Saturday, November 19, 2011

Skyrim: First Impressions - and a bit more.

I keep saying that I'm not much of an RPGer, not in the traditional sense. But whenever I play a game, any game, I like to fully engross myself into the character.

If I don't feel some kind of connection, at a character trait level, or some game play level, I just can't go on.

Story isn't always the most important thing to me in a video, Ima be really shallow and just get that out of the way. But that's not to say that I don't enjoy a good story.

Last weekend I got my hands on Skyrim, the latest Elder Scrolls game that has been killing the reviews on gaming sites across the interwebs.

I made myself some half elf/ half human guy before deciding he looked very dickish and re-rolled a Redguard. These are sort of like the barbarians of Skyrim I guess, the only other race that looked appealing and sounded cool were the Nords, but the whole farking game is about Nords so I couldn't be bothered to roll one.

Then I set off to discover my fortune, flame magic in one hand, sword in the other - hacking and burning my way through the frozen mountains of Skyrim.

Combat started off a little clunky, and though the whole sword and magic thing was working out fine, it wasn't how I wanted to play the game. I had an idea in my head for what sort of guy Hannibal was going to be. (yes that's my guys name)

He was mean mother lover, with a giant redish Warhawk and long dangling goatie. I was trying to make him look like Conan, before I changed my mind and decided to make him look like a bandit from RAGE. And because he was so bad ass I wanted him to mix shit up with a 2 handed sword and not sissy mage magic.

The coolest thing about Skyrim is that there is no class system. You sort of just do things and get better at it the more you do them. You do get these points whenever you level up, and you use them along the tress that you unlock.

Yeah so there's no class system, but your skills are divided into these trees that open up the more you use the skill. So you can't like, swing a sword all day and suddenly decide to kill something with a bow and arrow later on in the game, well you can - but your bow and arrow skills would be shit and it would take a hella long time for stuff to die.

So any ways eventually my guy became a Sword and Shield fella, because playing in whatever combat style you want results in death if your toon can't defend him self. I actually looked this bit up online and it said that most pure DPS only builds don't work in Skyrim, because the baddies are just so punishing.

And you know, if it does work for you, well than clap clap, because I thought I could play this thing however I wanted. But no worries - because the Sword and shield thing is pretty bad ass too.

On my first day of playing I must have done like 13 hours or so on it in one sitting, and then a another 6 to 7 hours the next day. Gameplay wise Skyrim brings nothing new to anything, it looks pretty meh for a current generation game, but with so many elements happening on screen the graphics feel bigger than then they look. (if that makes sense)

I did a lot of exploring, mostly because I was trying to make my way to this one place that sold black horses. If I was gonna drop a 1000 gold on a horse, it had to be black. I tried to play most of the game with a neutral moral compass, not really being bad, but also not being a goodie. This was going along very well until this one point where I was given the choice to become a werewolf. That's where I tossed the compass and just slaughtered a bunch of people so I could get 'beast form' as they call it.

That shits pretty OP.

From the first moments of the game, Skyrim is a lot of fun. It has a lot of places to explore, from villages to strongholds, to ancient ruins and farway hidden dungeons. The land of Skyrim is rich with lore and every place has a story and adventure to take up. It was also on my next day of playing that I encountered a dragon!

Man that bastard was tough take down. There I was just riding along minding my own business when I saw the beast however low along the fields ahead of me. Riding swiftly on my mighty stead soon I was along side it, and that is when the beast decided to attack.

Though the battle seemed very brutal at first, soon you come to learn that these dragons sort of just do the same thing over and over again. Aside from the ones you encounter through scripted events, dragon killing very quickly became very boring.

And then we came to the third day of my playing.

I was given this one quest - and I blame that one quest. I was to ride all the way across the map from where I was to deliver this thing to some farkin mages. Looking at the map, I was like "shit that's far"

And looking at the quest and seeing that it was 'optional' really didn't make me wanna do it. In fact, There was like 5 quests in my log that I really had to do, and about a 100 quests that were 'optional.'

This is when it dawned on me. "What is the farkin point of this game?"

I've been playing for 3 days, I clocked more than 20 hours and nothing I have done as amounted to anything. There really is on so much 'open world' one can do before you release that you are accomplishing nothing significant.

There is a single player story, but the side quests and open world was one of the major selling points of the game. But in this open world, there wasn't a story that was big enough to engross me, and the worst thing - I had not met one NPC that I gave a shit about, not one!. And that was my ultimate conclusion. With so many things to see and do, there is nothing to really give a shit about in Skyrim.

I miss u Alister

You sort of just 'play' in this world where you're all by yourself, which no other reason than to be part of thousands of tiny stories, but never part of anything significant enough to truly feel like a hero.

After discovering this idea, noting around me meant anything anymore. This is something that someone like Charlse Manson must be accustomed to feeling because as soon I had firmly wrapped my mind around this notion I proceeded to slaughter everything and everyone around me. I even lock picked and broke into peoples houses to kill them.

I killed as many people as I could before the guards got overwhelming and I was forced to flee on my black horse who I no longer gave a shit about.

Which is cool because at one point I had left my horse so I could go fight something and I came back to find that the fucker was gone. Which would gave been fine if he were free, but I paid 1k gold for that son of a bitch.

And companions, man those guys are farkin retarted. So many times I've seen them run into mobs of enemies only to get their asses handed to them, and in turn their dead asses handed to me. This sucks even harder when you're traveling on your mount, trying to get to this one location but your damn companion has decided that he or she has to stop at every farkin mob along the way to attack them.

This results in many a roads littered with the dead bodies of my ex- companions. Again I wouldn't give a shit if it wasn't for the 500g you need to pay to hire these bastards.

Now I am actually forcing myself to play this farkin game because I went through all the hassle of getting it.

Maybe this sort of thing is just not my thing. I guess I'm just a shallow RPGer who plays commercial RPGs like Dragon Age (which I farkin loved) and DA2. Not to mention The Witcher games which remain my undisputed favorite RPG games. Even Witcher 2 with all the bitchy controls and shit, I found more engaging than this. Even the exploring in Skyrim gets old once you realize your swapping one snowy mountain area for another snowy mountain area - o but this one has a ruined castle and that one had a forest.

Hell ... Risen, have you played that? That got midcore reviews, but I loved exploring in that, and the characters though not as well done as Dragon Age, felt so much more real than the dead eyed mannequins that populate Skyrim.

The closest thing I can compare this game to is Fallout New Vegas. Fallout 3 was something I spent months on playing. And when New Vegas came out, it had all the check list points of Fallout3, but I just didn't want to finish it. That's what Skyrim feels like to me.

An open world adventure that's fun if you don't mind piecing together your own story through hundreds of tiny stories that do noting towards the grand scheme of things. Exploring is fun for the first 20 hours before realize you're all alone in a single player game that feels like it's built for an mmo.

In the end Skyrim felt to me like something that would have shined brighter if it was allowed to burn out faster. How anyone can sit through the 100 hours of quests this game has promised is beyond me. If anything this game has taught me a little lesson: it's not how long a game is, it's how much fun and engaging it is that matters.

Ima go play Super Meatboy and wait for my Batman Arkham city to ship.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rage: After thoughts (spoliers)

So I just finished RAGE... like just now. Like I just put the controls down, and Twittered about it before writing this.

There I was with my BFG, shooting my way through the Authority's fortified stronghold, the enemy were attacking in little mobs of 3 to 4, easily taken care of by my awesome BFG.

Then I thought to myself that I'd better save the BFG ammo, shit will get ugly for sure soon... and I wanna be ready.

So I make my up to these computers that I need to hack (click on) and suddenly the place goes into lock down. A few mutants trickle in at first... and then a few more. They just take a shotgun to the face to take em down, still saving the BFG... and the amour piercing rounds on my machine gun.

I'll save my ammo ... cause I know something's gonna come ripping through soon. I think I'll even drop a combat drone.

O good... the satellite is sorted. Now to get out of here and...


And just like that... everything I had come to enjoy about the game was instantly shattered by what can only be described as pure and utter BALLZ.

The ending of Rage would have to be one of the most disappointing/ anti- climatic bits of a game that I have ever played.

It was almost as though the developers were like "Holy shit! we don't have time for this... we need to end the game NOOOOOOW!"

What happened iD?

Man even Doom 3 had more of a narrative than this, and the ending was a proper ending. It had closure.

That's all I really want from a game... something that makes it all worth while. Yes the mega-textures looked great, and the animations for all the characters were amazing, but when it all leads up to nothing but a half ass stand off (without even a proper boss fight) ... then it's just fail to me.

I can tell you now that Rage is for most parts a great game. The action is pure madness and the exploration though not extensive is still enjoyable. The weapons are a blast and iDs signature BFG is as bad ass as ever.

After working so hard to establish so much, you can't believe that it was the same dev crew that put together the last 20mins or so of the game. Cause suddenly all the exploration is gone, the crowds of baddies you were previously up against are replaced by handfuls of Authority goons who, between the BFG and my huge supply of amour piercing rounds were easily taken care of, and before you can say "Borderlands was an awesome game" ...the whole thing is over.

It wasn't only that it was a short campaign, cause I can live with that, but just the suddenness of the ending really threw me off.

With so much to see and do in the game, I couldn't help but feel that I hadn't really done anything significant. In the end I didn't care how great everything looked, it just left me feeling very "meh." The game did have more than a few great moments, but right now I have no inkling to go back and re-play any of it.

If there was some kind of a New game+ mode then maybe I'd go back to look for more sewers or something to explore... but from the looks of things that would have been too much to ask for. It just felt that iD had worked so many elements into Rage that in the end they had a bag full of bits that were left unpolished.

Watching the game develop for so long I was sure that Rage was gonna shoot its way into my top 5 games of all time, but I guess I expected too much. I'm sad... I really am.

I hope Doom 4 does better than this.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Active Set - Famous for Dying

One thing I freakin love about blogging is connecting with people who share a taste for the things I love.

Today I got a very pleasant visit a friend of an L.A based post/punk band called The Active Set, and he was nice enough to share a link to the Video for their song "Famous for Dying."

I'm actually a huge fan of post/punk and the tune was immediately catchy. As I was watching it, suddenly I was like "Wait... are those... zombies?"

There are heaps of music videos out there with zombies running around, but I can't remember the last time I saw so much blood and guts spilt to a musical number. The effects in the vid are mad, and when the zombies started ripping limbs and chewing flesh, it was obvious that the Active Set are a cool band that love having fun and know all about the fine art of zombies.

Please do check out the video, and enjoy. Gotta warn you though... it gets very messy :D

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