Self Similar self similar’s personal gaming nonsense blog

27Aug/090

Update

Again, as I mentioned in my last Game Log update, I've not had as much time for gaming or even blogging as usual. This is almost entirely thanks to my much more hectic work schedule as of late. This week is probably the quietest week I've had in several months and thanks to a cold my office mate so generously inflicted upon me I won't even be able to fully take advantage of it. That's not to say I haven't played games, however. Oh yes, I've played games.

First of all I finally finished Battlestations: Midway. Perhaps it finished me? As much as it shames me I actually put this one back on the shelf without finishing it off to the degree that I had planned. I breezed through the single player campaign fairly easily but once I got into the special "challenge" missions I hit several sheer walls of difficulty. After trying to beat the same challenge about 20 times without making much progress despite experimenting with various tactics and strategies I decided that I should be happy with beating the campaign and move on. This was confirmed by seeing that I already had above the average number of achievements for the title.

Not so much the Love Boat.
"Not so much the Love Boat."

I have a feeling that I would have a much easier time with these challenges, or at least some of them, on the PC version where I could have greater precision with my shots and the like. Since I own it too, plucked from the bargain bins for next to nothing, I may have to give it shot one day.

None of these difficulty issues really make me any less interested in Battlestations: Pacific though. I still enjoyed the game and its relatively unique gameplay. Regardless, I originally decided to place Battlestations: Midway where I did in my backlog because I thought it would be quick and easy to playthrough so spending weeks (of admittedly very little actual gametime) trying to beat one or two missions seemed counterproductive. On to the next game!

Next up in my 360 backlog is the first person shooter Prey. Another quick one, I hope. I didn't played Prey when it was first released though I remember a lot of my clan/guild buddies raving about the demo. I mentioned over a year ago here that a Toys R Us counter monkey had basically forced it on me one day, talking about how great it was, and at only 4 bucks news I couldn't really pass up the recommendation.

Every now and then the game gives you a hand.
"Every now and then the game gives you a hand."

Sure enough, the game seems to be worthy of the great reviews it got at launch. It's an oldschool FPS in some respects, the Duke Nukem 3D influence is obvious with the lead character quipping constantly, and it wears the fact that it's using the Doom 3 engine on its sleeve as well, yet the game also does some very interesting things involving portals, gravity, and puzzle solving and all well before the release of Portal to boot. There's a puzzle solving element involving exiting your body and entering the spirit realm which is pretty interesting. Speaking of the spirit realm, there's a very interesting, non-punishing death mechanic in Prey as well. I'm still less than half way through it so I don't want to say too much more until I know more but so far I'd say it's worth saving from your local bargain bin if such a thing sounds at all appealing to you.

I've also been playing Dawn of War 2 quite a bit in the last couple of months. I really enjoyed the first Dawn of War and its expansions. This is probably helped quite a bit by being a Warhammer 40,000 fan but regardless Relic has doing some interesting things with RTS conventions and yes, I loved Company of Heroes as well. Dawn of War 2 mixes things up a little bit by further changing the way single player works once again.

That's right - I defend my glowy things to the death!
"That's right - I defend my glowy things to the death!"

I've often heard the game described as Diablo-esque in that randomly loot of varying rarities drops off of enemies and is awarded for missions but that's is pretty much where the similarity ends. The player takes charge of a small force of Space Marines. Each squad or marines is similar to a hero unit (such as from Warcraft 3) in that they level up which can earn them specific skills, they can be equipped with new gear, etc. It still plays more or less like a RTS minus the base building and resource gathering aspects though. Of course, the combat part of the game is what Relic does so well with little touches like destructible buildings and unit cover mechanics.

The player equips and levels his squads while using a campaign map to select which missions to go on next. Some missions are plot related while others are purely side missions. The side missions appear to be mostly randomly generated but unfortunately they often recycle the same maps over and over again which makes grinding on them a lot less fun than it should be. Within the story itself players will find themselves battling all 3 of the game's other armies: Eldar, Space Orks, and Tyranids. Since the player's army is relatively small the battles are as well with few vehicles coming into the picture. Still, the constant equipment and skill upgrades are enough of to keep things interesting.

Orks iz strong!
"Orks iz strong!"

Anyway, the game is a blast. I'm close to the end at the moment but am still grinding on side missions. This is the first PC game I've played with a full Games for Windows Live implementation and it works quite well so far. I admit that I'm a tiny bit of an achievement whore so having PC game achievements combine with my Xbox Live achievement score is awesome. It does seem to confuse some of the Xbox 360 players on my Friends List when they can't invite me to a party or use some of the other Xbox 360 only features though. Who cares, points is points! 😉

23Aug/090

The Tale of Garn Chapter 12

Warning: potential side quest spoilers ahead!

From Garn's recollections:

Ogres and Cultists

I stayed in Chorrol for quite some time doing the odd job here and there while spending most of my free time studying spells and reading books in hopes of sparking some memories and, at the very least, regaining some long forgotten knowledge. Of those jobs a couple turned out to be fairly eventful.

The first started one morning as I stepped out of my inn room to find a shady looking Dark Elf propped up against the wall next to my room door patiently waiting on me. I was, of course, prepared to draw my blade but much to my surprise the Dunmer made no move. Instead, he calmly looked up and slyly smiled at me. He spoke and told me that he had heard I was good for the type of job he had to offer and began laying out the entire scenario.

Apparently the Dunmer had employed a local thief on a regular basis for years and, eventually, this thief had betrayed him and ran away with a valuable object. This object eventually fell into the hands of a local tribe of Redguard Valley Ogres. He desperately wanted the object and would pay me to brave the Ogre's den in search of it. This task, sounding like much more of an adventure than my last few jobs, I gladly accepted.

Ewwww, Ogre blood!
"Ewwww, Ogre blood!"

Upon reaching Redguard Valley to south of Chorrol it didn't take long for me to follow the horrid stench to the cave where the bulk of the Ogre tribe lived. As I crept into the cave and entered the main chamber a number of blood thirsty ogres caught my scent clumsily came running to investigate. Ogres were little challenge to me at this point and I halved them in place one by one until I finally reached the room in which the Ogre Chieftain guarded his booty. The Chieftain turned out to be quite worthy of his spot in the tribe's pecking order and we fought viciously for what seemed like an hour before I finally stood victorious.

Expelliarmus!
"Expelliarmus!"

After rummaging through the Chieftain's rather lackluster treasure room I was sure I had found the object that the Dunmer was after. Unfortunately I was faced with a conundrum. The item in question was a special ceremonial blade, the Chorrol Honor Blade, or at least I suspected as much. So the dilemma was clear - do I return to the Dunmer who was employing me or do I return it to the Court of Chorrol where it was stolen from originally?

Given my reputation and relationship with the Countess of Chorrol I thought it only best to turn the Honorblade of Chorrol back to Chorrol. Laythe Wavrick, the court Herald, was ecstatic to have the blade back after so many years and arranged to reward me with a special item of my own from Chorrol's armories: a mighty shield named the Escutcheon of Chorrol. I have no doubt that the mysterious Dunmer would soon learn of my betrayal but I bet on him being more concerned with getting the sword back for himself than seeking any vengeance on me.

No kidding. I could have kept the thing you know.
"No kidding. I could have kept the thing you know."

So now I had an excellent new shield to go along with Chillrend and just in the nick of time as well.

Then, as I was walking back to the inn a young Argonian boy came running towards me yelping "Are you Garn?" I slowly nodded and he hurriedly spat out that Seed-Neeus needed to see me at her traders. Hmph, another opportunity for work I supposed and, of course, I was correct. As I entered Northern Goods and Trade Seed-Neeus hurried to me and thanked me for coming. She explained to me that her daughter, Dar-Ma, has gone missing after making a delivery on her horse to the nearby town of Hackdirt. She asked me to look for her or any clues of where she might have been.

I had visited Hackdirt once previously in my travels and wasn't at all surprised to hear its name mentioned along side something like this. It was an odd place - a run down town that looked like it might have been a good size at one time but at some point most of the buildings in the town had been burned to the ground. The few locals I talked to there were unusually unfriendly to me and are apparently equally suspicious of all outsiders.

What, are they going to knock on my door and shower me with pamphlets or something?!
"What, are they going to knock on my door and shower me with pamphlets or something?!"

I immediately rode south to Hackdirt. Upon arrival I had little time to look around before night fell and search for clues via torchlight would surely give me away. In the church I found an unusual book upon the alter. It was something about "Deep Ones", written in an odd runic language that I had never seen before. This was quite strange and certainly nothing to do with The Nine or even Daedra worship to my knowledge. Of course, none of the townspeople seemed to know anything about Dar-ma though I didn't expect them to be extremely forthcoming in any case. It was time to call it a night so I didn't dare to get a room at the town's sole inn. Instead I made camp in the surrounding woods.

Deep into the morning I was awoken by the sound of someone passing through the trees. As I reached for my blade I was surprised to see a tamed horse slowly walking through the woods, grazing. The horse seemed to match every possible description of Dar-ma's horse Blossom. Interesting.

In the morning I went back into Hackdirt and brought the horse with me. When I inquired about the horse to the storekeeper whom Dar-ma was supposed to be delivering she claimed that the horse was hers yet at the same time she seemed totally unconcerned about its welfare. Very suspicious.

Err, yeah everything looks completely normal here...
"Err, yeah everything looks completely normal here..."

Next I decided to visit the inn as to look for clues that Dar-ma might have been there. "Clues" is probably an understatement for what I found there. One of the inn rooms was completely ransacked and after a quick search of it I found Dar-ma's journal. It appears from her last entry that her horse had thrown a shoe and she was forced to stay the night in the town. She also mentioned hearing footsteps outside of her door. When I asked the inn keeper about the room and the journal itself she claimed that Dar-ma must have simply left without the book. The more I questioned her, the more belligerent she became, even tossing out a vague threat about "The Brethren" at one point. I'm obviously not getting the whole story here...

The world is a more attractive place when you're hiding down in your cave.
"The world is a more attractive place when you're hiding down in your cave."

The next odd event occurred just a few minutes later as I was poking about in some of the old, burned out buildings on the outskirts of town. Out of no where I was attacked by a man wearing only a pair of sack cloth pants and brandishing a club. He had unusually large eyes and a crazed look about him. Although I slew him easily enough I was still taken aback by how strange he was. I wondered if this was one of the "brethren".

Later that day I had finally made a breakthrough. One of the townspeople, a man named Jiv Hiriel, told me he had information and to meet me at his home. I was preparing for some sort of ambush but was surprised that Jiv was legitimate. He nervously told me that the townspeople had Dar-ma held captive in the caves below the town and planned on sacrificing her to the Deep Ones soon. He gave me a key to the various trap doors scattered throughout the town and suggested that I make my move that night, while the majority of the townsfolk were at The Gathering.

Well, I call them freaks.
"Well, I call them freaks."

Later I snuck back to Jiv's house and used the trapdoor in his house to gain entrance into the caves below the town. Much to my surprise the cave system was quite extensive with various rooms and an exit into every building in the town. I was able to sneak a quick listen to the sermon. They spoke of The Deep Ones forsaking them after the Legion had burned down their town, and about how only a sacrifice would bring them back.

Found her, now let's GTFO!
"Found her, now let's GTFO!"

As I turned away I faced another one of those crazed, big eyed "brethren" though I was able to subdue him without making enough noise to get me noticed. As I crept through the cave system I came across more and more of these "brethren". They were relentless in their attacks but nothing I couldn't handle - I was more concerned with drawing the attention of the rest of the townspeople. Eventually I encountered Jiv once again, and he quietly led me to place where Dar-ma was being held. I thanked him for his help one last time and led Dar-ma to the safety of the above ground world and quickly away from Hackdirt.

I still don't know what kind of foul things the people of Hackdirt had dug up beneath their town. Perhaps the "Deep Ones" were nothing more than a prank by some bored Daedric Prince, or perhaps something even more ancient and evil was unearthed there. Whatever the case I had enough foes to concern myself with to worry about those that had long since forsaken their people and vanished.