Play Together Stay Together
The original Portal was the sleeper hit, a diamond forged under the immense pressure of having Half Life 2 Episode 2 and Team Fortress 2 as box fellows. It delighted with it’s puzzles and fresh perspective on first person game play. When it came to the second game I watched my wife, Linda, play through it first. It seemed like a game that went on too long, that overstayed it’s welcome somewhat, and though I enjoyed the vocal performances of Ellen McLain, J. K. Simmons and of course Stephen Merchant, it all seemed from outside too much of a good thing. I did in fact play a fair bit of Protal 2, completing all of the co-op missions with Linda which in themselves were excellent, and perhaps worthy of the entry fee on their own. But even these slices of excellence couldn’t persuade me to devote my time to the single player story.
However come to 2014, and with the game very soon to be featured on Gameburst’s Replay show for January I figured it was well past time to try it for myself. And as it turns out I was rather wide of the mark. Though the game is quite long, especially in relation to the tight storytelling of the original, it in no way feels stretched. There was always something to be thinking about, some new puzzle to solve, as well as keeping up with the overarching narrative that there was no time to become tired or bored. The addition of new mechanics some way into the story freshened up the gameplay of the original, whilst still remaining true to the core principles of the puzzles and had you once again thinking outside of the box for the solution to progression.
Can I claim Portal 2 is greater than the original? That I am not clear on, but it is in no way less, and when it comes to games such a statement is rare indeed!
It was shortly after BioShock first launched that I picked up a copy on Steam. As a veteran of PC shooters I was looking forward to a game with a bit more depth than the average shooter of the time, and dare I say with an actual story behind it. Things started well, I found the whole world of Rapture captivating and the mix of gun play and the games ‘magic powers’ of plasmids a unique twist on the usual FPS style.
Then I came to the first Big Daddy encounter, and died. Restarting at the last vita chamber I retraced my steps and faced again he lumbering hulk of the Big Daddy. And died again.This process continued for a good four or five attempts until, more by luck than anything, I defeated him and was able to move on. At least until the next encounter, when the process started again. My enjoyment of the game quickly diluted, and before long I had shelved the game into the growing ranks of my Steam library.
Over the next few years I would occasionally try out the game again but always stumble on the same step. In the meantime my wife managed to play through BioShock, BioShock 2 & even BioShock Infinite, whilst I still could only wonder at the twists and turns of the story behind Ryan and Fontaine. Who were they, what drove them to turn the promise of Rapture into the war torn, plasmid obsessed freakshow come ghost town I had witnessed?
So we come to 2014, nearly seven years after the games initial release and I started again, on XBOX 360, this time with everything set to as easy as possible. Nothing was going to get in the way of the story this time! And what a joy it was, to not struggle with battling the big ones, but still to have the fun challenge of navigating the once wondrous Rapture. Poking my nose into every situation I could, listening in to voices of the past and photographing my way to improved skills.The big twist that lies within BioShock was somewhat known to me, being an avid listener of podcasts it was impossible to avoid after such a long period. But the knowing in no way lessened my enjoyment of living through the reveal, of understanding what had driven my character behind the scenes, and how complete the failure of Rapture was. I, like so many before, felt the ideal and then self-destruction of Rapture flow through me. Such promise of something greater brought down low by the same old problems of all civilizations. BioShock succeeds where all great games succeed for me. In telling it’s story not through cut scenes, but by environment. Through the dilapidation of what was once grand, through diaries of the inhabitants be they the great or the small, the process of true discovery. Of piecing together the tattered strands and reaching an understanding of what had happened on ones own terms. In these ways games will always out run movies and books, not by aping them.
Now I am freed to continue my adventures through both BioShock 2 and Infinite and their associated DLC packs. I feel as though a large weight has been lifted from my backlog of games, a behemoth of a failure in my gaming repertoire. Perhaps 2014 will turn out to be the year I actually break the back of my back catalogue!
Table Top Day 2013
We played a fair few games yesterday in honor of the first ever Table Top Day. Reminded us of how much we enjoy co-op games. Will have to seek out more. Also we’ve decided to dedicate one evening a week to playing, so we don’t become as rusty on the rules as we were before yesterday!
Overseeing the correction of a great wrong on Tuchanka.
I recently bought myself the new Criterion game Need For Speed: Most Wanted™. I opted for the PS3 version as I knew a few others getting it on there and the draw of Autolog is a strong one for me, always driving up gaming enjoyment and adding extended life to a title. It transpired however that at some point in the past I had linked my PS3 name to an old EA Origin account which was not the same one I had for the 360 and PC games. So I called up EA and eventually got my PS3 persona removed from this account and transferred to my more active account.
The joys woes of Autolog
Great I thought, now my Autolog will be picking up details from both my PS3 and 360 friends within the game. Alas no, after spending a few hours racing and earning a good hundred thousand SpeedPoints™ I opened the menu to see all those points disappear and my score reset to what it was before I started the session. More calls and chats with EA were unable to rectify this problem so I finally decided to have the old origin account deleted, this must surely remove all details of it from Autolog right and I can start over?
So after about seven days wait (I had requested the deletion over thanksgiving, which probably wasn’t smart of me for a US based company!) my old account was removed. I booted up the PS3 and deleted my saves and the game data file so everything was fresh. And indeed my score had reset to zero and all seemed well, I could earn points again and progress in the game. However, the game refused to connect to Autolog. I received an error 193 stating I had already connected Most Wanted to Autolog with another Origin account. Well yes I had, but now that account was gone and all I had was my active account, but no matter what I tried I couldn’t get past that error. Even creating another PS3 account, I have one for purchases in Danish Kroner, simply gave me the same error which seems very odd as that had never been added to an Origin account before. Something in Autlog is effectively banning my Origin account from the system!
And so I find my interest in the game, for which I paid full price on launch, sapped. Without the heart of Autolog behind it the game feels like an empty shell. I have no need to finish a race better than in first place, my time is unimportant. Billboards loose their appeal as only seeing my own name, without even my own avatar makes them dull and uninteresting. EA at one point even told me to contact PSN support, how exactly they would be able to change anything inside of Autolog I’m not sure.
My only solution seems to be to rebuy the game on 360, effectively rewarding EA with a double purchase because they lack the control of their own systems to rectify the issue.
It’s not often I get mad with game publishers compared to most, but this is one of those few times.
My gaming schedule of the past few months has not been of my own choosing. However far from this being due to some subversive mind control I have chosen to have my gaming dictated by the choices made of two of my favoured podcasts. Namely those being GameBurst and Cand & Rinse.
We all know the joy of being swept up in the latest releases, joining in the twitter gossip and forum posts that erupt whenever a new game comes along. However following such practices can become a very expensive pastime, requiring day one purchases of games.
How then to capture that sense of community and belonging without the cost of day one buys? Why by tracking the gaming choices of GameBust’s Replay show and Cane & Rinse’s weekly output. Both shows deal with games that are removed from the wave of the new by at least a few months, and sometimes years. Picking up a game you don’t own to ‘play along with’ becomes a far more economical choice, and yet you can still get that same sweep of excitement and belonging that chasing the new instils. Sharing thoughts with others that are playing the same games around the same time, twitter comments and forums posts are all there in check. Plus you may well find missed gems that you never knew were out there such as I have in Valkyria Chronicles.
For me this has become a very good way to keep involved without the incessant rush to keep up with the ever increasing barrage of new releases. Long may it continue!
I’ve long been an advocate for the world of Android. I’ve favoured it’s openness over the protected walled gardens of iOS since before I owned my first Android device. Then when I actually escaped from the world of mobile phones into smartphones with the Samsung Galaxy I never looked back. It may have, back then, lacked the elegance and super focused vision of Apples output, but for a PC loving geek just as myself the parallels to a user customisable experience where far closer to what I wanted. I did’t want to be told how my ‘personal assistant’ should look or operate, or what it could or couldn’t do.
However no matter how much I go on about Android, and how much of a powerhouse the current systems have become I’ve only ever experienced things from the user point of view. And this is something I plan to change in the coming years. I’ve already played with the Construct 2 game creator that can produce touch screen games as an output choice, and next I plan to actually rekindle my programming skills and have a look at coding for Android. How far I will get is anyone’s guess as it’s been many years since I programmed in any serious way, my career headed down a more graphical drag and drop road were my education of IFs and SubRoutines were of little use. I’ve felt more like a ‘Super User’ than an actual Information Technology associate for far too long, my BSc left rusting on the shelf.
But it’s a world I miss. There is a beauty in the code for me, a simple logical progression of data which my mind craves to control.
And so I plan to become one with the ‘droid. May my blood run green!
We’re had a fair few self hosted blogs over the past few years under various website names. This latest one was to be a proper joint venture into blogging about our gaming lives. However it never really got started. With tools like Twitter around there was little need to repeat things we updated on there on a blog in more, possibly tedious detail, so we ended up not posting much at all. From time to time I would think of something to talk about, but often the topics I considered fell outside of the co-op gaming remit of the site so I kept them in Google Docs and never published.
And now with some big changes approaching for us we think it’s time to pull the plug on this site.
But we’ll still be online all over the internet of course, via our Twitter accounts, and also I have a Tumblr where I can babble on about my thoughts even if they fall outside of the realms of gaming.
We’ll also look into starting something about our adventures over in Denmark at some point, but we’ll use a hosted solution at a more popular location rather than out here in the sticks of internet land
Thanks for listening those that did, and see you around the internet!
So now that this is Free to Play is anyone trying it?
I played the beta long ago, but it was very buggy at the time, often spawning as a ship for away missions which was funny the first time, then quickly a major annoyance so I left it behind and once it went subscription I found little draw to pay.
However after downloading the client the other night I’ve now put a couple of hours into commanding my own star ship and crew but it is much as I remember. The away missions are a little dull, and uninspired, but I do enjoy the slow methodical space combat, adjusting power setups to boost shields, angling the ship to protect weakened areas, making use of your command crew’s special abilities to turn the tide of battle. The sound of releasing a photon torpedo barrage is still cool.
Frankly if the game was all space combat I would much prefer it, maybe saving the on foot sections for just story progression and interaction minimising ground combat.
Still for free it’s worth a try if you ever liked playing the old Bridge Commander or perhaps even the original Star Trek pen and paper RPG. And if you happen across the U.S.S. Stexington on your explorations of strange new worlds and civilisations then be sure to hail me.