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Game Roundup

Since I left off partway through a planned entry last night, I might as well finish off now, and talk about the various games I've been playing. After all, I've been doing work, so I need to have some playtime as well.

Let's see. On the PS2 upstairs, I've been playing some Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. The game came out some months back, but I hadn't had a chance to pick it up and play it before. I'm giving it a try now, since I've heard good things about it from multiple places. It's... definitely interesting. I'm not 100% sure about the "gimmick" of the game - namely that it's got a steep difficulty level, and limited saving, so you pretty much need to restart the game a few times at least (or at the very least restart at a previous save point), keeping your equipped and stored weapons and armor, your skills that you've managed to find, and a special "party experience" that is basically a pool that you can divvy up amongst your party members as you wish. (Or of course you can save it for the next time you figure you'll need to restart, to get a jumpstart on leveling - or any mix in between.) It's a pretty balanced and interesting way that they're pulling this off, but it's still requiring various restarts, which is annoying. Apparently as you get farther in the game, more scenes, doors, etc. are unlocked on subsequent playthroughs, but I haven't seen much of that thus far. The combat system and so forth are pretty neat, which helps, and I'm generally liking the game, although the verdict is still out depending on how many more times I have to restart, how much new I get out of it, etc.

Of course, much of my gaming time at the moment is devoted to the PC, since I just got my new baby just over a week ago. *beams at new PC* - *ahem* I digress. Anyhow, there are three games that I've been trying out on it thus far. The first of these is Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood. This one kinda bogged down for me a bit because the second chapter was really difficult, and it looks like there's more micromanagement in some ways than I'd like. Still, it's got a pretty interesting idea and storyline, and I had some fun with it, though I quickly got distracted away from it. ;) I would like to go back to it and play more at some point, and since the game was only about 20 bucks, I'd say it's worth the money for anyone interested. To give a bit more concrete info about the title, you play Robin Hood, and have to go on different missions. After the second chapter (which I barely managed to clear, finally) you start collecting some of your Merry Men, and each character has different skills, sometimes needs to collect different items to use these skills, and so on. For the most part though you have to try to figure out the best way to complete your mission, avoid the bad guys, knock them out instead of killing them if possible (being merciful tends to help you recruit more Merry Men, as does keeping your own men alive), use stealth or skills when possible to get around in less obvious ways, etc. In between missions (again, after the second section) you have your headquarters in Sherwood Forest where you can assign your spare men to various workshops to create some of the items needed for important skills and things like that, which they work on while a selected party is on the next mission. All in all it's fun enough, especially for the price, but couldn't quite pull me in enough to keep me from being distracted by other Good Stuff.

For the past few days, I've been going back and forth between two games mostly. The first of these is The Sims, or more specifically the newest expansion pack, Superstar. Now first off, the main warning I would give is to NOT buy this game a) unless you actually have a place that allows returns after the game's been opened if it doesn't work, b) unless you're willing to put in a lot of effort if necessary to try to fix problems, or c) until Maxis actually decides to (after taking their sweet time about it) come out with a damn patch to fix the various fatal problems that have been cropping up more and more in their rushed-out-the-door releases. As for myself, I had the problem of the game randomly crashing to the desktop once in mid-play (which I still haven't figured out, but which hasn't been a problem since), and the more major problem that I was having for a while of the game opening a window to run, but then going back to the desktop each time I tried to switch to that process, so that I couldn't play it at all. After trying to wade through the massive forums on the Sims official site trying to fix the many many problems of the various customers, I eventually realized that the problems were apparently being caused by my Earthlink taskbar being open at the same time. Not *connected* or anything, mind you, or not running any actual programs for email or anything, but just open and sitting at the top of my desktop. If I have it open, the game won't play. If I close it up completely, I can play the game fine. Lovely. Of course, not everyone's apparently so lucky, since there are other problems and many many attempts at work-arounds that each apparently work for various people. It probably doesn't help that the game doesn't even officially support Windows ME (yeah, it's a bug-ridden piece of crap, but it's also a major operating system that many people have, and not everyone can afford to upgrade at the drop of a hat). I think it also doesn't officially support some video card or processor or some such - I forget what, offhand, since it doesn't actually affect me (luckily).

Now, once you get past the problems (if you're lucky enough to be able to do so), the game still has some of the flaws of The Sims (most especially the fact that the time still moves way too damn quick), but is still fun and addictive nonetheless. This upgrade actually adds a bit more than I'd expected, since you can now make your Sims into celebrities, which is basically a new alternative to the normal job/career system. It also adds a whole slew of new interactions, a new phone system (again), and yet another new area to explore along the lines of Downtown, Vacation Island, and Old Town. Of course, it's getting harder and harder to explore the various facets added by the many expansion packs, partly because of the very limited amount of things you can do in one do (see the aforementioned time complaint), but all in all the game/expansion itself makes me happy, and keeps me playing for a while. Of course, the problem is getting to the point of actually playing it.

The final game is one that I've had for some time actually, but couldn't play as much as I'd like due to a slower PC that made it really hard to play the game and enjoy it as much as it deserves. The game is Morrowind. Mmm. Morrowind. On my previous computer, which wasn't all that bad for its time, trying to play it ended up in slow choppy movements, slow-opening menus, jerky cameras, and more and more slowdown as I played each session. So while the meat of the game was wonderful, and I played through quite a bit of the game despite the problems on its strengths alone, finally the slowness just got to me and I couldn't stand it any more. So now with my new PC I finally bit the bullet and installed Morrowind once again, crossing my fingers to hope that on this sweet sweet gaming machine things would be a lot better - and lo and behold, the game runs smooth and silk, with no slowdown, nothing. Sweeeeet. So I patched it, played through a bit, then on my next trip out (which was yesterday), picked up the two expansion packs that have come out thus far, Tribunal and Bloodmoon. And patched those as well. So I'm good to go, and having tons of fun with the immense amount of exploration, the seemingly endless quests, the tons of things to collect and see and do. Mmmm.

Well, looks like that pretty much covers my playtime lately, so now I should get off here and get back to gaming. ;) Since I've already pretty much worn myself out with yardwork again today. Ugh.

Comments

silmaril
Aug. 14th, 2003 03:10 pm (UTC)
Mmmmm, gaming. Thanks for the reviews---I've got several games in queue now, but Robin Hood does sound interesting. I don't think my computer could do Morrowind, sadly. (Or, considering how immersive and vast that game is known to be, maybe not sadly.)