Sunday, 15 July 2012

:B: - Heroes of Might and Magic V

As part of a new internal initiative, I've been using the Fortune Cookie to pick 5 games to play for 5 hours each. This time round, Heroes of Might and Magic V was chosen. It's a spinoff of the Might and Magic RPGs, and is a strategy game set in the same sort of universe.

I have a confession. I'm not very good at strategy. Real-time, turn-based, I'm just no good at all and so it was with delight that I saw the HoMMV has an option to automatically play out the majority of fights. Yes, yes, missing the point of the game, but honestly, I get a lot of joy out of exploring the map, managing my resources and bolstering my defenses. So you can shut up. I still fight some of the battles.

4/5 stars

:B: - Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a rhythm game most easily likened to Elite Beat Agents or Ouendan. You tap and swipe the screen when the markers appear, and the music is from Final Fantasy games. With me so far? It gets complicated, which by now you have to expect from a Final Fantasy spinoff.

There are three kinds of songs: Field, Event and Battle. Each has a different way of the markers appearing, and each requires different stats on your characters to get the most points. You pick a team of 4 from the leads of each main FF, and can unlock more later using shards. They each have stats which effect the types of songs in a different way, to hopefully get better items (such as the aforementioned shards). There are more nuances than this but I'm not even sure I fully understand them myself.

There's also three modes: Series, where you play three songs from each main FF plus an intro and outro; Challenge, where you play to get the best scores; and Dark Notes, which are randomly generated depending on your team level and is where all the systems come together with great effect. There's a hell of a lot to be getting your teeth into here.

The game is well designed and the graphics are great, and of course the music is good too. If you like rhythm games you might like this, if you like Final Fantasy you might like it, but if you like Final Fantasy and rhythm games you should go out right now and purchase this.

Now, what do I have to do to get Capcom to make this for Breath of Fire?

5/5 stars

Sunday, 1 July 2012

BIT.TRIP RUNNER - Past the wall at long, long last

You may remember about a year ago, my rant about Mingrawn Timbletot, the first boss of BIT.TRIP RUNNER. This is a boss I've been banging my head against for long before that post was made.

Well, yesterday I beat the motherfucker. I kicked his ass right so hard that his ancestors will feel it. And I feel so bloody good about it.

The annoying thing is that the rest of the game doesn't seem that hard. I blew through World 2 today and beat that boss in two tries. Now, normally I'd just think that it's because I'm better than I was, but I only beat Timbletot last night and I have a clear memory of him. I can say with wholehearted conviction that boss 1 is harder than boss 2 and that that is really poor game design. To lock two thirds of your game behind (from what I can tell being at level 3-3) the hardest wall in the game is to do a disservice to your players and is a quick way to get people to not buy your next game. So just a heads up, Gaijin Games.

But anyway, I'm powering onwards to the end. Here's to the finish line!

Monday, 11 June 2012

:B: - Titan Quest - Immortal Throne

As you may well be aware, Diablo III came out last month. And, if you've read my previous article on the game you might also be aware that I have not and will not be purchasing it. However, I'm not immune to Diablo fever, so I've devised a scheme.

Meet the Ginormous List of Diablo Clones. This is, as far as I know, the most complete list of Diablo-like games on the internet. Games where you clicky-clicky loot and monsters, perhaps with a heavy story structure, but mostly just "here are some things go kill them now plx". If I can get a max-level character and beat the highest difficulty setting on each of these games (barring inability to load game on 64-bit Windows or the game being absolute crap), I can buy Diablo 3. And by the time that happens, always-online issues probably won't matter anyway.

Enter Titan Quest. I got this a couple Christmas's ago in the THQ pack in the Steam sale. I played it way back when but gave up about 3/4s of the way through Act 1 due to framerate issues. That isn't a problem on my new laptop so I've been having a great amount of fun.

I felt a bit of fatigue towards the end of Act 3 and throughout Act 4, so I stopped doing sidequests and powered through to the end. I felt like by the end of the game there was a lot less imagination in the monster design, I had stopped picking up any item drop less than Green and I ended up with way more than the caravan could hold just in set items and artifact recipe ingredients.

After playing a little bit of Epic difficulty and receiving a higher level of ingredients I went back to Normal to farm lower level ones. I'd like to finish all the artifacts I have recipes for before getting a bunch of higher level ones as as far as I can tell some higher level ones need lower level artifacts as ingredients. And it's kind of nice now I'm not feeling the pressure to see the end of the game, I'm just killing dudes and watching their bodies fly for miles.

4/5 stars.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

:B: - Dungeons of Dredmore

Indie darling Dungeons of Dredmore has been out for a good while and I've been playing it off and on since release. I still haven't managed to beat Dredmore, indeed, I usually die to monster zoos on Floor 2/3, but I'm happy to mark it as :B: as I don't know if I'll ever kill Dredmore. I have even been playing on the easiest difficulty and can't do it so this may never get a :C:, but I'll keep trying on and off for the rest of eternity, probably.

I think the game is totally hilarious (though YMMV) and I still haven't even seen everything. There are whole skill trees I haven't even selected yet, never mind put points into. I don't know what the Lutefisk statues do. Crafting still confuses the crap out of me and I keep drinking poisonous potions by accident even though by now I should know the differences between potions. If it isn't clear, I've been avoiding guides and wikis which might be part of my problem. Roguelikes are notorious for requiring wikis to get to the bottom of the dungeon - has anyone ever beaten Nethack without help? - and I am sure Dungeons of Dredmore is no different.

But where's the fun in knowing what to do? My dudes will continue to take their random skillsets into the dungeon and die horribly to Diggles in the first room, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 5/5 stars.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

:B: - Fairway Solitaire

Fairway Solitaire is a free game on iOS - it's a solitaire game with a golf theme which lets you pay £1.69 to unlock about a billion levels, and also has a bunch of other in-app-purchases which I have totally ignored.

The idea is thus - you have to get rid of cards to below a par, a certain amount of cards, by selecting cards on the field which are one higher or lower than the one you are holding. You can draw cards from the deck to get a new card, or you can use a golf club to change number, say using a 9 iron to get a 9 card. There are water hazards and sand traps which make certain levels tougher, and there are 3 stars to get depending on how below par you are.

This game gets into your brain. For a number of weeks I just could not stop playing - every opportunity I'd whip out the phone and knock a level out. And I have not even managed to finish all of the levels. It gets really, really hard later on and I tapped out a couple of sets of levels before the end. I totally intend to go back and earn enough points to buy the bonus levels but I have enough iPhone games to play without spending all my bus time on Fairway Solitaire for months on end. 5/5 stars, you should get this if you like solitaire, golf, or have a bunch of free time sitting around waiting to be sucked up.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Operation Titan Quest

With the recent release of Diablo 3 I have been feeling the call of the dungeon crawler. Unfortunately, I won't be buying Diablo 3 as my internet connection is not reliable and I will not knowingly buy games that force the player to be online when the game has a large single player component. So instead of supporting Blizzard's choice to force me into socializing, I've made a long list of games that have the same gameplay and I'm playing through that first, and by the time I'm finished, the entire country will probably have always-on internet and it'll be less of an issue.
First up is Titan Quest: Immortal Throne which I've had for a couple of years already but never got particularly far in. I still had my old character, but having imported it from the base game to Immortal Throne, the expansion, it started me back from the beginning so I just started a new character so as to refamiliarize myself with the game.
Titan Quest is a Diablo clone that is based in ancient history. You start off in Ancient Greece and fight all manner of beasties including harpies, gorgons and Minotaurs, and continue onto Ancient Egypt in Act II. It has all the loot you'd expect from a Diablo clone and it's really cool seeing all the different areas and monsters based around mythology.
I've put about 12 and a half hours into this character so far and I'm having a ton of fun, but that might be because I'm a bit of an ancient history and a mythology nut. My guy is Warrior/Defense and I think maybe I should have picked something else because he's really overpowered right now. Pretty much nothing touches him and I've picked up 200+ health potions so if something did hurt I'd be able to heal it right back up. Still, this is only normal difficulty, which is always easy in these sorts of games, so maybe the tides will turn once I'm onto Epic difficulty.
 Find the Ginormous List of Diablo Clones here.