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Fez

Video Games: Wallets Getting Steamed

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Actually, mine's fine. My laptop can barely play anything.

I did end up getting Kingdoms of Amalur on the cheap for the 360, and I'm having a blast. It has its problems (horrible camera angle, way too many sidequests bogging things down, and very easy to overlevel and therefore overpower everything) but the combat is a lot of fun (and fateshifting finishing moves look seriously badass) and it has solid enough RPG mechanics. I can't speak to the plot though, I've played for five hours and I haven't gotten back to it yet since leaving the first area. It feels basically like an offline MMO, which is both good and bad. I wish the main character was voiced though, I hate silent PCs.

I've also been playing Magic 2014. Its the first time I've played any form of MTG since sometime around 1999-2001 (can't remember exactly when I stopped), and damnit if it sucking me back into the fold. I'm almost positive that none of my friends play, so I'm strongly considering heading to the closet gaming store some Friday night that I don't have other plans, and trying out one of the sealed tournaments (no way do I want to spend the money necessary to build up a competitive deck on my own).

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Saw Metro: Last Light at 40% off. Bought Metro: Last Light at 40% off. Have played and completed Metro: Last Light. Will punch own self in testicles when it inevitably drops to 50% or more off in the sale or a few weeks down the line.

Still, an excellent game. For a linear FPS, this was it done right and in terms of atmosphere and an unusual plot this was easily as good as BioShock Infinite for me. Exceptional. Also one of the best-implemented stealth systems in a while, being formidable without being overpowered.

Also, Fallout: New Vegas and all its (mostly excellent) DLC is £3.49 or $5 in the Steam sale right now. At that price, for a game that will last you around 100 hours, it's a no-brainer.

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What are the Metro games like? Are they survival horror-y or more Gears of War-y? By which I mean, how scary is the atmosphere?

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So, a couple of months ago I went over to the Darkside and bought my first "console" - a mighty DSi! Mainly because I have really enjoyed the few NDS-ports that iOS got, was intrigued by the gameplay of Layton-clones and wanted to take advantage of our library system's collection of games, before they start phasing them out.

Current plan is to buy nothing and borrow from the library, athough I already bought Hotel Dusk, which I tried on PC emulator and loved, but couldn't move beyond a certain point, where simultaneous button and stylus inputs were required in the original, and Another Code by the same devs, which is a decent adventure, IMHO, but not nearly as good.

I already know some of the games I am going to play, but could use some advice on the other stuff the library has, that I am unsure about, i.e.:

Animal Crossing - I am curious about it, but is it worth playing for just 2-4 weeks? I understand that it is geared towards really long-term play.

I have heard that DS Harvest Moons are supposed to be bad, but are they still worth trying or should I just try Rune Factory instead?

Are Inazuma's Eleven games worth trying if I couldn't care less about football?

Ditto Kingdom Hearts DS, if I have never played any previous KH games?

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles games - I have enjoyed port of DS FFIII on iOS and have FFIV ditto. Are CC games similar?

I have heard that Okami-den is not very good, but could it still be worth trying? The art looks interesting.

Pokemon - if I just want to play one of them and only the main campaign, which is the best to pick out of:

Pearl, Platin, Black, White, Black 2, Dash?

What are Pokemon Ranger and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games and are any of them worth trying if one is not a Pokemon fanatic?

If I am generally somewhat twitch-challenged, but want to try one Mario game, just to know first-hand what they are like, should I get Super Mario Bros or Super Mario DS 64?

Starfox Command - is it any good and not too hard?

Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks aren't very good Zeldas, supposedly, but which one of them is better and/or has easier combat?

Please, advise me on my initiation into the world of Nintendo! TIA.

Oh, and I have completed the first Layton - which has proven to me that I am not nearly as smart as I thought I was, heh.

And am currently playing Sola to Robo, which is very charming and allegedly has pretty undemanding gameplay but I still get plenty of problems during boss-fights and races. Makes me wary of other action games on DS...

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Also, Fallout: New Vegas and all its (mostly excellent) DLC is £3.49 or $5 in the Steam sale right now. At that price, for a game that will last you around 100 hours, it's a no-brainer.

Wow. That's the first thing I've seen that makes me want to fire up a Steam account. I liked FO3 on my PS3 and have heard that NV is fantastic.

ETA: Shit... its $2.49 right now. How can I not get it?!!? ETA2: Scratch that, the $2 doesn't include DLC... even so, that's a helluva bargain for high production game.

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What are the Metro games like? Are they survival horror-y or more Gears of War-y? By which I mean, how scary is the atmosphere?

The first game is punishingly brutal and barely gives you any ammo. However, there isn't a stealth mechanic so it's hard to do the game any other way than as a straight shooter. It is definitely a FPS in genre, though there's a lot more focus on atmosphere than usual, with some horror and dream/vision sequences (FEAR is probably a better comparison, only not it's not as gun-happy as FEAR). The atmosphere is pretty taught, and it's definitely the most unsettling FPS in quite some time.

The sequel is more of the same, but more balanced. It's somewhat easier and it has a very good stealth mechanic, complete with takedowns and using throwing knives for silent ranged kills. These don't work with the mutants and creatures, but you can still stealth round them; one late-game sequence forces you to stealth through a large area filled with creatures, and a single shot will bring them all down on you.

Wow. That's the first thing I've seen that makes me want to fire up a Steam account. I liked FO3 on my PS3 and have heard that NV is fantastic.

ETA: Shit... its $2.49 right now. How can I not get it?!!? ETA2: Scratch that, the $2 doesn't include DLC... even so, that's a helluva bargain for high production game.

Fallout: New Vegas itself is great, but the DLC is important. First off, having it installed (even if you don't play the DLC missions) raises your level cap by 20, which is quite important. It allows you get to Level 50 (FO3 only allows you to get to Level 30 even with all the DLC). Secondly, it's all pretty good but Old World Blues is brilliant. It gives you one of the best guns in the whole game, has a great storyline (including some Portal in-jokes) and also gives you a home base you can teleport back and forth to, complete with a built-in store. It makes exploring and selling stuff so much easier. Get encumbered? Teleport back to base, sell all the stuff and teleport back to where you were.

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Having a bunch of fun with the new Civ 5 expansion (to be honest it's pretty much a whole new game' date=' call it Civ 5.9).

The AI seems to have gotten smarter in a few ways though it does seem less aggressive overall. I did tune my difficulty down to King from Immortal/Deity (difficulty 5 vs difficulty 7/8) to check out the abundance of new features, but I remember the AI being very aggressive even down to Prince (difficulty 4) or lower in the previous expansion. I know there's more of a focus on diplomacy this time out but even so I expected to get warred with a bit not cruise my way to a very very unfocused victory while dipping my toes into every single new thing in my first game. Honestly I was kinda expecting to lose with my extreme lack of focus.

The new World Congress / United nations thing is fun and fairly well implemented, and slots nicely into the game.

The tourism thing is a rather more fiddly / complicated. I'm not sure if I like it yet.[/quote']

I too spent the weekend playing it and had a lot of fun!

My experiences with the AI echo yours. Playing on Emperor difficulty, I found that Civs that use the new mechanics seemed to have pretty decent AIs (Venice in particular plays the World Congress very well), but whenever I was placed next to aggressive civilizations (Mongolia, Denmark, Assyria - at least I assume Assyria is supposed to be aggressive given their bonuses) they seemed to play horribly and were pushovers for the rest of the game. The limited impression I got (before I annihilated them :P) seemed to be that they stagnated by building too many military units initially and ignoring science too much. The result was a wave of terrible units that were easily dispatched.

I really like the new features, particularly as they pertain to a multiplayer environment. I haven't had a chance to do that yet (got to wait for it to go on sale so my friends will buy it), but the Tourism/Culture model definitely seems like the sort of thing you can have a lot more competition over in a multiplayer game (as opposed to the old system which was passive and didn't really come into play most of the time). I think I'd agree that the Tourism stuff is a bit fiddly, but since when has a little micromanagement scared off Civ players? :P The theming bonus stuff could do with some better integration though - currently you have to figure things out by mousing over all your works of art to figure out their Civilization and Period, and it would be good if you were presented with that information a bit more intuitively.

World Congress, on the other hand, is nicely done. There's a good selection of stuff to choose from, and I didn't look at anything there and go "Why would anybody want to implement that!?". I like that they give you enough warning to get stuff done in the 5 turns before it convenes, and it's good that they've found an expanded usage for spies (which I was never a huge fan of in the G&K expansion). The one problem with that is that you can't run a Spy and a Diplomat in a city at the same time...there were a couple of times when I'd quite liked to have done that.

I did like how they've restructured the Social Policies as well. I always felt that the Piety and Commerce trees in G&K suffered from having a split focus - half of the commerce policies were only good if you were a naval empire, and Piety gave you a mix of culture and faith boosts. Shifting the last three trees into the Ideologies section gives them room to split those two up, and makes your SP choices a lot more streamlined.

Speaking of which, I think the Ideologies stuff might be my favourite new feature. One of the things I loved about the religion system in Civ 4 was the way that it caused natural alliance blocs within the game - instead of a chaotic mess of loyalties you could kind of get a sense of who you could count on and who you couldn't based on religious lines. It's something that has been missing from Civ 5 up to this point, but the Ideologies force the kind of late game factionalism I was looking for. They also give you a better sense of how to map an opponent's play onto a real life equivalent - I was able to triumph culturally as the Freedom-loving Poles over the vast Portugese Socialist empire, formenting unrest and ultimately inspiring their people to throw off the yoke of the Order tree and come and join me. Good stuff!

ST

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Thanks Wert. Sounds like the sort of game I'll probably pass on. I'll admit it, I'm kind of a coward when it comes to overly atmospheric games. I'm fine with games being horribly hard, I just don't like things jumping at me from the dark.

Civ 5 sure sounds good, too bad I don't have the computing power for it. I'm still playing Civ 4, although with the Rise of Mankind mod, its so absurdly over-the-top complicated that every game can be so different that it keeps things fresh.

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Saw Metro: Last Light at 40% off. Bought Metro: Last Light at 40% off. Have played and completed Metro: Last Light. Will punch own self in testicles when it inevitably drops to 50% or more off in the sale or a few weeks down the line.

Still, an excellent game. For a linear FPS, this was

it done right and in terms of atmosphere and an unusual plot this was easily as good as BioShock Infinite for me. Exceptional. Also

one of the best-implemented stealth systems in a while, being formidable without being overpowered.

Also, Fallout: New Vegas and all its (mostly

excellent) DLC is £3.49 or $5 in the Steam sale right now. At that price, for a game that will last you around 100 hours, it's a no-brainer.

Had to get it on GG for 10$ cause fallout is banned in my country :(

Also wert you should get the witcher 2, its for 3 bucks and will you give awesome time!

Very atmospheric and immersive.

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Had to get it on GG for 10$ cause fallout is banned in my country :(

Also wert you should get the witcher 2, its for 3 bucks and will you give awesome time!

Very atmospheric and immersive.

Where is Fallout is banned?

Almost done with Trine 2. Fun, addictive platformer. Might not be enough for serious gamers but I found it charming with some of the puzzles being a bit challenging.

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Where is Fallout is banned?

Almost done with Trine 2. Fun, addictive

platformer. Might not be enough for serious gamers but I found it charming with some of the puzzles being a bit challenging.

Fallout 3 and NV are banned on steam in india because of cultural sensitivities

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This is great. There's a mod (fan-made version) for the strategy game CRUSADER KINGS II which allows you to play in Westeros rather than medieval Europe. PC GAMER magazine is running a diary of someone playing as Ned Stark and trying to do a better job than in the books. Unfortunately, it all goes a bit wrong from the very start when he is forced to execute Howland Reed and then asked to help put down a rebellion in the Riverlands which might make an enemy of Cat.

Even if you have no interest in gaming, this is quite entertaining:

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

Also wert you should get the witcher 2, its for 3 bucks and will you give awesome time!

I still need to finish Witcher 1. It's on my to-do list after completing the Dragon Age series.

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Saw Metro: Last Light at 40% off. Bought Metro: Last Light at 40% off. Have played and completed Metro: Last Light. Will punch own self in testicles when it inevitably drops to 50% or more off in the sale or a few weeks down the line.

They said that Flash Sales and Daily Deals were the lowest things would get. I think you are safe.

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Hm, playing some Master of Orion 2 recently apparently left me extra vulnerable to the 75% discount for Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion. First game in that franchise I've played, and it certainly looks like it's going to eat up a lot of my spare time.

Incidentally, what's with those weird cards that are connected to Steam sales? Collect enough and win some prize?

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Hm, playing some Master of Orion 2 recently apparently left me extra vulnerable to the 75% discount for Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion. First game in that franchise I've played, and it certainly looks like it's going to eat up a lot of my spare time.

Incidentally, what's with those weird cards that are connected to Steam sales? Collect enough and win some prize?

The prize being that you can print them out and use them to fill the now gaping hole in your wallet.

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Scary stuff about how Microsoft helped the US government collect personal data on people:
Um, no.

All this is saying is that Microsoft complied with the government's requests to give the government data when they needed to. Shockingly, that means that the NSA needed to be able to decrypt private conversations when they requested said conversations to be delivered. This shouldn't be shocking any more than it's shocking that when google gives the government your gmail they also can decrypt it so they can read the conversations.

Similarly, Prism monitored unencrypted emails. We knew that. This isn't a surprise.

If Snowden releases them you'll see similar statements about gmail, g+, facebook, twitter and the like. That's because this is the law. All electronic communications are by law able to be monitored wholesale. That's the rules. MS cooperating with this is not that surprising.

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The prize being that you can print them out and use them to fill the now gaping hole in your wallet.

That sounds almost sensible. Apparently you can also sell them? This is just a bizarre feature.

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Picked up Galactic Civilisations II in the Steam sale. Have no idea what I'm doing. Won first scenario anyway. Hmm.

Alan Wake is £2.39 in the sale (less than $5 in foreign currency, I believe), which is a definite steal. Great game, especially once you realise the author (the main character) is in worse state of of denial about how bad his writing is than Kevin J. Anderson :)

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