This Week, I Have Been Mostly Playing…

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This week I have been mostly playing…

A mix of things – a massive game of Sins of a Solar Empire (still incomplete), replaying Warhammer: Mark of Chaos’ Good campaign, Calamity Annie, Jill Off, the first episode of American McGee’s Grimm, Guitar Hero III and many hours of Team Fortress 2. Some of these games are worth explaining more about…(now with pictures!).

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My glorious fleet!

First off, Sins of a Solar Empire I’ve had for a while. It drew me into a game, although admittedly I wasn’t prepared for simply how long things take to do in it. Playing a full 2v2v2v2v2 map with 5 solar systems, over 120 planets and so forth really really takes ages. I’ve now officially declared my team the winner, since I’m not spending several hours conquering the other half of the galaxy with my AI teammate, since originally half the players were put in two separate solar systems, and the other 3 lay empty – not quite what I expected. Still, it was entertaining – you can see my fleet at some later stage of the game, and I got many achivements such as actually researching everything which takes hours. Still highly recommended on smaller maps at least, but I think waiting for the expansion with a singleplayer campaign will be more to my taste.

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A MoK skirmish battle. Massive charge slugfest basically.

Warhammer: Mark of Chaos is a bit predictable. Entirely scripted AI, limited tactics (compared to, say, Medieval 2: Total War) and a rather dull plot doesn’t serve up much, but I like playing Warhammer, and the campaign doesn’t take very long to play (at least, no constant reloading). Still has some fun moments – castle attack and defense, and some of the set battles are much more fun then the rest of the game – and it was never outright boring or a chore, so enjoyable for me. I’ll recommend Medieval 2: Total War before it though. I’ll probably give a miss to the expansion until it goes down in price, although it is said to be harder – something that the campaigns are most not. No modding tools means nothing can be altered either, since that’d be ultimately cool, but cest la vie!

Calamity Annie I had a go at – it wiped me out on the end levels, sadly, and I didn’t feel like playing it again. Takes twitch gameplay to another level, and it’s got some neat artwork. Might be worth a few minutes of time, it at least didn’t take me long to get near the end. Also from auntie pixelante was Mighty Jill Off, a platformer I could cope with (simple controls which take a little skill to master), with really well thought out levels and some neat artwork and start/end cutscene stuff. Must be the only game I’ve played a character who was a dyke gimp to a queen who loves doing what she’s told. It builds up well, took me less then an hour but I can’t remember exactly how long, but deaths sometimes were frequent – there are some devilish bits in there. Real sense of accomplishment playing it! What more could I ask for? πŸ™‚

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American McGee’s Grimm – A Boy Learns What Fear Is, I played since it was available for free (seeing a trend here?). It’s quite a simple platformer, or groundformer – you do a lot of buttstomping and wandering around, but there are not many difficulties. Definitely would be good for children, the happy fun story is turned by the titular Grimm into his own horrible version – although really isn’t too bad content-wise, it is somewhat surprising some of the changes, and the story works in the “Dark Theatre” ending you get. The artwork is cool – made it really fun turning things nasty. I don’t think it’s a series for me though, because while the others might be interesting to play for the story, the gameplay is too shallow and game really too short, so I might grab it when it is cheaper, and more to the point when all of them are released, so I can do them in one big playthrough, rather then one a week. Worth trying out the free episode though, gives you at the very least a pretty neat story with good visuals and some funny too πŸ™‚

Guitar Hero III is old news, but I got brought it last weekend for my Wii. Finished the standard list on Easy…now working my way through Medium. Need to get another guitar for the co-op mode, which I enjoyed playing at the last LSUCS LAN. I’ve always enjoyed rhythm games (Go Elite Beat Agents!), this is no exception, although I don’t have much skill in it I find but I am happy to stick to lower difficulties πŸ™‚

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Om nom nom nom

Team Fortress 2 came out with the Heavy update this week. Certainly enjoyable patch content – the new heavy weapons are nice – the gun is to me underpowered in the slowdown department (it’s hard to notice it working) and the boxing gloves are good, but the Sandvich really turns the class into a more acceptable loner position. Heals yourself for 120 health (out of your 300 possible) while standing still munching for 4 seconds – can you imagine a “normal” multiplayer game having such a treat? πŸ˜€

The maps and modes added are variable. Arena mode…not for me. It involves sitting out if you lose (as a spectator), randomised teams, heaven knows what goes on with scoring, and it’s the horrors of sudden death again. I wasn’t bad at it – but with no major objective and short bouts of battle (and waiting around if you die…) has turned me off it. The new Alpine setting is really pleasant and fresh however, and I hope to see more maps using it.

The community maps, however, are a treat. CP_Steel is amazing – I played the 4th beta of the map for as long as a sever had it up a month or so ago. It’s a great CP map, and totally flummoxes some people which is good (I think it takes less time to learn then Hydro’s horrible presentation however, there are some good usability additions to the map, such as dynamic blackboards – and an instruction video too!). A lot more strategy is required for the defenders to cover two active points, more then two entrances, and lots of things going on at once. PL_Badwater_Basin is nice too – a single, wider-area payload map. Possibly a tad easy to defend the end point, as always, but otherwise quite nice and affords a lot of different strategy and routes over Goldrush. Kudos to Valve for including Steel! I hope to see many servers host it in their rotation.

Well, that’s that. I’m away this weekend, hope to fix my gallery then. Sigh. – Gallery fixed. New pictures added πŸ™‚