It's Over

Well I've come to the realisation that I don't produce enough traffic for one blog let alone three so after much consideration (well minutes anyway) I've decided to kill this blog and put it with my personal blog. The games I make and play are all part of me as a person anyway. The only real incentives to keep this separate is for people who are only interested in this stuff (especially those that use an RSS reader) and the fact I can better customise the look and feel of the page. I'll make sure that, from now on, I tag the posts that would have been in this blog with Games so you can just bookmark that if that's all you are interested in. Unfortunately Google doesn't support Tag Feeds so those that use ATOM can't just get the stuff they are interested in.

Thanks for reading and hope you continue to do so in the other place.


All Things Final Fantasy and PS2

I've been playing quite a bit of Final Fantasy III, which I picked up from the states because it is going to be released at some unknown time over here. I've been enjoying it though it doesn't have the same involved story as later games in the series. I also think they've done a good job sticking to the original but wading through a dungeon only to get killed by the boss (and having no way of saving before then) is very annoying. Anyway unlocking the Dragoon job in Final Fantasy III made me fancy playing Final Fantasy IX again. I didn't enjoy the game the first time around but I figured I might have been missing something. I'm still not enjoying it that much (mainly because of the slightly messed up way it seems to deal with the ATB system) but probably more than I enjoyed it the first time around.

Also, awaiting Final Fantasy XII to final drop in Europe I bought a RGB SCART cable for my PS2. The difference is amazing, I can't believe how much sharper, and better, the PS2 looks with it. I also can't believe that they bundle the composite cable when the image is so much sharper with a RGB output. I played a few games just to check them out and then changed back to composite to make sure I wasn't imaging such a difference but, sure enough, it really is massive difference. I think I'll get an RGB SCART for my GameCube as well if the output can be made to improve like that.

As a quick note I notice they are looking to make a couple more Final Fantasy Tactics games. Mmmm.


Game Update

Why not quickly update you all with the exciting game playing I've been doing.

I recently finished Company of Heroes. An utterly fantastic game and highly recommended. I'm looking forward to the editor to see what I can do and what other campaigns and maps will be generated. For now I'm trying the skirmish mode.

Also I got a Nintendo DS to pick up Final Fantasy III which I ordered from the states since, in the unwritten SquareEnix law, Europe gets the shaft. Again.

Anyway awaiting Final Fantasy XII made me decide to try and complete a few of the earlier ones (or play through them again in the more modern ones).


What Gives?

Is there a good reason that Gears of War and Call of Duty 3 are coming out on the same day? It's bad enough of that Gears of War has been doing this whole hype machine Emergence Day thing and then proceed to make if a different day in Europe but both games are out on the same day both in the states and over here. Now you might argue that they both aren't in the same field (even though they both are FPS games). But when you are paying £50 for a title then suddenly the thought of buying two in the same week becomes daunting (as you release you are spending 2p less than £100). Anyway with that in mind I think I'll just wait until Christmas instead and not get either. I do look forward to playing both titles but I'll wait.


Dark Me...

So a little later than North America we got Dark Messiah over here. I had a busy weekend and I was trying to cram in a few hours with this game. I've been looking forward to the game since I played the demo. Started it up it carried over all the settings I had in the demo. Great. Played through the Prologue again, quickly, to get on to the new stuff I hadn't seen. New cutscene revealing much more of the plot (interesting stuff). Followed by the next level loading with lots of static where talking should be and then the game crashing in the scene. A quick visit to the Steam forums... one of the files downloaded is corrupt validate the download. Did that and it fixed, great! Played a little more, it hung (in a way that means you have to turn off your machine, Windows can gracefully shut down if you wait an age to end the task). Tried again, it hung. Tried reducing the graphic quality and it hung less (though not entirely); which makes sense since my graphic card is puny but then the graphics settings was something it picked automatically. Tried to find a happy medium work ok on one level but on the next (where the demands are probably higher) it hung. Tried another fix from the site. That caused the game to crash to desktop. Upgraded my video drivers (hey, just in case). That caused it to crash more as well.


I went to play Company of Heroes to help me contain my increasing annoyance.

It's been a problem that has plagued me with Source games for a while (well Half Life 2 as well). I don't like games crashing on me but I understand that sometimes building something for all the permutations of system configurations isn't easy at all. Still it has been a long standing, common, issue so you'd think they'd put the resource onto tracking down that bug. What annoys me the most is that it doesn't just die it renders the machine unstable too resulting in a reboot.

Anyway except, maybe, a couple more goes I'll wait for the forthcoming patch to see if it resolves the lockups. If that fails I'll play it when I get a new PC.


Interesting Pricing Scheme

Since I'm subscribed to the Steam RSS feed then I get all the information about the new games that have just been added. Civilization IV has just been added. I thought great, now if someone is online who doesn't have it we can suggest that, if they are interested, they can go pick it up and it will be downloaded in a couple of hours. But it is coming out at the full retail price of $50. That's before another few dollars tax is added on. A quick look at one UK site, Play showed that it was £17 there (which is about $30). I expect that they can't offer it below their retail price because they'll risk annoying the stores. Surely they can justify the cost of producing the manual and such could knock of a bit of the price? I see lots of benefit in the digital distribution model but it won't really make an impact until it is competitive. At that price I'd have a hard time convincing myself to suggest anything other than a friend order it online and wait a few days.


A Weekend Of Gaming

For some reason this weekend pretty much became a weekend of gaming and not much else. It started on Friday when I completed the standard mode in Dead Rising and unlocked the overtime mode. I then went back to Enchanted Arms which I'm not really enjoying but it's become something for me to complete and put on the shelf. For me the game fails to have a particularly gripping storyline and this isn't helped by the way conversations are handled with the scene being displayed in the background and the characters being rendered in a flat way at the front of it, nor by the fairly dull combat system that means that one combat has little relation to the next in terms of resource management.

Saturday I carried on with a little Enchanted Arms anyway along with playing the Company of Heroes demo (more on that in a bit) and the Dark Crusade demo with a bit of Medieval: Total War II demo chucked in for good measure. Dark Crusade doesn't disappoint and seems to be a great expansion to the Dawn of War series as a whole. I noticed they have a campaign mode that looks a bit like the territories map you get in the Total War series which is a great draw to the game. Later on Saturday I was going to go out and chill with friends but instead three of us ended up on Teamspeak playing Civilization IV. It was a good game and got me thinking that it might make a great present for my dad and brother and we can have a male family bonding session over the Internet. It sounds like a plan (it's ok, neither of them read my blogs).

Anyway on Sunday I was in town and bought a copy of Company of Heroes after I enjoyed the demo. It's an interesting one, that game, since it was only brought to my attention by someone playing it. A friend of my thought it was a FPS but became more interested when discovering it was otherwise. How do these games slip beneath our radar? Anyway it's been fantastic and Relic have done a fantastic job of drawing you into the atmosphere and really making you battle for the territory.

I think that pretty much covers what I did this weekend.


Advertising in Games Part 2

Silent Hill

I wrote about this a while back when I first heard about the plans.

There currently seems to be a bit of an outcry about advertising in games. I found Penny Arcade's comic on it insightful. One thing that that comic does outline that I never thought of was that it might not be a global ad for the game but a personal ad (based on the usage of other ads). This would mean you couldn't use the ad as a reference point in the game (so the whole I'm approaching the McDonald's ad wouldn't work).

To go back to the statement that it adds realism I can't agree with that about Battlefield 2142. It's well over one hundred years in the future, how are the ads realistic? How do they help the atmosphere of the game? They don't. I understand using advertising on cars in racing games, banners on the pitch in football games but this doesn't seem to be authentic to me. I'm pretty sure it's detrimental to the atmosphere on the game and I fail to see how it would be a good thing.



A recent post from Steam stated that:

Naked Sky Entertainment, an independent game studio located in Los Angeles, and Valve announce RoboBlitz™, an Unreal® Engine™ 3 game, is coming to Steam®, the leading online platform for PC games, in the coming weeks.

This leads me to wonder if I get it for my PC or my XBox 360 (it's coming out on Arcade for the 360). It's multiplayer and therefore either I exclude potential XBox Live goodness or some friends on the PC.

Though it isn't a game made by Epic it is interesting that a game using the Unreal 3 Engine (I think that sounds better than Unreal Engine 3, don't you agree?) is coming to a platform primarily designed for the Source Engine games.


At The Movies

I had a few friends around (only one of them has a blog and one of them was my brother). We met to have a games film night. Since we started late and people seem to have a life we only got through two films namely Doom and Silent Hill.

Now I know as well as most people that films based on games tend to be poor so I wasn't expecting much however even my low expectations were more than met with Doom. It was really bad and then some. First they stripped the main thing about the game, mainly that hell has come to Mars. Instead, for no real reason, they blame it on genetics testing. Second they invent this Ark thing to transport people from Earth to Mars maybe they felt landing crafts and such would be too close to Aliens. Of course they couldn't escape the fact that the lab scenes were reminiscent of that film. My high point of the stupidity of the film was when they went down into the sewers. Here they are, on Mars, with 87 people working there and they have a sewer system with tens of thousands of gallons of water jetting around. What? Did they have a spare sewer set that day or something?

Anyway Silent Hill was better. It was actually pretty good. The plot was kinda random (I was expecting that though) but visually it was nice.

Anyway that was an interesting experiment though sticking to the games seems a smarter thing to do.