Virtual California Cocksucker

Rockstar “making it fun to kill cops since 2001” entertainment has set loose its new murder simulator Red Dead Redemption. RDR is fun to play, beautiful to look at and filled with all the annoying shit that plagues Rocktar open world games. I have RDR for the 360 and have played for about 10 hours.

Where RD Wins:

– Graphics. The fucking horses look great. The clothes the main character has look badass. The old west buildings / scenery look perfect. The cycle of day and night is well done and adds loads of atmosphere to the game. JUST FUCKING WAIT UNTIL IT RAINS ON YOU SOME NIGHT IN GAME!
– Sounds is fucking great. I’ve a 5 speaker setup and I just love hearing people shooting at me from behind, bullets whizzing past my head as I make my get away. Sometime you hear gun shots echoing off canyon walls, alerting you to trouble near by. JUST FUCKING WAIT UNTIL YOU HEAR THE THUNDER IN THE EVENING WHEN IT RAINS IN GAME!
– The world feels very open and full of lasting consequences. No more shooting up the place and simply driving away to make a clean get away from the cops. In RDR you develop a bounty for all the “bad” shit do you, and that bounty doesn’t go away after you ditch the sheriff and his men, the bounty is on your head, growing ever larger in the event you commit more “bad” shit until you pay the bounty off with hard earned cash or get a pardon. What this does it make you less likely to just randomly shoot the place up when you are trying to progress through the game. It just adds a nice layer of consequence that is sorely missing from the GTA series.
– Multiplayer seems fun. I don’t fucking hate it. I’ve played maybe 4 hour of it. Most of that time was spent in “Open World Mode” which is just unstructured play time with the entire world map as the play ground. Players joining/leaving your game at random free to work together on “quests” to earn XP, or free to fucking open fire and grief like there’s no tomorrow. I prefer the shoot now, listen to players calling me asshole on live later option. I shall need more time with the Multiplayer once some of my real life friends pick up the game, it’s the only way I’ll play nice, playing with real life friends. The idea you can just ride around and shoot things together is a good idea.
– Shooting shit feels wonderful. Shoot some poor assfuck while he’s riding a horse, and the poor fuckass may blasted off his horse but get stuck in his saddle, causing a wonderful scene of man being dragged by horse. Aiming on the console controller is of course a challenge for an old school PC gaymer like me, but i just use the “casual” targeting mode which includes a snap to target feature that kicks in when you aim, which 90% locks onto the intended target. Bullet time! The game has Dead Eye bullet time, a feature you can activate to slow time down and line up 1 to N shots and then blast away hitting each target in real time. I always forget I have this option making for some failed combat encounters.

Where RDR falls flat:

– Fucking boring old west story so far, about 8 hours in maybe? While some of the dialog is interesting, and the character models are wonderfully detailed and well animated, it’s just average story telling. “Hey can you find this for me? Can you kill this person for me?” repeat, repeat, repeat. Ya we have some old west activities in there, herding cattle, roping wild horses, but the main portions of the story and just find this and kill this. What’s to be expected though here? Despite the “no new ground broken” nature of the quests, they don’t detract enough to be faulted.
– Might be getting old fast, the third time it rained on me at night the magic was already gone compared to the first time it happened.

Were RDR Loses:

– Fucking TERRIBLE minigames. I hate minigames, and I hate the minigames in RDR.
– Go in water, YOU FUCKING DIE! This only a problem when you are riding a horse top speed and fail to see a small river in front of you, before you can stop the horse or turn your end up the the water , “YOU FUCKING DEAD”.
– Launch time DLC failure. I bought the game from Amazon, it came with some code for Gold Guns, and for the last 5 days the code entry process in game has FAILED! Fucking Rockstar, er I mean Fucking Game Devs/Publishers that skimp on launch data server capacity/network infrastructure.
– No save anytime any where feature? This happens to me with all Rockstar games though, I play for 10 or so hour,s the missions get more complex and require too many start overs from some arbitrary save point because i didn’t drive/kill fast enough, I give the fuck up and say “FUCK YOU GAME FUCK YOU FOR NOT LETTING ME SAVE WHEN I FUCKING WANT TO SAVE”. It’s always some fucking timing mission mechanism that puts me over the edge and makes me quit. LET ME FUCKING GO AS SLOW AS I FUCKING WANT ASSHOLES!

(if/when RDR hits PC, a Deadwood mod will be a must)

AT-43 2nd Edition announced

Looks like around Xmas we’ll be looking down the barrel of an AT-Gauss gun at the next addition of AT-43, Rackham’s excellent futuristic miniatures game that has had a really rocky road so far what with the deluge of cheap miniatures on the market and a hap-hazard release schedule typical of Games Workshop back in their glory days.  Don’t have a link but I’m sure glad I didn’t spend a lot on the rule books/faction books as I assume all of those will get updates we get to pay for.

Finally a D&D board game

4th Edition D&D is really a board game. It has a lot more in common with Descent, Warhammer Quest, Heroquest and the like than say, Paranoia or Vampire the Masquerade.  That said, 4th edition is quite a bit closer to the original D&D games from back in the day: i.e.: extremely combat with miniatures focused.    With the release of 4th edition, I was shocked that the ‘starter’ set was a few books and some chits and dice in a box rather than a massive box filled with miniatures (prepaints or not) and lots of hard cardboard dungeon tiles a la the British Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Board game (only available in England).  That starter set would have been cooking with swamp gas.

Well now Wizards is finally getting on the warhorse and is planning to release Castle Ravenloft D&D Board Game and guess what it looks like? Descent!

ravenloft STUFF
Look at all the shit you get in the box!


Distant Worlds! (?)

To begin, let it be known throughout the lands that I’m extremely skeptical of any Space Strategy games these days.*

Matrix Games has recently put out two space strategy games, Distant Worlds by Code Force and Armada 2526.  Distant Worlds is another go at the RTS/4X genre muddle and has most piqued my interest since it’s release in March. Yet, not enough to actually buy it.  It has ship design, a MASSIVE galactic map and pretty sweet graphics for it’s suite of earth animal-influenced  alien races.   Here are a couple videos that may pique your interest as well– and if it’s enough to actually buy it… please let us know.

Moving your fleet around and fighting

Exploration (with a shot of the massive galactic map)

*After Master of Orion 3’s cascade of space piss into my open mouth a few years back, I  lost hope in the genre as, almost by design, the games kept getting worse and worse from the high point of Master of Orion in 1993, Ascendancy in 1995 and Emperor of the Fading Suns in 1996.  Since the heyday, we’ve had the mediocrity of Sword of the Stars, a mess of what are really RTS games that, while OK for RTS games, fail to really hit the mark with the 4X turnbased crowd (Homeworld, Hegemony and Sins of Solar Empire) as well as the excellent but multiplayer-only Ultracorps.

What’s more, the game series that is considered the current king of Turn Based 4x Space strategy games: Galactic Civilization is such an incredible rip-off of Civilization 3/4 that I consider it simply a graphics swap rather than a new game.  The galaxy in Galactic Civilizations, like Civ 4, is just a big flat map with planets (cities) that you move your units on.   Sometimes in Galactic Civilization there are asteroid fields (forests) that slow down your movement.  What’s worse it’s not a ‘globe’ like Civ so managing a big empire, multiple fronts on a big flat map is even more tedious than Civ. That said, please note that it is with a mountainous level of distrust that I even mention any current 4X space games on this blog in light of the simple question: are they better than the original Master of Orion? If not– why would anyone bother? Better graphics? who cares.  Better interface? Really? Is that even possible? Seriously: you can have the best 4X game, plus it’s almost good sequel, for 6$.  Keep that in mind with this and any subsequent posts on this subject.

Starcraft 2 beta action

I was late for work Thursday after a 6 hour download of the beta and patches and a SINGLE game with the Protoss that went late into the night.  Having played it before almost 3 years ago at Gencon, playing the beta is nothing altogether new– which is going to be a theme as I go forward in the next month or so babbling about the kings of RTS’s new title that is so very improved and so very much the same.

I’ve gotten in a single 1 on 1 game against a total n00b.   One thing to mention straight off if you are on the fence about liking it considering that it feels at first blush very much like an upgrade is the fact that it looks incredible. The level of detail to the maps is just ridiculous, and the units look great.  As much as the multiplayer is the real draw of the game, I’m really looking forward to the single player.

Being crushed by my enemies…

Being driven before them…

and letting them hear the lamentation of my women!

That’s the story of my first campaign run through Mount and Blade : Warbands.  Being a seasoned veteran of the old version of the game I feel I was slightly overconfident and went into some siege battles that decimated my miniscule warband– then I wandered into three armies of Swadians who had their way with the rest– what’s more, while running away (all alone) I ran into another full army who attacked and had their way with my lonesome self.  I took down 15 or so before, yet again, being captured, probably raped and pillaged.  Though you don’t lose all your good/goods/weapons,  there is a random roll and I lost my elite tempered sabre, about 2K worth of flax, and, of course, all of my followers are locked up in some castle jail somewhere.  A desolate place to be in the game– but who can stop playing even after constant and massive set backs?  That’s the beauty of the game: you and your fellow ‘lords’ are effectively immortal– you just keep going.  Raise another army, train them, go on some trading runs and then you’re back in the field after an hour or so destroying the Swadian masses.

For those that don’t have it yet, if you have the old game and just want to play the single player campaign: wait until you can get Warbands for cheap.  It’s really just an incremental update rather than a new version of the game for single player, which I am fine with as it’s a fantastic indy game.  Sure you can get married and learn some poems (!?) but that’s really not enough to warrant a purchase unless you are dying to get some multi player in.  However, if you have been waiting for multiplayer all these years– immediately go out and spend the cash as that’s where this version shines.

Gaming Hoopla

Saturday was spent sitting at various tables in a giant room with a giant stone fireplace placing pieces of plastic, wood and cardboard on top of other, usually larger, pieces of cardboard.  This was Gaming Hoopla.  As a pure gaming convention, I would rate it a definite 1 on the binary scale.  No mucking around with lines to see celebrities, no big announcements, no wasting time at vendors digging through boxes of old mouldy stuff looking for deals (there was only one selling about 50 games at most): it was all about sitting down and playing games.  People were exceedingly friendly and would either just ask you to play a game or, as you were sitting down to play something, would ask to get in on the action. My only complaint was that the room (though big) smelled of MEAT the entire time and giant wafts of MEAT-AIR would blast into the gaming area from the kitchen.

Games I got in on:
Agricola
Rush N Crush
Dungeon Quest
Arcanum
El Grande

My favorite was probably Rush N Crush. It just really captured the feel and intensity of a race with guns (and I won by wrecking my buddy’s car right at the finish line).  Though it may not be a play all the time game, I think I may pick it up.  All in all, a great little CON in the town where it all started and a good time.

Fantasy Flight DUNGEONQUEST!

Yeah? Oh yeah! Fantasy Flight must be hitting their numbers re-releasing the holy grails from Games Workshop’s golden age because we have yet another awesome edition to the roster:  DungeonQuest. This and Mummy’s Tomb I never got my grubby teenage hands on so I am fired fired fired up about the re-release (and was wondering why the original version’s price kept dropping on ebay the last few months). Great news and more info.