Video Game #7: Half-Life (Or more accurately, Half-Life 2)

I’m going to be completely honest. I don’t really like the original Half-Life game. I never beat the final boss. It didn’t feel like it had much of a story. I just couldn’t stand it much. So I was leery of Half-Life 2, which I had originally started prior to start Half-Life, but felt I should start at the beginning. That being said, I really enjoy Half-Life 2 and the subsequent chapters, including The Lost Shore.

Half-Life 2

Half-Life 2 starts with the creepy G-Man talking in his creepy way to you. This dude is very enigmatic and very annoying…and I typically want to beat him with a crow bar. Several times over. So you then wind up on a train to who knows where. The simple fact is, you have no damn clue what is going on. Listening ot people and conversations on the train and in the station, you learn that things aren’t so good for humans. And everyone who know you, well almost everyone, is so glad to see you. Of course you haven’t aged a day…so it’s really awkward at times. So you learn aliens invaded once you beat the final boss in HL1. And it went horrible for the humans…as in 7 hours defeated bad and things just have been getting worse. A totalitarian state. Aliens doing who knows what to humanity. Guess who has to stop it all…that’s right, you! Gordon Freeman. The Freeman! So let’s grab that HEV suit and crowbar and lets go!

This game is a good game. Graphically, I felt it was gorgeous. The atmospheres were dynamic. Ravonholm in the chapter “We Don’t Go To Ravenholm…” is very creepy and intense. And the chapter is probably one of my favorites. All of them are…unique and can be quite frustrating if you’re not careful.

The Citadel - Half-Life 2

The Citadel

Half-Life 2

  • Story –  8
  • Playability – 8
  • Visual Appeal – 8
  • Overall – 8

 Half-Life 2: Episode 1

This is a direct continuation of Half-Life 2. It is basically the escape from City 17. You discover quite a bit more back story with who the Combine really is and who was really pulling the strings on Earth. First thing you had to do was go into the reactor  failing Citadel you’d just tried to bring down and keep the Combine from blowing it up for their own reasons.

The Creepy G-Man

The G-Man, Creepy Extraordinaire

My favorite thing is, you’re not quite so alone in this. You have Alyx Vance, the daughter of one of the scientists, Eli Vance, with you pretty much the whole way. She’s rather useful and helps with getting past barriers. She’s also not that bad of a shot.

Alyx Vance

Alyx Vance and the Singing Vortigaunts

Eventually you do get out of the city…and well…that ends the game. It is just like Half-Life 2, graphically and story wise. It’s just a continuation.

Uh Oh

That’s never a good thing, right?

Half-Life 2 – Episode 1

  • Story –  9
  • Playability – 8
  • Visual Appeal – 8
  • Overall – 8.5

 Half-Life 2: Episode 2

So at the end of Episode 1, you’re in a train. At the start of Episode 2, that train is derailed.  This time, you’re trying to race the Combine forces to the Scientists in a missile silo to the north. They have a plan to keep the Combine forces from receiving reinforcements but they need the information you and Alyx found to do so.

City 17 Remains

Nope, definitely not good

As it is a race against time, you’re always on the move. You run into newer, nastier bad guys and get help, once more, from the Vortigaunts. More so this time, Alyx is a bigger member of the team. Most of the game is spent traversing some beautiful countryside in the equivalent of a supped up dune buggy. Once you get the the missle silo, it’s a defensive stand from, in my opinion, hell, to keep the combine off your back.

Uh Oh

Bye-Bye Wormhole!

There is even a reference to the Portal games in this one. Once more, a gorgeous game on their Source engine and a good story line.

Half-Life 2: Episode 2

  • Story –  8.5
  • Playability – 8
  • Visual Appeal – 8
  • Overall – 8.5

Half-Life 2: Lost Shore

City View

I wanna go there.


I have no idea what this is. It was short. Easy. I think it’s a work in progress but no idea.

***

Overall I adore the Half-Life 2 series. I don’t like though is the fact…where’s the rest of the game? What happened to Judith? What’s going on with the Borealis? I want answers….where’s Half-Life 3?

Oh well…I think we’ll be waiting for a while for those answers.

Video Game #6: Game Dev Tycoon

This is a game that game that came to me by way of a close friend during a Steam sale. it was during my move and I can never express how thankful I was to find this game sent as a gift. Of course, it is a simple game though, it can be frustrating at times. The game is Game Dev Tycoon by Greenheart Games.

Game Dev Tycoon

Game Dev Tycoon

The game’s premise is rather simple. You start at the birth of the gaming industry and have to maneuver your company from the garage (probably your mom’s) to greater and greater things for the next 35 years without going bankrupt. Sounds easy right? Hah. How many gaming companies can you name that are still here after starting in the 80s?

Start here…

You start out making rather simple games, for the PC and the Govodore G64. Slowly the gaming consoles are added and then you get the predictions of what the future will hold after the current generation. It’s a lot of fun to snicker at how Greenheart Games played off the names, changing them but making it clear you know who it is supposed to emulate from the past. Vonny, Ninvento, Govodore jsut to name a few. It’s always fun to read the ‘predictions’ in the earlier stages of the game because you already know how history played out for these consoles. The tongue in cheek humor makes this a blast.

Of course, you can’t have a game development company without creating games. You start with five categories – Action, Adventure, RPG, Simulation, Strategy. Eventually, Casual is added as a sixth category. On top of that you have 48 topics ranging from Military to Romance and pretty much everything in between.  So there are a lot of options. Of course some topics work better with certain catergories over others. Certain categories work better with certain platforms. It’s all a game of matching what goes best. When in doubt, think of today’s games. Of course as you go on and do research, you unlock audiences, then you unlock multi-genre and multi-platforms. Ocer all the story is simple. The fun is seeing how long you can last without tanking. One bad game can sink a company…right, 38 Studios? Okay, that’s unfair. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was a good game…the company just made stupid decisions. Which still proves my point. You can be a dick to your fans, suing the pants off them when the do fan copies of the game, or pirate or want your engine source code, or you can be cool with them. You can invest money wisely, or unwisely. It’s up to you on how to make your company succeed.

The Dreaded Lvl 2

Oh, hey I have employees!
Welcome to the evil second level, where most people go belly up.

For me this is a fun game. I play it often. I have yet to get everything done in the thirty-five year time span but the fun thing is, this game doesn’t really end. After you hit that point, it just keeps going on but there are no updates from any of the other game developers. So I play it over and over again. I enjoy creating names for games, and figuring out how to make everything work. And it truly shows that video game reviews are arbitrary opinions.

If there was any knock against the game is the idea that people who play adventure games aren’t big into great dialogue or action games only care for great AI. I understand the simplicity of the idea for this game, but I’m an odd gamer. I like my action games to be decently fleshed out. I like to know that I can submerge myself into the world and be in it while playing. But that doesn’t harm Game Dev Tycoon at all. I think it does a wonderful job of being a wonderful, fun game.

...end here

…end here!

 

Game Dev Tycoon

  • Story –  N/A
  • Playability – 9
  • Visual Appeal – 9
  • Overall – 9

You can pick up Game Dev Tycoon either on Steam – here or off their website – Greenheart Games

Currently Playing: Dust: An Elysian Tale

Dust Chapter 4

So Shoost.co is having a giveaway month for the month of March. Post your indie game screen shot and every Friday they put you in a drawing to win a free indie game. See more details here.

So currently I am playing Dust: An Elysian Tale, and am enjoying it a great deal. I saw it on Shoost’s Twitch channel while being streamed and when it was up for a Humble Bundle, I jumped at it. This is the chapter I just started.

#IndieGameEyeCandy

Indie Gaming with Shoost.co

I don’t consider myself an Indie gamer. Nor do I consider myself a ‘mainstream’ gamer. I just consider myself a gamer. If it has something that intrigues me, then I’ll play it. However, I’ll admit my tastes have for a long time run more mainstream than taking the chance on unknowns, and honestly, I am discovering, shame on me. Very much a shame on me. In the last few weeks I’ve started playing several indie games from a variety of developers and have had a blast with them.

A lot of that has come from several for my friends working with a site called Shoost.co. It is a new site having just launched ‘officially’ on February 1st. It’s a website dedicated to exposing those hidden gems and bringing them to a wider audience. I know that this has worked for me. It has well written articles, giving opinions on indie game news. It has the all important reviews. It even gives advice to those new to indie gaming. On top of all that they have a Twitch channel where you can watch contributors stream the various games they are enjoying. Shoost.co has a presence on Steam as well as Facebook.

Everyone there is really great, they’re friendly and they’re knowledgeable. Everyone has a gaming preference and I feel that having a resource that explores the items not so heard about is awesome. It sure has helped me find several games which I have come to love and went out to buy or just to keep an eye on as they come to their final versions.

shoost_logo_300x116

Come visit Shoost.co

So head on over, poke around and stick around as this Indie News site grows!

Video Game #5: The Portal Games

Portal Cover

Portal

Portal 2

Portal 2

Yes, this is two games in one post, so sue me. Please don’t. I have no money.

I know that the first Portal game has been out for nearly seven years. The second has been out for nearly three. Yet, I’m well behind in the times on certain games; Valve games in particular. I bought the first Portal a long time ago in an Orange Box deal on Steam. Then I got Portal 2, despite never playing Portal. I started Portal, then got frustrated with it and quit. Yes, I rage quit. I do that a lot. Recently I decided to give it another go, and found I liked it. And was better at it than I had been that first time.That translated well over to the second one which didn’t give me as much trouble as I’d had trying to figure out the first one.

The first portal was interesting, considering I, surprisingly, came into the game only knowing a few things about it. One, the cake was a lie. Two, that you made orange and blue portals to pass through. Throwing oneself through the portals was hard for me. I raged quit a lot. Finally, after a year or so hiatus to it, I came back and was able to logic puzzle my way through it. The game was interesting. It had a very basic story that left you curious, wanting to know more about Chelle. I loved GLaDOS’ snarkiness. There isn’t much for design but the feel of being a rat in a maze and the parts not in the actual testing area, were well done. Definitely a game I plan to go back and play to get all the achievements.

As much as I had fun with Portal, I think Portal 2 was a much better game over all. It gave more answers raised in the first game, but at the same time, still raised questions which weren’t really answered in the game, like who is Chelle. Teasers are given but it’s never fully stated. Portal 2 also takes you well out of the generic testing rooms, and gives you some new toys to play with, like the conversion gel, which changes surfaces so you can use your portal gun.  The protagonist from the first game, GLaDOS definitely grows and is a much more interesting character. Wheatley is just hilarious.

I haven’t played co-op yet as I’d need to find a co-op partner but from what I’ve seen it looks like it could be hilarious.

Portal 

  • Story – 6
  • Playability – 8
  • Visual Appeal – 7
  • Overall – 7

Portal 2

  • Story – 7
  • Playability – 8
  • Visual Appeal – 8
  • Overall – 7.5

There you have it, my thoughts on the Portal series.

A Life in Tyria – Character Creation – Creating a Character

So here we are at the point I’d wanted to get to in the first post but had quickly realized that all the information I wanted to put into it would have been a lot. So I broke it down. Now we’ll create a character that this blog will follow. I’ll try not to reveal too much story line spoilers (though I know you can find it all out there on the net.) At this point I will also probably bring in things from some of my other characters, depending on how this goes. Not often but every once in a while, especially with the continual updates.

So let’s start! First thing you’ll see and I forgot to get a screen shot of it is a window and it will have some grey squares, click one and it will take you to the next screen as seen here:

Racial Selection Screen - GW2

Select a race. Any race!

So I picked human. Now I adore the artwork on these pages. I like the kinda sketchy-painty detailed but not detailed quality of these screens.

Next screen is your gender selection. Male or Female.

Gender Selection

Einey Meany Miney Moe!

I selected male. I prefer playing male characters. Guild Wars 2 has some decent armor for females but I still prefer the male armor. What can I say? Bikini armor doesn’t protect the vitals! (Not that there’s really much in the way of bikini armor in Guild Wars 2…I think). Then we’re at the class selection screen.

Class Selection

What? More options?!

I selected warrior. Ain’t that armor spiffy?

Creating the look

And now there’s a lot more options…

As you can see, you don’t start with the spiffy looking armor. Just some simple chainmail. Now on this screen you do get to go through options. Here you seelect how tall you want the character – I have a penchant to make my characters tall. I had a sylvari male mistaken for a norn with his hood on. You can choose physique, hair style, facial hair. On the norn, you get to select tattoos. On the sylvari you get what is called a glow, where a light goes with their breathing and in darker places. You then can choose to select eye colors, and tweak the face until it is what you want. The very last option is coloring the armor. You can really choose anything.

PURPLE ARMOR FTW

I can pull this off!

Choices Choices and more choices

Choices Choices and more choices

So at this point each class will be slightly different. For the warrior they can choose between a helm, typically received at level 10 or shoulder guards, also usually received at level 10. I selected the no helmet option. I don’t like any of the helmets you could pick at this point.

Approach to trouble

I USE…WELL…WHEN TROUBLE COMES, I JUST RUN…FASTER THAN A CENTAUR

This is on all classes. You can select how your character approaches life. The more you use one the different responses you can have with different NPCs. You can even ‘mix and match’ the responses and get different options.

Upbringing

Centaurs raised me.

At this point, racial decisions come into play. Each racial class has different options for this screen. For my human I had street rat, commoner and noble. I’d done noble already so, I chose commoner. Now, you’ll also learn all of them are interrelated which is very cool.

More selections!

I regret…NOTHING!

This is another racial screen. Again, it will be different per your race. In this one, I picked not joining the circus. Seriously, I want to join a circus.

I worship...

I choose…uh…you.

This is another racial based screen. I haven’t seen where it affects anything in game, yet. For humans, you pick between the six Gods – Dwayna, Grenth, Balthazar, Melandru, Lyssa and Kormir. For Sylvari, it’s which of cycle you were born in. For Asura, it’s which adviser. For Norn, which Spirit of the Wild. The charr on this screen pick their sire, which does affect gameplay. I chose Balthazar for the warrior.

Now, me being the dingbat I am, I forgot to grab the last screen – which is where it summarizes what you’ve chosen and then you name the character.

Everyone, meet Kylar Reinier!

On a sidenote – if you hover over the A Life In Tyria on the menu bar, there is now a Screenshot gallery. To keep it organized it is divided into the four regions of Tyria, at this time. I won’t be posting when I add something up there, so keep an eye out.

A Life In Tyria – A Guild Wars 2 Exploration – Character Creation – Classes

This is a continuation of the post found here. This time I’m going to go over the classes in Guild Wars 2.

In most games, you have the tank, the healer and someone who does support. or in most of the D&D groups, you have a fighter, a thief and a sorcerer. Usually only one class can heal, which sucks because sometimes the healer isn’t paying attention. Guild Wars 2 doesn’t do that. Every class can heal and boost their party. All can, usually, hold their own and deal a great deal of damage. You just have to play them right.

Guild Wars 2 divides its professions into three categories. Soldier – which are the heavies, this includes the Guardian and Warrior classes. Adventurer – these are the medium armored classes, including the Thief, Engineer and Ranger. The final group are the scholars, or light armored classes, such as the Elementalist, Mesmer and Necromancer.

Guild Wars 2 - Guardian Icon

Guardian

So starting with the Guardian profession, I will admit, this is the one I, currently, like the most. The Guardian strikes me as the sort of cleric/paladin of the Guild Wars 2 universe. They’re more defensive minded than offensive but can still wallop a punch. The weapons they use include greatsword, hammer, shield, one-handed sword, mace, scepter and staff. The range for the scepter and staff aren’t much, and honestly I don’t use them on my guardian, Tearlag, at all. Guardians have a lot of buffing built in. They also deal with a lot of healing. For example with the shield I can push someone back and heal everyone in my bubble. Another skill allows me to teleport to the person with the lowest health and give them some health. Very much a cleric/paladin class. Doesn’t help that anything like the Engineer’s healing turret or medkits have the guardian symbol on them. Often in-game, this is shortened to ‘guard’.

Guild Wars 2 - Warrior

Warrior

Next up is the Warrior. The warrior is the tank of the Guild Wars 2 universe. They get darn nearly every weapon but the short range weapons, such as shortbow and pistol, the dagger or the magical weapons – staff and scepter and focus. They use shouts and banners to buff themselves and allies as well as signets which have passive skills and activation skills. A well-played warrior is a beast on the playing field and can easily handle some of the harder denizens of the Guild Wars 2 universe. Often in-game, this is shortened to ‘war’

Guild Wars 2 - Thief Icon

Thief

For the adventurers we’ll start with the thief. The thief is the Guild Wars 2 equivalent of the D&D rogue. You can boost their traits with the ability to hit harder from the side and behind. Thieves tend to be the squishier of the adventurer classes, it seems, talking with other players who play thieves. Thieves have daggers, sword, shortbow, and pistols as their weapons of choice. They can shadow step in and out of combat, use venom to cause condition damages. They’re a good class to bring in if you have someone else who can hold the enemies attentions, such as a warrior or guardian. Backstabbing is always fun.

Guild Wars 2 - Ranger Icon

Ranger

The ranger is a fun class to play. The signature of a ranger is their pet. Pets are charmed all over Tyria and range from spiders to cats to canines and others unique to the world of Tyria. They are able to use bows, both long and short, swords, warhorn. They, like the warrior, get signets, though not as many. They have shouts for their pets to boost them as well as nature spirits and traps. I find that this class is a good solo class in that you can buff your pet to tank for you while you knock someone off at range. Not being hit means not dying and that is always nice.

Guild Wars 2 - Engineer Icon

Engineer

The last of the adventurer classes is the Engineer. To be honest, it’s taken me a long time to like this class. I’ve done several iterations and only recently have I gotten to understand this class a little. Thanks to my guildmate, Lord Greystone, for that assistance. Engineers are very limited on what weapons they can equip – pistols and shield and rifle. That’s it. They also don’t get the ability to switch their weapon set like other classes. Now, where they make up for the weapon limitation is in their skills. Engineers have ‘kits’ ranging from elixers, that boost the part, to grenades, to a flamethrower (so much fun!). They have turrets for healing, rifles, flame throwing, nets, rockets, you get the point. So they can  have set up that sets them from bombs to grenades to flamethrower with the touch of a button. Definitely does a lot of damage through conditions, such as bleeding, flames, poison. It’s become fun to play. Often in-game, this is shortened to ‘engi’.

Guild Wars 2 - Elementalist Icon

Elementalist

Now onto the ‘Scholar’ classes, starting with the Elementalist. The elementalist is the elemental magic user. They use fire, earth, water and air to cast spells. They do this with scepters, staffs and daggers. They, like the Engineer, can’t swap their weapons while in combat but they can quickly switch their elements. They’re very good for area of effect damage (AOE) and applying conditions. An elementalist focused on the water spells can also be a healing force. They can summon elemental beings to fight along side them, usually drawing attention away from themselves. They have glyphs and signets as well as other boosting spells to protect themselves. In-game they are often called ‘ele’.

Guild Wars 2 - Mesmer Icon

Mesmer

Mesmers are the illusionists of the game. They depend on illusions of themselves to attack their enemies. They can call on phantoms to attack enemies. They also have signets to boost themselves. They use mantras – which are meditations that give you a spell to do to your enemies. They have glamors. The mesmer is all about ‘tricking’ the opponent into tattcking something else as they attack you or forcing their attack back on themselves. One of their more popular spells is the portal giving the ability to bypass enemies, hard parts of jumping puzzles among other sundry uses.

Guild Wars 2 - Necromancer Icon

Necromancer

The last of the professions, and the last of the Scholars is the Necromancer. Necromancers are the death magic users. They can create undead minions, cast wells that cause conditiosn on enemies and  steal health as they attack. Signets again are here for the Necromancer, often causing conditions upon activation or stealing life. They also get the ability to go spectral, in which they take no damage to their hit points but drain a meter that’s powered by the life force they steal from opponents. Once this runs out they head back to normal. It can be a good way to buy time to let a heal skill recharge. They are also called, in-game, Necros.

 

Images taken from the Guild Wars 2 Wiki, no copyright infringement intended.

Happy New Year!

I wish you all a happy new year! May it be a wonderful year. Personally, I know it can’t be worse than 2013!

For this new year, I plan to work on this blog a bit more. I’m working on a Guild Wars 2 post to put up soon. I’m having to do research into some of the classes I don’t play much, so it’s taking some time. I got some wonderful games to play from some amazing friends over the holidays so I will definitely put those up.

So here’s to a new year!

CHEERS!