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Jul. 9th, 2010 @ 12:50 pm
PS3 games I've been playing lately: Assassin's Creed 2 and NCAA 08: March Madness.

AC2 is a really good game. It's such a tragedy Ubisoft went all hideously evil with the DRM on the PC version; there's no way I'd buy that, and I would have been ambivalent about buying the PS3 version (and supporting the company thereby) had that shit been announced beforehand. However, I'd already acquired, and spent many delighted hours playing, the PS3 version before that came to light.

Of course, one of the reasons the PS3 version is awesome fun is the part where you don't get your game nuked if your internet connection flickers, and you can still play it even if Ubisoft's servers are down. Sadly, I think the PC version is also going to be a vastly inferior game.

(Also, from what I recall of playing the PC version of the first game, the control scheme is pretty much flawless on a controller and horribly awkward on a keyboard. So there's that, too.)

NCAA 08: March Madness is... odd, in some ways.

For some reason, EA assume that anyone who wants to play one of their sports games will have played previous ones, or... something... and the game basically has no manual whatsoever. It's comprehensively underdocumented.

And yet, also fun. I wish it had a proper manual, but since I only paid $20 for it I mind less than I would if I'd paid full price.

Graphically I'd say the biggest flaw is that "lean build" players end up with disturbingly emaciated-looking arms, but you can adjust that on your players. It bothers me less this way.

In my head, all my players have personalities.

My current Centre is a 7'4" muscular black dude named Wells. For the longest time he had pretty much zero offensive skills - couldn't shoot, pass or dribble to save his life and his offensive awareness was terrible - but he was absolutely awesome in D. He's very good at defending without ever fouling, but other teams fairly often commit offensive fouls against him.

In my head, Wells is a fairly quiet kid (he's still only a sophomore), but he's arguably the nicest guy on the team.

My current Power Forward is Theo Gubernick, who replaced a guy named Stanback who was kind of a league superstar. Big shoes to fill - I tend to think Gubernick kind of feels like he's not going to be able to replace Stanback, so he plays a kind of background role, where Stanback was a central driving force of the team. He's sort of abashed about it when he gets Player of the Match accolades.

Gubernick's a Junior, and his replacement, training up now and getting a few minutes on court every game, is D. Glenn. Glenn is shaping up to be one hell of a talent, but when he's on court I occasionally have moments of confusion. See, the team has two Big Men, the Centre and the Power Forward. And my Centres, first a guy named Yarbrough, now Wells, and occasionally a guy named Amos who sucks but he's my only sub Centre, have all been black. Glenn is black. Which wouldn't be a problem, except that my freshman Small Forward trainee, Perez, looks almost exactly like Gubernick, so when I have a lot of subs on court, my brain concludes that Perez must be the Power Forward, which means that Glenn, being quite large and black, must obviously been the Centre, so it seems to make sense, except I can't find my SF and treating Perez like a PF ends badly.

Unfortunately, Perez is awesome, so I don't want to ditch him just because he looks like Gubernick.

Perez is training up to replace Gomez, who's a Senior and therefore in his last season of eligibility. This is sad, because Gomez is unbelievably freaking awesome.

My lead Shooting Guard is also ridiculously awesome, but he's a sophomore, which in some ways makes him even more awesome. His name is Wade. He's taken over from a guy called Gilliam, who's a junior. I secretly think Gilliam is a total douche, because he consistently underperforms and I therefore find him irritating. Also he had absolutely diva-esque preconditions for signing to our team.

My lead Point Guard, Olivera, is also a senior, and leaving after being the team's superstar for a good two seasons now. Chas mock-hates Olivera, because he thinks that Olivera is clearly one of those guys who thinks he's totally All That, and it doesn't help that Olivera is basically *brilliant at everything*, because when you have guys who think they're All That, it makes the problem worse if they're right.

I'm fond of Olivera; he was my first ever recruit.

The reserve PG, who's a freshman, is a guy named Mathis. I fear that he, too, will fear far too much pressure being Olivera's successor.

Because you do things one at a time Jul. 5th, 2010 @ 08:03 am
My PS3 has been ever-so-slightly malfunctioning lately. (Primary noticable sign: Assassin's Creed 2 stopped working. I verified nothing had gone wrong with the disk; it looked flawless and played perfectly in the PS3 at Gametraders Carillon when I took it there to check. They were very friendly about the "yeah, this game doesn't work, so..." with the testing it and I was all, "Well, that clears out a variable, cheers.")

Turns out it was definitely a slight data corruption somewhere, which would be fine, except some games don't let you back up your save files. The data is flagged as copyright and you can't copy it off, which, NOT COOL, GAME MANUFACTURERS.

Fortunately, Final Fantasy XIII is NOT one of these games; important FF13 saves were all copied to an external hard drive. (Hilariously, I did have to pull out my ancient 120GB hard drive that hasn't been booted up in probably five years because the PS3 requires a FAT32 file system on the external drive to interact, and my other drives are all NTFS.)

Tragically, all the games housemate.Dave actually cared about were all "no the savegames are copyright" games. But he's agreed to blame Sony, not me.

Anyway, reformatting to factory defaults fixed it. There's a warning on the "quick format" option that some of the data on it may be recoverable, but... I don't exactly keep ultra-private data on my PlayStation.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 May. 9th, 2010 @ 10:31 am
So, I'm playing B:BC2. Picked it up a few days ago, despite having pre-ordered it, because my game shop forgot to call me and tell me it was in. (*cough*)

I think it says really, really positive things about a game that's basically a first-person shooter if you sometimes find yourself stopping, in the middle of intense scenes like when you're carefully progressing through a ruined village full of hostiles, because in a lull in the action the NPCs have started having a conversation that's just too interesting to miss.

They just wandered their way through a discussion of sin, absolution, and faith to Haggard confessing to Sarge that he did steal his moisturiser once. He felt guilty, but it also felt so good - he'd never moisturised before, and it really felt nice. Gruff, grizzled Sarge replied: "Good on you, Haggard."

I love the Bad Company games.
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We got FF13 Mar. 13th, 2010 @ 03:00 pm
Dean (reading item description): "Potion. Restores some health to all allies."
Dave: "In my day, we called those MegaPotions."
Chas: "And did you quaff them while walking to school uphill both ways in the snow?"
Dave: "Only in FF5."

You are not unique in any given way, and that is good Dec. 24th, 2009 @ 02:38 pm
Winston Churchill would not allow himself to stand close to the edge of railway platforms, lest he be seized with a suicidal impulse and throw himself in front of a train.

Knowing this makes me feel much better about the fact that I do the same thing.

Every particular about yourself, no matter how good, or how terrible you feel about it, is something that you share with someone else. What makes each person special and unique is the combination of characteristics that no-one else has shared, the memories and connections they have formed.

This is a big deal to me right now.

Florence Nightingale was plagued with terrible nightmares pretty much every night. This didn't stop her achieving things in life - it doesn't have to stop me.

I'm still playing Demon's Souls really a lot. I discovered a game flaw that resulted in my starting over again, but I don't mind, because my current game is turning out pretty brilliantly. And my fondness for my character build was reinforced last night when I was invaded by a Black Phantom and won handily by the power of my character's versatility.

The invader was heavily armoured behind a tower shield. I met him in a room with only one entrance, a staircase rising from below - it was around where I was when he invaded, and was the place where I could be safe from the line of hostile-to-me crossbowmen nearby and sure I would know where the phantom was coming from.

As he appeared at the stairs, I hit him with a shot of Soul Arrow, a ranged damage spell, then backed off and switched to my sword. He came up, and we fenced briefly - I took one hit that , then dive-rolled past and around him and sprinted down the stairs. I wear light armour so I can move fast, much faster than he could. This gave me a few moments - I cast a miracle to heal, then switched back to spells and cast Warding, a powerful protective spell.

By then he was advancing down the stairs. I dodged past him again and to the upper floor, where we engaged. A slash of my falchion hit him as a powerful blow from his massive sword hit me, but thanks to Warding, he did only light damage. It left me bleeding, but not yet badly wounded.

He started to run, I assume to wait until my Warding spell expired - thirty seconds, perhaps, and I would be weaker again, and my mana could not be infinite. But it was too late for him, and I was too fast. He had made only a couple of steps before I, slashing rapidly at his back, had dispatched the Black Phantom from my realm.

Booyah. For this success I gained White Soul Tendency, a sign that I have achieved an innately good act in vanquishing the black phantom that sought to steal my very soul.

In which Sami tricks herself, but consciously Dec. 19th, 2009 @ 04:41 pm
There is stuff I want to do today.

But I also want to play Demon's Souls. Like, a lot. It calls to me.

Solution: When I have to make myself take a break anyway, for lunch, and am at a convenient stopping place for doing so...

... pass the game over to housemate.Dave. Demon's Souls isn't a great game to play for just a few minutes. If I'm going to let Dave play, in order to feel like I'm being at all fair, and to let him actually try to get somewhere, I ought to let him play for a good long chunk of time.

Which means that I *can't* play for a while, and will instead just have to get stuff done.

I have defeated the first two bosses in the Palace of Boletaria and Stonefang Tunnel. I also made it far enough into the Shrine of Storms to get the Talisman of God, which is pretty awesome - I'm kind of multiclassing it, and can cast two miracles now as well as my two spells. (Other than that, my character is kind of dex-based.)

Gametraders is awesome, really, because they are selling Demon's Souls. The game has no Australian release date and may well never get one. But because PS3 games aren't region-locked, imports work fine.

So they're stocking and selling imports. Basically, Gametraders will sell you good games.

(If you're in Perth, I recommend Gametraders at Carillon Arcade if you can get there. The guy who runs it is incredibly nice, and the shop struggles a bit sometimes despite having good prices and good service and not being one of the Evil Empires. Just don't rely on the Gametraders website to find out what they have in stock, because tragically the website is terrible, and he can't do anything about that, it seems. Call and ask. He's awesome and helpful and makes a policy of stocking good games even if they have to be imported.)
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Demon's Souls, again Dec. 17th, 2009 @ 07:12 pm
Right, it's a Japanese game. It explains quite a bit, really.

*looks at collection of PS3 games*

All the good action/RPG games are Japanese.

Except the ones that are French.

And Japanese games have the best music. Western game designers just don't seem to go to the place where you get a seriously good composer to put together an awesome original orchestral score.

They really, really should.

I did just discover a Point Of Annoyance in Demon's Souls. Apparently, with a soul level of all of 13, I was nonetheless high enough level to get invaded by a Black Phantom - one who somehow had massively more hit points and/or armour than I did and was able to hit me with plague *and* poison.

Thereby losing my newly-recovered body.

I knew I was going to die soon, but I wanted the chance to do something in body form....

I'm currently watching Dave get wtfpwned by something that looks like a hybrid of a mindflayer and a medusa in the opening section of the Tower of Latria. (Dave and I have both beaten the first Demon Lord, and gone no further. In his case because after he'd done that I wanted my PS3 back and he stopped playing, in my case because it took me all day today to manage it and then I was about to turn off the game and got attacked and killed by a Black Phantom. The fact that I couldn't actually quit once the Black Phantom turned up was also annoying.)

However, Dave has now given up on killing the medusaflayer, and -

- no, it caught up to him and just whumped him again.


Tension and reason to be cautious and fearful, this game has it. Which is pretty cool.
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I am awesome Dec. 16th, 2009 @ 09:08 pm
So the thing about Demon's Souls is that it's an odd kind of semi-multiplayer game that is very very cool.

Other players appear in your game, as phantoms - you can't interact at all, BUT you can see them, which can give you tips about what's ahead. You can see them fight, you might see them run into side-passages.

And when they die, they leave behind a bloodstain. Touching the bloodstain lets you see the last few seconds of their life - so you can take a guess at what killed them, and perhaps avoid the same fate yourself.

You can also leave messages for other players, composed from a list of set phrases. The messages show as glowing glyphs on the ground, which subsequent players can read.

If a message was helpful to you, you can Recommend it. A recommendation on a message heals the player who left it, if they're online, and much-recommended messages persist longer in the world than overlooked ones.

Earlier I was playing, and I left a couple of messages around. One of them, a little distance before I got jumped by three skeletons, was: "Beware the enemy's ambush."

I stopped playing for a while earlier, and housemate.Dave is playing. I cooked and ate dinner, then came back to the couch, where I'm watching Dave play. (I was cooking for a while, because Dean is sick, and I cooked her dinner, but I cooked her something somewhat different from what I cooked for me.)

I saw him fight those same skeletons, then call up and Recommend the message - the one I left.

Obviously I'm not playing right now, since Dave is using my game on my PS3, so I don't get healed, but I still find myself having a little moment of squeeful delight that my message was recommended, after being helpful.

And he didn't even know it was my message. It was just a PATENTLY GOOD MESSAGE.
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Sometimes I feel clever Nov. 27th, 2009 @ 04:40 pm
I'm playing Metal Gear Solid 4. Currently in Act 2, replaying a bit because I forgot this game doesn't autosave. (Fortunately, I didn't lose *that* much progress.)

I really have been enjoying this game, mind you. Partly because it does actually reward exploring, and even creative thinking - for example, I worked out that it can be extremely effective to use the Metal Gear Mk II as a diversion. When guards are looking for Snake, unstealth it for a moment in a different direction, let the guards spot it - then restealth, but they'll go looking thataway for the robot, and will be drawn away from Snake.

Also in my current play rotation:

- Assassin's Creed II

This game is also brilliant. Better than the first game, which I also enjoyed - they've improved the mechanics for a lot of gameplay elements. This doesn't necessarily make them *easier*, mind you. For example, blending; instead of finding a group of scholars (who you'll have had to rescue previously in a big old combat, rather than being able to be all sneaky and stealthy all the time), joining them, and autopiloting their pre-ordained path, to blend now, you mingle with a group of citizens. And if they're moving, you have to move carefully with them, rather than going with them automatically.

It's both harder for the specific task and easier for general gameplay capacity and totally more awesome.

- Lego Batman

A little frustrating at a couple of places, but mostly those are when the game crashes - it's both the simplest game I've played on the PS3 and the buggiest. It's fun, though, and sometimes genuinely amusing with the story clips.
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