Pile of Shame March Madness

All the achievements in Pac Man CE DX PDQ are done! Honestly, they don't make it very hard, which is fine, since I usually feel they make some achievements too hard (Mass Effect 2 on insanity? Doesn't sound like fun to me.) While I got 200/200, I expect I'll go back to explore the game some more.

I'm not really feeling the adventure game thing right now, so chances are that the Tales of Monkey Island episode won't get done. We'll see.

Tagged for the April thread, since I'll be taking a hiatus from WoW.

Since I finally got my DSi XL, I can get to work to the 5 games I accumulated months before getting the actual console.

Metro 2033 down! I liked it a lot, especially that I could play it in Russian.

Final Fantasy: 4 Heroes of Light is down. Really quaint little JRPG with some interesting (yet simple) battle mechanics. A had a lot of fun with it, and would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the FF series or JRPG genre. Warning: the last boss is a massive hoe-bag.

Will likely put TOMI chapter 4 to rest tonight... Mother 3 and Mass Effect 2... are looking like slow cookers and will likely get carried over into April's pile. Can't seem to get enough time to play, and when I do have time I seem to go for Beat Hazard more often than not.

CivCity: Rome is complete. The constant crashing took away some of my enjoyment of the game.

So can I go ahead and add myself to the April list for completing Mass Effect

A week ago I put Call of Juarez six feet under. The last time I played a western themed game was 2005's Gun, which I really enjoyed. It's a shame that so few games take place in this setting (no, I haven't played Red Dead yet), as Call of Juarez is yet another quality experience, despite a few flaws.

Let's get those out of the way first. Load times were several minutes long in DX10 mode; therefore I stayed with DX9 which looked pretty good in its own right. The character, Billy, uses a whip to attach to branches and other protrusions to swing around and climb/descend, but finding the "attach here" hotspot can be a pain, especially during chase scenes. A few sections truly are extremely long, such as one scene that tasks Billy with climbing up a mountain. Unfortunately, despite some wide open environments and many that look wide open, the game is extremely linear and often feels like a corridor shooter. Finally, even though it might just be my ineptitude, but stealth without killing seems to be too difficult to be a truly viable option in most sections that suggest its use.

Now on to the good stuff: The setting is beautifully captured and just feels right! There's a steady sense of tension which only resolves at the end in a gloriously violent display of vengeance. The main characters are well realized and their character and perceptions believably presented; it was a truly glorious treat to play the somewhat insane Reverend Ray, gunning down opponents while talking to himself and reciting fire-and-brimstone Bible verses while imagining him as Gul Dukat from Star Trek Deep Space 9, as they are both the same actor in very similar roles. The shooting is tight, guns overheat and have to be replaced, and the length is just about right overall. A few set pieces are really memorable and the story takes a few unexpected, but nice, turns. I clearly recommend this one!

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I also plowed through an unannounced pile game; Rygar: The Legendary Adventure on the PS2. It took about 6 hours and wasn't even close to a speed run - this is a short game. One can clearly see it as an inspiration for God of War, as it is similar in many ways such as the attach mechanics, powering up weapons and discovering new combos, a similar mythological setting, wide vistas and epic music, and some MASSIVE bosses. In fact, the boss named Typhon was quite disturbing to me (ffwd to 1:00). Numerous parts of the environment can and must be destroyed to find power-ups and secrets and Rygar feels very powerful thanks to some bass-y sound effects coupled with well done controller vibration. Considering its age, the game feels ahead of its time in these respects.

Sadly, there is another side to this coin. Although the environments are nicely varied, the standard enemies are not, and Rygar will be battling palette-swaps of the same four or five mob types through most of the game. The "script" is barely comprehensible jibberish; terrible even by gaming standards and the voice work tries hard to surpass the writing in awfulness. "I swear my victory to this feather!" - seriously? The other painful aspect of the game is the fixed camera. It attempts a cinematic style, but really just makes some sections - especially platforming ones - much harder than they should be. Enemies attack from off screen, distances and depth is hard to judge, and sometimes the angle is just really unfortunate. After an hour or so I became mostly used to it, but it could have been much better.

Play Rygar only if you already have it and have a few hours to kill. It certainly has its good points, but subsequent games such as God of War did most of them much better. FYI: the Wii version apparently changed Rygar's look, added a few new enemies, and included a new, reportedly worse, control scheme.

Finished up Valkyria Chronicles. Excellent game, really enjoyed it overall. Beautiful art and music and just a lot of fun. Now with my 360 red-ringed, the only console game left on my pile is Final Fantasy 13...guess that's my next game.

Finished TOMI Ep 4 just in time for the end of March. ME2 and Mother 3 will once again be carried over... oh well...

Been a lousy Pile month for me. I think I got in one session of KoTOR and two of Monkey Island 2. I'm still enjoying them both; I just keep getting distracted by newer console games. So I'll carry them both through in to April.

Yeah I suck. I was supposed to play Bioshock 2. But instead I got started on DAO Awakenings. And then Dead Space 2 was on that surprise sale, so I played it even though it isn't old enough for pile status yet.

And a new SoaSE patch came out and got me fiddling with that again.

Never even started Bioshock 2... again... 2nd month in a row. Guess I'll pick something else for April and make sure I don't pick it again until I actually play it.

Did you guys know that Divine Divinity is REALLY EXTREMELY LONG? I actually managed to put it to rest in the early morning hours of April 2nd and it took over 70 hours (over almost 9 years), although that is due to me being OCD and exploring every part of the map and solving every sub quest the game would allow me to - more on that later.

Ever since I first played it in 2002 I thought of it as single player Diablo done right, and I stand by that despite a few flaws. The story is deep and complex although slightly amateurish at times (with appropriately bad voice acting) as well. The open world is fascinating and easily allows you to wander into areas you are not prepared for, lending a bit of realism and challenge to the proceedings. Graphically DD takes a bit of getting used to due to the perspective and its age, but after the adjustment phase one realized that it looks pretty good. I started out playing as an assassin, but quickly switched her over into my traditional playing style of archer. Equipment customizations and skill and stat upgrades are standard action rpg fare, but the real draw here is the myriad quests and sub quests. At one point I had about 20 going at once!

Here are where two problems come in. Even with its age and numerous patches, the game is still buggy. I was unable to solve a few sub quests due to these, at one point I thought I had encountered a game-ending bug on the main quest, but luckily there was a workaround, and two sub quests never even appeared. I know about them because I ended up using a walkthrough. The reason for this is that the game occasionally gives no clear direction on what to do and I realized that the only way I would have solved some of the sub quests would have been through sheer dumb luck. The final area seemed to go on way too long and featured a sub-boss that ranks up there with 2D fighting bosses in cheapness, which forced me to be cheap as well.

I still stand by my original assessment of Divine Divinity, however, because despite all of its little flaws, it is still a great experience and great action rpg.

I neglected my pile during the later half of March. I was away a couple weekends and didn't feel the motivation the rest of the time. I did play some fifteen hours of The Witcher, but I'm still in Chapter 2.