Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gaming-related posts I've missed recently and other babble

Origins + DA2 = DA3?
Aside from the reuse of environments, little to none of my previous complaints about Dragon Age 2 had anything to do with the game play. But I'm intrigued by the way it's phrased in the Joystiq page, as "throwing [the two] ...into a blender" to combine the best of both games. Maybe keeping the speed of DA2's battles but taking away the wave-based combat would be a good start; not adding the voice recognition they're adding to Mass Effect 3 would make me even happier, though!

Bioshock: Rapture
Old news, but slightly intriguing nonetheless. I've had good luck with the Dragon Age companion novels and since I was very intrigued by the world of Rapture, I might eventually pick this up--after finishing Dragon Age: Asunder, that is.

Actually, I'd consider picking it up to pass the time between now and Asunder, but I've got three and a half GRRM books to finish first (not even including the most recent--I'm just counting the first four, which I've already purchased!) and I already have one other book on my wait-list for after that & before Asunder if there's time. I just wish the Kindle edition wasn't $9.99.
Amazon product page

New features, etc for PS Vita
While I've recently deleted my own Facebook account, nonetheless the new mess of features available on the PS Vita is good to know about. Oh, yeah, and apparently some additional games/franchises have been announced for the system, as well.

As for the features, first, the system will have access to Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare as well as featuring the return of Skype. Gee, sounds like a lot of things my phone can do, you might be thinking. And you're right; I probably wouldn't use any of these features on the go, other than as a backup should my phone battery die, but then again I'm only planning on getting the WiFi version of the Vita, so I won't have an always-on connection anyway. I do see myself using Twitter, at least, while at home, if I happen to have the system closer to me than my phone. I already suffer through the PSP browser to post on Twitter via that on insomnia nights if my PSP is next to my bed but the phone is out of reach, so having a native app will just make that sort of thing that much easier. Also, just as these apps are on your phone, they'll be available at no-charge from the PS Store when the time comes.

As for franchises, it's possible these have been mentioned before elsewhere, or maybe it was announced originally at gamescom, which is what the link I'm working off for this section is discussing. In either case, there will be new Resistance and Assassin's Creed games developed custom for the Vita, as well as a "touching adventure" game titled Escape Plan that sounds like some sort of platform puzzler from the very brief mention of it. Unfortunately, none of this elevates the Vita from "eventual purchase" to "day one purchase" for me. I know there are people who love these franchises that could be pushed over that edge by this news, but I'm not one of them. All I need right now is one good, solid JRPG of 30+ hours and I'd be in for it, though I'd strongly prefer it not to be another Square-Enix remake.
PS Blog
Fake edit: Kotaku's posted another article over the past 24 hours with four more Vita titles, all from Konami. Sorry, Sony & Konami, but these aren't the games I'm looking for. I'll continue to wait, hopeful that titles I'm interested in will be announced for launch or near to it.

Every Vita game downloadable
Speaking of Vita, it sounds like Sony has partly learned from it's error with the PSP Go. It seems like all games released for the Vita will be available as downloads from the PS Store, but as we've already heard the system will feature (some? most? all?) games at retail stores on proprietary memory cards as well.

Personally, I know Sony wanted to go all-digital with the Go and fell flat on their collective ass with that jump, so easing customers into the idea with the Vita is probably a good idea. I wouldn't be surprised if a future revision of the system goes download-only once the idea is more firmly planted in the public's mind, slowly phasing out the retail editions.

My only worry here is that said future revisions will leave early adopters making the choice between upgrading, or losing the ability to play their retail-purchased games. Maybe Sony can compromise with us by allowing PS Store downloads of retail games we've registered online? I doubt it would happen, but it'd be a nice move on their part.

And a little more recently, the following links:

New Singstar Song Packs!
Really not a lot to report that's not in the subtitle above. If you're into Singstar, click the link to see which packs are now available. Unfortunately for me, I already own many of the songs listed that I'd even consider in the first place, but if you haven't downloaded as many songs as I have you might get some value out of it.
PS Blog

Gamestop instructing employees to remove OnLive codes from retail copies of Deus Ex on PC
If you haven't heard of this yet, the best you can do is just read the link below. The short, short version is, somebody's been baaa~~aaad!!!!!

Other than all of the above, not a lot going on. I'm going to try and post coverage of PAX Prime from home to my alternate Twitter feed similar to how I posted about E3. I've temporarily renamed that account BrenPAXspam if you're interested in following it, but because PAX is more hands-on than just watching E3 pressers on G4, I'm afraid my so-called coverage of that isn't going to compare to what I had going on back in June. For the most part, I'll be tweeting and retweeting links and photos from others; a lot of it's going to depend on my workload each day Friday through Sunday, though, since I'm working all three days.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Contact Congress Today to Save Funding for NIH

I normally try to publicly stay as far away from political issues as possible, but this is really important to me. Please take the time to send a letter to your senators, congressman, and the POTUS, especially if you have anyone in your life with a medical condition that could benefit from research done by the National Institute for Health. In my case, I have multiple people I worry about medically: Brian and his kidney disease, friends and acquaintances with various auto-immune disorders (including but not limited to Jules's lupus), and myself, because my doctor hasn't reached a positive diagnosis on anything so far, but she considers me at risk for developing some form of auto-immune disorder myself. This site did require me to type my own letter, whereas I normally just use the form letters organizations provide to send to Washington regarding one issue or another, but because this is more personal I really didn't mind. If I can write a decent letter in 20 minutes while half-asleep, I'm hoping others will take the time manage the same.

Thanks in advance to anyone who does participate.

Contact Congress Today to Save Funding for NIH

Monday, August 15, 2011

Holy shit, Brian started playing Dragon Age again! #shock

To be fair, I should probably go ahead and clarify the above statement. As of yesterday, Brian started playing Dragon Age II. He never finished Origins, claiming that his entire goal was to bed as many people as possible in a single night at camp and once he'd achieved that he had no reason to play. Keep in mind that he already had healed Arl Eamon and completed at least two of the three, if not all three, treaty quests in the first game. He was practically done and just decided to stop.

DA2 plays much differently than Origins, though, so he started that up yesterday. Since he didn't have a completed save to import, I had to provide a bit of a Cliff's Notes for each of the prebuilt histories the game provides (primarily "Who's ruling Ferelden, Alistair, Anora, or the two together?" "Did you let Loghain live?" "Did you complete the ritual?" and "Which of you killed the Archdemon?1") so he could decide which back story to use. He ended up taking the default Hero of Ferelden story, since with the exception of his character was a human mage rather than a noble, everything in that scenario matched his answers.

Then, he broke my heart.

Since he preferred playing as a mage in Origins, he took that class for his Hawke in DA2. He knows about how only one twin makes it out of the prologue alive and which twin survives based on your player class (though he didn't know how the other died and was a bit surprised by that) and yet he still chose to play as a mage. It made me extremely sadface to see Bethany die by the ogre's hand, but at least Brian agrees with me that Carver's a pain in the ass little twit. I don't remember if Brian knows how to kill Carver later in the game, and I haven't decided yet if that should be spoiled at the last minute when the time comes.

Let's see, Bethany who stands up for what she believes in, or Carver who folds and does what big brother/sister says in spite of it going against everything he believes. Plus, Bethany's hot.

Anyway, he only got as far as recruiting Varric and initially meeting Sebastian when I decided he was okay to play on his own without me there to answer questions and give advice (mostly advice that was requested, and questions about the events in Origins). I went to the other room to take a nap, and I think he saved and quit for the afternoon shortly afterward himself. I forgot to ask last night specifically how much he did before turning it off, and if he intends to even continue the game, so I'll have to check with him later today. If he does continue, I already see him being just as furious with the game as I was the first time I finished it, since I gave him the same advice I've given everyone--PICK A SIDE--and he said no, he'll just answer each time based on what he feels is right. Or maybe he said whichever response was "evil", I can't remember. :p

At any rate, if he continues with the game then this could be interesting. Or it could be really, really frustrating, depending on if he asks for advice throughout the game or not. I don't mind discussing how I felt about certain parts of the game, but if he takes the alternate paths and then gets mad at the game for being "wrong" it's going to get old really quick. After all, I've already been through that set of emotions with this game. ^_~

1This question brought up a whole slew of other questions that weren't entirely related to starting his character, since Brian didn't get far enough in Origins to learn how an Archdemon is actually killed. Somehow I'd told him about Morrigan's ritual, but not the reason behind it. >.<

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I am a sleepy idiot and never gave this post a title before actually posting it. :p

There is so much going on, and so little, all at once right now:

I found out from one of the guys on Twitter that I'd missed Malvernis, an optional boss in Dragon Age II: Legacy, which I kind of suspected but still was a little annoyed about. The short, short version is when you get the quest item "Warm Orb" you need to turn your ass around and march back out to the arena-like area outside of the ruins. There will be a small structure there that wasn't before, and that will begin the fight. If you have a mage trained in Elemental and/or Primal you shouldn't have to even blink at this fight--just use AoE attacks on the helper monsters and any ice spells you have on Malvernis himself. I won't go into any more detail on that boss for spoilers' sake, but that should get you through the fight at least.

On the topic of DAII: Legacy, I mentioned in my original posts about the content about trouble I had with the final boss, Corypheus. Lots of random mentions online that I've noticed complain that your companions' AI is terrible in this fight and that's why everyone's having trouble, but I don't know if that's really the case. Yes, on my first fight I had a lot of trouble, and I assumed at the time it was due to my preference for "glass cannon" parties--they can't take any damage if they get hit, but they deal out so much damage so quickly that they very rarely do get hit--combined with the fact I was only level seven when I started Legacy on that particular mage character.

Looking back at that first time through Legacy, it could have been a problem with my characters' levels and skills, or it could have been the companions' AI, as I hadn't customized any of their tactics yet beyond instructing them to replenish their own health and stamina. Out of four versions of Hawke, I only had trouble with Corypheus with one other party--a post-game glass cannon that also had nearly default tactics. With the others, though, each companion's tactics I set up and maintained manually throughout the game, and these parties never once got caught on Corypheus's traps. My third glass cannon group (and ironically, my canon save) took Corypheus out so quickly that he barely got started. Keeping that in mind and considering I've been through both scenarios, I have to wonder how much of the "our AI sucks/the boss is too hard" is really the game's fault, and how much of it the result of lazy players.

Anyway, let's get off of Dragon Age for now. One thing that's very new for me is I'm going to be recording an episode of Game Club for ZombieFrog radio at some point soon. I'm not sure when exactly we're recording or when it will be online, but I'll post more when I know more. A number of the games reviewed on previous Game Clubs are older games; this episode is no exception, and it was kind of nice going back to a game I hadn't played almost since the PS2 launched to begin with. I'm probably going to be going back through the game a second time today just for the hell of it, so if you see me swearing a lot on Twitter, that's probably why.

Finally, I actually jumped on the Xbox last night for a bit & played some Mortal Kombat. I sucked horribly, as usual, and only won matches when I resorted to cheap-ass moves like Sheeva's ground pound, but it was fun as hell. As I mentioned online, I don't mind losing--so long as the game is still fun. Shoot me an @, comment, email, whatever if you want to jump on that pretty much any time, and I'll get with Brian to "let me" use the Xbox for a bit.

Anyway, that's all I can think of game-wise at the moment, and while there's other stuff going on (or not going on, like my lack of PAX) none of it is really post-worthy right now.

PS: Back to Dragon Age for a minute, what the hell happened to Dragon Age: Redemption? It's not like I was terribly thrilled with the thought, but I'm not against it either, and there is nothing new on it that I can find in a quick Google search other than "early this fall" from the Comicon panel that Felicia Day did. Oh well, it'll be out when it's out.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

SPOILERS & SPECULATION - My canon Hawke's trip through Dragon Age II: Legacy

(If you aren't familiar with my canon Marian's progress through the game, a summary can be found here.)

For my canon save of DA2, I took my post-game Marian into the Legacy content with lover-Anders, Grey Warden Bethany, and Aveline as a tank. Presumably, this was completed at some point during Act 3 since this Marian very much did not become Viscount.

Having played through Legacy three times already when I finally began it with my canon save, I already knew which choices I would be making--the opposite of those, for the most part, from what I chose with all three previous trips. In my non-canon characters, including Mari the Warrior, my alternate Marian the rogue (who became Viscountess of Kirkwall & Princess of Starkhaven), and the fresh Jennasir the mage (who I created specifically to complete the DLC) I chose to side with Larius over Janeka regarding whether Corypheus should be freed or destroyed. There was no way I would chance letting him go, he was too powerful, etc.

I deliberately chose the opposite with my canon Marian. In one of the few actions she took against Anders’ advice, she decided that learning more about this ancient darkspawn was worth the risk--after all, the Warden Commander and Queen of Ferelden was able to trust one of these Emissaries who could think for himself, so clearly the Warden Janeka understood the risks she was taking. (And after all, we already know from the game’s epilogue that the Thedas that Elissa saved from the Fifth Blight has been all but destroyed by the Mage-Templar War that Anders has begun. What did Marian care if there were another mega-darkspawn on the loose?)

In the long run, though, even Janeka came to realize her mistake, and Corypheus had to be destroyed. Anders refused to believe the possibility that the darkspawn before us could be one of the Magisters of the First Violation until after the battle, when we found an amulet worn only by the priests of Dumat--a sect that hadn’t existed since the First Blight.

One thing is slightly haunting, though: When Corypheus awoke, and calls to Dumat, he claims that the City was already black and corrupted when they arrived. Was it always Black, and never Golden? Were the Old Gods goading the Magisters to break into the Maker’s City in revenge for their imprisonment? Why did the Maker really imprison them? I doubt this is something Bioware will delve too deeply into, at least in the next game, but it should make for some very interesting theories and fan fiction, at the very least.

Monday, August 1, 2011

It might be messy here for the next week or so

I'm going to be playing with the Blogger templates and CSS again in my spare time probably for the next week or so, so if things look... odd... here for about that length of time, that's why. I've already saved a backup of where I am now, so reverting things won't be an issue if necessary.

I'm just asking if things look strange, ignore them. If they act strange or if anything (links, photos, anything) is broken please let me know as much as you can about it so I can try and get it fixed.