What I’m playing

I’ve actually been rather busy with school and a top secret project I am working on, but I’ve managed to get a bit of gaming in on the side. Most of it happens to be trials, but I’ve found some gems that I plan on purchasing in the next few days.

Firstly I finished Gothic 3. Thank God. I doubt I will ever play through that game again, let alone play the expansion I bought along with the game. Thankfully it only cost me $3. I don’t want anyone to take away from this that there was nothing redeeming about the game, though. If that were the case I wouldn’t have finished it. The game starts out fine, though a little glitchy (even with all official and community patches), but things go downhill the longer you play. Especially once you realize that the game is a very repetitive pattern. Find a town, get your rep up, liberate town, repeat. The only great thing I have to say about Gothic 3 was the landscape design. Taking the player from a lush, green environment to a sandy desert, then up to a snowy Norse-ish area, was a great idea. By the time I left each area I had ‘forgotten’ about the other areas and was excited to see the change in landscape.

Second, me and the wife picked up the demo for Lara Craft and the Guardian of the Light. It’s only one level but it was enough to hook us. We plan on buying it right away. There is a caveat to this though: If you don’t have someone else to play it with, it won’t be nearly as fun. Still, for $15.00 I imagine it could be worth it even solo. I’ll let you know how I feel after we play through the entire game.

Another trial I played, one that I had never heard of but was so interesting that both me and my wife wanted it, was NyxQuest. I bought it on steam. The closest game I can compare it to is a single player Trine. You are mostly platforming, and you are given the power to move objects around by grabbing them with the cursor. This leads to physics puzzles of moving blocks and columns, but also to fights. Imagine in Mario Bros. jumping over a put, having a fireball shoot out of it at you, catching it and throwing it at a goomba. Oh, and you can fly, so there’s that.


The final demo I got excited about I played just this afternoon. Comic Jumper on XBox Live Arcade.

I haven’t played the full game yet, but from what I’ve seen I will say that this may be the only true successor to the Earthworm Jim style of game. For those of you that don’t know Earthworm Jim, and Comic Jumper, are platformers that throw in gunplay and a heavy dose of comedy. If you haven’t tried the free demo, and you have an XBox, give it a shot. The gameplay can vary wildly within a level and I was enjoying every minute of it, especially the comedy.

The final game I want to mention is Left 4 Dead 2. I was one of those people who didn’t buy it when it came out. Not because I felt it was “wrong” in some way for Valve to put out another great game, but because I was still playing Left 4 Dead and I didn’t see any reason to upgrade.

Then the Steam sale happened yesterday. Left 4 Dead or Left 4 Dead 2 for only $5.99! How could I pass that up? That is roughly the same price as The Sacrifice DLC on the consoles (which is free on PC and Mac by the way). So for the “cost of the DLC” I got the sequel to go with it.

The first time I’ve noticed, after playing through one of the campaigns, is that I like the new cast much more than the old. That is probably partly due to the fact that they talk and interact more, but I think they really fleshed out the characters a lot more in this one.

The melee weapons are ok, but they aren’t anything game changing. It’s nice to have a melee weapon if you run out of ammo, but most of the time I find myself carrying a pistol and a shotgun, like usual. The most exciting thing for me is the level design. It’s mostly just “Get from here to there alive” like in the first one, but they’ve added some really cool events this time. My favorite is in the fourth part of the first campaign, where you are in a mall and you need to go get 13 cans of gasoline and bring them back to fill up a car gas tank, so you can escape. It’s a blast. We had two people roaming the mall gathering cans, and two standing by the car. When the first two found a can they would just throw it off the third story, we would grab it and fill up the tank while the other people acted as guards. For $6 I don’t see how anyone who enjoyed the first game could say no. Just don’t expect a “story mode” really. It’s mostly an online cooperative game with a thin story. The fun is not in the roughly 4 hours of campaigns there are, but in the cooperation and teamwork as you try to survive, honing your tactics each time you play.

Oh and don’t worry about being a solo gamer, I am for the most part, but the game will randomly assign you to a team if you let it and I’ve never been let down yet. I highly recommend the game to anyone who liked the first, or like zombie movies.

Piracy is Killing PC Gaming! Abandon Ship!


The biggest excuse most people and developers are using for abandoning the PC is piracy. They claim that piracy is destroying their profits and running entire companies out of business. I am here to tell you that this is 100% true.

Take Modern Warfare 2, one of the biggest releases in recent years. According to Kotaku Modern Warfare 2 sold 6 MILLION copies on the PS3 and Xbox 360 in it’s first month. The PC helped contribute to that, selling 170,000 copies in one month. Not surprising that it’s so low, as most people I knew with a PC AND a console inexplicably decided to go with the not as good console controls. The point however is that the PC version of Modern Warfare 2 sold 170,000 copies on the PC AFTER it announced that it would not have dedicated servers, and would cost more than the average $40 PC gamers are used to.

Now imagine just how many PC sales there would have been if it had been a PC exclusive. Not quite 6 million in it’s first month surely, but assuredly enough to stay in business. If RPG developers can make a polished 80+ hour game and make a profit with a quarter of those sales, then I think Infinity Ward would have been fine selling  170,000 copies of their five hour long single player game, and six or so maps.

But that was a year ago now, and of course piracy has gotten worse. It’s getting close to PC gaming just dying, and as proof I give you Blizzards Starcraft II. It only sold 1 million copies in its first day according to PCWorld. Let’s be clear, in one day Starcraft II sold 1 MILLION COPIES. That is at $60 a copy on the PC. Even if Starcraft II stopped selling ANY copies after one day they’ve probably made a nice profit. Of course they didn’t, and Blizzard believes it will reach 7 million by the end of their fiscal year, gaining $350 million in sales.

These two are gaming powerhouses of course and I’m sure people will point that out. They might even point out that smaller indie developers have a hard time selling enough copies to stay in business. Of course, that is how gaming has ALWAYS been. Sure, there are indie games out there that are worth $10 or $15, but it’s hard to track them down. It’s much easier on a console, such as Xbox Live Arcade. Of course, this is solved by making the PC MORE like a console, which is exactly what Steam does.

Steam makes it harder to pirate but not impossible by any means, it is a condensed store where indie developers can get exposure just like a console, and it allows games to add achievements and a community. Another thing that might help the PC industry is OnLive. OnLive seriously is a console with a PC interface when you think about it, and I think the industry might be better off forcing OnLive down our throats. It would kill the traditional view of PC gaming because OnLive would keep their hardware all the same until they did a mass upgrade, just like consoles. Is that what I want? I’m fine with it. I’ve played several hours of OnLive gaming and it’s been a very pleasant experience. It’s not like I’m rich so I can’t upgrade my graphics card to a $400 card every other month, so OnLive controlling the PC gaming market would make me pretty happy. Besides, we don’t need to concentrate on better graphics at this point, they are already pretty amazing. It might be time to work on selling PC gamers “Logic Cards” and program game AI to be smarter than a brain injured drunken bear.

In short: Make good games and people will buy them. Will far more people pirate them? Yes. Would those people have bought the game anyway? No. You can’t say “We have an 80% piracy rate” and not be misleading. Out of those 80%, perhaps only 2% would have actually bought the game in the first place. In truth the industry has no idea how much piracy is truly effecting sales, and they need to stop throwing around numbers that even they don’t understand.

EVE Online: Tyrannis. Damn You Steam!


Steam is having a crazy sale today only. Sure they’ve been having a nice summer sale, but this goes far and beyound what I’ve seen anywhere else. For instance I just purchased EVE Online: Tyrannis edition for $1.99. That includes the full game, expansion and a full month of game time.

I’ve been thinking about picking up EVE and really trying to push into it for a while. To do so I’ll need to join a Corporation (most likely the newb one, University (I think it’s called)), and put in some social networking time in order to really get into what makes EVE Online so enjoyable.

I just wanted to let everyone know about this amazing sale. They have other games for sale like this, but if you’ve ever wanted to play EVE Online now is the time to try it. I’ll be sure to post my opinions on it as they come in. I’m a little busy this weekend, but I plan to at least make my character and get him started on some training…once I figure out what I want to do with him.

Amazing Deals!



This isn’t going to be a long post. I just got the weekly impulse buys newsletter from Stardock and they’ve got Trine for $4.99 US. Seriously, if you have EVER enjoyed a platform game pick this up. For this price? It’s a must. Me and the wife played it together (support up to three people on ONE COMPUTER! We used keyboard and mouse/XBox controller to play). I can’t say enough about this game, go get it.


From Steam we’ve got the Rockstar Pack. That’s:

Bully: Scholarship Edition

Grand Theft Auto 1, 2, 3, Vice City, San Andreas, 4, Episodes from Liberty City


Max Payne 1, 2

Midnight Club 2

Wild Metal

All that for the special price of 42.49! You pay less than the price of a new console game! If I didn’t own all of those except Manhunt and Episodes from Liberty City I’d buy it right now.

Spring Sale from Direct2Drive

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II for 14.95 (I love this game, and the expansion)

Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI for 9.95

Saboteur for 14.95

Everquest II: Sentinel’s Fate for 19.95!!! It’s $40 usually! For barely 5 dollars above the monthly sub you can get Everquest II and ALL of it’s expansion packs! Go get this if you have ever wanted to play Everquest II!

There are MANY more deals out there, but these caught my eye as being extremely good.

Steam: A Monopoly

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According to The Escapist and several other game journalist sites Steam is on the verge of a monopoly in the digital distribution of games. Consumers don’t want this, developers don’t want this, publishers don’t want this. In fact Valve is the only company who would enjoy it if they became the Walmart of digital game distribution, for a while at least.

The Walmart analogy doesn’t end there though. In the article they mention that Walmart has determined the size of PC game boxes. They refuse to stock them if they aren’t the dimensions that they have demanded, and this causes the gaming industry to meet their demands or lose billions.

Do you want to know another reason for which Steam is like Walmart? It’s because it’s the best out there for what it is. I can get almost anything at Walmart as long as I’m not worried about quality. Honestly I’m not a Q-Tip aficionado and I don’t care if there is a real quality $100 for 10 version, I just want some damn Q-Tips.

With Steam I can get any computer game I want, regardless of whether local stores have it “in stock” or not. I can get it at any time of the day or night, just like Walmart. Of course the same holds true for any digital distribution site, so why will I stick with Steam instead of trying out Direct2Drive or Impulse? The answer is simplicity and extras. With Steam I don’t have to load up my browser, go to their site, log in, look up what I want (if they haven’t decided not to carry it on principle *cough*Modern Warfare 2 *cough*) and then get it. I just click the little Steam icon and I am in a program where I can easily buy something OR launch my games.

The biggest thing for me though? Connecting with my friends and family. If I buy a game through steam I can IM people while in game, I can know if my friends are online, what they are playing and if they just bought a game I really like and if I should invite them to play it with me. And sure, Steam can load non-Steam games and allow some of that, but why would I not buy through Steam if their service is the best around? That’d be like refusing to buy a Mercedes because you can get a Honda Civic with an MP3 player, but the Mercedes costs the exact same in this case.

If Impulse and Direct2Drive want to compete then they need to offer me the same enjoyment I get from Steam, complete with achievements, social networking, video game news, an easy to navigate store, and then add in something I’m not expecting but really want because at this point they are so far behind they need to not only match Steam, but exceed it in order to draw me away.

I hope Steam does NOT get a monopoly. I hope this because competition breeds improvement and I want the best gaming experience possible.
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