Text 16 May 1 note How to ruin Diablo 3 in 40 minutes

Before I start on this one, I want to shout out right away that there will be no spoilers in this post. Don’t panic!

I’m pretty new to this franchise. I tried Diablo II a few years too late and by the time I got around to it I couldn’t mentally connect with the dated graphical style and layout (not sure if this says more about me than the actual game). Before anyone rises up to shout ‘how dare he! Fetch the pitchforks’ I can completely appreciate how Diablo II would have been on release and how it has that ‘classic’ quality about it.

So after dropping Diablo II rather quickly I decided to wait for the next installment, which at the time had just been announced. The third part of the franchise looked immersive, sleek and with an interesting storyline. The PR and Marketing campaigns sported interesting classes, in particular the Monk, which I instantly gravitated towards due to my love of hand-to-hand combat in RPGs.

By the time it was released, I shared as much anticipation and excitement for the game as the next person. And thanks to the miracles of the internets, one digital purchase and one download later, I was in the process of creating my character.

The game was fantastic from the opening, I was fully immersed with the surroundings and the lore, despite the slightly disconnected fixed camera angle. The were no flashy cut-scenes every 5 minutes, instead you received various fragments of spoken dialogue, either through talking to NPCs dotted around or through books that you could find in various ways. Some of these books gave insights into the various monsters that you fought, others were diaries of primary and secondary characters. The best part of this, and something which really served to anchor you into immersion was the fact that they would play as you explored the game. Some of the most effective would be when you walked quietly through various hallways and forgotten tombs. In some cases the voice would be your only company. This was all very effective and helped keep you on track and invested in what you were doing.

I’m a huge fan of lore-enriched games. Any game where a person or a group of people have not only crafted a great story within it, but a series of characters and details which breathe life into the game world you are traversing is for me a genuine mark of artistry and creativity. Everyone I know is telling me that the story for Diablo 3 is exceptionally good with each of the 4 acts increasing in drama and thrills with each passing plot point.

Without further ado then, please enter, stage left - the villain of the piece - Cooperative Play. Incidentally this is also where the inherent warning lays for anyone who has never played a Diablo game before.

Cooperative play is officially the party-pooper who gatecrashed my Diablo 3 enjoyment party. For anyone who doesn’t know how this gameplay mode fits in to this game - you can bring friends from your Battle.net Real ID friends list into your game-world and play together.

I grouped with three other players today who had been playing the game almost religiously since release day. Many of them were over halfway to the level cap and everyone had pushed past the first Act of the story, which I had yet to finish. (stupid awesome office job getting in the way of things!).

For me, the pace was very similar to blasting through a dungeon in World of Warcraft. Hammering through enemies, speed clicking on quest NPCs and skipping through all the dialogue to get the quest completion experience, it was quite exhilarating - everything melted away and the simplicity of smashing things until gold and items fell out was quite theraputic. No one really gave a shit about the story, understandably because they had played it before and knew what happened (some more than once). But as the pace continued, people were skipping my quest dialogue to speed things up, quests were being completed before I had got to the quest NPC (this is actually a good thing outside of this situation).

None of this was anyone’s fault, at one point someone in the group who knew I was on my first play-through told the group to let the dialogue play out for my benefit. But by the time the question had been asked I was at a point where I didn’t know what the hell was going on anyway, so I told everyone that it was no problem and that it shouldn’t let the majority slow down just because of a single person in the group (online game group play has some serious politics nowadays, plus I still have a sense of almost retarded social nobility when it comes to group situations in games).

So I’m now at a stage where I have literally no idea what is happening in the story. I can replay missions and see what I missed, I can even go back into a Journal and listen to all the extra dialogue and lore I missed during that time. But it would essentially be me standing in a town clicking through box after box to bring myself up to speed. I would be missing out on the extra atmosphere this lore and storyline generates when played out in context with crawling half-blind through a dungeon wondering what manner of horror will come skittering out of the gloom.

It would be like watching an amazing TV show up to the 10th episode, then skipping through to the season finale. You can easily go back and watch the episodes you missed, but it is completely out of the flow of things and you probably wouldn’t enjoy it as much.

All of the ‘I MUST PLAY THIS GAME’ mojo has been sucked out of me based on 40 minutes of game-play this morning. This is nobody’s fault of course and i’m not casting any negative remarks on anyone I played with in the group. But there is definitely an inherent warning here to anyone who has picked up the game and is a first time entrant into the Diablo franchise.

If you group with someone on your first playthrough, make sure that everyone has the same sense of pace and purpose in playing. Ensure that they have just as much value over the storyline as you and take things slowly.

Today I watched both of the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movies to avoid playing. I’m probably going to go and start on season 2 of Farscape now to further the avoidance for the evening.

I still want to play Diablo 3, but today i’m completely demotivated to log in and carry on. Hopefully tomorrow will be a different case.

Text 9 Feb 4 notes Hard to the retail Core - The 100% achievement list.

I’m not what you would call an ‘Achievement Junkie’, when I buy a new game my first thought is to play the game and enjoy the experience. If i’m playing a new game and an achievement pops up during gameplay i’ll shelve this fact happily at the back of my mind and continue enjoying the game.

There are some games however, that sink their teeth into me so strongly that I will often go back to complete every achievement associated with them. This is a rare occurrence and the game generally must be exceptionally good. This is borne from the urge to see everything and explore every nook and cranny these superb games have to offer.

Achievements are a good way to lend aid to this type of exploration. They are more often than not designed to provide you with pointers and criteria which will take you into areas of gameplay you might not necessarily find. In short, they are a good road map to follow to see everything the game has to offer.

The following is a list of games which have made the completion cut. They were exceptionally interesting and engaging on a personal level. These are the cream of the crop and games which I would recommend to anyone who hasn’t played them before.

Assassins Creed

I will say right away that Assassins Creed had numerous flaws - the fact that despite being an agile super assassin you were horrifically allergic to large quantities of water - is a standout problem.

But what really compelled me here was the storyline and the overall gameplay. I was completely hooked on the ‘what will happen next?’ factor that the game had in abundance. I loved the fresh spin on ancestry and how we are able to tap into and play out specific time periods within our genetic memory using technology.

The achievements themselves outside of the story missions were quite grindy, especially those which required you to collect a certain amount of flags placed in and around each city. But because I enjoyed climbing up and around buildings so much, it didn’t feel like a chore at all, in fact, by the end of these collection quests I could safely say i’d seen everything the game environment had to offer.

Click here for a full list of Assassins Creed achievements.

Assassins Creed II

Assassins Creed II took the first game and varnished it with a thick layer of improvements. It introduced a new Assassin in the form of Ezio (one which proved so popular that he starred in two further games and a novel). With these improved types of gameplay and quite a few extras, there was even more of an incentive to complete all of the related achievements.

They encouraged you to explore a much broader space within the game and were based on optional, yet very fun stuff like renovating your villa and exploring Templar tombs and treasure troves.

Collection achievements were reduced, but made far more contextual. One achievement required you to collect a number of feathers dotted around the game. The motivation to do this transcended a ‘just because’ level of reasoning here - you needed them to help your mother mourn the death of your 11 year old brother, just before he was murdered (along with the rest of the men in your family) he was making something with the feathers, although he never told anyone what.

Click here for the full list of Assassins Creed 2 achievements.

Dead Space

The Dead Space franchise is pretty much single-handedly keeping the survival horror genre alive. While the Resident Evil games are slowly pushing further and further towards something resembling Gears of War - the creators of Dead Space are pulling further back into claustrophobic psychological horror.

One thing that drew me to Dead Space right away was the protagonist - Isaac. Here you have a middle aged weary looking man with little to no physical prowess. He has no rippling muscles, just his engineering suit and mining tools.

The achievements weren’t particluarly ground breaking here and they played directly on my urge to kill the variety of Necromorphs the game would throw at you. All in all they were quite grindy, but extremely satisfying all the same.

Click here for a full list of Dead Space achievements.

Dead Space 2

Dead Space 2 is hands-down one of my favourite games of all time. It manages to retain the horrifying qualities of its predecessor while ramping up the action and tension to palpable levels. Isaac has survived the ordeal he experience on the planet cracking ship - USG Ishimura and is now recovering in a mental institution on a Saturn space station. But the Necromorphs somehow return, leaving Isaac fighting for his life once more while simultaneously unravelling the mystery of the outbreak.

The achievements were relatively similar to the previous entry into the franchise albeit slightly more refined. Because it was possible to utilize a new game plus feature here, there was a huge compulsion to master your own fear. In the first playthrough you are generally squishy and vulnerable. But in the second playthrough, all of your armor and weapon upgrades carry over so you can continue playing and seriously kick seven shades of ass out of the horrifying creatures that are out to dismember you.

One stand-out achievement here requires you to complete the game on hardcore setting with only 3 possible saves across the entire run time. Oh and no checkpoints whatsoever, this means that if you die, you go back to the beginning of the game or to one of the 3 last saves you made. This achievement is something that I am incredibly proud of getting.

click here for a full list of Dead Space 2 achievements

Fallout 3

Fallout 3 opens up an exceptionally well designed and stylised post apocalyptic game world. The RPG qualities based in a mildly quirky science fiction environment made the experience an inherently unique one. It is also a tough one to describe, think of a technologically advanced 1960’s American culture but after it was ruined by war and hundreds of years of decay. And that is just scratching the surface.

There are hardly any grindy achievements attached to this game, with the exception of a few, most address the completion of specific missions in the game. So by definition, going back to complete the ones you missed would almost always show you a new story and part of the gameworld.

Fallout 3 is quite the gametime milestone for me, I have racked up around 220 hours of gametime in the Capital Wasteland and I don’t regret one minute of it.

Click here for for a full list of Fallout 3 achievements.

I will be adding to this post regularly. Coming up - Skyrim, Deus Ex & Majin.

Text 5 Feb 6 notes Mass Effect 3 - showing how achievements should be created.

The Achievement/Trophy list for Mass Effect 3 was released very recently. Countless people looked at them for spoilers and various other bits of information. Luckily there are no spoilers, some hints, but nothing that gives away pivotal moments or storylines.

This is the first in the Mass Effect franchise that contains a multiplayer mode. Something which I was worried about because i’m not a big multiplayer fan (unless it is in co-op play) and i’m even less of a fan of multiplayer achievements.

The list that just went up here on xbox360achievements.org (great site for gaming knowledge by the way) though has done something that I believe should have been done a long long time ago - that is to provide the gamer with choice.

Don’t like that ‘Reach level 20 in multiplayer’ completion requirement? That’s cool, you can also reach level 60 in single player instead.

Outstanding stuff. Especially if like me, you intend to fully complete achievements across the entire trilogy.

Text 5 Feb 10 notes Modern day Skyrim

I came across this two-part short comedy based on a future version of Skyrim. Brilliantly done.

Text 4 Feb 7 notes Kingdoms of Amalur…my body is ready

Okay so it isn’t very long now until Kingdoms of Amalur:Reckoning is released. I have been following this ever since .38 Studios was founded. Currently the first wave of reviews are in and it seems that it is doing really well. IGN gave it an overall of 9.0. Click here for the review.

I played some of the demo (which in no way had anything to do with the Mass Effect 3 swag you get for the download) and I have to say I was thoroughly impressed by it.

Here are some fun facts about the game that have whet my gaming apetite:

  • Storyline and Lore written by R.A Salvatore.
  • Art design by Todd Macfarlane.
  • Level design by Ken Rolston of Elder Scrolls IV:Oblivion fame.

Obviously there are alot more creative people involved, but these three key creators are something of a dream team. I’m really hoping that they deliver the goods across its 100+ hours of gameplay.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this game is a fun and engaging experience. The real star of the show seems to be the story and the gameplay and to be honest, that is all that really matters in the grand scheme of things.

I’ll be posting a review and thoughts when I get my hands on it in a few days time.

Video 31 Jan 5 notes

Amazing stuff. A real contrast to the people who ‘think’ they are graffiti artists because they can write a squiggly line with genitalia coming out of the tail of a letter.

Video 31 Jan

I really hope this lives up to the movie it is inspired by. Fantastic trailer either way.

The music is from a Sam Rockwell movie called ‘Moon’

Video 30 Jan 16 notes

Liam Neeson riffs off his famous ‘Kidnap’ speech from the movie Taken and leaves it as a message on the phone of an audience member.

Text 28 Jan 104 notes Garrus and his happy armor

I never noticed this before. Now whenever I stand in an elevator with Garrus in my crew, it is all I ever see.

Text 27 Jan Preparing for Mass Effect 3

So Mass Effect 3 is almost upon us so I thought i’d start again from the beginning. I’m currently working my way through the first game and as soon as I took my first elevator ride, it reminded me of a Penny Arcade strip.

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