Monday, 31 August 2009

I thought of it first!

I quick blog today after I heard some news...

So, some Downloadable Content for Dawn of War II has been announced. The idea is pretty awesome; similar to Gears of War II's 'Horde' mode, you have to hold out with a friend against increasing waves of enemies for as long as possible.

A suggestion I made quite some time ago. And I have it in writing! ... At least, I thought I did. I was sure I'd mentioned this in my blog a while ago, but I can't find the reference now. Anyway, trust me, I did have this idea quite some time ago. Honest.

Regardless, the DLC sounds pretty awesome, I'm sure I'll check it out when it lands. Fun times!

Monday, 17 August 2009


So, I had a bit of a Batman binge over the weekend; I watched Batman Begins and several episodes of Batman: The Animated Series. I’ve also got a copy of Batman: Year One to read, I’ll let you know how I get on with that…

I spent a fair bit of time this weekend playing Fallout 3. The new mods are working well (though I’ve not got the Hunger, Thirst, Sleep mod up and running properly) and I downloaded a couple of texture packs (new textures for Megaton and Rivet City, a more detailed night sky, and a funky lens-flare mod). As I have FRAPS working now, I might post some videos/screenshots of my game so y’all can see how cool the Green World mod I mentioned the other day is.

A couple of thoughts on future plans here:

I’m thinking of running a Let’s Play… blog, where I’m gonna play through a game not many people have experienced, and document what happens. I was originally thinking of doing this with Dwarf Fortress as the unpredictable gameplay would make for hilarious consequences (the Sims would work well here as well, but that’s fairly well worn ground). However, I think I might go for Independence War II: Edge Of Chaos, a game I recently dug out of my attic, as less people will have heard of it. Providing, of course, that I can get it running on my PC.

Secondly, if I can drum up some support, I’d like to run another WFRP campaign, one with a specific focus. I’ve been intending for ages to run The Enemy Within, a complex, political campaign, widely regarded as one of the best RPG campaigns ever written. It’s also quite lengthy; the full campign covers 5 full books and multiple adventures (The Enemy Within/Mistaken Identity, Shadows over Bogenhafen, Death on the Reik, Power Behind the Throne, Something Rotten in Kislev, Empire in Flames/Empire in Chaos).

I’d still love to run it one day, but I think I’d like to get a couple of players interested in a small, dirty campaign with a tight focus and theme but not necessarily an overarching plot. My idea was to run the players as specific Undead Hunters, maybe allowing people to create characters in their second careers, and run a set of adventures ‘inspired’ by popular films and stories; I’ve recently watched Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers, and was struck by how well it would translate to a WFRP adventure. Characters could be based off the typical ‘Van Helsing’ archetype accompanied by his young ‘Dr Stewart’ type protégé. There wouldn’t be much combat, and I’d try and play things for dark humour more than horror.

We’ll see if I can arrange something!

Friday, 14 August 2009

Fallout 3 moddage

Well, I managed to get Windows 7 up and running, but it didn’t seem to solve my crashing problems. I’m moving back towards the theory that my GPU is overheating, so I downloaded a neat little utility from EVGA that lets me control my graphics card fan; it’s previously been stuck running at 40% power, which may turn out to be too low for running most games. I’m going to crank to up to 80%, see if that gives me any improvement.

Anyway, in the meantime thought I would post about a few mods I downloaded for Fallout 3 last night… Following recommendations from a few other blogs, I went for Green World, Fellout and Hunger, Thirst, Sleep.

Green World

This mod replaces all the twisted and withered trees in the game with lush green vegetation. As the models for these bushy trees are included in the game (I guess you come across them in an oasis somewhere?), and the mod does a straight replace, it only weighs in at 4kb. This can apparently lead to some problems where branches begin to intrude on buildings, but I can’t see this being a huge problem.

Fallout purists may initially baulk at turning the Fallout series green (ironically, if it had been included by Bethesda I would have hated it; it does lend a particular Cyrodiil feel to the landscape…), but you really need to try the mod to appreciate it. Trees sprouting from the middle of the road really lends an ‘abandoned-for-centuries’ feel to the landscape, and makes it seem like nature has taken over. It also helps to break up the oppressive ‘browness’ of the landscape that was in the vanilla game.

Main problem is that the trees aren’t solid; I think creatures can see through them, and they can definitely move through them. This saves any problem with pathfinding, but can look a little jarring.


This is a simple mod that removes the green tint from the game (though I must admit, I never actually noticed it was there…). It apparently gives the game a starker appearance, which works well with the Green World mod.

Also included with Fellout are dark nights; and by dark, I mean dark. Going outside with a light means you cannot see anything that’s not right in front of your face. As the pipboy built-in light is pretty weedy, you’ll need some kind of nightvision/torch mod to be able to see anything.


I found a neat mod to go along with this which turns all the street lights in the game on; this might not seem realistic, as the game is 200 years the wrong side of having a national grid, but I like to think all the street lights are powered by microfusion cells. Occasionally you get a flickering street light, which looks fantastic against the deep dark of the night. Also, when you can just about see something scuttling around out in and out of the pools of light cast by the street lamps, it can be genuinely scary; you’re not sure if it’s a relatively harmless dog or insect, or a potentially fatal Deathclaw.

The street light mod also illuminates signs in the game, so you sometimes see a nuka cola machine looming out of the night; with the next mod installed, this can bring a palpable sense of relief flooding over you.

Hunger, Thirst, Sleep

I haven’t really had a chance to fully explore this one yet, but it definitely sounds interesting; I really enjoyed the Realistic Repair Rethought (RRR) which let you repair your weapons using scavenged scrap metal and random junk, and this mod is very much along the same lines.

Instead of skipping straight past those old nuka cola machines or food vendors, you actually stop and dig through them. Also, sacrificing clean water to give to the beggars actually feels worth the boost to karma it gives you, as you’ll definitely miss it.

I’m still playing with the RRR I just mentioned, and the Radio Riven mod I downloaded a while ago which gives you a radio station playing the old Fallout 1 & 2 ambient music. It fits in with the game very well, and gives it a much stronger Falout feeling. It also means you don’t have to listen to bleedin’ Three Dog repeating the same message over and over, which can only be a good thing.

I’ll post again with more thoughts on playing with these new mods over the weekend, maybe even a gameplay video! I also have my eye on a couple of texture mods; I’ll see how it goes…

Monday, 10 August 2009

Do I look like I'm joking?

The other night I repurchased a game I accidentally bought as a pirate version last year; Sins of a Solar Empire. I really enjoyed the game first time round, but eventually couldn’t keep up with the updates as my game was not legit’. I also took the opportunity to buy the recent expansion pack, Entrenchment. I’ve been playing a fair bit of it, and will post up some more stuff about it soon; suffice to say, I love the game. If anyone else out there has it and fancies an online game, please let me know!

Besides that, I played the demo of a game I have been looking forward to for some time; Batman: Arkham Asylum. In a word, it was brilliant. For a start, the demo is fantastic; it’s exactly what a demo should be. It gave you a proper taste of the game, enough so that you know what the full product will be like. It also left me wanting more; I instantly had to play through the demo again after I had finished it. After a third time through, I immediately jumped on to pre-order it (though I’ve heard it may be available through Steam, so I might get it like that instead).

I must admit, after some of the more recent gameplay footage, I was starting to get a little worried about the game; it looked like it was beginning to turn into a console brawler. After playing the demo, I’m completely reassured that this isn’t the case. You have a very definite sense that you’re, without a doubt, Batman. The graphics bring the lantern-jawed superhero to life and he has a real sense of solidity that comes across in the sound and animation. While none of his close combat moves are that grisly or gruesome, you’ll definitely wince when one of Bruce’s collection of punches and kicks slam home. The little touches help, too; when you run down corridors, his cape flaps behind him, not to mention when you swoop down from above with wings spread to land feet-first on a goon. Gadgets are recreated faithfully, and the atmosphere is suitably grim and dark without going over the top.

The gameplay seems to be a satisfying mix of close-combat brawling, adventuring, and sneaking. Late in the demo, you’re presented with a room full of armed enemies, all of whom you have to incapacitate. You can run in fists first, Superman-like, but you won’t win any awards for style. Far more preferable is sneaking round on the rafters, swooping down to takeout an individual thug, before disappearing back into the shadows. You can hear the bad guys getting increasing worried as their friends seem to vanish (the demo isn’t really long enough to get a good idea of the AI) and even see their heart rates rise with your nifty detective vision. It retains the edge-of-your-seat feeling I get from a good stealth game, and keeps the ‘multiple path’ level design I’ve always loved in the Hitman franchise. The area at the end of the demo really does feel like a playground in which to hunt these bad guys, a chance to turn the table on the violent criminals.

Special mention has to go to the Joker, possibly my favourite comic book character, and definitely my favourite villain. He’s not the anarchistic terrorist from the recent Dark Knight film, he’s back to the over-the-top, mass-murdering, prancing, capering, chemically-scarred comicbook version. Believe me, though, this is no bad thing; we’re not talking Cesar Romano here, we’re talking The Killing Joke. He looks fantastic (the character graphics are truly superb), and his voice is just amazing; the voice-over is done by Mark Hamill (yes, that Mark Hamill) and once again proves that voice-over work should be done by professional voice-over actors; Mark Hamill played the Joker in the animated TV Series, a role he won massive acclaim for. All the (super) baddies look good, leaning more to their comic book versions (though Bane is the psychotic lump of man-flesh he was in the film), but I get the feeling the Joker is really going to steal the show.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

"Waah waah waah, I'm a whiney console gamer, waah waah waah, I deserve more free stuff, waah waah waah, Valve said they'd give us more free stuff for Left 4 Dead, but they've decided to improve on every aspect of the original game in a sequel I'm going to have to pay for. Waah."

Well, you know what?

Turns out Valve have been working on new L4D content all along. So, when all those people were saying 'Dudes, trust Valve... When have they ever let us down?' all the whiney free-loading gamers should have listened.


Monday, 3 August 2009

More special characters!

I found these two in a tavern on the docks in Altdorf... Proper geeks should recognise them!

"...I am learning the true meaning of tedium. Do you intend to bore me to death with your speeches, or do you want to come across here and die?..."