Category Archives: Games

GT5 is here!

Gran Turismo 5 has been released, and I got my copy this morning. Now I’m just waiting to get home from work to test it out. I’ve been reading a couple of reviews, with mixed conclusions, and I definitely hope I won’t be disappointed. After all, this is one of the games I have been waiting for this year!

Some reviews:

http://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-3/gran-turismo-5/critic-reviews
http://www.gamepro.com/article/reviews/217386/gran-turismo-5/
http://ps3.ign.com/articles/113/1136103p1.html

I will get back to you with my own judgement after actually playing the game. :)

Gran Turismo 5 release date

Yay! Finally there is an official release date for GT5. I’m already looking forward to November 24. :)

Gran Turismo 5 delay

Bah, I just saw this blog post about the delay of Gran Turismo 5. I know, by now this is old news, but it’s too bad; I was really looking forward to picking this game up in November, so I could play during the cold and dark swedish winter. Let’s just hope it launches before christmas at least…

Cataclysm Cinematic Intro

Ok, Blizzard has always delivered top-notch cinematics, but this one for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is friggin insane:

World of Warcraft 4.0.1 – One big monster!

So, yesterday the preparation patch for Cataclysm, with version number 4.0.1, was deployed in Europe. I had a feeling it would be big, considering the amount of changes made for Cataclysm; however, almost 6 gigabytes of data makes for one beastly patch! It took me approximately 2 hours just to download the data, and then it took another 2 hours to install it. Ok, my gaming rig is by no means bleeding edge, but still, 2 hours is a long time to wait for a patch to apply. On top of that, after installing that first patch I was greeted by another download; luckily, this time I could use the streaming launcher to download just enough of the game content to let me play.

As for the patch itself, it’s good to see that it is finally here. I have had access to the Cataclysm Beta for a month or two by now, so most of the changes introduced in 4.0.1 are not new to me. Nevertheless, they improve the gameplay in many ways. I haven’t really had time to experiment with talent builds and raiding yet, but it seems like the gameplay on level 80 is a bit screwed up. I’m just waiting for Cataclysm to be released. Until then, playing WoW just won’t be as fun as it should be.

Another Tuesday, another gaming night…

As the title implies, tonight was gaming night. Recently, every Tuesday evening has been dedicated to playing board games with my friends, and I hope this continues since I really enjoy it.

The game tonight was Shogun: a game set in Japan during the Sengoku period. Each player plays a daimyo, a territorial lord striving to become shogun. To accomplish this, the players compete to expand their territory and build buildings which provide extra points during the scoring rounds.

The game is played over eight seasons: two years of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The first three of these seasons play out exactly the same: randomize action order, plan actions and bid for playing order, and then perform your planned actions. All players execute their actions more or less simultaneously, so the gameplay feels very dynamic. What one player chooses to do affects the decisions for every other player.

The winter, however, is not played in the same way as the other three seasons. During winter, you must make sure to feed your population, or they will revolt. After dealing with possible revolts, scoring takes place. This is the time when you should have expanded and built buildings. Every province you control, and every building you have built, gives one point. There are also special scoring rules for building the most buildings of the same kind (castles, temples and theatres) in one region. Since the game only consists of two scoring rounds, it is important to maximize your scoring potential especially for these rounds. Having the greatest kingdom doesn’t help much if you have it at the wrong time.

An interesting feature in this game is how combats are resolved. For every combat, you take the involved armies and throw them all in a tower, constructed so that some armies pass through it and some get stuck inside it. The winner of the combat is simply the player who sees the most armies pass through the tower. The armies that get stuck inside the tower stay there for later combats, which makes it a bit more interesting; you simply have to take into account how many armies are inside the tower before performing an attack on a province.

All in all, I liked the game, but since this was the first time we played it, it’s a bit too early to say if it’s good or not. Hopefully we’ll play it some other time so I can give my judgement. Stay tuned!

God I hate cheese…

So, yesterday I played a couple of SC2 ladder games. I obviously didn’t bring my “A game” because I won 2 games and lost 7! This would be all good if it wasn’t for the fact that almost every game I lost was due to some cheese tactics. It really pisses me off when I lose to someone who is not obviously more skilled than I am, and using cheesy tactics is not the same as being skilled.

For example, I lost two TvT games against people who built two barracks and a bunker just outside my base. How hard is that to do? I mean, had I spotted it earlier I would have won for sure because they obviously didn’t have any other strategy to fall back on. Such players sicken me, and it sickens me even more that such tactics actually work! I will never fall so low as to start using them myself, though, because I don’t think it would help me learn how to be a better player. Besides that, I doubt it would work in the higher leagues on the ladder.

Of course, if I were a better player I would be able to handle cheese tactics, but when playing in gold league it’s really difficult to deal with. It for sure didn’t help that I played like shit either. :(

Starcraft 2: New TvZ strategy

I am by no means a gosu Starcraft 2 player (I play in the top segment of gold league), but I watch almost every episode of Day[9]‘s daily webcasts, and a couple of days ago he presented a really interesting TvZ strategy by Drewbie. I usually go for reapers and then MMM against Zerg but have been struggling with mutalisks lately so this strategy, which is built mainly around Thors, feels very appealing to me.

I tried it in a couple of games against a computer opponent and after I got the opening and transition smoothed out it started to work rather well. Unfortunately, in all the games, the computer focused mainly on roaches, so I didn’t get a chance to try it out against mutalisks. However, since the build worked even against roaches I feel confident that it will solve my mutalisk problem.

I’ll try to do some laddering soon to try it out for real.

Game on!

Tonight was board game night together with my friends. We played a newly acquired game called Smallworld, and I really like it. We played it the first time last week and all four of us agreed that it is definitely a contender for the “best board game” title, along with games such as Imperial (I haven’t played Imperial 2030 yet, but I heard it’s even better) and Puerto Rico.

The idea of the game is to play a number of races, each with a unique ability, to conquer as many areas on the game board as possible to score as many victory points as possible. Every race is also combined with a random “special power” which leads to many interesting situations. For example, in tonight’s game one of the combinations was “Orcs” with the special power “Dragon Master”. The orcs receive one extra victory point for every area they conquer which is already occupied, and the dragon master allows them to conquer any area, regardless of how many tokens there already are in that area. Needless to say, we found out that this was a deadly combination.

What really makes this game good is the many possible different combinations of races and special powers. It feels like the replayability is just so huge. No two games play out the same, and this is a really good property for a strategy board game.

Unfortunately I only finished in second place tonight, but at least we had a really good time playing.

A weekend with Civ 5

This weekend I spent a lot of time in front of the computer, playing Civilization V. As I mentioned in my previous post my first impression of the game was good, and that opinion still holds. I actually enjoy playing this game over any of the previous installments of the series.

The good stuff

So, what is it that makes this game so good? Well, first of all it still has that good old “just one more turn” feeling which every other Civilization game has. Still it manages to improve over its prequel mainly because it focuses less on micromanagement and more on the big picture, while still adding a lot more diversity. Take as an example the new culture system. In Civ 4, culture was basically just a number and an alternate way of conquering foreign cities. In Civ 5 it develops your civilization down different paths of social policies. This system allows for more customization of your civilization in a way that is very appealing to me. It’s not like in earlier Civ games where “Democracy is always the best choice”.

I also like how things like happiness is now global for your entire civilization. This just feels more logical, and you don’t have to spend a lot of time micromanaging every city individually. Same thing with culture and the tax system as a whole. I just hated having to alter my tax rates all the time.

Another thing that has improved in Civ 5 is the military system. The fact that you cannot stack military units leads to more interesting strategic decisions since the terrain has a greater impact. For example a narrow strip of land is now more of a natural choke point than it was before when you could just mass up an “army of death” and steamroll just about anything. In Civ 5 it takes too long to build a military unit to even get to the point where you can steamroll anything. Even with a technologically superior army, conquering a city is anything but trivial, especially if that city is located on a different island.

The bad stuff

Even though this game is an improvement over earlier games, there are some things I don’t like about it.

First of all, the performance is terrible. Even with a decently modern gaming rig the game just doesn’t run well after playing for a little while. It runs fine in the beginning but after a while the FPS drops to a level where it’s just not fun to play anymore. I found that running the game in DirectX 9 mode improved the performance to an acceptable level, however. I don’t know if there’s something wrong with nVidia’s DirectX 10/11 driver, but it shouldn’t be like this.

Gameplay wise, one thing that fails to deliver is the so-called “City-States”. The idea seemed promising at first but it just didn’t turn out the way I would have liked. The only strategic decision you have to make regarding the city-states is which to give your gold to and which to conquer. I would have liked them to be more integrated into the game so that you could for example establish trade routes with them and so on. Right now you only click a button every X turns, saying “Give X gold”, and that doesn’t improve the gameplay.

Conclusion

My initial judgement that Civ 5 is a better game than all earlier parts of the Civilization series is still valid. I like how micromanagement has been toned down in favor of more strategic choices. Even though many hardcore Civ fans might not agree with me, I just find this way of playing a Civ game to be much more entertaining, and that’s what a game is all about.