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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Black & White 2: Let’s hunt some Aztecs

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After a long slumber you descend from the higher plane to grace your people with your magnificant presence once more. Your conciousness welcome you in Eden, the planet which once depended on your wisdom and guidance and help you to fresh up your memory about your abilities and help you to choose your entity of physical power, a creature.

Finally, they lead you to an island. It is the mainland of the Greeces, a nation who still lives faithful you and your belief and, to this day, await your presence with growing anticipation. Then the island in sight, a prayer reaches you, a plead full of need, You follow it, finding a woman who kneels in front of a monument that was build in your honor, pleading for you to listen. Your gaze turned, looked upon the houses who broke down in a burning blaze, trapping and buring people beneath it. Soldiers fight, despreatly trying to defend their home from the enemy who sweeped over the city like a swarm of locusts, leaving nothing than corpses and destruction.

“We were run over by the Aztecs! Please help us!”

As their God, you take action and try to strike down those who dared to lay hand on your people. Suddenly a vulcan emerged of the burning ground, destroying with its lava everything in its path. The conciousness urges you to let go of the invaders and concentrate on saving as much people as possible. After only having saved a handfull of your believers, the creature of the enemy summoned another vulcan, making it unable to rescue more.

The once mighty God of Gods was forced to flee to another island. It was peaceful, the chaos lying behind as you look down on those who still firmly believed in you. How many people found their death on that day, you don’t know, but one half of your conciousness demands revenge for those who couldn’t be saved while the other indirectly agreed in silence.

The Aztecs will be held accountable for this and your hand will bring the divine punishment to them. They angered a God and now they will be regretting their actions soon enough.

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They will pay for this…

*clears throat* (sorry, not the best of my intros…I’m feeling unwell at the moment) This story plays a few centuries after the first one (I think), people have involved, living a good amount of time without divine help. Even a few of them, especially mortals who are in a leading position, don’t believe that you are, in fact, a God (at first) and think that everything in the first game was just a legend, including the prophecy which predicts that a God will help a nation who was on the brink of extinction. (And I find the fact funny, that albeit that you are a divine theoretical immortal being, you are still a slave of fate.)

Despite the first game, your enemies are human. The Norse and the Japanese are allies of the Azects and before you can make the latter suffer for their deeds, you have to draw the other opposing partys onto your side. (I don’t really count the Egyptians to them, since they are always on the side lines) How you convert them is your decision. Either impress them or raid their countries or do both.

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“Impress” and “conquer” work differently than the first game. To impress you build a magnificent city with temples, public baths, parks and so on. People will then abandon their old home to come to your city. When you conquer, your army (yes, people are now smart enough to create weapons) goes to another village and take down the town centre. If they succeed, the village is yours, including the people. So, either you focus your believers on one point (namely your main city) or spread them on different villages. Whatever you do, your town changes with your alignement. If you are good, people are happy, there are flowers everywhere and the buildings are white. If you are evil…the land is bare, people are unhappy and scared and the overall atmosphere is darker.

But back to one  of the new features. The fact that you have your own army. They can level up, (recruit to veteran) and there are archers, swordsmen and catapults. They give you some security if they are enemies outside your walls, patrolling and waiting for a catapult to break your defenses down.

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Yeah, you have walls. Yeah, you need said walls if you don’t want enemy soldiers to hold a picnic in your city. You can either take them down with a catapult or with a creature. Have I mentioned that the enemy also have creatures although they are not Gods? But don’t worry, the AI of the computer is at its highest peaks more annoying than really threatening. Just don’t try to go headless Knight Templar on the main captial of the opposing side. It doesn’t end well often.

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To impress, you need to build monuments and buildings like temples, luxurious houses and so on. I should mention that you won’t get a huge temple of power like in the first game. Instead, you have a town centre where you can see what your people need and what alignment you are.

I think that this is some sort of a downgrade to the prequel, and personally, I can’t understand why they took it out. Was it so hard to create a bigger Greece temple with rooms in it? I don’t know. Besides that, B&W2 offers more variation when it comes to buildings. You can create villas, prisons, skyscrapers, country houses, taverns, baths, etc. At the beginning you just have a very tiny line-up of buildings, but you can buy new ones by spending tribute in the menu.

Tibute is, so to speak, the reward for side quests and quests and you can spend it on different skills, miracles, buildings and troops. This is not a bad idea, although I kind of missed the ability to choose between good and evil in most of the quests. Concerning buildings…buildings impress less the more you build the same type of it in your city and how close you build them together. Some of them enhance your production of corn or metal which makes city planning a little more strategic than in B&W.

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Since you are a God, you have an altar where your minions *clears throat* people pray to create miracles like fireballs, water, heal, meteors etc. In this game, you can convert people to pray at the altar day in, day out without them collapsing from hunger.  What I appreciate, is that you can use some of them in two different ways. For example the water miracle. Either water your fields or splashing it on the enemy soldiers to slow them down. Or the fire miracle, either  throw a fire ball or create a fire wall to stop people from advancing. What I don’t like, is, that you buy miracles with tribute.

When you buy buildings, okay, when you enhance some abilities like the ability to use gestures, alright. But miracles are something you should earn. Just like in some mini-quests in B&W where you choice influenced the miracles you get as reward.

imagesLet the Siren sing…

Other than normal miracles, there are epic ones. They are a huge buildings and are just like an altar, but take more time to generate miracles. You can summon a hurricane, make the earth shake and convert enemy soldiers through the song of a siren.

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With the creature-business…I also have some sort of a split opinion. On the one hand you can handle them easier, making them do job through different leashes and you can see, what a creature has learned in the menu. On the other…I somehow really liked the tamagochi thing in the prequel. I won’t deny the AI had flaws, but it gave you a feeling of raising a creature from a small pup  with no idea about the world to a force that has to be reckoned with. If you sent your creature to another village for the first time, it fills you with pride if it used the tactics you had taught him. In B&W2…it is more robotic and bleak. And you just use it as soldier and gatherer…not as a messenger of your belief.

On this point I should mention that a creature doesn’t learn miracles anymore. You have to buy this ability with tribute. Money rules even Eden, it seems.

There is one addon for this game. Battle of Gods. Exactly what is says on the tin. The Aztecs summon an undead God to take revenge. Said undead God can use miracles as well and will pester you with it. One thing I enjoyed is, that you can kill undead soldiers with healing spells, but besides a more challenging enemy, that was it.

black&white2battleofthegods-01What a stubborn nation…They don’t even stay dead.

Conclusion? This prey tasted a little bit…bad. Not throwing up bad, but still bad. There are some improvements, like city building, army and how the city looks like through your alignement and the enemy is much more aggressive than in its prequel. But it took major steps back in points I found myself to enjoy in the B&W. The temple is gone, the creature is robotic and didn’t have a personality.

Story wise, it was an interesting beginning, but all in all was medicore. The story isn’t really the focus here, it just exists to explain why you battle them. Side stories are creative and really funny at times. Should I say it ? It felt more like a very light version of Anno (I feel sorry for this series to compare it with B&W2. Anno is a good game, but I lack a better comparison.) with miracles and a creature than really a God-Simulation. I concentrated more on building a city (and especially how to build it) than really on being, well, a God. I didn’t impress anyone with miracles or punished them for something. The only thing I have burned down were, the enemy soldiers and creature, when they came to close.

I have nothing against changes in a game or a shift of focus. But even when B&W wasn’t the best game of all times, it came up with interesting ideas which didn’t deserve to be downgraded like that.

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Posted by on May 27, 2013 in Pc

 

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God Eater – You can guess what is the prey…

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After going through different games, I have noticed that I begin to neglect handhelds. This had to be corrected and what would be a better game for the hunter to write about than a “hunting” game. Don’t worry though, my spectrum on games is larger than that, but since a 2nd game is in the making (and hopefully will come to us from the far way land of Japan), I figured, I would take a look on the first game.

The first statement about the game which comes to my mind is, that it is basically Monster Hunter with a story.  Whenever this is true or not, I will explain in this commentary. (or review…or whatever you would like to call this)

Basically, in its very core, it is like Monster Hunter. Before you, dear (possibly non existent) reader skip the whole thing and write a monologue of how wrong I am, let me explain. You take missions (i.e. killing monster), collect objects, get money, upgrade your weapons and kill more of those things. This is the same thing you do in Monster Hunter, but that doesn’t make God Eater a shameless copy of it.

Field1Ah, Earth…sweet home sweet…Waaait a minute.

Let’s start with the setting. In the near future, a meteor crashed on earth and with it, strange cells which consume, develop and evolve too quickly than mankind could handle the situation. These cells took form and turned into Monsters (Aragami) devour anything in their way from buildings to humans and other Aragami to evolve into bigger creatures. And normal weapons don’t really hurt them.  You can do the math, why human kind is at the point of extinction in this game.

The only hope are the God Eaters, humans infused with the Bias Factor which wield huge Swords and Guns to battle those creatures. And you are one of them. As fresh meat *clears throat* Rookie you joined the Far Eastern Branch of Fenrir (which is a nice name in hinsight, I will explain that later) to be one of the New Types, a new Generation of God Eaters, which can switch between blade and gun in battle.

geb1That is you…fresh mea- uhm Rookie

Without spoiling too much about the story, let’s look at the NPCs. You can take them to battle, they help you and are generally useful (when they don’t shoot you, when you engage close combat…isn’t that right, Kanon?) The AI isn’t that bad either, pretty solid I would say, which each Character having his/her own “tactic”, but since it is more story based than Monster Hunter, let’s look at them from the story perspective.

What do we have? Your Unit consists of…A happy-go-lucky, little brother type of person (Kota),  a benevolent good Leader which is rather carefree and easy going (Lindow), the nice, fanservice medic Lady who has clearly a thing for her Leader (Sakuya), the young, talented, wellspoken, rather self-confident (just look at her clothes) recently transfered girl (Alisa), and last but not least, the brooding, unfriendly young man who has serious issues and believes he is a monster (Soma). We have all heard of those types before, but that isn’t bad. A little cliche, but not bad.

And how can I forget you, the almost silent protagonist with no backstory and whose gender doesn’t make a difference at all. (Well, everyone assumes that you are male and there is just one dialog which is changed when female…and that wasn’t important.) Naturally, you aren’t just the fresh meat for the Aragami but as well for some of the mess which happens inside of the branch.

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…Why do I always get a bad vibe from such guys?

Story, well yes, I didn’t expect much and I was surprised when I found out that it was quite…soild. In a good way. Of course, there are a few flaws (like predictable twists) or the thought that some character (especially side characters) could have been more fleshed out more, but all in all, it was interesting and entertaining. The voice over was pretty good as well. (or at least it didn’t gave me a headache)

When it comes to the battle, the only thing I have to critize a little bit is the mechanics and the camera. The latter is never there where I need it and after a few matches, my fingers started to hurt (due to the buckly   mechanics) because of always rejusting them and keeping an eye on the thing I had to kill. I hope they correct that in the sequel. Of course that is a personal matter.

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What I find great are the dynamics of the weapon. You can switch between gun, sword and shield in battle if the need arises and you can modify bullets for your gun and test them. You can alter the weapon as well, just like in Monster Hunter, through parts you collect from Aragami. Then there are different kinds of grenades, traps and bombs which you can buy. There is also the option to devour a part of your prey to get a boost and resources. The Aragami don’t look bad either, especially the stronger forms who are a real challenge. (Hannibal…I have a hate-love-relationship with it)

Was it worth the hunt? Yes, definitely. To be honest, I enjoyed it more than the Monster Hunter games because of the story I had more like a goal or got curious what will happen next. On the other hand it lacks the variation in things of weapons and armor (In God Eater…your look doesn’t really affect anything. Even when you wear a ridicioulous bear outfit)

Is God Eater a bold copy of Monster Hunter?…Eh…How should I put it? It has the stigma like every Adventure Hunting game  that it was released after MH (which was released in 2004 by the way. GE came out 2010.) After a concept of a game is made and proven that it can work, it is just natural that it will appear in other games. My point is, that you can’t reinvent the wheel over and over again. What matters is how the game is presented and how the mechanics are improved or altered.

Being able to switch weapons in battle offers other strategies and opportunity than chosing them before the mission. Then you can’t create new traps, grenades or something in the mission like you could in MH. Then the artstyle is different. God Eater sports a more anime-style look (even in the opening scene) and is something between a little bit colourful and apocalyptic wasteland, while  MH has a definetly more colourful and “happier” setting. (happier is debatable, I know.) There are differences as well as similarities in things like gameplay, but the setting is different as well as the focus. In MH you just hunt for the hunts sake and become stronger, GE relys here more on the story. I will say the games are similar, but won’t go as far as to claim that it is a shameless copy. 

I will draw the conclusion line here, fun facts like name meaning and such are below and optional.

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Hannibal (not Lecter, but the ante portas- Hannibal, a general which almost got hold of the Capital of Rome – I find it funny that the Aragami is later turned into Calligula…a crazy, bloodthristy Roman Emporer)

Name theming…What have we here? Japanese, Latin, Greek, Chinese, Sanskrit, German…oh what joy…*clears throat* Of course, most of the Aragami (which basically means malevolent/destructive deity or deity incarnate, depending on how it is written) are named after Gods, but there are exceptions. Like the Zygotes (means “cells”), Quadriga (a chairot drawn by four horses), Sariel (an arc angel) etc.

The one which really stands out is the Borg Camlann. I can offer two explanations. First, the more known one, is that it refers to the last Battle of King Arthur (where he died), the second is that it is named after the Roman fort of Camboglanna (which is Brittonic for “crooked enclosure” or “crooked bank of a river”)

Arda Nova…Latin, if Arda comes from “Arden” which means “great forest” and “Nova” means “new” (in astronomy a star which releases a tremerous burst of energy and becomes temperary bright.)…I see what you did there, Game. I see what you did there.

Fenrir? Norse Mythology? Wolf who devours Gods? How…fitting?

From the main characters…which stand out? Yeah, it is a rhetorical question. Of course, Johannes Schicksal, Soma, Dr. Paylor and Lindow. Johannes being a bibical name (ironically means “God is gracious”) and Schicksal being the german word for “fate”.

Soma is a more interesting case. It is greek for Body and in biology is the term for the body of a cell, but the fun fact comes in when we see at the Sanskrit meaning. (heaven, ether, sky and…nectar of the moon (yeah, seriously.))

Lindow is actually a surname (from a nobel german family) and it mean “One came from Lindall (linden tree valley)” So, yeah, what has the name to do with all that? Well, the linden are a germanic holy symbol, trees which would help to unearth/find the truth. I might be interpreting to much in it…but it’s oldly fitting for the character. (Sakuya can come from the word saku “bloom”, but can also refer to konohanasakuya)

Paylor…just how can I not laugh at this? A marker of pails and buckets…or a word for a frying pan…I…think… I will stop there.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2013 in PsP

 

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The awkward moment when…

…you finished far sooner than you have expected. As a lazy person, I’m now emotionally confused how something like this is possible (in the writing department, in other things I somehow manage to be on time).

*clears throat* Nevermind my psychological condition (Let’s be honest here, my mind is already beyond help.), I made up another plan concerning my next preys. I thought, since I wrote something on Black&White, I will also rant a little bit about its sequel and maybe return into the Forgotten Realms department with Neverwinter Nights (since I mentioned it in the Elder Scroll Series). Hmm…Fallout may be also interesting. And, just to add some diversity in the game-company-section, I could look back at some Bioware games.

So, my next preys are: Black&White 2, the Neverwinter Night Series and the Fallout Series and some games which I may encounter on the way through my game forest. (Like Civilisation or Assassin’s Creed)

I know those are very RPG-heavy at the moment. This is sketch more than a real plan (I’m still emotionally disturbed), so if you have something, you would like me to write about, just tell me. (Yes,  I have the Final Fantasy series on the list, but I can also do some post only dedicated to story analysis of a game or games in general, if some people want to read my thoughts about that)

So, I wish a nice hunt

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Just Updates

 

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The Elder Scrolls Series – A Hunt on Nirn

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The Elder Scrolls Series…Ah, this post is going to be a long one, isn’t it? For personal convenience, here is the thing I’m seeing right now:

  • 1994 TES: Arena
  • 1996 TES II: Daggerfall
  • 1997 An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlesprire
  • 1998 TES Adventures: Redguard
  • 2002 TES III: Morrowing, The Elder Scrolls III: Tribunal
  • 2003 TES III: Bloodmoon, The Elder Scrolls Travels: Stormhold
  • 2004 TES Travels: Dawnstar, TES Travels: Shadowkey
  • 2006 TES IV: Oblivion, The Elder Scrolls Travel: Oblivion, The Elder Scrolls IV Knights of the Nine
  • 2007 The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles
  • 2011 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • 2012 The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard, Hearthfire, Dragonborn

Yes…This is going to be a long one and wow, I begin to feel a little bit old, only just by looking at the timeline…

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I will put here just a map that you can see, what game played in which region.

Nevermind. Just in case, somebody doesn’t know what I’m going to talk about right now, here is a short information what you do in these games.

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You create a character (see pictures above for the different races you can choose from, they have different perks and attributes), female or male and set out to do quests, fight in first person, explore and become politically involved with the whole mess in or between countries (and other plains). The last thing…yeah, you guessed right. Nobody asked you, you just were at the wrong place at the wrong time (often a prisoner who doesn’t really have a choice in that matter).

Interestingly, you learn by doing and not (really) from leveling up. Do alchemy and you level up alchemy, if you use a bow than you level up your bow skill, etc. In the first games, there were classes to choose from and you could make a costumary class out of different skills. The chosen class has given you a perk in chosen skills  which in return were critical for you to level up, what again influenced your abilities and attibutes and vice versa (some skills are intelligent based, some were agility…you get the point.) You can also read books or pay a trainer for instant skill increase (for free sometimes). This class system was flattened or experimented on over the course of the Series and dropped in Skyrim to be replaced by an other system…but we get back to that later…

Let’s begin with the original game series (TES I – TES V), shall we?

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TES: Arena plays, like its sequels, on the continent of Tamriel on the planet Nirn. (Tamriel, according to lore means “Starry Heart” or is elfish for Dawn’s Beauty…or The Starry Heart of the Dawn’s Beauty…depends on  what person you ask) Emperor Uriel Septim VII is kept in another dimension while the Imperial Battlemage Jagar Tharn takes his role and appearance. Because his apprentice Rin doesn’t want to have anything to do with this, he kills her, but before she breaths her last breath, she helps the Player to escape the dungeon to find artefacts and combine them to the Staff of Chaos to battle the Battlemage and bring back the Emperor.

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Graphics…yeah, not compareable with those things today, isn’t it?

Gameplay was first person you could cast spells, attack with swords, maces, etc…The terrain was randomly generated, and the map bigger than in the sequels (even Morrowind and Skyrim). There were caves and dungeons to explore, NPCs etc. The name “Arena”…Let’s say the game was planned as gladiator game and then it some sort had a more “metaphorical” meaning.

You are in the dimension “Mundus” (lat. World) where the power of Oblivion (Evil) and Aetherius (good, again lat. for angelic, celestial, airy) battle just like in an arena…Yeah, mortals have nothing to say in this discussion, deal with it. I think the whole Gladiator/Ancient Rome setting  has survived in the Latin naming and in the  Imperials (just as european history in Tamriel as a whole)…Besides Oblivion (but I guess, the latin word Oblivo sounded kind of stupid in comparison to Aetherius.)

The graphics weren’t special even for the time it came out, the soundtrack wasn’t really breathtaking either…It was pretty medicore, but still, it was a hit for gamers. The reviewers at that time…they weren’t pleased, because of the bugginess of the game You can make up your own mind on that, due the 10th anniversary of TES, you can download it for free.

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This cover that is definitely more fitting for a horror game *clears throat*…TES II: Daggerfall came out two years later. Now you are not in the capital of the continent but in the hometown of the Bretons (Humans with high magic affinity) in High Rock and in Hammerfell. This time you were sent there by the personal quest of the Emperor and has two goals: Lay the ghost of a king to final rest and…

…find a letter that somehow went missing in the court of Daggerfall. (Seriously…? What by the Nines are those guys doing the whole time?) The “special” thing about this games is, that it had six different endings depending on choice.

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Despite the enchanced graphics (notable in gore and sexual department) and combat mechanics, this indroduced the spell creating/armor enchanting system, Guilds, Political system, ability to buy houses and ships, become a vampire, werwolf or a wereboar (yeah, a wereboar.) But the map is, still for the most part, randomly generated and ,according to Bethesda, it has the Size of Great Britain with over 15.000 towns, villages, dungeons to explore and around 750.000 NPCs the player can interact with. This is a serious case of Quantity over Quality, people. Just saying…

For the 15th anniversary, again, this game is free downloadable.

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TES III: Morrowind with its two addons Tribunal and Bloodmoon plays for the most part in Vvardenfell the homeland of the Dunmer (Dark Elves) and revolves around the reincarnation of the Nerevarine, a Dunmer hero. And you begin as a criminal (?) which is shipped of to Morrowind. You are then hired by a Blade (the Emporer’s Spies/Bodyguards) to investigate this tale about the Nerevarine along with the trouble of the Island Vvardenfell is having at the moment (sickness, a vulcan, ash rains…among other things). Tribunal takes you to the main land and meet the Goddess Almalexia, the former wife (?) of the Nerevarine. (although the name sounds like a nasty sickness, it comes from the words “alma lex” – “The kindly Law”) Bloodmoon plays on an island not far from Vvardenfell, Solstheim.

The map wasn’t as big as in the other two prequels, but they put more quality in it with the dialogs, quests and overall graphic. When you look at the pictures you will see that it took a huge step not only in matters of graphic, but also in the atmosphere department. The world was…different with the strange vegetation and transport means and the music was memoriable. Every time I hear “Call of Magic”, the main theme, I think of this game. This is the one game of the Series that had the most impact on me. Maybe I was just remembered off the hugely text based Baldur’s Gate when I saw the dialog-boxes.

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Just look at it. So many choices!

And as far as I know, this game made place 21 in the list of the Top 25 overrated games of all time by Game Spy. I respect the opinion of others, but that doesn’t mean that such Overrated Games lists don’t make me smile this specific sadistic smile when I scroll down the commentary section and see people starting a verbal war. (or starting to simply discuss. I enjoy both)

I don’t agree with the repetitive part of gameplay which they brought up. I honestly don’t know where this statement came from. Maybe because the slash animation wasn’t the finiest in the branch? I don’t know. When I would crawl through the same dungeon design…that would be repetivie, but to explore and discover different sections of an island with a own culture and background lore is not, when it is good executed

Morrowind was a good game, but with bugs here and there, so it wasn’t perfect, not at all. The skill/class/level system could be a little bit unclear at the beginning, but it was acceptable for me (since I like to have a wide range of it and test out different things to get a feeling) What could be a little bit annoying is that important Npcs aren’t unkillable. Let’s say, sometimes the AI isn’t the brightest thing in a game and when they attack you…You get the point. There is also the reputation system and that fact that people has a range from 1-100 in things of liking you. Every Npc. (A funny fact, after I was the Archmage in the guild, every mage guild liked me, even when they hated me at first.) The Npcs also react to your gender. Sometimes it is easier to be a male, sometimes easier to be a female to complete a quest.

Besides that the only game who could conquer Morrowind at that time was Neverwinter Nights. They really beat each other over different rewards.

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Then, in 2006, came Oblivion which had also two expansions: Knights of the Nine and Shivering Isles. Yeah, the Evil in this TES Universe and you know something bad will happen. Your character has done some crime again and are in the dungeon in the main capital (Seriously, you sit behind bars a lot, it seems) and you just are lucky enough that an escape route is located in your cell. Emperor Uriel Septim and two of his guards try to escape through said route from a couple of Assassins…and then his Highness recognizes you as someone who he saw in his dream. End of the escape story is, that the Assassins succeed, but only after Uriel gives you his amulett and instructs you to bring it to a friend of his. Ah, and those people from Oblivion want to invade Tamriel…nice.

Knights of the Nine is a homage on the Knight Templars, but this addon was…well I guess, nothing really mentionable. Shivering Isles is a total different matter. You get to meet the deadric Prince of Madness in his domain and I was really surprised how well written and…well…mad he was. (Totally one of the best characters I have encountered in the Elder Scroll universe)

The story of Oblivion has nice (predictable) twists in the main story and with the different guilds, but…despite Morrowind you could join any guild you like. The prequel had skill restriction in the guilds and you had to meet them before joining or even get a higher rank. Additionally when you joined a specific guild in Morrowind you hadn’t access to another. (for example House Redoran or House Telvanni) In Oblivion you can join what you like. This is not bad…but I don’t agree with it either. In the prequel you are rewarded with the rank…not “here after the quest you have it, mage or not”.

The atmosphere is good, the forests nicely and bright designed, the dungeons, especially the Ayleid were great. I have a weakness for ruins with traps and hidden treasuries. The people looked…They didn’t look bad, but …squishy? I can’t come up with a better word.

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I really  don’t know how to describe this face

Besides the bugs (nothing too gamebreaking), the game was too easy. Far too easy, for my taste. In Morrowind you had directions and you had to find it on your destination on your own. In Oblivion you have a mark on the map. This somehow destroyes the illusion of exploration for me. Of course, I had to reload sometimes, but it wasn’t really demanding as its prequel. Yeah, I compare those games, yeah I still like Morrowind better as Oblivion. The story was better, the setting and the mechanics had a better feeling to it as in Oblivion.

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And then…came Skyrim. Shouting at Dragons and kill them with it. That’s one epic idea. This time you are in, guess what, Skyrim, Home of the Nord, 200 years after Oblivion took place. You come to a town in Skyrim to be beheaded for crossing the borders at the false time. (Yeah, you aren’t a lucky one) But luckily a creature that long should be dead, crashes your party. It’s a dragon and it destroys the village you are in, but you can flee, of course. Later, you find out that you are the Dragon Born, a mortal with the soul of a dragon and the only one who can kill these things permanently.

I was honestly surprised how this game drew me in, although it still had this point-map-thing und you could join- any-guild. It has done a better job with the atmosphere. The mage guild is something frowned upon, there were bards in the taverns who sang about different famous people and about the legend of the Dragon Born, there are the companions, you can become friendly with the local Jarls. You climb mountains to find Dragons and new Words for your voice shouts. And the ongoing civil war, where no one is entirely good or bad.

Not to forget, that the backstory is so much more darkly foreboding and present than in the prequels. I don’t mean that the other storys where totally rainbow and full with sunshine, but this story took the cake for me. If you have played Morrowind or Oblivion, then its not nice to hear that the floating city of Vivec feel down after the God disappeared, killing a dozen of people, not to mention that vulcan on the island which covers everything in ash, stones and lava. And…Oblivion, the White Tower in the Capital fell, the Empire is now forced into an ultimatum by the Thalmor-Elves and its former glory is now a distant past.

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And to top it all, the Dragons return. From bad to worse indeed.

In the Addon Dragon Born, you can see what happened to Solstheim after the Mountain on Morrowind errupted, not a nice sight.

Speaking of Addons, Dawnguard goes with the whole vampire against vampire hunters pretty well, but there was much potential unused, many threads are not finished. Dragon Born, was an interesting take on what a Dragon Born could do and the library of wisdom of the daedric prince was really good designed. Heathfire…nice and well, Sims in Skyrim. I don’t know…I found it rather unnecessary.

But Skyrim isn’t a perfect game either. Again, it is too easy, but it was more acceptable to me than Oblivion  and it had questbreaking glitches and bugs. The soundtrack is very good and epic, the designs and the villages as well, but…this whole thing with the NPCs…especially marrying one. I repeat myself, I have nothing against romance in games when in is well executed. This is just…”Hello there, want to marry me?”

When you can’t make good memoriable, likeable characters…please just leave such a feature out. Serana in the Dawnguard was a good beginning, but she was not marriagable. The game has a general good feeling, a step up from Oblivion for me. In some places better as Morrowind even, but there is so much potential unused in some things, that just tastes bitter.

Luckily, there is a rather active Mod community.

I won’t get more into the whole game system, because there were enough reviews on it. Now the most important question, Where are the Elder Scrolls? They are mentioned, had appearances…They are powerful scrolls which can predict the future and blind you when you read them unprepared. Prophecies is a central role in the games.

When misrule takes its place at the eight corners of the world

When the Brass Tower walks and Time is reshaped

When the thrice-blessed fail and the Red Tower trembles

When the Dragonborn Ruler loses his throne, and the White Tower falls

When the Snow Tower lies sundered, kingless, bleeding

The World-Eater wakes, and the Wheel turns upon the Last Dragonborn.

And with that we are in Skyrim. I’m curious what is coming from the series in the future…Hopefully this is still an ongoing, enjoyable hunt. This is one of the last series I have rather high expectations.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Pc

 

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Black & White – Let’s hunt Gods

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In the beginning was one single prayer echoing through the void, desperately searching for something who will heed the call and will help this forsaken soul. And amidst this clenching darkness something awoke, flared to life, to follow this plea, born from the despair of humankind. The light descended to the mortal plane, flickering and vividly glowing to fulfill their wish. They praised it for its mercy, they named it a savior…

They called you God.

But if you are a blessing or a cure for those who awoke you from your slumber, is a question only you can answer. You are God and you decide which path you will follow. Are you the embodiment of light or bringer of darkness? The savior or the tormentor? This is up to you.

This is your story. (For the love of…Auron, out of this commentary! Go back to your own game!)

*clears throat* My deepest apologies about the downright cheesy introduction. Let’s get to business, shall we? You (aka God) just saved a boy from his fate of being fish food and his parents are more than thankful for this deed. So, they want to introduce you to the other villagers…

…Which are already dancing around a stone and building a temple for your grace…Wow…that… escalated quickly.

The world you landed on is called Eden. A peaceful land without weapons, people living leisurly like normal people do (eating, building, procreate…) …if it weren’t for the Gods who are ready to literally lighten the place up to just gain more influence. Yeah. And you are not really an exception.

The main goal of the game is to gain influence and eliminate everyone who tries to steal yours (i.e. other Gods). When the last follower of you is gone, your temple becomes touchable and when it’s gone…well, Game Over.

Besides that, the main story speaks about the Creed (not the one from Assassin’s Creed, mind you. Yes, there are more Creeds than one, Altair. No, you are not allowed to stab me.).
A power with is seperated into three pieces and it is rumored to be so powerful that it could kill a God with the snap of your finger. Guess, what the mightiest God Nemesis has and what are you going to do. You got this information  from a former subordinate of Nemesis and he wasn’t very pleased as he heard from this…not at all. He showed up and tried to kill you, but you could escape through a portal. This is the point where your real journey starts.

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Nemesis…yeah…Exactly what it says on the tin, Archenemy

I mentioned a temple before. Yes, you have your own personal temple which grows with every village you take over and it depicts your alignement in the game. You can also enter that building and go in different rooms like a bestiarium, a library, a room with pictures where you can save, a map etc. Unfortunately, in the sequel you just have a town centre building which provides you with information….
This is also the place where your followers build their altar to dance and pray to you and enable their miracles through the power of prayer.

As a God, miracles are your spells and a very important aspects, since you can use them to convert people to your teachings, attack, defend and reduce the needs of your own people. Yeah, I mean reduce, because your people always need something…

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This is your village store. See the flags? They tell you what your people need…and there starts the vicious circle.

When they have enough food, they want to procreate, when they procreate then they want more buildings, which leads them to demand wood. And then they start to want more food…
And then your conscience annoys you about not fulfilling their needs. Yeah, you have a conscience.

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Whitey and Blackey (?) here are your spiritual advisors and provide you with information what the good/bad solution for a quest/problem is, among other things as annoying you about the needs of your villagers. They also have a good jokes for different occasions. They are a part of you…Talking about a case of multiple-persona-disorder…Nobody said, you are a mentally healthy God.

Talking about mental condition, let’s get on with the alignement system. You have a devil and an angel (?) as your spiritual advisors, so you can guess, which sides they represent. It’s your choice to with side you lean to. Use more “good” wonders and do good deeds (which includes to not hurt anyone, even the enemy) and after some time your temple will look like this.

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White temple with a rainbow and clear sky, nice, isn’t it?

When you prefer to squish people with rocks, sacrifice them and lighten them up just for personal amusement, yeah…that’s the other side.

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I’m the only one who finds it amusing, that evil is always a little bit… spikey?

At the beginning you are neutral and it is hard to maintain this state. Once I killed a few villagers by accident (Yeah, right…Be quiet, sarcastic little brain-voice.) and the first spikes curled up my nice white tower. After spent hours to get to be a good God, now this. Yeah. What I have experienced, you can become evil quite easily.

Now you have followers and a temple and can use miracles. The only thing that is missing is your creature. The creature as physical entity of your strength can…Let’s cut it short, shall we? The creature is a huge (compared to villagers)  tamagochi. You feed it, you teach it things and it has a mind(?) on it’s own. And it can grow as tall as a mountain. At the beginning you can choose between a cow, an ape and a tiger. They have different skills. The Ape learns faster, the tiger is a better fighter (but dumb) and the cow is something inbetween. If you don’t want those creatures at the beginning, you can unlock other creatures at different mini-quests.

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Yeah, the little tiger on the front is your Creature at the beginning…The lion…is older…and a “little” bit more stronger

Your creature can also have an alignement, but you can have a good creature even if you have the blackest soul on this planet. And the creature will sometimes think that you are a saint, even if its living in a spikey tower. Have I mentioned that the creature isn’t always the brightest being on Eden? This can lead to some frustrating moments when for example the Tiger eats someone who is quest-important. Evil solution. Yeah, thanks helper.

But the Creature becomes essential later on. You can only perform miracles in a certain space, indicated through a red (sometimes other coloured) circle. That is the room you have influence on, but your creature can go outside it to another village and can perform miracles to impress people.  You can also send it to fight another Creature of another God if it’s strong enough.

There is also a multiplayer…but only if you have a lot of time. The AI of the other Gods…They aren’t really bright. More annoying than really demanding, for multiplayer and the main game alike. I never came in a though spot because of them.

The hunting Conclusion? It was fun, even when the AI wasn’t the best. There were a few bugs and glitches which prevented the completion of certain quests, but the quests themselves were different, had their own story and were entertaining with a good reward at the end. And although the Creature isn’t a genuis, it is fun to see it grow. The main story…it isn’t a great, but passable. You just really want to kill Nemesis at the end.

I would say, overall, it was a nice experience, they put the love in different details and jokes, but it had its fault. Not the greatest game but a good stepping stone for future generations, because (as far as I can remember), after Populous, there wasn’t really a game which was a memoriable one with this whole God-Genre thing.

…I have the feeling I should review the sequel as well…but…well…if you want.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2013 in Pc

 

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Baldur’s Gate Series – A nostalgic hunt through the Forgotten Realms

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One of the first RPG’s I have played and one that left scars on my mind till today (In a good way, mind you) It frustrated me, it almost had me in this particular moment where I was so angry that I almost threw my keyboard out of the window. Just for the record, I’m really hard to anger and even then, I’m mostly a calm-smiling-angry-type-of-person. The type of person who you should run from if they smile friendly although you just deleted all their game-saves.

But back to the game. After I finished it, I shoved it to my other games and hoped to never go through that frustration again…

Now, guess, what happened. A few year later, I played it again. Multiple times. Yeah, I don’t seem to learn in that matter. Let’s get a good look at it.

First of all, I’m talking about the original series here (Baldur’s Gate, Baldur’s Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast, Baldur’s Gate II: Shadow of Amn and Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Baal) not Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance I/II. I have played the later and as far as I can remember, they weren’t bad, pretty soild even, I had fun playing it in CoOp, but they weren’t quite memoriable as the original for me.

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This Baldur’s Gate

So, let’s start out with the story. It plays in the Forgotten Realms. Elves here, dwarves there, Orcs, humans somewhere in the middle with the gnomes…you get the idea. You (aka the Player) are the adoptive child of a sorcerer named Gorion and live in Chandlekeep a happy and uneventful live with your human sister (adoptive as well) Imoen.

At this point, you already know, that something bad will happen. The Chosen one has (almost) never a peaceful life at the beginning of his journey.

In this, a guy named Sarevok comes into the play and kills your adoptive father. Of course, you won’t stand by and doing nothing about it,  so you set out to get revenege and discover Sarevoks plan…and along the way, learn that this guy (Sarevok) with spiked helmet is your half-brother.

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…Nice?

Surprise, you are a child of a God…The God of Murder named Baal and you just made daddy proud with your actions, isn’t that nice?(Fun fact: It’s a name used for multiple gods,  among them for a god for rain, thunder, fertility, agriculture and… was the lord of heaven. In biblical context, Baal is a Higher Demon which could take the forms of man, cat, toad or combinations of them…Your father could be a toad…no comment on that. And no comment on the fact, that this guy in-game had a Baalspawn Chinchilla…Just…no comment). 

The God of Murder is dead. Yeah, that’s ironic and yeah, Gods can die in this universe, but your Dad was very…diligent (*points at fun fact*) to gift you with enough siblings from whom the most  are trying to kill you in the game.  The children of the God of Murder murder each other. What a twisted sibling love…

In the second game you and your party are kidnapped by another Sorcerer named Irenicus and tortured in his dungeon. You later find out that you are in the City Athkatla and…let’s say they don’t like mages. At all. Your sister Imoen tries to confront Irenicus with magic and that only spawns the Coaled Wizards who arrests both Imoen and Irenicus for illegal use of magic inside the city walls. Now you want to get Imoen back and deal with all sort of shady characters who might help you to reach your goal.

The last addon “Throne of Baal” is exactly what it says on the tin. The last of the Baalspawn (Children of Baal) battle each other to get the seat of their father and become a God. Of course, there is a lot of murder involved and of course you are on your siblings’ black list, even if you don’t to do anything with your father.

Interestingly, although you are a Baalspawn, you can be a good/caring character with heroic syndrom who just happened just happened to be the child of God of murder or you honor your heritage with a sadistic everpresent smile on your face. And everything in between. (Chaotic evil who just do it for the evil lulz, Lawful evil who uses the law to his/her advantange, or just plain neutral evil. The same for the neutral and good segments.)

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Your alignment (like your choice of race) influence the classes you can take in the character creation section and the reputation. For raising the difficulty, you can make your character a squishy mage. When your main character goes down, even when your healer is still alive, it’s an instant game over. To drive difficulty through the roof with this game choose to be a mage and the hardcore difficulty, which makes the enemies a lot harder and enables friendly-fire. Yeah, I dare you to use a powerful spell with can change a whole room into a death trap in this mode.

Let’s continue with your companions. You will find them along the way, lose them to death and their personal opinion on your action. That’s right. They will leave you if you do something that is against their alignment. Of course, they will warn you about that, before leaving or they can also turn against you.  Funny is, when they turn against each other. Don’t put a lawful stupid paladin with a Drow together (Dark elf which have a cultural background that cultivates a chronic-backstabbing-disorder)  That won’t end good in the most cases.

The characters themselves were memoriable. They interact with you, comment on decisions, had personal quests and bantered with each other, depending on the situation. This is nothing new nowaday, but this is one of the games which inspired later RPGs in that aspect, like Dragon Age I & II. Furthermore, Characters not only can fall unconcious, but can die. I mean not a cheap death, I mean dead like can never be resurrected again. That happens when spells or hits are too powerfull and blast the body into junks. (yeah, there was a tiny bit of gore in it)

And there was romance. Yes, you could romance specific characters in your party and it had an impact on the end dialogs of “Throne of Baal”. At that time, characters which bi-sexual orientation were out of question (although you could interpret it), Bioware took that step in this direction in Knights of the Old Republic with a female character, but that’s another story.

Male characters were provided with two possible romance options in the second game (Baldur’s Gate II: Shadow of Amn) and female with only one, a paladin. That does sound familar when you consider Neverwinter Nights II, doesn’t it? I hate to admit it, but the first paladin (BG) was a lot better characterized than the other (Old Owl Well!..Oh for the love of…) I have nothing against  the Paladin-class, but after BG,  I harbor a personal distaste against Paladin NPCs .

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There is a reason why the community calls you Annoyomen, Anomen

Back to the dialogs between characters. The game is very text based, not everything is voiced (almost nothing) and it is funny how your skills in the game can infuence it ( for example, if you have pretty low intelligence, you can’t from a proper senctence, if you have a high one…you can get into an intellectual fight with a mage and try to outwit the other with “the sentence with the most scientific terms”) You alignment can also influence the NPC. Smugglers in the sewers won’t talk you anymore or outright attack you on sight if your fame is too positive. If you are too evil, guards attack you…

And if you are a Spellcaster and cast a spell inside the City Walls in BG II…Then the Coaled Wizards will “politely” tell you to stop it. By politely I mean, trying to kill you. Later, after enough quests, experience with the battle system and anti-magic armor, and enough powerful spells…I spawned them just for fun.

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*insert maniac laughter*

The Battle system is based on the Dungeon&Dragon rule-set. I never played the tabletop game, just games simliar to it, so I can’t give you a proper insight to the rules. Or a proper short one. The computer makes the work of rolling the dice and determine if a spells/arrows/swords hit or not and how much damage it does. (considering variables of Dexterity, Armour, Magic resistance, abilities of the character)  You can read everything about it in the dialog box, if you like to know what exactly went wrong with your strategy.

And here goes the advice: Save often. Quicksave the hell out of the Quicksave-Button if you are in a dungeon you don’t know (especially on high difficulty). Once I opened a door and a lot of Illithids looked a me (people with a  head of an octupus which suck your our intelligence until you are dead….Arch-Enemies of mages.)

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Hello? Uh…uhm…sorry to interfere. *closes door*

Atmosphere…Should I really say something to this point? Alright, I mean, it was not bad, but the main focus lies with the narrative, not with the visuals. It was at that time where have to imagine more than you see. (God, that makes me sound old…)

There are a lot of different quests (from stimple to complex) in there, but often they won’t say how difficult a quest really is. I can darkly remember a simple delivery quest which had me suddenly against a dragon and after wrestling it down with sweat and blood another dragon appeared…Great, it was a miracle that I even survived the first one. This is not Skyrim, people, this is not a game where you are a born dragonslayer. In this game dragons really honor their legacy and I took a lot of loading to survive this one. Besides the personal quests of followers, you have also a personal for your class. (Mages become involved with a giant magic ball house that spawns out of nowhere, Bards can get a theaters and so on) This adds to the replay factor.

And have I mentioned, there is still a mod-community out there? Yeah, I know the first game was a remake. Yeah I know, that the second will get a remake as well, but I haven’t had the time to look into it yet. Maybe I will compare it to the ones I know, but I don’t think much has changed besides new characters and dungeons.

Conclusion? It was one of my first hunts in that genre and one of a hell frustrating on that when I was younger. But later, I appreciated the details they put in, so that I still play it today and still find it enjoyable. Compared to the newer games, the graphic is BG greatest flaw, but can nevertheless compete with other RPGs in aspects of story and characters (more split matter for me. I liked and hated it at the same time.)

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2013 in Pc

 

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Another day, another update

Well, my plan was finished quicker than expected. (I don’t really know if I should be proud of that or not. Normally, I’m a really lazy writer.) And looking at the release dates and games which come up next…Let’s say, there aren’t many games which really capture my interest for the next time.

So, that seems that this blog goes for hiatus a very long time?

No, of course not. If I have the chance to pester other people with my blog, then I will continue. (Yeah, I’m a very cruel, selfish person and I’m proud of it.)

To keep it short, I will redirect my hunt, for the time being, to older games. Let’s call it a Nostalgia-Month, if you like. Depends on when I find a new game…

My plan in the near future: The Baldur’s Gate Series, Black & White, The Elderscrolls Series and maybe some other games and spawning general story nonsense just for your amusement.

Have a nice hunt

– TheNocturnalHunter

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2013 in Just Updates

 

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