Posts Tagged ‘sale’

Gaming

Beatings in Borderlands

Borderlands ClaptrapSo Steam was doing the whole ‘pimping Borderlands 2 pre-order’ bit last weekend, by having the original Borderlands available free to play for the weekend (and at the knock-down price of a fiver for the DLC-filled GOTY edition if they managed to hook you). It kind of reminded me how much incredible fun Borderlands was to play and well, you know, that set me off and I went and created some Let’s Play Badly videos for it.

I’m not giving up on my Just Cause 2 series, I’m merely spreading my mindless violence and explosive mayhem even further.

So far, I have five videos done and have managed to die quite a few times – mostly by thinking I was ‘all that and a side of fries‘ while up against a couple of bosses. Turns out, I’m not even a soggy, cold chip, never mind ‘all that‘. If you’d like to have a look at these videos, you can either pop along to my YouTube channel or just click below for the extended post with all embedded fun and bonus wittterings.

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Gaming

Gaming Wisdom – 10 things I learnt from Just Cause 2 (PC)

Just Cause 2 (by Avalanche Studios) is an excellent game and even though it’s two years old, it’s still one which I’d heartily recommend today. I’m a big fan. Soooo much explodey, drivey, chaotic fun! If you see it for sale anywhere, snap it up! Steam often have it for under four quid. Anyhoo, I did one of my Gaming Wisdom posts for it. Won’t make a lick of sense if you haven’t played the game and even if you have, there’s no guarantees.

Just Cause 2

So here are 10 things I learnt from Just Cause 2 (PC)

  1. While a roll-cage will protect you from crashes, the second you get out of a moving vehicle, any collision will turn it into a devastating fiery ball-of-death for all in its path.
  2. Even during a blazing to-the-death firefight, enemy combatants are perfectly happy to patiently wait for your call-out one-stop-shop helicopter to deliver more ammunition in the event that you ever run out.
  3. Some regimes specifically look for recruits with goldfish-like memories. I guess it probably helps them cope emotionally with the mass slaughter of their comrades by passing para-sailing foreign mercenaries.
  4. Even while being peppered with lethal quantities of lead far in excess of their RDA, enemy troops will still find the civility to speak the language of their assailant.
  5. Despite minding your own business, well-meaning but thoughtless local rebels can really bugger up your sneaky, hidey, stealthy plans.
  6. When falling at terminal velocity to your certain doom from a great height, all that is really needed to save your life is an extra burst of speed that only attaching your grappling-hook to the ground can provide.
  7. Local Panau factions will always need high-priced mercenaries to hop over gates and break into compounds for them as ladder technology apparently hasn’t been developed.
  8. Shouting “He’s trying to hide!” is a viable response to a psychopath running straight at you.
  9. The nozzles on Panau gas cylinders are so badly fitted that a bullet hit anywhere on the cylinder’s surface will dislodge it… and set it alight!
  10. Sheldon doesn’t really understand how grenades work.

Even if you aren’t planning a vacation to the fiction island of Panau, these juicy gobs of gaming wisdom ripped from the grenade shredded carcass of Just Cause 2 will serve you well, no matter what the situation… as long as it involves a criminal faction-led insurgency, grappling-hooks or a helicopter-based weapon/vehicle home shopping channel. Enjoy!

Gaming

Minor mayhem

So in Just Cause 2 we’ve tackled the three criminal organisation’s first set of stronghold missions and liberated three shiny new bases for them to decorate with chintzy curtains and throw cushions. Taking a break from leading their nerdy scientists to get their hack on, Rico spent the next three Let’s Play Badly videos doing minor missions for the gangs.

All aboard the fail bus as my first minor mission has me rescuing an Ular Boy spy from a bridge and helping him make a quick getaway at a local airstrip… and failing miserably. Still, second time is a charm.

Next up, the Roaches have a little traitor problem they’d like me to deal with. Time to hop over to the main Airport on Panau and hunt for the miscreant as he makes a break for it. This mission shows the more flexible side of dealing with the game’s problems as I fail to heed Razor’s instructions and accidentally goof my way to success.

And finally, the Reapers need a snazzy armoured car liberating from a military base. Once inside, the fun starts as no-one on the road, friend or foe (mainly friend) is safe from my newly acquired auto-cannon.

At the time of writing, the Steam Summer Sale is currently under way (July 12th – July 22nd) and if you’re lucky, they’ll be flogging Just Cause 2 for a song. It really is a great sandbox game that’ll keep you entertained for hours and hours. If you see it and you still haven’t got it (shame on you!), snap it up.

GamingRant

BioShock 2… meh?

BioShock 2 logoYou know I’m all up for Steam bargains right? If you don’t mind being a year or so behind the curve of newly released “triple A” games and prefer to pay under £5 for titles that were £39.99 RRP originally, then Steam is a godsend. Yup, I’m a cheap, cheap bastard. A few weeks ago, I took advantage of such a bargain and purchased BioShock 2 for the low, low price of £3.49 – a great opportunity to enjoy the much-anticipated sequel to the 2007 blockbuster, for pretty much peanuts.

So that’s what I’m going to talk about here – what I thought of BioShock 2. I doubt it’s going to matter or be that interesting to many people considering it’s a year old game but what the hey, I’m going to do it anyway. Just on the off-chance someone out there hasn’t played it and still might, I should probably warn you now, there is very likely going to be…

SPOILERS!

There. You were told. Anyhoo, to business.

For £3.49, you can’t really complain too much. I played the game to conclusion and according to Steam, got a good 14 hours worth of entertainment out of it for my pennies. I admit, I did take my time, creeping through the dingy structures, pausing at every sudden clatter of noise and staring like a dope at each period-piece poster that adorned the walls. I spent so long dawdling that the game regularly thought I was lost and helpfully informed me how I could get back to the serious business of blowing chunks out of splicers. I was having none of it. Part of the charm of the original BioShock was how rich the atmosphere was. Exploration is a big part of my enjoyment of games where the environment is so wonderfully detailed. For a let’s-get-this-done ‘serious gamer’, I’d expect a much shorter play through than 14 hours. No matter, it was certainly value for money.

Having also enjoyed the original title, I was looking forward to having more of the BioShock world fleshed out. I didn’t go ga-ga over its first outing as much as some of the really rabid fans as I find tying a so-so FPS with a somewhat watered-down RPG (also known as Mass Effect syndrome) to be a let-down coming from Irrational Games. Still, it was very polished and provided an interesting narrative, which made up for a lot.

BioShock 2, developed by another 2K Games studio tends to stand on the shoulders of the first game, not really bringing much new to the party. Another protagonist is led by the nose through the ruined utopia by a group of people who probably don’t have your best interests at heart. A lot of shooting, a lot of skill-set upgrading and a lot of black/white choices masquerading as a fleshed-out morality system.

So this time round you’re a Big Daddy (nope, can’t think of a legitimate way to work Shirley Crabtree into the sentence) with a mission to re-unite with your Little Sister. There’s a little fluff and manoeuvre in the story but that’s the main thrust of it. You being a hulking monstrosity doesn’t really affect the gameplay that much – you have their customary drill for melee (never bothered using it), can now travel underwater (thoroughly underused and didn’t bring anything interesting to the table anyway) and people generally react badly to you (compared to the legions of splicers who wanted to invite you over for tea and crumpets from the first game). It’s basically business as usual down in the depths in Rapture.

There was one thing that really got my goat about this outing that I don’t recall being such a blatant abscess in the first game and that’s the developer’s reliance on a gameplay mechanic I call Reward Punishment. It’s something that tends to rear its ugly head in lazily designed FPS titles such as the Doom series. See that health/ammo/power-up down the corridor? Go pick it up. Go on, you know you want to. Go it? HAH! Tricked you! Now a platoon of space zombies have spawned down the corridor behind you, pretty much negating the point of any health or ammo you’ve just gained. In small (i.e. rare) doses, it’s a minor annoyance and a surprise. On the other hand, when it happens constantly, it becomes tiresomely predictable and just smacks of amateurish game design.

A large problem for BioShock 2 that is really no fault of its own is that the shine has gone. We’ve been to Rapture. It was a wonderful journey of new sights and experiences in the first game but now the player knows what to expect and even if they don’t realise it at the time, it colours the experience. We’ve faced the choice of how to deal with the Little Sisters and their protective companions, explored the leaky retro-themed corridors of lost splendour with its psychotic inhabitants and endured the duplicitous nature of its misguided leaders. BioShock 2 can’t reinvigorate those elements for the player so has to rely on polishing the aforementioned so-so FPS at its heart.

Ultimately, it’s… more of the same, but without the fresh-Rapture-smell of the original. Enjoyable, but lacking. If you ever see it for pennies, I heartily recommend picking it up but don’t go into it expecting quite the same wonder that you experience with BioShock. Personally, I’m rather looking forward to BioShock Infinite – the next in the series. No more Rapture and a chance to work out my vertigo issues. Since it’s supposed to be coming out sometime in 2012, I’ll probably be playing it in 2015, courtesy of another Steam sale. Go Skinflints!

GamingRant

DLC me?

CashSo the Steam Holiday Sale ended yesterday (6pm for GMT people round here) and during the event, my heart grew three sizes. And by heart, I mean games collection. It was bargains galore and I feasted, to a budget, which is probably the best kind of feasting to be had. I picked up some Indie classics that I’ve long overlooked, some on-the-fence AAA titles that I just wasn’t prepared to blow 40-quid on when they were first released, a strategy game I didn’t even realise had been made, a couple of FPS titles in the “don’t play them alone, with the lights off during a stormy night if you value your underwear!” variety and some DLC. That’s what I want to have a wibble about today – the DLC.

It’s no secret that I’m a little wary of the DLC bandwagon. Knowing the games industry and the people involved – I’ve always felt the prospect of withholding content that would have normally been part of the regular full-game release and later packaging it as a separate ‘added value’ release at an additional cost just seemed like it’d be too tempting. More money for the same work? Ka-as-they-say-Ching! Is it already happening? Always going to be difficult to say but we know the industry isn’t above trying it on (remember Oblivion’s Horse Armour?). Of course, not all DLC has this tainted vibe. Some of it will be honest-to-goodness extra effort, above and beyond, game expanding content. Of course, we have that murky grey area of proper DLC developed concurrently of the original game, using resources that could easily have been part of the full-game but let’s just stick our fingers in our ears and ‘la-la-la-la-not-listening-la-la’ that concept for now, shall we?

I recently purchased DLC for two of the games I own, both for slightly different reasons. The first game was Grand Theft Auto 4 which I have to say (and will probably annoy some blinkered zealots by doing so), I didn’t enjoy half as much as I did the games from the earlier GTA3 series. For all it’s shine, I felt the core was spinning slightly off-kilter. It just didn’t seem right. The main problem I’d cite would be that driving felt waaaaaaay too loose, as if I was directing barges across an ice-rink. Add to that a game design/mission layout that emphasised long-distance to-ing and fro-ing (drive across two islands to a mission hub, pick up the mission, back across two islands to the mission site, usually involving more driving). They even put toll-booths on the bridges! Throw in an over-reliance on scripted chases (“So, there was no point in me weaving about like a idiot, emptying my entire ammo supply into your vehicle for the past ten minutes – you were unrealistically invulnerable until you passed some completely arbitrary location?“). I know it’s more ‘dramatic’ to have scripted missions but if I have acquired the tools and the skill to complete the mission early, let me. It is a sandbox game, after all, FFS.

Anyway, I purchased ‘The Lost and Damned‘ and ‘The Ballad of Gay Tony‘ as every review I’d seen for them had emphasised how much they improved on the core game. I’ve already consumed the biker gang portion of the DLC but have yet to finish my night-clubbing escapades as Gay Tony’s bouncer/business partner. Of the two, I think I’m enjoying TBOGT more and for the same reason that blighted the main game for me – driving. But, I hear you cry, they tidied up the motorbike handling specifically due to all the ‘in-formation’ posturing you do in TLAD. Yeah, but the way I got around all that mind numbing commuter-sim business between missions in GTA4 was to taxi ride the entire game. Once I realised I didn’t have to endure that lousy snorefest aspect of the game, it was a revelation. One that TLAD stomped all over with it’s insistence that I needed to be staring at hairy biker arses for 90%  of the DLC. So TBOGT wins big time in that respect.

The other game I purchased DLC for was Borderlands, an MMO-esque FPS that I didn’t really think would be my cup of tea but turned out to be a game I thoroughly enjoyed (and would recommend). It has four pieces of DLC out and since I’d heard that ‘Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot‘ was a bit of a weak cash-in and people thought that ‘Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution‘ was a little ‘meh’, I decided to try out the other two – ‘The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned‘ and ‘The Secret Armory of General Knoxx‘.

One thing I’ve noticed playing both these DLC and that’s the desire of the devs to pad out the experience somewhat. There are no fast-travel points within the DLC apart from the one you come in on. In the regular game, you’d wander off to a new zone, splatter whatever needed splattering and then hit the closest fast-travel point back to town to complete your mission. Since new missions would regularly send you back to those other zones, the fast travel points were also handy for skipping ahead to where you needed to be. In the DLC, they’ve tried to artificially extend the lifetime of the content by forcing you to traverse from point A to point Z and all the dreary letters in-between. I can see why they did it but they’re not really fooling anyone and all they managed to achieve is to introduce a major annoyance that hampers my enjoyment of the DLC. It’s more apparent in TSAOGK as it features highways to drive through (again… and again).

While on one mission, the happy little Claptrap announcer informed me that new missions were available to me back at the main hub, two zones away. So finishing up, off I drove. And drove and finally reached the hub, only to be told the new missions take place all the way back in the zone I’d just come from. Desire… to… finish… DLC… ebbing.

All-in-all, DLC can be fun and we’re only going to see more and more of it appearing. We buy it. If you ever get that niggling feeling that the game you just laid a wad of cash down on was a little short just as the devs announce a plethora of upcoming DLC, we’ve no-one but ourselves to blame. And padding? That’ll probably be with us forever too. Sure, there’ll be some stand-out examples of great DLC in the future but for every downloadable self-contained hunk of pure joy, there’ll be a mountain of flimsy, light-weight fluff strung out for much longer than the content can sustain. And we’ll buy that too.

By the way – Happy 2011! Hope it kicks your 2010 in the nuts like I’m hoping it’ll do to my past year.