Whats up Destructoid?
My name is Sean McLoughlin and I've been sent from the futurepast to march with my fellow robots to victory. For Niero!
My favorite games can be numerous (as I'm sure is true of most here at Dtoid), but my all time favorites are Final Fantasy VI, Diablo II, Bioshock, Braid, Demon's Souls and Metal Gear Solid. I never rent games and I rarely trade in or sell the games I buy so I have a pretty massive game collection. For the sake of space I'll just list the consoles and portables that I own: NES, SNES, Genesis, Game Gear, Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Advance, Playstation, N64, Playstation 2 (one original which is broken and a Slim), Dreamcast, Gamecube, Xbox, Neo Geo Pocket, Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi, PSP 2000, Xbox 360 (red-ringed once), a fully backwards compatible Playstation 3 and a Wii.
I'm a video game designer and an RPI graduate with a degree in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences. When I'm not working with my development group Darkroom Games or gaming you can probably find me reading a science fiction/fantasy novel or something on Cracked.com. My favorite authors are George RR Martin, Terry Brooks, Garth Nix and Terry Goodkind. I'm also a big fan of movies, my favorites right now are The Departed, Smoking Aces and Crank, although my all time favorite movie/director is Reservoir Dogs/Tarantino. I don't watch much TV and if I do its usually Discovery channel or Science Channel. I love Professional Wrestling, Y2J SAVE US! My favorite band is obviously The Grateful Dead although my musical tastes are quite varied. I listen to everything from T.I. to Metallica to Toby Keith. Also, MC Chris FTMFW!
The Witcher 2 strikes me as a very odd game: It has a large cult following, beautiful graphics, a deep back story, loads of items to find and quests to go on. Basically it has everything an RPG needs to be successful on the Xbox 360, and I don't doubt that it will be successful. However, I find it perplexing that so many basically gameplay mechanics are outright broken.
First of all, if you missed my last blog, then you should know that I have never played either of The Witcher games on PC, so I have no idea if the following complaints are true of those games. And given that I am actually quite enjoying the game, I will try to keep my complaining to a minimum, but I really feel there are some things I need to point out. Right off the bat, I noticed that the controls are way to sensitive. It is possible to get Geralt to walk by gently nudging the joystick forward, but more often than not he breaks into a full sprint when you didn't want him too. Picking up items is similarly sensitive, with the prompt appearing and disappearing seemingly at will.
The AI also needs a bit of work, early on in the prologue one of my NPC allies was "helping me" in a fight by continually setting me on fire. Granted we were in small hallway and I separated her from the enemies, but I think she should be smart enough to realize this and stop throwing fireballs. Unfortunately she did not realize this and she killed me.
I also have a bit of a problem with some of the quests in the game. I found myself reloading my save occasionally because I would fail certain quests without any warning at all. In a game like Xenoblade Chronicles, quests that need to be completed within a certain time frame or before leaving a certain area are clearly marked. There is no such indication for quests like that in The Witcher 2 and the completionist inside me is highly annoyed by that.
In addition, and I recognize this is not a fault of the game itself, I was told The Witcher 2's combat was comparable to Demon's Souls and Dark souls. Regrettably, I cannot agree with this statement. It feels more like a brutal version of Fable than like something from the Souls series. That's not to say combat is bad, not at all. I find it quite fun and fast paced, with many strategic options to choose from going into any fight. I was just disappointed to find it wasn't like the Souls games, which have my favorite 3rd person sword combat by far.
All of these faults combined would kill an average game, I would have played it once and never again. So how does The Witcher 2 keep me coming back for more? Well it's simple, the story telling is among the best examples in gaming, standing tall amongst the likes of Bioshock, Half-Life and Metal Gear Solid in my own mind. The cinematic that plays before the main menu is one of the coolest fight scenes I've seen since 300 and although the story was a bit dense at first (having never played the first Witcher game) I quickly became attached to the characters and found myself engrossed in the ongoing events of the game.
The reason the story telling is so good in The Witcher 2 is that it really makes you feel like you are apart of the story. Many quests and events in the game have multiple resolutions, some of which drastically affect the outcome of the story. It really feels like you have control over your destiny in this world. At first I worried that having such a well defined character as Geralt of Rivia would make it hard for me to role play in this world, but my fears were unfounded. As far as I am concerned, when I'm playing The Witcher 2, I am Geralt of Rivia, and that is simply the greatest achievement a RPG can accomplish.
So I look forward to finishing the game in the coming weeks, and bringing you my full review as well. In the meantime, I urge anyone with a strong love for role-playing to seek this game out immediately if you haven't already. You won't regret it.
WARNING: I'm merely half way through the first chapter of the game, so please do not spoil anything for me in the comments bellow. Thank you.
BEHOLD! A whole 24 hours before its scheduled release date, I am the proud owner of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition (was this named by Capcom?)! Yep, I was one of the 1,000 lucky gamers chosen to review the new release from CD Projekt Red! Is there anything better than getting free games simply because you love games? More things in life should be like that! If I didn't already love CD Projekt because of GOG, I would love them now for this promotion.
Speaking of the promotion, I'm willing to bet that a lot of gamers who were chosen to review The Witcher 2 won't fulfill their end of the bargain. Hell, I even saw one guy on 4chan claim he was just going to sell the copy he won since he doesn't even own a 360. Like a digital Batman, I intend to make up for this miscarriage of justice by doing a whole series of blogs on The Witcher 2 here on Destructoid. Currently you're reading my Pre-Review of the game, where I gush about how excited I am to play the game. In a few days I will post an impressions blog. Once I've completed the game (for the first time) I will give it a complete review. Upon completing the game a second time I will give a Post-Review blog where I sum up my overall feelings on the game, sans a review score.
Let me tell you why I think you should be looking forward to my series on The Witcher 2:
1) I've never played The Witcher or The Witcher 2 on PC. Not even for 5 minutes at a friends house. I am going into this game completely blind, so my opinions will be totally fresh.
3) I am a RPI graduate with a degree in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (see sidebar) so I will not be looking at this game objectively, like most reviewers, but from the critical eye of a game designer with a passion for games that push the industry forward with innovative game mechanics interlaced with quality story telling.
So please do look forward to my next three blog posts and let me know what you think I should expect in the comments below. No spoilers please!
Hey Destructoid, it's been awhile eh? I've been a busy little robot, let me tell you. I just graduated from RPI with a BAS in Video Games and Simulations Arts and Sciences and a BAS in Communications so I'm looking for a job. On top of that, I got together with some friends (fellow RPI students, soon to be graduates) and we're in the process of creating our own company, one we call Darkroom Games. More information on that will be soon to follow, so keep on eye on the Cblogs if you're interested.
Let's get to the real point of this blog. I feel the word "epic" is thrown around a lot these days and has lost its meaning. That being said, I feel it is appropriate to say that this past Christmas, I got the most epic present I've ever received: a life size statue of Master Chief! It was used in stores to promote Halo 2 and only around 600 of them were made, a number of which were merely thrown out after the promotional period. I feel very lucky to call this guy a part of my collection and would like to state publicly to any women that may consider calling themselves Mrs. DaedHead8 in the future: If you ever ask me to choose between you and the Chief, you'll find yourself lacking a husband very quickly. This guy is going to guard over my apartments and houses for the rest of my life and there isn't a single thing anyone can do to stop it.
This blog was written as an assignment for my Experimental Game Design class, so if it seems more formal than my usual entries, that's why.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is one of the very few games that I can claim legitimately scares me. This game scares me so bad that I havenít even finished it yet, despite having owned it for almost an entire year. Itís not that the game is long, I am just literally afraid to sit down and play more of it.
Amnesia is a first person adventure game. There is no combat in the game and very few enemies, but the enemies that are there are among the scariest that gaming has to offer. You see, if you spot one of the monsters and look at it for too long, it will sense your presence and start chasing you. Because you have no way of defending yourself, your only option is to run into a darkened room (preferably one with a door you can shut behind you) and wait and pray that it didnít see where you went. If it did, it will follow you into the room (breaking the door down if it has to) and potentially kill you. If the room is dark enough and you donít look in the monsterís direction, you may escape its wrath by crouching in a corner, if youíre lucky. This design choice reminds me a lot of the movie Alien, where the titular alien was rarely seen in the film. This lent a serious sense of dread to the movie whenever you spotted part of the alien. I feel the same way about the monsters in Amnesia. Since you never get a really good look at them, they are ten times scarier than they would be if you saw them in full every 30 seconds.
Amnesia is a very dark game, check out this screenshot from one of the "safe" areas in the game...
When youíre not running for your life from monsters, the game plays like a standard adventure game. You find objects and use them to solve puzzles, such as getting a steam engine to work so you can use an elevator to get to the next level. The catch is that the game is very dark, and darkness causes your character to go insane. Going insane means that the graphics will warp and bend, a creepy crackling noise will start playing over your speakers and you may even start hallucinating and seeing things that arenít there. You can combat this by using matches you find to light candles throughout the environment or by using an oil lamp you carry with you. Both the matches and oil are in short supply, so you should use them sparingly. In addition, light will attract the monsters in the game, so whenever youíre running from them, you must also suffer the effects of insanity. It all makes for a very compelling and emotionally charged experience, as you must decide between the comfort that lights brings and the safety of darkness.
This is what most of the game will look like for you scaredy-cats out there. Put that oil lamp away, you'll be fine, I promise. (cue evil laughter)
The scariest moment of the game for me happened early on. I was walking around in an area with ankle deep water on the floor. I was just doing my thing, exploring rooms and looking for matches/oil and items I may need to progress when all of a sudden, footsteps started appearing in the water near me, despite there being nothing there to make said footsteps. Clearly there was some sort of invisible monster in the room with me. The footsteps started coming straight for me and naturally, I freaked out. I tried running but it was too quick for me. It caught up and within seconds, I was a corpse. My game reloaded and this time I was ready for the footsteps. When they appeared, I quickly tried to run past them, only to end up just as dead as I was earlier. The monster was too fast and too strong. The third time, I tried something new. When I got to the area with the monster, I stood on some boxes up out of the water. This proved to be an effective strategy, as the footsteps stopped just short of where I was standing. Clearly the monster knew where I was, but was unable to reach me unless I was in the water. Feeling triumphant since I had figured it out, I shut the game off, saying to myself that it had scared me enough for one night. I didnít play again for more than two weeks.
Most of the game's story is told through notes you can find in the environment but there are also flashbacks that occur when you step into certain rooms.
Amnesia is game that everyone should experience in my opinion, even if youíre not a fan of having the pants scared off of you. I say this because it proves once and for all that video games are capable of delivering the same emotional intensity and indeed the same scope of emotions found in other mediums like film, music and literature. Not only is it capable, Amnesia proves that video games may even be the most effective medium for delivering emotion, since it is the only medium where things are happening to you and not someone else. You are the person being chased down a dark hallway by a deadly monster; youíre not watching it happen to some teenage girl. You are the one suffering from insanity; youíre not just reading about someone elseís breakdown. I think Amnesia is one of the first games to deliver these types of experiences but it certainly will not be the last.
Okay, so maybe I'm getting ahead of myself with my blog title here, but after buying the first gen DS and first gen GBA, I can't help but feel paranoid that Nintendo will be making such an announcement now that I'm the proud owner of a cosmo black 3DS.
Yep, in celebration of my birthday last week, I decided to take advantage of the early price drop on the 3DS at Walmart. That's right, I am now a 3DS ambassador all at the low low price of $170. I also picked up Super Street Fighter IV 3D to play until my 20 free games are ready.
In addition to all that, while at Walmart I ran across a new copy of Tony Hawk Ride for the PS3 for only $15! I always planned on buying this game and despite the fact that I would have rather gotten it for the 360, at that price, I just couldn't pass it up. I can't wait to try it and see how terribad it really is. I love collecting stuff like this.
In that picture up there, you undoubtedly noticed 4 other DS games and Wii game I haven't talked about yet. The 4 DS games were a gift from a friend and they are:
Chaotic: Shadow Warriors - A pokemon-like game, it's actually pretty good which surprised me since I had never heard of the game or the anime it's based on.
WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2010 - Despite being a huge wrestling fan, I don't own any portable wrestling titles, until now. This is one of the better Smackdown titles on the DS and it really plays like a mini version of the console title. Not bad at all, especially considering my friend got it for free from GameStop since the case is damaged and they likely have 100 copies of the game in pristine condition.
Geometry Wars Galaxies - A portable version of one of my favorite XBLA games, getting this game on my birthday inspired me to order the Wii version from Amazon (only $10!) which just so happened to arrive in the mail today, just in time for this blog. They're both awesome titles and anyone who likes Geometry Wars should check them out, especially now that they're both as cheap as their XBLA counterparts.
Super Scribblenauts - The sequel to one of my all time favorite DS games. The weird thing is, my friend had no idea what this game was and just bought it for me because she knows I like weird and quirky things.
So yeah, between this and the two Fallout games I bought on Steam yesterday (3 GOTY and New Vegas) I have a pretty kick ass birthday haul here. It's time for me to open it all up and make it official!
So I just got off the phone with Obama, who had just gotten off the phone with several other world leaders. It seems they all agree that we need a summer holiday that rivals the birth of Jesus and they decided my birthday was the perfect choice. I can't say I blame them. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!! WOOT!
All joking aside, it is my birthday today. I turned a quarter century old today and I'm feeling pretty good. I don't really have any vidya related plans for my birthday nor did I receive any awesome vidya related presents (yet) so for my birthday post today, I thought I'd share the game prototype I helped create in my Game Dev II class last semester.
The game is called Season of Thorns and I promised to get it to you guys months ago but I never followed through, for that I am sorry. The reason it took me this long is because I had planned on writing up a big blog post explaining everything about the game, from how to play it to how I went about creating it. Unfortunately I just do not have the time for that. I started another project for school which has been dominating my summer. My new project is an adventure game that aims to teach its players Mandarin Chinese. This is a very exciting project for me because not only do I love adventure games, but I also am very passionate about education reform using video games. I am also extremely fortunate to be working under the leadership of Lee Sheldon, a professor at RPI who is at least famous enough to have his own wikipedia page. However the coolest part of this project is that the game will take place in what is known as "The Cave": A 40x40 foot room with screens on all 4 walls. That's right, this game will immerse you in a virtual reality recreation of China in order to teach you the language. How cool is that?
Anyway you can download Season of Thorns here. Extract the .rar, open the folder and click on seasons.exe in order to play. Fair warning: The game is very glitchy, the animations that you see aren't final and they tend to glitch a lot. In addition to that the movement isnt as smooth as we would have liked it. Here are the controls: WASD moves your characters, 1234 switches between the 4 characters, the left mouse buttons fires off a spell and the right mouse button allows you to switch between spells.
Here's a few hints to get you started: The round torches you see on the ground throughout the environment automatically teleport the ladies to your current position when you get close to them. This can be very handy when entering a new area but also very annoying if you have placed your ladies in a spot they need to stay in to complete the current puzzle. So steer clear of the torches unless you actually want all 4 ladies in the same spot. The first puzzle involves placing the 4 ladies on 4 switches at once, causing a bridge to appear to a previously inaccessible area. The second puzzles involves putting one of your ladies on a special platform and somehow levitating her up to the second set of spells. This game is very challenging in the sense that we don't tell you at all what to do, but if you explore and experiment enough, you'll find your way. Since I didn't write an all inclusive blog post about the game, I promise to keep a close eye on the comments and answer any questions you all might have. Good luck everybody!