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Video Game Reviews

Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:14 pm
by Chris_Stork
Neverwinter Nights 2

NWN 2 is an RPG made by Obsidian in 2006. It takes place, mostly, in the titular city and follows the D&D 3.5 rule-set. It has two expansions, Mask of the Betrayer and Storm of Zehir, I have not played Storm and will not be reviewing it.

Original Campaign:

The basic plot is that an ancient evil wakes up and you get to stop it. No points for originality, but that's a starting campaign.

The good. The graphics are decent-looking, and and a number of the twists are interesting and there are enough shifts in action to make most classes useful.

In particular the Keep section is my favorite. Allow me to wax poetic about it.

Most RPGs at some point in time you will be made Important in the setting. Whether a ruler or simply in charge of a number of people you'll supposedly have authority. Only it never feels like that because you're still doing everything on your own. If others do show up they'll be useless and more hindrance than anything that could possibly be misconstrued as aid.

But the Keep section, you will feel like you're in charge. You build what you want for the Keep, have who you want there, and when problems come up, send out someone else to deal with it. You raise a military and decide what kind of equipment(to a limited extent) they wear. Yes you have to pay for most of it, but I was sitting at 200~300k and the prices are a pittance anyway. Whenever NWN3 comes out I hope they keep this part.

And on to the bad. The game is pretty, for the system requirements it has isn't not that pretty. The game is known for being a resource hog and though its had some improvements over the years its still not where it should be.

The models themselves are just barely passable. While is nice that not every face is a super-model, having more than a just a few decent looking ones wouldn't be bad either.

Class balance is all over the place. Not at all surprising for 3.5. It doesn't help the some features don't work as advertised. Parry is bugged will won't work after two or three attacks. Archery, of course, still doesn't work. You'd think that sometime, someone would get it working right.

Paladins have problems of their own. Their class abilities focus on hurting 'evil' opponents. So in order to work you need to target entities that have evil in their alignment rating. Almost none of the enemies in the game do. The default setting is true neutral and Obsidian by and large did not change it. While there are other classes and abilities that use alignment in their function it's the paladin whose existence is defined by it.

To add to this the resting system is far too convenient and shifts the balance of power firmly in favor of magic-users, specifically wizards.

Next the characters: there are too many. One for each base class. The idea was good, but there are just too many to care about. Obsidian tried to give one there own character arc, but the only one that finished was Kelgar. Most die half-way through, or start and die. Or never start. Qara was particularly painful. Lots of cut-scenes, dialog, and whispers and the arc just stops. No explanation, it just cuts out and never returns. Unless a particular character is story-locked in you'll probably find a working group early on and keep it that way. Sometimes you'll inherit characters for no particular reason. I still have no idea why Grobnar joined.

With the multitude of character comes the relationship mechanic (influence). They wanted to show off the system and making choices but the characters are engaged in this petty non-stop bickering. At no point in time will you feel like you're dealing with adults, but rather herding cats. Everyone will constantly fight with everyone else. Much of the time it makes no sense as to why they'd even oppose some actions or are willing to debate over the semantics of the situation.

Even worse, at the end of the game there will be a check on the relationship status of all the characters. If its below a certain point they turn against you and you have to kill them. Because there's so many of them you probably haven't taking a lot of them along and will likely have about half the team fail.

Which leads me to the ending.

Rocks fall everyone dies.

No. I'm not joking.

This is easily the worse ending made in the last decade. At least Drakengard was trying to flip everyone off. This was the best Obsidian could come up with.

The game shows promise but was released too soon. It's decent, but really nothing more.

Mask of the Betrayer

Mask is a game most often compared to Planescape:Torment. It isn't as good, but it not unfair to either game. Everything that went wrong in the original campaign gets fixed here, except archery and dueling. A much smaller cast of character that allows you to know and care about each one. The relationship mechanic is overhauled and the omnipresent bickering is toned down. The fighting now has some meaning to it and the characters now feel more mature.

Balance has been addressed. Resting continuously in the original meant that magic users had no problem spamming spells, stopping for a moment to replenish and continue on. Doing this is disastrous in Mask. A soul-eater mechanic was added, another reason this game is compared favorably to Torment, and resting to much will literally kill the main character.

On the soul-eating mechanic. It's very well done. Depending on the moral outlook of the character you chose to ply it evolves in different manners. Play a good character? You can put tormented undead to rest. Evil? You can eat everything on the screen. You can even devour your companions, take their essences and make items out of them. The game really goes over just destructive the curse is.

Which brings me to my next point, the evil play through. I've played the campaign as an evil character far more than not. Its not because the good half is bad, it because this is one of the few evil stories that make you few like an intelligent bastard. Normally 'evil' is either unpleasant or just stupid. You can do some truly horrible things in this game and feel sophisticated at the same time.

The bad: really only two points stood out at me. The beginning does not favor the 'epic' nature of the story, fighting leveled gnolls gets old fast. The other is finding out about the fates of the original cast. Most die no matter what you do. It doesn't harm Mask any, but its the last f-you from the first campaign and will make you wonder why it worth completing.

Mask of the Betrayer is easily one of the best modern RPGs. Anyone interested in an RPG I strongly recommend Mask.

Re: Video Game Reviews

Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:44 pm
by AngelOfSilence
Thanks for the review. It sounds really interesting and I will have to check it out. I do prefer MMORPG's however. I'm a 4 year WoW-Veteran and recently discovered Rift. I became instantly hooked and highly recommend it. It appears as though Trion has taken the best of all current MMORPG's and combined it into this game. :thumb:

Re: Video Game Reviews

Posted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 12:23 pm
by AngelOfSilence
I thought I was done with MMO's. Yet I stumbled upon this trailer and it instantly spiked my interest. It's a very new concept unheard of in the RPG MMO genre and it looks amazing. Does anyone play this yet? Is it worth me spending money on it? Here's a trailer and it's meant to be played loud :)

Re: Video Game Reviews

Posted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 4:37 am
by Markus1985
The Walking dead

I just finished The Walking dead, the praised game version to the equally praised tv and comic zombie series, and i felt the need to praise it some more.
It's brilliant, it's as simple as that and you should really give it a try, especially now that they'll release it as a "complete game"!

The game began as a series of 5 episodes, each having it's own plot and story. The common thing about them is the main character. We play as Lee, a recently convicted prisoner on the way to jail. However the zombie apocalypse gets in the way and Lee's journey begins as he stumbles across the young girl Clementine and decides to help her find her parents. Along the way Lee and Clem have to face a world inhabited by zombies, as well as other people, desperately trying to survive just like you.

The style and look of the game features a slightly cartoonish feel inspired by the original comic book, but don't be fooled by the cartoonish look.
You'll see a lot of blood and horrible actions as you walk your way through the countless dead.

The best thing about the game is in the way how it embraces the player, giving you the ability to interact with the world, which includes point & clicking but also to make choices that will change the outcome of the game! That's right, your choice matters and the game will act and remember your actions. You'll meet people, live with them, talk to them and be forced to make choices that will change how they'll feel about you. Is it worth telling the truth when the truth hurts them, or will your lie have consequences in a future event or episode even? Another great part is the story. Not only does it shift and turn accordingly with your actions, it will move you to tears doing so. The writing and character development is so beautifully done that no one you meet is evil in the true sense of the word. They have their own story and difficulties to deal with and you'll find yourself frightened, chocked, laughing, crying and most of all caring about them all as you walk on trying to survive with or against them. All you've got to do is to decide your path, and making choices being neither right or wrong.

The Walking dead is available at PC/PS3/XBOX as an episode series of 5 beautifully crafted episodes,
and will soon be available in a standard gamebox as well. Don't miss the chance to try it out. I'm sure you'll love it too! :thumb:

Re: Video Game Reviews

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:55 am
by Chris_Stork
As I finally have some time: a game review, Cultist Simulator

It's a game I've been playing for the last few months and enjoyed a lot. Me playing. In it you discover the reality of the world and all it's terrible secrets. Ultimately the goal is to become immortal or die trying. It will require you to send your cultists all over the world to find the tools and rituals to do so. You'll even go to Dracula's castle. But most likely you will fail and die. A lot.

A major point of the game is it's confusion. There is no tutorial. You have to figure out what and how you need to do things. All the favor text is highly important and reading and interpreting it is key to winning the game. Experimenting as to what card goes where and when and what effects they produce is the core game play loop. There have been endings found that had no official acknowledgment and were only attained because someone read the lore and put the pieces together. There is an ending no one had gotten, The Sun Before Me, as no one can figure out how to trigger it. It probably had to do with Bringing The Dawn; an ending that is probably incredibly bad.

The game itself has a great deal of repeatability. The cults you establish play differently, cultist do wholly seperate things and even how you chose to achieve your goals changes dramatically. The play through previous, where I danced until I turned into an insect, my cult broke no laws and didn't kill anyone the whole time. Current play through I've killed and eaten dozens of people, slaughtered every hunter sent after me, drove one insane and am now turning him into a brainwashed cultist. I probably will not kill and eat him. Probably. No promises.

For the bad, there is no tutorial and this can turn a lot of people off quickly. If you don't 'get' a particular part of the puzzle it can be a game stopper if you don't look the answer up. And since much of the game is a puzzle once solved it does cut a chunk of the game out. Most of the aspects have ascensions except edge, it will probably be added later after the next game in the setting is made.

Re: Video Game Reviews

Posted: Thu Feb 27, 2020 2:54 pm
by Chris_Stork
As Hiranomoe appears to be back: a recommendation and an un-rec.

I can no longer recommend Cultist Simulator, in the time I reviewed it and now it's come out about the creator's, Alexis Kennedy, behavior. ... f_abusive/

He is completely unapologetic about his antics and I cannot in good conscious recommend his works anymore.

More positively Monster Hunter: World

The game takes place in a fantasy world where the player character is tasked with determining why certain monsters make a particular journey called 'The Elder Crossing'. The basic game play loop is to hunt monsters, preferably capture them, gather crafting materials off them to make armor and weapons to take on the next set of giant sized creatures. Or more commonly look cool.

There's been a few times where I was setting out to hunt, realized I looked like a walking dumpster and started over.

The combat is Dark Souls like. Dodging, movement and learning when to attack. I-frames are not as common in Monster Hunter though. The atmosphere is much more positive and optimistic. The emphasis is on studying the monsters and not killing them. Mechanically you are rewarded for capturing alive the beasts and not killing them, though you still get rewards for it.

There is a DLC for the game, Iceborne but I haven't got it yet.

Two videos of me playing, no commentary