PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Fourteenth
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 8 January 2015, 10:00 am
Half Life 2: Lost Coast

I've beaten Half Life 2, but I never thought it was as amazing and revolutionary as most people.  I had this game sitting in my library and thought I would check it out since I had no idea what it was.


Half Life 2: Lost Coast is basically a glorified tech demo for Half Life 2.  It has a minor scenario that gives you access to all the weapons in the game and puts you up against a bunch of enemy types, all within 30 minutes or so.  It was an ok diversion, but I'm still not a big fan of Half Life in general.


Half Life 2: Episode One

While I was on a Half Life kick I thought I would try Half Life 2: Episode One.  My brother has told me for years that Episode One is much better than the core Half Life 2 game.  After trying Lost Coast, I figured I would finally give Episode One a try.


I tried it and I still don't care about it.  I seem to despise the physics puzzles in Half-Life.  I don't care about the story.  I find the storytelling really lacking and slow paced.  The gunplay is ok.  One of the only things I still like about these games is the gravity gun.

Episode One was just too slow and uninteresting for me.  I was going to try Episode Two also, but I don't think I can.  I just don't care enough about the series.  Maybe I'll feel different when Half-Life 3 comes out, but until then I'm done with the series.


Tesla Effect

I got this game in a humble bundle for free.  I didn't know what to expect going into it and I was surprised to find it's a game with live action videos in it.  That's old school 90s style.

A little googling told me that Tesla Effect is a Tex Murphy game which I guess was a big thing?  It was crowdfunded for over $600k and it looks like Tex Murphy has a big following.


I had never played the original games so this one did nothing for me.  I had no idea who the characters were or what was going on.  Although, I do think it's cool that a new entry in a niche game series like this could get crowdfunded.


PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Fifteenth
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 9 January 2015, 10:00 am
Super Time Force Ultra

Initially I didn't like this game.  The story seemed kind of dumb and I wasn't a big fan of the particular pixel graphic style they went with for the game.

The gameplay is what truly won me over.  Super Time Force Ultra is a side scrolling shooter and at any time you can pause time, rewind, make a copy of yourself, and continue playing.  This means death is instantly reversible and the levels keep flowing.


It also means you can have 30 copies of yourself on screen at the same time destroying enemies.  It's so much fun, especially the boss battles.  I don't know how many total stages there are but I played a little more than an hour.  I played enough to know that I'm going to come back and finish this game once I wrap up this Steam backlog playthrough I'm doing.


Shadow Warrior

Do you want a bloody first person sword fighting game?  This is for you.  It's super bloody and super sword fighty.  Your first, and primary, weapon is a katana.  Slashing enemies causes all sorts of dismemberment and gore.


I rarely feel the need for extensive blood and gore in my games.  I'm definitely not in the mood for it at the moment.  I'm going to delete this off my hard drive for now, but if I ever feel the need for something like this I know that it's in my Steam library.


Kerbal Space Program

Still good.  Still in early access.  Still able to launch Kerbals into the atmosphere with giant rockets.  Still causing many spaceship crashes.


Kerbal Space Program is still showing a ton a promise.  I'm definitely coming back to it once it releases for real.  This is the best spaceship builder and simulator out there.


PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Thirteenth
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 7 January 2015, 10:00 am
Darksiders

This game didn't click with me at all.  From the forgettable hack and slash combat to the biblical/apocalyptic setting, I just didn't like it.


I know it's supposed to turn into some mash-up of God of War and Zelda eventually, but I was so bored of the game that I couldn't stick with it.  I had to put it down and move on.


Just Cause 2

Another game that didn't resonate with me.


It's kind of cool to fly around with the parachute and the grappling hook.  Beyond that, the game hasn't aged well.  I suppose it's been out for almost 5 years already.  I think I'll just wait for Just Cause 3 to jump into the series.  I like the basics of movement mechanics, but the series needs a modern overhaul.


The Lord of the Rings: War in the North

I was under the impression this game was a turn based RPG set in the Lord of the Rings universe.  I was wrong about the game type, but right about the setting.


The Lord of the Rings: War in the North is a hack and slash.  I was extremely disappointed to find that out.  These days it takes a very special hack and slash to get me excited, and this one isn't it.  I've played far too many hack and slash games over the years and they all feel the same now.  Same gameplay, new setting.  Nothing worth spending my time on.


PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Twelfth
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 January 2015, 10:00 am
Skullgirls

Fighting games are very hit and miss with me.  Sometimes I'll find one that will just click with me, but besides Smash Brothers it's extremely rare.

Skullgirls has a really cool look and feel to it.  I love the animation and art style in the game.


The biggest downfall, and the reason I didn't enjoy Skullgirls overall, is that I suck at fighting games.  I'm really bad at them and I don't have the patience to sit and learn until I get better.  I like to button mash my way through a few fights and then move onto the next game.

I actually got stuck in the Skullgirls extensive tutorial section.  I couldn't get very because of my lack of skill.  I'll be sticking to Smash Bros for my fighting game needs.


Star Wars Republic Commando

I remember being blown away by this game when I played it on the original Xbox.  I'm a huge Star Wars fan and I was completely the target demographic for this game.  A first person shooter set during an important time in the Star Wars universe?  Sign me up!

Too bad this game hasn't aged well.  It's practically unplayable now.  I had trouble even getting the settings to the point where I could use the mouse correctly in the main menu.


All this has done is fuel my need for a new and modern Star Wars videogame.  I'm hoping we'll see some good ones come out now that the Star Wars intellectual property is in the hands of Disney.  Maybe next year, once Episode VII releases!


Rising Storm / Red Orchestra 2

I played this game a bunch back in beta and this is my first time revisiting it.  It's an interesting team based shooter.  Set in World War 2, it's a familiar backdrop but the gameplay is unique.

I don't know if I would call it "realistic" since almost no videogame is realistic, but it's definitely closer than most team based shooters.  You often die from taking one shot.  It's best to take a slow and steady approach across a battlefield and be hyper vigilant.  It's much more methodical than a typical team based shooter but that's how it distinguishes itself.


It's going to stay in my collection near Team Fortress 2, Counter Strike Global Offensive, and Chivalry Medieval Warfare.


PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Eleventh
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 January 2015, 10:00 am
Spacebase DF-9

Spacebase DF-9 is a game by Doublefine, who have a fairly good track record for games.  When I started playing this game it instantly reminded me of rymdkapsel.  You need to build a base in space while harvesting resources from around you.

Luckily, this game is much better than rymdkapsel was.  There are a lot more options and tools to control individual parts of your base and assign workers to different tasks.  If I had to pick between the two games I would choose this one for sure.



That being said, it's still not a very thrilling game.  Not much happens while you build your space base.  It almost feels like playing Sim City, but in space.  You need to keep your citizens happy and meet their demands.  It's not a bad game, but I won't be going back to it soon.


Papers, Please

Papers, Please deserves all the praise it gets for having unique gameplay.  You are a laborer in a made up eastern European country and your job is to approve or deny people who want to cross into your country.  The rules at the checkpoint get more complicated every day and the challenge is in cross checking information to figure out whether you should approve or deny a visa.

It tells an interesting story through gameplay.  You need to approve and deny visas as fast as possible so you can continue to feed your family, but if you let the wrong people through you can cause terrorist incidents.  People try to bribe and threaten their way in too.


It's a really cool concept and it deserves the praise it gets.  The reason I, personally, don't like it is that I'm bad at the game.  Like, really bad.  I guess I just suck at cross checking information.


Torchlight II

I love the look and feel of this game.  I've tried so many different Diablo clones over the years and Torchlight II is my favorite in terms of aesthetics.  The world is vibrant and varied as are the characters.  The gameplay is solid and any fan of the Diablo-type clickfest games is going to love this one.


These type of games only appeal to me occasionally, and now is not one of those times.  Although, I am glad to have this in my Steam library.  The next time I get a craving for an action RPG clickfest I'm going to turn to Torchlight II.


PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Tenth
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 4 January 2015, 10:00 am
Race the Sun

This seems like a perfect palette cleanser game.  In it, you race toward the sun in your solar powered flyer and see how far you can make it.  Either the sun will set or you will crash into something.


I had a lot of fun just relaxing with this game.  I think that's key, this game is relaxing.  It's a laid back challenge and it's easy to tell yourself you'll play "just one more round" over and over.  This one is going into my favorites.  I will most likely never play Race the Sun for more than ten minutes at a time, but I can see myself playing it in little breaks between other activities very often.


Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy

This is an update and a reskin of Half Minute Hero, which I have already played on PS Vita.  It was a good game then and it's a good game now but I don't want to replay the whole thing.  I'm not a fan of the controls on the PC either, it controlled much better on console.  That's disappointing.  If the game had options to rebind keys I could fix it on my own, but they don't have that option which is strange for a PC release.


Completing a quest in 30 seconds with the help of the time goddess is still a lot of fun, and it seems like this version has more content than the original version I played.  If you've never played Half Minute Hero before and you're an RPG fan you should look into it.


Blood Bowl: Chaos Edition

This game is not what I thought it would be.  Blood Bowl is a dice and turn based game from Games Workshop.  It seems to be a modification of the Warhammer 40k characters and universe, except this time they're playing football.  And that football is exceptionally brutal.

It's a premise that could be really fun, but the game itself is a direct translation of the tabletop game.  I thought it would be an interesting videogame rendition but instead it has all the obscure rules and dice rolls of the tabletop game.  There are way too many rules to learn and the game doesn't flow well.


If you're a huge fan of Blood Bowl the tabletop game you'll most likely love this videogame version of it.  For the rest of us it's a game that's easily skipped.


PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Ninth
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 3 January 2015, 10:00 am
Night Sky

You are a sphere.  You roll around.  The world is detailed in black with some basic background colors.  Sometimes the controls do weird things.  That's my general summary of Night Sky.


It's a strange little platformer.  I tried it for a bit, but if I want a platformer there are many other games that are much better.  I won't be coming back to this one.


Nuclear Throne

Nuclear Throne is an early access game by Vlambeer.  It's an overhead action shooter with pixel graphics.  It's set in a post apocalyptic world and you get your choice of mutant creature you want to play as.  Each one has a unique mutant power.

WASD moves your character.  The mouse aims and shoots.  I really wanted to use a controller to play this game, but it doesn't seem to be supported at the moment.  Maybe that will change as early access progresses.


It's an ok action game right now.  It's a roguelike, which doesn't typically appeal to me, but this one has more potential than most.  I had fun during my time with the game but I probably won't revisit it until it's out of early access and actually has a full release.


Red Faction: Guerrilla

This is my favorite environmental destruction game.  I beat Red Faction: Guerrilla when it first released 5 years ago.  After that I used to revisit it on my Xbox 360 whenever I felt like causing destruction.  The buildings just get destroyed in such a satisfying way.

Your character's main weapons are a sledgehammer and explosives.  The perfect combo for structural destruction.  The weapons and vehicles only get better from there.

I'm glad this is on Steam now.  It used to only be through Game for Windows Live, which is a horrible service.  Now that it's on Steam again I can add it into my gaming rotation for whenever I need to break something.  It's so very very satisfying.

Here, check out this video of Nerd Cubed destroying things in the new update!




PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Eighth
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 January 2015, 10:00 am
Solforge

This is a game that I kickstarted a long time ago.  I played it for a while in beta and thought it still needed work.  This is my first time revisiting it since its full release.

The game doesn't feel much different than beta.  It's a lane based digital card game.  There is no mana, instead you get to play two cards every turn no matter what.  You start the game with all level 1 cards and each time you use a level 1 card it is replaced in your deck with a level 2 version of the card.  If you use a level 2 version it gets replaced by a level 3.


The game becomes about balancing which cards you want to play.  Should you play the cards that are good for your current situation or should you play cards that are weak now but will cause awesome upper level cards to get into your deck for later use?  It's an interesting balance.

Although I like the game and I helped kickstart it, I'm deleting it off my hard drive.  If I want to play a card game I would rather play something different.  For a good digital card game experience I still turn to Hearthstone.  For a fun physical card game experience I have lots of options sitting on my gaming shelf.  Solforge is good, but I would just rather play other games instead.


Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy is a roguelike action game that a ton of people seem to love.  It's a huge hit with Twitch streamers.  I, on the other hand, tend to dislike roguelike games in general.  I enjoy games with progression and story, two things that roguelikes almost always lack.

The first thing I need to say about Rogue Legacy, don't play it without a controller.  I always have an Xbox 360 controller sitting next to my computer ready to be synced to my PC if I need it.  This is a game where I most definitely needed it.  The action is too fast and precise to try to play Rogue Legacy on a keyboard.



I think my problem with the game is that I just don't like roguelike games.  I want something with persistent progression, not a game that resets back to nothing every time I die.  Rogue Legacy has some upgrades that are persistent across deaths, but not very many.  Not enough to satisfy me at any rate.

The only roguelike I've enjoyed enough to play for a long period of time is FTL, but that's an exception.

I know the mechanics and controls of Rouge Legacy are good.  It has good production values overall.  It's another game that simply doesn't suit my taste.  I wanted to like it, but I was done with it after less than an hour.


Uplink

Uplink didn't click with me at all.  It's a weird old school hacking game.  It basically dumps you onto an old desktop and tell you, "Go hack!"


There was a lot of text, a lot of confusing UI decisions, and not a lot of clear direction.  It feels like a blast from the past, in a bad way.


Happy New Year! 2015!
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 January 2015, 1:01 am
Happy New Year everyone!

I know a lot of gaming sites and blogs have been doing top games of the year lists lately.  Honestly, I wasn't overly impressed by many of the games that came out this year.  I had fun with a bunch, but none of them truly wowed me.

My top gaming experience of the year is Final Fantasy.  I've been playing through the whole Final Fantasy series and having a blast.  I've had more fun with the Final Fantasy series than any other game or series I've played this year.

If I had to pick a top game of the year it would be Bravely Default.  It came out early in the year, but it tied in perfectly with my Final Fantasy games.  Bravely Default is an amazing RPG on 3DS created by the same developer who makes Final Fantasy.  The Final Fantasy lineage definitely shows while playing the game.  I played all the way through to the true ending of the game and loved all my time with it.  I'm super excited for the sequel!

I'm hoping to finish up the core of my Final Fantasy project early this next year and then branch back out to other games and genres.  I had a fun year of gaming, even though most of my time was spent with older game.

I hope you had a great gaming year too!  Happy New Year!


PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Seventh
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 31 December 2014, 10:00 am
Crypt of the Necrodancer

Within minutes of starting this game I knew it was going into my favorites.  I love a good rhythm game, especially if it has a unique twist.  This one definitely does.

You're trapped in a crypt and have to do all of your dungeon crawling actions to the beat.  It sounds difficult and like it wouldn't work, but it does.  It's so much fun.  You need to see it in action.


It's still in early access at the moment but I can see myself putting a lot of time into this game as it develops further.  It's going into my favorites so I can play it regularly.


KickBeat

Another rhythm game.  This time I was much less impressed.

It's not doing anything unique, it's just skinned to look interesting.  Your character attacks enemies to the beat using martial arts moves.  It looks kind of cool for the first few minutes but that's it.


This could easily have a different look and feel but be the exact same rhythm game.  I would much rather play something that actually does new and interesting things like Crypt of the Necrodancer.


Scribblenauts Unlimited

I remember trying Scribblenauts on a friend's handheld console once and thinking it was semi-amusing.  I had this version sitting in my Steam library, so I actually got to play the game for awhile.

The main thing I remember on handheld is how bad the controls were.  Luckily, that has been fixed in this PC version.


Scribblenauts gives you a magic notepad and lets you go wild.  Anything you can type (and spell correctly) you can create and use in the world.  You use this power to solve objectives.  It's pretty impressive how many objects their game engine understands and can create.  It's not a game I could play in long sessions, but it's fun for five or ten minutes at a time.


PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Sixth
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 December 2014, 10:30 am
X3: Reunion

After playing Zero Suit games last night I thought I would keep the space game theme and try X3: Reunion.  I was very disappointed.

After struggling with the controls for a good ten minutes I finally got my ship moving in the direction I wanted.  There was no tutorial to speak of, so that consisted of me digging around in the controls menu to figure it out.


Then I started flying around and there was nothing interesting to do.  There were some warp gates to fly through, but they took forever to reach.  It was the most boring half hour I've ever spent with a space game.  I do not recommend it.


Flotilla

Next I moved on to Flotilla.  It's an RTS game with skirmishes between flotillas of ships.  I like the idea behind the game a lot and the simple aesthetics appeal to me too.



I didn't actually enjoy the gameplay.  It's not Flotilla's fault, it seems like a really solid 3D plane RTS.  I just don't enjoy managing my ships position and orientation in a 3D environment.  It's a little bit too micromanagement for me.

Although, I can see how this game might float your boat if you're into ship combat on a 3D plane.


Gratuitous Space Battles

So many space games.  Gratuitous Space Battles is kind of a weird one.  You build and configure fleets of ships and launch them into battle against the AI fleets.

But you don't actually control the fleet.  You can customize every part of every ship in your fleet, choose which ships to deploy, and choose where to deploy them on the battlefield.  Once the battle begins you lose all control, the only thing you can do is watch.


It's not necessarily bad, it's just not what I was expecting.  I played it for a good hour and I can tell it has some solid game mechanics that would appeal to lots of people, I just don't think I'm one of them.


PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Fifth
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 December 2014, 10:00 am
Dino D-Day

You can be a dinosaur with a gun strapped to its back!  I could tell you more about the game... but really, do you need anything more than that?

If you do, I'm somewhat disappointed in you.  This game is $0.99 on Steam right now.  You get to fight in a multiplayer battle of axis vs allies with multiple classes on each side.  At first glance it's like a lot of other multiplayer shooters... but then you realize both sides has dinosaurs.  It's amazing.


My friend Professor Beej got this game for me and I'm so thankful for it.  This game is going into my favorites list right next to my other evergreen games.  You should get it.  Why are you waiting?  Seriously.


Strike Suit Zero

This is a pretty good spaceship dog fighting game.  It has controls that are easy to pick up and work fairly well with a mouse and keyboard.  There's a nice variety of ships and weapon configurations.

The story campaign held my interest and helped me stay engaged with the game.  The visuals are also very pretty.  It's a good looking space game.


I wouldn't immediately recommend this game to most people, but if you like a good twitchy dogfight with spaceships this game might appeal to you.


Strike Suit Infinity

This is exactly the same gameplay as Strike Suit Zero, but instead of missions it's an endless mode with ship upgrades, fleet upgrades, and waves of enemies.


It still looks nice and plays well, so if you're going to check out only one keep in mind that Strike Suit Infinity is more arcade-like and Strike Suit Zero is more story driven.  One isn't obviously better than the other, they're just different.


PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Fourth
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 28 December 2014, 10:00 am
It's nice to have a topic to write about regularly again.  Here's the fourth installment of game impressions from my Steam backlog.

Castle Story

Castle Story is a game I kickstarted.  It's still in early access and it's definitely rough around the edges, but the core of the game is solid.  It's an RTS full of resource gathering, base building, and defending.  The characters and settings are stylized in an adorable way.


I really like the potential this game has.  I wouldn't recommend it yet, but it's one I'm going to continue to keep my eye on as it progresses.  If they clean up the camera controls a bit and make a nice tutorial I could see this being a game I like a lot in the future.


Chivalry: Medieval Warfare

I'm impressed by how far this game has come since I played it in beta.  It's a medieval team-based FPS and it's a lot of fun.  It reminds me of Team Fortress 2 in a lot of ways.  It doesn't have the same style or lightheartedness but it does have a lot of the interesting class selection and teamwork.

It's very heavily melee focused, but that's not a bad thing.  The game becomes about positioning, learning when to block, and figuring out the best time to attack.  It does have an archer class but reloading is slow so accuracy is very important.  I had a lot of fun playing with the various classes.


This is the second game in this series of impressions that's getting added to my favorites.  Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is going into my evergreen game selection, right next to Team Fortress 2 and Counter-Strike Global Offensive.


Plain Sight

Plain Sight is a third person movement based arena combat game.  It has some cool gravity gameplay going on.  It almost reminds me of Mario Galaxy in the way you can jump off a platform and fly around it while getting pulled back toward it's center of gravity.



I had fun with the tutorial and a couple local games I played vs AI.  Sadly, I wasn't able to connect to any of the multiplayer servers despite many attempts.  For that reason alone I think you should steer clear of Plain Sight.


PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Third
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 December 2014, 10:00 am
More PC gaming catch-up.  I'm still working through my Steam backlog.

Breath of Death VII

Here's an RPG with a twist on the classic old school style.  It's by Zeboyd Games who I know from playing the RPGs they made for Penny-Arcade.  I loved the Penny-Arcade games, but that was more because of the writing and characters than for the mechanics.

The mechanics in Breath of Death VII are interesting.  Battles are about building up a combo through multi-hit attacks and then unleashing a combo-breaker that does massive damage.  It's a cool little mechanic.

Breath of Death VII is set in a post apocalyptic world where everything is dead, undead, or some kind of mutant.  The main character is a silent skeleton and his first companion is a ghost.  It's a good change of pace from the typical fantasy setting.



If I didn't just come off of playing every Final Fantasy mainline game I would probably be more inclined to pick up an RPG with charm like this.  Breath of Death VII, I like you, I'm just not in the mood for you.  Maybe another day.


Cthulhu Saves the World

Another Zeboyd developed RPG.  It's their second RPG, so I thought I would try it immediately after their first RPG, Breath of Death VII.  It seems to be running on an upgraded version of the same graphics engine that Breath of Death VII has.  It has a similar look and feel.  The combat is also a slightly tweaked version of the combat engine from Breath of Death VII.

Overall, I liked it a lot better.  The world and the characters are more interesting.  I actually laughed out loud a few times.  Cthulhu awakens from his slumber, ready to destroy the world, and immediately loses all his powers to a curse.  The only way to break the curse is to become a true hero by doing good deeds... so that he can regain his powers and destroy everything.  It's really funny reading the dialog between Cthulhu and other characters.


I played Cthulhu Saves the World for three times as long as I played Breath of Death VII.  And that's in spite of not being in the mood for this type of game.  If you are in need of a modern RPG in the old school style I think Cthulhu Saves the World might be your game.


Insurgency

This is a bad FPS halfway between Call of Duty and Battlefield.  I got it for free as part of a humble bundle.  I never wanted this game.  Now I have played it and I hated it and I'm done with it.

I'm not even going to give it an image.  Don't buy it.


PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the Second
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 26 December 2014, 10:30 am
I'm still trying out lots of games from my Steam library that I haven't gotten to touch until now.  Here is my second round of impressions.


Always Sometimes Monsters

Made by Devolver Digital, which usually makes good games, this is a choice-driven story game.  I liked the premise of having lots of choices that matter in the world but the game just took way too long to get interesting.  I gave up after about half an hour.  If a game can't grab my attention in 30 minutes then I don't have more time to give it.

I think the premise is solid.  A story driven game with lots of meaningful choices sounds great.  But I didn't like the execution of it.


I looked on HowLongToBeat.com and it says the main game takes 8.5 hours to finish on average.  There's no way I could have stuck with it but maybe some of you could if you don't mind a slow paced game.


Blackguards

A hex-based tactical combat game in a fantasy setting with an overly generic intro and horrible controls.  I like hex-based tactical combat games and I like the fantasy setting so I should be primed to enjoy this one.  Unfortunately, this game's controls are just horrible.  Even after reading the tutorial three or four times I still couldn't get my characters to do what I wanted them to do.  It was an exercise in frustration management.


This is a game in desperate need of a usability overhaul or new controls.  I don't know how they shipped it with controls this frustrating.


Blade Symphony

Blade Symphony is an interesting one.  I was a kickstarter backer for this game way back when kickstarter was first taking off.  I've played this game a number of times in alpha, beta, and now I just tried it in it's full release state.

It's not a bad game, but it's also not a great game.  It takes its inspiration from the old Jedi Knight games.  Instead of facing off against AI as a Jedi you are facing off against other opponents as a duelist online.  Anyone who has played the old Jedi Knight games will instantly feel familiar with Blade Symphony.


That being said, those old Jedi Knight games didn't have the most precise controls and the same is true here.  There's a solid game in here but it's not easy to pick up and play.  It would take a lot of dedicated time to get good at Blade Symphony.  But, if you liked the Jedi Knight series, there might just be something here for you.


PC Gaming Catch-Up Impressions the First
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 December 2014, 10:00 am
The holiday break has given me a chance to start catching up on my PC gaming!  Here are my first set of impressions from all the PC games I'm trying out.

Mini Metro

So good.  So surprisingly good.  Usually I hate early access games, but this might be my new favorite action/puzzler.

You take the role of city transportation planner and try to keep the trains running as the city slowly expands around you.  It's amazing and I can't do it justice with words, you need to see it in motion.

I can tell you I started the game intending to try it for 5 minutes before bouncing to the next game... and the next time I looked up it was an hour and a half later as I was emerging from some kind of zen state.  Connecting stations, adding trains, rerouting existing routes, making bridges and tunnels.  It all adds up to a ton of fun.  It works really well.


This game is so fun already and it's only going to get better as early access progresses.  Go pick it up!  It's only $7 on Steam.


Jamestown

This is a weird one.  A scrolling vertical shooter in the old school style.  The premise of the game is an alternate reality 1619 where the Spanish have allied with Martians.  You play an Englishman on a path to redemption, fighting in this "New World" with a spaceship.  Or something.



It charmed me for a bit, but scrolling shooters aren't really my genre.  I did have more fun with it than the last few games I tried in this genre, so if you are a fan you might want to look into it.


rymdkapsel

A minimalistic space-base building strategy game.  I like the style of this game, but it's really slow and it isn't complex enough to stay interesting.  I "beat" the game on normal, but I had to restart multiple times because the tutorial sucks and doesn't give you enough information to build your base intelligently.  This game was frustrating but the cool art style let me stick with it long enough to get a good feel for the game.



I won't be going back to rymdkapsel.  I can't recommend it.


The Build
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 24 December 2014, 10:00 am
As I mentioned yesterday, I built a new computer!  I was live tweeting as I was building it.  I wanted to collect all of those images in one place sequentially and that's here.  So, check it out below if you want to see the build as it happened.

If you check this post in the far off future you may just see broken links if Twitter has archived my posts, but oh well.  Just take my word for it, building the computer was fun!


Computer building... Here we go. pic.twitter.com/6riAtwiYEb
— Void (@grnmushroom) December 23, 2014

CPU pic.twitter.com/loSdRTdAHK
— Void (@grnmushroom) December 23, 2014

CPU in! pic.twitter.com/ZuNwAhGTne
— Void (@grnmushroom) December 23, 2014

Heatsink pic.twitter.com/eMhOsEzLPm
— Void (@grnmushroom) December 23, 2014

In the case! pic.twitter.com/JtvOKSRL4s
— Void (@grnmushroom) December 23, 2014

Heatsink in pic.twitter.com/WqftH905SN
— Void (@grnmushroom) December 23, 2014

RAM! there's one on the other side too of course. pic.twitter.com/98iecBg0Sm
— Void (@grnmushroom) December 23, 2014

PSU pic.twitter.com/d26gF039mq
— Void (@grnmushroom) December 23, 2014

Graphics! pic.twitter.com/Joshb6MAJn
— Void (@grnmushroom) December 23, 2014

Surprisingly small SSD. pic.twitter.com/qFgnzwuTke
— Void (@grnmushroom) December 23, 2014

All the hard drives pic.twitter.com/Eh1RyYmY9i
— Void (@grnmushroom) December 23, 2014

Cable management on the other side of the case. pic.twitter.com/JKqfwI5Gr3
— Void (@grnmushroom) December 23, 2014

More cable management pic.twitter.com/drfZTnnRY9
— Void (@grnmushroom) December 23, 2014

I think everything is ready to go? We'll find out! pic.twitter.com/8BV0mpQIZW
— Void (@grnmushroom) December 23, 2014

Ready to test. pic.twitter.com/kkJpmhwENp
— Void (@grnmushroom) December 23, 2014

I suppose I will call it Thor. Because if it says it on the case why not roll with it? pic.twitter.com/j4BgwPdzaA
— Void (@grnmushroom) December 23, 2014

And that's all! It was really fun. This was my first build from scratch and I learned a lot from my brother. Next time I could probably do it alone, but it was more fun to build with someone else, especially my brother. He's awesome.


Goodnight Sweet Prince, Hello New Prince?!
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 23 December 2014, 6:43 pm
My trusty PC had been slowly dying for the last 9 months or so.  It's not it's fault.  I'm hard on my PCs.  Between high end gaming, video editing, Adobe Suite programs, running a media server, and leaving it on 24/7 it's pretty rough being my PC.  For awhile I was replacing my PC every 2 years from scratch.  This PC had been hanging in there (via 4-5 upgrades) for almost 6 years!  It was finally to the point where hardware was just failing.

Because of that, I've been unable to play any PC game that puts strain on my system for the better part of a year.  I've been limited to Hearthstone and some emulation.  I also got the PC version of FFXIII to run on my system, but just barely.  And if you think about it, that's a game designed for Xbox 360 and PS3 which are showing their age.  That's why you haven't seen me discuss PC gaming much this year.

I mention all of this to say... I finally built a new computer!  I had some extra money for the first time in a long while after a freelance project crept way out of scope and I ended up working 9 eighty hour weeks instead of the 2 I was originally going to do.  I haven't had much spending money in years, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Last night my brother and I went to work assembling it and the end result is this!

Ready to test. pic.twitter.com/kkJpmhwENp
— Void (@grnmushroom) December 23, 2014

Since putting it together I've been updating everything, installing drivers, and downloading a ton of games on Steam.

I never really stopped buying games on Steam sales.  I knew I would get a new computer eventually.  Now I have a ton of games to catch up on!

I finally made use of categories in my games library on Steam too.  I now have categories for Games That Suck, Games I'm Done With, Games to Play, and Favorites.  There are somewhere in the realm of 40-60 games in my Games to Play section.  I'm installing as many as I can and intend to start sampling tonight!

I'm so happy to finally have a fully functional PC again.  Thanks so much to my brother for helping me pick parts, figure out compatibility, and assemble!

Expect to start seeing a lot of quick PC game impressions as I catch up and sample my Steam backlog.

I may even get back into an MMO soon.  I feel the urge coming on.

Do any of you have recommendations for games or MMOs I should check out?  Especially stuff that has come out or updated in the last year!  Leave me a comment or reach out on Twitter @grnmushroom.


Bloggy XMAS Day 10: Old Friends and Children
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 December 2014, 10:00 am


When Syl first mentioned writing about community and games for the Bloggy XMAS Calendar I really wanted to participate but I had nothing to write about.  I don't have time for MMOs these days and I don't play a single online game consistently enough to be part of it's community.  How would I write about games and community?

But then I had a meeting with an old friend.  We hadn't seen each other in a couple years and we were meeting about a potential business project that we could work on together.  Surprisingly, we jumped right back into our old habits of discussing gaming.

I mean, yes, we did talk about business stuff later, but first we talked about the Gamecube hooked up to his TV.  He just moved into a new apartment and it's the only console hooked up so far.  And then, while playing Smash Bros Melee on said Gamecube, we talked about how he's been playing classic EverQuest on a private EQ server.  I mentioned my trials and tribulations with playing the entire Final Fantasy series.  We had a great time!

I haven't talked to this guy much in the past few years and it just floors me how much gaming helped us instantly relate to each other again.  We still love to talk about games and play games even though we're in our late twenties now.  I know a lot of people who used to be gamers that have since dropped the hobby.  It was a genuine pleasure to reconnect with a friend over gaming.

Gaming with friends is amazing.

You know what other kind of gaming is amazing?  Gaming with family.

My daughter is four years old now.  She's been playing iOS games on iPods, iPhones, and iPads since before her first birthday.  Now, finally, she's starting to get into console gaming with me.  We've been playing Wii U together for the past six months or so.  I taught her how to play Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, and Smash Bros.

I can't even express how proud I was the day I came home from work and she was set up on the couch playing Super Mario 3D World on her own.  It was a sense of pride, joy, surprise, and nostalgia.  Some of my earliest memories are gaming at day care when I was her age.  I realized that some of her first memories might be gaming with me.  I almost cried.

And now I get the awesome side-effect of being the parent of a little gamer.  Randomly I get asked, "Daddy, can we play Smash Bros together?"  Of course the answer is yes.

Does she take ten minutes to pick out a character for each player in the color of her choice?  Yes.  Is it worth it to sit and watch her do ten minutes of set-up for two minutes of game?  Absolutely.  She's interacting with the game on her own terms.  But, most importantly, she's having fun!

Her two-year-old brother is already nipping at her heels.  He's been a touch device wiz just like her.  Now he's interested in gaming controllers and he can even do an art game on the Wii U gamepad!  Pretty soon he'll join us and I'll have two constant gaming companions.  I'm so excited for that day!

Until then, I'm happy making friends online to discuss gaming.  The blogging community is amazing and helps me stay connected to other people who have the same interests as me.

And they tend to be active on twitter too!  It's great for staying in touch and quick conversations about topics.  I'm always thrilled when someone strikes up a chat with me on twitter about gaming.  If you're looking for more gamers to talk to, feel free to reach out to me @grnmushroom.

This holiday season I find myself thankful for gamers of all kinds.  From old friends, to my kids, and my random online friends.  Thank you everyone.  Keep being awesome!


This post is part of the Bloggy XMAS Calendar.  Make sure to go check it out!

Thanks to Syl for organizing this great event!


Final Fantasy XIII: Initial Impressions
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 7 December 2014, 10:00 am


Even with my Final Fantasy XIII baggage I dove into the game this week.  I'm playing the PC version via Steam.

My first reaction to Final Fantasy XIII was, "It's so pretty!"  I forgot how beautiful this game looks.  Final Fantasy developers are always trying to push the envelope in graphics and it shows the most when they jump between console generations.  Final Fantasy XIII was the first Final Fantasy for Xbox 360 and PS3.  It looks so much better than Final Fantasy XII did.

The only downside to the graphics is that they're locked to 720p on PC.  Supposedly there is a patch coming soon to allow for higher resolutions, but it's not out yet.

Music is much improved over Final Fantasy XII.  It's still no Nobuo Uematsu but it's so much better than the last game.  It actually has one of my favorite battle themes in all of Final Fantasy.  It gets stuck in my head and I'm totally ok with that.

It's especially amazing when the violin kicks in around the 1 minute mark

But not all the sound design is great.  Lightning's footsteps are already bugging me.  They are extremely loud and monotonous.  I remember these footsteps being something that drove me crazy by the time I finished Final Fantasy XIII the first time.

One thing I hated about this game during my first playthrough was the linearity of it.  It's basically long corridors with no exploration.  Surprisingly, this time I appreciate the linearity after just finishing the open world grind fest that is Final Fantasy XII.  Playing the games in order like this is giving me a fresh perspective on the series.  Hopefully I can keep this new-found appreciation for the linearity throughout my entire time with Final Fantasy XIII.

I'm a few hours in and so far battles feel quick and fluid.  Not much of the modified ATB system is being shown off yet, but it does look nice.  But while it looks nice and is smooth, it's not challenging so far.  I know that most of the battle system is still hidden behind tutorials that I haven't reached.  At this point the battles are basically "hit A to win with autobattle."  I'll follow up later after I actually get full access to battle options.

Along those lines, there's no progression system in sight.  Again, I know this is just around the corner and I'm not there yet.

The story of Final Fantasy XIII starts mid-action.  I think it works for this game.  After that there is a lot of character set up mixed in with action and battle sequences.  The pacing is working for me so far.  From what I remember, pacing really struggles later in the game, but I have no complaints yet.

I'm actually enjoying the story more this time because I don't have to try to figure out all their stupid terms.  I mostly remember it from my first playthrough of the game.  They really need to do a better job explaining to new players what all the unique terms in the game mean but at least it's not an issue this time around.  I do want to note that it was frustrating to no end the first time I played.

One thing I'm extremely grateful for are the plentiful checkpoints.  Rarely do I have to go more than ten minutes without getting the chance to save.  As I've said before, being able to save anywhere or suspend/resume a game is a huge feature for me these days.  Final Fantasy XIII doesn't quite have that, but the checkpoints aren't spaced out as far as they used to be in old Final Fantasy games.  I appreciate it.

Overall, I'm about 3 hours in and I'm still having fun.  It's a good sign and I hope it holds true throughout the game!

Final Fantasy Project Article List





Sampling Games on PSN
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 December 2014, 5:55 pm


I absolutely love trying new games!  If you're a PS Plus subscriber on Playstation Network you get to try a lot of them.

Every month they give PS Plus subscribers access to a new set of six free games.  Two each for PS4, PS Vita, and PS3.  I always make sure to "purchase" (for free) all of them through their online portal even if I don't want to download them right away.  That way I can play them any time I want in the future, as long as my PSN account is active.

It's a great way to sample games I wouldn't normally try.  Sometimes they fall flat, but they're free games so who am I to complain?

On top of that, occasionally they'll just give away free games to anyone on PSN.  This weekend you can snag Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare on PS4, Need for Speed Most Wanted on PS Vita, and Mirror's Edge on PS3.  All of them are free.  You just need to jump onto PSN and claim your copies before the weekend is over even if you don't have PS Plus.

The PSN games for the month came out a few days ago as well.  Last night I tried Titan Attacks, Secret Ponchos, and Injustice: Gods Among Us.  Titan Attacks was one that fell flat.  It's a bad space invaders clone.  Secret Ponchos was initially intriguing but after a few rounds I knew it wasn't a game for me.  Although, if you're into multiplayer twin stick shooters you might want to give it a chance.  The real surprise was Injustice: Gods Among Us.

I'm usually not a fan of fighting games except for Smash Bros.  Injustice: Gods Among Us is a straight up DC superhero fighting game and not something I would typically even look at.  It feels a lot like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat.  Usually I'll play a fighting game like that for about fifteen minutes, get bored, and never come back to it.  But last night I played Injustice: Gods Among Us for a good three or four hours after I put my kids to bed.  It's incredibly polished for a fighting game.


Mostly it was a ton of fun to make superheroes wail on each other.  And the interactive environments let you do sweet things like pick up a car and throw it at your opponent.

Like most fighting games, I'm sure I'll be done with it for good in the next day or two.  But that's ok.

The awesome thing is that I got this game for free and I'm having fun with it.  It's a game I never would have picked up on my own, but I found it thanks to PS Plus.

I wish there were more ways to explore fun games for free.  I'm always looking for a new experience.


Dragon Age Inquisition: Tactical Hack and Slash?
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 4 December 2014, 2:10 pm

If I were playing this game on PC I would be tactical.  I would be pausing all the time to issue orders and micro-manage my characters.  I would basically be playing this the same way I played Dragon Age Origins.

But I picked it up on PS4.  It feels great to run into a battle swinging away.  I charge in, activate some abilities, destroy my enemies, and move on with my day.  It's quick and satisfying.

It's all because of the input device.  With a console controller in my hand it feels great to tear through enemies.  With a mouse and keyboard it's nice to take my time and plan out every move for every character.  It's amazing how much the input device can change the feel of a game.

I got a few hours into Dragon Age Inquisition and noticed something weird about normal difficultly.  It's not fun for either playstyle.  The enemies are too easy to stop and be tactical with my approach.  But they're slightly too hard to demolish without thinking.  I made the executive decision to stick with my no-holds-barred real-time battles so I turned the difficulty down to casual.

I used to think of casual difficultly as a bad thing.  But these days I don't have time to waste fighting battles over and over again.  I want an interesting world with an enthralling plot and great characters.  I've decided to not care too much about the combat in Dragon Age Inquisition, and I'm ok with that.  I'm in it for the rest of the experience.


Final Fantasy XIII: Baggage
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 December 2014, 10:00 am

I'm coming into Final Fantasy XIII with some baggage.  Way back when I started this blog in 2010 I wrote about Final Fantasy XIII as I was playing it for the first time.  It was in the third month of this blog's existence and I was still finding my way.

I'm going to replay it now in the context of The Final Fantasy Project but... it's interesting to take a look at what I originally thought of the game during my first playthrough.

My initial impressions were mixed but in my final impressions I ripped the game apart.  Apparently I was completely sick of it by the end.  After I had some time to cool down I wrote a follow-up post talking about a few redeeming features I enjoyed about the game, but even that article had some negatives in it.

So, that's where I'm coming from with this game.  You can look back at exactly how I felt during my first playthrough.

I'm really hoping that this time I enjoy it more.  Now I have the context of the entire series and I think I understand the story of FFXIII more than I did the first time.  We'll see what comes of it.

Final Fantasy Project Article List





Bloggy XMAS Calendar
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 December 2014, 11:25 am


Syl of MMO Gypsy fame has organized a fantastic event this year!  It's the Bloggy XMAS Calendar!

It's based on the idea of an advent calendar and will feature posts from different bloggers every day until Christmas.  I'll be participating on my day, December 10th, but I wanted you to start checking it out since it's launching today.

Don't delay!  Check out this awesome homepage for the calendar!


Final Fantasy XII: Review
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 November 2014, 12:36 pm

This has been hard to write for me.  I've spent over 50 hours with Final Fantasy XII and for most of that I felt like I didn't really "get" it.  I never connected with the story or the characters and that's definitely not a good thing.  I wanted the game to "click" after the first few hours so I could write some impressions... but it never really did.  So, I waited until I finished to write a full review.  Let's get to it.

The story is set on a grand scale.  The first half hour is a giant cutscene full of lots of politics and war.  The grand scale continues throughout the storyline of the game.  It ends up dwarfing the main cast of characters.  It's so grand that it feels removed from the actions of your characters most of the time.  The last few hours tie the political events to three of the six characters, but it takes way too long for that to finally happen.

Final Fantasy games always invent their own terms but this is the first Final Fantasy where it feels overdone.  If I remember correctly, this is a trend that carries through to Final Fantasy XIII too.  There are terms that are never directly explained but which are obviously important to the plot.  Magicite, Nethecite, Day-Affected Nethecite.  Not to mention the various and confusing names of different countries and rulers of those countries.  The characters seem very impressed by these terms but I didn't care for most of the game because they were never explained to me.  I eventually figured it out, but once again it took too long to get there.

The scale is grand, the stakes are high, but the main characters don't actually change or grow that much.  Final Fantasy XII does not have a character driven story.

The main character, Vaan, isn't actually the protagonist of the story.  He doesn't really do anything.  Things just sort of happen to him or around him.  He's never that important.  It's really disheartening to see this character that I have to use for the entire game be so unimportant to the plot.  The creators of Final Fantasy XII have even said that Basch and Ashe were originally the main characters and that Vaan and Penelo were added very late in development because they were afraid teenagers wouldn't be able to connect with the more mature characters in the game.  It's sad.  I think I would have liked this game much more if Basch or Ashe was the main character.


While the characters barely develop and the plot is grand and plodding at least the world is well done.  Final Fantasy XII is set in Ivalice which is one of the few worlds that actually gets used across a number of games.  The Final Fantasy Tactics series is all set in Ivalice as well as a non Final Fantasy game by the same developer, Vagrant Story.  The world has different species with complex interactions.  It has many regions, cities, empires, and political factions.  Although they aren't used to great effect in Final Fantasy XII, they are well realized.  It actually makes me really excited to get around to the Final Fantasy Tactics games again.  I would love to spend more time in Ivalice if it were used better as a setting (which it is in other games).

The way Ivalice is used in Final Fantasy XII is to create a large open world.  That sounds great when I write it down, but in fact, this game feels like a single-player MMO with all of the drawbacks of MMOs but none of the benefits of playing with other people.  Wandering the open world is novel at first but once you get some decent Gambits set up it becomes a complete grind.  And that trend continues for the rest of the game.


That's the main problem with the Gambit system.  If you're even semi-intelligent with your Gambit set-up the game ends up playing itself during battle.  It lets you program your characters to react in intelligent ways based on certain conditions.  Boss fights in this game became snack breaks for me.  My Gambits were solid and Bosses have a ton of health.  I would put my controller down, make a snack, and eat that snack while the battle played itself out.  I'm not lying, this is literally what I did for every boss in the last three fourths of the game.

While the Gambit system ends up playing itself, at least the License Board progression system is interesting for awhile.  Basically, characters gain License Points by killing enemies.  These can be spent to acquire Licenses for gear, magic, or abilities on the License Board.  You still need to purchase the gear, magic, or ability but to actually be able to use it you must have the License for it.  For the first half of the game it's really fun.  You have to figure out which way to grow each character and balance the different abilities and gear.


Unfortunately, in the second half of Final Fantasy XII everyone basically becomes a Red Mage.  If you're unfamiliar with the term, Red Mages in the Final Fantasy series can use magic and really good melee weapons and generally are able to use most of the armor in a game.  They are the jack of all trades in the Final Fantasy universe.  This is what happens once your characters progress far enough in the License Board.  Everyone knows every spell, every ability, and can equip every weapon, armor, and accessory.  At that point in the game the License Board becomes useless as a progression system.

The complexity of the Gambit and License Board systems adds up to a very slow start for this game.  The first three to six hours feel like you're still in a tutorial and don't have access to everything you need.  It's really frustrating.


But it's not just the first six hours that feel slow.  The pacing in Final Fantasy XII is bad throughout the whole game.  There are long sections of necessary grinding and spending time in the wilderness followed by super long info-dump cutscenes which often run longer than fifteen minutes.  Most of the time I could make a snack during a cutscene too.  They were that long and un-engaging.

I would be remiss to not mention the music in a Final Fantasy game.  Sadly, Nobuo Uematsu only composed the title theme for Final Fantasy XII and it shows.  The rest of the music is lackluster and unmemorable.  The music of Final Fantasy defined the series up to this point, but with the loss of Nobuo Uematsu the Final Fantasy series takes a serious blow in the music department.  I turned down the audio for most of the game and listened to podcasts instead.  I can't believe I did that with a Final Fantasy game, but the music just wasn't good.

So where do I sit with Final Fantasy XII?  It has tons of potential and it just doesn't live up to it.  I wanted this game to be so much more than it was.  It tries to do new and interesting things.  It has such high production values.  I thought it would be near the the top in my Final Fantasy Ranking... but it won't be.  I didn't enjoy most of my time with the game.  There is no way I would have finished it if it didn't have the Final Fantasy name attached.  The only way I'll ever replay this is if they do a complete remaster and fix the grind and the pacing.  Take that as you will.

Final Fantasy Ranking
1. IX
2. X
3. VIII
4. VII
5. VI
6. IV
7. V
8. XII
9. II
10. I
11.III

Total Completion Time: 50 hrs 35 mins

Final Fantasy Project Article List





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