Category: RPG

28 Feb

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review (PC)

Games, Reviews, RPG No Comments by Tramell

When you talk about Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, you cannot help but mention all the big names involved. Accomplished author R.A. Salvatore played an instrumental part in creating the world. Spawn creator Todd McFarlane spearheaded the art design of the game. Ken Rolston, lead designer for the The Elder Scrolls III and IV, started from scratch to create the fantastic combat found in the game. Former MLB great Curt Schilling brought the game back from the edge of the grave when he purchased Big Huge Games, following a falling out with THQ. Acclaimed video game composer Grant Kirkhope produced the game’s thematic score. With all these big names, did Reckoning become the blockbuster RPG that the creators hoped it would be? Follow along as I dive head first into the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The game starts you off as the first person to ever to be successfully revived by the Well of Souls, a device created to cheat death; to bring a soul back from the afterlife and create a body for it. As a result of this experiment, you are no longer bound by fate; you become the Fateless One. In Reckoning, everyone is bound by a fate that has a beginning, a middle, and an end; it can never be changed. Until you come along. In this world, you are somewhat of an anomaly and you have the ability to change your fate as well as the fate of those around you. This becomes the backbone of the leveling system and story.

Since you are a blank slate, you have quite a few ways to build your character. Borrowing MMO-like elements, there are three trees you can spend skill points on every time you level up. The Finesse tree handles abilities such as traps, poisons, daggers and faeblades. The Might tree is for people who want to play the role of a warrior. This tree focuses on improving sword and two-handed weapon as well as shield perks and other skills that allow you to become an unstoppable juggernaut. Lastly, there is the Sorcery tree. As you might have guessed, it deals with all things magic. Here, you can improve your sceptre, staff, and chakram proficiencies as well as pick up spells from the elemental planes, such as fire, lightning, and ice.

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17 Nov

The Magic of The Elder Scrolls [Skyrim]

I’m sure most of you by now have dug yourselves in with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The open-world RPG has been the talk of the town for the past few days with ZeniMax Media capping it off by announcing that the game has garnered roughly $3.5M in sales over a period of 48 hours. My experience with Skyrim has been stellar so far.

It’s the moments that make it magical

For me it’s all about the world and its many quests and tasks. There is so much to do in Skyrim that I don’t have that feeling of being rushed and okay to be distracted. Everything will eventually be completed right!? Even with all the content they packed into the game, each little slice tells a story. Even stopping to read a book containing a short story is food for the soul.

I recall roaming around near the beginner area and stumbling upon a beat-up shack. I investigate only to find a letter by the homeowner describing his eyewitness account of a dragon flying overhead. Reading on, his wife tried to convince them to leave but the man refused stating that it was okay to stay as long as we don’t bother the dragon it won’t bother us. Oh how he was wrong! My heart broke when I stepped outside and off to the side near a fire camp laid two charred bodies. I shed a single tear, although not before I pilfered some gold off the bodies.

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27 Oct

Review: Dragon Age 2: Mark of the Assassin DLC

Bioware second content rich DLC Mark of the Assassin brings a few new wrinkles to the land of Thedas. There’s party mingling, flirtation, stealth infiltration, puzzle solving along with the goodies you come to know and love with Dragon Age 2. Mark of the Assassin takes us to the land of Orlais on the hunt for the “Jewel of the Many” being held in a private mansion of a powerful man.

Varric sets the tone early. “Let me set the scene. An invitation, an ambush, all because of Tallis.” And that’s pretty much it. The story has interesting twists and viewpoints, but overall it leaves you bewildered with unanswered questions instead of craving for more. The DLC opens up and drags you along for the experience. Although I was disappointed with the beginning of the story, I was wonderfully amazed by the entire experience. The story takes you from hunting for wyverns in the field, mingling with nobles, to infiltrating a castle. You may think that this is Dragon Age: Kasumi’s Lost Memories, but that is kind of a misrepresentation.

When you get into the swings of things, you immediately hit a few roadblocks. You’re supposed to be on a wyvern hunt, but the way they designed the environment that you’ll have to explore feels very sparse. It felt like I was on a picnic rather than a scene depicting an extravagant hunt for bragging rights.

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14 Aug

Gorgeous Character Screenshots [Skyrim]

Reading all the previews and looking at all the videos, it is easy to tell how gorgeous Skyrim is but this week it really hit home for me as I’ve seen some of the new images being pushed out by various media outlets, detailing one of my favorite mechanics in a RPG, character creation. At QuakeCon, game journalists had the chance to tinker around with character creation before being be dropped head first into the world of Skyrim.

They created very distinct characters including a Bosmer, an Orc, and a Nord. The amount of detail has me itching to give it a go as well. I want to see a Redguard at some point since I always played them in previous Elder Scrolls games; hopefully I can create one that actually looks like me this time around.

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07 Jul

Dragon Age 2 Legacy DLC Announced

Bioware officially announced their first content oriented DLC at the EA Summer Showcase. Entitled Legacy, it will take players out of Kirkwall on a journey to an ancient Grey Warden prison to uncover the truth about the Hawke Lineage while combating the cartel hunting for “the blood of the hawke.” Fernando Melo a senior producer proclaimed that they heard the feedback from fans, media, critics and they are using Legacy to address a number of the issues but from what I’ve seen in the video below I wasn’t entirely impressed granted they were playing on casual mode and didn’t show a whole lot. The one thing that caught my eye however was the new darkspawn they introduced, the Genlock Alpha. If you recall Genlocks are the short darkspawn that come from Dwarven Broodmothers. The Alpha variant(though I’m sure they used Genlock Alpha to describe some of the creatures in game already) is a bigger, huskier version wielding a giant shield that reduces damage from all frontal attacks.

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25 Jun

Dragon Age Legends: Shifting Momentum

I’m still going strong with Facebook game, Dragon Age Legends but recently I noticed with all the recent tweaks & changes they are starting to possibly lose what made the game ‘fun’ for me. In my review I stated that I was enjoying the game because it was designed to be played in short bursts all the while making satisfactory progress and enjoying the gameplay enough to keep me coming back. With the recent updates I’m left wonder what exactly are they aiming for. Encounters are costing more and more energy and every fight is a long, grinding repetitive six waves of monsters with the newly released content. Overall it is starting to feel like a slow boring grind resulting in leaving me a bit burnt out.

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10 Jun

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – An E3 2011 Update

E3 has come and gone and I got the chance to watch a few demos of one of the most anticipated games this year, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. With its new Creation Engine, Radiant Story and artificial intelligence Bethesda has created a very immersive open world. I got a glimpse of the smooth sleek menu system, combat, shouts and dragons. Follow along as I detail what makes me want to move time forward as a RPG fan.

Attention to detail

Opening the demo you notice right away the rich environment of Skyrim. The area I saw was a lush forest with evergreens, mountains in the back and animals scurrying about. Here Todd Howard explained that they are paying a lot of attention to detail. He states “In an open world the player can go anywhere they want and we can’t hide anything.” Everything from flowers, rocks, to mountains are all handcrafted and every nook and cranny gets some TLC. As the dev traveled through the area I saw a fox run across the screen chasing a rabbit from the dirt path and into the bushes. Come to find out that even the animals have scripts that allow them to hunt for food or passively travel to their next breeding grounds: it’s all about the details. The animation system has received a rework so the player’s character runs differently and more realistic. Horses are in the game and they move like real horses with smooth transitions from trotting to sprinting. As you navigate the world with these fluid animations there is a lot to discover. Going downhill we were introduced to Guardian stones which functions similarly to altars in Oblivion as these stones bestow a buff on you that increase the rate you level up certain skills. When you’re in a town the townsfolk all have their own unique duties and when you speak to them it doesn’t zoom in like it did in previous Bethesda games and it provided a genuine feel and it kept you immersed in the world. In town you can take part in the crafts they do such as blacksmithing. They really want to suck you into the world no matter what you choose to do.

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28 Apr

Review: Dragon Age Legends [Facebook]

 

Bioware’s version of a Facebook game that they like to call ‘the first real Facebook game and after playing it I can’t verify their claims but I was impressed with the game. DA Legends is a turn based RPG mixed with a meta game of building up a castle that allows you to craft items you desperate need on your journey to become legendary. Featuring a strategically battle system and a robust castle/craft system with a sprinkle of cash shop makes this a very solid game.

Upon starting the game, you are promoted to create a character. You can create a rogue, warrior, and mage as well as a choice between male and female. They give you a few face shapes and good helping of skin and hair color. After creating my savvy female rogue, I went through a quick tutorial that shows you the inner working of the game how the game works. From walking you through combat by providing tips on digesting the information on the UI, How to attack, use skills and tips on using various items and explaining how to build you castle and setting you up with a apothecary and a worker to make you items. Outside your castle you are greeted with a simple painted map with direction lines that leads your character along a path to various points that when reached you either have to fight or pick up a reward. In the encounters, you are greeted with multiple waves of enemies each with their own weakness and strong points.

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25 Apr

Phantasy Star Online 2 First Details

It’s been awhile since we saw heard anything about Phantasy Star Online 2 when it was announced at TGS last year. With a summer alpha test being conducted in Japan later this year, information is slowly trickling down. At the Phantasy Star Portable 2 Infinity national fan appreciation event 4Gamer and Andriasang manage to get some new screenshots and a video giving up some sneak peeks into the sequel to the long awaited sequel to PSO.

If you watch the video closely you’ll notice a lot of things. It starts off showing a party where you see them using a chat system similar to the old PSO where you’d input text and a chat bubble appears over your head except this time your character face appears with it with a neat animation of it talking. The group then moves through the a very lush and green forest if you look at the UI your main actions are controlled by your mouse buttons and you have the standard hot bar at the bottom middle of your screen. With your basic actions mapped to the mouse you know the game will have a more action oriented feel and it shows as the video progresses. They show a melee class using a very large sword that can juggle opponents in the air as well as take on multiple enemies at a time. Then they switch to a ranged class using a standard rifle manually aiming to take down opponents. Here you get a glimpse at the potentially impressive A.I. You’ll see a monkey hybrid monster toss a rock at the ranger and in turn you see her diving to the side to avoid it. So not only do you have A.I. that can potentially react to a player’s tactics but you also dodge and roll to avoid attacks to says to avoid getting hit you have to have the skills to dodge and react. After that we see a scripted event where a vessel crashes and looks like the team is defending from waves of monsters. The same ranger we were with before takes the opportunity to jump on the crash vessel to gain a better vantage point to take out her enemies. So platforming will be in the game to some extent. After that you see some cross class combos, a melee fighter sending an enemy into the air and the ranger tagging while it’s in the air. You also see weather change in the same area giving off hints that weather might be dynamic in the game.

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19 Apr

Cross Platform Modding

Reported by Edge the developers at Bethesda have developed their creation kit(modding tools) to work on all platforms. So even though you can only use the toolset on the PC the mods you design will work on the console versions of the game. The issue now is dealing with Microsoft and Sony to iron a way to get those modifications to cross over. At the moment it all looks hopefully but they doubt anything will be ready by launch.

As a player I’m all for sharing across platforms especially on games that benefit greatly from a fantastic modding community. I’ve literally put a lot more time into playing a game because of the extra assets that can be acquired from mods. From new levels, to tweaks to game mechanics to an all out visual redesign of the game. Not only do I have the ability to play a game I enjoy in multiple ways it also helps give insight into how games are designed. Such as understanding why a move functions the way it does, how to make it better, is it over powered if it functions this way. I’ve also played games such as Dragon Age: Origins where a few modders redesigned all the NPCs(improvements and cleanups) and scripted animations and events in the game that gave the game more life. Children running around more NPCs in the markets and so on and I played that game a few more times just with those two mods because they gave a entirely unique feel apart from Vanilla. I also love mods because as we all know games are released with bugs, its unavoidable and talented people put out tempary fixes until the developers themselves can do a full sweep and get that patch out. I would really love to have this translate over to consoles to get a better understanding how things are different on another platform besides control scheme, UI or the technical efficiently.

Valve had the right idea somewhat with Portal 2. They were able to hammer out a agreement with Sony to allow Steamworks to work on PS3 version of the game allowing people on the PC to design maps and have to transfer over to a bigger audience and the audience given the capability of extending their gaming experience. I’m all for it so hopefully these deals get worked out faster and more games adopt cross-platform creation.

Source: Edge