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1  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Best dungeon(s) in a PC game on: May 19, 2008, 11:29:44 PM
It's a bit unfair to compare it to more modern games, but back when it came out and for a long time after that there was nothing that could compare to Ultima Underworld.  It's shocking how far ahead of it's time that game was.
2  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Mount & Blade (The Free Oblivion?) on: May 02, 2008, 06:20:52 PM
I picked up M&B pretty soon after it was first available, and it's always a great game to pick up from time to time and play.  Most value I've gotten out of any game I can think of.

It hasn't been updated to the very latest version, but there's a sweet Roman era mod for M&B that I've been having a blast with lately:
3  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Official GTA4 impressions thread on: May 02, 2008, 04:16:18 PM

Quote from: Kevin Grey on May 02, 2008, 03:53:10 PM

Quote from: Sepiche on May 02, 2008, 03:47:29 PM

Also, having the text message show up to give you the option to restart a mission is a nice, but more often than not it seems like I end up having to make an annoyingly long drive to get to the mission start when I do that anyway, so there's still some irritating repetitionwhen you fail missions.

Grab a cab and then you can skip the entire trip. 
True, but that takes money and/or time.  At least early on it's a pretty big hit to cash to take a cab and skip to the end, and I can get there faster driving myself than the cabbies can even if I tell them to hurry.
4  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Official GTA4 impressions thread on: May 02, 2008, 03:47:29 PM
Finally got my copy from Amazon last night, and when I wasn't on the lookout for tornados I managed to get a few good hours of play in.

I'm definitely not a big racing game fan, and usually I hate driving games where I can't just hold down the accelerator and go, but I have to say I really like the changes to the driving mechanics.  First I dig using the right shoulder button for the gas and the left shoulder for the brake.  It's easy that way for my mind to associate them with actualy driving.  Compared to the old GTA games I also like that the cars all feel like they have some weight to them and partly because of this it's much easier to drive leagally if you want.  There's been a couple of times I've slid around a corner that I felt I was going slow enough to make, but overall it feels about right to me.  Plus once you get the hang of driving it's easy to do sweet looking 180's to turn around. smile

The other big thing for me is the new combat system.  It's a little touchy and not perfect (especially it seems when fighting multiple enemies), but it's light years better than the old system.

Also, having the text message show up to give you the option to restart a mission is a nice, but more often than not it seems like I end up having to make an annoyingly long drive to get to the mission start when I do that anyway, so there's still some irritating repetitionwhen you fail missions.

5  Non-Gaming / Political / Religious Nonsense / Re: Hillary ahead of Obama in popular vote? on: April 25, 2008, 04:27:19 PM
Quote from: WalkingFumble

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
6  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: [books] Fantasy Recommendation? on: April 21, 2008, 09:22:49 PM
The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold are both excellent books.  They are set in the same world and have some of the same characters, but they are stand alone books.
7  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: EU III Query - Save game issue? on: April 18, 2008, 06:48:52 PM
There was a bug with the beta patch for DV that caused a lot of nations relations to jump up everytime you loaded a new game, but they actually just a few days ago relased a new beta patch that fixes that bug:

The file on the very bottom should be the only one you need.
8  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Europa Universalis:Rome on: April 18, 2008, 04:42:51 PM
It's not really the suicide mission that is the exploit I think it's getting the CB so easily when the enemy kills your agent. I consider it an exploit of some sort since it's easily repeatable, and for no real cost you can avoid most stability hits for attacking another country.  I don't know what the perfect solution is, but off the top of my head a small fee for intrigue missions would probably help.  I agree though, sending unwanted men on suicide missions seems a reasonable strategy to me.

And with the rebels, the problem is that they don't seem to just get the tech levels of the country they rebel from... with the way research is working right now they get a huge boost.  For example in my first game Macedon had a civil war that started about 100 years into the game.  Macedon and most everyone else in the game was around tech level 2 by then, but when the Macedonian Rebels spawned they had something ridiculous like tech level 8.  Once they finished off the Macedon loyalists Macedon took on their stats and was now suddenly about 6 tech levels ahead of everyone else in the game.  This points to a disconnect in what tech level the game thinks you should be at versus the actual tech levels of the nations in play.

Another small anecdote: Last night I adjusted the research modifier and played about 30 years.  At the end of the night I was at I think tech level 4 or 5 and if I moused over my techs they said the next tech I was researching was currently about 10 years ahead of it's time and I would take a penalty (similar to how HOI2 worked).  Clearly I set the modifier a bit too high in that game, but still based on that it looks like having only tech level 2 or 3 by 100 years into the game would be way, way behind the intended tech level.  The right rate seems to be about 1 tech level every 10 years.

It really just looks like something got changed in the first patch that unexpectedly slowed down tech progression.
9  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: EU III Query - Save game issue? on: April 18, 2008, 03:15:54 PM
I was playing EU3 again a bit before Rome came out and it seemed fine.  What kind of issues are you seeing?
10  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: A whole bunch of reasons it's still worth it to be a PC gamer on: April 18, 2008, 03:02:22 PM
The number of adventure games coming out is pretty surprising to me.  I know there's still demand out there for games like that, but I didn't think there was THAT much demand.  Still, that list is worthless without Loom 2. smile
11  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Europa Universalis:Rome on: April 18, 2008, 02:54:54 PM
Actually I think I may have misread that on the Paradox forums.  It looks like that change was actually made in the 1.1 patch and must have had some unintended consequences.  The posts I've read from beta testers would seem to indicate that they think research is much slower than it was during the beta.  I'm assuming it will be fixed pretty soon, but it is a bit annoying.

Apparently it can cause a larger problem because rebels are spawned with the tech levels the game assumes the player will have around that time.  So if a major power has a civil war and loses they are suddenly replaced by the rebels who have tech that is potentially light years beyond the other players.

I went in and edited the research point value to 2.4 and it seems to be much better.  I think I may even toy with changing the cultural research rates just to give Rome a small boost.  Other than the research thing the only major thing bothering me is that intrigue seems even more rough and exploitable than I thought.  From what I read if you send any shmuck to kill a character in another empire, if the enemy captures and kills that person it gives you a casus belli.  So just pick some guy you don't need, send him to kill someone in a nation you want to attack, and if they execute him you can DOW without a stability hit.

Still having a lot of fun with it though.  I was expecting some bugs to surface at some point and as long as they get looked at I'm happy.
12  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Europa Universalis:Rome on: April 17, 2008, 10:03:19 PM
If what I have read on the forums is true the next patch is changing it so research time is based on total population and not number of provinces.  That should fix it nicely if I'm understanding the issue correctly.
13  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Europa Universalis:Rome on: April 17, 2008, 08:57:58 PM
Yeah I did notice it seemed to be going awfully slow.  Seeing as I'm the Romans and still can't build roads in 150 BC I'd say that's a little too slow.

I hadn't heard how the mechanics of that worked before, so it does make sense given how fast I have been expanding my borders, but that would certainly seem to point to a flaw in the mechanics.  I even adopted the national idea that converts freemen to citizens to try and boost my research some, but I'm still behind a lot of the other nations.
14  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Europa Universalis:Rome on: April 17, 2008, 07:06:47 PM
Yeah the barbarian invasions can be a bit of a pain, but they do add some randomness and drama to things.  In my game while I was fighting Carthage I had only 2 legions stationed to protect all of Italy and my holding in Greece while my 9 other legions were taking the fight to Carthage in Africa.  All of a sudden I see one of my northern cities being beseiged by a barbarian horde 49,000 strong.  icon_eek

Luckily I had just broken the back of the Carthaginian resistance and was able to send a few legions home to help throw back the invaders.

Beating back the barbarians is also an important source of slaves, and can help immensely in population growth.

Historically there were cycles of barbarian invasions from Northern Europe all through Rome's history.  Ironically the Romans were generally happy to keep to themselves and concentrate on building Rome into a great city until it was sacked by Gauls around 380 BC.  After they rebuilt, their fear of again being sacked by barbarians pushed them toward external alliances and a general meddling in foreign affairs which eventually set them on the path to empire.
15  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Europa Universalis:Rome on: April 17, 2008, 04:45:38 PM
I ended up taking Tuesday off work and thanks to that I've managed to put in about 24 hours of played time with Rome so I thought I'd throw out a few of my impressions.

So far I'm enjoying it a lot.  Of all the Paradox games I've played I enjoy this setting the most, and they've improved quite a bit on the foundation of EU3.  I started off at the earliest date (about 280 B.C.) playing Rome and if I'm figuring the date right I'm currently somewhere around 150 B.C.  I own all of Italy and lots of territory along the west coast of Greece and to the north of Greece.  I also just won victory over Carthage in my first war against them and gained most of the islands in the western Med including Sicily.

If you've played EU3 you should pretty much know what to expect as far as gameplay goes, so I'll just try to go over some of the differences from EU3.  First they changed the trade system.  No longer are there merchants to send to centers of trade.  Each province has a trade good that confers a bonus on that province and any that trade with it.  I like this a lot so far as it makes for some interesting strategic decision making... do I trade to get grain in Rome to make it even more populous (grain gives a large + 3% boost to population growth) or do I use the grain to more quickly increase the growth of my new colonies so I can expand faster?

Speaking of colonization, that system has changed a lot as well. Now you can only build colonies in territories adjacent to your own, and you can't build those new colonies until one of your neighboring cities has a low barbarian strength rating, a civilization rating of 50, and a population of 10.  It takes a number of years for a new colony to get to the that point generally which makes for slow but steady expansion, but you can speed that up a bit with trade (which can raise your civ rating faster) and as I mentioned grain to speed up the population growth.  It would be nice if they could modify the system a bit to allow somehow for colonizing over water which can't be done as it works now, but overall the system works well and reflects the time period.

One of the best changes to the game has been the way civil wars work.  Since they have tied in some of the character elements from Crusader Kings you will have governors of varying loyalties in each province as well as generals with varying loyalty.  If your ruler becomes too unpopular and/or your stability gets low there's a chance that your generals with low loyalty and disloyal governors will form a competing faction and begin fighting you for control.  To make this even more interesting as your generals fight battles they have a chance of gaining the loyalty of each the cohorts assigned to them with generals of higher charisma having a much greater chance of gaining the loyalty of units.  These loyal troops will raise the generals popularity, but lower his loyalty.  So basically over time a successful general with many troops loyal to him start losing loyalty and begin thinking of civil war.  You can remove them from command if their loyalty is still high enough (although in this case there are still events that can cause trouble for you), or if they have recently won a victory you can throw them a triumph to raise their loyalty, but once they become too disloyal only death will part them from their troops.  This really leads to some tough choices at times.  Good generals can have such a major effect in battle that it is sometimes worth risking giving a disloyal commander troops if he is too good to leave behind.

As an example of this in action in my current game I launched an attack on Macedon with about seven legions of troops.  I fought some tough battles against their main army, but was able to overwhelm them in the end.  Then as the war was starting to wrap up suddenly the Macedonians broke out in Civil War.  Their main army had been fighting with their general so long they had become loyal to him and they and a number of provinces broke away from the ruling regime and started a war for the throne because of the low stability of the kingdom and the low popularity of the ruling family.  I was pretty much at the extent of victory I needed in the war, so I negotiated a truce taking control of 3 provinces from the Macedonians and then quickly stepped out of the way so they could kill themselves.  About 30 years later the civil war still raged although after control going back and forth numerous times the rebel were able to gain the upper hand and are preparing ships and men for their final attack on the last remaining loyalist holdouts.  While they were busy killing each other it ensured my entire eastern border was more or less safe from attack and allowed me the free hand to send some legions west and start my war against Carthage.  As a bonus I have much better relations with the rebels than I do with the old ruling family, so once they take control I should have an easy ally and tributary.

To try and combat the "ping pong" of constantly chasing enemy armies around they now force armies that meet to fight for 5 days before they can retreat.  This helps a bit, especially if you greatly outnumber the enemy, with being able to bring down enemies that don't want to fight, but you are still going to have to spend a lot of time keeping an eye on where enemies are retreating to and keeping forces always a step behind to keep them from regrouping.

Also worth a mention is invoking the gods.  Each religion of the day (Roman, Greek, Shamanism, etc.) has a varying amount of power based on the number of provinces that worship the same way and the temples built in those lands.  The more power your religion has the greater the chance that and invocations you make will be successful.  There is no cost to these invocations save for the fact that if you are unsuccessful they will have the opposite effect from the intended one.  Different invocations include ones to increase troop morale, population growth, lower revolt risk, increase trade income, etc.  This gives a lot of the Greek states a powerful early boost because their religion is so powerful in the beginning that they have a good chance of invoking right from the start.  So far they seem powerful and useful, but potentially very risky if you fail a key invocation at just the wrong time.

The game isn't without it's quirks though, for one thing I'm not sure I like the balance of the intrigue options.  This includes things like assassination, defacing temples, inciting revolts, etc.  My main problem is that it appears assassinations are pretty easy to pull off, but there's also a good chance the character that does it will be caught.  It also isn't a cause of casus belli which can result in some major pains.  In my game the Carthaginians were upset with me and began killing my generals, consuls, and governors at alarming rates. I'd say I only saw one attempt in 10 fail, and 2 of those 10 succeeded without my capturing the person who did it.  It just seems to me that's way too high of a chance, especially given that the targets of these attacks should have been among the most protected citizens in Rome.  I lost a total of probably 20 characters to Carthage and couldn't take the stability hit at the time to declare war to try to force them to stop.  Very frustrating.  This has led to some monumental shortages in characters for me which seems odd given that I supposedly rule a fairly large populous empire.  This leads me to think there is also some work to be done in how characters are born and added to the game, but it does seem to correct itself slowly over time.

Another problem I see that shouldn't be much of a surprise to players of past Paradox games is the uneven interface.  At times it works well, but at other times it can be a major pain.  For instance one event that often comes up is the discovery of a corrupt governor.  The event fires and tells you that one governor is going to gain some corruption and it asks you if you want to remove them or make a deal and let them stay.  Now, in some cases I'd rather take a little corruption than lose a really good governor, but if the guy isn't that good in the first place I don't mind dumping him.  The problem is there is no link to the governors stats so I can easily look and see if I think he's worth keeping around.  I have to pause the game and look for the province with that governor in it (all with the event window still blocking the screen).  In this case just a simple link to the character page would make it much less irritating.  This may sound like a fairly minor issue, and it is, but it's representative of lots of little quirks like that throughout the game.  It's not enough to keep me from having fun, but it does take away from the game after a while.

Also this time around the game is much smaller in scale than EU3.  It takes place only around the Med, and the number of factions you can play even including minors is much, much smaller than EU3.  It turns out this isn't really a bad thing to me.  It keeps things focused and with repeated playing it's interesting to note how the fortunes of the different major powers changes.  In one game I played the Seleucid empire was shattered early on in a large civil war that made them ripe for conquest by the Egyptians and Parthian's, while in another game they managed to remain solid and they now rule a huge swath of the eastern part of the map easily making it the most powerful single faction.

One last thing is the difficulty of playing many of the minors.  Because of the importance of the civilization rating of each province and the mechanics of raising that value it can be darn near impossible for a lot of the minors to get enough civilization to start colonizing, and with the way troop maintenance works it can be very hard to some of the minors to keep enough troops around to deal with the occasional barbarian invasion and still keep their heads above water.  Much different than in CK or EU3 where a good player could do wonders with a minor nation given patience and time.

So overall I think the game is a lot of fun so far, but still has a few issues that I hope get looked at at some point.  Certainly one of the more playable Paradox games as of its release.
16  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: The Shrub Dynasty appears over. on: December 22, 2006, 06:19:58 PM
I really like what I see of Obama, but yeah he hasn't faced much opposition in his political career.  I think he'd be a perfect VP though for this time around and perhaps later will be perfect for a presidential run.

17  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: The State of Galactica Address - A Battlestar Galactica discussion on: December 15, 2006, 10:48:08 PM
Perhaps it's the writers intention that the Cylons seem to be less and less of a threat?

It seems to me that as the clones have learned and become more human in their thoughts and actions more and more they have had disagreements.

While we didn't have a direct look at the inner workings of the Cylons in the beginning, the brief looks we did have seemed to indicate they were all arriving independantly at the same conclusions to questions and were in near complete lock step.

With the reintroduction of the veterans to the collective however that seems to have fractured the Cylons thinking.  With distinctly different takes on the questions in front of them there appears to be genuine debate among them about how to procede.

Lackluster writing perhaps, but it could also be them coming to grips with an evolution in how they interact with eachother.

18  Gaming / Analog Gaming / Re: Marvel Heros on: December 15, 2006, 10:14:22 PM
Here's my rambling impressions from the other night that I posted on OO:

A friend of mine has been lusting after this board game for over a year now and it finally came out in time for me to get it for him for Chistmas. So we got together with a few friends of ours last night and proceded to put the hurt on evil doers.

The game is from Fantasy Flight and the bits for the most part are top notch. It comes with prepainted plastic miniatures representing four super hero teams. The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, and the Marvel Knights (4 mainly solo characters brought together for the game). Each team also has a figure to resresent their nemesis.

The object of the game is to complete troubleshooting tasks (fight crime, etc) around New York to gather victory points. Once someone reaches the goal the game will end at the end of that turn, and players have until the very end to end up with the most victory points.

Each player selects one super team to play and then passes their teams nemesis to their left. The player on the left will be responsible for taking actions for that villain throughout the game.

The action revolves around using plot points each turn to ready characters for battle on the main board. Players go around and perform actions with their readied heroes. The meat of the game is really the troubleshooting. Here a single hero, a hero supported by another, or multiple heroes can try to face enemies to gain the victory points offered by a headline.

Trouble points are generated based on the difficulty of the headline and the other players use those points to play their villain cards. In this way they deploy one lead villain to combat the heroes and then can use any remaining trouble points to play additional agents and other bonuses for the villain to use.

Once this is done the battle lines are drawn and game goes into the combat phase. Each villain and hero has two or three powers they can choose from each round. Once powers are selected the players do a series of rolls using special dice to attack eachother and then try to outwit eachother, continuing until one player is knocked out. All the while bother players will have different abilities and cards they can play to change the outcome of rolls.

The way the game plays leads to a nice combination of coop and head to head play. While all the players are trying to get the most victory points, when it comes to troubleshooting it's up to all three of the opposing players to play villain cards to fight the heroes. This does a great job of keeping players focused and interested in the game, even when they aren't the acting player.

We had to call our game a bit early as it was getting late, but by then Doc Doom had managed complete the first part of his master plan by building himself a suit of mystic armor, and Magneto's plan was underway as well. And poor Mr. Fantastic... beaten down like a dog by the lowly Rhino. I'll never live that one down.

Overall the game has lots of great elements from it's theme and any comic book fan will enjoy spending hours looking through the many cards. It does drag at times, but there are many design elements to keep this to a minimum.

19  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Company of Heroes Patch 1.2 on: September 18, 2006, 10:33:45 PM

Quote from: Thin_J on September 16, 2006, 05:18:10 PM

Quote from: Kobra on September 16, 2006, 04:25:38 PM

Wonder if they will fix the essentially broke lan code?  Relic is ok, but I am pretty angry they didn't beta test the lan functionality.

It's been working fine for me so far. 5 or 6 games and no issues to date.

I've played probably 15 or 20 games now with my roommate without any hitches.

20  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Casual Gaming: Dwarf Fortress (was Virtual Villagers) on: September 12, 2006, 07:28:16 PM

Quote from: Eduardo X on September 12, 2006, 04:36:21 PM

All I can say, Sepiche, is FUCK! That looks like a lot of work.

I still can't hold a candle to Zurai.  Either functionally or artisically:

21  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Casual Gaming: Dwarf Fortress (was Virtual Villagers) on: September 12, 2006, 02:52:34 PM
In case anyone is interested here's the last fort I designed.

I tried a bunch of experimental stuff with it, some of it worked and some of it didn't which is my I started over, but I think I came up with some good plans.

The internal refuse pile and internal graveyard didn't end up being very helpful, but I think my defenses were quite good.

22  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Phantom...canceled? on: August 16, 2006, 09:32:13 PM
Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water...

Although there has been no official press announcement, an update to the website of Phantom Entertainment (previously Infinium Labs) has revealed that the long-delayed Phantom Games Service has now become a software only games on-demand service.

As originally conceived, the Phantom was a customized games-specific PC console designed to use a direct download content delivery service instead of removable media. Amidst considerable criticism of the company itself and notable financial turmoil, the Phantom was repeatedly delayed, despite being demonstrated as recently as a June 2005 edition of the G4 program Attack of the Show.

A recent update to Phantom Entertainment’s website, though, indicates that “The Phantom Game Service was originally engineered to run on a Windows XP embedded operating system on a Phantom Game Receiver managed by Phantom content servers over the Internet.”

The site now suggests that: “The Company intends to modify the Phantom Game Service software to run as client software on personal computers operating Windows XP and Windows XP Media center operating systems.”

In its original form, The Phantom had support from publishers including Codemasters, Dreamcatcher Interactive, Eidos, GarageGames, Interplay, O-3 Entertainment, Vivendi and Atari. It is unclear whether any of these companies are still supporting the service - recent SEC filings have shown debts still outstanding to the majority of them from previous Infinium financial difficulties.

Despite the website update, no further information is given on the release date of the Phantom Lapboard device, which was originally promised to be released “no later than October 2006”.

23  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Did Stronghold 2 end up being any good? on: August 14, 2006, 05:21:13 PM
I posted this over at OO, but thoguht I'd post here too to see if I can get some responses.

I was looking through my old games this weekend and suddenly had the urge to play Stronghold. That got me curious about Stronghold 2. Did it turn out being any good once it was all patched up? Did it end up being better or worse than Stronghold 1?

I might end up grabbing it just to see how it plays (only $20 now), but thought I'd save myself some agony in the event it was an unplayable mess.

24  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Warhammer: Online preview of two of the tank classes on: July 27, 2006, 04:36:58 PM
Before Mythic restarted the project, I agree, it was on a fast track to being another forgotten MMORPG, but since they took over it's looking much, much better.

25  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Warhammer: Online preview of two of the tank classes on: July 26, 2006, 10:07:41 PM
Not bad.  Interesting mechanics for each and they show an understanding of the source material.

26  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / The programers for Suikoden 5 should be fired on: June 26, 2006, 04:17:06 PM
I'm playing through night now and I can't say I've seen any slowdowns.  The load times can pop up quite a bit sometimes, especially when battles are loading, but then again 90% of console RPGs I've played have a borderline annoying load time for battles.  I haven't seen anything like you describe with the controls not responding, or the character screen coming up slowly.

My only early annoyance was how slow even the "fast" option for the text was, but a quick change to show all text corrected that.

I fought the first major battle recently and I can say I liked the battles from 3 much better, but overall I've been having a lot of fun with the game.

27  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / WB & UPN to merge on: January 25, 2006, 09:13:59 PM
Quote from: "Calvin"
As long as Gilmore Girls finishes properly I am fine with it. no big deal. In fact, I actually think this might help the next iteration of Star Trek as long as they dont try to do some sort of stupid ass "young person" emo high school bullshit series. Put it on at 9, make it a grown up series, and you ahve twice the potential vewiers from other shows. I like it.

Star Trek: Starfleet Acadamy

Genius!  The episodes almost write themselves!  In fact I bet I could just steal scripts from Saved by the Bell and it'd be picked up for sure!

28  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Never watched a Uwe Boll Movie... which is WORST? on: January 11, 2006, 10:42:10 PM
I think House of the Dead is a special kind of bad.  

Of particualar note:
That terrible 15 odd minute 50 yard run to the house... I wished I was the one being shot by the end of that scene.

Also the shots of the 8 bit graphics from the game thrown in at totally random moments.

Yeah, that was a bad, bad movie, and I usually like zombie movies no matter what.

29  Gaming / Analog Gaming / WOW the Boardgame on: January 11, 2006, 10:20:00 PM
I finally got a game of WoW in last night with a few friends.  We only had 4 players and elected not to play with 6 characters, so some of my cons might change since the game was designed around 6 character play.

Overall we all had a blast playing it.  There were times our lack of experience with the game slowed things down to a crawl, but I'm sure it would play better now that we all know the rules.

Perfectly captured the feel of WoW (leveling, getting new gear, questing, etc.)
Mind boggling number of bits
Interesting combat mechanics
Deep leveling with lots of hard choices to make
Combines the best aspects of competitive games and cooperative games
Classes seem well balanced and each one feels unique and like it's real WoW counterpart
Race against the clock feeling keeps the game tense
Rules are well written and very clear.  I didn't notice and ambiguous wording at all

Can be lots of downtime while the other team moves (most of the time this wasn't a huge issue as the "off" team would use that time to plan, but still downtime)
Not much incentive for PvP
PvP combat can take a LONG time (we use the deadly rules as the basic rules can drag)
Game can run long if your not careful

30  Non-Gaming / Forum and Site Feedback / FYI: Crank PMs on: December 14, 2005, 08:02:08 PM
I just got some nasty images in a PM from TheDude.

Might be time to break out the ban stick. smile

31  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / UPS Girl (NSFW) on: November 25, 2005, 03:57:00 PM
Man, my UPS driver looks exactly like that.

Except add a penis, about 100 lbs., a mustache, some sort of skin disorder, and a bad attitude.

It's almost uncanny.

32  Gaming / Analog Gaming / Looking for Suggestions on: November 18, 2005, 05:54:17 PM
Given your requirements I'd really recommend Runebound, Arkham Horror, or Shadows over Camelot.  If there will be a significant number of people there who are not often game players I would really recommend Shadows Over Camelot.  It's a great game that's easy to convince people to play, the rules are easy to learn, and having a traitor gives the game some teeth to keep it interesting.

33  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / New Kingdom Hearts 2 world revealed - Wow! on: November 10, 2005, 03:24:41 PM
Tron!?!  Oh crap I just wet myself...

34  Gaming / Analog Gaming / Descent: Journeys in the Dark boardgame in stores on: November 09, 2005, 08:14:24 PM
I picked this up at my local store the other day.  I even gave a small sob story about how I almost bought it on ThoughtHammer, but decided to get it in the store instead because I wanted to support him.  He ended up giving me $15 off. smile

Even for $80 though the game comes with an impressive amount of bits.  Hopefully I'll be able to get a game in in the near future.

35  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / I may not get a PS3 - if this is true on: November 09, 2005, 03:41:14 PM
This doesn't pass the smell test.

36  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / [XBOX] Call of Cthulhu -- Let the Bethesda bashing begin! on: October 28, 2005, 02:20:20 PM
Few days late, but here's a cross post of my impressions that I posted on OO:

I played for about 2 and a half hours last night and I agree with the others... great game so far! According to the stats I'm 24% done which would put a first time through the game at perhaps around 10 hours, but that could be off depending on some of the later puzzles. So 1/4 of the game is done and I haven't gotten a weapon yet. I have a feeling they intentionally setup the story like a Lovecarft novel in that regard. Start slow, lots of investigating, creepy happenings, and slowly the real horror becomes clear and must be fought.

The game is absolutely great at immersing you completely in whats going on. The main screen you play in always is in first person, and never switches except for your visions. All cutscenes and conversations are from your point of view.

One thing worth mentioning is the damage system. If you get shot or otherwise injured you'll see blood splatter on your screen, the color will slowly drain out of the world, and depending on where you were hit you will lose some movement ability. If the wound is serious you have two options: You can quickly dose yourself with morphine which will restore you, more or less to working condition, but repeatedly using morphine over a short time can cause a large hit to your sanity. If you are free of danger and injured it's time to break out the first aid kit! In your menu screen you can select yourself. This brings up a zoomed in view on the main character and lets you view damage on all parts of your body. Light injuries require just a bandage, deep cuts need to be suchered, broken bones must be set, and poison must be counteracted. As you go through the game you pick up medikits and refill your stocks, but you have only a limited supply of each of the healing agents. Basically a detailed damage system that reminds you that you are extremely mortal.  

The sanity system is also well done. You know you are starting to feel your sanity slip away when you start getting motion blur. Then you will start feeling your heart beating in the controller vibration. After more exposure you can lapse into deeper forms of madness. Also suddenly being exposed to horrific things can cause a sudden large loss of sanity that can take a little bit to recover from. Sanity can be lost simply by looking at horrible scenes. In a number of parts you are exposed to scenes of death and if you look away your sanity will slowly start to recover, but if you sit and look at the crime scene you can feel your sanity slowly slip away.

One of the really interesting things is that your character starts having visions not too long after you reach Innsmouth. They use these to great effect to give you hints and just generally creep you out. One particularly good cut:
I was walking down a hallway, and towards the end I could see a couple windows and a man looking out. Suddenly the game jumps to a vision. I can hear heavy breathing and growling and it looks as though I'm sitting on the rooftops. Then I started moving and jumped into the air. Just as I jumped I could see two windows, one of them with a man looking out. Once I jumped back into my body I looked out the window and saw... something... jumping to the ground. Nicely done.  

The story so far is pretty much just bits of greater or lesser amounts taken from a number of Lovecraft stories. I haven't read all his works, but so far I can recognize Shadow Over Innsmouth, Shadow out of Time, and Call of Cthulhu to name just a few. If you've read all his works you might find a lot of the game familiar, but so far that hasn't detracted from the game one bit for me.

If I had anything to complain about... it'd be nice if there were a quest log. Your character keeps a diary, but it doesn't get updated after every plot point, only after major ones. Sometimes I find myself missing something someone tells me, and the game really lacks a way to remind you where you should be heading. Immersive maybe, but a little annoying. Also no automapping or anything, so you are definitely on your own on this one.  

So far though, none of the puzzles have been too tough. Usually if I get stuck it's because I missed a hallway or alleyway and I find wandering around can usually put me back on the right track. Once the action begins I've found I usually have to give them a couple tries before I can manage to get through. I might also mention that the first real action scenes are a really intense chase scene. I had to try it a couple times to figure out how to get past, but very fun.

Tragic that I will probably put this on hold since Civ4 is out, but this is defintely one I want to see through to the end.

37  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Civillization IV Impressions on: October 27, 2005, 03:06:34 PM
Crosspost with my thoughts from BC:

I believe I am a rare breed of person who has not been completely satisfied with the Civ series since Civilization 1, but you know what good brothers? My itch has finally been scratched. I've enjoyed the other games to be sure, but they never seemed to have that same magic that the first game had, or been as hard for me to put down as the first Civ. Civ 4 for me has been extremely fun so far. It great to get a game again after this TBS drought that gives me the need to play just one more turn.

Now that my ridiculous fanboi gushing is out of the way, on to a few thoughts.

My favorite new addition to the game so far? The great people. I was playing last night as the Incas and I was fenced in. I got stuck on a small strip of land barely big enough for 2 cities and the noose was getting tight. On a whim I adjusted my capital to free up some workers to be specialist and a few turns later I was rewarded with a great artist. So I saw he could create a work of art (+4000 culture) so I ran him up to my northern city that was being pressed upon badly by Egyptian culture. Now I know why it's called a culture bomb.  In one swift move I secured a rice field from the Egyptians and an iron mine from the Chinese. All the great people so far have been terribly fun to use.

As for a few quibbles:
I've also noticed some asshattery with the tool tips. From time to time they won't work right and it's a little frustrating. Combat is still something of an enigma as well. The animations are neat and all, but I haven't been able to get my mind around the mechanics yet.

38  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / [XBOX] Help Dark Corners of the Earth [Spoilers] on: October 27, 2005, 02:13:13 PM
Took me a couple of tries to get that too, between messing up the direction to spin the dial and getting the date wrong.

39  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / stubbs the zombie? on: October 25, 2005, 03:40:34 PM
x Post from OO:

Okay.  I played the game off and on the last few days.  Usually I have a good feel for a game after just a bit, but I had to let my thoughts simmer on this one.

My final thoughts are:
The concept of the game and the production value are both top notch.  The soundtrack is also worthy of extra special praise.

The gameplay... well, that's what has troubled me.  Overall, I think they dropped the ball in one important area... interface.  One of the key mechanics of the game is using your undead horde effectively against those nasty humans.  For such a core part of the game... it's just not very fun.  Playing single player I've found myself constantly frustrated with unresponsive zombies and sub par controls.  Some of this may be by design, but either way I just don't find it very fun to manage your zombies.

Now, that said, coop is a hoot.  Having another person there to help keep your rabble in line and to help with your attacks makes a big difference.  It's definitely the type of game that's fun to pick up for a few hours with a buddy, eat some brains, and move on.

Overall, I'm a tad disappointed with the game, both with length and gameplay, but the production value and fun story make up for a lot of that, especially when playing coop.  My biggest hope is that the game will sell well enough to warrent a sequel that might address some of my problems with it.

40  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Shattered Union impressions? on: October 21, 2005, 03:01:51 PM
Cross post from my impressions at OO (PC version impressions):

I managed to get in a good portion of a campaign last night and overall:
Fun. Not a great game, but a nice, light, wargame. If I had to compare it to something, it actually reminds me a little of the old IMagic game Fallen Haven.

I started a new campaign as Pacifica. They are a technology oriented faction comprised of Washington, Oregon, and a few other NW states. The campaign starts you with a modest well balanced army, and a little cash. Each turn represent a week and you gain income from your territories at the beginning of each turn. Each territory contains special buildings that confer different bonuses. Some buildings reduce the cost of infantry, some increase your total income, some give your units more fuel in battle, etc. These buildings can be detroyed in battle, so it's important to try to keep fights away from them. Each turn you are allowed to repair and expand your army as you see fit and you can attack one enemy territory bordering on yours. Once you select a territory to attack you are presented with a map of the area and can select the direction you are launching your attack from. Once you've done this you can select what units in your army to take with you. As I mentioned above units that go to battle with you (even if the enemy withdraws) are unavailable for combat again until the next turn.

The battles themselves I feel a bit mixed about. The graphics are great, and the attention to detail is commendable. For instance, each territory has it's map with all the major (and many minor) towns represented. Many of the towns have key landmarks located on the map too. For instance on one of my last battles I was fending off EU peacekeepers from my redoubt in the Houston Astrodome. In San Antonio you can see the Alamo, Roswell features a small alien crash site near the town. My battles for Los Angles have been fun too. Lots of house to house battles with attacking partisans. Another interesting point is that as the battles rage, serious and permanent damage can be done to the terrain. To this day the eastern part of Los Angles is more or less ruins after me repeatedly using it to hold it.  That damage translates to the campaign as well. The damage you do in a mission can hurt your political rating which in turn affects what special abilities you can use and a few other things.

The tactical battles themselves are I'd say only mediocre. Admittedly I'm playing on lower difficultly, and am still learning the game, but overall I just don't really like how they have the units balanced. That's not to say they are unbalanced, it's just I'd prefer a different pace of game than they have presented. The combat is very similar to Advanced Wars with the exception of units doing full damage despite being damaged themselves. Stats include damage vs. infantry, armor, air, defense, movement, sight radius. Pretty standard stuff really.

Each battle is played out on a realistic map of the area in contention. Major cities are given point values, and the attacker has 14 turns to get a certain number of objective points to force his enemy to withdraw.

One thing I've noticed, is that, money not withstanding, infantry are pretty pointless. They are cheap, and do get bonuses to defense when in cities, but they still get trounced by most every unit. As the game progressed and I got more money my infantry forces have dwindled to near nothing as my tank divisions don't have any penalty in city fighting, so I used them for most combat.

The air support I think is handled well. At the beginning of battle you place your airbase. This gives you some air defense around it, but if it's lost you are unable to use aircraft anymore in that battle. Each turn you can use each of your squadrons once. Bombers can target enemy ground formations and key targets like bridges, fighters can target enemy aircraft and helicopters directly, or can be put on patrol to defend all units in a given radius. AA vehicles can also be used to provide defense to all units in a certain radius. Basically if any unit in their defense area is attacked, they get a free shot at the approaching craft. Aircraft are expensive to buy, but they can be devastating to an enemy force.

The special abilities are a nice touch, but I'm not entirely sure how balanced they are. California was repeatedly using it's ability to apparently make a unit near invincible. They would put their ability on their heavy tanks and as a result I could barely destroy them. As illustration a heavy tank division has around 21 hit points. Usually my heavy armor can knock them down to around 11 hit points after one attack. With that power on their defense was raised so high I was doing 2 or 3 damage per hit. Had I not had the enemy outnumbered by a good margin that could have been a devastating ability. I had a few good abilities, but that one seemed a little out of line. Some of the abilities include: Satellite support, nanite repairing, patrol units, defense debuffs, defense buffs. As your political alignment goes up or down your available abilities change to reflect your new outlook on war.

Overall it's a fun game, but rather light. I think it's biggest effect was to make me want to load up Supreme Ruler again, but then again I tend to prefer deeper wargames.  

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