Brutal Legend

Steampowered Sunday #8

This week I decided to mix things up a bit.  Instead of me picking the title I let my readers pick.  I learned a few things about this, firstly google docs apparently is not a great option since one of my more “inquisitive” friends decided to see if he could skew the results by voting multiple times.  Sure enough you could, but it was pretty easy to see his results and weed them out.  Additionally it seems like giving you guys ten titles to pick from was a bit too many.  For most of the week there was a four way tie, with two results each for Brutal Legend, FTL, Assassins Creed II, and Alan Wake.  On Saturday there was a deciding vote cast for Brutal Legend so that is precisely what I played this morning.  I am thinking this week we will have a runoff between the other three titles.

Let’s Rock!

BrutalLegend 2014-03-09 09-02-16-96 First off a little background about this title.  I grew up at exactly the right time, during the height of the hair metal era.  While I did not actually have cable television until college, I jealously watched Headbangers Ball anytime I was over at a friends house.  I had my faded jean jacket with a Metallica back patch, walkman in the inside pocket and headphones permanently cranked full volume.  That’s right… I was a Metal kid… and while Metal turned into Alternative turned into Industrial…  I still have a penchant for it.  So much like Blood Dragon was going to be a nostalgic ride, I knew this game would as well.  Thing is… I didn’t buy this title on purpose.  I ended up getting it as part of a humble indie bundle.

BrutalLegend 2014-03-09 09-00-51-74 From the moment I saw this game I was intrigued, but one thing scared me away from it.  Everything is voiced by Jack Black.  Over the years I have come to have a love/hate relationship with him in anything.  Essentially he seems to be capable of playing two characters… the loveable dumbass, and the egotistical schmuck.  I have had more than my fair share of the later, and seeing him involved with a project is cringe worthy these days.  So I didn’t know which version of him we would get.  I love the music of Tenacious D, but over the years the stage act has shifted from the loveable dumbass character to more and more of the egotistical ass.  So my fear going into this game is that we would get that character.

Loveable Dumbass Rules

BrutalLegend 2014-03-09 09-04-42-38 While the character is not necessarily a loveable dumbass, we get the Jack Black treatment of such… which makes the game enjoyable.  You play as Eddie Riggs, which is essentially a Jedi Master Roadie.  He is set up as the best roadie in the business, can fix anything or build anything…  but is a man out of time.  The game starts with him working for a emo numetal type band, that clearly does not appreciate his aesthetic.  Through a chain of events, he steps in to prevent the death of one of the band members and ends up falling to his own demise.  Where his blood summons the elder fire god Ormagöden through a sigil in the form of his belt buckle.

BrutalLegend 2014-03-09 09-06-36-59 Chaos ensues, and the fire beast destroys the crappy band to the cheers of the crowd, as your character is transported to another realm.  Everything about this game is completely over the top.  You find yourself awake on a sacrificial altar with a group of skeletal monk things praying before you.  Your character mistakenly thinks that it is you they are worshiping, but instead they mean to sacrifice you to Ormagöden.  Sitting there on the ground just happens to be some fabled weapon, and the games tutorial directs you to pick it up and use it.  The game controls itself feel a lot like Darkstalkers.  I had intended to play the game with an XBox 360 controller, but for whatever reason it got confused.  Where it had only some of the keys active through the controller and the majority not.

BrutalLegend 2014-03-09 09-08-12-26 Thankfully however the game does control very well with WASD and uses the standard E to interact with things.  I am always glad to see when some thought is put into the PC controls rather than having a half assed port like Force Unleashed… that you can’t even really use your mouse to interact with things.  The game is a bit of a smorgasboard of things.  Firstly the game is very much a 3D beatemup with your left mouse button being your axe attacks, and your right mouse button being your guitar chord based attacks.  This gameplay style feels really fluid and like I said earlier just like a Darkstalkers game.  The only thing that is frustratingly missing is jump.  I am not sure why but this is a big deal to me.  I am one of those people that jumps around aimlessly while playing games.  So instead of the standard space to jump, we get a space too defend mechanic and no jump ability that I have seen so far… or at least none that you are introduced to during the tutorial.

Burn Rubber Baby

BrutalLegend 2014-03-09 09-19-49-06 In order to make your big escape from the temple of Ormagöden Eddie uses his Jedi Masster Roadie abilities to create a really slick deuce coupe out of spare parts laying around the temple.  So this introduces a yet another playstyle into the game.  Controlling a vehicle feels like most GTA style games where you W accelerates S brakes and we have a decent mechanic for turning on a dime by hitting space to apply the handbrake.  You get to test all of these out in a really odd vehicular battle sequence against a very spikey worm creature thing.  Did I mention this game is completely over the top?  Everything and everyone is pretty much coated in skulls and spikey bits… as god intended them to be.  In the same way Blood Dragon was a love song for 80s action movies… this game is a love letter to the Heavy Metal era.

BrutalLegend 2014-03-09 09-26-40-27 After the big car battle you have to make your escape over a crumbling bridge by avoiding holes in the road and boosting over gaps by hitting Shift to apply the nitro.  Overall this is a pretty simple minigame, and nothing really cringe inducing.  Overall the game I pretty damned forgiving when it comes to the minigames I have encountered.  While normally I hate when a game breaks out of its normal control scheme and forces you into something different for an “event”, but so far this game feels pretty natural about it.  Primarily I have problems with the games that do so, but make it so QTE or twitchy that if you screw up once you are dead.  The obstacles you have to avoid on the bridge you can pretty much see for the entirety of the screen giving you plenty of time to react and avoid them.  It messages the fact that when you see a big guy fixing to stomp the bridge… you need to avoid that area because it is about to fall.

Real Metal vs Glam Metal

BrutalLegend 2014-03-09 09-30-26-82 You go to Blade Henge and meet Lars the leader of the fledgeling resistance, his sister Lita… and you find out the girl that helped you escape from the temple is Ophelia.  The games central conflict revolves around “Real” metal struggling against the “Glam” metal sellouts.  So while the protagonists are dark and brooding and full of spikey bits, the evildoers are wearing pink and zebra print… with teased out hair and a very obvious sellout attitude.  You can tell exactly where Double Fine stands on the age old Poison vs Metallica metal debate.  Considering I tended to shy away from the glam rock, and favor the more hardcore stuff… I definitely feel them here.  It is all the more enjoyable for me to beat up the pretty boy rockers in the game because of it.

BrutalLegend 2014-03-09 10-01-06-44 As roadie extraordinaire your job is to help them build an army, using your mystical roadie powers.  The game employs another mini-game to accomplish this.  At various times you can play a power chord that will have some effect.  The one you end up doing the most often will summon the Deuce to your location.  There is another one that will allow you to pick up new abilities at these shrines of sorts scattered throughout the world.  I am guessing that over time this has a Legend of Zelda type trope allowing you to access new areas.  As I wandered around the country side I noticed that most of the shrines were chained up, and when I tried to access them there was some flair dialog about needing to find a way to free them.

BrutalLegend 2014-03-09 09-43-30-80 The first mission to help build an army is to gather up a bunch of brutes that have been trapped in the mine and forced to bang their heads against the wall to break rock.  The result is they have turned into this muscle bound troglodytes.  As you roam around the level you can play a power chord to rally them to your side.  Upon hearing the music they swear allegiance to the heavy metal and will do your bidding.  This introduces yet another game play style…  I told you it was a smorgasbord.  Much of the game seems to rely on small group based squad tactics.  You can deliver some simple commands like stay and defend, follow and attack your target.  The system lacks any real fine control, so essentially you point your mindless mob towards a target and then go do something else.

The Kill Master

BrutalLegend 2014-03-09 10-12-20-31 At this point I have only made it about an hour and a half into the game, but I am enjoying it so far.  I was pleased to see a cameo from Lemmy Kilmister as the “Kill Master”, a mystical healer type character.  I have a feeling that the majority of the gameplay is going to revolve around doing missions to free followers and then using those followers to band together in an army against the evil Doviculus voiced by Tim Curry, and the Glam Metal sellout General Lionwhyte voiced by Rob Halford.  While at face value this seems like pretty standard fare, what makes the game worth playing is the fantastic dialog that only a Double Fine game can deliver.  While the game sounds pretty Frankenstein in its stitching of a bunch of different genres together.  However for some reason it works really well.

I’ve heard that there is a grand switcheroo that comes towards the end of the game, but I have yet to make it there.  Where essentially they throw in yet another genre, making you do battle with your army RTS style.  If it is as well carried out as the other bits and pieces I think I will be okay with this, but I can see how confused it might feel.  I know I was pissed as hell when I got to the “force you to split everyone up into small groups” army battle phase of Dragon Age Origins.  But that mostly was because I am notorious for playing that type of game with only my chosen group of four characters, and pretty much ignoring everyone else in my party.  In this case I hope I will just be given units and I won’t have had to do much to power them up outside of the normal game play flow.

Overall Enjoyable

BrutalLegend 2014-03-09 09-54-33-48 While I don’t generally give these games a rating system, I have to say I greatly enjoyed this one.  I can see myself cracking it open again and finishing the game.  That is about as high of praise as I can really give.  I played an hour and a half and I want to play some more.  The movies and cut scenes feel like they are part of the game, and not something tacked on for filler.  The story crafting is superb and I am definitely a fan of the subject material.  Nothing feels cooler than running around kicking stuffs ass while Def Leppard blares in the background.  I have loved the games of Tim Schafer since Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle and Full Throttle… and this definitely feels like a worthy member of that family, if not a slightly oddly designed one.  It was not exactly what I was expecting, but the sum of the pieces add up to a really fun game.

Next Steampowered Sunday

BrutalLegend 2014-03-09 09-07-07-49 There are many times when it feels like the readers of this blog are all somehow already connected to me, either through being friends on twitter or somehow having played in one of the many guilds I have been at the helm of.  This week however surprised me in that the winner of the Bioshock give away was someone completely unknown to me.  I delivered the copy this morning through steam, and having learned a few things from last weeks I have made some tweaks to the lineup for this coming weeks contest.  First up I will be using Survey Monkey, to try and cut down on the skewing of the poll by well meaning friends.  Next up we will be having a sudden death round among the three titles that came close to winning this time:  FTL, Assassins Creed II, and Alan Wake.  Finally I happen to have a spare copy of Brutal Legend, so we will be giving that away during the voting.  As always you can vote without entering for the copy of the game.  To make the link easier to see… I am introducing a “Big Damned Button” below.  I made it the most obnoxious 80s induced color palette I could think of just to make it stand out even more.

The Wi-Fi Miracle

Aging with Technology

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It has been a really weird morning so far, and as a result I am getting an extremely late start getting a blog out today.  For starters I was up pretty late last night watching episodes of Lost Girl on Netflix.  Neither of us really seemed to want to get out of bed this morning, seeing as for both of us it was a holiday.  The original plan was to go up to my mother-in-laws and set up a printer.  However there were several other issues that needed to be dealt with at all.  She is in her 70s, and the fact that she is on Facebook is pretty damned impressive to me.  However technology as a whole is this black box for her, and she seems to be unable to decouple the existence of the internet with the existence of her laptop.

For weeks she has complained that her laptop isn’t working, and in truth it works completely fine.  What is at fault however is her internet connection.  Quite simply put she doesn’t have one.  That is not to say she does not sometimes have one, but internet is not a thing she pays for.  Instead years ago I installed a wifi router at my nieces house that lives adjacent to her.  The intent was to provide me internet access when I was up there during a family illness so I could continue to work while still being available.  By some freak if science the wifi signal was usable over at my wife’s mothers house. 

The Wi-Fi Miracle

Using Google maps to measure the approximate distance it is well over 200 ft, and passes through lots of walls between the access point at and the location where my mother-in-law has her desk.  It was absolutely amazing that it ever worked, let alone has continued to work until recently with a over seven year old wireless router.  But she cannot grasp or does not seem to believe that it is simply an issue of not enough signal strength.  At this point it could be so many different things, her new laptop could simply have a weaker wireless card, since good wi-fi coverage is just an assumed fact these days.  It could be that she piled more stuff in the back bedrooms, which the signal has to pass through.  Or it could simply be that the wireless access point is slowly dying.

Whatever the case she feels there is a  grand conspiracy to deny her access to Facebook.  In truth I was really not ready to deal with this issue today as I have never attempted to set up a wireless repeater, let alone tried to make two different access points work together.  We have a graveyard of old wireless routers laying around the house as we seem to burn through them every couple of years.  The last thing I wanted to do was try and install a semi-functional technology in the home of someone completely technologically confused…  and end up having to do house calls two hours away.  So we rescheduled for next weekend, and this week I need to research some options and get something ordered from Amazon.

Gauntlet Revival

Hammerwatch 2014-01-19 16-29-59-38 I am not really sure if yesterdays Steampowered Sunday post adequately covered how much I really enjoyed playing Hammerwatch.  By the time I stopped to write my blog post, I had played roughly 66 minutes.  By the end of the day I had logged well over 4 hours.  Shortly after posting my blog entry, I hooked up with 3 other friends and we discovered a bunch of new things about the game.  Firstly when doing multi-player you have the ability to add crutches.  Since we were still obviously learning the game, we added two really important ones.  Firstly we gave ourselves unlimited lives, which allowed us to brute force a few horrible areas of the game by simply respawning back into combat and bashing our faces against a wall until we got through it.  Additionally we added hit point regeneration… which was extremely slow… but just enough to help take the edge off things a bit.

With these added bonuses… we were able to push through to the third set of stages and down two world bosses.  I have to say the game just keeps getting more enjoyable and trickier.  It seems like each of the character classes has some really strong abilities.  The paladin that I was playing eventually got the ability to proc a stun on mobs, as well as the ability to deflect missile attacks from an ever widening frontal arc.  The warlock began getting some life drain abilities which greatly improved its sustain.  While I didn’t pay that close of attention to the Ranger or Wizard they both also seemed to get more and more lethal over time.  I have to say sale or no, this game is very much worth picking up.  The above image if from a really cool Gauntlet bonus level that we unlocked.  So much nostalgia. so many feels.

Hammerwatch

Steampowered Sunday #2

Steampowered Sunday episode was relatively well received, and that was a pleasant surprise.  So much so that it seems that my friends have conspired to grief me.  When I set forth on this journey I probably had a years worth of games to play before I needed any assistance.  However over the course of the week a good friend of mine, Ashgar, decided that I needed to play a game of his choosing.  So we made plans yesterday to meet up this morning and play some Hammerwatch multiplayer.  I have to say it was a really enjoyable hour, before I needed to leave due to some bad news.

Red Warrior Needs Food Badly

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For starters, Hammerwatch is the fruition of the yet another Steam Greenlight process.  You can buy it without discount for $10 from steam, and at that price I consider it well worth it.  However thanks to the insanity that is the steam sale, you can generally get it at a significant discount.  It is in every way the spiritual successor to the original arcade Gauntlet by Atari.  For those with no cultural reference to this king of all quarter munchers…  it is basically a four player game that focuses on each player providing a different class.  From what I have seen the single player game is just as enjoyable, but the real fun comes from multiple friends working together. 

Classes you have to choose from:

Paladin2 The Paladin

This guy is your basic melee class.  Special attack includes a really handy charge and if you time it just right you can deflect projectiles with the basic attack.  Upgrades later increase the frontal cone of the attack, which makes kiting mobs and killing them from the protection of a corner doable.

Ranger The Ranger

This is your standard archer ranged attack class.  We noticed that there was a significant damage drop off the further the arrows travelled.  Seemed to have the longest range of all of the classes but dealt the least damage.  Special attack is a bomb which comes in super handy when clearing large numbers of mobs.

The_Wizard The Wizard

This one threw me for a loop a bit.  I expected a long ranged fireball when in reality it only actually travels about 5 character lengths.  The special however is a really powerful dragons breath like attack that does massive damage to anything in a short arc in front of the wizard.

Warlock The Warlock

The Warlock is the oddest class.  It has the highest starting health, and really fast mana regen.  However it’s base attack is a relatively weak dagger melee attack.  The special however is a really powerful bolt attack with a range similar to that of the ranger but it seems to consume about half of the starting mana pool.  This is going to lead to some really different game play as I figure there will be a lot of the time you hang back waiting on your mana to recharge.

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Anyone who has ever played the original Gauntlet will recognize the game play immediately.  This is one of those games that I highly suggest you hook up a controller for.  Even moreso I found it far easier to control using a dpad as opposed to an analog stick.  By default player one will be set up to use keyboard controls, so make sure you switch things up before getting into game if you choose to play it with a controller.  The first thing to know about Hammerwatch is that the levels are custom designed and this is not a Rogue-like.  That means traversing each level happens in a non-linear fashion.  There were several times we had to go back to a lower level because a switch triggered something we could do down there. 

We started playing the game on normal mode, but to be honest we did not even last the first level.  On normal, heal options are very few and far between, so this lead myself and Ashgar to be moving around perpetually looking for the next apple or orange.  The positive however is that unlike its predecessor you cannot shoot the food.  You can however accidentally charge through two food items screwing your friend out of getting any.  Yeah I did this a few times when there were apples placed between dart traps.  Of note… the Paladin charge is totally a great way to cheese these.  Everyone else has to time the traps… something I learned when I was playing the ranger later on.

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Unlike Gauntlet, gold is not simply a scoring mechanism.  As you go throughout the level destroying barrels in the proud Diablo tradition, the coins you pick up get added to the purse of both players… which is a really nice mechanic.  I know I started out trying to ration my pickups to make sure I was not absolutely looting Ash into the poor house.  Additionally there are big coins that you can pick up called Vendor Coins.  If you look up in the lower right hand corner of the above screen you will see at this point we had picked up 4 of them, and each one gives you a permanent .5% discount.  The gold you collect is spent on vendors, and the above vendor is one that changes what your weapons do.  For example Sword Damage 1 increased the total amount of damage I dealt, and Sword Arc 1 as I mentioned above changed my sword swing from a 90* arc to a 120* arc making it far more useful.

During the course of the hour we spent playing we found weapon vendors, combo vendors and stat pool vendors.  The combo vendors introduced a new mechanic that if you kill 10 creatures within 1 second of each other you triggered your combo effect.  For example I ended up buying an ability that procced a heal whenever this happened.  Ash on the other hand decided to spend his gold on increasing the amount of time between kills, allowing him to get combos easier. 

Obviously both are useful and needed abilities, but unfortunately at the time we were near the vendor we only had enough money to purchase one.  Combo Nova was one I think we were both eyeing, as it did a huge AOE damage nova whenever you managed to get a combo.  The stat pool vendors were pretty self explanatory, allowing you to either increase your total health pool or your total mana pool.  I ended up purchasing a health pool bump which nearly doubled my total available health.  We were not nearly as good as we could have been about breaking barrels and picking up gold, so I imagine we could have likely afforded a lot more if we were more carefully clearing the rooms.

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My biggest suggestion while playing this game, is to trust your Gauntlet inspired instincts.  There was a mechanic that we just instinctively dealt with that did turn out to be exactly what we thought it was.  The game has mob spawners, that work just like they did in Gauntlet.  If you look above you can notice there are two brown spots on the ground.  I wish I had taken a picture of these before we destroyed them, but these were previously Beetle spawners.  Just like in Gauntlet they appear in a room full of the same kind of mob, and slowly over time spit out more of them.  They seem to be only triggered when you actually aggro the mobs surrounding them. 

The strategy that seemed to work is that Ashgar would gather up the attention of the mobs that were already spawned kiting them around… and I would make a beeline directly for the spawners taking them out.  One of the worst rooms we encountered had 5 worm spawners in them, and Ash through some streak of insanity managed to solo the encounter because I went off in a different direction.  That is another thing of note… this game is not limited to having both characters on screen at the same time, so as a result you can wander off in completely different directions and get lost.  I am thankful that we were both on mumble at the time as we went through the levels.  Ash and I play together enough, and have a similar enough viewpoint that our crude directions were usually successful in allowing us to meet back up.

Hammerwatch 2014-01-19 11-29-07-44

As you wander through the levels there will be various objectives.  If you look at the top of the screen you can see four indicators with numbers beside them.  These are in order…  Bronze Key, Silver Key, Gold Key and Extra Lives.  The keys work exactly like you would expect them to work based on the Gauntlet lineage.  You pick up a key and then walk into a wall of the same color.  There are many objectives that are hidden behind walls.  One sequence involved us stepping on four different runes, which then spawned a vendor coin and a treasure chest when the sequence finished.  The above image shows a sequence of four switches that apparently need to be activated to unlock the boss of the level.  We however did not survive long enough to actually see what a boss looks like.

The bane of our existence seemed to be spike traps…which I did not unfortunately get a screenshot for.  There were multiple varieties of these, some were switch puzzles that involved opening up a clear path through the spikes.  Other instances were simply timed puzzles that involved moving through them in a pattern as they cycled on and off.  In all cases however they were essentially a oneshot kill.  Figuring these out pretty much accounted for most of our lost lives.  I figure going in again we would fare far better.  The nastiest surprise is while moving across a large field of synchronized spike traps… that mobs would in fact follow you across.

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Like I said we started the game on Normal and found it to be extremely challenging.  Briefly before I needed to log for a bit we tried playing different classes on Easy mode.  Primarily the only real difference that I could tell is that they were a lot more healing options.  Where on normal there would be a single apple spawn, there might be three on easy.  The mobs dealt the same amount of damage and seemed to spawn in the same numbers.  We did extremely poorly because really… we chose classes that were not well suited for our play styles.  I tried the Ranger and Ash tried the Wizard.  In truth the Paladin/Ranger combo was just about perfect for the two of us, so I think switching to playing the game on easy we would have made it through to the boss without any issues.  I think we did fine for two complete noobs to the game.

Hammerwatch 2014-01-19 11-31-04-05

One of the cool things about dying however is that you get a nifty graphical breakout of all of the statistics of the last play session.  As you can see, Ash totally kicked my ass in total damage dealt.  While not worth taking a death for, it does seem to a little bit of a consolation prize that you get to see the cool info about what just happened.  To wrap things up, if you were like me and you spent large chunks of your childhood feeding your allowance a quarter at a time to Gauntlet…  this is a game you will really appreciate on so many levels.  If you are like Ash and way the hell too young to have experience Gauntlet when it was an actual thing…  but tend to have an appreciation for the classics.  This also will likely be a really fun experience for you.

However if you are someone who needs cutting edge graphics and deep story interaction.  This is not your game.  It is old school quarter munching dungeon crawling at its finest.  However in this case you cannot simply feed the beast more money to save your sorry ass.  You have a limited number of lives and cannot pay to make up for your lack of skill.  I figure given time I will cease sucking quite as bad as I did during this little play session.  I would definitely buy the game again given the chance, and I might gift it to someone in the future to spread the madness if playing this becomes a regular occurrences.

How Are You Liking This?

So I am curious… how are you enjoying Steampowered Sundays?  This is only the second one but I am curious about what you like and don’t like about this approach.  I am also interested in any suggestions for types of games you would like to see me play.  Generally I am looking for a game I can get in for a few hours Sunday morning and get enough of a feel for it that I can do a write-up.  Additionally I am limiting it to games that I have either not played at all, or have only played for less than an hour… preferably less than 30 minutes.  I have a large backlog of games so I am sure I can keep finding something that sounds interesting each week.

Crashing Castles

Good morning you happy people… and this time I actually mean it.  I am not sure what it was… the fact that I was completely exhausted by the end of the day, the hour or so I spent playing with friends… or the 15 minute walk I took before bedtime…  but something helped.  I went to bed around 9 pm and slept the entire night through without any panic attacks.  Probably some of the best sleep I have gotten in awhile.  So thank you all for the varied suggestions yesterday on the subject.

Crashing Castles

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One of the best side effects of the steam sale, is it is a great opportunity to get your friends hooked on amazing games when they get priced on the cheap.  I’ve been a huge fan of Castle Crashers for years, and used to play it with some friends on the Xbox 360.  When it was released on steam… I picked it up immediately because seriously…  it is worth buying on every platform you own.  Right now it is going for the absolutely bargain basement price of $4 as part of the daily sale… and should be up there for at least another 24 hours.

As a result I got recruited last night when Ashgar picked up multiple copies of the game and gifted it to anyone who didn’t already have one.  I have to say this was exactly the type of fun I had been needing.  For me, Ash and Tam it was much like coming back home to our side scrolling fighting game roots… and we all adapted pretty quickly.  Rae on the other hand, we could tell never really played that type of game… this compounded with the fact that she was playing with the keyboard…  made the evening frustrating for her.

On that note… I highly suggest you pick this title up especially if you hail from the era of Final Fight and Double Dragon.  But if you do so… I also highly suggest you have a gamepad to play it on.  This was designed to play with an Xbox 360 controller… and I feel it plays best when I use that.  It is completely playable on anything else however… but just remember all the tips and suggestions given in game… will be geared towards that specific controller.  It won’t say press heavy attack… it will say press Y.. so if you are using something else there had to be a bit of translation in your head.

Just as a note to anyone on my steam friends list.  I will almost never turn down an opportunity to play some castle crashers.  There is something about this game that is so pure and fun that it just takes me back to the days of feeding quarters to gauntlet or teenage mutant ninja turtles and playing with three other friends.  I really hope they create a sequel someday that is just as fun.  The only game that I might like more than this as far as side scrolling beatemups… is Guardian Heroes…  if it ever made its way to steam I would be immensely happy.  Speaking of which… I need to get some people together to play the D&D Shadows of Mystaria steam port.

Granite Falls

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Right now on my little warrior I am slowly making my way through the granite falls area.  Stonefield has always been one of my favorite areas in the zone, in part because it was the area shown in the original cinematic trailer for the game.  Additionally the town of Granite Falls is one of the prettiest in the game, and the falls themselves have always looked extremely epic.  Sooner or later I will end up having to buy the Granite Falls dimension so I can have my very own copy.

I am up to my favorite quest chain as well, involving the crypt near town.  Essentially giving me ANY quest chain involving undead and I will be happy.  I started working on this over lunch, and got about halfway through the sequence of quests before I got drafted for castle crashers last night.  My hope is that today I will push through the rest of Stonefield and move on to the Scarlet Gorge area.  I feel like this is an area that just does not get enough credit in the game.  I will have to play up another character when they have gone through with the redesign of the zone that is supposedly in the works.

Defying Reason

Defiance 2013-07-16 07-09-06-42

Also over lunch yesterday I decided on a whim to boot up Defiance for a little bit.  I have an odd relationship with this game.  I like it mostly… but I just can’t seem to take playing it for very long.  I am happy to log in, kill a few rounds of mutants, maybe complete a quest… ride around in my dune buggy for a bit… and then log.  I figure it would be much more enjoyable if I was playing regularly with a large group of people, but solo I seem to have a very short attention span.

I guess overall I just don’t like shooters as much as I once did… and the whole behind the back shooter thing works well but feels just awkward enough to give me a low tolerance for it.  I really like the television show and the world, but so far I see little resemblance between the two other than having my very own “cat woman” telling me what to do.  I just wish that the story had been set in the St. Louis area that we are vaguely familiar with in the television show… instead of out in California.  Additionally since I am NOT from the California area and have never been… there just isn’t the same payoff as there is for other people.  I didn’t realize that Mount Tam was an actual place…  but I would have been able to pick up landmarks in Missouri.

Ultimately it is a good game… and it is pretty enjoyable…  but I have the same patience with it that I have for Borderlands 2.  I seem to be happiest when I play in spurts, unlike my friends that can literally play Borderlands 2 for hours and hours on end.  Defiance definitely scratches a similar itch for me…  and I finally found a weapon that I like.  Essentially it is a heavy energy machine gun thing… reminds me of shooting a BAR in the WW2 area shooters.  I can take down the baddies pretty successfully with it…  but I cringe at the thought of eventually out leveling it.  I have yet to find another weapon that I enjoy anywhere near as much as it.

I think this will continue to be one of those titles that I boot up every now and then… but never really dig too far below the surface.  Additionally the game feels very “un-social”, and very much single player.  I rarely if ever end up encountering other players when I play, and if I do they are usually buzzing around on their way to the next objective.  I am sure this changes as you get higher in the content, but I am still in the starter area essentially.  I could push through I am sure and get to the next area… but I figure why force myself when I seem to be enjoying little spurts of play here and there.

Wrapping Up

Well it is that time again… I need to wrap this up so I can get on with my morning and get into work.  Today is trash day, so I need to make sure that is out by the curb.  Additionally I really need to run some stuff by the cleaners.  If I don’t get a start on these things I will end up extremely late for work.  Right now I am essentially the boss, as mine is off on vacation… but it sets a bad example if I start slacking myself in the process.  I hope you all have a great day… and here is hoping that today will be relatively panic free.

Late to the Dance

Yesterday for whatever reason was extremely rough.  I felt like I spent the entire day sleep walking, so when I finally got off work I came home and took a nap.  Naps are such glorious things at times, I wish I had known that back as a child when I tried to actively evade them.  When I got up I cooked dinner and while still extremely groggy settled in for a bit.

Elite Ready

One of the things I have been attempting to accomplish over my lunch time gaming break is to finish all of the Ashora and Steppes daily quests in Rift.  Usually I manage to chew through Ashora, but rarely do I make a significant dent in Steppes.  However yesterday for whatever reason I seemed to be able to do both without much issue.  This put me fairly high on the daily infinity stone count, and creeping close to that piece of gear that would tip me over 300 hit. 

After all was said and done, I was sitting at 2 stones away from the gauntlets.  Last night I went back out to the Steppes and wandered down along the coastline.  I knew I had left a carnage quest partially finished down there, and as a result I pushed through those last few stones rather quickly.  Still feeling pretty worn out, I decided to go ahead and port back to Tempest Bay and purchase my upgrade.  While I knew I did not have the juice to do any random elites last night, I at least was Elite ready for the grouping tonight.

Late to the Dance

Since redoing the loft I have found myself playing around on my PlayStation 3 a good deal more.  Quite honestly, the loss of my gaming loft as viable space pretty much marks the end of me regularly playing console games.  I simply did not have a TV that was dedicated to gaming, and I never wanted to monopolize the tv downstairs in case my wife wanted to watch something.  So as a result I have essentially been a non-console gamer during this current generation of systems.

As a way to catch up, I went ahead and signed up for a years subscription to PlayStation Plus, as this gives me around a dozen games immediately to play around with.  Namely there were a bunch of titles that I had wanted, but never really had picked or played… namely Sleeping Dogs, Darksiders, The Cave, Ratchet and Clank All 4 One, and Little Big Planet 2.  Since they release new titles for free over the network on a regular basis, I figured it would be an excellent way to passively acquire titles.

Darksiders

I knew this game would be right down my alley, but for whatever reason over the years since its release I have never actually played it.  Big dude, in bigger armor, carrying an even bigger sword really is my ideal game archetype… and this game does not disappoint.  Everything controls extremely well, and it feels a lot like a modern golden axe at times.  I had heard this in the past compared to Legend of Zelda, and I can kind of see the similarities but to me it feels more in line with the old school final fight style fighting games.  I played this for quite awhile last night before my ADD kicked in, but I am sure I will be devoting many hours to running around as a badass horseman of the apocalypse.

Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One

Since I was pretty tired still, my gaming wanderlust was in full effect… also I had a whole stack of games I was wanting to try.  The next on the list was Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One.  I remember being a big fan of the Ratchet and Clank games on the PS2, so this was pretty much a no brainer for me to try out.  I went into it knowing that this was basically a streamlined experience designed to be played with four players.  I was okay with this, and while the world was not nearly as intricate as the ones I was used to from the PS2, it still retained all of the enjoyment of the earlier titles. 

My only takeaway is that the game seemed really easy with Ratchet and Clank as an AI controlled bot.  Clank seemed to always be targeting and taking out the mob types that were difficult for me to get with my wrench.  All of the controls were essentially the same as before, so I regained my ability to play the game rather quickly.  I did not play terribly far but I thought the “driving a space taxi” sequence was extremely fun, with me steering by moving to one side of the taxi platform or another.  Should be a great game to return to and give it more time.

The Cave

The last game I went on a tour of last night was The Cave, and I did so on a very cursory level.  I fired it up, and selected a team of the Knight, the Monk, and the Twins.  Each character feels extremely interesting and has some special ability… that I have yet to really figure out what it is for.  Right now the game seems like it is going to be a puzzle and exploration game.  Essentially you have three characters to control, and various puzzles will require one or more characters to solve.  It has the interesting and humorous writing that is trademark of Double Fine games, so given the time I am sure I will get into it.  Having not played it terribly long, all I can really say is that the world is gorgeous and full of interesting visuals.

Crashing

At this point I was past going, so I decided I needed to head to bed.  I still have Sleeping Dogs downloading as well as a couple others.  Having access to a fresh font of games will definitely make the ps3 feel more useful.  Also having access to a place to set it up, on a dedicated tv… with a comfy love seat to sit on will make it that more likely to get used on a regular basis.  It was absolutely glorious sitting up there with a fan on me happily playing away in our newly renovated loft.  I am going to have to try and resurrect my long red-ringed xbox 360 and get started back playing those games as well.

I have a ton of things to deal with, and today is trash day… so I bid you all goodbye.  I hope you have a great day, and that you survive the rest of the week.  I will be heading downstairs myself to take out the trash, and try and deal with the front door that appears to not be wanting to lock.  It is always something…