30 September 2014


Do not adjust your television set.
Destiny has an equipment setup that mimics an old saying back home: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  They've got a limited set of space, and you can disassemble it for materials to improve on other weapons.  It's a great system.
In turn, there'll always be someone who will take the time to find a way to maximise on that, collecting items and equipment, occasionally getting very special pieces of equipment, and repeating the process to their hearts content.
Introducing the Loot Cave.  You shoot into a dark cave from across the map and repeat until you run out of ammo or someone else runs into the cave.  Then you go in, pick up your engrams and refresh your ammo, and the repeat the entire process.  With the system Destiny has in place, you can essentially repeat this until you're filled out with Blue and Purple Uncoded Engrams (which would regularly turn into green engrams or other materials).
This is an oversight from the Bungie crew who should have picked up on this in the testing phase.  Because that shit is not in the spirit of gaming.  Sure, equipment can be hard to come by.  You could spend a week trying to fill in some slots with better gear, but you'll end up with everything but.  That's annoying, but it encourages you to keep playing different missions.  The downside to that is that there is a good chance you'll repeat it very quickly.
But I still admire the system.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  And with the shared Vault, if you get something not for your main's class, you can fob it off to your alts.  That's just giggity.

24 September 2014

I have a new Hero. His name is Alec Freeman.

"I don't like it.  These clouds give as much
cover as a G-string on a Belly Dancer."
- Col. Alec E. Freeman
I was excited and shocked to see the Fantasy Flight Games, the veritable Big Boss of Board Games, had gotten the rights to make an XCOM Board Game.

Now I like XCOM. My friends got me into it and I regret nothing. I only wish I weren't so pretentious so I could stand the classic UI and play it for what it was meant to be, of which the latest game is a small inkling into the devastation that is and should be Extraterrestrial Combat.

That doesn't mean it isn't fun.  Although I'm disappointed my favourite level, Demolition, was replaced, it's still an incredibly fun and tense game.

But it's been almost a year.  I've grown tired and complacent with the game.  I can predict most of the enemy placements and how to counter them. I've tried different skill sets and achieved all but a couple of achievements in Xbox's Enemy Within, which annoyingly doesn't share with the first Iteration because of it's Stand Alone status, so I can't go back and get those achievements without having to get the old game again.

I'm trying again though, attempting to finish the game on Impossible with as many benefits I can attain, so that I can start again and do the Penultimate Hardcore Game: Classic Ironman with all Second Wave features (bar Save Scum).  It's going to be a pain in the arse.  But hopefully will tide me over until the next DLC comes out.  Which I hope acts as a proper DLC on consoles, rather than a Stand-Alone game again.

To help me in my Impossible efforts, I looked to a TV show that helped inspire the original game.  I looked up all details and luckily found it on Hulu.  A 1970's show called UFO.

My fucking dog this show is hilarious.  It's incredibly 70's, with girls in Catsuits and Navy agents in Fishnets, Split-flap displays on convoluted control desks, and incredulously corny lines with matching cinematography.  I know they make a vague reference to UFO in XCOM, a passive comment about Commander Straker being a nut ranting about shadow operatives, so I just had to watch it.  I do not regret it.

I swear if I get this board game I will need to play this in the background.  Otherwise, I want to see an XCOM mod that turns it into UFO.  It'd be Brilliant!

23 September 2014


I walked into the bathroom the other day and saw probably the hairiest bug I'd ever seen here.  Turns out it was a centipede, barely two inches long, just enjoying itself and waiting for food to toddle out.  I killed it and dropped it off at the pool with some kids, because other kids would have landed in a ditch if Jenny saw it.

But it put me in perspective of what the Raids are like.  If you were a Dungeon Master, looking down on the puny Guardians, blindly walking through the maze that is Destiny's Raid, it would be like watching ants searching for the other end.  Only with more gunfire.

That was what interested me about the raid though.  You get six players, from your friends list or your clan, and you all get thrown into this arena.  Then you figure it out as you go along.  Not solve how to plough through it, but figure out what to do in the friggin first place.  It's a maze that you throw yourself into, and you're on your own.  Abandoned.  Nothing but your friends to help search.

I'm not entirely sure of what goals there are to complete, whether there's a "defend this spot" or "kill this boss".  I'm actually trying my best to avoid spoilers about it so that when I have my moment of jumping in there, I can really enjoy it.

Though, I can only hope it doesn't take 8 hours.

17 September 2014

Sword Art Online

Possibly the only acceptable use of YOLO.
But I still feel dirty.
When you want to write a story about your Online Avatar, you want to make it interesting.  Put some risk into it.  But lets face it, the only real risk is Carpal Tunnel.

Sword Art Online put in proper risk into such a story.  Starting off with a Virtual Reality, wearing a helmet that puts your body into a catatonic state while you play.  In turn, the developer of the MMO and the VR Headsets adds in a Mortality feature.

Players whose HP drops to 0 in-game will die in real life.  And to make sure they do stay in game, anyone whose helmets are removed are also killed.  The only way to leave was to finish the game, which has 100 levels, each of which are apparently the size of large cities.

It's a bloody cool concept, and the features of an MMO are numerous.  So Factions and Guilds are formed, and people take on various roles to their tastes.  It becomes a very real society, with players helping each other between NPC's performing basic functions.  It shows some of the naivety of newbies, and the arrogance of experienced players.

However as this is an Anime it falls into tropes.  And they're ones that irk me.  To start, the main character walking with a wake of love-sick girls.

Now, I appreciate there being a love interest.  Asuna is a pretty cool character, too.  But then there was his Adopted Sister, the little girl he rescued, blah blah blah.  It's a bit annoying, especially since it was layered on so thick, with the fanboyisms riddled throughout to boot.  It became the main part of the story, and that's my other problem.

Yes, Kirito falls for Asuna.  Yes, he establishes a life with her and have their vacation.  Yes, they flesh out the implications of not doing what most MMO's are about: Fighting.

What irked me about all that is that they had a handful of other things they brought to the surface, but didn't go into very much.  Like the Murder Guilds.

There were a few players that popped up as part of the Laughing Coffin.  Their sole purpose is to kill other players for the sake of killing other players.  If there was any other ulterior motive, I don't know what it is, whether it was that they wanted to stay in SAO, or just were psychopaths that wanted to kill.

They could pop up anywhere.  They could be part of your guild or be following you around.  Why?  I'm not sure.  They really didn't go into it very much, mainly because they didn't spend enough time on it.

Which brings up my third point.  The story is they were in the game for about 2 years.  Thousands of players having their lives in the hands of medical facilities in the real world while being cradled in a video game, trying to reach a hundredth level so they could leave and return to their real lives.

... That was completed in half of a season.  That is my Irk.  You create an immense world, with potential up the fkn wazoo, and you drop that potential in less than 20 episodes.  Then the rest of the season is sent back into another game to save Asuna from a creeper who has her stuck under the same pretences, but with the motive of keeping her for himself for some political reason.

It's all a bit ridiculous, and a little unnecessary.  But whatever.  The first season is over and done with now.

I've moved on to the second season, and I went into it sceptically.  With all the tropes that saturated the first game, I thought it would be just as bad.  But while it still has it's dumb points, mainly the Main character capable to handle things that an experienced player couldn't, it goes into implications.

For one, the first side character you meet suffers from PTSD and subsequently goes into a panic attack whenever she sees a gun.  However, she plays a game called Gun Gale Online (A rather cool name in my opinion) and the lack of reality or consequence seems to help with her trauma.

The other thing that the story shows is the return of MMO players being killed seemingly in-game and then in real life, not in the same way as the original SAO though.  I've yet to find out how, the story hasn't progressed that far, but it'll be good to know once it comes around.

But now Kirito has begun an investigation into this character, Death Gun, and has to deal with his own PTSD, as this murderer seems to be from SAO as well.  I'm hoping it doesn't layer on the tropes thickly, but all well.  It may be one to look up the actual Manga for.

16 September 2014

Destined Tuesdays

Rockin out with my Rifle out
With Destiny now out and the regular changes it makes, I can really start talking about it. And I must say, I'm a little disillusioned with it. It's advertised as an enormous game, like no other before... But it's not that big?

Yes, there are several Zones to the game, and they're very big and intricate, knitted together like your mums crochet blankets, and a seemless transition of instances that can only be noted by the loading or disappearance of other characters. But...

My friend Scotty explained it best. "For a shooter, it's pretty big. For an MMO, it's tiny." And it's true. Though I may be a little spoilt by Borderlands, which I think might be a little bigger in area.

The there's the range of enemies which feel a little limited, and certain ones are very limited. Like Devil Walkers, a fat spider tank that the Jacka- Fallen use. It's pretty badass. But I know of three instances where I can fight one. I would very much so like to fight these mo' fuggas more often. Otherwise, there's about four or five variations of enemies within each of the four factions, not including Elite Units.

But, I shouldn't hold that against them. What I should hold against them is the annoying fucking snipers. Fallen will have Vandals that'll park themselves in the most convenient of places for themselves and while Im busy taking on all the Dregs, and suddenly get clocked in the side of the dial. Same goes with friggin Hobgoblins. Sure I can dick punch them with some counter sniping, but then I have Goblins and Minotaur encroaching and while they may act like Imperial Battle Droids, they're still a bad day in Kalamazoo.

The most fun I've had have been taking down the Bouncy Space Mar- The Cabal. They're big, they're only a little dopey, and seeing their helmets explode off like a Texas Tea Fountain when you Crit-kill them never gets old.

Actually, I lie. The most fun I've had is the Sword of Crota mission, on the moon. Becuase for just a small part of the mission, you run around with a mo' fuggin Sword, kicking Floo- Hive arse and taking names. The sudden change of weapon changes is seemless, because you're still using all the same buttons, but now you're slicing and dicing like a Barbaric Gordon Ramsay at the local Butchers.

I had such a blast, and I'm happy to do that again with friends.

But that's the problem. I'm still in the dark age, so to speak, roaming through the solar system on my Gho- Sparrow all on my lonesome because my friends have the Playstation 4 version. They've even made a clan that I can't join because I don't have a Playstation copy of the game.

But good thing though, the game has been pretty good in terms of friendly players. They've been as determined as I have in completing goals and turning bosses Swiss. I've even friended a couple because we had this awesome rampage going on doing Strike Playlists.

I should really complete one of those soon.

With this though, along with a 10 year commitment, I do hope they severely expand out the game. Not only with more enemies and environments, but more interesting encounters. That's the most important thing. Because as much as slogging through enemies after enemies can be fun, it's still limited in how much fun can be yanked out. The raids being made available this week should be a nice change of pace, I hope, but I don't know when or how I'll be able to play one of those.

10 September 2014

Her name is AN053, and she's a Robot Tank

Firepower comes separately
I've been waiting patiently for a chance at Destiny for a long time now, especially in the week Scott Hyped it up for me while he played the Playstation Beta. It got to the point where I publicly declared on Facebook that I would do anything to get a Beta key for the 360, my one and only console.

Sadly, my cries were ignored. But that doesn't matter since the game became publicly open.

What luck! All I had to do was wait for the download and go on with it, making my characters and classes that I had planned out and testing every inch of the game until it ended on Sunday.

I danced around in excitement as it downloaded, all the while Jenny laughing at me and my giddiness.

But at 11pm, while Jenny was fast asleep, it was done. I put on the headphones and got myself comfortable for the long haul to level up at least 3 characters to the Beta Limit before it ends. And hopefully, they'll rollover if and/or when I get the full game.

So I run through the tutorial and start analysing it. Everything is so very clean and clinical when it comes to the User Interface. Icons and frames with soft colours and clean sillouettes. The rest of the world looks more detailed, the Tower being much more Science Fiction than Old Russia, the playable PvE field in the Beta.

It uses a cursor when interacting with menus, rather than something like a D-pad. It's a very clever move, because there's a heap of stuff to go through. If I were to make a suggestion with the menus, it would be to lose the shaded background when viewing the character. Just use the environment as the background, and the model would just be the toon as it is at the time.

The one thing that has Irked me the most is the Blip-dar. I say Blip-dar because it's not so much a Radar as you would think from a Bungie Developer. It's got a different method of execution than what Halo does. Halo has a Motion Tracker, meaning if anything moves within the radius of your radar, you get a dot of them showing up.

This takes 17 different pieces to show you there are enemies nearby. Friendlies pop up as little triangles as normal, so you know where they actually are. But enemies? Forget about it. They're in one of 8 directions, or on top of you. But be sure to spend a moment spinning around trying to find those last ones.

Otherwise, the game plays very much like Halo. Jumping, hiding, dodging; Needlers are chasing you between dodging light rifle fire; you speed along the terrain on your own personal ghost; and your own sexy robot intelligence is talking to you constantly. The comparisons are very literally endless.

The RPG factor, now that's a corker. Everything levels up. You're gaining experience for your weapons and armour so you can take advantage of their special features down the track, features of which are rarely the same between two weapons. I imagine that'll get tiresome after a while, having to restart levelling your equipment each time you get a new pair of shoes, but it would pay off, surely.

I mean, I have Automatic Rifles that deal additional damage on the second half of the clip. I have Sniper Rifles that have a near-instant reload if I kill with the final round. I have Rocket Launchers that fire three projectiles at the cost of 1 ammunition. Each weapon will always be different, and I can't wait to see higher level weapon shenanigans.

For the time of the Open Beta, I flogged the shit out of Old Russia's Cosmodrome. I played all three classes and though I didn't fully level up their abilities, I had so much fun. Especially the Hunter. The THUNK of his knife backhanding everything (And I mean EVERYTHING) in the face before just chucking it at the next sod in line had me giggling in my sleep deprived state at 3am.

But though I had fun with the Hunter I'm going to stick with my Android, with her busted open forehead and the splash of red paint over her eye. Her and I circled around the Cosmodrome and mowed our way through encounters with Fallen, Hive, and Spider Tanks, laughing our way around town. And I hope to continue doing so when I get the full game.

03 September 2014

Game Evolution

And that's when he realised they did nothing at all.
I was on Kotaku and they showed a video of and updated Halo: Combat Evolved done by Modders.

I watched it and thought "Yeah, that's pretty cool.  It's nicely detailed and has a heap of additions that would mix up the game nicely."

Then I was thrown back to the Halo Master Chief Collection, that Tetralogy being released by 343 Industries and how I want them to remake the older games to match the current system iteration of the game.

After watching a presentation video of the MC Collection, showing the Menu and options available to players and one of the cooler features was a Playlist creator, allowing players to cater the entire campaign to playing as Master Chief, and exempting the handful of Arbiter missions.

Conversely, you can play the Arbiter levels.

That's pretty cool.  But as I said those few weeks ago, I would like to see those older games modified so that it used the same system as the latest game.  Assassination moves, Weapon and HP interactions, Sprinting.  It would refresh the original game, and improve things further on.

And because it's a Campaign, why not give it a more permanent feeling?  Find Armour Abilities, like Active Camo, and keep them for your loadouts.  Gain particular achievements and you can claim Tactical Packages and Support Upgrades, and maybe even weapon skins.  Heck, give Armour customisation a point and allow it to improve something.  Add in effects to weapons by customising each weapons loadout, increase Magazine size or a more efficient battery on plasma weapons.  Things like that.

But lets face it.  That sort of thing isn't going to happen.  Honestly, this is the sort of thing you hear about in something like Halo: Reach, probably my favourite spin off of the series.  The problem there is that 1: Halo Reach came to a pretty solid ending, so regardless of how customised your Noble Six was, they were NOT coming back.

What really appealed to me about Halo: Reach was that you weren't Master Chief.  You weren't one soldier leading the fight against the Covenant and Company.  You were part of a Squad, either NPC or actual players in Coop.  You were Haloguy, so to speak.  Same goes with Spartan Ops in Halo 4.  You were part of a Squad having their own encounters in the Halo Universe.  I want to see more of that sort of thing, and have a much larger campaign too.  Sure, 50 levels is pretty epic, but they were still lacking a few of those personal touches.  Especially since it was reused multiplayer levels.

But happily, there's Destiny.  Destiny is everything that I imagine a Halo MMO to be, though without actually being Halo.  More on that next week.