got a WoW phishing email addressed to my runes of magic account. In an unusual for me  fit of security cons

Planet MMORPG turns sloooowly

Re-installed Lotro on Sunday. I don't really intend to start playing seriously but as the holder of a life time subscription I thought I may as well install it on the new computer. I spend a couple of hours in game trying to remember how to play my level 43 loremaster.  After months of playing single player games it was a shock to remember how sloowly everything happens in an mmorpg. Picking up a quest, travelling to the quest location, finding the mobs, killing (all ten of) them, looting, travelling back handing in, selling stuff and re-organising loot and gear all take forever. Remind me why people do this again? Its the multi-player part isn't it? Trouble is the game is a lot quieter  than I remember it and not having a level capped toon more or less condemns me to playing solo. My kinmates are all doing end gamey stuff. I did check out the new skirmish system - a kind of instant "pick an instance" form of game play that you can play solo or in groups that offers

Grand Theft Auto - I tried to go straight, honest.

Enthused by the demo for Mafia 2 I decided to have a go at Grand Theft Auto IV a game I bought in a Steam Sale but never installed. I guess I was hoping to indulge in a bit of criminal role playing in a massive meticulously crafted open world game. Things started out well. I am an Eastern European immigrant enticed  to the USA by my cousin's tales of instant riches. Needless to say my cousin turns out to be full of bullshit. He drives a clapped out Taxi cab and his irresponsible gambling has put him in debt to a seedy money lender. Blood being thicker than water I stick up for my cousin when the money lender sends some thugs around to extract the cash. I can hold my own in a fight but I didn't come to the States to descend into petty crime. It is clear that my cousin is a loser and I am going to have to make my own may in this melting pot of a city. About the only good thing to have happened to me so far is that I met a nice girl called Michelle. We went out bowling and I th

Mafia 2 Excitement Building.

Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven remains one of my favourite ever games. I totally lost myself in its beautiful recreation of a prohibition era city and excellent gangster movie story line. It was therefore with much trepidation that I downloaded the Mafia II trailer on Steam. Would my memories be cruelly betrayed? The good news is that the trailer is excellent and has really whetted my appetite for the game. The post WWII era city is beautifully portrayed (although the demo only allows you a few minutes in which to explore it). The gritty mobsters are straight out of Hollywood and the bonus is that the movement and combat are very fluid and an the cover system is a great new improvement. The full game is due out in a couple of weeks. Providing they don't pull some weird drm swindle this might just be one of those rare occasions when I pay full price for a new release game.

Is this the best of times or the worst of times for PC gaming?

In his regular weekly bargain bucket slot on Rock Paper shotgun this week Lewie Proctor made a simple yet profoundly controversial statement: You know, if you stop and think about it, PC gaming is in such a fantastic state at the moment. The very first response in the comments thread: I don’t know what it is you’re smoking, but please can I have some? This begins a lively discussion with strong views being taken on both sides of the argument. Many of the respondents are genuinely depressed with the state of PC gaming at the moment when consoles seem to get all of the love from big developers and the only happening things in PC gaming are the five year old World of Warcraft and Facebook's utterly casual games. Those supporting the golden age statement point to the incredible value obtainable on the PC via digital downloads and the explosion of creativity from independents. Having worked through my own bout of depression about the state of my pc gaming hobby I have come through

First blog post from my newly upgraded PC

Success! The hardware part of the upgrade went surprisingly smoothly. A bit of footering around in the bios was required to get my ram set up correctly and hard disks recognised but nothing too scary. Getting the software setup was not so easy. Windows 7 does not allow a direct upgrade from XP so I had to do a clean install and rebuild everything from scratch. That meant re-installing drivers followed by key programs followed by porting over my user data. Unexpectedly porting over my personal data turned out to be the biggest headache. I thought I had this covered because I installed my old hard disk in the machine right next to the brand new windows 7 disk figuring to copy everything over at leisure. I had reckoned without NTFS security restrictions unfortunately which decided that I didn't own the old files and therefore wasn't authorised to look at them. Sure I can get around it with administrator privileges but that is incredibly tedious because I have to change to

Grrrr..DRM....grrrr..activation limits

Before turning off my PC for the final time in its current incarnation I went through the installed software to make a list of the stuff I absolutely needed to re-install after the upgrade. I will be keeping the hard drive but I don't expect any of the programs to still work because they are installed under the old Windows XP operating system. I wasn't going to consider games because I figured I would only re-install the games I actually wanted to play but then I remembered reading something somewhere about activation limits. Some games can only be installed a limited number of times and if I ever want to re-install I will have to use a new attempt unless I revoke the currently installed copy. This is enormously tedious because there is no easy way of knowing what games use this scheme or not. With the help of Google I managed to successfully revoke the installation of Battlefield Bad Company 2 and Mass Effect but I was somewhat miffed to realise that I have probably lost m

I am about to start a serious PC upgrade - I may be offline a while.

I am looking into a shipping carton that contains a shiny new motherboard, processor, ram and disk drive. Within the next few hours I will hopefully have completed a major upgrade of this my main gaming PC. Of course these things don't always go as planned so wish me luck. I am also taking this opportunity to finally migrate from Windows XP to Windows 7. XP has served me well since 2002 and I remain genuinely fond of it. I think it stands out as the best operating system Microsoft has ever made but all good things come to an end and the time has come to move on is now. I managed to avoid Windos Vista entirely but I have been using 64 bit Windows 7 on my laptop for a few months without problems so I am hopeful it will serve me as well on my gaming rig. Another novelty for me is that this will be the first time ever my main gaming rig has an Intel processor. I have been building and using AMD rigs for the last 15 years (from AMD 586 through to an Athlon 64X2) but I was tempted ov

Alien Breed, Alien Swarm, Alien wtf?

Last month team 17 released "Alien Breed Impact", a tasty looking top down co-op shooter where you and a buddy get to mow down never ending swarms of bug like aliens in futuristic space ship corridors. Looks pretty enjoyable and its on half price sale today for only €7.49 on Steam . A bargain right? Well, yes except that last week Valve released "Alien Swarm" a tasty looking top down co-op shooter where you and a few buddies get to mow down never ending swarms of bug like aliens in futuristic space ship corridors. Valve's game is naturally also available on Steam only it is FREE . Way to stab your business partners in the back Valve. Maybe there was a bit of choreography going on behind the scenes with Valve deliberately holding the release of Swarm back  a month to give Breed a chance but the impending release of the free game was signalled in advance so it must have hurt sales of Alien Breed. The discount on Alien Breed this week is probably an attempt to

How to run STEAM games offline

You can run Steam games in offline mode without an internet connection but it is not exactly obvious how to do so. It is also very easy to "break" offline mode and put steam into a limbo state that can only be fixed by going online again. Here are the steps I used to ensure that my Steam games remained playable in offline mode for the duration of a recent vacation without reliable internet access. 1. The most important thing is to prepare in advance and set up offline mode while you still have a good internet connection. If you simply try to run Steam without an internet connection it will hang for a long time. It may eventually offer you the choice of going to offline mode but don't count on it and don't count on your games being playable. 2. While you still have a good internet connection - log into Steam and check that all of the games in your library are fully up to date and ready to play. Any game that does not have a "ready to play" status will not

Holiday Gaming on a Laptop

I brought the a Laptop on holiday primarily as support to my wife's fairly serious photography hobby (total quantity of digital imagery captured during one 10 day holiday: 19 Gb) and also as a means of accessing the internet whenever a signal could be found. Gaming was certainly not a priority but I did install a few games on the machine more as an experiment than anything else. First decision was what games to bring. My Laptop is fairly new with a Core 2 duo processor, 8Gb ram and a discrete Nvidia 9300M  GS graphics card so it can handle fairly demanding games quite well on its 13 inch 1200x800 screen. I don't expect Crysis 2 to run on it but Left 4 Dead is very playable as is Half Life 2 and its sequels. A more severe restriction was my unwillingness to lug game dvd's around on holidays so only games that were fully playable from the hard drive without an internet connection could be considered. I have in the past resorted to no cd cracks for games I legally own but