Don't eat the yellow snow.
So, I won a competition some ... time ago.
I won a very nice edition of Alan Wake. A nice big box with lots of stuff and all I needed was the code for STEAM and the box been collecting dust ever since. Tragic - but that's the way PC gaming is going these days.
Anyway - I had been against Alan Wake from the time they decided to go Xbox only - same as with HALO. Halo I finally played when I very late got an Xbox and I played it a bit and never really understood all the ruckus. Was I in for the same thing with Alan Wake?
Not really, there is something to Alan Wake that I liked. It is a serious shot at combining a compelling story with a game but usually that fails - and in sense so does Alan Wake.
First off - Alan Wake is a beautiful game. from the start when you are coming to town on the ferry you realize that you are in for a visual treat. The game starts with a theme and setting that I for one feel is ripped pretty much from Twin Peaks - and that is the first thing that I turn against. These fine ideas, this much thought and story - and it is not even a unique story, no it is not even that much far away from your Dean R Koontz or Stephen King. And while a game in that spirit is fine - for a game to be great - the game should stand apart more and be able to stand on its own two legs - especially when the story is supposedly the really big thing here.
Well, set that apart and we get into the madness and pretty quickly we have some sort of a past getting along with current events and mysterious people, dreams and shadows. This brings pretty much the gaming element to show its face. Unfortunately it is an ugly face IMO.
The controls aren't good, not horrid or flat out bad. They hardly pass OK and for a game that should be ported "with love" for the PC gaming audience - I take it more like a slap to the face. The controls make it pretty difficult to run straight ahead. The set camera from either left or right crookedly behind the shoulder view in 3rd person is awkward and makes the areas where running and not getting stuck on small things or make precise jumps everything but dangerous and thrilling - it makes it a gashing roaring angry sizzling - trying not to destroy your keyboard in frustration. And no - a controller doesn't make it better for me thank you very much.
The game element of having a flash-light to first weaken shadows and then shoot them is interesting. Would have been even more interesting should the upgrades of flash-lights feel like they did something of a difference even more interesting. The flash-light run out of batteries pretty quickly I found out when boosting the light and on easy (yeah because I switched cause the action part of the game became such an annoyance I wished to finish the game and see the end as quickly as possible)let you actually be almost as effective just turning your beam on enemies and dodging around a bit. Problem with dodging is that you get more disorientated then your foes that doesn't at all seem perplexed and as often as not didn't give a crap of your dodging and killed you anyway. So stay cool, aim from far and let them have it with the revolver. The shotgun feels like a false security since the developers most likely never have fired a shotgun for real in their life. The effective range made it feel like a squirt gun more or less. Shotguns are lethal for a far more than a measly 3 meters in your face..
The hunting rifle was decent, slow but once you had flash-lighted your foes in true X-files style it did the business at least.
Now, there aren't that many different opponents, and the ones that are becomes less and less frightening and more and more cumbersome the further into the game you get. After a few fights and running through the dark - I turned the difficulty down to easiest. The only way was the quickest to the end.
Now that the developers had done so much for us to lose the feeling in the game - their can't be much more to set the feeling off right? No WTF?
Coffee thermoses - what the hell? A more gaming induced thing like collecting stupid things like a thermos here and there. Oh and shot the canned pyramids to get another achievement. Achievements in a horror game where the continuation if a story should be the achievement itself is just - so many bad cuss words in a row and a slap with a big fat fish in the back of your heads as it could be. Whatever notion you had that this game could draw you in is over when you get achievement's for walking 5 meters, getting to the toilette in time and finding and turning on a flash light. Exaggerated - but not too far away from the truth.
Achievements in games is a big turn off for me and have always been. There are very few games where the achievements give you a sense of belonging in the game and I think that the over the top Bulletstorm was one that hit home since it was just so far over the top with everything..
Anyway, 10 hours later I had finished the game and had figured out the mechanics pretty much. In the beginning the light sensitive paint to cashes of ammo and supplies was good, then midway they turned into always an ambush. Guys - did you co-develop with some people from the Dragon Age 2 team?
The story ended, finally, and the ending wasn't really worth it. But that is very much a matter of opinion, but from all the praise I had heard from the game - I had expected more. All in all though - I did finish the game. That is a feat in itself but bare in mind that I have been at home with infections and inflammations for some time so I'm pretty bored and even a bad game can yield some hours away from misery so maybe not such a big feat in the end.
Still, my biggest thank you to the guys at SI - without you I wouldn't have trued the game at all. Now I would say that the total experience for me is something like 4-5 out of ten - and its a straight scale where 1 is worse then shit and 10 is more or less never reached and not like Metacritic where OK starts at 85...
It is an OK game, will definitely sit better with people perhaps either die hard King and Koontz fans or total newbies to the genre, that may find this stories fresh. I fall in the middle where I like Koontz and think that King has written a few good enough books and the theme is well used IMO.
So, the time for spending is soon over - er no it is time to spend very soon again cause Christmas is up...
Man, these new sales all over the year is really getting to you - isn't it? No - oh you mean you are turning into a cynic like me? Congratulation to your wallet and too bad for the inner kid inside you.
Me- well of course I do buy games. I have a wish list on STEAM and when the promos start hitting I take a decision to buy for 50% or 75% off or simply kick it out from the list. This year yielded a few more games.
Awesomenauts, Giana Sisters:Twisted Dreams and Mark of the Ninja.
I hope that Awesomenauts will be something that I can play with my son in a few months or perhaps a year. It was ridiculously cheap so no real problem there.
Giana Sisters even more so a game to enjoy with my son, and to hopefully wake some nostalgia from my C64 days...
Mark of the Ninja looked a bit like Shank and well, Shank was fun and all but not enough for Shank2 IMO but a new game looking like it could be enough. And a bit new gameplay action too.
So now I have a few more games to keep the infections and sicknesses at bay with.
Games that fell off the list?
War of the Roses
Alan Wake's American Nightmare
So, the new beast has arrived. An OC i5 3.8ghz processor, GFX 660TI OC, SSD disc, harddrive, 16GB RAM, fan controls, a white shiny chassi and good mainboard...
Now the harderst sollution for an aspiring amateur HiFI wanna be and avid gamer - What for sound?
My main board had a decent hi definition built on sound sollution that is good enough for gaming and speaking - but for those lossless music time - My nuForce Icon 2 has to sit in and wait for a better sollution.
Easy - it just takes some time to scamble up some money... The Lead Audio LA-100 is high up on the wish list right now. Yummy!
For gaming - I have abrand new MX red switched CM Storm Rapid. A delight! Best keyboard I have ever had - and I have had quite a lot of them! This ten-keyless keyboard is small, gives a better angle between left and right hand while gaming, is solid built, have a wonderful feeling and is easy to use, not a lot of ports here and there - solid build up and no fancy pancy stuff - but have a few quick keys via a "FN" key. Like media control, volume and locking the win key etc.
Mouse is still Steelseries Sensei - I tried briefly the QPad 5K again, but noticed that the feeling wasn't quie there. It is a solid mouse, but on the size of awkward for me. May give it some more time later on.
The biggest realization was when I downloaded all the danged games again. STEAM and GOG - was installed. Origin - no. I simply, when faced with massive download times, realized that I don't look forward to play ME3, I no longer play Battlefield 3, nor Shank, Nor Dragon Age 1 nor 2 and I don't like Origin - I have only some friends that was added from BF3 on there and well - BF3 would have been the reason to get it back - but I have realised one more thing. Counter Strike GO is the game for fathers just wanting to have a few games of shooting and be doen with it. The quick paces rounds and solid shooting and quick netcode makes for an hour of fun. BF3 - you could be stuck in a match like forever sometimes.
That's what I have SKYRIM for ;)
Also - not installing a heap of old games makes room for some comming attractions and the guilt list has been severally cut.
A new computer and a GFX660TI oc that easily handles most games now and a SSD that makes rebooting and/or starting up a breeze of seconds is something I can heartily recommend.
Well, not many that read this I guess, but I have 1 guest pass for Diablo 3 and one beta key for CS:GO if you are intrested - send me a private message :)
Oh, and I have SC2 10 day passes as well...
Hi guys, just noticed that in my copy of SC2 I had three 10 day passes; 2 for SC2 and 1 for WoW.
Anyone interested to try these games out? Just post and ask and I will send you the codes and instructions.
First is the name of the game...
This is a shameless link to my blog. I sometimes double post here and there but in this case - I have some videos and photos etc. so I only use a link.
Cheers- Also, I have to say that I really like this keyboard and attaching the soft landing pads to dampen the strike through sound - only makes it better still! :)
Just got this keyboard and it feels so far great. I have put up some images and first thoughts on my blog from unpacking and installing it.
Have had this mouse for my M11x for a month now, and here are my impressions of it.
The Pyra still performs well when it comes to tracking and the wireless functions. This makes it a bit awkward to rate this mouse. It is a mouse that is both good and still leaving loads to be desirable. It’s good sides are the drivers that works easily, they can change rather much and gives you plenty of options for a portable device like this. Also, the tracking, the attachable USB cord all works nicely. On the bad side we find the choices of making complete shell-buttons, only one thumb button for a gaming mouse. The design of the mouse being left and right coming with obvious pro’s and cons, and the Easy Shift+ feature. I think it is better to start breaking it down.
This area is perhaps the Pyra’s least strong suite. The mouse is small - but we knew that from being a portable choice for portable gaming. Still it is a gaming mouse - or so it claims. The left and right-handed design makes the mouse uniform in design, and the mouse is the same on the left and right side. Sporting 4 buttons and a press-able scroll-wheel - it is coming in short for buttons for a gamer. When used, I find it disturbingly easy to press both the left and right buttons at the same time making a left button press. This leads of course to undesirable effects when surfing and gaming. My hand tires a bit after a while - I need to have a wrist support for this mouse (I need that for almost all mouses that I use due to having fucked up my hand a decade or so ago…).
Here the Pyra gets back a bit into the game. The mouse is well made. Only a bit rickety. The scroll wheel is big and firm, giving distinct scrolling effects. The mouse has a small compartment for the dongle for easy storing when moving it about and it is not in the computer. There is a USB cord that makes the mouse into a corded mouse, no need for batteries - and this is also the way to charge the re-chargeable batteries that comes included. The skatez are OK, not great and a bit too small for that great glide - but OK. The tracking and reading of surfaces however is really great. The wireless tracking and snappy feedback is really good. Quality and Value is high - too bad that the design makes a flaw otherwise - it is a build that promises a lot. The over-all button and shell in the same piece is still a huge drawback.
How does it handle then? Hmm, as mentioned above in the ergonomics part - the mouse is tricky getting a good grip on. It is small but have a rather high-profile - making it more suitable with a wrist support. It is easy to get two buttons pressed down and once and the thumb button is too thin to be easily and securely used. Since the Roccat only has one thumb button (even on both sides…) the Shift+ is essential to make the thumb 4 and thumb 5 work, but pressing the thumb button that is now to activate the Shift+ (which gives every other button a second functionality) is too hard to press down and activate with - making the Shift+ a redundant function. Would have been better to have two mouse buttons even though you can make the scroll wheel work in two modes. i have mine set on Shift+ to toggle the DPI setting. The DPI, yes, we have three options here, 400, 800 and 1600. The size and square design makes it sometimes hard to get a firm grip - and the wight that is made up with the two batteries makes this small mouse heavier then some of my full-sized mouses.
Drivers are good. Simply as that, however - drivers are also needed to get the mouse working in the first place. The dongle needs to be found and installed (worked flawlessly with Win 7) and then install drivers for mouse and then you can go. So if you are tagging it along, and want to use it just like that with any computer - don’t count on it. This is the same problem with all Roccat’s it seems. A poor choice in my opinion. Some basic function should be had with just plug and play. The functionality comes back to the Shift+. This is the only feature that we have par from several profiles being programmable into the software. Right - software - not mouse. Many modern mouses have this function to save profiles and settings into the mouse internal memory - not so with Roccat. So there is a mixed bag here as well. Some good and some bad. The mouse has lots of functions, but you only get them when on your preferred installed computer - kind of makes the portable solution a bit toothless.
The mouse have many options that would appeal to a gamer - but the most important feature a gamer would look for in my opinion is that the basics work - all the time. With Pyra we have some not so great basics, like the design, choice of buttons and the style of buttons making it a bit hard to feel sure what you have pressed down. This in conjunction with have a great options in drivers and loads of set-ups - but they are too hard to actually get to via the everyday to-day handling and playing. I like the Pyra - but I hae a hard time recommend it without adding a huge “BUT!” while mentioning it. It handles well, it tracks great, it is small and easy to bring along, rechargeable batteries etc - but a bit unwieldy and poor design choices. Still - many other portable gaming mouses out there - well that’s the problem right? There aren’t that many portable gaming mouses out there… My recommendation is that if you feel you must have a small portable mouse for gaming - check this out - you don’t need a small one - buy a regular gaming mouse, even a wireless one. Please mind that I value this mouse in accordance to its claims: a wireless portable gaming mouse - as such - it has a lot to live up to - and my final view is that it barely reaches all the above claims, and none with a big bravo except the drivers and quality. Furthermore - you may want to look into getting some other batteries - the included ones didn't give this one a long life - but that may also be mine acting up.
By now, we have heard a lot of Dragon Age 2 – many say so many things – and I tend to join that crowd and share my own thoughts and impressions.
Dragon Age 2 is not a sequel to the first Dragon Age – the sooner you will get that into your system – the more you will enjoy Dragon Age 2. This is a console title that can be played on a PC. This is merely a statement that is neutral – I don’t mean anything specifically bad with it, nor positive. What do I mean then? Well, the console market seems to attract a larger bunch of casual gamers then these games do on the PC – plain and simple – the game has to appeal a wider variety of gamers and people. Not all who are necessarily into RPG gaming – especially not the old pen and paper crowd so to speak. This can be seen in the entire character progression where you make one choice – and then stick with it. You don’t have several classes, you have three. Each class has specific trees and you also chose between weapon early on. Dual wield, sword and shield, two-handed or distance or simply being a mage. In each area you can unlock special attacks, abilities and actions alike to suit your characters need. This means – if you start putting points in two-handed weapon style – you won’t go for a few points of archery – simply because you can’t you are a fighter and fighter don’t use bows. Still, the game itself doesn’t even support you to have different sets of weapons equipped. You have what you have actively – and if you like to change, you need to dive into the inventory – which is yet again a shared history. Furthermore, your companions, are not equitable with amours, they have their own set from start to end – you can only find or purchase upgrades along the way. Weapons however, you can control and as well as the level progression.
The game no longer have a top down view. Many say this is fine – and it would have been – if there wouldn’t be so many problems with the camera. I have spent several combats cursing because I can’t trigger a spell because LOS or the ground simply not being accessible. You have to base a spell on the ground you can walk on or target a opponant. Combat in it self is not so tactical – it can be – but I will tell you my opinion why I didn’t feel like it later on. The combat takes place as most of the game, in 3rd person view, you target enemies either by clicking or pressing “attack nearest”. Once chosen you character will hammer away with default attack. You can as in the first make several if’s and but’s in the combat behaviour scripts. The problem is that combat is a dreadful affair. You sit and wait for a useful action or spell being accessible again after you use it, there is a cooldown and a cost of mana or stamina to activate.
Combat looks like this:
1. You walk up to a bunch of enemies with red circles – if you have settings to pause before battle – the game pauses.
2. You fight these enemies, you take out rogues and wizards first or the big bosses. After the first group is almost killed, a new group will “magically” drop down around you (undead crawls up from the ground, shades/evil guys puff out of smoke). Then they will get enforcement from behind and in front of your party. ALWAYS!
3. You gather what little useful stuff they have to sell.
4. Your parties losses, are no longer losses, they do however require first aid to get rid of wounds.
5. If big boss: Big boss will be with all the 1-3 steps above, but will repeat the step 2-3 several times with some animations until you have killed the boss.
This is actually rather boring – to such content that I actually decreased the difficulty of fighting twice, and ended up with easy – because I wanted to get the fights over and done with as quickly as possibly, because honestly – they suck!
All of the above takes place in or around Kirkwall. Kirkwall has several really nice areas – and I don’t mind being forced to stay in Kirkwall, revisiting the lovely streets, cellars and stuff – it is that every house in the entire city have only 2-3 setups. Fine, mansion and squatter style. These are all the same layout – only different doors are locked or not. If you are lucky you may choose between going straight ahead, left or right, sometimes you can’t even chose, there is only a certain number of doors available. Same with the grottos and dungeons, outdoors and ambushes. the same terrain, only that at certain times certain things may not be accessible – but always the same. This gets tiresome as well because it gives you a feeling of “cheap”.
This is not the only thing that is recycled – the story and characters are recycled and even though I may enjoy that there is a sort of life and choices things going on – it gets tiresome when the same trick is used, again, and gain, and again, and again…
Dragon Age 2 you will most likely not play for the character progression – that progression is for you to increase your characters fighting capabilities so that the fighting scenes will end quicker. You play because you want to find out what happens with your characters choices and your companions. These quests are the most prominent ones and also the ones that makes the game worthy of playing. However, there is some troublesome clouds on the horizon as well. One is that all quests have for arguments/way of discussing:
1 Sincere and friendly
2 Joking and a bit indifferent
3 Downright hostile and mean
4 Investigate to get more information
With these four choices, you can try to pretend you can actually try to change things by discussion. Sometimes you can skip a fight or two – but that is not such a great impact. Most important scenes will be forced to end in either hostile or peacefulness. The middle road will eventually play out to one of the above. This is getting really tiresome because in the beginning you can either be indifferent, hostile or actually flirt – with anyone. Yeah you probably heard the gay route argument and I don’t care about that – I just want to be able to be friendly without provoking romances with everyone! That is tricky. Also, you want to tell these imbeciles a lot of your mind – but Dragon Age 2 smugly won’t let the obvious reasonings come into play. You have your 1-4 +4 to deal with and that’s it. The answers sometimes doesn’t mean anything apart from fighting or not – the same action will be triggered regardless in the story – it is just how you dealt with it. This is also rather boring and also you feel cheated in several arguments because the story takes precedence over reasonable lines of talking and discussing. It is over simplified in my opinion.
So, is Dragon Age 2 a bad game?
No, not really, it is a very competent game, it just isn’t a Dragon Age Origins game, so they should have lost the “2″ and called it something ending with “expanding the Dragon Age universe” or something. A heads up – because now a lot of energy is wasted on realising that this isn’t a follow-up on the first game. It is more for the console players cause simply put – the BioWare guys realised that console brought more money then the PC version on origins. That in itself is a bit disturbing – and I do blame Valve for not letting loose those figures. Anyway – I guess that this then puts the gravestone solidly in the ground: BioWare isn’t the game for the hardcore PC RPG lovers anymore. They are moving towards the cash bag of the more easily appeased RPG light console gamers.Should we fear? No – we should not – the Witcher 2 is on the way, Deus EX Human revolution is on the way – and if companies like BioWare don’t deliver – that will simply open up for smaller developers.
So what is the verdict for Dragon Age 2?
This is the verdict:
Graphics: 20 – The graphics is actually not that groundbreaking, it is however fashionably done with a design on esthetics rather than crunching pure polygon love and realism. The world is lovely, the city even more so. Characters are nice and even though you may not 100% agree with the design. It is well done – if poorly implemented and took two or three patches before you could run high on a 560 TI card and DX11….
Sound: 17 – the sound is OK, the music is well done and funnily enough, the music score guy said he didn’t get enough time. If he is disappointed, I would love to hear what he could make with enough time. What is missing? Well, remember first time you got out on the streets in Neverwinter Nights? Or hit the harbour in Amn in Baldur’s Gate 2? The sea in Baldur’s Gate – the cry of seagulls? That isn’t here. The background noise is here – but not enough to make you feel you are actually running around in a city full of people. The effects are also a bit tame and it makes the job – but nothing more – and it isn’t bad!
Game-play/Story: 17 – A mixed bag. It is over simplified controls and setups for character progression and a tedious and boring combat that lowers the score a lot here. The story is so so and the main quest is a bit of a let down – I mean come on, it is not hard to figure out what will happen. What saves the game is the numerous side quests and the stories of the sidekicks.
Controls/Quality: 17 – Controls are responsive, but there are too many flaws with not having a tactical overview, a design decision that is just bad in my opinion. The interface with potions and icons is a total crappy design. You can hardly see any difference between the potions, and the clarity from older games is severely lacking. The interface itself is a decent way to show you what you can do, but it feels to me, that I could as well be playing a KOTOR game without light sabers… The design is too modern and too much like Mass Effect to satisfy the fantasy gene for me. But, it is not bad – important to remember.
BioWare knows how to make games, even though I have given this many harsh words and complained a lot along the way – I have to admit that this game I finished – Dragon Age Origins I haven’t – but to me Origins isn’t at all the spiritual successor of Baldur’s Gate – there are no successors to those games – plain and simple. So please, admit it and move on – you obviously have but are simply trying to get easy points for telling us so and score some extra pre-orders? ANother thing that makes me feel a bit nauseated with Dragon Age 2 is the overdone pre-order bonanza that plagued Facebook, STEAM and stores. It was so important to pre-order to get the goodies, then the pre-orders just continued… Bad form. Also, I don’t want to plague my Facebook with small games just to get some more items for my game. I want to un-lock things for my game in – well you guessed it – in the bloody damn game! My opinion now is that BioWare unfortunately have hollowed out Dragon Age while Mass Effect is the better series by far at this stage. Also, I would like BioWare to get a less whiny lead director next time. Crying online and telling us we have a far superior product and then admitting to cutting down due to consoles is just fucked up. So – tell it up front and skip the bullshit. Bullshit makes us angry – the truth makes us make a decision based on what we can stand or not.
There is a rather large amount of different gaming mousses on the market today. In Sweden, we have the pleasure of having several good companies join the effort of getting good peripherals for gamers. We have Mionix, QPad and also ACE. I have had the pleasure of using the Ace Edge 3200 T2. This is an updated version from the ACE Edge 3200 mouse. The concept seems to be more or less the same.
The Mouse comes in a standard packaged solution, you open, extracts, un-hinge the cable, find the weights and the quick start guide. The mouse doesn't feel as plastic as it looks - which is comforting because it looks rather weird and cheap on the pictures. The reality is a bit better. The mouse feels a bit awkward at first since your thumb is pressed in rather long into the thumb area and the mouse is also a lot higher on the ridge the most mousses i have tried.
Setting up and usage
Setting it up is a straight affair, download drivers, plug-in – run installer and setup as you prefer. You have the DPI settings and can make four DPI settings, these are switchable during play by a thumb-button – an extra not the two regular thumb-buttons. Then you also have the option to make the buttons do variable things, scipts commands key bindings etc. You switch through these different modes with the mode button on top of the mouse. That’s about it.
Glide traction accuracy etc
The mouse uses ceramic feet – feet that won’t have to change like on ordinary mousses is the idea. Once they go rock bottom – I guess it is time for a new mouse. So how is the glide and usage in play? Fairly well, I would say. On a not so slick mouse pad – like a QPad CT – the glide is decent, but sometimes you come to a stop where you haven’t intended one. On the Zowie SPAWN – a pad more like a soft mat with hard pad qualities – the mouse moves well and on a hard plastic – wohooo. So It depends a bit on your preferences. It works well with all pads – but if you find the QPad CT to be to sluggish – but otherwise like it (it has excellent readings and traction for laser mouse being a soft pad) I can recommend Steelseries glide puck (if you can find it) since it puts a thin coating of silicon or similar on the feet and makes it go wooosh. The traction and reading accuracy is working without any comments. It does the job and I haven’t found anything that I don’t like yet. Sometimes I think that the mouse can be a bit awkward due to the size of it rather then any fault of either glide or accuracy. The height can make the louse tilt, ever so slightly, but it is enough for it to catch the pad with the mouse side instead of the skatez.
This mouse is a nice mouse, it comes in around the mid-level contenders like DeathAdder etc in price. Have features more accustomed on the higher price range and behaviour that matches this as well. An economic pro-version so to speak. In my opinion, the mouse has a feel that sometimes feels less stellar then the Steelseries Xai, Mionix Naos 5000 etc. But it behaves roughly the same. I do think that the glide isn’t as smooth as the Xai or Naos 5000 – but not to such a degree that you will bother with it. What can bother you is the shape. I would strongly recommend you to try it out. If it fits, I think you will be surprised that it feels so good, and if you don’t run into the tilt problem this mouse will give you:
•Several modes of setting up behaviours to your buttons
•Two different pinkie finger supports, one for only pinkie, and one for ring- and pinkie- finger
•Weights to adjust the feel of the mouse
•A 4 DPI setting mouse
•No skatez changing problem
•If you are in luck and quick – you will get it with one of ACE’s mouse pads for free