Monthly Archives: May 2011

The Tale of Garn Chapter 26

Warning: potential side quest spoilers ahead!

From Garn’s recollections:

Business is Good

Before heading back to the Imperial City I also wrapped up the quest “Go Fish” in Weye which I had started towards the beginning of Garn’s adventures and revisited a few times, never finding enough damn slaughterfish to finish. It really wasn’t an interesting enough quest to bother writing about though.

At long last there I finally was riding into The Imperial City for a much deserved break in my travels. My first order of business was to return to my house to unload all of my packs and sort through the various valuables that I had looted and been awarded recently. Indeed, I had managed to amass quite a collection since the last time I attempted to pawn my loot off in the Market District. After deciding what to keep and what to part with I took the rest of the day to relax and recuperate. At sunrise I packed my bags and satchels and walked to the morning market. As usual the shop keepers and various vendors were happy to barter for my wares – my decision to base myself in the Imperial City, in large part due to its healthy trade, was once again paying off. Business was good, and not just the business of relieving traders of their coin, but I also took the opportunity to small talk and eavesdrop the latest rumors, a few of which seemed as if they might bear me some adventuring work.

Economics by the Blade
“Economics by the Blade”

The first task on my to-do list was to investigate a local shopkeeper. I took this job not so much for the material reward, but instead for the reputation and social connections I’d gain with the society of shopkeepers and traders who were commissioning it. You see, a new shop had opened up in the market and was causing a lot of the other vendors to lose a noticeable amount of business due to its low prices – suspiciously low, it seemed. This society, represented by Jensine of Jensine’s Good as New Merchandise, was keenly interested in exactly how Thoronir at The Copious Coinpurse was able to offer such low prices, and why he outright refused to speak with them about the matter. While this didn’t seem like my normal style of job Jensine was sure that something illegal was taking place.

While I’d like to think that I can be quite cunning my typical way of dealing with actual conflict is to take a head on approach and this time was no different. I walked straight to The Copious Coinpurse and struck up a conversation with Thoronir himself about his shop and his great selection of low priced wares. After a while he implied that the source of his supply was a secret which he would not reveal. This seemed to at least confirm the basis of the society’s suspicions.

Garn was a bit disappointed that this little clandestine meeting between two adult men amongst the bushes at night didn't go an entirely different direction.
“Garn was a bit disappointed that this little clandestine meeting between two adult men amongst the bushes at night didn’t go an entirely different direction.”

Unable to manipulate Thoronir into giving me anything anymore useful I decided to do a little reconnaissance later that evening. After he closed shop for the day I followed him from a distance. Thoronir eventually made his way to a small park in an alley in the Market District where, under cover of darkness, he met up with a shady looking Nord named Agarmir with whom he discussed business. It was obvious that this Nord was one of his suppliers and that the pair were up to some unsavory deeds. Exactly what, however, I still did not know. I decided to continue my careful reconnaissance but this time switched to following Agarmir.

Luckily Agarmir went straight for his house in the Talos Plaza district without much dilly-dallying. After spending a few minutes unsure of how I should proceed, Agarmir emerged, appearing to be heading for one of the local taverns for a nightcap. Checking that the coast was clear I picked the lock on his house’s door and cautiously snuck inside. Once there I found the house to be fairly uninteresting, that was until I picked the lock into his basement. Agarmir’s basement looked more like something I’d expect to find in a necromancer’s den – various human bones, piles of bonemeal, blood stains, dusty, sometimes tattered clothing, and a muddy shovel. Most damning of all, carefully laid on his desk was a journal the detailed what items had been buried with the recently deceased of the city. Agarmir, it appeared, was a professional grave-robber. Now the only question was whether or not Thoronir knew this.

*takes a look at literally everything I'm wearing* *stares blankly back at Thoronir*
“*takes a look at literally everything I’m wearing* *stares blankly back at Thoronir*”

The next morning I returned to the Copious Coinpurse to confront Thoronir about my discovery. He seemed genuinely shocked, even a bit sickened, by my accusations. He said he’d immediately stop buying from Agarmir and would get rid of his ill-gotten goods right away. He also told me that Agarmir said he’d be working today, in case I wanted to look for him. Indeed I did!

At sundown I made my way to the graveyard in the Palace District and attempted to find a grave site matching the last entry in the journal I took from Agarmir’s. Soon I found it – a fairly large mausoleum with its doorway oddly propped open. As I crept down into the mausoleum I was startled to hear the grinding of the large stone slab door closing behind me. Agarmir and another man drew their weapons and turned towards me. He was obviously expecting me. He confidently boasted that he wasn’t actually there to rob a grave that that, but rather to fill one – he knew he was being followed and intended to dispatch me then and there. The next thing I knew we were locked in melee.

It's a traaaaap!!!
“It’s a traaaaap!!!”

Agarmir and his companion both wielded magical weapons and seemed to have some practice handling them, and although they put up quite a vicious fight, I soon bested them both. First Agarmir made the mistake of backing off from me after the pair had cornered me, giving me enough room to hurl a massive flaming fireball at him which sent his body flying violently across the chamber. With him down and the fight now a duel it was only a few solid slashes before his companion fell as well. I looted their bodies being careful to collect what might prove to be evidence and left, sealing the mausoleum behind me.

The next morning I wrapped things up with Jensine, letting her know of what transpired. Jensine told me that Thoronir had already attempted to make amends by getting rid of all of his stolen merchandise and joining the society and that all was going well between them. She rewarded me for my part with a small sum of gold and an enchanted piece of jewelry passed on from Thoronir. My first noteworthy deed in the capital was complete!

Ahhh, the good old Floated Bloat.
“Ahhh, the good old Floated Bloat.”

My next adventure in the city would come soon enough. The next day as I was leaving my house I spotted some suspicious looking characters down at the Waterfront. Suspicious characters were not exactly a rare sight at the Imperial Waterfront District, but these two individuals not only looked like a couple of obvious bandits, but they were also acting very paranoid – looking like they had just or were just about to commit some sort of crime. Curious, I decided to follow them. Eventually the pair made their way to The Bloated Float inn and went inside but not before carefully checking to make sure no one else was watching them. Something odd was definitely afoot, I thought. Giving them a few moments to enter and situate themselves I followed them into the inn.

As I entered The Bloated Float I caught a glimpse of one of the bandits walking downstairs. I gave him a bit of a lead and then followed him down. I stopped myself just before emerging from the darkened stairwell, watching the Nord as, sword in hand, he checked each of the rooms for other passengers. Satisfied that the deck was empty he shouted “clear!” to which I could hear a reply ring out behind me. I stepped out of the shadows to make my presence known.

Yes, there is a dude in there.
“Yes, there is a dude in there.”

The Nord immediately approached me asking me who I was, clarifying that I wasn’t one of the Blackwater Brigands. Correct he was. I figured that I could find out more about whatever sort of nonsense these bandits were up to since this one obviously wasn’t smart enough to keep from revealing their identities to a stranger almost immediately. Following his lead I claimed to indeed be one of the Blackwater Brigands. This seemed to really rile the bandit up as he angrily announced that there were only 4 members of his gang. Useful information. He drew his sword and came at me, making that only 3. After dragging his body into the darkness I heard someone banging on one of the doors. It was a storage closet – unlocking it with a key I found on the bandit I discovered an Orcish man who claimed to be the bouncer of the establishment. He told me that that ship had been hijacked and insisted that we clear it out. I handed him bandit’s sword and headed back upstairs.

At the top of the stairs, no doubt curious about the commotion she must of heard coming from the deck below, was a Dunmer woman wielding a long sword. Upon spotting me she leveled her sword at my throat and began to question me. Continuing where I left off with the other bandit I claimed that I was sent up here by the other gang member. She seemed a bit more perceptive than the last one, however, and immediately called my bluff, but not before revealing that one of the other bandits had the inn’s proprietor captive in his chamber. A quick sword fight later and the bandit lay dead.

Water, water, everywhere...
“Water, water, everywhere…”

Making sure the boat was clear before heading into the main cabin I also poked my head out onto the top deck only to find myself surprised that we were actually already at sea. My astonishment was soon interrupted by the voice of another bandit who ran over to me, obviously confused by my identify, asking me if we had found the “Golden Galleon” yet. Again, sticking to my strategy of attempting to infiltrate the bandits, I claimed that I was with them and awaiting orders. Infuriated about my apparent recruitment without him being involved he asked if the other two knew about this. I told him that they were dead. He made a comment about lessening the number of shares to split and drew his sword. Wiping the blood from my sword I returned back to the main deck.

Finally an NPC who gets it!
“Finally an NPC who gets it!”

Finally I approached the main cabin of the ship. Listening carefully through the door I could hear a woman interrogating a man. I re-sheathed my sword and casually walked into the room. The woman, an Imperial, turned to me, a shocked expression upon her face. She demanded to know how I got in. Still sticking to my moderately successful scheme of lying through my teeth, I told her that I was there to join her gang. At first she scoffed at the notion, but the implausibility of the whole scenario must have started weighing on her mind and she began to question me more. Using some of the information about the Blackwater Brigands that the other 3 gang members had foolishly revealed I puzzled her with my knowledge of the gang. Still, she didn’t take the bait and demanded to know how I got past the other three. I put my hand on my hilt and told her that I killed them all. The color seemed to drain from her face and she lowered her sword. Fearing that if I could best the other 3 members of her gang she would surely also perish, she handed me her blade and surrendered. I untied Ormil, The Bloated Float’s proprietor, and after shaking my hand and thanking me profusely he asked me to escort the gang leader Selene down to the lower deck where we could lock her up.

Upon returning Ormil confessed to me that due to business slowing at the inn he had spun a tale about a priceless treasure, a gold statue of a ship, being hidden somewhere within The Bloated Float. This little publicity stunt worked well at first though he never suspected to garner this sort of attention. Selene had let him know that they had planned to scuttle the ship finding the statue. Ormil was insistent that I likely saved all of the staff’s lives because of my little intervention. After we arrived back at port and summoned the city guard to report the incident and turn in Selene I was rewarded with a small sack of septims – apparently Selene had a bounty on her head. An unexpected voyage, but another job completed within the Imperial City.

Selene’s sword, the Blackwater Blade, was superior in base stats to my current sword (Chillrend) which I had been carrying around for quite a while now. One of the various mods I’m using must have improved its stats. Regardless, this was an unexpected bonus to completing this quest.

Force Feedback

Ughhhhhh… it’s been a while! I haven’t been playing much Xbox 360 lately, or much else besides World of Warcraft for that matter, but the one game I have been working my way through is Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Yeah, the first one – you should be used to me playing old games by now. 😉 Where, oh where, do I start?

I’ve got a long history with Star Wars games being somewhat of an in-the-closet Star Wars geek, and often times the fan service supplied in these games is almost enough to get me through them alone, for better or for worse. In the case of TFU it is definitely for the worse, unfortunately. TFU nails the Star Wars aesthetic fairly well and, as with the vast majority of Star Wars games, the sound effects and music are great. The graphics themselves are pretty solid, even quite nice on occasion, despite a few bugs here and there and relatively minor issues with animation, clipping, and the like.

Shaak Ti about to join the rest of the Jedi.
“Shaak Ti about to join the rest of the Jedi.”

Speaking of bugs, despite the game being massively patched since it was first released, there are still plenty of them to go around. I ran into a few major glitches during two different end level boss fights which left me unable to continue and extremely frustrated. I’d have to say that the bugs were a lot less annoying than some of the other things I took issue over though.

TFU plays, more or less, like other “character action” games such as the God of War series, for instance. One big difference though is your force powers, and due to the nature of many of them, it is necessary to have a way to target specific characters and objects beyond the typical melee and direction based targeting common to this style of game. TFU handles this by locking onto the closest enemy that you’re facing and allowing you to change your target at will though the targeting is often way too imprecise in the heat of battle causing you to sometimes lock on to a piece of a wall or a chunk of debris instead of the giant AT-ST currently standing next to you, filling your cloak full of holes. At best this can be annoying and at worst will cause you to die needlessly many times throughout the course of the game. The game is challenging enough without sabotaging you with bad controls.

Zzzzaaaapppp! Crispy Stormtrooper, anyone?
“Zzzzaaaapppp! Crispy Stormtrooper, anyone?”

The challenge is something else I have a problem with. There are some sections that are frustrating for various reasons (the infamous Star Destroyer part says hello!) but even allowing for those exceptions I absolutely hated running into hordes and hordes of common enemies that were somehow immune to various force attacks or otherwise frustratingly powerful. Isn’t part of the fun of having all of these amazing powers the ability to trounce people with them and generally cause all kinds of massive havoc? It succeeds some of the time but I often found myself feeling like I had to work a lot harder than I should have to work to get through a level or boss fight. Many of the boss fights took this annoyance up a notch by feeling overly cheap because of the combinations of their various immunities and special attacks.

Not to sound too negative! Graphics, sound, and general “Star Warsiness” aside, I also found myself really enjoying the story. While the tale of Starkiller isn’t exactly incredibly engrossing, it was pretty satisfying (in a shamefully nerdy way) to see how his story fit into the plots of the movies and the general canon Star Wars Galaxy timeline. It isn’t at all unusual for Star Wars games, books, comics, etc. to be considered canon but they don’t often tie so closely to the original trilogy. The endings were quite awesome as well. I chose the light side route (naturally!) and ended up watching the dark side ending on YouTube rather than suffering through the last level again.

You even kill a ton of Stormtroopers when you work for the Empire. I love Star Wars games!
“You even kill a ton of Stormtroopers when you work for the Empire. I love Star Wars games!”

So, I suppose I enjoyed TFU overall, somehow. Really, if it weren’t a Star Wars game I probably wouldn’t have completed it, though I’m sure I’ve felt that way many, many times in the past as well. Sadly, I just barely managed to like the overall experience enough that I’m now tempted to eventually pick up TFU2 from a bargain bin despite how much it got slammed in reviews though, that said, I wasn’t exactly desperate to play more of the first game when it was done and indeed will be skipping the DLC for now.

Now where is my damn X-wing/Tie Fighter reboot?

Ok, that title was a bit forced… get it? GET IT?! Surprise! My love affair with awful comedy is still very much intact. 🙂

Assassin’s Greed

I don’t dust off the news section here very often but this was on my mind this morning so I figured I’d rant a little about it.

Assassin’s Creed Revelations, the third game in tale of Ezio Auditore, was revealed last week. I was a little annoyed about the announcement of the previous game, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, when it was first announced because I’m a big fan of the first two games and, frankly, I was ready to get this story wrapped up. Brotherhood seemed like an obvious attempt at a quick money-grab that was wholly unnecessary to the progression of the overall story. Still, it got great reviews and even people that didn’t care much for Assassin’s Creed 2 seemed to like it somehow, so I gave it a pass and put it on my wish list. So now we’re getting ANOTHER one of these quick, greedy cash-in games that’ll likely use 90% of the assets from AC2 all over again instead of Assassin’s Creed 3? Baaaaaaaaah! I was already annoyed by the way it seems like every fucking game and movie released nowadays needs to be part of some sort of grand trilogy but even that wasn’t enough for Ubisoft, who needed to make the second part of the AC trilogy into its own trilogy apparently. Really? Maybe there will be three Assassin’s Creed arks eventually too? The adventures of Desmond and his two compadres? Count on three of those too!

Ahh well. I guess I’ll go ahead and add this one to my wish list anyway since they’re very solidly at 3/3 right now and despite my misgivings I can’t imagine Revelations is going to be anything but good. Sometimes it is so hard being a gamer…