Dec 31, 2010

Everybody wants to love.

Heya, quick small bonus for anyone who checked out the Final Fantasy 13 review, and haven't watched this already. I'm sure if you've played this game you will have picked up on a certain tension between the heroines Fang and Vanille.. :)

Dec 29, 2010

Street Fighter comeback compilation

LianghuBBB from made a great video featuring a collection of amazing comeback situations from Super Street Fighter IV which was also featured on, and since sharing is caring here it is for your enjoyment!

In before Guile theme goes with everything:

Dec 27, 2010

Review: Final Fantasy 13

Another way overdue review, here is Square Enix's Final Fantasy 13, released march 2010 for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. I played this on a PS3, but the differences between the versions are fairly small. I think the only significant change on the Xbox 360 version is that some cutscenes are rendered, where on PS3 they use the regular game engine. Oh, and there's no disc swapping on the PS3, gotta love Blu-ray.


The Final Fantasy series should be well known to everyone moderately interested in games, but in short, it is a long line of wildly popular japanese RPG's. Final Fantasy 1 was released back on the NES in 1987, and the game's name was anything but random. Square was deep in financial problems, and Final Fantasy was their last attempt to tip the scales before shutting down. The game and all its follow ups have all been instant hits.

Final Fantasy 13 is the first in the series on current High Definition consoles, and Square Enix very clearly put in everything they could to make the game as visually gorgeous as possible, and has also given us a game that is very different from earlier releases, for good and for bad.

The game's story begins with a bang as a riot takes place in one of the cities of Cocoon, an artificial planet suspended high over the lower planet Gran Pulse. In the chaos we are introduced to the six playable characters of the game whose destinies become one and they fight a desperate battle to escape a very grim fate.


As with the older games of the series, the two main focuses of FF 13 is the story and tactical combat. Outside of the battles, playing this title feels almost like watching a fantasy movie, there is rarely very long between dialogues and cutscenes telling the story as it goes on, and snippets of history that slowly piece together whats going on. It gets pretty confusing, and it doesn't help one bit to have to relate to cryptic names like fal'cie, pulse l'cie, and c'ieth. Still, I thought the story was great, even emotional as you discover the tragic stories of our characters.  Fair warning though, if you get bored watching long cutscenes and cinematic clips, this game probably isn't for you.

The realtime tactical battles that make up the majority of the actual gameplay, is great. There's been mixed feelings about FF 13's combat system but I just love it. For the most part of the game, you can not choose which characters to have in your battle team, it depends on where you are in the story forcing you to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each one, and you often play with rather unusual setups. Each character has a number of party roles they can do, but only one at a time. This is where the Paradigm system comes into play and adds a lot of depth to the combat. Paradigms are like a deck of party roles you can set and tinker around with between battles, and while fighting you can change paradigms whenever you like to switch party roles. For example, you might start a battle out with a commando and ravagers to quickly do damage and try to "stagger" (when enemies take damage they fill up a stagger bar, when full they become staggered and take much more damage) enemies, but when taking heavy damage or in preparation for it, you can switch to a Paradigm with a medic and a sentinel to absorb damage. Other roles include saboteurs who cast curses and debuffs on enemies, and synergists who cast beneficial spells on the battle team.

Some (or many, I should say) feel the combat is far too simple, that all you have to do is mash autoattack which lets the game pick what attacks and abilities are most useful. You can also only directly control the battle team leader, other party members do their own thing but use the paradigm roles you've set, and assist on the same target as you.  I say the combat system is just great. Everything happens so fast there's rarely time  to fiddle around in the menues setting up the abilities you want to use, and once the battles start getting more difficult you often have to switch around paradigms like a madman to keep everyone alive. Some hate on the autoattack function, but I am very happy to have it. There is far more depth to the tactical battles than mentioned so far, to learn more I suggest watching the embedded video at the bottom of this post.

Another big change in Final Fantasy 13 from the older games, is that it is completely linear. You can't at any point until you've completed the game (except when you're on Gran Pulse, that area is a bit more open) decide you want to head someplace else, and there are no quests or sidequests in the traditional sense to do. This point has raised a lot of raging critisism and I'm inclined to agree, I would much have preferred a more non-linear approach with more freedom. One good thing from it though is that the story feels tighter. The linear approach was an intended one from Square Enix, and in their defense I can kinda understand how it would be almost impossible to make it more open while still keeping the ultrasexy visuals of the game.


Simply put, the presentation of the game is incredibly hot. Easily the most visually impressive game I've played to date, Square Enix deserve mad props for the breathtaking visuals. Everything looks fantastic, whether you are exploring, watching cutscenes, poking around in the game menues or doing battle.  The game music also deserves mention, as has come to be expected of the Final Fantasy series we are treated with wonderful orchestrated scores that gets you even more sucked into the game.


8 / 10

I wish I could give this game a 10 as I absolutely loved playing Final Fantasy 13, but I can't in good conscience not withdraw points for how extremely linear it is. Also, the battles don't really get exciting until you're well into the game and have unlocked paradigms and developed your characters a bit which takes many hours of game time. As you're playing you get one little new tool to play with now and then for the first few chapters and until stuff is unlocked and fleshed out a bit, all you can really do is "press X to autoattack".

Once that's done with though I was left with a terrific gaming experience with a rich story and tense battles and having one heck of a time the roughly 50 hours it took to complete the main story. There is even more to do after the story is done as all characters unlock more roles and can level even more, and there's a bunch of trophies/achievements doing a lot more after the game is "done".

What are your thoughts about this game? Feel free to leave comments about the game, or my opinions of it!

Official trailer (I recommend clicking the youtube link, and watching this in 720p full screen):

Battle system explained:

Vocaloid win!

How do people come up with this stuff? So awesome !




Review: Scott Pilgrim vs The World - The Game

Far as game titles names go, that sure is a mouthful!

This review is long overdue! Released back in august 2010, Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game is a downloadable title available for PS3 and Xbox Live for around $10.

In the mysterious land of Toronto, Canada, Scott Pilgrim is a nobody who plays in a band with his ex girlfriend. His life takes a turn to the epic when he falls in love with lovely Ramona Flowers, but there's a problem. In order to be with his love he has to defeat her seven evil ex'es. Good thing our boy Scott happens to be a world class fighter! And so the stage is set, as you set out to help Scott win his love.

Scott Pilgrim is a fantastic, retro style, rock solid side scrolling beat'em up game from the 8/16 bit era, bearing close resemblance to old goldies like Double DragonFinal Fight and River City Ransom. The levels are decently long and at the end of each is one of Ramona's ex'es to defeat. You play as Scott or one of three of his friends from his band, dispensing justice to tons of bad guys with kicks and punches, or umbrellas. Whatever is at hand. Each character has a number of powerful combos and moves available, but they can also pick up almost anything on the ground to pummel enemies as well, including grounded enemies. There's nothing like beating a bad guy to death using one of his friends as a weapon.

There is a slight RPG element as well, as each character can level up with experience up to level 16 to unlock new moves and combos. Foes drop canadian currency as well which can be spent in the many ingame shops for food or items that heal and more importantly, increase statistics like strength, defense and speed.

As a result, until your character is levelled up the game can be pretty dang hard even at the first levels, at the easiest difficulty! This game is very, very challenging, close to "Nintendo difficulty" in the NES 8 bit days. Damn those games were hard. That's not to say I'm not loving it! It has been a while since a game tested me like this, and its very refreshing.

You can play the game alone or in the company of up to three friends on the same system, but there is NO online multiplayer. At all. Apparently a design choice to encourage playing with mates on the couch, but really now, no online multiplayer at all is a big let down for me. Unless you have bought the DLC for the game which includes an extra character and some other new stuff, there is also no option for drop in multiplayer, gotta start the game from scratch if a friend comes over. Could be better. And charging extra for a functionality that should be patched in normally just makes me angry. Ubisoft, I hate you guys. Paying for extra content, ok.. but now we are expected to pay to have our games patched? Get real.

Retro, baby! Everything in this game screams 8 bit nostalgia. From the old school game sprites, the classic beat'em up gameplay to the AWESOME  chiptune soundtrack delivered by Anamanaguchi. It's very clear the game is made especially for us old farts who grew up with beat'em ups on the 8 bit consoles and remember them with stars in our eyes. Even the pause music is a tribute to Battletoads. I love it!


Overall, a great game which at low price tag should be in every console owner's game collection. Very solid beat'em up gameplay with lots of fun, nostalgia and great chip tune music.

Points reduced for limited multiplayer options, and the insult of charging for an extra DLC to improve the multiplayer slightly (but still no online play).

What are your thoughts about this game? Feel free to leave comments about the game, or my opinions of it!

Official trailer:

Nov 20, 2010

Hot Pursuit review: Slipstreaming perfection.

This game has been on my radar since I saw the first reveal and gameplay trailers for it, and it has finally hit the shelves.

Hailed as a reset of the classic games NFS3:Hot Pursuit and NFS: Hot Pursuit 2, it is also the first Need For Speed game developed by Criterion Games, the minds behind the popular Burnout: series. As such, expectations for the game have been very high, as it has been on Criterion's shoulders to completely revitalize a racing series that has fallen far from popular grace with the poorly recieved NFS titles released over the last decade. Equally though, common expectations for the game have been very low, because of beforementioned poorly recieved games.

There were also big expectations from fans of the old Hot Pursuit games and Burnout series, that the game would stay true to its origin. Yes, it had to play like the old Hot Pursuit games and Burnout, two quite different games. All that said, a lot of people are going to have their hopes and expectations shattered by this release, indeed in the three days since the game was released I've read very outspoken objections against the game. "It's not Hot Pursuit 1/2!" "It's not Burnout:Paradise!" "It's not Gran Turismo V!" "It's too arcade like!" "It's not arcade like enough!" Believe it or not yes all those arguments I've seen from people who have played the game (or the xbox360/PS3 demo).

I think the only way to properly review this game is to take it from scratch. Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit is a game that puts the player in the role of an illegal racer in fictive Seacrest County, tearing it up against other racers or their adversaries, the Seacrest County law enforcement. The racers compete against eachother while trying not to get busted by the cops, while cops' sole goal is shutting these races down. On both sides you will find the most amazing cars you can imagine. Yep, in Seacrest County if you're speeding, you run the risk of getting chased down by a Nissan GT-R SpecV, or a McLaren F1 police car. Both parties have access to weapons as well, racers can use turbo systems, radar jammers, EMP missiles and deployable spike strips, and the police have EMP, spike strips, helicopter support and road blocks at their disposal.

This is pretty much the core of the game, and Criterion has made zero effort at making it look any deeper than it really is. What you are getting with this game is gorgeous cars driving at ridiculous speeds in not entirely simulator like ways in gorgeous fictive Seacrest County, in very tense races. And what delicious racing this is! The cars handle well, races feel balanced, and the feeling of speed grabs you to the point you're afraid to blink in fear of missing oncoming traffic or a the exit to that shortcut you desperately need to shake off the cop on your tail.

As mentioned, speed is of the essence and is the major gameplay factor for both sides. And if there was any doubt: This is not a realistic driving game. It is by all accounts a very arcade like racer. All the cars handle and behave differently (Seriously, the Bentley feels like I'm trying to steer a tank at 300 kph!).

I'm convinced there's some "rubberbanding" behaviour by the computer cars, that is to say if you are too far ahead they will drastically speed up to catch up, and when hopelessly behind they slow down a bit. This has always been an annoyance for me and the same is true in this game. Other than that little gripe, the gameplay itself is rock solid. The beautiful tracks you race on are also full of alternate routes you can take either to get a breather from the police, or sometimes save some time. The "shortcuts" are typically dirt roads, and the different cars perform very differently off the tarmac. With a lot of the cars you may opt to just stay on the asphalt instead.

When playing solo, you embark in a fairly open ended career mode as either cop or racer and unlock new races, faster cars and  upgraded weapons as you win on either side. You can switch between cop and racer careers at any time. These unlocks as you level are also linked to your multiplayer profile and available car selection

 At the core of Hot Pursuit is also the Autolog system, which tracks everything you do when you play, and also that of all your friends who also have the game. This means when you start the game there's a good chance the first thing you'll see is a message that one of your friends has shaved a second off your record time on a race possibly along with a juicy taunt depending on your friends. If you are anything like me, that record has to be beaten. Autolog is in my opinion a small stroke of genius adding a lot of replayability to the game, and it also gives you a sense of playing your friends, even if they're not actually online or in the same race as you. Sort of like Facebook, except for a game.

The multi player races are excellent. There is no noticeable online lag as I have noticed so far, in 8 player races with several players logging in from over the great sea. You have the option of taking part in Hot Pursuit, Race, or Interceptor modes. In Hot Pursuit, the lobby is split into racers and cops in what more often than not turns into an insanely entertaining cops and robbers chase, which strangely doesn't feel unbalanced no matter how skewed the teams look. I've played as a solo cop against two racers and taken them both down, and been on the recieving end of it as well. 6 cops and 2 racers, no problem. I can't really explain how it works, it just does. Race mode is a standard race without law enforcement or weapons involved, also very fun. Finally Interceptor is a 1v1 race between a racer and a cop which I also enjoyed a lot.

There are a couple disappointments with the multiplayer, though. First of all, and a deal breaker for some there is no split screen multiplayer on the same system. You can't race your buddy on the couch unless he's brought his own console or pc, which they normally don't. Playing online with your friends is also troublesome. I can't invite my friends to a lobby and fill the rest of the spots up with randoms. The options are there in the interface, it just doesn't work. I've tried in a number of ways to invite a couple friends and set the remainder slots to public, but it just starts the countdown for next race and no other players join. In the end we had one guy hammer "quick race" over and over until he got into a lobby with 2-3 slots free for the rest of us to quickly to try join. While it worked after a lot of swearing this should have been smoother to set up.

I also have to say, I was disappointed to see you already have the option to simply buy all the cars unlocked on Playstation Store. One pack for racer and cop cars each, both cost around €2 to basically skip the whole game. Downer. But hey, I guess that's what people want.

In conclusion though, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit largely gives me what I want, a "cops and robbers" racing game that does ALMOST everything right. Criterion showed me that they have grown from the bloated beast of fun that was Burnout: Paradise. This game is well tuned, damned fast and intense, and FUN to play. Its multiplayer and Autolog features will keep me playing this beast for a long time!

If you like racing and sexy cars, don't give Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit a miss. 9 / 10 !

Addendum: Bit more playtime under the belt and YES, this game is still very fun. I miss incentive to pursue online modes after maxing out cop and police ranks, though. I love the "Speedwall" concept, which acts as a facebook highscore list where you can challenge your mates for the top of the pops, but where is the equalient of that in online play, I wonder? Why can't we at least chase those fractions of seconds of that record while we're playing human opponents, instead of the single player tracks exclusively? As it stands now, game still a fresh release, everyone who has been playing a bit is between level 15-20 (20 being the max) on bounty, as such there is no real reward for winning any race once you actually hit 20. EA/Criterion, give us a ladder system! Give us "Ranked" mode in addition to the existing game modes, and yes that goes for all the game modes. I want Ranked Hot Pursuit, Racing and Interceptor leagues. Get to work!

Apart from that, Just getting on to surf the tarmac is still a thrill. I have caught myself joining up for races and having a blast at it, all the while I'm maxed out, and win or lose it doesn't matter the slightest. I love the grip the racing has on me while I'm playing, I can't help it!

Adding another video here, if you play it you contribute to the 1 million challenge, for the Hot Pursuit launch trailer to hit 1 million views before des 12th, which will reward its players 3 extra cars as a free download.

Oct 28, 2010

Fallout: New Vegas first impressions

Hey again! I've been immersed in Fallout: New Vegas the last few days, I've not been through the whole thing yet but here are my first impressions from it so far.

At first sight..

From the moment you get started on this game, it feels and plays like more Fallout 3. Which in itself is grand for a fan of that title like myself. Everything is instantly familiar as you step into the shoes a mohave wastes delivery man who gets ambushed by shady fellows and left for dead. As he/she wakes up from the grave, literally you set out to figure out what the heck happened, who put a bullet in my head and how can I get back at 'em. From this starting point the whole game as I've seen so far plays just like Fallout 3, just on a new huge wasteland to explore.

The good..

If you loved Fallout 3, you're gonna love this. A whole new wasteland to explore, and lots of more or less clever humour spread out to snicker at as you discover it. Along the way you will find new monsters to blast, a more involving faction reputation system that forces you to make some choices as well as lots of new salvage and weaponry to have fun with. You can also craft a lot more stuff than in Fallout 3, and you also fairly early on in the game have the option to recruit henchmen and droids to follow you around and help you blast radscorpions.

The bad..

If you didn't love Fallout 3, there is nothing here that will keep you playing. It's more of the same, in fact even as one who loved Fallout 3 I find myself wondering if this whole game shouldn't just be sold as a big DLC or expansion set instead. The game runs on the exact same and unchanged engine as Fallout 3 leaving it with a bit desired as far as visuals and mechanics go. This is especially visible if you also happened to play Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, as the game engine builds on that and hasn't changed that much.

I find the crafting system to be a lot more cumbersome than it has to be. I can't bring up a list of what I can make and what I'll need for it unless I'm standing at one of the crafting places (reloading bench, workshop, camp fire). Its very tedious to visit an accessible crafting location, see what I can do, travel to my stash of salvage and pick out the stuff needed, and head back again to make something. Why isn't there a menu anywhere to view what I can make ? This also makes me feel I should write down a list of stuff I'm looking for to make stuff, since I can't check it ever while I'm out salvaging. How the hell am I supposed to remember to pick up glass jugs in order to craft mass purified water? 

The awful..

Ok before I mention anything else, this is one of the WORST PS3 ports I have ever played. And I have played Bayonetta, Red Dead Redemption and Mafia 2. Fallout 3 which I also played on the PS3 was a very sluggish experience with a lot of slowdowns and graphical glitches. I still loved it though. Fallout: New Vegas is the same, only worse. I can't walk around in the vast open areas for more than 5 minutes MAX before my PS3 freezes up forcing a restart of the game, and whatever I had been doing those last 5 minutes is all gone as well unless I remember to manually save the game every 50 steps or so. I haven't played this yet on PC or XBOX, but if you are going for the PS3 version of this game, please heed my warning that you will need to butter yourself with a fair bit of patience for this game. The more I think about it, the more annoyed I get. Bethesda spent a couple years working on this title since Fallout 3, only to release a game that looks and plays exactly the same, even runs on an unmodified game engine from the original Fallout 3, but somehow performs a lot worse. How is that even possible ? Fallout 3 didn't crash my PS3!

Edit! I've tinkered around a bit on Fallout 3 as well after playing New Vegas and surprise surprise, for some reason Fallout 3 suffers the same kind of freezes now as well, after enabling the DLC's for it. Yay.

Also, the henchman AI behaviour is AWFUL. They get stuck virtually anywhere when you're out exploring, and if you don't turn around to check now and then there's a good chance theyre bumping against a small rock on the ground a couple miles behind you.

First impressions so far..

Despite the critisism so far, its still Fallout which is in my book a pretty darn cool thing. I've focused on changes from Fallout 3, and not mentioned any of the things that made that game so awesome in the first place. I'd recommend checking out a review or two of Fallout 3 before deciding if this is a game for you.

6 / 10

Fallout: New Vegas is a great addition to the Fallout universe, but keeping some flaws from the original Fallout 3 and adding a lot more fairly critical flaws go a long way to lower my enjoyment of the title.

Edit! Further into the game...

Thats right, despite the fairly low score I gave this game intially I'm still playing it. I'm trying to follow my own ideas of what would be an objective verdict of the games I give feedback on. Personally despite the fairly gross flaws I can't put Fallout: New Vegas away. I'll say it again, if you enjoyed Fallout 3 you're going to love this and keep playing it until you have explored all the locations on the Mohave Wastes. I enjoy my time in New Vegas, I really do. Enough so that I am putting up with the PS3 crashes that occur increasingly often, much to my frustration.

I've narrowed the causes for the crash down a bit and it seems to only happen in large open areas surrounded by mountains. This goes for 50% of any area you try to explore in this game. I've found I my PS3 console will always crash within 30 seconds if the following conditions are met: I'm in an outdoors area, I have just zoned out from say exploring a vault or similar, there is a lot of terrain being loaded and finally, open areas with a lot of creatures and buildings. I have not experienced game lockups while exploring indoor areas.  The crashes do come more frequently as I'm further into the game though, not sure why that is, maybe the increased size of the save files. I've done what little troubleshooting i can for my ps3. All other games run fine. I formatted the ps3 hard drive and did a fresh game files install. Set all system options to default, nothing's helping. Dunno what else to do, I wish I had a good enough PC to play it there instead, I'm really disappointed with this PS3 port especially considering it runs on the very same unmodified engine and Fallout 3 released 2 years ago.

Oct 12, 2010

More Civ V

I've been focusing a lot on this game in my last few posts. It is a game I want to love but currently am not sure what I think about. The hours I've put into it over the last few weeks tell another story though, I'm badly hooked on it, despite what I would call pretty glaring flaws with the game. I know the AI has some fairly serious problems, I'm not entirely sold on how diplomacy is handled in the game and that the game is also bugged, producing very strange graphic anomalies or unexplainable slowdowns on my system.

That didn't stop me from getting up in the morning last weekend and starting a new game on it. What's worse I was not able, at all, to put the game away to do other more sensible things until I had finished the game some 12 hours later in the same day. Considering how hooked I've been on Civ IV, at least I was able to save the game and close it when I knew I had more important things to be doing.

I have however decided to let the game lie for a bit, in wait for patches to develop it better. Or for mods to come out that do the same job. Whichever comes first. Knowing myself I will then be all over it again.

I've read a lot of reviews for this game, and I noticed a lot of game journalists fell into the same trap as I did when I wrote my initial report. Civ V is sexy, it looks good, its easy to get into yet hard to master, everything is very slick.  So my review, just like so many others out there was mostly full of praise on how awesome everything is in this game. I can't help but think this is exactly the kind of response Firaxis was looking for when releasing this game. The game reviews mostly rate this game close to perfection. But in the 10-20-30 hours max a reviewer gets before he has to write his verdict, a lot of flaws that are not so apparent at first sight do not reveal themselves before the deadline.

I wont rehash for the 'th time the pros and cons about Civilization V, instead I will link to what I find the fairest game review I've read so far for it. So without more ado, here's Tom Chick's review on

Sep 28, 2010

Followup comment on Civ V

Hey again!

At the time of writing this, I've had a couple more evenings to spend on Civ V after my review'ish post about it a few days ago.

The reason I'm following it up is because I have a few adjustments to give the game overall after a bit more time with it, taking into consideration some things I missed during play before my first evaluation of the game.

What has become more glaringly apparent after a bit more play time is some serious, and I mean pretty bad flaws with the coding for AI behaviour which are all related to their military strength from what I've seen so far.

A couple examples:

The A.I thinks reasonably well for land based warfare (they understand using ranged units and artillery and tries to place infantry up front), but if they decide they want to take a city or city state that has tiles surrounded by water, they fail. I don't mean just they're doing a bit worse, I mean they fail really bad. On an "Earth" map I held a city near Mexico that had only two land tiles next to it, and I was able to hold it without using any defenders at all, just city retaliation and bombardment during my own turns. This was against a Japan AI who already has a strong military advantage and the opponent controlled at the time all of North America having a vast city advantage over me who had about half of South America. He had a big army advantage as well as I had placed most my effort into maintaining civ happiness and getting my tiles worked instead of army strength. In the end my Japan AI opponent lost 25-30 Samurai and silimilar strength units against my undefended coast city before I had units out to answer the call to war.

Next example:
In the very same game, and in the next 10 turns following my massive victory against the japanese invasion, when I had my military units out (which were at least 1-2 tiers below Japan in tech), I was able to take one of his coast cities with great help from 4 frigates I had bombarding, to which the AI had no answer other than using city attacks. On the very next turn Japan approaches me and begs for peace. He wants peace so badly he offers me control of all his cities except his capital.

Wait, what !? You read right, I took one city from him which was pretty small size and although it had difficult access by land it had no great value, and Japan pretty much threw in the towel. Of course I accepted his request and in one single turn I had taken North America..

Thats pretty messed up if you ask me. Even if I were to outsmart my AI opponent, I had no idea something like that would happen, I was rather expecting a gruelling trench war for territory that would most likely last the rest of the game. Instead he just gave me ALL his cities (around 20 cities) except his capital.

If thats not enough he then displaying very amusing diplomacy. For the first few turns he was very careful and hailed me as a great conqueror, then a couple turns later he threatened with war if I continued expanding on his borders (he gave me all the cities surrounding his capital, there was nowhere to settle really even if I had wanted to), and then about 10 turns after that, he declared war on me and of course got snuffed out within a couple turns.

Ergh.. The computer opponent behaviour of this game has some pretty serious issues. I've learned through other articles about Civ V that the game in fact only had two programmers working on the entire AI programming. And about 30-40 graphics artists.

Seriously, SHAME ON YOU FIRAXIS. I really hope the AI gets some love in a shortly released patch, otherwise I don't see this game having very lasting appeal.

Another major gripe I have at the moment is how poor the multiplayer apparently is. According to Zeitgeist at (good game review site btw!), the multiplayer part of the game has severe performance issues for just basic play. Believe it or not there is also no way to save your multiplayer games it seems, which is a pretty big turn off far as I'm concerned. I don't think most people if any would sit with for a multiplayer session of Civ V and finish the entire game in one sitting. SHAME ON YOU FIRAXIS.

There's also reports of graphic anomalies during multiplayer, including players having all their unit animations turned off.. Whats the deal with that ?

The "good news" is, none of these issues are really game breaking to the effect they cant be fixed with some patching effort from Firaxis. The real question is though, will they bother, now that the game has already been out a few days, gotten rave reviews and is selling like candy?

Edit! On a gaming forum I mentioned how the AI gave away almost all its cities, someone asked if I had downloaded the patch to adjust the AI so it no longer is so desperate for peace it will give you anything and everything. There IS a patch on Steam I noticed but it makes no mention of adjusting AI behaviour. Gonna look around and see if there's some secret patch somewhere I should be getting.

Edit #2! Multiplayer games still autosave, I'm now told. So continued multiplayer sessions should indeed be possible. :)

Sep 26, 2010

Civilization V review'ish

So, being a junkie for Civ IV:Beyond the Sword and its wonderful mods and modmods such as Fall From Heaven 2 and Rise from Erebus, there was never any question if I was going to get this game or not. I would have bought it even if all game reviews butchered it completely. If you're reading this and felt the same way about Civ IV as me, then don't bother reading further, go download the 100 turn demo on Steam and get a feel for it yourself.

If however you haven't played Civ in a while or you're completely new to these turn based games of conquest, read on.

I'll try to keep this somewhat short and to the points, covering the principles of the game and the most noteworthy changes from previous titles in the series.

As the game opens you take control of one of many upstarting tribes in an unexplored world, and its your job to make sure your people dont get gobbled up by barbarians or other civs while advancing in technology (or falling way behind) from just finding out what a wheel is, to how you can eradicate nations with nuclear missiles. True for any version of these games there is never a shortage of challenges, whether you're a warlord bent on conquering the world, talking and trading your way to domination through diplomacy or just trying to keep the barbarians out of your cities, and Civ V is no different.

If you like this kind of thing, you are guaranteed to have fun with this game and lose precious hours of night time sleep. I thought I had it bad with Civ IV, but this is even worse. When I started playing this game a couple days ago, I was playing from 6 pm and got so sucked into it I was VERY surprised when I threw a glance at the watch and saw it was suddenly 4 am in the morning. One.. more... turn... Its kinda scary really, this game should really come with some kind of warning.

If this hasn't scared you away yet, I'm just going to list the biggest changes to the game from Civ IV:

  • As shown in the photo above, the world is now hex based instead of squared. Game is more tactical and also feels a bit more like a traditional table game aka Axis and Allies, Risk etc.
  • No more than one military unit per tile. HUGE change forcing drastic rethinking of how to use your army. No more stacks of doom! You normally have very few army units compared to previous Civ games and micromanaging them is key.
  • Ranged units have more than one tile range. Positioned correctly your cannons can fire from behind your front line units without retaliation.
  • Religion and espionage mechanics from Civ IV are gone. There are still some religion based civics and buildings in the game but it doesn't affect relations with other civs like in the other games.
  • Civ happiness affects your entire civ instead of each city, and dipping too far into unhappiness causes big penalties to production, growth and army efficiency.
  • City States. These are basically mini-civs that are limited to their own starting city and don't compete to win the game, but they can still play a large role. They give missions, can be conquered or if they like you enough give you bonuses in form of free units or extra food or culture.
  • With the basic research in place all units can take to sea without need for making ships. All your units can embark water tiles and move around and make landfall on islands and other continents, but they can not fight ships and are vulnerable to attack without escort.
  • Cities can be tough to conquer. They can only have one defender garrisoned, but even without defence it can take many attacks to break them, and they also fire back at attackers and can launch ranged attacks on enemies in range during their turns.
  • Civilizations are more specialized with special abilities. Some of these are currently a bit too strong I feel and could use some balancing. Japan's military units for example always fight as though they are full health essentially making each of their units very deadly even if they have just a sliver of health.
There's of course a lot more changes in the game but from my own time playing it so far these are the biggest differences from previous games. 

Given that you enjoy strategy games and can get your head around all the differences from Civ IV and before, I can guarantee you are going to have very many hours of fun and frustration with this game. There are also a lot of mods already released and more to come, promising even more ways to play Civ V through mods if and when you get tired of the original game. My impressions are based solely on single player experience, I haven't tried MP yet but even disregarding that part of the game completely I can still easily recommend this game for any strategy game enthusiast.

Edit! A bit more play time with the game has reveales some issues with the game I found worthy of writing about, please read this as well before taking the final dive into the wallet for this game.

Sep 24, 2010

The disaster

I learned some time ago that Curse got their hands on guild sites, and a week ago wowstead made the move to curse. It has been a total disaster from start until present. For starters the database transfer itself took for reasons I can't understand several days to finish. Our guild site and all others went down without warning and didnt come back up for close to three days. And it gets "better". All site customization got wiped, all widgets and plugins gone or simply don't work at all, noone except our gm and I think now some officers can actually view our forums. The new site is also slooow. And for the last couple days its been a gamble if it would even load.

This should be a valuable lesson to community hosting sites like wowstead how NOT to do a site move. Its a complete joke and by the looks of it our guild has pretty much decided we're closing up shop on wowstead. I don't have any exact numbers on how many wow players relied on wowstead hosted guild sites, but I doubt I exaggerate when I say tens of thousands of players are currently screwed over. Its been a week since the move and still nothing except the shoutboxes seem to be working on the new sites.

What a joke.

Taking it down a notch

Since moving back to my old server with what is now known as The Orphans, I've had a drastic change of play style.

On Bloodscale I was expected to have close to 100% attendance to 3-4 days of raiding per week, and performance during raids was very closely watched by raid admins and class leaders. There were social aspects there as well, but much more "clique" than what I'm used to. The members there were also mostly quite young of age, with the typical "excitement" (read: rage and drama) that often comes with it.

Back on Defias, I'm pretty much a casual now. In a sense.. I play more than most casuals probably, and when I do join a raid, I try to take that seriously and pull my weight. It has been a couple rocky months for our guild to stabilize a bit after the original Orphans Grim was destroyed where it was difficult to host raids, but that's coming to a change.

For the last month or so now, we've actually had roughly 3 raids per week scheduled, but there's a catch. Due to peoples playtimes varying greatly since we're mostly older people with varying RL commitments, the raids are quite short. So one raid can be as short as 1 1/2 hours, letting us just get the weekly raid quest done, take a wing in Naxxramas, or some of the smaller raids like Onyxia and Obsidian Sanctum.

Initially I was not a big fan of the short short raid times set, but its admittedly growing on me. As I told our raidleader one evening, it feels like I barely have time to get my "raid groove" on before we're done for the night. However I've discovered it can be pretty nice to not have to dedicate the whole evening to a raid, and as a bonus the guild is laid back enough that there is no required attendance percentages required. If people don't feel like doing a raid one night they're free to say so and if we find out we're too few to go somewhere, we usually find some extras out of guild or cancel it to try another night. No biggie, no drama. And I'm pretty much loving that. :)

I'm also blessed with "working with" others in our raids that don't freak out if a mistake is made which is in my book pretty awesome. There's a lot of players out there who don't raid at all, for fear of getting cussed out something fierce if they make a tiny mistake, and this is a total non-issue on our runs. I think we got a few this might sound familiar to among our members and I'm happy they can come raid and see a lot of cool fights which they normally wouldn't dare to go to otherwise.

My only gripe right now is how we effective we spend our 1-2 hours of raid time. Something that is unavoidable with barely having the raider base to host runs is that we're forced to spend some time often to get something going. Its not that uncommon we have to spend close to an our past invite time still poking people to join. I don't really see what we can do about that without destroying the laid back style we do these runs, which I at least would like to keep that way.

Another thing is that we're typically with one or more who have never been to the raid we're doing before, so a lot of time is spent before each boss explaining things. Thats also hard to avoid, I hope its something that will fix itself as we hopefully get more returning raiders, I'd love if everyone would have spent 10 mins on wowwiki reading up on the encounters, but it seems bit too harsh considering sometimes more than half the raid hadn't even signed up to join in advance and join spontaneously when we're forming it.

We're also spending more time than necessary from killing a boss, to moving on with next trash groups or boss. Loot distribution can typically take a while as our raiders are too darn polite and very hesitant to call out on drops that can be used as upgrades. We're currently using Master Looter, and I'm thinking it might save us a lot of time if we just go with Group Loot. A simple need for mainspecs, greed for offspecs, pass otherwise and an enchanter grabs and shards the loot might save us 10-15 minutes of mucking around before we move on after a kill.

Ok, that was actually a lot of typing over whats just a minor gripe. I'm just thinking of ways to let our bite sized raids get as much as possible done in our sessions.

If you have other ideas for how one might optimize our efficiency without turning the whole thing too hardcore, feel free to let it out in the comments section. :)


Comments re-enabled.

Just a short post to notify that blog comments are enabled again, not sure why exactly they were turned off, but hey.. Anyone can leave comments at this point but if the section gets flooded with spam and ads it will get switched to registered users only.

Sep 22, 2010

Life signs detected

Hello again!

I just remembered I have a blog, wow. Well, thats not entirely honest, it has been in the back of my head for a good while suffering neglect. No more, at least for now. We'll see what happens. Was shocked to see its a good year since my last update! So much has happened.

Quickest possible recap:
1. Moved Warrior and Priest to another server to play with some friends in new guild. Good times were had.
2. New guild ravaged by drama, mostly raiding related.
3. Fed up. Break.
4. Heard old guild was taken down, lots of fuss, many friends wondering what was going on.
5. Moved Warrior back to old realm and also resumed playing older characters there with remnants still around after old guild got nuked. New guild launched for those left who still wanted to stick around.
6. Damage control. Raid oriented members of old guild quickly leaving new guild as we didn't have organized raiding going yet.
7. Rebuilding. A few months later, the massive leaks from new guild have stopped, we are recruiting again and growing, and are blessed with a new member who is doing a great job organizing some raids again on our own.
8. Good times are had!

I am hoping to find the time to write more here in the coming times with World of Warcraft: Cataclysm about to hit us hard. I've been following Totalbiscuit's updates from his betatesting of Cataclysm closely and made myself a lot of thoughts about it. Too much to go into right now as I'm planning to keep this post short, but so far? Cautiously optimistic about it, it could turn out pretty darn cool. But yes, more to come.

Until next time!