Oct 24, 2013

SSFIV AE 2012 - Honda Cup 2013


I participated in a hilarious online Super Street Fighter IV tournament that is still ongoing, with a pretty severe restriction: You got to play as E. Honda!  Sadly I'm knocked out of the tournament now, having lost one match and then losing again in the loser's bracket, but damn.. it was fun! Honda is a character I've only briefly touched before in SSFIV AE 2012, but(t) he's pretty dang fun to play!

I'll post the video of the last match I played here, against the notorious and mysterious 'Hermbutt', sometimes known as 'Herminator', or 'I aM Fake zZz'.

If this kind of thing sounds like fun, I strongly encourage everyone to register at www.blockstring.com, a friendly and helpful fighting games community.  This is a great place to level up your game with tips and feedback from players of all skill levels, and you get to participate in events like this one.

If anyone's curious how these tournaments are set up, here is page laying down how the rules and how its organized, for example that this particular tournament is 'double elimination'.

SSFIV AE 2012 is STILL the king of fighting games far as I'm concerned that's well worth getting into even after the few years it's been out, so if that video above looks fun, and you're not familiar with the game? I consider it the best fighting game your money can buy still. So pick it up during sales or something! :)

Oct 20, 2013

Short review: Civilization V - Brave New World

Disclaimer: This review is written by a Civ fanatic with a critical eye on its features.

The Brave New World DLC adds a few noteable updates to Civilization V.

You now get a different method of cultural victory, using your superior culture to spread your nation's culture through a new resource called tourism, to the other civilizations.  If the other civ's own cultural developments can not keep up with your pop culture, you win.  Contrary to marketing, this is not a new feature, but a replacement for the old Utopia culture win.  That aside, it makes the culture race much more interesting with civs now having an offensive and defensive stat to compete in for culture.

Culture is a powerful thing
Major Social policy overhaul:  BNW adds Ideologies upon reaching the industrial age, where you'll choose to follow Order, Freedom, or Autocracy.  You'll need to pick this wisely as your civ's happiness can easily be swayed by other civilizations if their orders are proving influential.  Policies overall are completely redone, and the just recently released Civ V fall patch changed it up even more.

Congress:  There is now a world congress which forms quite early in the game, compared to the G+K United Nations congress.  The world congress will not enable diplomatic victory, but there is a lot of very powerful choices to propose and vote for/against, which can turn tables completely.

Diplomats:  Your nation's spies can now infiltrate other civilizations dressed as diplomats.  They can not steal techs, but they have other uses...

Trade Routes:  Introduces new units for land and sea trade caravans. These are completely defenseless units which you can send to other civilizations or city states on frequent trade missions to bolster your economy.  In addition to income, these routes will also leak science and religion based on which cities are the most developed, so pick your routes carefully. And for the love of [religion], pick your routes carefully so they're not ransacked by barbarians.

New civs: Nine of them. Poland, Brazil, Assyria, Zulu, Portugal, Indonesia, Morocco, Venice, Shoshone and Ethiopia.  They're all good.  More civ flavour, what's not to like ?

Wonders: 8 new and returning wonders are now available for construction including hits like the Parthenon, Broadway and the Globe Theater.

Scenarios: Scramble for Africa and American Civil War.  I've played a couple games on Scramble for Africa, it is a really good and fairly open scenario that lets you do what you want (and fail of couse) in the race to civilize Africa.  I haven't played the Civil War scenario yet.  May update this review when I have.  But Scramble for Africa is really good!

War. War never changes.
This post is so far just a long list of DLC features, but what do I think of them ?   From a balance standpoint, culture is now much stronger and will happily steal a win versus science or conquest if given the chance.  Tourism is a good new resource, but it has no means of countering meaning players will always want to get as much as they can of it, always, this is helped by very strong tourism bonuses given through policies and ideology.  If you want to win non culture now, you really race against the clock.  This is of course balanced by the civs going for this win having slower tech and military. It usually plays out quite well.

I pretty much love all the new cilivizations.  Won't spoil anything. I think they're all very solid, add flavour and gameplay variety and make Civ V a richer experience, not a bad word to say about them.

I'll be honest, trade routes need some revising.  If you're lucky, you'll have a central placed, quickly growing city with good connections to send routes to. If so, you're in the money.  If you're not, you will fall FAR behind.  If you got your routes going and other civs don't, you can ally every citystate easily, but if you don't you're not going to be able to make a purchase, almost ever.  I like the feature, but it desperately needs balacing. As it is now, being able to set up a good trade city wins or loses the game.  This is somewhat evened out by the fact barbarians LOVE to ransack trade routes, forcing you to rebuild them frequently if you have risky routes going, but this once again makes an early city with safe routes for caravans that much stronger.

 Everything summed up, it is really hard to argue against Brave New World. It adds so much stuff, on every level.  Not all of it is in my subjective opinion good, true, but it really can not be argued that this DLC adds depth on every level of the game, and for that, I can only recommend you to get Brave New World if and when you can. It makes your Civ V better, just like Gods and Kings does (get that too btw).  Every Civ V player who enjoys their game should get this upgrade, which is unfortunate to say about a DLC, but I choose to treat "Gods and Kings" as well as "Brave New World" as expansion packs.


Mandatory if you like Civ 5 and want to expand your experience.
Pass or get on a sale, if the game is not a big deal to you.
Pass if Civ 5 doesn't do anything for you, it adds more of everything, sure, but it's probably not going to change your opinion about the game.

Sep 27, 2013

Wicked Video Games OST's: Part 2

Hello again!

I'm horrible at updating, I know, allright? :)  The second part of Wicked Video Games OST's is coming your way right about right now!

 As everyone who ever played a computer game knows, the sound of a game has a huge impact on one's experience.  In this series I am showcasing what game soundtracks (or sound in general) I was personally moved by, this is not necessarily another 'best VGM OST' list, though.

#1 World of Warcraft: Cataclysm - Gnomeregan

This is the second known case for me where I've had to just stop playing to listen to the music.  (The first one would be the title theme for vanilla Civilization IV.  If you don't know WoW gnomes, they are basically child sized inventor geniouses who consider safety a distant second consideration in the face of progress.  In WoW, their race was nearly wiped out completely in a rebellion that caused their capitol city to be completely irradiated with chemicals that killed or mutated most of the population.  This lore was unfortunately never put ingame in a proper way until the Cataclysm expansion was released.  In WoW: Cataclysm, Gnomes were finally given a more meaningful introduction and this music piece that I will finally post is one of the many fantastic musical artworks WoW was updated with when Cataclysm was released:

Cello, clockworks and wazoo (!) in harmonic powerplay!

#2 World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade - Lament of the Highborne

Night elves in WoW are nowhere as treehuggy as their bouncy appearances may first look.  They live so close to nature they are generally avoided and often considered feral by the other Alliance races, and have a strict caste system topped by powerful huntresses and archdruids of Elune with immense power. They have been and still suffer their fair share of hardship, for example they are no longer immortal.  This next piece is sung by Sylvanas Windrunner who heads the Forsaken undead faction of World of Warcraft.  She was a night elf ranger captain slain and then resurrected as a banshee by Arthas Menethil, later known as the Lich King.  She may be an elf originally but the forsaken faction comprised mostly of humans all share the pain and loss in her lament, of the extinct highborne and follow her without question as their freakish race fights for their continued survival (such as it is):

Banshees may look hideous but damn can they strike a tune...

#3 World Of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria - Way of the Monk

Pandaren as a race were largely ridiculed (and still are, I suppose) when Mists of Pandaria was announced, I'll admit I was quite sceptical as well hearing the news.  I have to give praise where its due, however; Blizzard did one hell of a job fleshing out absolutely everything in rich detail storywise, to the point I now see Pandaren as one of the most legit races in WoW (Of course it helps having a whole expansion themed around them).  Pandaren in WoW are one of the races that lived for ages under Mogu slavery.  The Mogu allowed a caste of Pandaren to form to create herbal remedies to combat slave fatigue.  Over the years they rose in power, unknown to the Mogu, to become skilled healers, leaders, unarmed combatants but most importantly a symbol of hope for the slaves that finally granted them the power to rise up against the Mogu and rebel, eventually freeing themselves from slavery. That caste was the first of what is now called the Monk class in WoW.

Too much epic strings and horns to begin getting into, just listen.

I could list more great music from the game, but I'll stop here. If any of this was of interest then the rest of the soundtrack is just a youtube search away.  World of Warcraft has been a part of my life for many years now, thanks to the great fantasy world it has immersed me in, and the music of the game has been a large part of that.  As a bonus, if any of the pieces above were good for you, or you are just interested in some story on Mists of Pandaria, here is the link to the first of a great seven part storytime video series made by Blizzard:

Sep 21, 2013

I don't know if anyone is reading this blog anymore, but here goes.

I've been slack as hell at updating here, I've made a few attempts at picking it up but it's all gone to the dickens, I'll admit that.  One thing I never do though, is give up.

So here's a filler post of sorts with select videos I've posted on Youtube since my last stint here, and I hope you'll find something interesting!  As usual, if your embedded video player doesn't let you go 1080 or 720p fullscreen I recommend clicking the Youtube button on the videos and watching them there instead.

To get the pace going, here's a test video I made on the not so recently released anymore Need for Speed: Most Wanted, still a fun game, despite a few dire issues on the PC version (I play mostly on PC exclusively these days btw)

I've been playing a lot of strange and wonderful games over the years. One of them that has charmed me more than others is the rather simple mechanically but very challenging Bit.trip presents: Runner 2, Future Legend of Rythm Alien. This is a game that fits into the 'endless runner' category, except this game has production value, actual levels that end at some point and online leaderboards and all that good stuff.  This next clip is from a (after some practice) pretty decent run on a level played on hard difficulty.

If there's one thing I got a nerd soft spot for its oldschool pc games. A perfect example would be.. Doom, for example.  As it happens, Doom is still kicking despite popular belief, and it's gotten rather bad ass thanks to faithful modders.  This next clip is the last level of Doom 1 episode 1, freely downloadable in shareware form still I believe (but still worth your money).  Oh yeah, mods.  Have a gander at Brütal Doom!  And Doom Metal level music remakes, and high quality texture packs! And a really challenging game, I actually recommend saving before opening any door on this game unless you're familiar with the levels.  Also, funny thing I found out while making this post, the instructions I posted in this video got stolen to the extreme by various other youtube uploaders. Not that I mind too much, its rather amusing, also if it gets people back into this game its a win across the board.

Speaking of really challenging games, I had a C64 back in the days, and one of the most played games on it was the Great Giana Sisters.  It's back!  Okay, it has been back a while, since there has been remakes for handheld devices already, but now it is also on proper systems in a very lovingly created reinterpretation of the original game.  I say that, because it plays very different than the old C64 game I loved back then.  The original was a blatant copy of Super Mario Brothers, this remake keeps the charm of that game and the difficult platforming, borrowing some gimmicks from more recent 2d platformers but also adding the 'twist' mechanic that changes your abilites, and the levels themselves, which is rather novel.  Also, the music is freaking sweet.


Speaking of sweet music, and in the same genre to boot, Rayman Legends is no longer a WiiU exlusive and has spread its limbless limbs over all current platforms.  I'm just going to drop this bombshell.  Ubisoft got better at 2D platform games than Nintendo. Rayman Legends is SO much more than any version of the Mario games we've seen the last decade, I really hope it inspires the good people over at Nintendo to get a bit more original with their next Mario stuff.  Anyway, this game has the sweetest 2d/3d visuals I've seen in a long time. The animation quality is so good (and that's saying something, we're animating a character without arms or legs here).  And the music?  Well, instead of trying to explain it let me show you 'Castle Rock', one of the musical levels you can unlock at the end of each world in Rayman Legends:

So that's a bit of content on this blog again after all this time.  I haven't forgotten about writing completely, I just don't have the drive lately.  I'm still about, though.  And I will yet again try to get back into this!  I hope some of these clips were enjoyable and if you like what you're seeing here, there's a bit more on the channel they lead to.  For now, thanks for reading and see you next time!

Mar 18, 2013

Stop the pre-purchasing.

As the title says, gamers really, really need to stop blindly buying into pre-purchase for big game releases.  I'll tell you why.  For one, Pre-ordering is a thing from back when availability was a real concern.  Today, that is not the case.  You can swipe your Visa online anytime and start downloading your day one game.  There is no fear of not being able to grasp your trembling hands around that game that you've waited so long for, anymore.  Second, today's preorder 'bonuses' are absolute rubbish.  Yes, you can preorder and save 10% if you buy early, and if you know you'll be playing this thing out of sheer religion, do so.  I've done this myself, I shan't lie.

But lets not disregard the fact a preorder on a video game is basically throwing money at something you have NO idea about before you recieve and play your product. Gearbox Software's  Aliens: Colonial Marines illustrated well enough what kind of bait and switch is actually being done with their latest release, the end product being a far cry from what they promised, and what they actually showed before the game went 'gold'.  For those not familiar with that story, Gearbox showed some very good looking footage from their game, then stripped it down to something you might expect to get from your money on a PS2. They also showed some pretty interesting looking gameplay, which too has been taken out.  They basically advertised.. Oh I don't know, the next Tomb Raider, Uncharted, God of War or Call of Duty, and then they shipped out a game from those series we already saw on PS2, or other platforms the same caliber.

Also, please do not buy games blindly based on press release copies sent out before release.  Please.  Just look at SimCity. While there were some eyebrows raised over the need for online connections to play this thing, most of the gaming press went out of their way to endorse this game, with its tiny city building space and downright retarded sim AI (SimCity inhabitant's dont own houses, or have jobs. They just take what house or job slots are closest to them, and free. Have fun following your citizens throughout their lives, as the ads go, and marvel at the sheer incompetence that has gone into this game)

Lastly, look at the things you get if you do pay out for a pre-order.  A pair of sneakers for the scout class in Team Fortress 2,  or a copy of a game from the olden days. Stop it. If you had any interest in playing that old game, be it bad or good, you would have done so years ago already.

To sum up, I think the concept of pre-ordering a video game is outdated and need to go away, right now.  Even if you are a big fan of a series or developer, wait for release, see what kind of bugbears they've knowingly hidden before you give them your money for a product you have no idea about.  It's the only way we can turn this trend around, where publishers are free to promise whatever they feel sells best, and then deliver whatever the devs had time to crank out in the time allotted.

Feb 17, 2013

Aliens: Colonial Marines tip!

I was looking forward to this game, won't deny it.  Fortunately I know Gearbox have their quirks and didn't buy their game on impulse when it was released.  Anway, the game is a fraud, as everyone knows by now, but that's not what I'm here for tonight.

Nope, today I have a sweet tip for making A:CM more enjoyable that I read on the gearbox forum.  Here's what you do to improve the visuals:

1.  Lower gamma/brightness.

Yah, we're done, were you expecting more ?  Too bad, all we got for you is making everything darker thus making the shitawful design less eye-gougingly painful to watch.

You're welcome.