The Queue

By Shamus Posted Sunday Mar 29, 2009

Filed under: Notices 40 comments

To answer the question you didn’t ask about what I’m buying / playing / reviewing:

1) GTA IV vs. Saints Row 2 review-off will finish up this week.
2) Left 4 Dead. Playing now. (Well, not right now, since the [email protected]$%ing servers are hosed!) I’m not sure when the review series will start.
3) Kivi’s Underworld. I started playing this while waiting for my graphics card to arrive. I need to clock a few more hours on the game before I can say anything about it that would be worth reading.
4) Mount & Blade. Played some. Not enough to do the game justice, yet.
5) WiiFit. I have a lot to say about this game, but it never seems like the right time. Eventually.
6) Madword. It’s on the buy list.
7) The Path. This one was on my buy list. Then I saw that it required 2 GB of memory (?!?!) so I bumped it down the list. Then my computer blew up and the new one is more than up to the job. 2GB is still a ton of memory for a modest indie game to demand. It looks nice and all, but not “twice the memory of Left 4 Dead” nice. The Steam hardware survey a few months ago showed that 56% of Steam users have 2GB or more. So, even half the market of “hardcore” players won’t be able to run the game. Yeesh.
8 ) Team Fortress 2. I’ve been playing. Maybe I’ll do a quick commentary on it.

My “someday” list of titles, mostly to use as comic fodder:

Street Fighter IV, Gears of War 2, Resident Evil 5, The House of the Dead: Overkill, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, Afro Samurai.

On the “learn more about this list”:

Drakensang.

 


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40 thoughts on “The Queue

  1. Heather says:

    There is also the fact that Wifey bought the new Harvest Moon which will likely show up in a comic in order to make Wifey feel less guilty about spending money on said game…yes?

  2. Rutskarn says:

    It’ll be kinda surreal to see you reflect on Left 4 Dead after I’ve spent so much time in co-op with you.

    Hopefully, there won’t be a bullet point to the effect of, “Some players, I’ve noticed, are complete tossers that rack up friendly fire ‘incidents’, down pills like a beast, and need to re-evaluate the concept of ‘splash damage’.”

  3. vdgmprgrmr says:

    Shamus, I think you should spend a few hours with Spelunky. I’d really like to see what you think of it.

    It’s a fun game, after you get past the difficulty. You’ll find me getting really pissed somewhere in that thread because of that.

  4. Moridin says:

    2 GB isn’t very much: I have a pretty cheap, almost 2 years old laptop(well, I think it was cheap, I got it as a gift, but it has windows vista basic only) and it has 2 GB of memory. Yeah, 2 years isn’t very much, but it wouldn’t have been top-of-the-line 2 years ago, either.

  5. Alarion says:

    Just a quick mini-review about the title on your “learn more about this list”, Drakensang:

    I’m from Germany, where the game was released last year.
    The game is ok, but it’s basically your standard RPG – fetch quests, a lot of combat, some leveling (using a point based buy system, though). Nothing new, I fear. And the story is fairly generic. I played it mostly because I’ve played The Dark Eye (the role-play-system and world Drakensang is based on) before, and I wasn’t overwhelmed. The graphics are nice, though.
    All in all the game makes for a few enjoyable hours. Should be better then Neverwinter Nights 2, I think. ;-)

  6. Spluckor says:

    Since you’ve been playing left 4 dead and you’ve played some resident evil. You should probably check this video out and thus be scared for existence.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvR3r2yW6Fk&feature=player_embedded

    Everyone needs to grab their shotguns and be prepared!

  7. konst says:

    Hej,
    I’m from Germany too and just like Alarion up there I enjoyed the fairly generic Drakensang, story and gameplaywise. If I were you (assuming you didn’t played The Dark Eye that much in your earlier years…), I wouldn’t pay more than around 15-20 $ for the game.
    But then again, I played Drakensang right to the end with a total game time of 40 hours or so whereas I couldn’t bring to finish NWN2 or Witcher to this day. It has a really “old school” ring to it, which reminded me heavily of Baldur’s Gate 2, just with, you know, prettier graphics.

  8. Ham08 says:

    So many shooters on that list … not my cup of tea. The other games aren’t that interesting to me, either. Oh well.

    Here’s a list of a few games that I played recently, which I thought were excellent.

    Valkyria Chronicles
    Fantastic story and voice actors. Great characters. Great strategy game. Grade A title. Very much under appreciated. Hedy Burress from FFX lends her voice talent.

    King’s Bounty: The legend
    Story is lacking. Great strategic combat, however. Under Appreciated.

    Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4
    Very slow start but the game can last 100 hours or more. Great combat, fleshed out and memorable characters, good voice acting, great story. Under appreciated.

    Lost Odyssey
    Great story, writing, and most of the characters. Impressive Voice Acting. Excellent “old school” turn based combat. Under appreciated. Tara Strong from FFX lends her voice talent.

    I just noticed a pattern in my gaming style. All of the games I listed use turn-based combat. hmmm. Now that I think about it, the fact is merely coincidence. I loved Mass Effect, Tomb Raider Underworld, and Neverwinter Nights 2 and the Mask of the Betrayer expansion even though they all had glaring defects. On the other hand Storm of Zehir sucked because the story was pretty much non-existent and the characters were as shallow and empty as a plastic up with a hole in it. Maybe there is a pattern in my gaming preference, after all.

  9. guy says:

    What about twilight of the arnor?

  10. Danath says:

    I dont think Geralt looks that bad actually :/

    Ah well, personal perception (commenting on Twitter), don’t remember if you have a Wii, but I am kind of curious on what you’ll think of the next Dead Space game, its supposed to be an on rails shooter.

  11. Luke Maciak says:

    Shamus, I can confirm that The Path can be run somewhat reliably with 1GB of RAM. I played it on my museum quality machine and it wasn’t that bad. There was some sputtering while the game loaded for the first time, and the first 2-3 minutes of game play were a bit jerky but after that the thing seemed to settle itself and it was rather smooth.

    I actually think that the high requirements stem from the lack of experience from the developers. They just haven’t learned all the graphical optimization tricks that big game publishers have up their selves. They pretty much say that in the manual – if you read it, they have a line there that says the game was made by artists and enthusiasts rather than game industry pros.

    I guess the light based effects are ramping up the requirements so high. The character models themselves are rather simple so they can’t be the source of requirement bloat.

    The game is very pretty, but it got a bit boring after a while. I actually posted a review on my blog (uh, sorry for the shameless plug but it’s sort of on topic) this week. I’ll be interested to see your take on it.

  12. David V.S. says:

    Ah, Heather beat me to it…

    I was going to write that she has been Twittering about how she and the kids have been playing Harvest Moon. Maybe one or all of them could do a guest blog post? With their kind of pictures!

  13. pffh says:

    Here’s another game that you might want to keep an eye out for. It’s an RTS that’s been 10 years in the making and is not done. The special thing it does is that it lets you control time in singleplayer and in mulitplayer.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqerUDPguO0

    http://achrongame.com/

  14. Ham08 says:

    @pffh

    Very interesting. The graphics need an upgrade, but the game mechanics are quite original or should I say more indepth than other games that have featured time control. Very interesting, indeed.

  15. Maldeus says:

    That’s called “vaporware,” Pffh.

  16. Magnus says:

    @Konst:

    “It has a really “old school” ring to it, which reminded me heavily of Baldur's Gate 2, just with, you know, prettier graphics.”

    In what way does it look better than BG2? Because it’s in 3D?
    The character models may not be up to much in BG2, but the detailed backgrounds and spell effects more than make up for that IMO.

    As far as Drakensang goes, there was a little preview on Rock, Paper, Shotgun (http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/03/27/the-lower-classes-drakensang-impressions/) which made me feel like I should just wait for Dragon Age.

  17. antsheaven says:

    Umm… Since you love adventure games, Why not try Ceville?

    IGN Review

  18. gtb says:

    I liked M&B quite a bit, but got bored with it after a week or so. It reminds me of the old game Darklands, which was a largely menu-driven rpg. Both of them suffered for being “too” open and sandboxish, imo… after a while I just wanted to finish the thing, but the main plot was nowhere to be found.

    Also: whoever was comparing to BG2, I would give up 3d polygonal based graphics for pre-rendered sprites and painted backgrounds any day of the damn week. The era of BG2, planscape, and icewind dale won’t be seen again, sadly. Now we’re in the era of blinding HDR lighting, ridiculous bloom, and storylines that last 10 hours, max.

  19. SatansBestBuddy says:

    Quick question:
    If you are gonna comment on Left 4 Dead or Team Fortress 2, what would you talk about?

    I mean, Valve has even been kind enough to set up blogs for each game to discuss some of the more subtle stuff that makes it into either game, and both communities have enough people listing off the merits of each game so they have an up to date list of what Valve is gonna ruin if they put in a new gun for any given class.

    I just don’t really see how you can say anything about either game without it being something that a dozen and one other people have already talked about.

    Unless you know something I don’t… >.>

    Okay, that’s more likely then it should sound; I mean, what are you gonna talk about for these two muliplayer only games?

    Edit: Oh, and bump MadWorld up a couple of spots on the list; the more buzz it gets, the better, cause this game is getting criminally overshadowed, and it’s really quite good, I’d even go so far as to say it’s the best beat-em-up ever.

    1. Shamus says:

      SatansBestBuddy: That is true of every single game I review – lots of people have talked about it before me.

      Some people haven’t played the game. And even among those that have, not all of them read those blogs.

      And I like to think my writing has SOME entertainment value, even when I’m not imparting knowledge.

      Alan: Hey! I just saw Superman Returns, and I think-

      Bob: Don’t tell me what you thought of the movie. I’m sure someone else has already made your point ages ago.

      Sheesh.

  20. Yeah. A lot of the games Shamus tends to talk about have already been talked about before he got to it. But I’d still like to hear what he has to say.

    Am pretty sure the same goes for everybody else who lurks on his blog or his column.

  21. Veylon says:

    Funny. I’ve never considered myself hardcore and yet I have 3GB. I had 1, but Vista & co. were whining and it just happened to be on sale, so…

  22. Danath says:

    Yer, I find Shamus’s reviews or viewpoints interesting and entertaining, even if I don’t always agree with him, probably most vehemently with The Witcher.

    Which I still feel comepelled to say things about, but I can keep a handle on it! Must… resist… urge… to type… words.

  23. Miral says:

    1GB of RAM is basically the bare minimum you need to get XP off the ground and doing vaguely serious tasks (if you’re only using web/email, then 512MB is tolerable, provided you don’t have too many tabs open).

    But for gaming, 2GB has long been essential.

  24. Andrey says:

    I have a feeling Zeno Clash will be worth it when it’s out (April if I remember correctly):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3u0X2WozLA

  25. mark says:

    Street Fighter 4 is HARD. even on “easiest”, which is easier than both “easy” and “very easy”. You WILL need to learn combos and be able to do them quickly and skillfully, as well as block and counter, just to beat the singleplayer enough to unlock a few characters. Seth (the last boss) seems to cheat at times!

  26. Sydney says:

    “Madword”?

  27. illiterate says:

    when playing Harvest Moon I always get BNL’s “Straw Hat and Old Dirty Hank” stuck in my head.

  28. Sec says:

    Interestingly I did try Mount&Blade just yesterday. It looked kind of interesting, but after about three hours of play I was frustrated by the fighting system e.g. my inability to hit anyone reliably from horseback and getting clobbered in about 10 seconds in closer encounters. Furthermore I felt like it lacked direction i.e. I just didn’t know what to do.
    Perhaps I’ll give it another try in the future, but for now I’m done with it.

  29. Rutskarn says:

    illiterate:

    That would be the song about the farmer who obsesses over, and subsequently murders, a celebrity.

    I don’t really know what Harvest Moon is about, but apparently I need to try it.

  30. lplimac says:

    What, averaging 32 friendly fire incidents in L4D is considered excessive? Perish the though! I do wonder about the pill poppers though….
    Yea the servers got flakey this weekend, maybe they can’t handle the splash damage.
    I think my daughter has played every Harvest Moon game there is, maybe that says somthing about it. She enjoyed them though.

  31. krellen says:

    Hey Shamus, whatever happened with all those games people bought for you off your Amazon wishlist? I was looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Bloodlines.

  32. LintMan says:

    Ham08: I bought King’s Bounty: The Legend based on the ongoing praise of it over at RPS. I thought it was pretty good, but not quite as amazing as they made it out to be. The thing that surprised me is how shocking identical it is to the Heroes of Might and Magic games. (Apparently, the orignal HoMM was a clone of the original King’s Bounty.) The main differences being that KBTL has better questing, less “class” variety, some interesting ideas about items, and a single world map (segmented by loading screens), rather than mission-based individual maps.

    @Andrey: Zeno Clash seems to have some potential, particularly at the $15 Steam preorder price but I wish I knew more about the gameplay and if there’s a real story to it.

    Shamus – have you ever played any of the Total War games? I’ve only now gotten around to playing Rome:TW, and it’s been pretty addictive. Empire’s been sitting unplayed on my drive because of this.

  33. Groboclown says:

    Seeing Shamus on TF2 again would be nice. Maybe next time I can be able to use my mic and give you some pointers (I was that Fire Marshal Crazy). However, using a mic when the family’s asleep generally doesn’t turn out well.

  34. Groboclown says:

    @krellen: Bloodlines was great, but it takes a large investment in time to try out the game, due to the vast differences in gaming experience between the vampire types.

    And remember to make absolutely sure you patch the thing.

  35. krellen says:

    Eh, you only have to play it three times, to get the Malkavian, Nosferatu, and “everyone else” feel. Besides, three times lets you try out each of the main ending paths, too.

  36. Ham08 says:

    @LintMan

    I wasn’t that impressed with “King’s Bounty: The Legend” until I tried to do a “No Loss” campaign. That’s when the strategy elements become more in depth and fun to play, in my opinion. Trying to get through the game without losing any troops can be very frustrating but extremely satisfying if you can pull it off.

  37. Jeff says:

    Hey Shamus!
    I dunno if you’d read comments this far back in the archives, but Drakensang has a demo.
    I grabbed the full thing off Steam, and it’s pretty nice. The fact that it’s based off an established setting and system is nice, you can feel the history. The ruleset (TDE) is surprisingly complex, I have no idea how the Germans manage it in PnP. Crazy Germans. Works great in the game, though. The complexity is felt through the options available, so it’s pretty nice. What’s neat is that each type of weapon (swords, fencing, axes, etc.) have certain types of special attacks you can train in, so it’s not purely a damage consideration. I find that it’s certainly refreshing, coming from a D&D background where the difference between a longsword and an axe is, er, weight. Rapiers are light. Here though, an axe has access to a tree of powers (damage increasing and knock downs) while fencing weapons have access to a separate tree (bypass armor, deal Wounds) and swords have access to both trees, but lack the final ability in them. Decisions, decisions… (Although none of the NPC companions are stated up for 1h swords – weapon skill level maxes is base+lvl+3, and they all have a base of 0 in sword with a higher base in other weapons, so they’ll be better in the other weapon. Depending on your class, you’ll have a different base value for different weapons. Note also you get Plot/Quest armor/shield for the main character only that lets you cast spells in it, while you normally can’t cast while wearing metal. So playing a spell-using class makes the most use out of it.)
    Grabbing a save editor and upping the run speed is definitely recommended. Some areas are beautiful but large as all heck.
    It’s been killing my free time, certainly.

    PS: Any PC with Vista should have at least 2 gigs of RAM, btw.

  38. MikeSSJ says:

    Ah – Drakensang…

    Or rather: “The Dark Eye” – that surely brings back memories. It’s basically Germany’s answer to “Dungeons & Dragons”, and incredibly popular over here – there’s an incredible number of publications for it, and the world is so rich on details that you might think it actually exists.

    It’s also what got me interested in role-playing-games in the first place – without “Dark Eye”, I’d never have found D&D and Cthulhu.

    As far as Drakensang is concerned – can’t say too much about it since I’ve yet to play it. The ORIGINAL Dark Eye-trilogy, though, going by “Realms of Arkania” in the English version if I remember correctly, was amazing.

  39. Taellosse says:

    I dunno if the full version will hold up well, but you might want to consider adding Ninja Blade to the queue. I just downloaded and played the demo on XBL and it reminds me most strongly of a combination of the new Prince of Persia and Force Unleashed–it’s got more quicktime events than it needs, but the penalty for failure is fairly gentle–missing the QT events means you just have to try them again–it rewinds you to the beginning of that particular sequence of them, and unlike Prince of Persia, it’s generally fairly easy to get them right the second time, if not the first (for some reason the QT events in combat in PoP were really hard for me to get consistently). You can get yourself killed in the regular game, but it takes you back to a checkpoint that’s never very far away. It isn’t quite as forgiving as PoP in boss battles and such–if you die you do have to start the fight over. But at least with the one you are given in the demo, you can theoretically keep playing indefinitely while you figure out what you need to do, because there are these little bat-like enemies in the middle segment that you can kill to endlessly recharge your health.

    It was decently fun to play. I’m not going to rush out and buy the full version at once, but I might grab it from the used shelf or the bargain bin eventually.

    My only serious complaint about it is the same one I’ve got for a lot of X-Box 360 games–they assume everyone’s got a huge HD TV to play on, and make all the text (both dialogue and gameplay tips) too damn small to read on a regular TV set.

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