Once upon a time in the year 2010. There was a game called Starcraft 2. I pre-ordered it for my aging gaming laptop and so started my journey into the world of Zergs, Protoss and human assholes.
My flatmate and college friend was well versed in the ways of Starcraft 2 because of the beta but he didn't pre-order in time. So I kindly gave him a time code card that came with and my installation DVDs and off we went!
At first I gave the multiplayer a try and was surprised by the way the multiplayer was structured, compared to the original where by the time I started the only ones remaining were the good and the pro that pummelled newcomers in a matter of minutes.
But SC2 was different it asked what race I wanted to play and practically said "We want to see how good you are. Have a few matches against people." It seemed nice, comforting to know that I can show what I am worth and be put with people of similar skills to breed some actual competition.
Now this is where the game got smart on me. Despite me winning most of my games. It still put me in the bronze league. I asked my friend about this and he explained it's all about how well you use what you know and APMs and such. This gave us an idea. We will play really dumb in the five 2vs2 games to see what league we will join, we were aiming for bronze so we could try to dominate the league. We decided to be protoss and just spam zealots at one base until they crumble. We thought it would never work. Surely people will defend their bases and destroy us. How wrong we were.
The first match was won in a matter of minutes. Getting zealots churning out was easy. Simply harvesting minerals and building more gateways and pylons just did the trick. We overran the opposition.
I went downstairs to my friend and burst out laughing. We wanted to let this tactic roll and see where it led us. The next 4 matches weren't as straight forward. So we built more gateways practically outside people's bases. We got determined. We got ambitious. We got into silver league.
This was a big mistake for us as we were over our heads. My friend wasn't good enough to carry me into winning matches. It broke us down. We tried more matches using different tactics and that didn't work either. Whoever we were pitted against were better prepared and possibly used comms better than shouting up and down the stairs.
I still play SC2. Not that often as the changes that have been made and the skill of the players are definitely a lot higher than I can get now. But I have taken to League of Legends really well! But that's another story (well a shit story to be honest).
Well 2011 had no gaming resolutions as I knew itíd be a crap year. I did foolishly believe I could drop below 14 stone. Back then I was about 15 and a half. Now I am closing in on 16 stone but I have been hitting the gym at least 3 times a week in the last month. But 2012 will be different. I will challenge myself over this new year.
My first resolution of the year will be to try and review a game in each quarter of the year. More if itís possible but start with one every three months. The main reason being was that I enjoyed reviewing games when I was younger, in the college years. I had the time to play them. I just had a Gamecube and a shit PC. Times were simple back then. Now I write a paragraph. Think itís utter bollocks and delete the file and never start over. I think trying to write about small games will help. Also any tips and info any reviewers have will be welcome too... Unfortunately America is a long way for me to go to give blowjobs. ;)
My 2nd will be to play more Starcraft 2. I used to play until the end of last year where I was managing to reach the silver league. But since then I am getting battered by every bronze league player that is coming in, mainly because I took a 6 month hiatus. I have already took some steps towards this. I have a spanky new Razer Starcraft 2 Spectre mouse and Marauder keyboard, it handily flashes alerts at me during matches (so far itís helped me notice whatís happening). Plus I have been playing about 5 games a week so far. All losses but I am learning from mistakes and soon one day. Only the gold league players will be left and eventually I will drag one down to my level and win!
My final resolution is to hammer through my backlog of games and stop looking at the Steam sales. Every Steam sale week has given me up to 20 games in a week that I will end up buying on impulse. Like I bought Serious Sam 3 because it was half price along with the Serious Sam Indie games as they look fun to have a go as well! What have I become! Does all my disposable income have to go on games! It could be befitting myself with money towards a new house. Even a new car! But it just goes on Steam sales! But once I stem the tide of buying things. Hopefully the number of games I will be still playing will drop too.
But thatís it. I think Iíve set myself enough gaming resolutions that I believe I can complete before the end of next year. Hopefully I'll get back on track with losing weight as well.
Want to hear a Skyrim story? You want a story about dragons? Well itís got none!.. Wait! Come back! It has something just as good!
It all started when I eventually reached Whiterun and decided to join the Companions. I swung my mace at Varkisí face to show him I mean business and he gave me some little jobs to begin with. All was good in the world of making money and killing dudes.
But eventually I took a trip out with one of the Companion guys to find a shard of hogarth or what not. I wasnít really paying attention at the time, except he said it was my trial. We met up at a cave and started to explore the place. We were encountering folk called the Silver Hand. At the time I believed they were some kind of bandit group.
It was when I got locked in a little cave and saw my Companion buddy surrounded by a bunch of those guys. Some threats were made to my new best friend and then he turned into a motherfucking werewolf! He started slashing them folk down and ran them off. He came back eventually as a human again and had a so what attitude about me finding out the most awesome thing about him. We carried on and found the thingymabob after some more slaughtering of this Silver Hand group now I know they are the enemy of werewolves. I did good. Unfortunately when I got back with the goods they just praised my service and said I am in their group. That was all I got from the event. I was real gutted.
Fortunately good things come to those who wait. Over time I did more work and eventually SkŲr gave me a special request. We went to a hidden cave near the Companions hold and I saw a werewolf. He said I should recognise the huntress lady. I donít know how, considering she usually looked like a woman. But he liked to talk about how they want to become the beast and that it shouldnít be hidden and really talking up this business of being a werewolf. He cuts her arm and asks me to drink her blood. Naturally I accept as itís the right thing to do and suddenly I change.
Next thing I see is myself as a werewolf. I spin round and see Lydia. She has been following me for a while and was starting to do my nut in. I instantly slash her up into ribbons and see that I can feed from her corpse. So I do just that. The screen goes dark again and I eventually awake in a forest wearing nothing but my loin cloth and epic beard. The huntress stands in front of me. She tells me what we need to do is to clear out a stronghold of Silver Hand and that SkŲr has already charged in. So instantly I change to a werewolf and rush my way towards the place ripping the throats out of my enemy. The huntress and I get in.
We make short work of the folk who want us dead. But I eventually meet a big guy nicknamed: The Skinner. I realise I shouldíve kept feeding on folk. I change back into my human form. Armed only with my beard, it was not enough to survive from his big axe.
I tried again and this time I learnt from my mistakes. I kill the guy and learn that SkŲr was already killed by the bastards. I take his armour as itís better than mine, itís what he wouldíve wanted. But it gets better, a day or so later I get a message. It says that with Lydia being killed, I will be compensated 300 gold. An added bonus is that I killed Lydia in Whiterun and no one kicked up a fuss. So I practically got away with murder and got paid for it.
The moral of the story is that werewolves are cool and not even the Nords gave a shit about Lydia!
This has been a pretty good year for Zelda games. We had Ocarina of Time for the 3DS. Which doesnít just pretty up the original N64 title by replacing all the textures and improving the graphics as a whole. It also gave the Master Quest, which I will vouch to complete in 3D! All due to my old Gamecube memory card dying.
Then there was the free release of the 4 Swords Adventures. Modified to use both DS screens. A nice little coop/ competitive game putting up to 4 links to go through dungeons, solve puzzles, grabbing more rupees than the other guys and stabbing bad dudes.
Finally thereís the nearly released everywhere Skyward Sword. Bringing Zelda back to the Wii and finally making use of the Wii-motion Plus to fight baddies more realistically with the sword rather than using the Wii's original waggle physics, I'm looking at you Twilight Princess!
Iím a fan of the Zelda titles. I see all of the games as new adventures and it just brings out the young me when I played Zelda first on the Game Boy with Linkís Awakening. Exploring the world, seeing the strange sights back on Koholint Island. When I saw the references to Mario and thinking it was odd and then realising itís really a freaking dream world! That was madness!
I then played Link to the Past on the SNES and that really stumped me as a kid with itís puzzles and the concept of light and dark worlds, which for a SNES game worked really well. Being able to switch between the two worlds in certain ways to solve puzzles and get items really got me thinking at times. Although it brought my most aggravating boss from the Game Boy game along to haunt me. You see the first GB Zelda boss and the 3rd SNES Zelda Boss are the same boss! Just fuck off pushing me from your platform and gaining your health to full whilst I suffer defeat from running out of hearts!
The N64 Zeldas were next and got them for both Christmasí they were set to release on. Ocarina of Time had the idea of using two different time zones to help him save the world. I always found that seeing Link change from child to adult was a little bit eeyrie. This was the first Zelda game where I would always find new little sights to see and interesting things to do outside of adventuring like spending a whole afternoon fishing for the big catch when you are a kid and then finding even bigger fishies as an adult. That was so good. I loved fishing when I was fed up trying to figure out what I was meant to do in a dungeon, that felt good to me.
Majoraís Mask on the other hand terrified me. Having those 3 days to do anything all the time put a stress on me as a kid like nothing else at the time I didnít know life is constantly like that at the time. It probably taught me to start worrying about important deadlines. But with that, it didnít appeal to me as much. Mostly because of the parallel universe thing using a lot of similar characters. Along with the frustrating time mechanic as I kept forgetting to deposit money and I kept forgetting how to do tasks in the right order. Even with the guide that I bought for pound with another game (weird Game deals) I just had a hard time with it. My girlfriend keeps telling me to play it to get her through the 3rd dungeon but I refuse out of sheer annoyance.
After that I still got the Zelda games but started to fall behind due to getting them when I could rather than on christmas.
I just feel like Zelda games can hardly go wrong. They have a formula that holds out every time due to how flexible it can be. It only needs to change a few things per game and boom! Itís a Nintendo great! That can be said with a lot of Nintendo games, but Zelda is my go to fantasy universe that even beats my Elder Scrolls fascination because itís not so intimidating to players to get immersed. Bosses are only behind the big sealed doors with the horns on and you wonít be looking at 5 axes to decide which you would like to use. I just like how every game has itís differences but you know that a lot of the goals are the same. It just brings out the child in me who wants to just play through another story with the guy who wear a ridiculous outfit and saves the world.
Free to play games used to get a lot of stick in the olden days, companies would build their virtual empires on MMORPGs that had little story or little reason to go for it. One of the oldest I knew about was Runescape. A game that co-workers loved to scam people out of hard earned virtual items for more fun than turning a profit. Nowadays I always see my girlfriend clicking away at free to play games on Facebook and when co-workers ask me to play a game on there because they need more dudes in their virtual pyramid scheme. I go on about how the game offers no real risk reward as would a game like World of Tanks does (If you do well then you get better tanks faster. Do shit and you lose in game credits). Maybe I donít like the lab rat reward scheme that Facebook CSI offers.
But over the last few years we have had offerings like Quake Live, League of Legends and even Team Fortress 2 becoming free to play was a glorious surprise for those that havenít taken advantage of Steamís numerous sales of the game or just late to the PC party. It helped get a friend of mine back on TF2 after he couldnít log into his Steam account as it was untouched for roughly a year. So we are seeing the free to play market expand with a greater variety of titles. But are they always getting the right formula?
One game I can say is doing well but could do with a change or two is World of Tanks. I have made two accounts on this game and the first was from scratch and not paying a single pound sterling towards the in-game gold that would provide me with boosters and purchasing tanks, if better tanks are available to a fresh player. The problem is that when you are new you have tanks that look like tractors. These tractors with cannons are slow and weak. A well placed shot will destroy you in one go and even a glancing blow can cause enough damage that thereís little you can do before you are put down. This means you have such slow progress, you may just want to quit straight after your first bunch of losses. The second play-through from the start was with a free starting pack provided by a PC games magazine. This gave me a fast strong light tank along with gold and bonus time for double XP and credits. So I managed to get to the same point in the tech tree in about a nights worth of matches. Now I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. I know the starter tanks face other lower tier tanks but just having a tank that was a cut above the rest shows that having some perk at the start can take you a long way. Holding it back seems to be the wrong idea as a taste of nice things could help users want to try out using bonuses more often. Dragging you through the mud isnít what people would call fun.
My other gripe about this type of game is how if you get a friend to play. One of you will need to cough up some cash to play together. Itís like you can both go paintballing for free but your friend will be in another forest and there is a bridge to that other forest and it requires you to pay to allow you into that other forest.
World of Tanks isnít the only culprit in forcing you to pay to play with friends. Quake Live also treats you to the same problem. You are forced to Ďgo proí so you and some friends can have a game. I could also just install Quake 3 and find an active server. So you can see the problem that Quake Live faces as itís competitor is itís past that has not left yet.
Donít think Iím going to just shit all over free to play games. I really do enjoy playing World of Tanks to see if I can win a few rounds and ruin some tanks without getting myself killed. I also like Quake Live for itís play anywhere mentality as I managed to get running at my girlfriendís parentís PC without having to fiddle with graphics settings other to make it full screen. Just 5 minutes of downloading and away I go.
There are other games that have gone free to play for the better. Lord of the Rings Online has been made free and itís a boost as I can do the usual run around and grind for an hour whilst watching some TV. Itís fine and I donít have to spend money to do so. Itís like getting that grind fix I like in small doses in WoW but without a monthly cost.
This will lead me to my next gripe. The Ďshoving your wares as soon as possible policyí. The recent Age of Empires Online (AoE Online for short) is my target here. Mainly because as soon as I picked my civilisation I wanted to play as. It shows Ďbuy premiumí straight on the portait of the civ I just created. I kinda dislike being asked straight away in a free game to buy add-ons before I know what a game is like. It is a marketing thing but let me have my fun first. I donít even know what the game is like! Stop shoving that grinning old dude in my face (youíll know him when I see him)! Let me roll over some dudes base with catapults like I did in the times of old AoE. But even with itís slow learning curve. The game doesnít just shove you straight into a fight with other players as that would be a kick in the balls. PvP seems optional but I will need to put more time into the game. So hopefully Iíll be able to give it a full run down later.
So are free to play games going to replace you having to spend 30 - 40 quid to play a full game? Probably not, simply due to a free-to-play gameís pricing scheme. A section of game can cost from 5 to 10 pounds. A season pass of content for AoE Online can cost upward to 80 quid for what would be the usual 30 quid. This payment plan really doesnít seem ideal for the have your cake and eat it type, yíknow the sort that likes to get hold of every piece of content. Pro-tip - donít splash out all at once. Maybe one day a F2P game will get a total price down to something a bit more reasonable for a first release of content in a game. But it's definitely had some very nice tries so far.
Destructoid, you want to know what I like to play on my consoles. Well I'll just have to brush the dust off my memory and by that I need to boot up my consoles... Well the Xbox has decided to throw out an update so shall I start with the PSN download games? There's no update on that thing so lets roll with that.
Well here's the problem that I found with PSN download titles. I never felt all that settled on a lot of PSN games. Either because I bought them and moved out then found that without the internet I couldn't say I owned the games, yeah 3 months of looking at crazy Asteroids like title say you can only play the demo until you can prove you own this and not say it on the media bar was pretty annoying. It worked fine when I had internet elsewhere. But the game I enjoyed the most was Pixeljunk Shooter. Now that was a pretty interesting game when I managed to get it. I just loved how you could drain water onto lava monsters and murder them that way or be cruel in 2 player and shoot open a lava flow onto a friend's ship. It also looks like it's the only PSN title I have bothered to play through to completion. But even games I received for free to keep from PSN+ haven't been played through. Probably says something about me really but let's not get into that! I have not only finished it I have wanted to re-play it for 100% completion but I have to start over as my old PS3 died.
As for the Xbox as it's finally working again I immediately saw Geometry Wars 2 in my recently played. Yeah! That! I just loved that game so much I would be at a friends drinking and when they start to crack out the drugs before a night out in the town. I'd still be on the couch playing that, trying to get better at that rather than partaking in being broken down by peer pressure and doing what the 'cool kids do'. But having a few beers and shots in your system does slow my reactions down a tad too much to say I was improving.
I simply liked Geometry Wars 2 because Bizarre saw what they did with their previous version of Geometry Wars. Looked at keeping the original mode as close to the same as they could without making it completely identical but then building extra modes into it to give players new things to try. But it was just a lovely package of new games with the added cherry- Leaderboards! But they weren't just some leaderboards thrown together for the elite. Oh no. It lets you know who is your next friend that has a better high score compared to yours and that brought some massive rivalry against one of my friends until this year was beating me at just one of the games in Geo Wars 2 that he would gloat whenever he could see the scoreboards either at mine or at a friends even when his Xbox died. It made coming back to that game a joy as I can see other friends to beat but some have set a score so high I will need to play the game solidly for a few days to get the skills to beat them.
So that's my favourite games. Haven't really got any on any other console. Tried to think one for the Wii but I could never be fucked with Wiiware. I just like playing old console titles that never got released in the UK. Plus I haven't got more than a few DSIware games and haven't played them enough to make a serious decision yet.
Also going to do my Eve Diary again soon. Things are getting interesting in Eve standards but might not be for me. But will need the time to write that.