Friday, February 27, 2009

Open Letter to Stardock

Dear Stardock Corporation,

I wanted to write to you regarding my recent experience with your new ImpulseDriven storefront.

When I first learned about Impulse, I was a little skeptical.  I didn't think the world needed another Steam.  I was wrong.

I was a customer of yours before the launch of Impulse.  I purchased a boxed copy of Sins of a Solar Empire at retail, and was happy to see a smaller publisher and smaller game development company join forces to release an incredible game that I could install and play without DRM or other hoops to jump through.

Now, with Impulse, that install process is even simpler.  Although I bought my boxed copy at a retail store, my registration was pulled directly into Impulse, where I easily updated my game quickly and painlessly.  I decided to try my first purchase through Impulse, and I bought Sins of a Solar Empire: Entrenchment.  The process could not have been simpler.  I entered my information and Impulse downloaded, installed, and patched my game without requesting additional information or even my game CD.  I was up and playing the brand-new game in minutes.  I was excited to purchase Entrenchment, and I look forward to the release of Braid and other titles through Impulse.

So thank you Stardock.  Thank you for being a trusted publisher.  Thank you for teaming up with development companies like Ironclad Games and independent developer Jonathan Blow of the highly acclaimed Braid to expand its audience beyond XBox Live Arcade.  And thank you for trusting your customers enough to not bog us down with costly, buggy, and punishing Digital Rights Management.  I hope gamers like myself and others have provent that you don't need to protect your products with DRM to make money -- you simply have to make them good.

I look forward to using Impulse in the future, and implore you to continue proving to your peers in the video game entertainment industry to value their customers, rather than exploit them.

Your fan,

Milden Gaming

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Quake Live Beta Available

I was vaguely aware of the Quake Live project ongoing, the in-browser adaptation of Quake 3, but I just realized the beta opened Feb 24th.  Checking it out now, could be fun!  Old-school action from your web browser.

Edit: I'm only 33578th in line!  This might take a while.

Edit 2: I'm pretty sure the entire site is just one big joke, and the page is simply a random number generator.   I've gone from 15k to 3k to 500k, and now I'm bouncing between the 10k to 15k range.  I'll try again later.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Team Fortress 2 Scout Updates

New Scout class updates are here, as Valve has previously announced!  However, the last announced update is the new scattershot, called the Force-A-Nature.  I thought it was pretty interesting that Valve allowed the community to vote on what order the upgrades would become available.  Definately looking forward to trying those out!  Have to get some fools together for some blasting.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Prince of Persia Completed

After a pretty quick run-through, I completed the new Prince of Persia game.  I really enjoyed every aspect of the game, and managed to collect every single light seed at my wife's request!  The game was fun but felt like it was over just a little too soon...  Thankfully, there's new downloadable content available in just two days!  Entitled Prince of Persia: Epilogue, the DLC extends the cliffhanger ending and adds additional areas, powers, weapons, skins, and trophies.  I only have to wait about 48 hours, too!

Achievement Unlocked!

I have not laughed so hard in quite some time.  Achievement Unlocked!, an online Flash game, pokes a little fun at the goofy desire of gamers to constantly gather trophies, gamer points, and achievements.  Enjoy and laugh along.

Resident Evil 5

I haven't been really been following the latest entrant to the Resident Evil series.  I really enjoed RE4 (on Playstation 2), and have been so far uncertain about RE5.  The videos I've seen recently however have been very promising though.  I'm hoping (for both sleep's sake any gameplay) that they move away from the  cheap horror tricks and provide a solid action/strategy experience rivalling MGS4.  The release date is Friday, March 13th, an apt and auspicious day.  Probably something to follow.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tales of Valor Release Date Changed

In a shocking turn of events, the release date for Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor has actually been moved up.  Yes, I was floored as well.  That means in less than a month and a half we'll have new CoH goodness!  Very much looking forward to it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Empire Campaign Finished

Finally finished the third campaign in Red Alert 3, the story surrounding the Empire of the Rising Sun.  The stories were great, loved all the live-action movies and the actors within them, gives a satisfying backdrop to your in-game triumphs.  The closing movies, each centering around the various faction's female communications officers, are a little embarressing, but I guess if you're a desperate teenager, they hit the spot.

I felt very challenged by this campaign and the rest.  The AI keeps coming after you with various groups of troops, and you can't leave your base open or they'll just wipe it out.  You must use a variety of units and tactics, so that you are prepared for anything they throw at you, and they'll throw everything at you.  Base defenses seem so formidable in this game, requiring air strikes or long-range artillery to remove before you go in with ground troops or you will face devastating losses.

With the story closed on this game, I'm very much looking forward to the expansion which drops next month.  The additional campaigns and game modes promise to expand the game's life, for which I am very greatful!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Braid for PC

The much-lauded Braid, an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive, will now be coming to the PC!  Wooo!  Gonna have to break out my gamepad for this one.  Funnily enough, it will be released through Impulse, the digital software distribution service of a publisher called Stardock, who published a game I really like called Sins of a Solar Empire.  I hope them teaming up with Braid will give the innovative platformer a new audience, and pimp out Impulse's stable of releases.  Also coming on Impulse is the previously-announced Entrenchment, the Sins of a Solar Empire micro-expansion.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Guild Wars 2 Delayed

Numerous sites have reported Guild Wars 2 to be delayed for various reasons.  An article on Voodoo Extreme shows that although NCSoft is still making money, good news for any GW fans, they're making less of it in profit, so possibly less money for new development.  NCSoft's quarterly report and the contained product release schedule shows that it may be 2011 before we see a beta and Guild Wars 2 release.  These guys are starting to sound like Blizzard.  Which, I guess, isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Air Traffic Chaos and More

Anymore, the Nintendo DS only has three types of games.
  1. Strategy games (Advance Wars, 
  2. RPGs (Final Fantasy, Pokemon, Dragon Quest)
  3. The rest of the shovelware
Don't get me wrong, there are the occaisonal gems in the puzzle (Curious Village) and action (any mario game), but it seems like if it's not a RPG or strategy game, it's just not for the DS.

One strategy game in particular really caught my eye, and after I played the demo (courtesy of the Nintendo Channel -- Yes I use my Wii!) I was hooked.  That game is Air Traffic Chaos, in which you take the role of an air traffic controller in busy airports throughout Japan.  If this doesn't sound very exciting, you haven't thought it through.

The demo started in a very small airport, with only two runways and four gates.  In the game, you must instruct planes when to leave the gate, which runway to take, when to taxi, and when to take off.  Similarly, you must assign runways to incoming planes, assign them a gate, and let them know when it's safe to taxi.  You must do all this while multiple planes are moving around in the sky and on the ground, and respond to each of the planes in time, or they'll get cranky and the stress level will increase -- both in your own mind and in a meter displayed by the game.  There are always all kinds of things going on at any one time, and you have to balance the needs of multiple aircraft.  My first try two planes crashed into one another while on taxi between runways.  Oops.

It's a ton of fun, but not easy to find.  Obviously Gamestop didn't have it.  It's on the cheap on eBay, I might pick it up there.  But it's one of those great niche games that you can only find on the DS, amidst the mound of crap wealth of My Random Pet with a Z and the next Cooking / Brain Training / Language Learning titles.

More Prince of Persia

I've spent a bunch more time within the new Prince of Persia game, and it continues to delight.  It's incredibly cinematic, with great boss fights and the expansive feel of the environments.  You can see for miles around you, the draw distance is so great, that it's awesome to look back and see this massive tower that you were just crawling around.

I really like the hybrid pathed / open world progression of the game areas.  Basically you can go wherever you want whenever you want.  Only, you require certain powers to gain access to the boss fights.  You must unlock these powers by collecting light seeds that only spawn in areas you've already cleaned up.  So you choose where you want to expand by progressively unlocking required transportation powers.  It's a very cool method of semi-openworld play.

At the beginning I thought it would really be a drag to go back through areas to collect all these light globes seeds.  As my wife will attest, I'm a terrible 100%'er, never really bothering to find and collect things in any game (my 5 of 200 pidgeon count in GTAIV is one example of this).  But Prince of Persia makes it so enticing precicely because of the changes that you effect in the game world.  By cleaning the corruption, the very environment is changed, and turns from dark and dreary to verdant and beautiful.  It's really a reward to go back through the acrobatic puzzles once again just to drink in the newly lush environment.

Prince of Persia really is a great game experience.  It's like walking through a set of two paintings, and the first makes you appreciate the beauty of the second.  I'm halfway through the game, and I'm really afraid that it'll be over before I know it.  I guess good things are like that.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tiger Madness

Company of Heroes continues to be fun.  While we're looking forward to the upcoming Tales of Valor, Mike, Greg and I are doing a couple matches a week.  Most recently, Mike and I took on a pair of Expert German CPU opponents and somehow eeked out a win.  They fought to the end, and brought to bear formidable forces including a trio of Tiger tanks!  However, they were no match for my Sherman Fireflies, as you can see in the video below:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Prince of Persia

Finally had a chance to check out the new Prince of Persia.  I was initially going back and forth between it on PC and PS3, and settled on the console version.  I'd enjoyed Prince of Persia - Sands of Time on PC, so this is a change of pace.

A very short way into the game, but I'm very happy with it.  The acrobatics are a blast, combat is satisfying, and the visuals impress.   I'll have to report back more when I get further into the game, but it already shows a great deal of promise.