A Long Weekend


Over this long weekend I had some extra gaming time, which then led to me commenting out loud (to no one) about the games I was playing as well as games I was reading about.  Talking to myself is bad enough, but not recording the conversation so I can listen to myself at a later date is just wasteful.

So, I decided it was time to once again put my thoughts on to virtual paper.

First up: My dead Xbox 360.

It went sort of like this:

  • Sit down. Grab Controller. Turn on Xbox. Red flashing lights.  *sigh*
  • Turn off.  Unplug. Cross fingers. Plug in. Turn on. Red flashing lights.  *Deep sigh*
  • Turn off. Unplug all plugs.  Let sit.  Read support site.  *sigh* Plug back in. Turn on. Still red lights.  *tear for my wallet*
  • Call nearby Best Buy. Out of stock of new 250gig model.  Target. Out of Stock.  Walmart. Out of stock.  3rd Gamestop called.  *yay* One left, but we close in 10 minutes.  Drive. Pick up. But no transfer cable. *sad*
  • Start calls again. Yay. Best Buy has one. Drive across town. Pick up cable. Drive home.  *happy*
  • At home. Unpack and set up new box. Shiny, quiet, lots of drive space.  *Very Happy*
  • *wallet still sad*

Yes I could have repaired the old one, but it was going to cost $100+ and I would have still been left with a 1st gen 360 with a puny 20gig HD, and loud DVD drive.   I would have easily been able to wait if not for the upcoming Halo Reach, and Dead Rising 2.    Which leads to …

Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2: Case Zero

I did not play much of the first Dead Rising back when it launched. I borrowed a copy from a co-worker and played a couple of hours over a vacation, before giving it back.  I had fun, with it but not enough to drive me to pay full price for it.

Fast forward to last week.  Dead Rising 2: Case Zero (DR2:CZ)  launches on XBLA.  I downloaded the trial and after making and deploying the “Drill Bucket”, I was begging to pay the $5 for the full version.  This prequel DLC is a wonderful little game that severs as a great demo for the full DR2.

You can get all the details about the game on other sites, but as a summary:

  • You are Chuck.
  • Zombie outbreak has recently happened. (I suspect soon after the events of DR1)
  • Chuck has a daughter, Katey, who has been bitten.
  • Zombrex is a drug that if administered every 12 hours, will keep the zombie virus at bay.
  • Chuck and Katey are trapped in a tiny zombie infested town at the quarantine perimeter around Fortune City (aka Las Vegas).
  • Your job get Katey Zombrex and get out of town before the military shows up.
  • Chuck is very handy with Duct Tape.

The size of the town, and the time limit imposed by the game mixed with the horde of zombies, hidden paths, and possible survivors work to create a wonderfully tense gaming experience.   This game not only sold me on buying the the full Dead Rising 2, it prompted me to buy a copy of the first game.

Alas while the first game has the same sort of zombie “charm” and tension as DR2:CZ has, the controls are much worse and the UI / Save system are clearly a generation behind DR2:CZ.    I was entertained by DR1, but I found myself instead wanting to play more CZ or even better the full DR2.    So while I probably wont play a lot of DR1, since I was able to pick it up for super cheap I don’t feel bad.

My weekend was not all Zombies, I also dove into a bit of the…

Final Fantasy 14 beta.

This was quite an experience, and not particularly a ‘good’ on.   First I want to say, I really want to enjoy this game.  I have been trying very hard to play with a positive attitude, since  it has a few game systems that I was interested in trying out, such as:

The cutscene heavy story driven quests. I enjoy how they integrated cut scenes into FFXI, it was something other games at that time were not doing, and I was interested to see if FFXIV was doing anything new here.

The new Class system.  Characters can change class simply by changing what they are holding in their main hand.  Sword – Gladiator, Axe – Marauder, Bow – archer, Mining Pick – miner, Needle and thread – tailor, etc.

The guildleves system.  I don’t understand all the inner workings yet, but I like the idea of having monsters spawn just for me or my group, and I like the idea of being able to turn the quest in right where we were fighting.

The forced NPC interaction.  I was curious if the old school mechanic of having to interact with NPC to know what they “offer” was still feasible.  What I mean is there are no icons above NPC heads to indicate if they have a quest for you, if they are merchant, or if they at this time only offer flavor text.

The Player Driven Economy.  My understanding was that most of the items in game would be produced and sold by players and I am always interested in seeing how such games play.

Unfortunately the game seems designed to be purposely obtuse and drive people away that are not fanatical FF fans.

  • It offers very little in the way of new player experience.
  • Its mouse control and UI menus are plagued with lag.
  • Much of my time has been spent simply running from place to place and not “doing” anything.
  • There is a significantly noticeable lack of voice over.
  • There is a lot of text to read, displayed in non-configurable text box or in the chat pane.
  • The UI is not friendly to those that like to mod or customize their layouts.
  • Characters can’t jump.
  • There was a lack of rewarding loot. I suspect a result of the heavily player driven econ.
  • Lack of Auction house or search-able market. At least at this point I have not discovered a way to search for items for sale.

Don’t get me wrong, the Game does have some charm, particularly if you are or were a fan of FFXI, and I really want to like this game.  Alas there are far too many other games on the market for me to have to pay full price + sub, to have the time to learn how to really appreciate FFXIV’s quirks.

Not Free to Play Games

Lord of the Rings Online is about to go to Free to Try-Store Driven Pricing Model (F2T-SDPM) and EQ2 recently added a series of F2T-SDPM servers.  I am a big fan subscription based games converting to  these models, as long as they offer a path back to a subscription setup.

What I mean is giving me a game for free to install and play with heavy limits is great. It gets me to install and keep the game on my computer, allowing me to pop in whenever I get an urge.

If you then provide me options to lift some of the limits for a price, then that’s fine too.

But if you don’t also provide me a way to remove all the limits in exchange for a subscription, just as you had before your conversion, then I don’t want to bother with your game.

I like what from what I am seeing in Lotro’s F2T-SDPM pricing structure. It looks as though  I will be able re-subscribe and be right where I was before the conversion, or I will be able to pop back in with hard limits, but without paying anything.  Oh and the conversion happens across all servers for all players.

EQ2, offering does not look so good.  This is not a conversion at all, and instead is an additional offering.  If you want to take part in the F2T-SDPM then you are shunted off to separate servers without the ability to subscribe with the same level of services as the normal subscription servers.

In my eyes the inability for the F2T-SDPM players to join with friends that might be full subscribers is  a HUGE failure.  Why offer a payment model that encourages new players to try the game, if they can’t join up with friends that currently subscribe?   Oh I know why, because if you didn’t do it this way you could also offer two different subscription models. *sigh*

Sorry EQ2 Extended I am not buying into your marketing, and I will not be encouraging my friends to spend money on this version of your game.    I will tell people to use EQ2X as a throw away demo to allow them to experience your world, and I will evangelize the original Pay To Play subscription.  But I will steer people away from spending a “micro transaction” on EQ2X.

Upcoming Games

And finally it looks as though this is going to be a busy fall for gaming.  With games like; Halo Reach, Civilization 5, Dead Rising 2, Fallout New Vegas, Fable 3 ,Call of Duty Black Ops, Assassins Creed Brotherhood,  DC Universe Online,  and possibly WOW Cataclysm  I doubt I will be able to keep up.


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