GWJ Conference Call Episode 173

Conference Call


Mass Effect 2, Assassin's Creed 2: Battle of Forli, Live From rabbitcon, Your Questions and more!

This week Sean and Shawn open the show with some Mass Effect 2 talk before handing it off to Wordsmythe, Julian, Pyroman and Lara live from rabbitcon! If you want to submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563.

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined. You can also submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

Sponsor
Good Old Games

  • Subscribe with iTunes
  • Subscribe with RSS
  • Subscribe with Yahoo!
Download the official apps
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android

Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

"Twilight Bay" (James 106) - 0:19:50

Comments

My copy of Mass Effect 2 came in today but I'm still finishing up a new playthrough of the first game to get EXACTLY the right Shepard to transfer over.

More than anything I'm excited to immediately feel all the changes [improvements] Sean and Shawn discussed. I was actually disheartened the Mako was cut entirely. I knew it was just empty fluff and filler material but I really liked bombing around in it. I had hoped they'd find a way to improve its usability rather than just cut it. But oh well. That may be why I'm not a game designer.

Speedhuntr, I'm in the same boat. Waiting for a copy to arrive in the mail (possibly this Friday), but I'm currently a little over halfway through my final "one true Shepard" playthrough.

You know, I'm really starting to dig these podcasts. Not that I didn't like them before, but now I'm looking forward to them on a weekly basis.

I love when Lara says bitches.

I realize your laughter at Killer Melons is obviously because you think the women of China could not possibly have melons of such size as to be lethal, but we're working on that.

Actually, I'm amazed anyone would have unintentionally stumbled across my blog. The Chinese name 电玩杀瓜 translates literally as "video games console kill melons," but the last two characters are a homonym of 傻瓜, which means "idiot.“ I do love a good self-criticism, after all.

I liked the talk about preserving video game history, and I'm glad NCHEG is doing what it's doing. I think this quote from Lara's Gamespy article nails the real purpose of preserving the games and the gaming culture:

We want to save the games themselves, of course... but also the memories tied up in them.

It's really about the memories, isn't it? I don't think I ever want to feel like I'm having the experience of playing a game the way I played them in the late 80s/early 90s, blowing quarters in a dingy arcade with low-res, burned-in CRTs, but I like remembering those days. I enjoy thinking about how I used to run up the stairs with my friend at his house to play Super Mario Bros. day after day after day, or spending $10 to beat Golden Axe in the arcade, a place that only got seedier as the years went by. (Now all that's left of it is a few game machines in the mall corridor across from where the arcade used to be, its former space now a shop selling 3 wolf t-shirts and NASCAR paraphernalia.)

But would I ever want to relive that experience? Hell no.

It looks like NCHEG is focused on creating a space that evokes those memories, from the sounds of Lara's Space Invaders example, rather than just trying to replicate those experiences. I think this is the right way to go. GWJ should arrange an annual pilgrimage!

Speedhuntr wrote:
My copy of Mass Effect 2 came in today but I'm still finishing up a new playthrough of the first game to get EXACTLY the right Shepard to transfer over.

It's worth the effort. It'll probably be even better playing the game with ME1 still fresh in your mind. In ME2 I meet people from the first game and have to search my memory to pinpoint who the person is (I'm surprise though how many people I instantly recognised.)

Speedhuntr wrote:
More than anything I'm excited to immediately feel all the changes [improvements] Sean and Shawn discussed. I was actually disheartened the Mako was cut entirely. I knew it was just empty fluff and filler material but I really liked bombing around in it. I had hoped they'd find a way to improve its usability rather than just cut it. But oh well. That may be why I'm not a game designer.

I'm one of the people who liked the Mako. It sounds like there could be a new vehicle coming via DLC.

I started out unsure about a lot of the mechanics in ME2, having loved 1, but after a few hours I've embraced all the changes. The reduced number of powers available to Shepard seemed off at first but I realise that you still have access to a range of power choices. It's just that you need to use the powers of your companions more; which makes them more tactically relevant.

It sounds like the PC version is fantastic but I can wholeheartedly recommend the 360 version. It's glitch free and also looks stunning. The controls are great; as they were in the first game. The only slight problem is that the type, while probably fine for the PC, is a bit too small for someone with a standard def TV and who likes to lounge on the settee on the other side of the room when playing. The standard def is less of a problem (I can read all the type) than the legibility at a distance.

I've been playing ME2 on 360 as well. It's no so much a shooter that the controls aren't perfectly fine, and for my wife who enjoys tagging along during the story, sitting on a comfy couch with a 50" HDTV and surround sound make enjoying the story a social event (as opposed to be hunkered down in front of my computer in the office).

The controls are very nicely done, and without the pains of inventory management, the game is very playable on console.

Thanks. Great podcast, good party. Was fun to join you all. I've lurked long enough, time to register... always look forward to them. Great ME2 discussion particularly the gun upgrades, good to know and thanks for no spoilers. Am immersed in DA:Origins with ME2 sitting on the shelf waiting/testing/teasing. (head explodes)

mwdowns wrote:
You know, I'm really starting to dig these podcasts. Not that I didn't like them before, but now I'm looking forward to them on a weekly basis. :)

And now, like many, your Wednesdays will seem few and far between.

The "first map drawn" section of this podcast was AWESOME!!! KQ5 was also my first map drawn experience. DAMN YOU DESERT!!!

On playing single player games more than once: I find that I rarely do this.

I just finished Borderlands & the Zombie DLC, and although a dozen little things annoyed me, I really enjoyed it and didn't want it to end. So, I started a 2nd playthrough. But I just couldn't move on. There was no unknown to pull me on. I had found the secret of the vault and finished most of the quests. And, despite the similarity to Diablo, there's a greater focus on the quests in BL, so Diablo had greater replayability b/c the maps and loot were more random.

I'll replay BL in a couple years after I've forgotten much of it. In the meantime, I have completely unplayed games that are calling me: Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect, Mirror's Edge, and a bunch of others.

Even with grand strategy games like Civ and Sins I find I need large stretches of time before I replay. Even without a story, I feel I've explored most of the content and am unmotivated to replay until a long period of time has passed.

So how do people who replay a game right away overcome these issues?

I love the /S(haw|ea)n/s and Rob and Cory, but it was great to hear Lara, Alan, and Erik on this week. Good stuff, guys.

Thanks!

Arclite wrote:

So how do people who replay a game right away overcome these issues?

I normally don't replay games again so quickly after first finishing them, but when it came to Uncharted, I loved the series and the characters so much I didn't want the experience to end.

NathanialG wrote:
I love when Lara says bitches.

So do I.

I play Half-life 2 and each episode yearly. To a point it is like watching It's a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story on Christmas Eve. I just have to do it once a year, generally in the early summer. It is full of people I love, in a world I like to be a part of, and I am doing important things there. And no matter how many times I play, I still need like 6-12 tries with the prison turret puzzle.

@KaterinLHC

Hmm, don't have a console. What's equiv to Uncharted on PC?

@KingGorilla

Wow, HL2, once a year. That's a big time commitment. It took me prolly 40 hours to play through HL2 (I just got around to playing it last year). Comparing it to watching the same movie each year: it's like watching the same 20 Christmas movies each year to match that. When I play games I tend to lolligag around and explore whatever piques my interest. I'm in no hurry typically to run through a story, so it takes me a while.

That being said, HL2 was such a great experience, that I do want to play it again. Got to play Eps 1 & 2 first.

Arclite wrote:
@KaterinLHC

Hmm, don't have a console. What's equiv to Uncharted on PC?

I don't know. I'm not as much of a PC gamer anymore as I am into consoles, and besides, I have no idea what game would strike you or any other gamer so deeply that you'd just have to play it over and over again.

KaterinLHC wrote:
Arclite wrote:
@KaterinLHC

Hmm, don't have a console. What's equiv to Uncharted on PC?

I don't know. I'm not as much of a PC gamer anymore as I am into consoles, and besides, I have no idea what game would strike you or any other gamer so deeply that you'd just have to play it over and over again.

The answer that works on any platform: Peggle!

(no, seriously)

Really? Certis and Elysium think ME2 is easier? I died in the first combat area. Bioware really made the cover system crucial in this one. If you pop out of cover for more than thirty seconds, your shields will drop and your health will be down to half. It's the one thing I don't like about ME2, that they've turned the combat into essentially Gears of War; a series of obviously staged combat zones. As soon as you see a group of boxes in an area, it's time for a fight. It bugged me to the point where I was starting to wonder if I really liked the game or not, but then I hit a certain plot point out of the blue (you'll know what it is when you get to it) and I got kicked over the fence into liking it, but as with ME1, it's tough love with this franchise.

In regards to scanning, the 360 version adds a rumble to the controller when you get close to a deposit making it a little easier to find them, though I'm going through batteries like there's no tomorrow. Also, and though I haven't tried it, I imagine if you go off the beaten path to systems where there aren't main missions, you'll find an anomaly on a planet that'll launch a side quest.

Katerin, you should try Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes for the DS. It's essentially turn-based Magical Drop with strategy and story. I think you'll enjoy it.

Mixolyde wrote:
Katerin, you should try Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes for the DS. It's essentially turn-based Magical Drop with strategy and story. I think you'll enjoy it.

I would love to... if I could wrench it away from my husband.

Rat Boy wrote:
Really? Certis and Elysium think ME2 is easier? I died in the first combat area. Bioware really made the cover system crucial in this one. If you pop out of cover for more than thirty seconds, your shields will drop and your health will be down to half. It's the one thing I don't like about ME2, that they've turned the combat into essentially Gears of War; a series of obviously staged combat zones. As soon as you see a group of boxes in an area, it's time for a fight. It bugged me to the point where I was starting to wonder if I really liked the game or not, but then I hit a certain plot point out of the blue (you'll know what it is when you get to it) and I got kicked over the fence into liking it, but as with ME1, it's tough love with this franchise.

I've found it tougher as-well. I played ME1 on all difficulties and never really found it that taxing. I started ME2 on veteran and then bumped it back down to normal because I was dying too much. It may be a PC/360 disparity. It may also be that I was used to being able to run about in the open during fights in 1 where as in 2 you do have to take cover.

Now I'm more accustomed to the Sentinel class (and remembering to use my tech arrnor consistently) the combats getting easier and I may go back up to veteran. I'm glad the combat is challenging.

The sniper rifle (my bonus weapon) appears to be pretty godlike when you can pop out of cover, perforate someone's head and drop back into cover in a matter of seconds.

Arclite wrote:

@KingGorilla
Wow, HL2, once a year. That's a big time commitment. It took me prolly 40 hours to play through HL2 (I just got around to playing it last year). Comparing it to watching the same movie each year: it's like watching the same 20 Christmas movies each year to match that. When I play games I tend to lolligag around and explore whatever piques my interest. I'm in no hurry typically to run through a story, so it takes me a while.

The aforementioned hiccup with the prison turret puzzle notwithstanding, I can get through HL2 on Hard in about 8 or 9 Hours. So all told, I tend to get the game and both episodes done is a Weekend.

It is not even about knowing enemy placements. But you just start to understand the quirks and expectations. One issue is the Grav Gun in Half-Life 2 is a lot weaker than in the episodes. Unless you are hurling a gas can or a blade it is not that tough. But in the Episodes any bit of junk suffices to kill something.

Weak? Cyclops troopers make excellent gravity gun ammo in HL2.

Hans

For the person (Scottastic I think? Sorry, I've been reading articles and listening to podcasts for a while, but this is my first actual reply) who wrote in asking for 2-person tabletop games with story elements: Arkham Horror is the obvious choice there, IMO. It can get relatively involved and, as a Fantasy Flight game, it's unabashedly fiddly but if a game of D&D was even on the table the complexity of the game shouldn't be a huge issue. What Arkham Horror does right is put you in the shoes of your character, with involved backstories for each investigator and lots of flavor for the events. One of the expansions even adds personal mini-objectives unique to each character, with a neat little bonus or small drawback if you succeed or fail it. It captures the atmosphere and feeling of playing a story better than any other board game I've played. Plus it's got stats that you have to control (you trade off between two related stats: increasing your speed decreases your stealth and vice versa), two different decks of items, spells, allies, skills, and shops. So it nails the RPG vibe as well as you can reasonably expect a non-tactical game to. As a co-op game, you can get at some of the camaraderie of a tabletop RPG with only two people, which in my experience is absolutely crucial for a game to play with just your significant other. My wife enjoys tabletop RPGs, we're currently playing in a game of 4th ed Shadowrun, but there are two and only two board games I can consistently get her to play with me: Munchkin and Arkham Horror. And of those two AH is by far her favorite.

Some other ideas:

-Descent Journeys in the Dark: Adversarial dungeon crawler. Mechanically much more similar to something like D&D's combat, but much more deadly. Not very story-focused though. If you ever played HeroQuest when that game was around, this is like it grew up, got angry, joined a punk rock band and started snorting coke. I can't play it with my wife because she'd probably divorce me, but if your relationship can withstand intense hatred in 5 hour doses maybe it's worth a look. There's even a campaign-focused expansion that mimics the structure, if not the narrative, of a tabletop RPG.

-Last Night on Earth: Somewhere in between Descent and Arkham. It's horror-themed again, but this time zombies instead of Lovecraft. It's the lightest of the three games I'm mentioning. One side takes control of the zombies, the other a handful of heroes each with a couple hit points a special ability or two and the capacity to carry weapons and utility items. There's a stack of objectives (stuff like burn down the zombies' spawning pits, or get the keys and gasoline and get to the car) you select from at the start of the game and a modular game board to mix it up from game to game. This gets at RPG-style tactical combat and while the "story" of the game is simple, everything about it reeks of its great b-grade zombie movie theme.

Whoo, sorry for the long first post. I just went through a similar process with my wife, so this all pretty close to home for me. Good luck, it's totally worth it! b^_^

KaterinLHC wrote:
NathanialG wrote:
I love when Lara says bitches.

So do I. :)

That makes 3 of us.