Posts Tagged ‘xbox 360’

… Come Back, Mako – All Is Forgiven!

 

Project Overlord

 

Hammerhead(3)

 

Oh, Bioware – there are no words…

I had forgotten just how awful this was. Not the thing in and of itself – but that damned M44-Hammerhead. The flying Mako. Making the Mako look like it’s the best thing ever.  The controls are not terrible… Oh, no. That would be far too generous to call it that.

The hovercraft-tank hybrid thing is an absolute nightmare to control – I would have the Mako any day. This thing appears in two Mass Effect 2 DLCs – Firewalker and Overlord. Whoever designed it should never admit Hammerheadit for fear of being hit by thrown Xbox controllers – as people rage-chuck them about the world from attempting to play this game.

It was actually slightly (about 0.1%) easier to use with an Xbox 360 controller. Having built myself my shiny self-build rig, I got the PC edition of the Mass Effect Trilogy. Then – oh, so stupidly – spent even more money (although not that much, at least) on adding the Overlord DLC. I like the second half of it – and I like saving the character of David. But in the beginning it’s the biggest nightmare of all time in gameplay.

It’s one thing to make it hard. It’s entirely another to make it notoriously frustrating and impossible simply because the control-handing is impossible.

Now I’m trying to play it with Keyboard & Mouse and it’s turning out to be excessively difficult to manage simply because the handling is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever tried to handle in a game.

 

Hammerhead_Vulcan.png

 

* NOTE TO SELF: *

  • The key command for “Exit Hammerhead” is not necessarily (F) – it is, in fact, programmed to use whatever was key binding was programmed in Mass Effect to return to the Normandy from the Mako, after exploring a planet.
  • The “Exit Hammerhead” command is the *same*  as the “Leave World” key command in Mass Effect [1]  > 

 

Bindings=( Name="Vehicle_Quit", Command="LeaveWorld" )

 

Exiting_Hammerhead_Code

 

My game is downloaded from EA Origins: The Bindings and other configurations are found in the Coalesced file.

The File is found in:

E:\Games\Mass Effect 2\BioGame\Config\PC\Cooked

~ (on Steam this file-path would be different) ~ 

 

* NOTE TO SELF [2]: *

When “Mining” for resources (the yellow circles, see pic), an important point is to hold down Ctrl whilst “Mining [Right Mouse] (mine is set to RM).

This is mainly for obtaining the Data Hound Achievement in it, as an extra mini-mission. Being able to “Mine” effectively is fairly important – and there’s also a couple of rather tight spots you can mine general mineral  resources from, too.

This stops the Hammerhead from flying off in whatever direction it pleases…

 

 Hammerhead_Mining.png

 

This could have gone a lot better… it’s almost like it’s trying (a little too hard…) to emulate its own themes Trying something new that goes horribly wrong; Pushing tech too far and failing miserably; Thinking it’s a good idea (in theory)… till you actually do it and it fails spectacularly; Emitting outrage from everyone when they’ve found out what you’ve done…

It’s quite a shame that the first half is right out of Satan’s Gaming Handbook – the rest of it is quite entertaining and very interesting… and dark. And creepy. And slightly terrifying at times. It’s not so hard to imagine such things actually happening. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities… unless, of course, it’s happened already… Nothing new under the sun and all that… Scary.

Just like their Hammerhead. Only that’s much, much scarier…

 

 

DA Inquisition (Cover Art)It’s release day in the UK… I got my parcels at 8.15am from a very nice posting-type person. I spent a couple of minutes burrowing my way through the packaging, uploaded the DLC codes that I had (pre-order + Prima Guide ones), opened up the box, stuck the first disc in, and… then waited about 4 years for it to auto-install itself into the Xbox (360 edition). I highly suggest that (if you haven’t done it before) you take this time to go to Dragon Age Keep and set up your past deeds to Thedas. – Unfortunately, this doesn’t directly import your past two games; instead it accesses your achievements via Origins and saves the decisions that are based on them. You must then must run through the “Keep”  to check it has all the relevant details correct, then you can import them into Inquisition.

Once I was in (having spent a long time in the “Keep” sorting the relevant details out), I spent over an hour – each – creating two characters (yes, two… the first one really bugged me… I don’t know why…) but other than that I’ve done very little within the game so far. However what I have done it’s pretty cool and fun!

It plays just like a DA game on the Xbox should – yet this game is DA by way of Mass Effect,  The Witcher 2, Skyrim, Oblivion, and (a little bit of) Fable 3 (whilst on a random detour). It’s got the open worlds, lots of snow and mountains, keeps to hold, decisions to make, chests to loot, and a castle to make pretty (very Fable 3, those last two).

The hard decisions are quite Mass Effect, too, as is having everyone stuffed into one place to talk to them (Skyhold is clearly their Medieval Normandy) and taking all your stuff you found to your resident researcher (who unfortunately is not your favourite ME mad scientist, Mordin…) to have it turned into other, more useful, stuff. You have rips in the Fade to close (straight out of The Elder Scrolls’ Oblivion), and only your Inquisitor can fix them. It’s even got “Witcher” (Inquisitor?) sense for finding loot and plants (press down LS) – but you then must listen out for the change in tone when it finds something – which is far too easy to miss. Not only does it play a lot like – and rather looks like – The Witcher 2 (only rather easier), the Inventory seems to have been inspired by it, too.

Oh, and Inquisitor jumps just like Skyrim’s Dragonborn… It’s really rather fun to find all those little inspiration Easter eggs in there!

 

Good Game, Good Game…

It is a good game. Actually, it’s a pretty awesome game. It’s Dragon Age caked with all my other favourite games – what’s not to like?

Gameplay is fluid and easy to control. The UI has changed a little, the controls have changed a little (only slightly, to make them better), and the overhead battlefield view is a great extra addition. It all adds to what makes this a better game – it’s more strategic again, and less cross your fingers and hope for the best. It’s still really hard, but because you have a lot more control over your companions, it’s much more fun and interesting. To make it all the more complicated, the main fighting takes place whilst you (as the Inquistor/Herald of Andraste, and whatever else you get called along the way) are trying to close annoyingly shiny green portals that keeps spitting out more evil things at you. Learning to balance the two is difficult – it’s not really something you’ve been asked to do in Dragon Age before. Or anything else I’ve played for that matter…

They also throw you a huge Pride Demon to conquer as your first boss fight right off the bat. Something rather mean – and very DA. All I can say is for my attempts, they didn’t exactly go very well!

One key thing they’ve added is the Resuscitation element from Mass Effect 3. If you can get to a fallen comrade, you can bring them back into the fight by holding down A (on the Xbox). It might be another thing stolen from another game (at least they own it), but it’s a damn good addition and a great idea from whoever thought to bring it over.

DA Inquisition (Helmet)

One rather annoying thing, though, is that there’s no graduated or immediate recovery after fighting – you can only regain health by taking potions. On the other hand, you can craft them as much as you like (if you have the supplies for it), and you can get extra supplies from Supply Caches or use Reset at camps. Another annoying thing is that is doesn’t pause with the Xbox button – usually the Xbox button on the controller will auto-pause whatever is going on, but not in this one. The only thing that pauses the game is by opening the Menu… so you will miss those cut scenes if that’s the time doggy decides he just has to go piddles (yes, that is precisely what happened…).

It’s also has some other rather annoying issues… like slowing right down, glitching music (or disappearing altogether), graphics popping, entire dialogues disappearing from cut scenes as characters just stand frozen, dialogue glitching – out of sync or jumping within cut scenes and conversations… Having to restart it after freezing isn’t so much fun either. Teething issues are not so much fun with new games – it’s one of the reasons I generally only buy older ones. They’ve already got the 13,000 patches required ready to upload when you buy it (cheaper).

The game also has loading screens that make Skyrim’s seem like a nanosecond in length… I’m pretty sure even the Titanic movie is shorter than them. It’s a good time to catch up on your gaming magazine reading, I suppose.

I imagine a lot of these issues are because it’s pushing on the upper ends of the Xbox 360’s capabilities (since it’s also a next-gen release – I sure hope so…). It doesn’t excuse them, but at least that makes it understandable.

The graphics are beautiful, colours are gorgeous, and everything looks amazing. And whilst this is all true, I imagine most people will probably point out is that although it might look better than DA2, it doesn’t look quite as good as it maybe should, given it’s also appearing on a couple of next-gen consoles either. That it only looks new from a Dragon Age perspective…. as I said, it looks a lot like Witcher 2, which is quite a few years old now. But all this really doesn’t matter whatsoever. It doesn’t take anything away – I still think it looks beautiful, and it’s utterly awesome.

At the end of the day, it’s still Dragon Age. And I love Dragon Age. It’s really returned to the feel of Origins, and kept all the good stuff from both games. I’m not too far into it, but already I’m in love with it. It’s got its shortcomings (in terms of teething problems as mentioned earlier), but there is nothing about this game that could not let me love it.

 

Third Time’s The Charm…?

DA Inquisition (cast)They didn’t just mix Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age 2  to make this (although they did do that). They mixed in everything. And it works (well, technically it quite literally doesn’t sometimes, but still…). The story is good, characters are strong and diverse, and the world is back to being huge  – all of Thedas this time, as opposed to just Ferelden in Origins, and only Kirkwall in DA2.

The style of the game follows more along the lines of Origins; it’s more complex and open than DA2, and with more interesting conversations. The dialogue wheel is obviously back, and, basically, all the same rules apply as before. The dialogue glitches do put a damper on it though… You can now also move the camera about a bit within conversations (they’re not all locked cut-scenes), and characters are interesting and entertaining. Like in the Mass Effect games you can walk past and overhear conversations between NPCs… and for some reason there are a lot of people searching the ground for something or other… very strange.

The new companions for this one are so far well-written and diverse. But the best thing is seeing old friends again. It’s great when you go up that hill and then… “Varric!!” (yes, I yelled… he is my favourite!). I haven’t seen yet if there are others. But you do get to hear a little of what happened to those from DA2 from Varric, which is good.

And therein lies the main point of this game – it’s the sequel to DA2. The consequences of what Anders did. You’ve been brought in to clean up his mess… by shutting down green shiny things that spit out demons at you. It’s really no surprise as to why the “DA” part of the title was eventually refereed to as “Dammit Anders!”

Of all the differences between the two games, biggest thing I miss in this one is the mirror or Eluvian in the Black Emporium, where you can change the way your character looks. It was really useful to be able to go back in there and change hair, or makeup. Or the entire face.

I also would then not have had to make a whole new character all over again.

 #gamebreaker !!

 

DA Inquisition (Sword)

The Elder Scrolls Online is now out, and after a break away from Tamriel, it made me interested in returning to Skyrim once again to remember what all the Elder Scrolls fuss was all about.

 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was the game for me back on 11 November 2011… That date of 11.11.11. was one of the most exciting ones in my gaming life (later to be joined by learning that Mass Effect 3 was to be released around the time of my birthday a year later). I preordered it well in advance (paying full price despite no preorder extras, and even added the enormous guide book, all whilst jumping up and down with glee), waited on tenterhooks, and then – to my joy – actually received it a day early through the post. I then proceeded to downloaded all the DLCs as they came out — Dawnguard, Hearthfire, Dragonborn — and spent a very long time single-mindedly playing the game to death with a dedication that my employers could only dream of getting from me!

Two characters and an astounding grand total of well over 500 hours of gameplay later (I shit you not, I checked — 350+ hours for first and 150+ for second… and that doesn’t include the times I’ve had to reload after accidentally killing my horse/dog/follower. I knew I had no life!), I’m still playing it and enjoying it. I have recently picked it up once again, after a few months of respite — having playing the pants off a whole load of other games to take a break from it (specifically replying the entire Mass Effect Trilogy once again). After all this time, and playing a whole load of other games, I am still exceptionally impressed with TESV: Skyrim. I have the Xbox 360 version and it’s easily the most impressive game I have for my console. It is beautiful, vast, impressive, never-ending, sprawling — and there is never less than at least 20 quests waiting in my list (not including the miscellanies ones!). One thing the land of Skyrim is not, is boring — there is always something to do, and the one possible negativity is that there is too much to do!

 

 

Back In The Saddle… Literally!

Once I started to get the hang of the rather complicated controller mapping and menus again, I was quite away again enjoying the Nordic sandbox Bethesta created. I was fighting in the Dawnguard with my vampire follower, riding my horse, and trying to build one of my new houses as part of the Hearthfire DLC, whilst planning on getting myself a new little family to play with and greet me when I came home from those long days of wandering Skyrim and slaying dragons with my horse, dog, and chosen follower.

Everything else was exactly how I remembered it. The detail, colour, use of light indoors and outdoors, the change in weather… it is all still beautiful and outstanding — even now, having played it so much, it still does not cease to amaze me, and I still love just sitting and watching it. The music is also something that still holds me captive: Each bard’s song is simple and medieval, relevant for the premise of the game. Each music piece played in-game is beautiful enough that I can sit and listen to it as it plays, and I still love the grand theme tune, Dovahkiin.

The NPCs are also just as odd as I recalled, and they are still as irritating and random as I remembered them to be (having beaten the ass off an Elder Dragon that had come to invade Falkreath, the guards had the gall to walk past with a snide remark of, “Guard might get nervous, a woman approaches with her weapon drawn…” — I mean come on… seriously? I just killed a damned dragon that was about to eat your head, it would be questionable if I didn’t have it drawn!), and the dragons are just as inconvenient when they come swooping in without warning, particularly when after you’ve eaten their soul no one bothers to clean up the bones left behind… However, all this is also part of its charm. When everything looks this gorgeous, detailed and vivid, it really doesn’t matter about the idiosyncrasies of the simple NPCs that lived their simple lives in their simple towns. The game is still so fantastically impressive and all and any such things can easily be entirely forgiven, simply seen just as part of the world created. It’s just the ways of the Nordic life of Skyrim. I guess all the way up here in the northern cold region of Tamriel, they’re just not that smart…

 

 

Life as Dovahkiin

Skyrim Travel Poster

The life of a Dragonborn is as easy or hard as you want it to be. You can do as little or as much as you want, and you can be anything you want to be. It’s pretty awesome to have such a free reign on your in-game life and I thoroughly enjoy making what I want of it. What you can most definitely count on, though, is that there is always plenty to do and enough ways to go about doing it. It reminds me so completely of the days I used to get all my dolls and play make-believe with them all over my bedroom, garden, lounge, or wherever else I wanted to go, where only my imagination was the limit. In Skyrim, I get to do it on a big TV with gorgeous graphics and an entire country to do it in, which is very cool and very fun.

Playing this game just never gets old. One of the biggest reasons for this is that it just never stays the same. Even just having to reload an area can bring a completely different scenario with it. These random events were something I had somehow forgotten all about, and I was taken by surprise a few times by it at the start. Somehow, it had completely slipped my mind that most encounters and the like were not scripted or set in stone, but instead ran by some kind of algorithms in the system. Reloading a save would make certain people or creatures vanish, and others seemingly attack from nowhere — something I had to get used to all over again, which once again upped my esteem for this game. You cannot have the same game twice with Skyrim — or even the same re-load. The exception is the the few scripted encounters where you’ll find certain people, creatures, or items in certain places when following certain quests. But even then, when following the same quests, you do not get the same experience twice.

This is what makes Skyrim so repayable, even nearly two years after first buying it. The wonder it creates is still there, even though I’ve played it to death. The sandbox element of it means it can just never gets repetitive. My Skyrim guide looks more like a well-worn textbook for a Master’s Degree than a simple game guide, with its notes stuffed inside, post-its scattered over pages and bookmarking important areas (this is because I have no patience for looking things up via the index!). I still know and remember where everywhere and everything is, know how to navigate the towns, cities, and Reaches, I love my horse, love my dog, look after my family and housecarls, … So I’ve already probably played it far too much! Of course, this is testament to the great game that Bethesta has made. It never gets old, and the familiarity makes it feel more and more like home, that I live there, that I get to make up whatever stories I want. It’s Minecraft, but without the blocks. There is a skeleton story of a kind in the “main mission”, but it’s thin and you really can even make of that what you will. That is my favourite thing about it — it’s my own game and no one at Bethesta has even tried to tell me how to play. I’m not restricted by anything, and that is what makes this game has to be my ultimate favourite (so far, at least.. There’s a whole new generation to go now!).

 

 

The Game of a Generation

If you have never played Skyrim… Well, I have sympathy for you to have missed this gem! It’s an inspired game that is a never-ending sandbox with never-ending quests, random creatures and meetings, and has stats on everything, including Bunnies Slaughtered (…just who is that evil?!… poor bunnies…) — and where you can have played over 350 hours of it and still be nowhere near completing it.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has to be the most amazing game created for the last generation. It’s vision was inspired, the quality is incredible, and it is a world that is truly immense. It is quite literally the never-ending story that just keeps on going. Just like I will keep going. Because it is simply just too awesome a game to stop playing!

 

One Just Does Not Stop Playing Skyrim

 

 

Girls love headshots too… It’s not just boys. And by “headshots” I don’t mean those Photoshopped glammed-up pictures you get just before you go to your singing/acting/dancing/prancing/showing off auditions. I mean the ones where you put a bullet into an AI enemy brain and they stay down, a puff of mist emitting from their brains, just before getting Xbox Achievement for making 100 of them. They’re way more fun!

For some reason – known to stereotype alone – it’s assumed girls don’t like games. So I rather like the fact that I was actually introduced to gaming by two girls. Ironically I wasn’t even vaguely interested in games when I was young. It was my little sister who ended up with the latest PlayStation incarnation in her bedroom and all the games, and I played hers – but nothing caught my attention. Then came a rather awesome game called Eternal Darkness, on the Nintendo GameCube, shown to me by my girlfriend. She wanted to prove games weren’t all about bouncing Marios – and I realised games could be more than bits of floating pixel platforms for gorillas, hedgehogs and plumbers. I was introduced to a different style of game, where there was a real story, realistic characters, and looked pretty close to a movie you played the leading role in. I never really looked back.

Now, a proud owner of an original Xbox 360 for oh-so-many years, I have the magazines, visit the game-sites, and follow them on Twitter. I’m a Gold Member of Xbox Live and particularly attached to my Game store Reward card. I love single-player RPGs, preferring fantasy and open world games.  Skyrim, Oblivion, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, The Witcher – even the Albion-based Fable series – are now all huge favourites of mine. And yet, I’m a girl.

 

I suppose one reason it’s assumed boys prefer games is because they’re easier to please with more “typical” genres – guns and football pretty much hit all their spots head-on. I prefer good stories, good relationships/interaction, and very good reasons for those huge battle sequences; basically a more complicated story than Point ‘n’ Shoot. This story-based idea used to be more popular with the Point-and-Click PC games of old, though only two have ever really stood out even there (The Longest Journey and Dreamfall). Thankfully it’s now getting more common in console games. Perhaps it’s not that we’re adverse to shooting something’s head off (actually, I find it very cathartic to ram a Katana into somebody’s face when I’m having a bad day!) – it’s just that we like to be given a good reason to. Otherwise, why go to all that bother?

Improved quality in storytelling is surely a must to get us more interested. Girls seem to prefer becoming engrossed in a great story they can take the lead in – we are typically lovers of strong, interesting story-arcs. Too many games are based on testosterone-fuelled shoot-to-kill stats and hypersexuality of girls, which don’t tend to impress us – after all, we’re women not teenage boys. We need more than guns and boobs to keep us interested. Hiring more female writers would be a good answer – and it was inspiring to find the lead writer for the Tomb Raider reboot, giving Lara Croft a new voice, was Rhianna Pratchet. An accomplished games writer with a great writing heritage, she’s recreated Lara as a realistic young woman we could identify with. I somehow doubt a man could’ve managed it quite the same.

I expect one thing that is helping girls become more interested in games is character customisation, with male/female protagonist choices – because what woman prefers a man buffed up on steroids as their virtual avatar? Regardless of engrossing story, this makes a huge difference in how I connect with characters and immerse myself in games, especially RPGs. I enjoy identifying with the character and making them a part of myself… And I can hardly do that with Mr Buff-Muscles running about on-screen, grunting and yelling everywhere, can I?

 

Thankfully, with Social Networking, we now know there are lots of other girl-gamers out there. There’s apparently less than ever directly involved with making games and writing about them, though. But those that do fly the flag high and do a great job. With trail-blazing women such as Kiki Wolfkill – executive Producer of Halo 4 (http://www.bigissue.com/features/interviews/1680/kiki-wolfkill-gaming-viable-career-path-women) – and Jade Raymond – Head of Ubisoft Toronto and producer of the Assassin’s Creed franchise (http://www.computerandvideogames.com/343886/interviews/ubisofts-first-lady-jade-raymond-on-building-ubisoft-toronto/#) – standing in the limelight as beacons of “girl-power” in game production, there is great hope that the girl-pool in games is going to get bigger.

They’re inspirational and show there’s no real room for sexism in gaming – hopefully encouraging the next generation of female under-grads to consider choosing Programming and Gaming as their major choice when applying to UCAS.

 

 

Strong Female Characters in Games - No Naked Required

Strong Female Characters in Games – No Naked Required