Monthly Archives: March 2009

…and Let Slip the Dogs of War!

One unfortunate hobby of mine lately is watching the slow demise of my old Warhammer Online guild. While I’ve already cancelled my WAR account it’s always painful for me to watch a gaming guild or clan that I was in, especially one I was real involved in, die. You might remember me describing the demise of my Age of Conan guild last year.

Anyway, the guild I had selected for myself before the launch of WAR had a nice website and seemed like a great bunch of characters. I’d describe them as “casual hardcore” – that is, they’ve got a casual attitude when it comes to rules, raiding, and the like but for the most part they put in the same amount of time and dedication as a lot of hardcore groups. I joined them because of that, their PVP focus, the fact that they were relatively small, they’re only dedicated to WAR (rather than being some massive, multi-gaming mess) and the type of people they seemed like judging from their forum posts. They were friendly, mature, yet they liked to joke around. Indeed I clicked with them fairly well – certainly better than with my old Age of Conan guild.

Through the course of the game we of course got to know each other better after many fun and at times crazy conversations on our Ventrilo server and on our forums, we PVPed together all of the time, and we even set up a little leveling pact group later on that was fairly successful at keeping us playing together. Shortly before I started to lose interest in the game we had finally gotten to guild rank 20 which got us our awesome cape emblems at long last and joined a cool alliance.

I have mentioned some of these issues before but I suppose things really started to untangle towards the beginning of the guild’s life when a relatively large group of our players who were all friends decided to part ways with our guild and form their own on Destruction side. This wasn’t really a politics thing and was relatively drama free but it was a huge blow to our player base and everyone knew it. We had also instated a recruitment freeze for fears of growing too big which turned out to bite us in the ass because of incidents like this one, along with other casual quitters and the people flooding back to World of Warcraft when Wraith of The Lich King was released.

Since before I joined I was aware that the guild had at least some intention of playing both Order and Destruction sides however it was always assumed and even sometimes stated that we wouldn’t explore the other side for quite sometime. When a few impatient people made the push over to Destruction, however, it took off with some surprising success. This resulted in a month or longer phase in which the few of us who remained dedicated to the Order side of things found ourselves playing alone and having to listen to anti-Order comments galore on the Vent server. This created an odd, unnecessary gap between some of the players and did nothing to help the few new recruits who trickled in around this time to stick around.

Eventually all of these issues were noted and Order once again became everyone’s primary focus as we, as a whole, proactively tried to do more to promote playing together and growing the guild. By this time, however, the dwindling populations in the game made recruiting quite difficult and new blood seemed almost impossible to find.

More and more people started to tire of the game and quit. Some talked about going to other games which was met but a rather unrealistic response of “Oh, well, if you’re going to play X then we’ll make an X channel on the Vent server and an X board on the forums!” as if it were that easy to effectively become a multi-game guild. I shuddered.

Finally, to seal the deal, the two main officers who run the guild (also two of the people I got along with the most sadly) hadn’t visited their own site in over a month. Of course people start noticing which caused even more people to hang up their hats or move elsewhere. At the moment that’s still where the guild stands – headless and slowly bleeding to death. It is to the point now where hitting our forums to check for new posts with hope to see the guild leader actually log on and reply to a thread or two is not only a waste of time but also rather depressing…


I was able to finish up Overlord last weekend, thank goodness. Though I liked the game it felt a little too long to me and I was more than ready to move on.

A few notes about the last bit of the game:

First, whoever cast the voice actors for both the Jewel and Kahn characters needs to be smacked. Acting ability aside the voices don’t match either character to the point of ridiculousness.

I’ve also got to say that having the checkpoint right before the final boss fight require a few minutes of travel, combat, and other dicking around was a little annoying even if I did only die a few times in the attempt. Admittedly this might have been my fault for not taking better advantage of the save system, I’m not positive, but in any case a checkpoint upon entering the final boss battle might have been nice.

Take their women and children first!
“Take their women and children first!”

The plot twist at the end threw me a bit of a curve ball – I didn’t really see it coming (even forgetting having it spoiled when the game was first released) and was pleasantly surprised by it. The issue of the heroes you go after not being all that “good” that I mentioned in my earlier entry about Overlord actually ended up being explained in the end though I can’t say much more than that without spoiling it.

I didn’t really go after the achievements after beating the game. I was going to go for a few but after finding out the hard way that I couldn’t get my 100% corruption achievement after beating the last boss the wind was a little knocked out of my sails. This was especially disappointing since the only reason for doing some of the more dickish things I did was to get that achievement and the one task I lacked was relatively minor and not even related to the story. Ah well…

I am much more curious about Overlord II now though. Will it be a continuation of the same story? They certainly left the door open at the end of the first game. Will the controls be refined? I could definitely use some tweaking when it comes to more precision arrangement of my minions. How about the adventure and RPG elements? Comparisons to Fable 2 are inevitable. We’ll have to see.

Well, that’s one more game in my Xbox 360 backlog crossed off the list. Next up I’m actually playing a relatively recent release. Who would have thought?

Screenshot lifted from somewhere else since I can’t easily take HD console screenshots.

Tanks o’ Death

I tried out the demo for the new XBLA game Death Tank after reading some Saturn fanboys gush about it on NeoGAF and I’m happy to say that I liked it a lot. I played a bit against the computer and even hopped online and played some match making games. The demo is very representative of what you get in the full game save, of course, for the additional weapons and upgrades that are unlocked.

The game itself is an “artillery” style game very similar to Gunbound, the Worms series, and the PC shareware classic Scorched Earth with one major difference – it is real time instead of turn based. This can change things quite a bit as you might imagine. Not only do you need to be quick in aiming your shots but also deciding who to target, what weapons to use, when to move, etc. comes into play like never before. Turns do, err, sort of exist though, in that reloading takes time, so it might not be quite as chaotic as it sounds.

Ahh, warfare! What deserts were made for.
“Ahh, warfare! What deserts were made for.”

I’ve read (and heard) a lot of criticism of the game, however.

One complaint was about how the Targeting Computer upgrade, which basically lets you see exactly where you’re aiming, is sort of the be-all end-all weapon. I definitely disagree – since it’s real time you can see exactly when and where your opponents using it are aiming and use it to their disadvantage by moving out of the way, preferably using your Jump Jets or Fuel to move quicker, or by activating your shield just before the moment of impact. It can be annoying but it really isn’t as big of a deal as people make it out to be.

One thing that I can’t totally disagree with though is the whole arms race factor: The better you do the more money you get to buy more weapons and upgrades while if you don’t get any kills you might not get any cash. This can sometimes lead to a situation where consistent winners ensure more and more victories through superior fire power where consistent losers simply feel cheated because they’re stuck with the basic artillery shell ammunition and none of the cool upgrades for almost the entire match. Pretty much all of these games work this way though – it’s part of the genre practically, but having been on both sides of that fence in other games I’d say that it is indeed a flaw.

Sometimes haphazardly flinging nukes around is a lot easier than taking a more precise, measured approach. Global Diplomacy 101?
“Sometimes haphazardly flinging nukes around is a lot easier than taking a more precise, measured approach. Global Diplomacy 101?”

The biggest one is probably the price though. The gameplay is pretty limited – you play the same randomly generated (I believe?) maps over and over again in more or less the same scenarios though they do occasionally mix it up with some theme rounds where you get free weapons and upgrades, or are locked to specific ones. Still, the game comes in at a 15 dollar price tag which seems pretty steep even with the game’s seemingly decent production values. As I’m sure most Worms players would agree these types of games make excellent party games though so if you’ve got the friends (locally or on Xbox Live) then it might indeed be worth it.

It should be noted that the original Sega Saturn version of the game (Death Tank Zwei) is included as a not-so-publicized (why?!) unlockable which does add a bit more value to the package.

As for me, well, I had pretty much decided not to drop the 15 bucks when I won a copy of it for free thanks to a drawing over at Evil Avatar. Woot!

Last weekend I had my parents over for dinner and ended up playing it with my dad who picked it up relatively quickly and seemed to be having fun with it which cemented the idea of it being a great pick up and party game. I intend to force it upon more visitors in the future to help test the theory and, more importantly, introduce some new people to the awesomeness of these kinds of games.

Screenshots lifted from somewhere else since I can’t easily take HD console screenshots.