Deus Ex: I tried to let it go.

I have been tempted several times to rant a little more about Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but I’ve usually been able to let it go and move on. This last bit of news has provided a bit too much temptation though.

“We knew that it would be a weakness for the game, that we had to make a compromise to deliver it [on] two levels. First, the boss fights were forced, which is not the Deus Ex experience. Second, there is no mix [of] solutions to tackle the boss fights, which is not Deus Ex either.

“We knew that before the release of the game, but there had to be some compromise. It [was] our decision.”

If you know that a part of your game is not up to par. If it is a part of the game that’s not integral. Why not cut it? Especially when it becomes a road block to finishing the game. I understand not being able to take more time, that takes money which they probably didn’t have. But surely they could’ve designed around it. Replaced the boss fights with a cut-scene or quicktime event. It couldn’t possibly have caused them more grief than the boss fights have.

One side note, since I’m venting about this anyway. I’ve read a few reviews and comments that question why it’s such a big deal, since the boss fights were such a small part of the game. The problem with that reasoning is that the fights are unskippable. So if you’re like me and get frustrated on the very first one, then you’re done. For me, DX:HR was a five hour game. Plus, if the first fight is that irritating, why would I want to try and plow through it when I know that after getting deeper into the story there’s another roadblock waiting for me, and likely several more after that.


I didn’t play the originals, so the XCOM remake was disappointing but not upsetting. But now Syndicate is getting the same treatment. The marketing dross calls it a “visceral FPS experience” and I’ll agree the news gives me a visceral experience, but not in a positive way. Don’t we have enough FPS games already?

Deus Ex: Human Revision

I know, I said I was giving up on the game, but Rock, Paper, Shotgun posted about a mod that allows all kinds of cheating. I don’t actually want to cheat, but the boss battles feel so out of place in the game. It really comes down to cheat past this block, or not play the game at all.

My plan is to use the debug mode to bypass the boss battles, but that’s it. I may even go as far as disabling the mod after each boss battle is over so I’m not tempted to cheat. I’m thinking of it as editing Eidos’ rough draft.


Giving up on Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

I never played the original game or the sequel, and I wasn’t following DX:HR any more closely than to be aware it was in development and planned for release this year. When it came out and was getting rave reviews from the press and more importantly from internet friends, I decided to buy it through Steam.

About five hours into the game and I’ve stalled out.


Initially, I thought it was going to love this game. With the strong story, hacking mini-games, and shooter combat, I was getting a strong Mass Effect vibe. But I switched to playing a few other games over the weekend and haven’t had any burning desire to go back. That usually means I’m done with the game. I have an awful track record for picking up games again and doing more than dabbling.

So what happened? Why did DX:HR fizzle when ME has kept me enthralled enough to play two games to completion?

Characters. ME 1 and 2 are not just the story of Sheppard. It’s the story of his crew and teammates. Were it not for Sheppard’s interactions with Tali, Miranda, Mordin, Wrex, and the rest, I don’t think I would’ve finished either game. DX:HR has none of that. Jensen is a loner with only minimal contact with others via comms and some face to face with his helicopter pilot.

I wrote the above during lunch Monday and then that night decided to give it another shot. I had apparently nearly gotten to the first boss battle in the game, which should explain why my playtime on Monday was sixteen minutes. After ten minutes of running in, skipping the cutscene (I did watch it the first time), and then getting plugged full of lead, I quit. It was not fun. It’s pretty disappointing to me to leave yet another game unfinished, but I have too many other demands on my time to play something I’m not enjoying.

Who on earth thought it would be a good idea to put a boss battle in which you fight a heavily armored maniac with an automatic rifle in a game that’s all about stealth and cover? I really, really hate it when a game switches gears like that. If the first five hours of a game are training you to play carefully and stealthily, you don’t then drop the player into a sealed room with scant cover and your enemy standing ten feet away and perfectly aware of you.

Anyway, I quit in frustration and went and played some nice relaxing Star Trek Online instead. Klingons made an excellent target for my frustration.

After getting a good night’s sleep, I was thinking about trying again and just bumping the difficulty down a notch (I’ve been playing on the middle/normal setting). But after reading Jon’s experiences with the game at, I don’t think I’ll bother.


I decided to check out Terraria recently. It’s a 2D game similar to Minecraft that everyone has been excited about. I’ve only put about five hours into the game, and I’ve had fun but I haven’t gotten sucked into the game in the same way I did with Minecraft.

Both games have a pixellated art-style. Both games focus heavily on exploration and building, but Terraria has more of an adventure game side to it. You have more health than you do in Minecraft, and there’s a lot more combat in the game both in the daytime and the nighttime. Ironically, I never felt like I was in as much danger in Terraria as I have in Minecraft. Because it’s a 2D side-scrolling world, zombies can’t sneak up on you, and even if one get’s the drop on you, you can live much longer even without armor.

For me, the 3d perspective is just more engaging. In Minecraft, I feel it when I stand on top of a cliff and look down. When I’m mining run across a cavern, the yawning black space is much scarier and more exciting than coming across a cavern in 2D.

I’m planning to continue playing Terraria occasionally, but it scratches a different itch than Minecraft does.

DRMless is Worth More

I usually don’t play old games. I admit that I ‘m a shallow gamer. Once I know there’s a better looking version of a game out, I just don’t enjoy playing the old one as much, even when the I prefer the style/mechanics of an older version.

As a result, I’ve never bought anything from Good Old Games until this week. I preordered Witcher 2 through, even though I bought the original Witcher through Steam. I was planning to get the sequel through Steam when it went on sale eventually, but then I read that it wasn’t going to have any DRM on it through GOG. To me, that’s worth paying full price and not waiting on some crazy Steam sale.

Now I just need to actually finish the first one.

Looking Forward to 2011 – Console/PC

I debated just tacking this onto the end of my 2011 MMOs post, since it could be condensed down to:

Mass Effect 3! Mass Effect 3! Minecraft! Minecraft!

But that feels a bit lazy and January is way too early for me to give into laziness, that’s what March is for.

Console Games

There’s only two games I’m excited to play on the Xbox 360 this coming year:

  • Mass Effect 3
  • Batman: Arkham City

Do I really need to explain why? Fine.

Mass Effect 3

Bioware has shown marked improvement in the game-play from 1 to 2, I can only imagine 3 with be even better. Honestly, I’m not sure how though, the mining mini-game was really the only part that was below excellent.

The story, characters, and dialogue have been consistently good through out the first two games, despite my concerns based on the way Mass Effect 2 was marketed. It will be shocking if they somehow manage to drop the ball for the finale.

Batman: Arkham City

It’s the rare superhero game that really recreate the experience of being an iconic hero from the comics. Besides Batman: Arkham Asylum only Spider-man 2 and Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction come to mind. I’m very interested to see if Rocksteady Studios can pull off a sequel. Will they be able to improve on the combat and the detective mode issues without losing the magic from the first game?

PC Games

I’m sure I missed one or two, but this was all I had in my wish-lists on Steam and Amazon.


Obviously there’s going to be a lot happening with Minecraft this year. Notch’s company, Mojang, is up and running, he’s got developers and an artist helping out now, and he’s got big plans. While I’m excited to see Notch does this year with all the resources at his disposal, to be totally honest, I’ve already gotten more than my $14 worth.

Portal 2

I hate puzzle games and platformers, yes even Mario Bros. I loved Portal though. The game did an excellent job of training you on how to solve the puzzles in the game and the difficulty curve always managed to challenge me without causing my to break my keyboard. I’ve been on a complete media blackout regarding this game, all I know is that it’s scheduled for 2011 and I want it.

Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 2 – Retribution & Warhammer 40k: Space Marine

An expansion for DoW2 and a 40k shooter are both due out this year. I loved the single player game for DoW2 but it took a while before I really started to like the multi-player mode, mostly I just missed the base building. Still, I’m very excited to get to play my favorite race from DoW1, the Imperial Guard.

The shooter, Space Marine, looks interesting and given Relic and THQ’s track record with DoW 1 and 2, I’m definitely going to give it a shot. I’m assuming I’ll get the PC version, but there is an Xbox 360 version scheduled as well.

Looking Back at 2010

December is done and 2010 along with it. Seems like a lot of people are happy to see 2010 go, but the last twelve months of gaming here in Kae-land have been pretty good.

New MMOs in 2010

There were four MMOs scheduled or rumored for 2010 that I was keeping an eye one.

Star Trek Online

The game launched on time and pretty smoothly. At least smoothly enough that I don’t remember encountering any problems eleven months later, unlike Anarchy Online’s launch which I still rememberyears later.

The game had a larger flood of launch players than I expected, but it seemed like that initial wave passed through pretty quickly. Say what you will about Cryptic, but I do like their single world architecture. Not only do you not have to play the server-coordination game with your friends, but there’s also no drama over server queues or merges.

For such a new game, not quite a year old yet, STO has made a lot of improvements. Cryptic has added a diplomacy system (months before I expected them to), several new sectors of content, revamped the crafting system (twice, although more work needs to be done on it), updated sector space, done two month’s worth of weekly episodes, and done an excellent job of following through on their promises of transparency with their Engineering Reports. They’re also close to releasing a user-generated content system, the Foundry.

Of course, Cryptic has caused a lot of drama and made a lot of mistakes this year as well, but I have to give them credit for their responsiveness. The Star Trek team has been especially good at gathering community feedback and then acting on it. Daniel Stahl has done an excellent job since taking over as Executive Producer, and I’m very optimistic about the future of the game.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Even with all the new information this year, my expectations haven’t changed much.

I like the emphasis on story. Going fully voiced will be an interesting experiment to see how players react and the impact on adding content. I’m sure I’ll buy this even if I don’t subscribe past the first month just to see for myself how Bioware did. Besides the original Knights of the Old Republic was one of my favorite games on the first Xbox.

One thing has changed though, I’ve been surprised about how poorly Bioware has managed the hype for the game this year. In 2009 they’d been doing an excellent job of keeping people excited for the game without letting community expectations get unreasonable. I can’t say the same about Bioware for 2010. It seems to me like the backlash I was expecting to follow the game’s launch has already started.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

My expectations for Cataclysm were set at “wait and see.” That was where they stayed right up until the expansion launched. Despite my general lack of enthusiasm, I did end up buying it. I blame Twitter.

I played through the Dwarven starting zone again (up to level 11) to see what the old world was like now and came away pretty disappointed. It was different, but it was just streamlined a bit and not the Azeroth shattering new experience I expected.

I also started a Worgen Mage and I’m about halfway (just judging by levels) through their starter area as well. I have to say, it’s fun so far but it’s not living up to the hype. That’s the tricky part of this. There’s a lot of hyperbole out there about how amazing Cataclysm is and how fantastic the new zones are, and I don’t think that the game lives up to it’s reputation.

Who knows, maybe I’ll change my tune once I finish the starter area. December just hasn’t been a good month for me to spend enough time with any MMOs.

DC Universe Online

DCUO was supposed to release in November, but SOE pushed it to the beginning of 2011. I think this was smart for two reasons: Cataclysm was scheduled for December (duh) and they listened to the feedback from their beta testers (something more developers should do).

I said back in January that I would wait until I’d had a chance to beta the game and make a decision close to launch of whether or not I’d play it. Well both of those things have happened, and I’ve decided to give it a pass. The reasons for that decision deserves a more in-depth treatment than I want to go into just now, so let me just say that there’s nothing that DCUO does for me that I can’t already get from playing either Champions Online or Arkham Asylum.

Old MMOs

At the start of 2010, there were three MMOs that I was playing regularly and/or subscribing to: Lord of the Rings Online, EVE Online, and Champions Online. (I’m thinking of making a New Years Resolution soon to boycott the use of the word Online in MMO titles.)

Lord of the Rings Online

Whew, what a year it’s been for LotRO and Turbine. It started out as my favorite MMO. I was (and still am) in a great Kinship (which it still is) and was having lot’s of fun in the game. Then came June 4th and the Free-to-Play bombshell. I was completely blindsided by the announcement. Maybe it’s because I played on Landroval, which was always one of the most populated servers, but I had never considered the possibility that Turbine would go the DDO-route for the game. Eventually, after the shock wore off and I was able to look at the details, it really didn’t seem like the F2P change would have a huge impact on my playing experience.

Unfortunately, that didn’t turn out to be quite correct. My minute to minute playing experience is mostly the same as it ever was, and I’m not paying any more to play the game than I was before, but the level of store integration into the UI really started to get to me. Between the alert that shows up anytime I do something that earns Turbine Points and all of the little gold buttons that link to the store (of which there are three on the crafting panel alone), I’ve found that my interest in logging in and playing as dwindled down to nearly nothing.

EVE Online

I was doubtful that I would still be subscribed to EVE by the end of the year. I did end up stopping the subscription on my second account, and would have canceled my primary except that it renewed before I got around to it. That’s not totally a bad thing as I’ve continued to train skills (towards no particular goal) and I’ll get a chance to try out the new character portrait generator when it comes out. Regardless though, I’m definitely letting the account lapse in March when the current six month cycle is up.

Champions Online

My plans to have this be my other primary game besides LotRO turned out to be true until I go my first hero to max level in March. After that, I played with some alts and returned for the Serpent Lantern Adventure Pack, but my playtime has dwindled down quite a bit this year. I have to be in a certain (rare) mood to enjoy re-experiencing content, so once I’ve been through the game once my playtime almost always declines (which is true for me in all MMOs).

Console Games

Mass Effect 2 was my favorite console game of the year. Great story, great graphics, and much improved combat over the previous game.

Red Dead Redemption was my second favorite console game, and one I almost missed. I hadn’t paid any attention to it at all until Scott from Pumping Irony asked me if I was getting it. I’m glad he did, because it turned out to be a really good game and the first Rockstar game I’ve ever finished.

Star Wars: Force Unleashed wasn’t new but I’d skipped it on release because of poor reviews. I ended up picking it up after news that a sequel was going to be release, and it turned out to be surprisingly good. So good, actually, that I was able to add it to my very small list of completed games. Ironically, based on several trusted sources, it seems like the sequel is a stinker. That’s too bad, but at least it got me to buy the first one.

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions turned out to be a disappointment. The game was way more linear than I wanted it to be and has ended up in my limbo games stack. These are games stacked up next to my 360 that I feel I should finish but probably won’t.

Fable 3 was also a disappointment and will likely be joining Shattered Dimensions in limbo soon. It’s really too bad considering how much I loved playing Fable 2.

PC Games

Minecraft! Minecraft! Minecraft!

I’ve played and enjoyed a lot of PC games this year, most of them acquired via Steam sales, but the stand-out PC game for the year for me has been Minecraft.

I’m still surprised by how much I enjoy this game. I’m usually a shallow gamer. Good game-play is important of course, but no more so to me than the good graphics. Generally when a sequel to a game comes out I stop playing the older version, even if I don’t enjoy the new version as much, because it just looks better. What can I say.

If you qualify as a Crafter or Explorer personality type, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. If you do end up liking it, come check out the multi-player servers I’m running.

Decisions, Decisions

I may be switching to console mode again for a few days. Why?

  • Transformers: War for Cybertron is on it’s way from Amazon and should be here by Thursday.
  • There’s the freshly downloaded Crackdown 2 demo on my Eilte’s hard-drive begging to be played.
  • Mass Effect 2 has three DLC’s piled up that I’ve barely touched.
  • Red Dead Redemption has some new and free CO-OP maps.

There’s lots to do on the Xbox 360.

Then again, poor Cimmerian Brynulf has been trapped in Tortage for weeks longer than he should have been, and he’s only one quest away from escaping.

Bullet points provided courtesy of Anjin, Inc.