aithne: (DA2_Etain)
Aaaaand that would be my first total party wipe of DA2. *facepalm*. A two-mage party at lower levels is not necessarily a good thing.

Neither is going toe to toe with an arcane horror if you are a Glass Cannon. I'M LOOKING AT YOU, ETAIN HAWKE. Your job is to stand there with Anders and make with the flashbangs while Fenris grabs and keeps their attention.

Also, I was in a hurry and thus you currently remind me overly much of Sten. Will fix that in a bit. Tomorrow. After I sleep. *whump*
aithne: (DA2 show no fear)
More tomorrow, when I'm coherent, but here, have a list:

spoilers ahoy! )

Fatale

Jan. 8th, 2011 11:10 pm
aithne: (Default)
 First of all, Fatale is free today, so if you like weird things that aren't quite games, go grab it.

Fatale is...well, it's art. That much I know. It's beautiful--I know that, too.

But let me start with this: you are John the Baptist, in a cistern...somewhere. There is writing on the walls, music playing. There's a grate where moonlight shines down; you go there, look up.

There are stars, and clouds moving across the stars. And, out of the corner of your eye--a movement. Above you, a girl is glimpsed dancing. She is mostly nude. And you know that these are the last moments of your life, because when the dance comes to a close, so do you. There isn't anything to do but wait.

So wait you do.

When the second act opens, you're drifting up into the terrace above the cistern. There is an actual game mechanic here--your job is to snuff out the lights that appear, one by one. Each light snuffed gives you access to a tableau, where you can observe closely some objects, and in some cases interact in a very minor way. You can rumple Salome's veils, knock around pomegranate halves. Above you, Salome herself is leaning on a wall in troubled contemplation; to one side, her mother stands atop some steps, watching her daughter.

Next to Salome, your head rests on a plate, eyes at half-mast.

But as you drift through the courtyard, snuffing out lights, troubling details emerge. There's a modern guitar and amp mixed in with older instruments where the musicians obviously sat playing. A pair of sneakers behind Salome, well-worn. Matchbooks, one of which has Salome's phone number and an exhortation to "Call me!" written on it...next to a pool of blood and a dropped sword, behind where your executioner stands, larger than life and still as the grave. Behind Salome, a photograph of a man wearing a crown. A pair of earbuds dangle from their cords around Salome's neck, nearly indistinguishable from her jewelry on first glance. There's an ipod at her waist. Her gaze shifts when you're not looking; sometimes she seems to be looking at the head beside her, more often at the empty throne at the other end of the terrace. Sometimes directly at you.

You begin to suspect that this is no simple retelling.

But all the lights are snuffed. You spend a last few moments in the game before your gaze is drawn ruthlessly to the sky, to see the moon paling as dawn comes. And as it comes...so does the sound of traffic. A car honks.

Inevitably, you wake.

It's an art piece about gazes, about looking; it's about a sort of silent tension. It's about stillness, and waiting. 

You are John the Baptist, and you are merely a character in a play put on by a girl. Her veils are scattered around the terrace. You are dead, and you are watching her, and as you move there is the sense that there is something else in the scene moving, lighting candles and lanterns when your back is turned. She whispers in your ear. She has all the power; she has none of it. Her mother pushes you away with a hennaed hand; you are not important. You never were.

She's got your head on a plate, and she's cut a pomegranate in half with an ivory-handled knife. And she, like you, is waiting for dawn.
aithne: (the path)
First of all, Fatale is free today, so if you like weird things that aren't quite games, go grab it.

Fatale is...well, it's art. That much I know. It's beautiful--I know that, too.

But let me start with this: you are John the Baptist, in a cistern...somewhere. There is writing on the walls, music playing. There's a grate where moonlight shines down; you go there, look up.

There are stars, and clouds moving across the stars. And, out of the corner of your eye--a movement. Above you, a girl is glimpsed dancing. She is mostly nude. And you know that these are the last moments of your life, because when the dance comes to a close, so do you. There isn't anything to do but wait.

So wait you do.

When the second act opens, you're drifting up into the terrace above the cistern. There is an actual game mechanic here--your job is to snuff out the lights that appear, one by one. Each light snuffed gives you access to a tableau, where you can observe closely some objects, and in some cases interact in a very minor way. You can rumple Salome's veils, knock around pomegranate halves. Above you, Salome herself is leaning on a wall in troubled contemplation; to one side, her mother stands atop some steps, watching her daughter.

Next to Salome, your head rests on a plate, eyes at half-mast.

But as you drift through the courtyard, snuffing out lights, troubling details emerge. There's a modern guitar and amp mixed in with older instruments where the musicians obviously sat playing. A pair of sneakers behind Salome, well-worn. Matchbooks, one of which has Salome's phone number and an exhortation to "Call me!" written on it...next to a pool of blood and a dropped sword, behind where your executioner stands, larger than life and still as the grave. Behind Salome, a photograph of a man wearing a crown. A pair of earbuds dangle from their cords around Salome's neck, nearly indistinguishable from her jewelry on first glance. There's an ipod at her waist. Her gaze shifts when you're not looking; sometimes she seems to be looking at the head beside her, more often at the empty throne at the other end of the terrace. Sometimes directly at you.

You begin to suspect that this is no simple retelling.

But all the lights are snuffed. You spend a last few moments in the game before your gaze is drawn ruthlessly to the sky, to see the moon paling as dawn comes. And as it comes...so does the sound of traffic. A car honks.

Inevitably, you wake.

It's an art piece about gazes, about looking; it's about a sort of silent tension. It's about stillness, and waiting.

You are John the Baptist, and you are merely a character in a play put on by a girl. Her veils are scattered around the terrace. You are dead, and you are watching her, and as you move there is the sense that there is something else in the scene moving, lighting candles and lanterns when your back is turned. She whispers in your ear. She has all the power; she has none of it. Her mother pushes you away with a hennaed hand; you are not important. You never were.

She's got your head on a plate, and she's cut a pomegranate in half with an ivory-handled knife. And she, like you, is waiting for dawn.
aithne: (DA Kathil blades text)
 The final Dragon Age: Origins DLC came out yesterday, and I played through it last night.

So, to sum up: I enjoyed it, but not as much as I might have.

More under the cut:

Spoilers! Beware! )
aithne: (DA Kathil is made of blades and ice)
 So I got home last night and lo and behold, there was a new DLC waiting for me.  After some issues with the XBox (I got it to cooperate eventually by threatening to file a bug against it), I get everything up and running and downloaded the DLC.  

The good: I have to say I'm impressed.  The DLC is short, but longer than most of the other DLC that's been put out.  It took me about two hours for my first playthrough.  The really nice thing is that it's fully voiced, Mass Effect style--you choose from a list of responses with the general gist of what you want to say, and the game then expands that for you.  I really hope that DA2 has the same thing (though that would probably necessitate moving it to two discs, just like Mass Effect).

Leliana's Song is quite self-consciously cinematic, which is completely appropriate for a dive into the past of a bard.  I really liked the "character introduction" cards, and at one point they were used to excellent effect in a reveal.  There are four distinct acts to the story, which I liked much better than the Darkspawn Chronicles one-long-act plot.  I really like Leliana as a character, and I liked watching the dynamic between her and Marjolaine.  Most of the supporting cast was pretty strong as well, which was nice to see.

If you play, be very sure to read all of the codex entries.  As there always is in DA, there's a lot going on that isn't necessarily made explicit on-screen.  The aforementioned reveal is much better if you've read up on the codex entries.

The bad: Dear Bioware, I know that new maps and textures are expensive, but can we please be done with the Denerim Market District now?  I would have loved to see Orlais and have had to cope with an entirely new map and setting.    There was one character who was introduced a bit late, who I would have liked to have seen a bit more lead-in with.  (Seriously, you guys know about foreshadowing, yes?)  And probably the biggest bad thing was that I ran into a glitch at the end where all of the conversation and cut scenes near the end repeated twice, which took me out of the story.   I am reluctant to blame that one on Bioware, though--it could easily be our XBox.

Verdict: well worth the $7, especially if you enjoy playing rogues and if you like Leliana.  
aithne: (DA Kathil is a thing that wolves fear)
I am a sucker for alternate histories, and I am a sucker for a good bad guy.  Put those two together in an alternate-universe DLC for Dragon Age, and I am a happy, happy girl.

In short: I liked it!

In long...

THAR BE SPOILERS PAST THE CUT, YARRR! )
aithne: (DA Zevran WTF?)
Oh, the endgame of Dragon Age is hideously buggy. I just finished my Team Evil playthrough, probably the last once since I finally got the "Traveler" achievement, and among other bugs in the ending dialogues there's this fun one:

cut for spoilers )
aithne: (DA Kathil is a thing that wolves fear)
YAAAAAY the expansion is here! I spent a good chunk of last night playing it.

Notes and stuff below, cut for those who prefer to avoid spoilers or don't care.

Not a review, but notes towards one... )
aithne: (can't talk dorking)
Still playing Mass Effect 2. I have traded in my WIZZARD hat for a pointy hat with racing stripes and stitched-on flames, because my Shepard has abruptly become the most dangerous thing on most battlefields. I actually am shooting people less and less; my gun has become something I use while I'm waiting for powers to recharge. And in a couple of notable cases, that's not long at all.

For instance, the Throw skill. For those not familiar with ME, Throw is basically a big ball of energy you toss at enemies to knock them off their feet. It does damage on its own, but really shines when you've got something to throw them into. (Or off of. I love it when people stand on bridges.) It has an extremely short recharge time (especially since I've been throwing a bunch of resources at making recharge times shorter). And when I leveled it up for the last time, I evolved it into Throw Field, which allows you to toss it at groups. When I'm not lobbing Throws at opponents, I'm using other powers to strip them of shields and armor so I can go back to using Throw.

So last night, I was playing through a mission (the IFF mission) and we were fighting our way through a bunch of husks. Husks are basically ME's answer to zombies, and they are Goddamn Bats--low-level critters that like to mob you. A lot. They don't have distance weapons, so they run at you with limbs flailing, groaning and growling. You're in cover? Too bad, because they'll come around behind you and start chewing on you.

I freakin' love husks.

The combination of husks and Throw Field is completely awesome, because with Throw you can make husks fly. Choose a group, lob a Throw into the center, and all of a sudden the air is filled with flailing, cartwheeling zombies. If the ceiling is low, they'll sometimes smack into it and come down in little pieces. I was totally bowling for zombies. You'd think it would get old after a few minutes, but it so did not. I was giggling like an insane person through pretty much the whole mission. And I was actually sad when it was over.

Also, I finally did Zaeed's loyalty mission last night. I don't like Zaeed. At all. But the rest of my crew all have these spiffy coordinating uniforms, so I figured I'd give the guy a chance. Off we went to go deal with the refinery.

Spoilers follow )


The other thing I've noticed is the vast abundance of Daddy Issues in this game, particularly in the loyalty quests.

More spoilers! )

Fortunately, the main plotline appears to mostly be free of Daddy Issues. So far, at least. We'll see.
aithne: (can't talk dorking)
I've been playing Mass Effect 2 recently. Overall, I really like the game, though it's not my usual milieu. Combat is sort of frustrating still, but it's getting easier as I figure out how to use my biotic powers. (I have been running around with an invisible pointy hat that says WIZZARD on it, relying on my actually competent teammates to shoot people while I act as a big shiny random-power-using distraction.) Aiming is...not one of my strengths. I generally end up gleefully shooting whatever the enemy is hiding behind. Or the floor, or the ceiling. Or random structural support beams. Or the air. I died a couple of times because I couldn't find my knee-high opponent who was chewing on me from behind.

I have a strong suspicion that the NPCs all think I'm an idiot. There was a battle I played through a few days ago that has a big frustrating monster at the end. (Horizon, for those who've played.) I died a couple of times, once because I was standing around facing the wrong way when it fell out of the sky onto my head. Then I was like, "Oh, wait! Didn't I pick up a BFG somewhere recently? ...how do I switch weapons again?"

Note that I am, oh, about 12 hours or so into the game and I haven't switched weapons since the tutorial in the first hour. (There's no in-game control reference, which is completely frustrating.) So I went hunting. It took me about three minutes to figure out that it was the left shoulder button that brought up the dialog to switch weaponry. I brought out the BFG and started shooting away.

Shepard (me): Look! Guys! This is AWESOME! I figured out how to take the very large gun off my back, put it in my hands, and FIRE it! WHEEEEEEEEE!
Garrus: I think they left out all of the competence when they rebuilt her.
Jack: Seriously? This woman saved the galaxy or something?
Shepard: WHEEEEEEEE! Plasma rifles* are FUN!
NPCs: Worst. Shepard. Ever.

*I think it's officially a particle accelerator rifle? Something like that.

In my hands, Shepard's competence is very much an Informed Ability, because I'm not particularly a lot of use during battles. However, I really am having quite a lot of fun. I really like how they've handed the dialogue tree; it's nifty to get to hear my PC actually talking. And at this point, I'm high enough on the Paragon scale to start getting some of the options that result in awesome speeches.

I really want to go all President Roslin on Miranda, though. Out of the airlock with you, there isn't room for your damned ego on this ship! And Jack is about a million times more awesome than you, despite being psychotic.

Overall, I have to say that ME2 is an extremely solid game, even if you're completely hopeless at playing shooting games, like me. In comparison to Dragon Age, the setting feels larger (appropriate for a universe-spanning game!) but the dialogue trees feel significantly shallower. I think that's one of the reasons I enjoy fantasy settings more than SF settings in games; it's the difference between, say, a concert at a stadium and a house concert. I have a hard time caring about something as big and crazy as a whole universe. I prefer the intimacy of the smaller stage.

And I definitely prefer it when my foes are running towards me with swords bared than when they're hiding behind stuff, shooting at me. I do prefer being able to point my character at an opponent and say, "okay, go kill it till it's dead" and have them trundle off to do just that.

Still! Two thumbs up, definitely.
aithne: (dragon age)
I was one of the lucky few who downloaded and played through the Return to Ostagar DLC before it was pulled. A few impressions after the cut!

likely spoileriffic )
aithne: (DA Kathil is a thing that wolves fear)
Summary: I liked this game. Really, really liked it. I don't like Bioware's SF-setting games (I gave up on Mass Effect after I couldn't make it through the first battle--I died about five times and decided it wasn't worth it), but I invariably adore their fantasy games.

After this, there be spoilers! Do not read if you're planning to play it and don't want parts of the story revealed! )
aithne: (avatar_braids)
I've been playing Dungeon Siege II more or less obsessively since I got it for Christmas. I loved the first game, I am adoring the second, despite a few things that are a little weird. (The selected character, unless you tell them to do something, just stands there while the henchmen fight. Um.) They've made a lot of improvements, including letting your characters specialize in stuff, making the ranger characters a lot more useful, and adding a lot more side quests and things. (Plus, it has god mode! That earns extra points from the girl who doesn't like hard games.)

In this game, your henchmen have something approaching personalities, and they occasionally talk to each other. Two of the three henchmen you get in Act I are a Dryad ranger named Deru, and a half-giant fighter named Lothar. Lothar reminds me a lot of Bryan's character Raam in the last campaign--taciturn and practical. Deru's about the opposite of Lothar, and they obviously get on each other's nerves.

I'd been thinking about disbanding Deru (since she is annoying and Lothar is not), but I really did need a ranger in my party, since otherwise the nature mage is the only person who can attack from a distance. (Next time I play this game, the PC is going to be a combat mage. Sheesh.) Then Deru got a quest, and I figured I might be stuck with her...until she and Lothar got into it for the second time in about 20 minutes.

When you find yourself actually saying aloud, "Watch your step, missy, or i'm going to replace you with that nice elven ranger back at the last town!" it is definitely time to turn off the computer and go to bed.
aithne: (avatar_braids)
This is for my own reference. I want to see if I can get a game together sometime after I move. (I've discovered that I'm really too good at this game to be a player, and need to moderate instead. At least, last time I played I was always eliminated in the first three rounds, because given about fifteen minutes of discussion and I always *know* who's lying at a level that's below concious thought.)

The Rules of Werewolf (only in the variation I played, people don't keep their cards, and the villagers *never* know if they've eliminated an opponent or an innocent person)
The Graduate Mafia Brotherhood has a bunch of variations.

Also, Duct Tape Warriors. Vs Zombies.

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