It's been a while since I've written anything here, despite playing a decent amount of games. Time isn't as freely available as it used to be, so, yeah.

One of the better titles this year has arrived in the form of Blizzard's new team based FPS, named Overwatch. This is an extension of the old Team Fortress genre games, but with a bigger variety of classes to play, and abilities I'd suspect being slightly more influenced by the MOBA-genre than FPS.

I have to admit to not being the biggest fan of these type of team FPS games in general, so I figured it'd be nice to actually write something about a positive entry into the genre that I suspect most people would actually enjoy.

The decent amount of different characters is what appeals the most in my view. Each of the characters have very distinct playstyles, so the chance of you finding something you like to play is very high, even if you're not a hardcore FPS fan. The beauty of it is that for the hardcore FPS fans, there are classes playing to their strengths as well, but you can be just as effective for your team if you don't have the twitch-skill of an energy-drink fueled teenager.

I enjoy playing supportive classes in most games, and this is no different - I'll usually run around with my healing beam trying to keep everyone alive, but switching to other support classes or even some damage ones as needed by our team.

So, even if you're not a hardcore FPS fan, I'd still recommend giving this a try - it's a blast to play, and you're more than likely to find something that suits the way *you* like to play games in general.

The game is out now on Overwatch - PC Overwatch - Xbox One and Overwatch - PS4

Dark Souls 2 - Update

After having played through Dark Souls 2 now, I have to strongly encourage everyone with a controller to pick up the game and give it a go. If you don't have a controller, buy a decent one and get the game - or simply get the game for console!

The rewarding feeling of beating some of the challenges in the game is simply the best I've had as far as I can remember. Whenever I die I "learn" something and improve my game - and I think this is the first game I can remember since Knights of the Old Republic 10 years ago where I finished the game and jumped straight into a new game. The added difficulty playthroughs are also very well done and ensures challenges and actual replayability.

The PvP in this game is also a lot more fun than I initially anticipated. I should record some of my way over the top backstabs with my strength character and put it out there, but in short, this game is probably the first of its kind where I actually *really* enjoy 1v1 duels.

The start of the game is slightly harsh, but once you get into the mechanics and realize the customizability of your character, you're in for a very fun ride!

Dark Souls 2

I decided to challenge myself slightly and pick up Dark Souls 2 a short while back, and after watching and laughing at everyone getting slaughtered in Dark Souls, I decided it was my time now.

I have to say, this is actually an extremely fun and rewarding game. I'm trying to remember the last time I felt the same sense of accomplishment that I do when I kill one of the bosses in the game. It's also very weird coming from an mmo-mindset how they've managed to balance out stuff fairly well in the sense that levels aren't really that important, but knowing mechanics and reacting to events is.

I played my first Cleric-character for a bit, and then decided to try more of a straight up sword/shield fighter, and it's just really cool to see how quick and efficient I was able to bypass most of the tricky parts, through my past experience, not really due to any difference in gear/playstyle.

I strongly recommend this game if you're able to persevere through some adversity, and, if you have a controller. The keyboard/mouse controls are quite horrible, but it's quite decent with a controller.

Fable 2 Ending

I’ll try to avoid spoiling too much while still talking about it here … I finally sat down to play through Fable 2 this weekend, and can only say that I’m slightly worried about the decisions I assume they made towards the end of the game related to the “final boss fight”.

I guess with the “we still want you to play, even though you finished the game!”-mentality, I can to a certain extent understand why they decided against making it the end-all battle, but seriously!

Even though you don’t get the proper satisfaction there, the humor involved in the Castle-quest available to you after you “beat” the game makes up for it though, the reward there is a fun feature that made me laugh a fair bit. :)

All in all, Fable 2 is a good fun game, it’s no fallout/oblivion sandbox-game though.

Guitar Hero World Tour

I've been having a fair bit of fun with these two games the last month, as they were released pretty much at the same time here - making me have to choose which one to play.

The initial choice was which of the packages I was going for in terms of new instruments. I had tried the Rock Band 2 guitar before, and wasn't too fond of that - despite it being a lot better than the Rock Band one. I checked some reviews online and figured that they'd most likely work out nicely, so, I got the GH:WT Full Instrument package, with a pre-order deal which gave included another guitar free of charge.

Turns out the guitar in itself is quite nice, and has taken over from my previous favored guitar (Xbox/PC GH2), as the buttons are just nice and "working", the strum-bar isn't screwed up like the Rock Band ones. It even has a very large accessible select button to help you pull starpower whenever! This latest feature was one I was quite fond of, but, after playing a bit I found myself not using this button at all, as this guitar has a rock solid motion sensor which has activated starpower 100% of the times I wanted it to, whereas the previous one could have you waving the guitar for quite some time before this would go off.

The drum-kit is quite nice looking really, with 5 drumpads, 2 of them elevated and the pedal. The pads seem to be covered with something quite squishylooking - resulting in you being able to play much more quietly than the Rock Band drums. Still, if you smash fairly hard, you'll make a lot of noise regardless, but, there's the option at least.

The game is quite standard-ish as far as these games go now, you play songs through different stages, unlock more songs, play these, do battles with famous characters and live happily ever after!

To list a few differences from the old GH-series (apart from the inclusion of drums/mic), you no longer do battles where you try to sabotage the other guy, instead these are pretty much regular songs where you feel like you're trying to outperform each other it seems.

The new guitar has a new touchpad-like set of buttons just below the regular buttons which you can use during solos, in these sections, you have the option of simply sliding your fingers between the notes to connect them, there's even a "string" visualized on the screen which connects these. This in itself worked out surprisingly well in my view, however, when you're supposed to switch back to the normal buttons after a solo, you're most likely never going to hit the first few ones at least, which results in you usually just using the regular buttons for solos anyway.

An interesting fact regarding this, as I saw others complaining about this as well, after I had played through my single career - I did a quick run through the tutorial to unlock an achievement there, and found that you could actually use the touchpad as a strum-bar, which would make it a whole lot easier to survive when you go back to non-solo sections. If only I had done that...

The songs in World Tour are a bit so-so really, as far as singing goes, they should really be a bit more careful throwing in non-english songs into the mix. I decided to start the vocals career to see how that worked out, and found myself jumping back to the main menu quite quick - not sure Beastie Boys and Motorhead are the best "introduction to vocals"-bands out there. I did a quickplay list and managed to find a total of 5 songs of the whole list which I'd feel slightly comfortable singing - and - that's not a lot.

Don't get me wrong, it has some decent songs, I really like the live version of Sweet Home Alabama and other songs like Pull Me Under and Livin' on a Prayer add to it, but, if you were to pick a random song, there's a good 90% chance that you'll end up with something either completely screwed up, or just plain horrible in my view.

The difficulty level is quite decent as far as the guitar goes, there are a total of 4 songs I haven't been able to finish on Expert yet, which should be somewhat similar to GH3 really, placing it slightly above Rock Band in that regard.

All in all, I'd say this is a decent product, but, the first thing I'd get after shopping this game with its full instrument package would be Rock Band 1 and 2...


... also, I think I like Paramore ...


Guitar Hero: Aerosmith

(Imported from old blog 2008-07-27)

After a bit of thinking and deciding I wasn't going to grab this "new" Guitar Hero game, I arrived at the store and saw the game selling for a fair bit less than it should, so, figured that was the sign I needed to give Aerosmith a shot!

I'm not really into Aerosmith at all, all I can tell you about them is that they did that theme for Armageddon and... they had the utterly annoying song Same Old Song and Dance in Guitar Hero 3, which blocked me from progressing on Expert a while back, so, not fond thoughts in general.

The game isn't much different at all from Guitar Hero 3 really, though, I wasn't expecting it to be either. The main difference that I see is that every tier of songs has two non-Aerosmith songs initially, and then you "play as Aerosmith" with two more songs, before there's an Aerosmith encore. Furthermore, there's only one guitar battle, against mr Joe Perry towards the end (on the final tier before the last three Aerosmith songs), and beating him seems to be optional, as you can progress to the later ones without beating him.

The difficulty of this game is seriously reduced from Guitar Hero 3. I'd actually place it as the easiest Guitar Hero to date, on the point that it has no songs even near as hard as the last tier on GH2, and none as hard as the last two tiers on GH3.

When I played this game, I decided to set out and start at Hard and just keep playing till I failed a song. Shortly after, I was through Hard and had started Expert... this went on till the guitar battle, at which point me playing at 2x Hyperspeed was a bit rough when the screen is split into two and you get twice the Expert speed to react on, so had to run off out and turn off hyperspeed, and then finished the boss battle. I managed to fail again at the last song, though, chalked that up to hyperspeed not being re-enabled! :) Too used to playing with it makes it a fair bit harder when I all of a sudden am playing without it.

The Guitar Battle is a complete joke for anyone who's played them in Guitar Hero 3. First off, they let *you* start with the first powerup chance, and then you alternate, which in practice means that you can just hit your notes and powerup as he's trying to get his starpower to keep him permanently locked out. Furthermore, they've decided to remove the lefty-flip it seems, meaning most of the powerups you get against you are relatively harmless (save maybe double at Expert).

Overall difficulty in the songs seem to have shifted from making it hard to complete a song to making it hard to maintain a high streak. There's a fair amount of long hammeron/pulloff-sequences that for no apparent reason just adds a little note you need to strum to keep the streak going, my favorite version of this was one particular section where you'd play it once, and when you played it again a second time, you needed to strum something in the middle of the sequence, despite the two segments sounding *exactly* the same. Another issue here is the "play as Aerosmith" songs, when you play as your character, you get the "character-specific" background, this changes when you do Aerosmith though, and they've managed to make their background interfere with the yellow notes if the timing is just right, so you can miss notes by either not noticing them at all, or way too late.

The "final" song chosen is Train Kept a Rollin, which is fair enough... it's a decent semi-hard song, but, it's also a song in Rock Band! Which makes it slightly less special in my opinion. Furthermore, it's following the GH3 tradition of unlocking a song when you beat career mode, like Through the Fire and the Flames. I was expecting something similar to that, however, it's unlocking the song Kings and Queens, which by NO means can compare to anything harder than a tier 1 song, huge disappointment there in my view.

There are some positives in the game though, the only worrying part of this is that all the positives are the non-Aerosmith songs. I find Joan Jetts song to be strangely addictive, and Ted Nugents' Cat Scratch Fever to be one of the more fun songs to play at Guitar Hero.

All in all though, I think they should've picked another band! :) The next version in this scheme seems to be Metallica, releasing in 2009. Based on what I've seen from the Rock Band Metallica downloads, there'll at least be a fair bit of challenging songs to pick from there. I'm just hoping Metallica will pick a background that doesn't screw up the yellow notes...


Civilization Revolution

(Imported from old blog 2008-06-30)

I realized last week that the new Civilization game was about to hit the stores now, and was fairly excited. Slightly concerned regarding the "Civ for consoles"-concept, but, after playing through the demo available at the Xbox Live Marketplace, I figured it was worth the buy. And after a long week of mad shippingdisasters in general, I finally got the game this friday, and I've pretty much been playing it all weekend, so, figured I'd write an ickle review or some such here before heading off to sleep.

I've played the Civilization games a fair bit in my life, mainly Civilization 1 and 4, as I figured the others weren't quite as tasty as those two, but still entertaining, and Civilization 4 + its expansions has been played thoroughly with friends online as well - in the standard 16-18 hours gaming sessions with excessive amounts of fun!

I decided to read up a bit on the game before grabbing it, and read that mr Sid Meier had designed the game from scratch optimized for consoles, just using the familiar elements from the series as a reference, not as a "must follow" basis for the game, as well as trying to shorten the gameplay duration drastically compared to the standard Civ4 games, as ... I suspect console gamers aren't that fond of spending too much time in front of their TVs ... or some such!

The initial impressions were quite good when I started playing. The interface was intuitive and easy to navigate, a simple check on all the possible buttons on the controller and you knew where things were fairly quick. You could get around to the relevant places you'd like to go in no time, and it seemed to have the smooth wrapping for the actual gameplay intact at least!

The gameplay bits here I'll compare with the previous versions of the game, so, if you haven't played any of the previous ones, it might be a bit cryptic... But! You still have the city control, tiles around the city you grab resources from and all that. Not as many different tiles, but enough to make the world look tasty. Now, the first *real* difference comes with the majority of the buildings in the city improvement section. The concept of workers/engineers are out, you can't manipulate the tiles at all, instead, you build buildings to improve the resources gathered from them - for instance, a granary now adds +2 food to plains tiles, and that's all it does. If your city doesn't have any plains tiles, you won't be able to build a granary at all there, as it's not needed! The ways of gathering food/trade is fairly similar to the last Civilization game, with the exception that you can't "build" any of them now, you need to build units/buildings/wonders, and you can't set a global percentage either, each city needs to specify if it should produce gold or science from the trade it gathers. You have the option of connecting your cities with roads as well, you pay gold and they're instantly built between two of your cities. The benefit of these roads are instant travel, if you're on a road and run around on it, you don't spend any movement points! Although a great feature, it's slightly dangerous when you connect your 5 cities and the opponent invades and places their army on the road in the middle of all your cities, having instant travel-access to whichever town has the least defense... :|

The basic setup on the standard singleplayer game is you vs 4 AI opponents spread around in a fairly small world from a "Civilization" perspective, this is most likely done be as they want the games to be shorter. You roam around exploring, fighting and trading with the others to win. There are now four ways to win the game, either by domination - capturing all the opposing capitals, economic - gathering 20k gold and creating a world bank wonder, culture - getting 20 wonders/great people/converted cities and creating the U.N. wonder or technology - winning the space race. Interactions with the opponents has been simplified slightly, you no longer have any treaties, it's either war or not, trading technology is still in, and buying/selling technology is in. One of the most interesting things they did there in my view is not letting people have "walk through my area" deals, meaning you can use an opponents area as a shield if he's between you and the person you're at war with. Also, creating cities in the small tight areas really seals off enemies in one place, as the sea travel isn't as dominant as it used to be.

Exploration has an interesting part in the game, as it seems all the maps have 2+ artifacts you can find, where all but one are located on islands requiring you to roam around with galleys to find. These reward you with anything from gold to an instantly built wonder in your main city. The last wonder is a "deep sea" wonder, Atlantis, which upon discovery, rewards you with three random technologies from the list you can research. This makes a huge difference when you're on the harder difficulties, and hunting these is something you should get used to as soon as possible.

Unit combat is fairly interesting, they've made an interesting change where you can group together three of your units and form an army of that unit. It will effectively be merged into one unit which has three times the stats of a single unit, and pretty much be annihilating its single counterparts fairly well. As such, early on you can do different strategies by either banding up your troops or spreading them over to cover more ground. An army of archers will most likely need an army of extremely much more advanced unittype to force them to leave a city they're defending. The use of nukes in the game has been changed a fair bit, the way it works now is that the person who builds the project gets one nuke to launch, and when that one is launched, you can't make any new ones. This makes all the SDI buildings fairly useless in my opinion.

I've been messing around on the different difficulties and finding the game to be quite enjoyable really. It had me awake till 5-6am both friday and saturday, and would've had me up till that point today as well had it not been for work in the morning.

What I'm missing in this game though, is a bit more customizability in the game-setup, so that if I wanted a long matchup or more opponents, I'd be able to specify that. As it stands, you're either doing a specific scenario-type, or you're doing the standard vs 4AI setup. I would've liked to set up team-maps and things like that in my games to get even more diversed games. Also, as someone who is really fond of the culture victories, I'm a bit saddened that they're in my view slightly harder to obtain than the other victories, especially in an even late-game matchup. The times I've won cultural victories were times I was way ahead in everything and held off winning the other ways to get a cultural win. I should also mention here that if you have insane amounts of buildings, the fact that you can't build science/culture/gold but need to build units/buildings/wonders makes you quite crazy after a while if you're ahead, waiting for space-race and all the cities are maxed out spamming tanks and battleships like there's no tomorrow... lots of buttonclicking to get through the last rounds.

All in all, I think it's a great game and would recommend it as long as people don't expect "Civilization 5", and I'm looking forward to trying the multiplayer portion of the game now that I'm at least slightly familiar with all the different mechanics!

As far as the achievements go, I've been grabbing 37 out of them so far, I found one to be fairly amusing, the "Curse of the Drinking Class" achievement is in my view only really attainable playing as Americans, with a Communism government... the irony!


Rock Band!

(Imported from old blog 2008-05-04)

After reading an article in the newspaper about how the USD is really low at present - as well as checking that they still didn't have a local release date for Rock Band here yet, I decided it was time to do the import thing! I already have a copy of Rock Band imported for the Xbox 360 mainly to see if it would work due to region differences, figuring I'd just use the Xbox Live headset for mic and my two Guitar Hero guitars for the guitars and grab the drums by itself when it's released here. But, that didn't quite work out, apparently it's "incorrect format" for my poor Xbox360, so, that's a no go!

However, people have mentioned how region free the PS3 is, so I figured I'd give it a shot really - especially since I don't have any PS3 games (except some random car-game I never really played which I got with the PS3). And 230USD (incl. shipping) later, it was in the mail!

FYI, the box is quite quite huge and fairly heavy, utter insanity really - glad that UPS decided to deliver it to me at my doorstep!

I should note that my initial interest in the game wasn't really the drums like I see most people rushing when it comes to the game. I wanted to try the guitar and see how guitar works here compared to Guitar Hero, as such, it was straight to the guitar and assembly right away. One interesting detail here is that they decided to put a tiny screw that keeps the batteries locked down, I suspect they didn't feel the easy design which has been used in oh... every other guitar controller and/or regular wireless controller was quite up to the Rock Band standard! I spent 15 minutes running around trying to find my tiny screwdriver as a result... I feel they should've at least warned me in advance that I'd need something like this! :)

The guitar is looking quite neat really, with the regular 5 buttons as normal, then 5 added buttons near the strum-bar to be used for solos. I found this to be a fairly cool thing in theory when I heard about it - and it was only slightly different from that in reality... the drawback was that the buttons are placed so close to each other that you're pretty much screwed when you just finally managed to perfect memorizing and feeling the 5-button spacing and switching properly to play all 5 buttons from the GH-deal, they mess you up so bad by doing this! The way it works is pretty much just like the normal 5 buttons in the normal gameplay, however, when you get into an area of the song labeled a Guitar Solo, you can use those new buttons to play without strumming at all, hitting one of those is an implicit strum as well - which means you mess up even more as you're most likely used to pressing the buttons a bit before so you're ready to strum - but oh no, that's a hit! :) They also added different settings on your guitar which makes the guitar sound during solos and starpower change into various other sounds, while it has no real effect on gameplay, it makes it sound a lot more spiffy! :)

The actual guitar used in the game is quite interesting, as they've completely removed the sound it makes when you strum, which makes it... odd really, but to compensate they added the most insane clicking noises when you click the fret-buttons for some odd reason, but after a bit of playing, it felt quite nice to use really, want to use this one for Guitar Hero as well!

The game in itself is quite awesome really! To use the regular Guitar Hero as comparison initially and go into details on solo mode, you have the regular guitar which works just like Guitar Hero, with the exception that you enter certain defined Guitar Solo parts where you get a percentage indicator which tracks your hit rate, and you get a score bonus at the end based on the amount of notes hit. The bass seems to work similar as well, although, as it doesn't have any guitar solo parts to score extra points, they've added the score multiplier to add up to 6x instead of 4x like the other instruments have.

The singing is reportedly like Singstar, which I haven't tried (yet!) - but I most likely will I fear ...

It got strangely addictive when I managed to figure out just how to sing along! I only struggled with some of the songs where you have to sing where the pitch is supposed to go really low, as I tend to mess that up and make the mic stop recognizing my voice as I get too low. :( The difference in difficulties here comes from the "size" of the "you-should-be-in-this-pitch" bar that roams around. I did a few songs on Easy/Medium before trying Expert, and found that to work out relatively well really, so... a few hours later I was done with all the songs! Next! :)

I didn't really look forward to playing drums, never did, and after trying, I'm glad that most others seem fond of playing that evil ... thing! The kit is basically 4 different circles you hit, and a pedal you step on at times... It's all good fun till someone figures out that the pedal should differ in rhytm from the other circles you need to hit, at that point it becomes impossible to play and you usually end up crying and hoping someone else saves you. It's a LOT of fun when you actually get things going, and the freestyle segments are pretty cool, especially when mixed with the throw-sticks-in-the-air-and-hope-you-catch-them trick. Should note that when you don't catch them you can still play on using your hand instead of the stick, but it's painful if done over longer periods of time, so I'd advice against trying this at the beginning of the songs.

Then you have he band mode which is awesome really! The gameplay differences from Guitar Hero Coop seems to be that each instrument has its own failure meter, and if an instrument fails, the others have a bit of time where they can use starpower to bring them back into the game. It's quite fun to activate starpower as the singer to save the crappy drummer who messed up *again*, especially with the chat afterwards about how you really carry the whole band and they couldn't make it without you...

The only semi-bad thing I found with the game so far is that it's very hard to make all the instruments "enjoyable" in all of the songs you have available, namely the bass tends to end up with utterly boring repetetive songs, as well as there being certain songs which have less than 40% of actual singing, so being on the mic isn't all that fun. Though, I guess they need to have it done like that, and I complain now, but when my playlist shows up as songs ingame and basically all instruments will be utterly easy, I'll most likely be full of praise of the immersiveness of all the instruments!

Another slightly worrying part is that I've played through the guitar and mic now on hard and expert respectively. Yet, I want to play more, but feel it's nowhere near as fun as it would've been on the Xbox360 due to the fact that I'd be working towards achievements there as I'm having my share of fun, and here I'm just ... doing "nothing"! This was one of the reasons why I wanted the game for my Xbox, yet, didn't think I'd feel it as strong as I do now really...

So, thank you for my Gamercard, Microsoft!

*Waiting for Xbox360 EU Release, hoping USB-Drums will work on Xbox as well*



Guitar Hero 2 - Finally!


(Imported from old blog 2008-06-23)

After discovering that I've improved greatly after playing Rock Band, I made it past the previous GH2-blockers Crazy On You and Freya and made it past most of the remaining songs. Hangar 18 proved to be fairly difficult, and needed quite a few runs to get it sorted, but it was nothing compared to the insanity of Free bird.

I'm nowhere near the insane people 5starring the last few songs on Expert and the main goal was just to make it past the song to be able to say I "beat the game", and it wasn't going to be easy, I've spent quite a few evenings while "watching" the euro soccer on my TV while playing Free bird on my monitor next to it.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the song, it's almost 10 minutes long and consits of a fairly slow paced 5minutes intro and moves over into insane guitar solos in the last part. The game divides the song into different parts, and for a comparison, Hangar 18 had 9 Guitar Solo sections while Free bird has 19, plus an outro which has some pain in it.

For the people who have actually made it to this song, I suspect a fair bit of the guitar solos should be relatively easy, but there are two sections which really causes trouble. First off the Guitar Solos C and D followed by some madness which looks to be easy, but really isn't - then the killer at solos I and J - both of which are bound to drag your meter down, and you'll most likely spend the time between them trying to work your meter back up while hoping for a full starpowerbar for the I and J. I found that for some parts I really had to shift my fingers out of the normal patterns you tend to use to get the stronger fingers to take care of the quick buttonmashing.

When I finally managed to make it past the last part, I have to admit to having a pulse slightly higher than average, and my arms were freezing up in nervousness, was quite quite hectic! But, managed to pull off the last segments without messing up properly for the 4star finish, and as such, I'm as free as a bird now, and this bird you cannot change!