If you're a gamer, you've heard of Deus Ex. Released over a decade ago, it has earned countless awards and accolades. It also combined a number of gameplay elements that resonated with me personally: open-ended obstacles, stealth-based gameplay (remember Thief?), experience-based progression, and a dystopian cyberpunk setting.
Although Invisible War was a decent game, it failed to live up to its name as a Deus Ex sequel. The game wasn't bad but in an attempt to simplify many of the mechanics of the original Deus Ex it removed much of what made it unique. So the question commonly asked on the internet was... would Eidos Montreal create a worthy prequel to the original Deus Ex?
Yes. Yes they did.
In the past, the only use I had for my small Magic: the Gathering card collection was as a character generation tool for role-playing games. I mentioned the process a couple years ago when talking about one of our campaigns, and the hosts of Fear the Boot, whom I game with talked about it in Episode 95 of their show.
But as I mentioned in my Backburst post, a few months ago my Saturday group and I started playing Magic to pass the time until everyone arrived for the weekly role-playing session. If you're like me, you've heard of the $500 decks and the craziness that goes into playing in tournaments, but that's not what we're looking to do. With just our modest collections we've put together a few decks each, which has been enough to provide a great side game to play casually and socialize over.
It's been somewhat surprising to see how much fun the group is having just playing casually. A few members were a little leery at first, but when no one tries to win through strength of wallet it's a good time. Unlike our role-playing, where there's a story going on at the table that banter could interrupt, Magic can be an even more social experience for us since we can talk over the game with no ill effect.
The other night my Saturday gaming group took a night off from the polyhedrals to take a vaction in lovely downtown Mordheim. It had been a while since we hit the boardwalk for a wyrdstone-cream cone and a Sigmar's Sizzling Sausage (don't ask, but Chad's obsessed with them). It was just like Coney Island, but with more rat-men, mutants, undead and witch burning and less fun and games.
Mordheim's strength has always been the aspect of play where yoru warband gains experience and suffers injuries as you continue to play it. Unfortunately the customizability and organic warband evolution was tempered by a clunky system and obtuse rulebook. So we decided to give Coreheim a try.
First off, if the title of this article doesn't make sense and you haven't seen the original gameplay trailer for Borderlands, go check it out. The music is the song No Heaven by DJ Champion. It's not the kind of music I usually listen to but the trailer had it stuck in my head forever.
Now then, it's been a couple months since I mentioned looking forward to playing Borderlands, so I thought I should post a follow-up. I played the game pretty intensely for a while, running through two playthroughs on my first character, a Siren, once as a Soldier, and a little as the other two classes. Most of my gameplay was single player but I got in quite a few multiplayer sessions with a couple of my friends that were a blast.
From skag hunting to fighting off the denizens of the Eridian Promontory, the game as a whole was extremely fun. It wasn't without its issues but unfortunately that seems to be standard for PC games nowadays. Regardless of some of the minor issues, I got more than my money's worth on Pandora.
Since my Sunday gaming group is waiting for after Christmas to kick off our upcoming campaign, Hardarian Blackleaf, Ale, Mr. Wizard Nickelbane III, and Elfin John continued their Quest (tm) to become Heroes (tm). The story was thin but the cardstock terrain was thick as... well... cardstock. And so the smiting commenced!
We ran through a couple more pretty generic quests this week - find a good wizard then go kill the evil one. Considered we played Are You the Traitor? beforehand (which features a good/evil wizard mechanic) I suppose there was a theme running throughout the evening.
While my role-playing group is between campaigns, we're filling our weekly sessions with boardgames and one-shots. Last week was a blast from the past: Hero Quest by Milton Bradley. I couldn't find the doors and a few figures were MIA (the elf in particular) and had to be proxied, but the old school charm remained.
Matt took on the role of the vile Zargon for the first two quests, leaving Chad, Wayne, and me to take on the mantles of the Elf (Elfen John), Wizard (Mr. Wizard), and Barbarian (Thud). The Dwarf (Ale) was thrown in for good measure. For the third and final game I took over behind the screen and Matt claimed the Dwarf.
We fully embraced the camp of the game, with "Zargon" reading the boxed text before each adventure with as much melodrama as could be mustered. As casually as we treated the game, our role-playing roots came through and there were a few more descriptions than dictated by the adventure book as we stomped around the dungeon, hacking up orcs, goblins, and other minions of Chaos.
Due in no small part to the obsession of Ravious, our resident representative of Spugnation, I've started getting excited for the upcoming release of Borderlands on the PC next week. The group of friends with whom I play online games typically enjoy both RPG and FPS style games, so this seems like it should be right up our alley.
Borderlands has been described as a FPS version of Diablo II, which is a fairly accurate description. You are given a choice of one of four classes, each of which has three skill trees which you can choose from to customize your character to your liking. Loot seems to be a big part of the game, and the constant variety keeps you engaged by ensuring there's always the possibility of something better than what you have dropping from the next enemy.
I wouldn't even pretend that I follow video games as close as I used to. I knew about Clear Sky, the prequel to Shadow of Chernobyl, but I only recently became aware of the development of Call of Pripyat, the latest sequel currently due out this fall.
Looks like Clear Sky is going to move up my to-play list.
Scavenger, Trespasser, Adventurer, Loner, Killer, Explorer, Robber
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. takes place in "The Zone," the area surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant where a second nuclear disaster lead to the appearance of physics-defying anomalies and the artifacts they produce. You play as an amnesic Stalker plying your trade (artifact retrieval) while trying to piece together your past. Along the way you'll have to contend with anomalies, radiation, hunger, military forces trying to lock down the Zone, bandits, and mutated... things.
Well, zombies and pirates I suppose. Last weekend with our gamemaster out of town my gaming group decided to have a board game day instead. We started out with a team Pirates game where Pat and I took on Wayne and Chad. After that one of Chad and Wayne's co-workers stopped by and we played a few games of Flying Frog's Last Night on Earth. The evening was a good lighthearted diversion from an otherwise intense role playing campaign and I wanted to take the opportunity to make note of some observations regarding the games we played.