Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Review: Dragon Age Inquisition

This is the last of the games that I bought just before Christmas and I decided to save the best for last. I have spent a quite considerable amount of time on this game and I really do love it. The graphics are beautiful both in the style of the characters and environments and in the execution. The opening environment with the snow and the ice effect really took my breath away and there are many other environments just as stunning.

There are area's for improvement. The cities, don't really feel like cities and after playing Assassin's Creed Unity, feel extremely bland and restricted in comparison. The NPCs in the cities don't have any life to them. The just stand around fairly pointlessly. One thing I did like in Assassin's Creed was that you could just stand in pretty much any part of the city and watch the NPCs go about their lives. There is a lot more life in the natural environments, however, in Dragon Age with wildlife hunting each other, I just think it's a pity this life and energy can't be brought into the city.

I like many others, missed the inclusion of a relationship bar, showing how much or little each of the main members of my party approved of me. It makes trying to gauge when to ask characters out, like trying to fish in murky water, but I guess you could say it is true to life. Personally, that's part of real life, I would prefer left in the real world. The characters are great in DA:I my favourites are Solas, Cole and Dorian. Dorian particularly is a great laugh. My least favourites are Sera, who I find a bit crude, and Vivian, who I found unpleasant in an arrogant/ rude way, however the characters well written and designed, I just personally didn't like them much.

I know many people had issues with party chat and the group not talking much if at all when out in the field. I didn't really have this issue. It was a bit quiet in the early area, the hinterlands, but never silent. But PC games like to have their quirks between PCs and operating systems so perhaps, like with Assassin's Creed, I just got lucky.

Romance wise I chose Solas. Bit of a mistake really because his romance was just so good that I'm having issues romancing any of the other characters. I am currently romancing Dorian with a male character. I can't really go into any details without spoiling the game, but both are good romance options. With Solas it can be a bit of a slog to get the rep up, and his line is dependant on being started before a certain point in the main storyline but in my opinion it is worth it.

I quite like the combat in the game too. It's one of those games where you can make it as simple or complex as you like just by raising and lowering the difficulty. At lower difficulty levels your NPC team mates can pretty much take care of themselves and at higher levels, you will be forced to manage them and start thinking tactically about which team members to have and the synergy of their abilities as a group.

Anyway, over all, love this game. It is my favourite of the pre Christmas releases that I played, and I will likely still be playing it for a while yet. I really hope they release some DLC as the game does end on a bit of a cliffhanger.

Happy gaming all!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Review: Assassins Creed Unity

There has been a lot of negative feedback on this game but mine is somewhere in the grey area. Is this a fantastic, must play game? I wouldn't go that far. Is it enjoyable to play? I found it so.

There were reported to be a lot of bugs a launch. I count myself lucky in only encountering the one major bug which halted my progress and forced me to reinstall the game. After that, the game ran fairly smoothly. There are some optimisation issues which cause frame rate issues, but if I listed all the technical issues, I would be here all week. The game ran and was playable, which is good enough for me and my computer is average, certainly not falling into the high end gaming rig category.

When I started playing Unity, I had such high hopes. Arno actually had personality and seemed an engaging character, but as the game progressed, he seemed to sink back into your average assassin character and lost a chunk of his personality which was a massive disappointment to me. I really loved the historic setting of revolutionary France and playing the extra missions enhances that setting while not bogging the game down or giving the feel of an interactive documentary. Saying that, the main plot line, I felt, was weak. There didn't seem to be the strong central story focus to the game that was present in Assassin's Creed 2, Brotherhood and Revelations, and while Arno started with the potential to match Ezio in personality, Arno's didn't last but spluttered out after the opening sequences.

The game play in the game is good, and I like the new focus of stealth over open combat which AC3 frequently degenerated into, and I like the fact that the rooftops are more open again, as they became increasingly clustered with lookouts ready to snipe you, which by AC3 actually made it easier to travel on the ground, thereby ruining the free running element. The online co-op play, I really enjoy, and does make the game, for me. I love running around with three fellow assassins and the missions are well designed to be completable in a group or solo, so even if you can't co-op you can still access the content. I think this is my favourite element of the game.

I found this an enjoyable game. It's not made it anywhere near my favourite games of all time list, but it's certainly not a bad game and is well worth playing. Assassin's Creed 2 is still my personal favourite, and with the way things are going with the franchise, I don't see that changing. For m,e this is a solid game, but one which doesn't live up to its full potential.  

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Review World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

Hello all! It's been a while since I've posted. Had some rather severe internet issues but I'm back now. I've played a lot of games over the intervening period. Just before my internet went down I was able to partake in the launch of the new World of Warcraft expansion, so here are my thoughts, if a little late, on the event and new gameplay.

I was waiting at midnight (or 11pm local time) for the expansion to go live. Standing in a crowd of people at the Mage Tower in Stormwind waiting for the portal to open. It went live. I clicked the portal and... I got stuck in a broken instanced version of the blasted lands. Bit of an anti climax... I then had to log out only for there to be a DOS attack, allegedly, which the prevented me from logging back in. I think it took around 30 minutes in the end to get back in. When I did, I clicked on the portal again, with a small measure of trepidation, and actually got teleported to the right instance of the blasted lands and was able to proceed through the portal into the expansion.

I enjoyed the little storyline/ tutorial section beyond which terminated in the garrisons building quests, but here was where things went wrong, again. I don't know what genius thought it would be a good idea at the end of a section where the game was instanced to prevent crashing and over crowding in the main quests to then, where they all merge, put in a click these flags, which then have a quite significant delay before anyone else could click them, leading to crowds in some cases twenty strong around these flags all trying to click it first. It took me 40 minutes to get those flags clicked as I was suffering for some just enough lag to ensure I was rarely the first to click them. As well as that, there was a kill however many of an enemy type which you were lucky even to see before the massive crowd of people waiting for them to spawn killed them. I'm sure you can tell, this part frustrated me. However, once past that part it widened out and I had no further problems until...

The garrisons instance crashing. I'm sure pretty much every player trying to play during that first few weeks got stuck here at least once. I got stuck a couple of times. Essentially it was caused with the player's individual instance of the garrison, not loading and instead all the players trying to enter being dumped in one instance from which there was no escape. Whenever you tried to walk out to the connecting zone you would be ported right back again when you reached the boundary. Hearthstoning sometimes worked, if you were lucky, and I did manage to escape this way a few times, but often the character just became complete stuck and I had to log a different one. the only way to avoid it, until it was fixed, was to just not visit or fly through the garrison and avoid it like the plague.

The launch certainly had it's issues but I, overall, enjoyed the experience, anyway. The new zones are lovely to look at and explore and there are enough variety in the quests to make leveling through them a not entirely repetitive experience. I like that they went back to basics and allowed only ground mounts in the new expansion. I think flying was making the game a little to easy and that riding on ground level leads to better immersion in the environments.

This is a solid expansion. Did it return me to my heyday of WoW playing? No. I leveled up one character then half of a second and then stopped, but I don't blame the game itself for that. For me, what has ruined WoW is the, quite often, toxic community. Every instance is a speed run, done only for the sake of experience and gear not the joy of playing it. I play games for fun, not as a job. That is why I don't play this game that often any more, but I still enjoy a fling every now and again.

Happy gaming all.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

First, really love this film. It's rare that I can sit and watch a film and then when asked the question, how it could be improved, be left with no response. The balance of humour and action in the film, I think, is perfect.The characters of the heroes are fantastic and they played off each other really well, and the conflict between them in the early part of film leads to some really humourous scenes, which still set me laughing even now when I think of them.

If I absolutely had to make a criticism of the film, it would be that the personalities of the bad guys/ antagonists feel extremely weak in comparison to the heroes. They really do act and feel just like your average comic book villains. It would have been nice if the richness of the characters of the protagonists could have been mirrored a bit with the villains, but it in no way ruined the film for me.

The overall story and plot is good, and strong enough to hold together the various humour and action scenes throughout the film. Yes, it is a little predicable but again, I don't think that really matters given the subject matter and the genre. There were enough surprises to more than keep my interest, mainly the thought of what wacky and crazy thing the team would get up to next. I particularly like the bit with the battery and the artificial leg.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this film and it has become one of my favourites. I will certainly be getting it when it comes out in store, a while away yet, I know. If you enjoy the Marvel universe then this film is a must and even if you don't, I would suggest you give it try anyway. It's one of those rare films where everything seems to have come together in just the right order and quantities, which has created something really special. I look forward to seeing if this will be matched in the sequel.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Wildstar End Game Review

Yeah, I know what the first question on most people's mind will be, what end game? And I partly agree. End game in Wildstar, other than mindless farming dailies, is not easily accessible to any who does not have a good guild. The dungeons are generally too difficult to PUG. Adventures are doable but getting a gold may be a challenge without Vent or Teamspeak.

Let's hold off mentioning the attunement process for, a while; yes I know you want to swear about it. I personally, enjoyed leveling through the game. I do not get all of these whiners on the forums complaining of torrents of bugs preventing them from leveling. I'm a pretty serious completionist, and I only came across two bugs while leveling 1 to 50, only one of which was in a main quest chain and when I went back the following day the quest was un-bugged.

I think, overall, the quests and storyline up to 35 meandered a bit and didn't have a clear goal, which sapped my motivation, as it did feel a bit like working through my in tray at work, only not getting paid for it. This is corrected at 35 with the main questline kicking off and the rest of the leveling process  held my attention.

Anyway, back to end game. I am really enjoying doing the adventures with my guild. Nerfing the rewards was annoying, as on our  last nightly run we got three golds and not a single epic, which needs looking at when gold used to get three guaranteed epics. At least give two guaranteed and one for silver and just a chance of one for bronze. But I want my epics! As for vet dungeons, I've only tried one once and my connection was epicly bad so while we reached the final boss, we were unable to kill him. But I have no issues with the difficulty of the dungeons. Actually, I find it refreshing.

Now, attunement. I am certainly not a fan and would like to know when days of mindless rep grinding became hardcore? I wouldn't mind the attunement process if everything you did counted towards the whole attunement list. Before I had completed the rep grind, I had gained golds in all the advertures multiple times but I still need to do it again to advance, which is annoying. The only other thing I have to say about attunement is, sort it out! I'm not doing that multiple times for each alt, forget it. End of rant.

3 months in, I am still enjoying the game, but I do think that new endgame content is needed that aren't just lv50 replicas of the starting faction zones. Lets have more original areas please, or more adventures and dungeons. If you're going to make me grind for attunement at least make it less repetitive.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Wildstar, Veteran Adventure Time!

I have to confess that in the course of leveling my first level 50, I had not set foot in any adventures or dungeons. For those who don't know what adventures, in Wildstar, are they are instanced scenarios which you play through in a team of five, not massively unlike dungeons, really, only easier.  I didn't avoid these through any thought that they wouldn't be very good or not much fun, as I have actually been wanting to give them a try, but because of a few reasons. 

One, questing is a faster way of gaining experience and therefore leveling up. 

Two, repair bills are reputed to be high and the loot gained from the instance is unlikely to cover it.

Three, with prior knowledge of just how difficult PUGs can be in current MMOs, with groups breaking up, people arguing, people not listening to the tactics. I didn't want to go through the hassle of doing any PUGing in a game that, can be, as challenging as Wildstar is. The preciseness needed in boss fights and even sometimes just random in mobs, I could see would make this a challenge for PUGs. I did not want to queue for an hour only for the group to break up in the first ten minutes or to end up in the middle of a shouting match as one member yells "Noob" at another. 

Anyway, I elected to make the decision to save adventures/ dungeons until I hit level 50 and until I could do them as a guild group. That day finally came on Friday, and it was really quite enjoyable. There were a few issues, as I had never done even the non veteran versions and it seems my mentioning this at the start was not noticed by the group, as they didn't bother to explain the tactics, but I managed to keep up by just following along. We did three of the four adventures and gained two golds and one silver. Yes, the silver was my fault. But still not a bad result for someone who had never done adventures before. I died about three or four times in total, which wasn't a bad result across the three adventures. 

I confess that starting with War of the Wilds which feels very battlegroundy even though it is PvE. I wasn't immediately sold on the adventures but the other two were less tedious and more event/ scenario based and I did still enjoy all three. Although, War of the Wilds did feel a little aimless in places. 

The guys in my team were great and I really do thank them, as I have no doubt they, in part, did carry me as I was unaware of the tactics, although the general tactics of stay out of the red stuff, generally does me well. They were on teamspeak, so I followed their directions when given and I think, even if adventures are much easier than dungeons that we wouldn't have got the two golds if I hadn't been contributing at least a little. 

Anyway, it was enjoyable and I loved the experience. I encourage others to give it a try.    

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Wildstar Review 1 to 50

Hi all! I hit level 50 about a week and a half ago, now. I now feel qualified to venture into reviewing the game. Now I have been playing Exile side. I have played a little Dominion but only as far as the first Nexus zone, so my review really comes from an Exile viewpoint.

First, I really am enjoying the game. I had a fair few problems to start with, mainly due to bad internet and poor control system, my side not Wildstar side, I hasten to add. My control issues were mainly to do with my set up as I have my computer hooked up to my TV, this means I sit on my beanbag couch with my keyboard on my lap and my mouse on a box. Wildstar was not forgiving of this setup, so I soon learnt to change to controller input which made things a lot easier.

The storyline is really strong in the game for the first 15 or so levels. However, I found that between 15 and 35 the story arc felt pretty weak and found myself feeling more like a general dog's body running around doing everything npcs ordered for little reason. This made the middle section of the game feel quite slow moving, for me. However, it is by no means a bad game, even at this point. It just didn't feel as absorbing or engaging as I feel it could.

At level 35 the game picks up again and, for me, 35 to 50 was the high life. The questing was engaging and the combat system, while occasionally punishing, was not too hard or too easy but about right for later game. I found the Drusea quest arch particularly enjoyable and actually started looking forward to getting new quests as I leveled. I do think it would be good to introduce a few if these type of quests at the middle levels as it might cure the storyline drought and help keep players engaged.

But, overall, I have had fun and will continue to play. I'm currently leveling an alt. I haven't currently devoted enough time to dungeons or end game, so I will comment on those separately. But I think this is an enjoyable game an if you like MMOs then it's well worth playing. I'm sure this game will grow and blossom and I will be enjoying the journey.