More Dragon Age in your face

So I’ve really been digging Dragon Age: Origins.  Of all the games I got for Christmas and during the Steam holiday sale, I’ve been putting the most time into it… well, except for Braid.  There are a lot of things that really make this game special.

I first started the game and rolled a mage.  Looking back, I seriously wish that I would have first rolled a mage in World of Warcraft so it seems that every RPG game that I’ve played since that has a mage type class… I roll that.

After playing for about 8 -10 hours with my mage I decided that my skill/talent build wasn’t exactly what I wanted… so I rolled another mage from scratch to attempt to get things right.  With Dragon Age, there is no such thing as respec… so make your choices wisely.  My second mage, I focused on making a support/healer class and it has turned out to be really fun.  Throughout the game, you roll around with 3 other characters, each of which you have total control over.

I currently am rolling with a fighter tank class, a rogue and another mage that is focused on blowing stuff up.  At any time during a battle, you can pause the game, assess the situation and send your characters out to do whatever you want them to do.  Usually at the start of a fight, I will pause the game and send all my characters out to different targets and use their CC ability on them.  I then usually will let the fight play itself out, healing and buffing where necessary.  Of course, I can always pause when things get a little hairy.  The combat in Dragon Age is incredibly satisfying.

Another thing that is very cool is the way the storyline can change based on choices you make.  I got to a point in the game where I had to make a choice: either I could use blood magic (forbidden), sacrificing an innocent woman to save a young boy who had been possessed by a powerful demon… or I could head off in another direction in source of another solution.  The first time I played through, I chose the blood magic route and continued on my way after killing the demon.  With my second mage I chose the less evil way.  This has completely changed what I’m doing, where I’m headed and what could happen next.  Seriously with this mechanic that is thrown in throughout the game, you could play through several times and never have the exact same experience twice.  Very cool.

I’m going to continue to post cool things and screenshots as I get them along with the stories that accompany them… I don’t really want to give away any spoilers because everyone should play this game.  I see myself dumping hours and hours more into this game over the next several weeks (months?) … that is until Mass Effect 2 comes out in a couple weeks… we’ll see how that game pans out.  To me right now, Bioware is doing everything right and I have more faith and hope that they will be able to make The Old Republic the seriously deep MMORPG that we have all been waiting for.

Braid.

Here’s another one of those posts with me talking about a game that I should have talked about a long time ago.  To my credit though, Braid was released on the PC in April 2009 and PS3 in November 2009.  So for those that ONLY have a PS3, this might be relevant.  However I played the PC version that I picked up on the Steam post Christmas sale for $2.49… so what do I think of Braid?

Braid currently sells for $9.99 on Steam and $15 on xbox live.  I feel that I could have payed that much and been satisfied.  However, I got a hella deal at $2.49.  I cannot tell you enough how much I love the Steam sales.  As of this writing, I have beaten Braid 3 times completely playing about 8 hours of it (it’s not a long game).  At my fastest I could probably play through the game in about an hour.  If I need something to do for an hour and I happen to have my laptop with me… Braid is perfect

So for those who don’t know… what is Braid?  Braid is a side scrolling puzzle game with amazing hand drawn water color like graphics.  I believe it was created by a single (brilliant) dude.  The puzzle part of the game consists of your ability to control time in various ways.  You can rewind time as much as you like.  In fact, you can rewind back to the beginning of a level if you’d like.  So you make your way through 6 challenging levels of awesome manipulating time in a different way per level on your way to save a princess that seems to always be in another castle.  Sound familiar?  That’s because it borrows from Mario bros in some of it’s elements.  Everyone always talks about how awesome the ending is… and what they say is true.  It’s great.  The first time through took me about 4 hours to figure everything out.

I don’t know what else to say about Braid except buy it.  At $9.99 on Steam, you really can’t go wrong and it’ll probably run on any PC.  Not convinced, check out the demo.

Out of Outland

I had all these posts planned and all these things to say about returning to Outland, but it went by way to quickly (but not really).  It was great powered through Outland and being able to hop the ship to Northrend so quickly.  Blizzard really has made it easier to level up.  Once I realized that the flying mounts were faster and I could get them at level 60, it was all over.

One thing I noticed about Outland was that the way they structured and placed quests made it really easy to gather up a bunch of them and then take off and do them all before returning for a boat load of xp.  I completed the quest achievements for Hellfire Penninsula and Zangarmarsh and half of Terrokar Forest before hitting level 68 and jetting off to Northrend.

I was in a group for one of the Auchindoun instances that was looking for a healer and while doing that (they are kind of scarce in Outland) I was questing and joking with the group that if they didn’t find a healer before I hit level 68 I was out of there.  They found one and I ran Auchenai Crypts with them.  The dungeons in Outland seem so easy.  There were times when we had a complete group of properly leveled people (no 80s) where we would destroy instances and bosses.  It all seemed a lot easier than the first time I went through Outland.  Perhaps it’s because most of the dudes I was running with had level 80s with full tier gear and new how to maximize their dps.  You could definitely tell when someone didn’t know what they were doing thanks to recount.  I was usually top the dps chart but when you are running with an equal leveled rogue and you are tripleing their dps, it’s a little ridiculous.  There were also times when I would get into groups with all plate wearers.  Paladin healer, 3 dks and a warrior.  I don’t know how to explain this phenomenon except that people are looking to get into the good arena classes.  The team that won the arena tournament at BlizzCon was Palading, Death Knight and Warrior.

So I’m out of Outland.  I headed to Stormwind Harbor and took the boat to Borean Tundra… but it’s hardly boring.  My brothers refer to it as the Fun Tundra.  I’m enjoying it.  The first few quests that I did got me a couple new pieces of gear as quest rewards and I’m breaking 10k health now in frost mode.  It was a little rough having to return to the ground mount, but then I realized that you can get cold weather flying early now if you have a level 80.  So I sent Killt to the trainer in Dalaran to pick me up a book and I’m in the skies again.  I plan on hitting up the zones that I didn’t get a chance to see with Killt… so basically everything except Howling Fjord, Dragonblight, Grizzly Hills and ZulDrak.  I look forward to Scholozar Basin.  Every time I have to go to that zone for whatever reason I am amazed by how beautiful it looks.

Then there is the pvp.  I’m at level 69 right now and even half way to 70.  I think I’m planning on playing purely BGs until level 70 not only for the fun but also to stock up on marks so hopefully I’ll be able to have enough to turn in for concerted efforts at level 80 to get some quick pvp gear.  It’s great being at the top of the bracket again… I played a couple rounds last night (AB and EOTS) where we demolished the horde.  I think I’m going to like Death Knight pvp the more I do it.

Whipping stuff.

So I decided to play a little catch up with some posts I’ve been meaning to finish up… but not until after I finished off Count Dracula in the Super Nintendo classic Super Castlevania 4… Wii virtual console edition.  I won’t lie… I played a bit the other night, but got stuck on the ridiculous sewer/dungeon level.  If you’ve played this game before, you know the one.

This game is my favorite Castlevania game in the series and quite possibly one of the greatest games on the Super Nintendo.  It also is the first Super Nintendo game that I remember playing even before I had my own Super Nintendo with my friend Josh Aston.  I was 11 years old.  Wow… 17 years ago.  Video games have changed, but there has been a big push lately to the old school 2D action games defined by such classics as Castlevania.  Braid, Trine, Shadow Complex among others have proven that there still is a demand for 2D sidescrolling action games and I hope the trend continues forever.

But if you’re looking for some old school gaming action, you can’t beat Super Castlevania 4  for the Super Nintendo.  Dracula and his cronies must die once again.  Pick it up on the Wii virtual console store for a cool 800 points.  It’s totally worth it.

Guns of the Patriots

I finished off Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots a couple weeks ago and have been meaning to write up my final thoughts on the game, but every time I tried to collect my thoughts and feelings together, I was overwhelmed.  Let’s just put it this way: this game was epic.

The Metal Gear Solid franchise is the series that defined the stealth action game play that almost every single action game today incorporates.  After playing MGS4, I’ve determined that Hideo Kojima and his buddies at Konami still know how to do it best.  As control, graphics, and technologies have evolved and improved over the years, so has the game play of the Metal Gear series.  Solid Snake was first introduced on the Nintendo Entertainment System in the original Metal Gear.  The original Metal Gear and it’s sequel Snake’s Revenge set the stage for what was to become one of the most epic stories ever told in video games.  The series made the jump to 3D with Metal Gear Solid on the PSX.  The PS2 brought us Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, followed by the prequel Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.  Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops for the PSP added a bit more to the back story of Big Boss and Outer Heaven.  During the course of these games, Hideo Kojima weaved a complex story line with plenty of side stories, unforgettable characters and twists that kept me enthralled.  Metal Gear Solid 4 promised to be the final game starring Solid Snake and also promised to tie up all the loose ends left behind from the last games.  It did not disappoint.

Metal Gear Solid is not for everyone… especially the 4th edition.  MGS4 refined the game play defined in MGS original almost to perfection.  This game play, however, is broken up into segments separated by cut scenes… lots of cut scenes… sometimes 30 minute long cut scenes.  Now while these cut scenes are very well directed and explain very well what’s going on, to someone who is not invested into the story of Metal Gear, I would imagine that they are just a hassle and an unwanted break between the stealthy game play.  I absolutely loved them… but that’s because I love the story of Metal Gear.  But it wasn’t always that way.  As Kojima got more and more creative license as his games became more and more popular, the cut scenes and story lines became more detailed, complex… and long.  If you know nothing about the Metal Gear story, this game might not be for you.  You will probably grow tired of the cut scenes and skip through them getting lost even more.  This probably explains why there are so many used copies of this game at every Gamestop.  The hype for the game was so great that everyone who owned a PS3 at the time bought the game.  After realizing that it wasn’t what they thought (although a great game) they sold them all back to Gamestop.  I’m a little late to the party and MGS4 is now in the PS3 Greatest Hits club at $30 new.  Needless to say,  I will be keeping the game.

So how was Metal Gear Solid 4?  Well, for me it was absolutely everything that a Metal Gear fan wanted in the grand finale of the series.  The stealth was awesome, the boss fights were well crafted, original and fun and the ending was very satisfying (I’ll get to the ending in a minute).  MGS4 was very nostalgic at times including a playable dream sequence of the first level of MGS original in all it’s PSX glory and a complete revisit to Shadow Moses Island (the backdrop of the first MGS), where you finally get to pilot Metal Gear Rex (screen shot above).  The last battle was by far the absolute best final boss fight that I have ever experienced, especially since I have been following the characters since the beginning.  The graphics are probably the best the Playstation 3 has to offer… which definitely add to the immersive quality of the game.

Then there was the ending.  Have you ever watched an ending to a video game that had a save point in the middle of it?  The ending to Metal Gear Solid 4 was over an hour long.  They had to I guess.  With a story so deep and with so many characters that demanded closure, there was no way that they could have told everything they needed to through game play.  They did a great job.  The ending provided the finishing touches to everything that Kojima had been brewing up over the years… in a way felt like I was watching the end of Lord of the Rings.  The action was over, but there was still an hour left of movie to finish everything off.  Either way, I loved it.

So… Metal Gear Solid.  If you can get into it and past all the long cut scenes, I’d recommend starting with Metal Gear Solid original either on PSX or GC or even downloaded via PSN.  It really is a fantastic ride and one that you will never forget.  Just prepare your mind… it may just get blown.

Through the Dark Portal…

Ok, so I like alts.  I’ve made several alts of each class across probably 5 servers and have never stuck with any past the mid 30s… until now.  Granted, I started at level 55, but either way, I’m headed out of normal land and into outland.

I successfully leveled my herbalism to 300 and am now prepared to enter the outlands with my gathering profession in tow.  I’ll eventually get around to leveling inscription, but currently I’m having too much fun playing the death knight.  I just hit level 60 after a few quests in Hellfire Penninsula, and I plan on spending a good chunk of level 60 running BGs at the top of the bracket.

I’ve never played a plate wearer before and all I have to say is… wow.  It’s almost impossible to die in PVE, especially being blood specced.  I’m able to take on a bundle of mobs my level and kill them all with ease.  Plus at level 60 I just got death and decay which will make it even easier.

So I know I’ve said it of EVERY alt I’ve ever created, but I think I might stick it out with Valydd up to level 80, or atleast until level 70.  As fast as the leveling goes in Outland I’ll be there in no time flat.  Plus, as a death knight, I can basically solo every dungeon in outland when I come to it, so we’re good.  Time to replace the blues that were just handed to me with nice quest greens.

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