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Archive for November, 2012

Pandaria has been confusing to me. Not because of its layout or quests or storyline (although they can be confusing in a fun way) but because I was supposed to hate it and get bored with it quickly but instead I’m finding myself enjoying it. I wrote last year about how this expansion was WoW jumping the shark, how it would be the final nail in the coffin for WoW, how it was proof that WoW had lost its way.

Today I am eating my own words.

And apparently I am not the only one finding Pandaria to be surprisingly fun. Quite a few friends who had quitted WoW for a long time are making returns. People who skipped Cataclysm altogether and people who had sworn off WoW. In all cases it seems positive word of mouth got them back. Going around blogs I get the same feeling. It’s not all perfect but the general vibe is positive.

I’ve been puzzling over this for the past few days because quite frankly I had trouble trying to pinpoint what exactly happened. On the surface it’s all pretty much the same game we had in Cataclysm. Same type of quests, same reputation grinds, dungeons, raids, pvp, etc… So it should be as fun as Cata… meaning not a lot… but we’re having fun… so why?

So usually this is where I get all detective like and start a long-winded post but I’ll keep it short.

It’s all about choice

Nearly two years ago I wrote a post about what I felt was Cataclysm biggest problem and I ended up with the conclusion that it was lack of choice. When I began to write this post I was going to do another detective like post but everyone was telling me different reasons for loving Pandaria and then I remembered that old Cata post and it all clicked together.

Pandaria gave us back choice.

Well not complete and total freedom but they added so much different activities to the game that you get that feeling of choice again. Choice as to what you want to do a particular evening (battle pets, crafting, raids, dungeons, challenges,pvp…) and choice in how you get there. You actually have so control over how to progress through Pandaria this time around.

WoW is not an entirely new game and in the end, you still grind gear to raid but all those little extra pile up and I end up with choice again in my game.

I absolutely love it.

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WoW Pandaria: King of the Monkeys!

So I’ve started last weekend on the new Pandaria zones (85+) and so far it’s been great. I’ll even echo quite a few bloggers here and say that Pandaria is probably the best expansion content we’ve had in WoW… and that despite all the apprehension I had about a whole expansion based off a silly Warcraft 3 easter egg. Well once again, Blizzard proved to me that they do indeed have an idea of how to design a game. If anything, Pandaria WoW feels mature… like Blizzard is mostly done with weird experimentation and knows what it wants in its game and how to do it. It does make me excited for the Titan mmo.

But really, the highpoint of the weekend were the Hozen, crazy monkeys found of Pandaria and of which I am now the king! Any game that allows me to become the king of a bunch of poop slinging monkeys is clearly doing it right!

I’ll give some more thoughts later about the other features of the expansion as I get to them (cooking is insane?!) but so far it’s been a great ride.

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Resident Evil  Code Veronica X
System: Dreamcast (original version)
Release date: February 3, 2000

Welcome to Resident Evil 3 that’s not named RE3 but Code Veronica. Like I was explaining in the previous post, this game was originally intended to be RE3 but due to it not being ready in time, Nemesis was released as RE3 and this one become Code Veronica, call it a marketing ploy to take advantage of 1999 Christmas sales.

Veronica is often reported as the hardest of the RE series and after going through it I have to disagree with that statement. While it’s not the easiest, it’s also not the hardest if you are a bit familiar with the series structure and I think this is where the hard reputation comes from. If that was your first time playing a RE game then yes, this would seem very hard, if you had played the previous games, not so much.

All in all I found it to be a decent entry in the series. It was fun enough but not as much as the previous games I played. It’s hard to explain but I’d blame it on the pacing, the game goes from very intense moments to long periods of calms. Also, there’s so much going back and forth is sometimes kill the flow of the game. So not a bad game, but not the greatest.

The making of Umbrella

What RE lack in gameplay it makes up for it in story. Veronica is probably the first game to try to tie all of the story together and shed some light on the Umbrella corporation and its key actors. We learn about how the company got started (three buddies who found a deadly virus), about Wesker plans (world domination) and we learn why exactly Umbrella is creating monsters (money).

I think it’s worth spending some time on the three founders at this point. Umbrella was founded by Oswell Spencer, James Marcus and Edward Ashford after they discovered a virus in Africa. Spencer saw a business opportunity in the virus and convinced Marcus to do the research and Ashford to fund the enterprise. While all three had different motives, they all saw a good opportunity and founded Umbrella. Ultimately, their divergent goals would result in the catastrophic events of Raccoon city.

Meet the Ashfords

Edward Ashford ambitions are at the center of Code Veronica. While the other two founders where interested by power and science respectively, Ashford wanted to restore his family and name to a prominent position. The Ashfords are a dying dynasty and Edward wants nothing more than to see it restored to its former glory. So how do we achieve this? By creating mutated freaks of course!

So Code Veronica in a nutshell is Chris Redfield and his sister Claire fighting off against the deranged grandchildren of Edward Ashford, Alexxia and  Alfred. During the game we blow up not one but two secret Umbrella bases, fight giant monsters and learn that running around in Antartica with no coat is not that bad after all.

At the end of it all, Umbrella is starting to look shaky after the destruction of so much of its assets and the destruction of Raccoon city and we are promised a future fight with Albert Wesker that won’t happen until RE5.

Bonus round! Shooting gallery

Before heading in RE4, I’ll be making a detour through Umbrella Chronicles, an on-rail shooter for the Wii. It’s mostly a fun ride through the RE0, 1 and 3 but it does add some bits of story by following what our friend Wesker was up to during the various events.

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My swtor status

So I haven’t been entirely clear here or with others what my Swtor status is. Am I gone for good, on break, planning a glorious comeback?

To make things clear I’m on hiatus right now. I’ve had time to think about things and there’s a few things that have become clear to me. First, I don’t hate Swtor. At some point I wasn’t sure if the game was getting me down or if it was something else but now I know that Swtor itself has only a really small part to play in this. The storyline is great, the endgame is average and I wish they would fix performance.

Second, I do plan to return in some capacity at least to do the imperial storyline once and also to annoy the Snarkers. I don’t want NJessi to get too comfortable.

And lastly, I’m pretty much done with raiding as a weekly activity I commit to and this is the main reason I’m now on hiatus. Committing to do the same raids over and over every week is not worth the time invested for me anymore. I like having my weekend end nights back and being able to go out or just do something else without worrying about letting the raid down.

So that’s my status and I’ll promess I’ll have some more relevant content soon!

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Swtor f2p view from a new player

Through a strange combination of time I had accumulated and my three months sub that renewed itself on November 15th (suspicious) it seems I am subbed to swtor until May 13… how did that happen I have no idea but my idea of seeing how the game played as a F2P player is out of the window for the foreseeable future.

Fear not! I have asked a close friend of mine who was waiting for F2P to come out to tell me about his experience playing the game and how he felt about it. Luckily for me, this guy doesn’t follow game news or blogs so he’s often my sounding board when I need someone not tainted by the internet opinions. To put things into perspective he pretty much played the entire weekend, has never played before and started from a new account. To make this easier to read I’ll call my friend Jay (not real name obviously)

Friday

Right at the start Jay is faced with a problem. He wants to make a Sith juggernaut and really wants to make it a Pureblood but the race is locked.  He tells me he’s a bit miffled but he sorta expected to have to spend some cash so he spends a 20$ and gets 2400cc minus the 350 for the Pureblood and he creates his Sith pureblood juggernaut.

Then he’s off to Korriban and he told me he pretty much had a blast there. Lots of people, the quests are fun and he really digs the storyline. Then store rears it’s ugly head again. Soon enough Jay realizes he needs more space in his inventory so he’s off again to the store and finds out it will cost him 175cc for 10 inventory slots. Then he notices the “for  account (375cc)” option and he gets a bit pissed. He tought 175 was for account and he figures that at 375 it’s a bit pricey for only 10 slots. But he really loves the story and he wants to see more and try more classes. He asks me over gtalk how many he would need until max level and I tell him that 20 more slots should do it, 30 if he wants to be comfortable.

In the end he spends another 750cc for 20 more inventory slots account wide and end the night ready to start Dromund Kas and with 1300cc left.  I ask him what he thinks about the game and he tells me that he loves the story but he hopes it won’t cost him too much.

Saturday

When I get up, Jay is already plowing through Dromund Kas at lightning speed and really loving the story. To my surprise, he didn’t mind  much about the restriction on crafting. He’s not much of a crafter so while it bothered him a bit it wasn’t a big deal.  However, he did buy additional quickbars for his account so there went another 540cc.

And then tragedy strikes at about 4pm. Jay had just gotten his ship and heads out to do space combat which he likes so far but quickly he can’t do it anymore because he has used up all his space combat allowance, and then he realizes it will cost him 240cc to do more of these…. he’s really not happy.

And that’s when he starts really looking at all the items in the store and realizes that he will have to pay for raids, to not display his helm, to unify color and Jay writes me this on gtalk: “C’est des criss de voleurs!” which translates as “They are f***** thieves!”

I ask Jay not to give up and that the story is still worth it and he tells me he’ll get back to it tomorow.

Sunday

Sunday is pretty uneventful. At the end of the day Jay is just starting out Tatooine and he hasn’t spent a dime in the store. When I asked him what he thought about the entire experience he told me he thinks he will finish up the story on his character, maybe do the Republic side once but that’s pretty much it.

His reasons were pretty much that he thought it was too pricey and that it wasn’t worth the cost.

Conclusions

I won’t make any because I want this to stand on its own. If any of you were wondering what a new player would think then here’s the experience of my friend. I’ll just end by thanking him for being my test subject.

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WoT I’m up to: Fly Casual

Short World of Tanks post today.

So I’ve been playing WoT on and off since beta mostly doing a few games every other day or day either when I come home from work or just have a moment to kill. For the most part I’ve been playing by myself and just doing public matches, sometimes in a platoon with a friend.

Lately though it seems the clans (guilds) are in recruitment mode and I’ve been pestered a few too many times with offers from preteens to join their awesome guilds full of kids. Not interested.

So I did what I always did in WoW, started my own guild so I’d be left alone and thus Fly Casual was born and now I’m extending an invitation to anyone who wants to join a World of tanks clan mostly to be left alone and sometimes play with mature people.

Fly Casual is not a hardcore guild, it’s not a clan war guild and we expect nothing from our small membership (all three of us at the moment!). If that sounds like something you would like then feel free to go to the WoT website and apply, which consists of clicking on a link in the page, no essay or anything required.

Also, since I’ve been asked before, if you’re looking to try out the game and want some company to learn the ropes this would be a good place too so feel free to come even if you don’t know anything about the game but have been curious to try it out.

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Resident Evil marathon, RE3: Nemesis

Resident Evil  3: Nemesis
System: Playstation
Release date: September 22, 1999

Where to begin with RE3? Do I start talking about how the story seems shoehorned and makes little sense? Do I talk about the destruction of Raccoon city or do I talk about the Nemesis, probably one of the best bosses of video game history?

I guess I’ll start by putting things into pespective. After the monster success of RE2, Capcom was working on its next gen Resident Evil title for the Dreamcast, Resident Evil Code Veronica. In many ways, Code Veronica is the real RE3. It continues the story started in the previous games and Capcom wanted to take the series to the next level. Problem was, the Dreamcast and the game were still quite a long bit away and they wanted to cash in some more on the success of RE2. So they did what most company does, they rushed a new RE title and named it Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.

And while it may have been a disaster of epic proportions, it turned out to be great success for one main reason, the boss of the game, the Nemesis. I swear, having that huge monster pop out all the time carrying a rocket launcher and pursuing you like a good slasher movie monster does make for some great moments. RE3 also turned out to be the game where I died the most thanks to that monster in no small part. That constant threat of having him pop up and kill you is what made Nemesis such a memorable monster.

In the end, the game generated mixed reactions, some loving it for the boss and others hating it for it’s weird story.

He looks so happy to see you

Let’s nuke it all

In the grand overall scheme of things RE3 contributed very little to the Resident Evil mythos except for two very important things. First, it established firmly Umbrella as the evil company we now know, who controls everything and can do whatever it wants. Second… they nuked Raccoon city.

Yeah… the city you’ve been playing in and trying to survive? Gone… just like that. I think Capcom couldn’t have made it clearer that they wanted to move away from the original games with the next one and that’s the way they found… nuke the whole place. A lot fans resented that decision and some even do to this day, considering that the series died along with the city.

Personally I don’t think it was a bad move because it allowed the games to move away from rehashing the city forever but I can understand why some people hated it.

Enough with pixels!

Next up is Code Veronica and I have to admit I’m happy to be finally done with the Playstation era. They’re not bad games but some nicer graphics with less pixels will do wonders. I heard before the Code Veronica had one of the crazier stories so I can’t wait to see for myself.

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