Friday, April 26, 2013

Buy New? Never



My opinion or Rant as they say.

Xbox 720 and PS4 will not be the systems we want.  They will have "Always" online code or they will be very expensive or they will have something else that completely annoys us, the gamers.  The fact is regardless of any of that, they are coming and they will be here by the end of the year.  I for one will not be buying one right away.  I think my PS3 and Xbox 360 have good life still in them and that throwing them out just to buy a new and very overpriced piece of hardware is insane.

Yes, some people have to have the New Purple shiny and some of us have lives and families and other responsibilities that will require us to sit on the sidelines with expectations of a price drop within the coming year after release, which WILL HAPPEN.  People that say it won't are either delusional or just don't know how the system works.  The item comes out over priced, a small percentage of fan boys and rich people buy them and the rest sit on the shelf for 6 months to a year till Microsoft or Sony decide, We need to move these units, and then the price comes down.  In the mean time, we'll still be playing our Xbox 360 and PS3's.  Why?  Because they can't stop making games for those systems right away.  Its called cash flow, those companies need it and if new consoles don't sell, they have to make money some way.  Eventually they will be phased out and when they do the New Gen consoles will be reasonable.

Other than what Apple does, I have never seen a new console or hand held system not sell for less than it did on release a year later.  Nope, not seen it. 

So here is the deal.  They are coming, we won't like all the new features, they will be super expensive and eventually everyone will have one or the other or both in some cases.  Its going to happen, embrace the future, don't clinch.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Secret World, not so secret.


I'm currently playing The Secret World and I wanted to put some of my opinions down about the game.

These are my thoughts after the first few day of actually play:

I enjoy the game.  It is graphically spectacular and the game play, for the most part, is pretty flawless.  Not having to worry about levels as you would in any other MMO makes running around doing stuff a lot more fun.  You get Ability Points via experience but I have also found that I get them randomly from completing quests or as the game calls them missions.  It has a very different feel from your typical MMO. I tend to lose track of time as I venture around in Kingsmouth.  Even repeating some of the quests is fun especially since I get to kill zombies and Cthulhu inspired creatures.  The launch for the most part, compared to Funcom's AoC, has been pretty smooth.  Lag has been spotty if at all for the first week, which is great in a newly launched online game, just ask Diablo 3 fans.  I even ventured into the PvP area where I was quickly schooled on the need to stay together as a group or you'll get eaten alive by those that do.  Still I had a lot of time there, which is very unusual for me in a newly launched game since PvP to me is secondary at best.

Now these are my thoughts a week after launch. 

I think that once the newness has worn off, people should always go back and give maybe a second opinion about a game.   Sort of a behind the looking glass kind of look because to be honest, all games have issues.  People might not put them at the forefront of any fan based blog so I wanted to at least give both sides of the coin.  Why?  Because I believe that people who love a game might over look the 10% of the bad parts of a game because they are in love with the other 90% of the game.  I'm not going to do that due to my ability to be pessimistic from time to time. I don't want to sugar coat things for those who read my blog because someone might just go out and purchase this game based on someone's glowing report and their failure to point out some issues that can completely drive people bonkers.  Yes, I am aware that games that newly launch have issues and that developers need time to fix issues, especially when they didn't anticipate the over enthusiastic reaction to their game, as is the case with The Secret World.  I know this because just about everyone on my Twitter feed is playing the game now and that is based solely on word of mouth.  However, I again, don't want to sugar coat if for people.  I want them to know that the game has issues and I'm going to list a few of them that have completely driven me batty.

1.  The chat system is currently borked.  Let me explain.  If your in a guild or as they say, Cabal and you zone, die, teleport back to your spawn point or get kicked from the game your also kicked out of the cabal chat.  You have to then go back, resubscribe to that channel, then tell the chat window that you now want to talk in the cabal channel.  Lucky for me, they had the same issue with custom channels, however they have fixed, for the most part, that part of the issue.

2.  The game has fantastic sound cues.  When you enter combat or an area with a specific monster your after the music will crescendo and you'll know that something is about to happen.  This is great except a lot of the area in Savage Coast isn't working correctly so you get a lot of broken sound cues from the game.  Also you'll hear music and then it will stop suddenly when you move to a new spot.  This is annoying and takes you out of the atmosphere of the game, which to a lot of people is one of the selling points.

3.  The graphics look fantastic, except they seem to have issues with DX11 and the lighting of the game.  Its not consistent.  If there is all this great spooky shadowing going on, but it disappears when you look up from the ground.  The zones all have a night fall but sometimes it doesn't work well because the lighting is just off.  Now this is not bad in the first zone, but in the second, Savage Coast, it gets pretty bad.  Its almost like they spend a huge amount of time getting Kingsmouth done right and then just put one coat of polish on Savage Coast. I also wanted to add that I originally had my system set on DX11 but found after the first couple of days I was getting a weird bug.  Anytime I exited a solo instance or zoned, my game would experience very bad video lag.  If I logged and came back it would go away.  A friend suggested changing from DX11 to DX9 and I have not had that issue again.  I don't think the game is optimized for video cards.  Something I feel is a must for any game that relies on its visual presentation as a selling point.

4.  Speaking of Savage Coast and the lack of detail.  Just about anywhere in Kingsmouth you can pick up a side mission.  Your allowed 3 active side missions as you work on a main mission and a story mission.  This keeps you active and keeps you from filling up your journal with a lot of missions you just won't ever get too like WoW or EQ2.  But once I moved to Savage Coast and let me say, Savage Coast is huge.  I'm not sure how much larger than Kingsmouth it really is, but its big.  Anyway, I would have expected more side missions in Savage Coast considering how big it is, but was sorely disappointed that there just wasn't a lot of side missions to do.  Yes, I can repeat the ones I already have but in Kingsmouth there are maybe 12 or more, in Savage Coast I've only seen maybe 4.  It could be that I've not found them yet or they work off a trigger, i.e finish this main mission and it unlocks all these side missions, but why use that in Savage Coast when it wasn't used in Kingsmouth.  I'm a little concerned about this moving forward.  I did hear from a guild member that the update at the end of July should add more missions to Savage Coast.  To me, it seems like a missed opportunity not having it in there at launch.  I understand not having end game content, but people want cool missions as they move through the game that is really the only thing driving people since "Levels" don't exist.

That is basically it.  Even though there are flaws in the game, I still am happy with my decision to purchase it. The game is a nice escape.  The world is fun and interesting and it can scare the crap out of you if your wearing headphones.  I did my first group instance last night and it was a blast.  Lots of interesting strategies and some very unique bosses. It helped having someone with us who was a pro at tanking and healing.  I still have lots of hope that Funcom will fix some of the issues I've listed, but they aren't game breakers for me.  I listed them because I feel people should know what they are in for when purchasing a game, good or bad.  Gamers shouldn't be blinded by their love of a game, they should tell the truth, beautiful or ugly so that other gamers can make an informed decision.  Games aren't cheap and most gamers I know aren't rich.  

Don't sugar coat it, fanboys, tell it how it really is.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The irony of blogging



Last blog post basically stated that I wasn't not going to be persuaded by others to get involved in playing The Secret World.  During the beta weekend TSW did not excite me at all.  I wasn't remotely interested in picking it up and nothing would change my mind.  I just wasn't addicted to it, nuff said


This post is about me playing and subscribing to The Secret World.


I was bamboozled I tell you.  I was forced and nagged and cajoled into playing.  I had a spell placed on me by those that I follow on Twitter and G+.  They forced me to endure endless ravings about how the game was fun and different and wasn't like any other MMO they had seen or played in a long time.  They posted pictures and video that I could not turn away from and in the end I had to succumb to the peer pressure.


Yes, I am in fact human and I can be seduced to the dark side of gaming... and I am glad for it.


The Secret World is in a word Fantastic.  The setting is great.  The way the game is played is different and unique.. well it is to me.  I will bore you later with details but suffice it to say that I do not regret giving in, to lowering my resolve, to letting peer pressure drive my decision.  Now let me try to convince you.


The games graphics are fantastic.  The setting or backdrop of the game is sort of a zombie apocalypse meets the love child of Stephen King and HP. Lovecraft.  The sound is fantastic.  As your slipping around town trying to either hunt or avoid the zombies, you can hear the gun fire off in the distance or the moaning of a creature so horrible you dare not turn around to see.  I have to say that the launch went really well for an MMO.  I haven't had any serious issues with broken missions or lag.  Mobs respond they way they should and the spawn rate isn't crazy fast or super slow.





The game doesn't force you to group and if you help your the stranger in the street, who's dealing with a bunch of brain thirsty zombies, you get some credit for the assist, especially if its a zombie you need for a mission turn in.  The missions are pretty varied and you have an indicator of what kind of mission your taking by the symbol. Some are walking around missions, where you have to go from place to place, some are simple ones like deliver mail to Mrs. Robinson and some are puzzle missions. You can have one main mission and 3 side missions no more.  If you want to pick up another main mission in the middle of the one your working on, you'll have to drop it, but the mission in effect will be paused and you can pick it back up later from the mission giver, but this time any part of the mission you've already completed won't have to be repeated, if its paused.  You can repeat most if not all of the missions as many times as you like, however they are on a timer, so you can't do them again right away. The missions don't feel tedious or silly like "go kill 10 rats in my basement".  


. They vary a lot in style and what you have to do to complete them.  Your also expected to use the in game browser to help with clues on some of the harder puzzle missions.  Its hard to explain but when I play, I feel more like I'm playing an RPG game than a straight up MMO.  Your quest isn't to level up, but to unlock abilities which give your character options on how to play.  Allowing you to switch up what weapons and abilities you use and give you a variety instead of saying this is "who" you are from the start.  There are choices you have to make as you go along.  I tried one type of weapon and decided that it wasn't for me, so I unlocked another style of play and worked on that for a while.  Nothing is set in stone.  What I get from the game is that the developers don't want you, the player, to ever regret a decision you've made in their game.  The game just has a different feel a different concept than other MMOs.  I don't know if its new and innovative but it is change.


If you want to stay in, as I call it, the stage 1 area, then you can do that till you've done all the missions or repeated all the missions a few times.  I've actually ventured into the stage 2 area or Savage Coast, but I went back to Kingsmouth, that would be the stage 1 area, because I just like it and I'm not finished doing all the missions there yet.  I've unlocked a ton of abilities but I don't feel like the monsters in that area are beneath my skill level yet.  It's just a very open game.  Give me a week or two more and I'll be recommending it but for now lets just say that I'm glad I gave in to the peer pressure.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Addiction



I am currently not playing The Secret World.  I must be one of a handful of the people on my Google + circle that isn't and I can't really tell you why.  Maybe I'm just not ready to commit to another MMO after trying to make Tera work and finding that people soon jumped when Diablo 3 came out or whatever the next shiny of the month was.  Hell, I was just as guilty as the rest.  I switch games faster than.. well just insert something here and think of it as ironically funny, but I do game hop a lot.  

So why no TSW as the young kids are calling it?  I really can't tell you.  I thought the beta was pretty good.  No issues with the game, the setting or the puzzle questing.  I did find one or two minor things annoying but nothing that would really stop me from picking it up.  The only thing I can think of is that it didn't seem addictive.  Let me see if I can explain.

With Tera, my last attempt at a subscription MMO,  I did not want to leave the game.  The combat was fantastic, different and exciting.  Learning how to target heal by reticle instead of clicking on a hotbar which was a lot of un.  From the moment I stepped foot in the beta I was addicted.  I spent as much possible time as I could in the testing the game and found myself at the end of the beta weekend hooked.  I did not feel that way with TSW.   Hell, I've not even felt that way with Guild Wars 2 but sad as it might be I'm still going through with my pre purchase because I have hope that eventually I will become addicted to it.  

Odd how that sounds, but for me to really enjoy a game I need to be addicted to it or I won't really keep me coming back.  I was addicted to Uncharted the second time I picked it up and that addiction compelled me to finish the game.  If it hadn't been addictive I'm pretty sure I would have just set the controller down and moved on to something else.  When I upgraded my PS3 recently, the first thing I downloaded was Infamous 2 thinking that could be a game that would keep me entertained, addicted but alas it did not and I've not touched my PS3 since.

I guess its all about the addiction factor. I was never addicted to WAR, LOTRO  or SWTOR so I never got very far in then.  I wasn't addicted to Rift during the beta so I didn't close the deal at launch.  People say addiction is a bad thing but if you don't get addicted to a game then you have apathy and the game just sits while you look for that next addiction, the next shiny, trying game after game till you end up returning too.. yes.. WoW, which I confess I did over the weekend.

Addiction is what gamers need, its what they crave.  We need to be addicted to a game or we won't ever finish it or stay with it.  I guess Addiction is at the heart of every successful game.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rabid Squirrel



Original thought isn't why people come to my site.  So in keeping with that philosophy I'm going to do a Friday Play List.  I'll try and list what I've been playing so far this week with any updates to anything else game related that I feel the need to thrust upon you, the reader.

STAR TREK Online

Spent a little time this week leveling up and getting through the Klingon episodes.  For a Free 2 Play game it has a crap ton of free content.  Sure if you want to get more space here and there or be able to use more than one character or ship, it will cost you a few dollars but for now its a lot of content for free.  The best part is the episodes and Duty Officers, stuff they added after I stopped subbing a year or so back.


Basically an episode is a group of missions that connect together, something like a season on the actual TV shows.  The Klingon episodes were especially fun because I got to do some interaction with areas from actual episodes of the Original Star Trek.  Got to take out the Doomsday Machine again, this time we didn't have to shove a star ship down its gullet.  Also got a chance, twice to go back in time, once by sling shooting around a sun and the other by traveling through the Guardian.  Course, if you've never seen the original show, you probably will have no idea what I'm talking about, but let me say, for those who are full of nostalgia it was fan-tastic.

Uncharted

After putting off playing with my PS3, I finally booted it back up and managed to finish the first Uncharted game.  It was gorgeous, lots of fun and even though some of the action was hard, it didn't put me off by dying a lot.  Not once did I find the need to throw the controller down and give up when enemies would just show up and start shooting and I'd die over and over.  The platforming puzzles were pretty easy and eventually I'll want to go back so I can get all the hidden treasures, I currently have 20 of 60 so there is a lot left to explore.  This is actually my third game that I have completed.  The first game was story line of Beatles Rock Band.  Yes, that game does have a story mode, such as it is and I finished it all the way to the credits.  Next I finished Gears of War and now Uncharted. 

Immediately after finished the first Uncharted I put Uncharted 2 in and managed to get all the way to chapter 2 before calling it.  I don't want to overload on Uncharted.  I will say that 2 is even better looking than the original but the controls seem a bit off to me.  Might be a little too floaty as some would say.  Either way, I'll eventually finish it so I can get to Uncharted 3 which I hear is still even better, visually and story wise.

Deux Ex Human Revolution

Picked this up on Steam around the first of the year.  It was on sale for a very low price which was strange since I didn't think the game had been out a year and it was already getting discounted.  I figured it was because the game wasn't that good, but I liked the first one enough and the price was right, so I figured I would put caution to the wind.

I'm not that far into the game, but its a lot of fun.  I very quickly decided based on the way the game story opens up that I wasn't going to spend a lot of time sneaking and knocking people out, I was going to be deadly force all the way.  No kid gloves.  I'm not talking about going in guns blazing the entire time, but when the opportunity presented itself, lethal vs non lethal, I was going to be a killer.  So far thats been working out pretty good.  I'm not that far into the game, maybe an hour or so, but I'm really looking forward to adding this to my finished game list.  I never finished the first one.  Part of that was because I wasted a lot of ammo and ended up in a bad spot that I just couldn't get out.  I didn't have enough saved games to go back and start the mission over so I pretty much just gave up.  This time around, I save my bullets and I save a lot.

The game looks great, plays really well with keyboard and mouse, something I've not done with a first person shooter in a very long time.  If its on sale, I would recommend it for sure.


Infamous 2

If you follow me on Twitter or Google+ no doubt you've heard about my successful attempt at updating my PS3 with a new internal hard drive.  I won't really bore you with those details, but the main reason I decided to do it is because I became a PSN Plus member.  When you sign up for a years membership, there are a few free full length games that are available for download.  So I selected Infamous 2, quickly discovered I had no space on my hard drive and those began my adventure.  Once the adventure was complete, I actually got a chance to try out Infamous 2.  

I do own the first one on disc.  I never finished it and I'm not even sure I got half way through it to be honest.  Either way, I decided to try out the sequel.  To start with it looks pretty great.  The cut scenes are on par with Uncharted as far as graphically pleasing.  Some of the use of story board images in cut scenes is pretty annoying but I can live with it.  It has a pretty steep learning curve.  Earlier I mentioned that I played Uncharted.  It had bee some time since I had played it before I actually jumped into the game, however, with Uncharted I didn't have any difficulty picking up the game right where I left off.  The control scheme worked, aiming was easy, there wasn't a large learning curve.  However, when I played Infamous 2, it wasn't very intuitive.  The game was more difficult than it really needed to be and it took me a while to get into the swing of things, at that was too long.  I was getting very frustrated.  The joy of most games is being able to jump right in and start playing without any real penalty for not knowing what to do, this game, not so much.  There isn't much of a tutorial, you have to learn it as you go.  The game also assumes you played the first one because it doesn't do a good job of explaining some of the powers you start off with like the first one did.  It just throws you in and hopes you can swim.

Like I said, it was frustrating.  Eventually after about 2 hours I managed to get the swing of things, but still if I can pick up Uncharted after a year and start playing it with no penalty and I pick this game up and its annoying for the first 2 hours then someone isn't designing a game right.  Not sure I will actually finish this game, but I'm into it enough to play it a bit more and of course it was free so I can't really complain.


Thoughts

I looked at Skylander in Target the other day.  I was looking at the video of the little creatures and how they use their attacks and how the game works.  I was just about hooked on picking it up when something inside me said wait.  Instead I picked up a 50.00 PSN card so I could get PSN Plus, which ended up costing me another 60.00 for a hard drive and I promised not to talk about that.  Well, I'm going to pick it up for my birthday in October.  I have heard there will be Giants in the game by then and that might be up my alley.  I am very much interested in trying that game out and possibly collecting the little creatures.  Not sure how my wife will feel about such a hobby, but maybe I can get her involved.

I'm also considering picking up a Vita by the end of the year.  I keep hearing good things about the system and since I've got a renewed interest in my PS3, being able to remote play might be a nice feature.  Also, I'm a fan of Hot Shots and would be very much interested in getting in a tournament with some of my friends over on Google+ who I know have Vitas.  Still the 3DS XL is due out by the end of the year and that does peak my interest a bit.  I'm not a huge fan of the 3D part but you can also play Skylanders on it, so if I'm already investing in that game I might want to invest a little more, who knows.

I also picked up Diablo 3, but I'm not currently playing it.  The game isn't doing it for me at the moment.  It might be that when I do play Nightmare level I never get any decent drops for the character I'm playing and all my gear is so under powered for that setting that I'm having to go outside the game to the auction house to purchase items so I can keep playing the game and not die every 2 minutes.  I would like it if the game actually dropped items, IN GAME, that I could use to upgrade what I'm wearing.  Having to go outside the game for the items I need so I can play on the Nightmare difficulty takes me out of the experience.  Sure I get Yellow drops but I don't get anything I can use.  I end up having to either vendor, disenchant or sell on the auction house.  I would rather the game provide me with upgrade able gear as I progress so as I move through the levels I am constantly getting new gear that will help me finish off the next boss or specialty creature.  I'm just not seeing a lot of that.  I also spend way to much time vendoring stuff.  Why can't your companion head to town and sell gear and why is the game so freaking hard that you actually HAVE to have a companion to finish a good portion of it.

Again, these are the reasons I've decided to put a hold on the game.  I finished normal with two of my characters, my wizard and barbarian.  I've completed the story line, another problem with the game by the way, but I won't spoil that little bit for those who are going to get the game but are waiting to mortgage their house. since it will never be on sale.. EVER.  Sorry, a little Blizzard dig their.

That is about it.  My, what a huge blog post. Who do I think I am Pumping Irony?

Till next time.






Ditto


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Playstation Love




I decided that I haven't been spending enough energy and time with my PS3.  I saved up a lot of money to own this system 2 years ago and for the last year I've been neglecting it, well, other than watching Blu-Rays, but that isn't or rather wasn't, at the time of purchase, the reason I brought it home.

The beginning of my PS3 revival is pretty simple, I decided to start playing Uncharted 1.  I had already played to chapter 6 a year ago, when I purchased it used and I wanted to finally finish it.  So over the course of two days, I was able to accomplish that seemingly small task.  The game was fantastic by the way.  Loved every minute of it and after finishing it immediately started playing Uncharted 2, but that is for another blog post.  So while playing Uncharted, I would post my love for the game on G+ and Twitter.  Several people on those networks, who I trust when it comes to gaming suggestions, suggested that I pick up the Playstation Plus package.  It features a lot of added value like automatic system upgrades, saving games to the SoE cloud system and most recently the ability to download a full game and play for free.  I thought, what a cool idea.  I can pay 50.00 for a year's service and every month I can choose to download a free game to play and since most games they release will be older games but still be in the 30 - 40 dollar range, I thought it would be a great deal and I could come out ahead in the end, plus you get all kinds of discounts on other items as well so its a win win for Team Oakstout.  So today I finally broke down, logged into PSN and started working on becoming a new PSN Plus member.  Course my connection to the store was pretty janky.  Then thing started getting a little strange.  The system had not problem taking my 50.00 for the Plus upgrade, but anytime I tried to search the store to see what items Plus members had access to, I would lose the server connection.  (I'm already feeling the Sony Love through my backside at this moment.)  This happened about 4 or 5 times, so I decided to give the server a little bit of time. Eventually, I decide to venture back into the store to see what FREE goodies I get for being a Plus Member.

After turning my nose up at a few things, not a fan of Virtual fighter, already own Little Big Planet 2 and I already own Warhammer Space Marine on Xbox already. Finally I decided to go with Infamous 2. I start the download.. or at least I think I start the download but I will come to that.  After spending a little more time in the store, trying to decide if I really need those 2 extra courses for Hotshots, I go out of the store to check my download progress and to my surprise I discover that it hasn't started and when I prompt it to start, it says, you don't have any room on your hard drive poor boy, you'll need to delete a few things. Since the PS3 is a bit more like a computer than the Xbox is, it makes finding out certain information harder, eventually I was able to check and see exactly how much space I had on my hard drive. To be honest, ts been a while and I wasn't really even sure how big the drive was to start with, its been a while.  Come to find out I'm sporting around 75gig with only 10 left and the game I want is 15gig.  YIKES!  Good thing I didn't purchase the game.  But now I'm thinking I just spent a lot of cash on a feature, monthly free games, that I can't really take advantage of because my HDD is way to small.

So, I start deleting stuff and finally get about 21gig free, so the download starts, automatically I must add, sure it starts automatically but it couldn't bother to tell me it was hung up or that it hadn't started.  I think sometimes the PS3 is way more complicated than it needs to be, but that is another post as well.  Anyway, having it start automatically is nice, but when its done I'll still only have about 6gig left to do anything with and that won't really help me take advantage of the free game I get every month with Playstation Plus, especially if I want to keep said games on my system.  I am notoriously lazy when it comes to finishing games, if you haven't heard.  Still I want to take advantage of this free game crap and apparently I'm kind of stuck, well, not exactly.

I start looking online to find out how I can change out my wimpy HDD and get a beefy mainly drive.  This apparently is a huge feature that Sony has to allow users the ability to upgrading their systems hard drive.  I look around and discover that in the long run its fairly simple.  Unscrew this, unhook that, pop this out, pop that in and the next thing you know you have a new drive.  Luckily for me the cost of a new drive isn'tt so bad, I can get a 320gig for around 60.00 at Best Buy.  I could go bigger, but I figure that the 320 gig will let me put around 20 or so 15gig games on my system at one time and if that isn't enough space then I'll just have to get an external drive down the road.  The main issue is restoring everything.

A lot of sites say you only have to install the new drive and the system will format and put the system back on, all you have to do is run a utility backup before and a restore after.  Others say you have to have a thumb drive with the new upgrade system software on it and do a bunch of button mashing on your controller, then restore from back up all your games and saves.  Some sites and videos reference the Slim while others show the Fat PS3.  Its all very confusing so I'm planning to plan for everything by backing it all up on a external and then having the system upgrade software ready if need be.

Hopefully by next week, I'll have a nice big drive to download lots of free PSN Plus games.

Course I could be wrong.