Folks that know me are aware of how much I enjoy the simplicity of the console game environment. It really is about as simple as things get. Have the console, insert game play, probably enjoy. When I took Fallout 3 for it's initial run back after its release, I had a GRAND time wandering the desert wasteland around what once was a nation's capitol and killing off mutants, slavers, radioactive roaches, and of course...the occasional nut who started shooting at me for no apparent reason. Now the advent of DLC on both the XB360 and Playstation 3 have greatly extended playability for a good many games on both systems...then I grew curious. The Fallout 3 story features an element called the GECK (or Garden of Eden Creation Kit)... a tool made available to the modding community by the good folks at Bethesda shortly after release, that allows for fundamental alterations to the game world and changes to the environment. Now I'd been away from the Capital Wasteland for quite some time, but I was immensely curious to see what kinds of stuff folks have come up with for one of the best post-apocalyptic stories I'd ever experienced.
The answer? A LOT. There is a TON of new material available to extend or re-define your gameplay with Fallout 3 on the PC. Granted a great preponderance are little cheats or god items or items of an AHEM, adult nature... but when you sift away a lot of the things that aren't going to increase your enjoyment... there's still a ton of material. Theres quests by the cartload, new locations to be explored, new characters, and stories that folks are using the GECK to make interactive fan-fiction for all practical purposes. One of my favorites was actually a mod that DRASTICALLY ramps up the difficulty of the game. Making the acquisition of clean water a priority, by creating the possibility of dying of thirst or starvation was an intriguing additive. The game was an exceptional piece of work before and some of these good folks in the modding community went ALL OUT to increase that gaming experience. And for that I salute you good sirs one and all. So, if you're revisiting old games on a PC, take a look around and see if there's any modders doing anything interesting with it. You never know, it may just change the way you play the game.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
So hopefully all the folks who checked out my previous post on the Game of Thrones did themselves the service of at least giving it a try, they may have guessed my reason I'm RETURNING to the Age of Dragons with this post (in more ways than one). The primary reason? I'm going to be covering my thoughts on Bioware's recent project, Dragon Age 2. Since that's really the only reason I need... I'm going to keep quiet about the second.... but the observant from Game of Thrones will likely be able to figure it out.
Now, Bioware has become the dominant force in Story driven RPG's lately. A format that has been one of my favorites since I first picked up an AD&D book. Set in the world of Thedas (literally, THE Dragon Age Setting), the first Dragon age story told of the rise and potential fall of the Fereldan Grey Warden as he attempts to halt the hostile Blight from destroying his home nation. The game boasted deep story, excellent characters, and lots of great potential game play in a fast tactical environment. The sequel on the other hand changes a number of the aspects of the original game. Not all bad, but not all were terribly favorable...
The new game gives you great customization of Hawke... the primary protagonist, but makes customization of ALL the other characters involved in the game with you a challenge. Generally speaking in an RPG, customization of the parties weapons, armor and capabilities the means of optimizing the survivability of your characters. My primary issue DA2 over 1 is that the decision to completely eliminate allies armor in DA2 makes them immensely vulnerable and problematic to keep alive in the higher difficulties of play. And while the "custom" skill slots possessed by each of your allies in the game are interesting, I'd have greatly preferred that they had more comparable skills to the variations of Hawke... in particular the ability to have more Healers available than Anders from the DA: Awakening expansion. Now, I played the game on the Xbox360 and PC, and while both formats work well (the game was made much more action oriented for the gaming platforms) the tactical format works much better on the PC, much like the predecessor. And while I'm sure there will eventually be some great DLC for the game, with the moding community online there is SO much more depth of game available to PC players it's ridiculous.
While I didn't enjoy ALL aspects of the game... I did LOVE the story. Bioware is going all out with their games and crafting full rich stories for their customers and this one is no exception. It will be really interesting to see how the implementation of the story aspects of the Star Wars: Old Republic game is going to be.
The primary lesson here is this: If you're looking for a good RPG with a lot of action to it Dragon Age 2 is a great place to go. Most folks will get by with rental or Gamefly... but for those of us who REALLY love our RPGs... Its a solid purchase.
Monday, April 18, 2011
George R. R. Martin's critically acclaimed series "The Song of Ice and Fire" has been in my library since it's initial publication. And let me just say, there are GOOD reasons that the critics love these books. The characters are deep and well developed, and the stories that Martin tells from the various characters points of view all follow actual evolution of all of them while each paints a bigger picture of the world around them. And that's without getting into the deep mythology that has grown with the series (initially a trilogy, now projected into a 7 book series). Now the folks taking a look on here may be wondering why I'm bringing this series up now... and for that I say... Isn't it obvious? HBO has finally got their series project of "The Game of Thrones" up and on the air.... and it's every bit as deep and well made as it's original publication. HBO shows their conviction to bring quality programming projects to their audience that I haven't seen since Band of Brothers. No, I'm not being facetious...I think the quality of the work being done here is that good, though the subject matter is pure fiction, rather than history, it doesn't change the quality of the work being done. The production team got a great cast set up all of whom fill their characters roles with apparently no effort. Now, as much as I'd love to get into spoiler territory, I'm going to refrain... cause I feel everything presented in the story is much better if you just let it unfold as you watch. What I am going to say is that there are few things I've seen on television that consistently impressed me throughout the full duration of the program....and the premiere episode of The Game of Thrones was one of them. One other thing that I want to tell the folks who may read this is that if you thought that the storys beginning was impressive? Jus hold on to your hats...cause this is going to be one heckuva ride.