Salad Saturday Screenshot [30]

Time for another Saturday Screenshot! This time it’s one from the PS4 collection, from my time playing Assassin’s Creed Unity on Cake Box Fox’s account. We finished the game probably about a month ago now and had a great time with it. Here’s a screenshot:

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Here I am early on in my play through as the Assassin Arno, on a Paris rooftop hanging out with a feline friend that I found.

I thought the occasional cats I found in my play through of Unity were a really nice little touch. What was probably a small afterthought of the developer’s does a world of good in making the game world feel alive.

I for one always enjoyed taking a screenshot of myself with cats whenever I saw them. This one promptly ran off not long after the screenshot.

Talking of Assassins Creed, I’ve been having great fun in the newly released Assassins Creed Syndicate – this time based in London. I love the inter-play between the Frye twins and the London setting is well executed, interesting and alive. I’m planning on doing a blog once I’m finished with it, but for now I’m having far too much fun taking over London as the leader of the Rooks.

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Quick Update

I’ve been appallingly bad at blogging over the past couple of months. What can I say, life gets busy some times!

In the world of all things Digital Salad, I’ve been promoted at work. I’m now officially a Manager in charge of a team. Not bad at the tender age of 24, but now it’s the hard work of actually proving I can do it!

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Work hasn’t been the only thing I’ve been up to though. Although I’ve got the time to game, and even the money to put into it if I wanted to, I’ve been more and more of a ‘filthy’ casual gamer recently. I’m still in a bit of a transition with my gaming, but a quick run down of what’s been happening:

  1. I uninstalled GTA V pretty spontaneously back in August and haven’t looked back since. I took a hard look at whether I was actually having fun and decided it was far from it! Not to say it’s not a good game, I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I uninstalled it and haven’t looked back, I’ve not wanted to play it for even a second since – which is far less regrets that I thought I’d have about it.
  2. Guild Wars 2 has made a come back! I’ve reinstalled it and been playing it for the first time in two years. Not that much has changed and I’m really enjoying taking it easy and playing a little bit here and there. giphy (1)
  3. I’m also really looking forward to the full release of Prison Architect this Tuesday. I’ve been following the game in alpha for ages and it’s great to see it finally reach the finish line. I’m looking forward to setting up a new prison full of gangs and (most likely) a lot of chaos.
  4. We’ve also invested in a PS4. A little late to the party, but better late than never! We’ve been really enjoying getting back on to the console gaming train. In particular we’ve been enjoying Assassin’s Creed Unity, which although rightly ridiculed for being so buggy on release, is without a doubt the most fun Assassins Creed game to date if you ask me. I’m really enjoying powering through it, and the multiplayer is even quite fun!
  5. Now that we have a PS4 I’ve also been looking into the many games which are slated for release prior to christmas. I’m definitely interested in Assassins Creed Syndicate and Star Wars Battlefront, as well as some others, but I’m going to wait and see how they’re received on release. I’m a patient gamer these days! giphy (2)

That’s the run down of my gaming, but I’ve been up to far more besides! I’ve been reading Joe Abercrombie’s first book The Blade Itself. I originally discovered the series from the stand-alone sequel The Heroes – which is one of my favourite books ever. I thought it would be a good idea to read some more of Abercrombie’s stuff and I’ve not regretted it at all – I love Abercrombie’s fantasy worlds. I’m hoping to do a review once I’ve finished it.

I’ve also been watching Star Trek Deep Space 9 on DVD. I’ve blogged before about my love of Star Trek The Next Generation since childhood. Aside from TNG I’ve only watched the occasional episode of other series in the canon, so I’ve set to watching Deep Space 9. It’s no Next Generation, and Sisko is no Picard, but its been fun. I’m also hoping to do a blog post about my thoughts on Deep Space 9 once I’ve finished it as well! 
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Last but not least, Life As A Digital Salad has a new look which I’m excited about! Hopefully you’ll be hearing more from me soon.

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Game Of The Year 2014

2014 is all over now, and it’s been an eventful year in all sorts of ways. This post is all about the video games of 2014, so lets get started!

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There’s been quite a few flops this year, for all sorts of reasons.

Without going into too much detail, the Salad official fail of the year is Assassins Creed Unity. A really good concept, but fell absolutely flat on its face in practice.

Mount & Blade: Warband’s latest DLC Viking Conquest definitely is guilty of the same crime, but as a DLC it doesn’t count for this year’s listings.

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The Salad official ‘meh’ of the year was a closer call. Watch Dogs disappointed me, as did Destiny and Titanfall. To a lesser extent Pokemon Alpha Sapphire has disappointed me a little as well. I loved Pokemon Y, but Pokemon AS makes changes that I’m not so comfortable with. Its still really good, but I’ve already become a comfy Poke-traditionalist.

My official ‘meh’ of the year, though, is Hyrule Warriors. CakeBoxFox was my sofa co-op friend on our Zelda adventure, and enjoyed it more than me. We’ve always been big Dynasty Warriors series fans, and the lore of Hyrule is glorious. Putting the two together is a good idea as well, but the implementation was just boring. It wasn’t badly done, just not inspired and incredibly dragged out.

Digital Salad official Game Of The Year for 2014 time.

Whilst I’ve loved the Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart latest instalments on our Wii U they didn’t quite win the day. Unfortunately, as awesome as they are they are a classic Nintendo reboot of an old old franchise. Bayonetta 2 looks fabulous as well, but I can’t justifying picking that as I haven’t actually played it!

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So, the Digital Salad Game Of The Year goes to Valiant Hearts. A game with a big heart, marking the centenary of the First World War. Unlike most games that are big on the feels, Valiant Hearts actually pulls off its gameplay really quite well as well. It is a good game at its core for all the feels around that.

So here’s to 2014 ending, 2015 beginning and the awesome little dog of Valiant Hearts.

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Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Super November – The Salad Take

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November is a big big month in gaming releases. Everyone and anyone is releasing something, or several somethings, to get a chunk of the Christmas market. Here’s my thoughts on some of the biggest, and a few smaller, names coming out this month.

Assassins Creed Unity

Unity-Gate I kinda want to call it. A game full of so much promise. Heck, they even delivered most of what I asked for in my post Mulling Over Assassin’s Creed.

They really mucked it up though, as has been well published across the gaming, and even mainstream news, internets. Ubisoft shares have plummeted, just like the reviews of their games.

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Unfinished is probably the kindest way to describe the Unity-Gate farce. The game has literally dozens of game breaking glitches that make it next to unplayable. Even on semi-official gameplay videos you see fairly serious glitches popping up. So much for the fantastic new revolutionary game engine!

Quite honestly though, having watched a fair amount of gameplay (I must admit to not actually having played it) it looks pretty darn boring as a game. The world somehow still falls flat, even with the big crowds. Go off the beaten track and you could be forgiven for not being able to tell the difference between Arno’s Paris and Ezio’s Florence of AC2.

I wanted to like Assassin’s Creed Unity, I wanted it to make me want to buy it. It even gave me most of the things I asked for and yet it still mucked it up. It did everything right and then tripped flat on its face at the very last hurdle. It’s kinda sad to see, and I do hope they managed to get it properly fixed in a decent amount of time.

Farcry 4

I’ve never really been big into Farcry as a gaming series, but Farcry 4 – whether you like the series or not – is a really beautiful game.

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The gameplay really shines through. The Farcry series has consistently refined its core gameplay, and it works. Ubisoft take note!

The RPG style skill tree elements are still there and still relevant, which I like in a game that could otherwise be a very flat and dull FPS. I also like that there’s a decent co-op mode, even if it is online only. Too many games shy away from co-op when it could suit them wonderfully – just like it does with Farcry – so kudos to them for going for it.

Farcry 4, for a game series that makes a big fuss about its story, doesn’t really seem to have struck many chords with its story. Personally I’ve never got on with the stories of Farcry games, and that’s probably my biggest gripe. They leave me with a feeling of ‘why bother trying’ when faced with x y and z to save characters I don’t really care about.

On the whole though, Farcry 4 is a good offering this November, and deserves to well – if only because its a decently polished game!

GTA V 

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GTA V is still GTA V.

It knows its the best game out there and its still going strong. The recent release on the next gen has actually surprised me with how much energy its still got behind it as a release that’s over a year old.

The graphical updates are amazing on the next generation. Whilst not always immediately noticeable, look a little closer and the world shines even more than before. GTA V next gen is by far the most alive gaming world out there.

I guess it was always going to be though, Rockstar take their time to get things right.

The one thing that doesn’t really float my boat though is the new first person mode. It just doesn’t feel like GTA to me, more like some knock-off mod slapped on to the original game.

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I know a lot of people really like it, as a novel change to the resolutely 3rd person series, but it doesn’t work for me. I’m happy for it to be there for those that like it, but I’ll stay away from it mostly.

All in all though, GTA V next gen has been a dependably good release.

Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire

This is the November release I’m most excited about, no questions.

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As a real late-comer to the series with Pokemon X/Y, I’ve immediately gelled with the series. A true legend in the gaming world for good reason.

Because CakeBoxFox and I pre-ordered the game, we also got hold of the free demo version of the games. It looks set to be just as good as hoped.

An interesting mix of more modern Pokemon gameplay & lore ideas from the X/Y generation mixed up with the classic world of Ruby and Sapphire. It looks like they’ve pulled off another fantastic release and I can’t wait to get my copy.

Just to put it out there, Alpha Sapphire is going to be my choice. I’m a Kyogre fan-boy and proud of it!

Super Smash Bros

Super Smash Bros is another game I’m seriously excited about. The best bit? It comes out on the same day as Pokemon. Well done Nintendo on officially stealing my next weekend!

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I’ve always loved SSB but never actually owned one. Such a fun and crazy game, it’s unparalleled for pure fantastic fun; and this new version will be no different.

Playing as the Wii Fit Trainer and some other odd new additions will be interesting, adding hours more fun to the already addictive formula.

Well done Nintendo on wrapping up November/December 2014 with two very solid releases.

Mount & Blade Warband: Viking Conquest

Somewhat off the main radar, but I was super excited to hear that a surprise new DLC is coming to Mount & Blade: Warband.

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I readily admit to being a fanboy of the series, who would buy anything from the team regardless of what it was, but I thought it deserved a note on the list of Super-November. I really hope the developer all the best and try to support them as much as possible. It’s not easy for a small developer out there, even when you have a really good game concept.

And that’s it for now! I know I’ve missed a few recent releases, but forgive me. A Salad has only so much spare time! When time allows I hope to be able to look into all the recent releases in a little more detail, but for now, that’s it. I hope you’ve enjoyed.

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Mulling Over Assassin’s Creed

A certain video gaming series is quite noisy at the moment. What with AC: Rogue now out and Unity imminent; eyes are already starting to look towards the future plans of Ubisoft.

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With the series at something of a peak, I wanted to share my thoughts on Assassins Creed present, old and future.

I’ve played Assassins Creed since its earnest beginning 7 years ago. I loved the original AC, a game which had an unexpectedly open world and wide variety in gameplay – with a refreshingly new concept. On the whole, the missions of the original AC would allow you to complete the mission how you saw fit; you’ve got a target to find in an area, so long as they’re dead it don’t really matter how.

That’s the kind of game I wanted Assassins Creed to always be, along a similar vein to its video gaming cousin Hitman. A series where you complete the mission your way and you get a score to let you know how stealthy or otherwise you’ve been.

Assassins Creed just isn’t like that anymore. ACIII and IV were beautiful games with amazing cinematic components – but they were just that – cinematic. They were games of cut-scenes and missions that had to be done a certain way just for the cut-scene to make sense. The freedom was lost along the way.

It’s a really sad thing to see with such a promising concept. Its such a strong concept that I’ve played every game up to and including AC IV.

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I’ve enjoyed every game at that as well – despite being endlessly frustrated with increasing handholding and gimmicky armoury additions.

But, what of AC Rogue and Unity?

Well, Rogue is a little to much like a DLC for AC IV for my liking, so I’m probably going to pass on that one.

Unity, though, offers something new. The online co-op definitely takes my interest; although I really wished they’d of put local co-op in as well – but that’s more of a personal gripe with next generation gaming. That said; not including a female-playable option for this mode was a big PR mistake that worries me more generally about just how much customisation there really will be in the game.

Otherwise, Unity looks like a good offering. The time jumping aspect of the story might, finally, be interesting and the world looks set to be livelier than ever.

I probably will play Unity at some point, but part of me knows deep down that it won’t have the open world I’m really holding out for – a game world where I can do a mission however I want to.

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I also want to use this blog to highlight the beautiful fan-made concept art for a future AC set in 19th Century Japan – from artist Vin Hill.

Take a look at a full gallery here.

Although Ubisoft have long said that they have no intention of making a Japanese Assassins Creed game, it’s long been a firm favourite of the community. These concept drawings are beautiful and take me way back to an old favourite PS2 game Way of the Samurai.

If not Japan next, then you can only wonder where else they can take the series. A late 19th Century offering might make sense. Hopefully Ubisoft will have learnt from AC III and avoid the American Civil War as a setting. That’s not to say it isn’t worthy of a video game; just not an Assassin’s Creed video game.

I’ll just keep hoping for some open world freedom to come back to the series to make it the fantastic game I’d love it to be.

Where do you want/think the AC series will go next?

 

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Digital Salad Answers

A slightly different blog today, following up from this one over at Healing The Masses. I really enjoy reading J3w3l’s blogs, so reading her answers to the questions (originally from this post) was genuinely really interesting. So, with that in mind I thought I’d give them a go as well!

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  • When did you start playing video games?

Back in 1997 I think was the first time I played a video game – the same year I got an original PlayStation for Christmas.

  • What is the first game you remember playing?

The first video game I remember was one of two games that came with the PlayStation in a bundle. There was a generic racing game (some things never change!) and Disney’s Hercules. I am ashamed to admit that that is the first game I remember playing, and it was pretty decent. Here’s a play through of it which I was amazed to find on youtube:

  • PC or Console

I’ve got to admit to being a PC kinda guy. I recently blogged about my Xbox 360 turning into an elaborate DVD player, for the lack of much gaming going on on it. I still appreciate having a console, but I’ll always lean towards the PC.

  • XBox, PlayStation, or Wii? 

I think the Wii is a fantastic invention in the gaming world, one of the best things to have hit it in a long long time. So in that way, I guess Wii. The one I’d buy if money wasn’t an option? A Playstation!

  • What’s the best game you’ve ever played? 

I’m going to have to pick Mount & Blade Warband for that one. It’s nothing special in many ways, but for the simple replayability and second-to-none modding community its earned every minute of my hundreds of hours of gameplay over the years. It’s my favourite all time game.

  • What’s the worst game you’ve ever played? 

London Racer.

No doubt about it, the worst game I have ever had the misfortune to play.

I bought it on the original PlayStation with my pocket money as a kid, and well, I would’ve got more pleasure from flushing it down the loo.

The most appalling game ever. If you want to see why see this very helpful review!

  • Name a game that was popular/critically adored that you just didn’t like.

Nothing special here, I’m going to say Watch Dogs most of all. I pick Watch Dogs because despite the huge furore it kicked up with its hype-train and failure to live up to that hype-train I wanted to give it a go, I gave it a chance and it just spat on me for trying.

Watch Dogs, I really tried to like you, but you were just crap.

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  • Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.

Back in the day Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising was pretty revolutionary. There was a loyal group of fans that played it, the first ever open world modern battle scenario game, but eventually it just wasn’t mainstream enough and the developer went bust.

Definitely a sad loss, as that means that the fantastic multiplayer is now defunct. I really miss Joint Ops, a modern military game that could still rival any of the big hitters in that category today. It was visionary, ahead of its time, but sadly overlooked on the whole.

  • What are your favourite game genres?

Favourite genre these days would probably be nothing in particular, but certainly including open world. I’ve been spoilt I guess, I’ve come to expect a big and diverse game world and anything short of that just seems half-baked.

I’ve lost the MMO bug though, with are about as thorough as an open world gets, so I’m a complicated one for likes and dislikes!

  • Who is your favourite game protagonist?

I’d probably say Johnny Klebitz from the GTA IV Lost and the Damned DLC. A strange choice, and I don’t even know myself why I grew to like Johnny so much.

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That said, when Trevor ruthlessly murders Johnny in the first moments of meeting him in GTA V, I was shocked. So shocked that he killed off a character I had grown to like over many hours before that I still can’t bring myself to forgive Trevor. It’s the main reason I don’t like Trevor as a character in GTA V. I guess I don’t forgive easily! That reaction made me realise, though, that Johnny was probably one of my favourite video game protagonists despite his flaws.

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  • Describe your perfect video game.

My perfect video game would probably be a GTA V meets an RPG. Design your character, give them stats you want. More focus on buying and upgrading equipment, as well as levelling up, and then buying a property/stuff and making it look how you want.

I know GTA Online does a lot of that, and I want to try it for those features, but I want those in a singleplayer game – ‘cus I’m anti-social like that!

  • What video game character do have you have a crush on?

Thats a really difficult one. Honestly, I wouldn’t like to say. I think there’s such a shocking lack of female characters in video games full stop that it’s a bit ingenuous to name a favourite of the few there are. We need more!

  • What game has the best music? 

Europa Universalis 2 has a soundtrack that sticks with me. It’s purely classical music, so be warned. But as far as soundtracks go it’s perfectly chosen and well placed.

  • Most memorable moment in a game:

Loads of moments stick with me from all sorts of video games.

Probably the most memorable of all is the end sequence of Red Dead Redemption where John goes down fighting. The character you’ve played with for hours and grown close to sacrificing himself for what he believes in.

  • Scariest moment in a game:

The scariest moment time and time again in a video game has to come from Mount & Blade: Warband Napoleonic DLC. With how long it takes to reload, you get very drawn into the process of ducking, reloading and firing. You get in the zone.

I have jumped off my seat when I am going through that, fighting as best I can, when I have spontaneously exploded in the impact of a cannon ball without warning. That is genuinely terrifying when you don’t expect it.

I also hate games where you’re on your own against the world – FarCry series style. I like to have a companion along for the ride!

I don’t play many scary games if you couldn’t tell!

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  • Most heart-wrenching moment in a game?

The most heart-wrenching moment in a video game I have ever played is a small one really.

Back when it was released I thoroughly enjoyed playing through Red Dead Redemption. I completed it over a couple of months and grew very fond of my lovely dark brown horse. He lasted until very near the end when he get caught in the crossfire of one of the final shootouts.

I was genuinely devastated. I’d really built up a friendship with my horse; so well done Rockstar on tugging on my heartstrings once again.

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  • What are your favourite websites/blogs about games?

I like to to keep and eye on loads of websites and blogs. I like to dip into them all, so I couldn’t list them all!

Special favourites are those that talk about other things as well as gaming, like my good friend Murf. It’s nice to remember that gaming is a part of us as humans, it’s not the only thing that defines us!

  • What’s the last game you finished? 

Grand Theft Auto 5. A fantastic game, although I don’t think you ever fully finish it I finished the story a few months back.

  • What future releases are you most excited about? 

I’m quite excited about Assassins Creed Unity and The Order: 1886 on the next generation consoles. I don’t have one, but these’ll be the first games that truly tempt me to buy one.

Most anticipated game of the future overall though is Mount & Blade: Bannerlord. No scheduled release date yet, but I’m a big fan of the previous installments, so I’ve got my hopes set high for the next outing.

  • Do you identify as a gamer?

Not these days, no. Until recently I definitely would have done, but somewhere along the line I think I’ve fallen out of the gaming loop. Maybe I’ll catch the bug again sometimes soon, but that doesn’t stop me enjoying my old favourites in the mean time.

  • Why do you play video games? 

I play video games for fun. I watched the Lord Of The Rings films as a kid and I wanted to be in that world (hey, I was a real geek). Video games gave me the best way of being a part of that world, living my dreams and enjoying them. That’s what video game mean to me.

So that’s it, I hope you enjoyed my answers!

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Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

 

Digital Salad Gaming Update

I’m back after a bit of a hiatus and back to updating on what’s been going on gaming-wise in the life of Digital Salad. Last time I blogged about gaming I was talking about how I just couldn’t get on with ESO; just like many other gamers. The free 30 days expired a couple of days ago and I certainly didn’t purchase any more game time – in total I used about 6 hours of those 30 days (all within the first 2 days). So here’s what else I’ve been playing in the meantime.

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Aside from being a spectacular GIF of a Xbox One exploding, it also represents where I’m at with console gaming these days. I’ve only used my Xbox 360 console to play DVDs in the past 30 days. It has essentially turned in to a fancy DVD player for me and I think that comes down to the games.

With some exceptions, not many console games really push my buttons. They’re all re-hashes of previous games or just plain old broken. I saw the inevitable announcement of Assassin’s Creed Rogue this week – the franchise’s last hurrah on the older generation – and sighed from the resignation that Rogue is just Assassin’s Creed IV meets III with no new features as far as I could tell. I had a feeling it wouldn’t be groundbreaking, but that just smacks of laziness from Ubisoft.

There’s been one console game that I have kept dabbling in though, and that’s GTA V. I still think that GTA IV’s DLCs were better games that GTA V, but for having fun the fifth installment is much better.

In particular the awesome guys at the YouTube channel Achievement Hunter have got me back into GTA V with their fantastic ‘Let’s Play’ videos. I love the videos they make – full of just having fun. Whilst Gavin in particular irritates the other guys with his incompetence at the game they bring him along anyway for the fun, and that symbolises the best parts of why I like their videos. Give them a watch and you’ll be itching to play GTA V.

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The only problem with the Achievement Hunter videos is that it really makes me want to play GTA V Online. However, at the risk of sounding like a sad and lonely Digital Salad, I have no friends to play it with – so it could never be as awesome as the fun they have.

The other gaming I’ve been up to has been Pokemon.

CakeBoxFox is a life-long Pokemon fan, but I’ve never actually played one. I’m from the generation that’s had pokemon all the way, from the very original GameBoys onwards. Damn I sound retro.

Nearly everyone I knew and know has played a Pokemon game of some sort, but not me. I had a deprived childhood it seems! So CakeBoxFox suggested I give one a go. We picked up Pokemon X and Y for the 3DS and got gaming.

The new generation of Nintendo handheld console – the 3DS is definitely the best place for me to start my Pokemon adventures – where I can trade and keep in touch with CakeBoxFox over the internet whilst we adventure side by side. I’ve been honestly loving it.

2 gym leaders in I’ve got about 50% of my team pretty much sorted. I started with the Grass starter – Chespin – who has been a great trooper so far. I picked up a Squirtle courtesy of the Professor and I’m sticking with a Litleo as my fire pokemon main because of how insanely cute he is (although later on he probably will be replaced sadly). We’ll see what else I pick up, but I’m quite enjoying having a Ghastly in the team for now.

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I’m getting there with learning what types are good and bad against others, but it’s a big task. I’m loving the adventure so far, but most of all the best bit about Pokemon is the ability to drop in and out of it – playing for just a minute or two a day is do-able! I like a game that does that.

One other gaming discovery I’ve made is the Full Invasion 2 mod for Mount & Blade Warband; a game I’ve gushed about many times before!

Full Invasion 2 is an online only mod that pits you cooperatively against increasingly difficult waves of enemies and bosses. It’s classic zombie/bot survival. The real magic to it is the insane amount of options you have for who to play as. I have played as the French Army of the Revolution against the Soviet Red Army. In the end, Stalin was a boss just too powerful for us even with our looted machine guns.

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And there’s me defending Helms Deep as an archer of Gondor against the hordes of Mordor. In the end Sauron saw us off, although we did kill all the Nazgul and Mumakil with him – no mean feat!

Honestly, I think Full Invasion 2 is not only the best mod I have ever come across but it would be a respectable game in its own right. I recommend anyone with Mount & Blade Warband or even thinking of picking it up to give Full Invasion 2 a go, it’ll be worth it.

That’s it for now, I’m planning a few more posts in the next couple of days so stay tuned!

 

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Digital Salad Returns!

It feels like its been ages since I last blogged about gaming, so a return is long overdue! I’ve been playing various different games, although my GW2 playtime has pretty much stopped entirely even with the climax of the Living Story and a whole host of changes to the gameplay. So this blog will be a bit of a round up about my thoughts on what I have, and haven’t, been playing recently.

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GW2 news!

First off, the Living Story has finished its first season. Scarlet is dead (to which the forums erupted in *ding dong the witch is dead* style joy), and all is hunky dory in the life of our motley gang of heroes. Well, us the players have done most of the hero-ing for them over the year – but sharing the glory isn’t a bad thing!

I must confess though that I wasn’t in the least bit interested. I promised myself that I would keep giving the Living Story a go, through each release, until the end of the Scarlet story ark. I couldn’t even manage that. I logged in the Escape From Lion’s Arch and really tried to give it a go, but between horrendous lag and angry commanders yelling at everyone, I gave up after about 3 attempts. It just wasn’t fun. Scarlet’s death was just an extension of that really.

The only bit I was mildly interested in was the video they had upon killing Scarlet, which they’ve since released:

Despite Scarlet’s death it seems that she succeeded in waking up a dragon. Guess that’s the scene set for Season 2 of the Living Story whenever that comes around. I will almost certainly not take part in that season judging from the nose-dive my GW2 play has taken recently. More interesting is wondering whether anybody will be around for Season 2. The GW2 forums have become noticeably quiet, as has it’s blogsphere and reddit channel. I’m beginning to think that the GW2 playerbase is just dying back to leave just the hardcore fans that will persist forever.

There’s a lot of big gameplay changes coming up in a week or so, including trait changes and wardrobe changes, that will make quite big differences to the overall game. The thing is, I really don’t care anymore – I’ve finished the game I realise, and that’s something you should never be able to say about an MMO.

Assassins Creed News!

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The latest Assassin’s Creed has just been announced – Assassin’s Creed Unity, the 5th installment in the series. Very little is known so far other than it is to be set in Revolutionary France.

Revolutionary France isn’t a bad choice of setting at all. It’s brings in a huge potential for making the most of the parkour system in 18th century Paris, as well as potential for an actually interesting story.

That’s the funny thing about Assassin’s Creed for me, they were great games set in interesting historical periods that were ruined by the Assassin’s Creed – the horribly cliched story of the Assassins Vs the Templars that never fitted in to any of the settings other than AC1. That was the one downside of AC4, a beautiful and exciting setting with an abysmal story. Unity should certainly have a beautiful and exciting setting, and there’s potential for them to have a decent story – I hope Ubisoft make the most of that chance, but I’m not holding my breath.

The word is that Connor, of AC3 fame, might well pop up in Unity. I definitely hope they don’t bring him back – without a doubt the worst of the Assassins so far. Other than that, I can see the potential for huge battle scenes of the Revolutionary Wars, which they could really make something more of than the largely window-dressing battles in AC3.

I’ll be keeping an eye on more AC news though, along with news of the studio’s other upcoming release, Watch Dogs, which I’m tentatively looking forward to.

Dragon Age 2!

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One of the games I’ve been playing recently is Dragon Age 2. I’ve never played a Dragon Age before – for some reason I had an idea in my head that they were scary hardcore RPGs. CakeBoxFox had played DA1 and really enjoyed it, and with exciting news coming out about the latest DA (Dragon Age Inquisition) I thought I would give DA2 a go.

I’m glad I did!

DA2 is by no means the scary hardcore RPG I thought it would be, and I would recommend it to any gamer – even those who haven’t played an RPG before. Not that its perfect in the slightest, with appalling voice acting and a very limited world to name but two glaring problems. Somehow though, despite the flaws, I find myself really enjoying DA2. I’m invested in the characters, as badly as they are voiced, and I’m enjoying the story line as well.

I’ve been really enjoying using my personal Hawke (a berserker style warrior), his sister Bethany (healing/elemental mage), outcast Elf Merrill (buff/damage mage) and dwarf merchant Varrick (archer). I will swap Varrick out for somebody melee when I get round to meeting them (probably a choice between Fenris the elf warrior or pirate dagger rogue Isabella – I’m thinking Isabela at the moment).

Its very easy to focus on the flaws of DA2, but for a price of around £5 these days you really can’t go wrong with DA2. The combat is definitely good fun, and well polished. A Digital Salad seal of approval.

Wargame: Red Dragon!

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I’ve also been playing Wargame: Red Dragon (WRD). It’s not technically out quite yet (although should be soon), but I pre-ordered it and as part of the pre-order you get access to the multiplayer beta.

The multiplayer’s limited to a few maps, and no naval warfare (the big addition to RD compared to previous Wargame installments) but all the many factions are involved with all of their units.

I’ve been a big fan of strategy games since I first started gaming really, but Wargame had always passed me by. WRD had some good sounds going on about it, and seeing as I was feeling a bit lost having fallen out of love with GW2 I wanted to revisit my strategy roots and give it a good go.

I haven’t been disappointed!

I really enjoy the setting, a hypothetical situation of the cold war going hot in the late 1980s (although most countries have at least some post-1990s units), and the gameplay is really great as well.

The gameplay is the real focus of a strategy game, and I really like the deck structure that they have. You have a limited amount of points that you can use on troops that make up your deck – what you can call on when in battle. These points can be tinkered with depending on who you choose, for instance if you decide to go with a small country such as East Germany and specialise into Mechanised troops – your points will go a lot further in certain troop trees.

It sounds very in depth, but its very simple to understand. That said, I’m still learning the ins and outs of what works for me and why. Simple to get, but difficult to master – the way a good strategy game should be!

I’ll keep updating about WRD as it nears release. Naval combat is something that I’m definitely looking forward to!

Star Trek Online!

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I also decided to give Star Trek Online a go, thinking I just needed a switch in MMO from GW2 to something a bit different. All I knew about Star Trek Online (STO) was that it went free to play a while back, which I assumed meant it wasn’t that great.

That wasn’t an entirely true assumption. The game is great, and going free to play was a sensible decision. The world is certainly alive with captains filling all the maps. The gameplay is well thought-out as well, with space combat something which has always proved pretty difficult.

The thing is, is that I didn’t enjoy it. I love Star Trek, and used to watch TNG as a kid, Captain Picard was a large part of my childhood – which might well explain a lot about me! I thought, given my love for the Star Trek universe, that I would naturally get on with STO like a house on fire.

Weirdly enough it didn’t work like that, and I’ve since stopped playing it. For me, I’d much rather watch an episode of TNG than play STO. That’s just my preference I guess, but STO wasn’t the kind of Star Trek that I want.

Finishing Up

So that’s about it really. I’ve been busy gaming, but just haven’t had the time to blog about it! Hopefully this rectifies my unplanned absence, and I really hope to keep blogging about all the exciting things going on with gaming. I may well have fallen out of love with MMOs for now, but I’m certainly open to trying new ones – so maybe soon I’ll be back in to them. For now though, I’m happy giving RPGs a go and revisiting my old home of strategy games.

Keep having fun!

 

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

 

Digital Salad: A Small Introduction To Assassins Creed IV

I mentioned in my last post that I recently acquired myself a copy of Assassins Creed IV, the latest installment in the Ubisoft series, this time about all things pirate themed. I’ve been spending some time with it, so here’s the Digital Salad thoughts on it so far.

Before I get to into it though, I recommend you have a watch of this trailer before you read on; it’ll get you in the mood of the game.

It can’t have escaped your notice that Assassins Creed IV is a game based around pirates. A certain pirate called Edward Kenway is the main protagonist; and he is a fantastic choice compared to Mr Bland Connor in Assassins Creed III. Ubisoft would’ve had to have tried damned hard to have made a pirate as boring as Connor, and thankfully they didn’t manage that!

Edward is great. His introduction sets the tone brilliantly. He’s no assassin, he’s just a man out to make a pretty fortune in the Caribbean. He’s a proper pirate essentially, a refreshing break from the high morals and philosophy of previous AC games.

Captain Kenway himself
Captain Kenway himself

It struck me, as I wandered through the pirate republic of Nassau listening to a tavern band play the Sharpe theme-tune (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpmGoPGFJq0) it suddenly struck me. Not only is Assassins Creed 4 the adventures of a charismatic pirate trying to make a fortune anyway possible, it’s also the adventures of Sean Bean – Sharpe actor and all round expert in cinematic dying. Indeed, I realised even more how apt this analogy is when I thought how many times I have, and will continue, to die as Captain Kenway in the game’s progress. So AC 4 really is the adventures of Sean Bean.

Essentially though, the story is fantastic. The tutorial is dramatically reduced, and even made pretty fun. You’re straight into the action, with a really satisfying plot device to get you going and a well rounded crew of characters (without wanting to give away any plot spoilers).

The combat is typical AC, very fluid and satisfying. Being so ship based is interesting though, because half the time in deck based fights my camera was staring at a mast – obstructing my view. So there’s a few problems with the camera, but it’s manageable and adds an extra sense of claustrophobia to a fight that should feel that way.

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Auto-save though is still a problem, it’s so irregular! I wished Ubisoft would make it save more, but it’s manageable when you learn ways round it.

The world is great though, a truly open one – far far more so than any AC before. Every tiny island has a secret to discover, and I’m still loving just exploring it – the story becoming the least of my concerns as I just enjoy the fantastic world. Adding to that is the fantastic, first rate, soundtrack – the crowning glory of which is the sea shanties your crew will sing on voyages.

Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag is a great game, and one that I’m having immense fun playing. I think ubisoft made a great choice setting it as a pirate game (a genre sadly lacking in recent years) and pulled it off really well – learning from many of the mistakes of previous installments.

To me, Assassins Creed 4 is the game Assassins Creed should always have been – a pirate one! Who knows if the next AC will pull off the success of AC4, it has been something of a ruse that would be difficult to replicate. For now, I’ll be enjoying this installment for many more hours to come.

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Digital Salad: Tying Up Loose Ends

I mentioned in my last blog that I’ve been playing a lot of Europa Universalis 2 and Crusader Kings 2, my old friends in video gaming. I thought I’d add a bit more context to that with this post because over the Christmas break I was reaching the final missions of 2 games, which I’ve since finished. With those games out of the way those loose ends, games you get halfway through and leave for months before picking up again, have reduced in number – so I could really get back in to EU2 and CK2 pretty guilt free.

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I’ve finished both GTA V and Sleeping Dogs. Completing them pretty much simultaneously turned out to be a good idea as well actually, so I’m going to compare them and generally consider them both.

I’ve looked in to Sleeping Dogs before, deciding that it stands up pretty solidly against the blockbuster might of GTA IV and V (it came out between the two). Most reviewers passed it off as a cheap GTA imitation to feed the addiction and tide the players over in the long gap between GTAs. I think its better than that though, and having finally got round to completing the final mission (I’m not really sure why I left it so long!) I still stand by what I said about Sleeping Dogs before.

Its a good game, and the martial arts are a real selling point. One of the final bosses is a great martial arts fight, although a little to many quick-time events in it for my liking but they’re not over the top. Bosses is a point in itself. The last game I played which had bosses was probably Skyrim, which I’ve put on hold again at the moment. Skyrim bosses aren’t really the same though, they’re not particularly challenging or different from ordinary grunts usually. Sleeping Dogs bosses get right back to boss fight basics, and I’ve missed it more than I realised.

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I think Square Enix rescuing the project and remaking it in their style really shows through and makes it special. You can see Square in the boss fights, you can see them in the mission style, you can see them in the cut-scenes; and that’s a good thing. I was very late to Final Fantasy, and the controversial XIII series doesn’t really hit the right note for me, so to get some Square charm in Sleeping Dogs was a real breath of fresh air for me – although probably made it a little stale for anyone more used to Square Enix games.

So, Sleeping Dogs was good. What about GTA V, my very own game of the year and probably one of the games that this generation of consoles will really be remembered for? I had great fun with it, definitely. I’ve spoken about GTA V quite a bit on-and-off whilst I’ve been playing through it, but I’ll mainly compare my thoughts now back to my original ones which I blogged about when I first started playing it.

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The first thing I wrote about was the world. Back then when I still wide-eyed and naive to the world of Los Santos; it seemed huge, rich and unconquerable. Now that I’ve completed the story and a good chunk of the strangers side-missions the world has lost a bit of that charm. That’s understandable really, I’m no longer wide-eyed and naive and I’ve poured more hours than I’d care to count into it. The thing about the world that sticks with me though, as a small gripe, is that a lot of it is essentially empty. Rockstar tried really hard to make the world feel alive, with dynamic events and as dynamic an AI for general citizens as you’ll get.

The trouble is, is that the dynamic events are repeated all too many times, and that begins to grate more than it should. The centerpiece of the dynamic world, and I ended up with the same 4 or 5 events repeating several times. I expected a bit better than that.

Don’t get me wrong, the world was amazing. The thing was, was that I never expected that I’d grow bored of it, but I have. I’ve seen it all, done all the things in it that interested me a good few times. I enjoyed driving up Mt. Chiliad only to parachute off it, but after doing that a few times I never had an urge to see the spectacular mountain again. Funnily enough, I think my favourite time I did that was when I ran all the way. Poor Michael struggled with running up, taking many rest stops, and it took forever, but it was somehow the most fun – complete with wild coyote attack halfway up.

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The combat and the driving remained solid throughout. I mentioned in my original post about how I couldn’t find anywhere to have a siege with the police, unlike the hospital in GTA IV which was perfect for it. I found shops to be the best in the end in GTA V, with the Ponsonbys shop in the Los Santos hills lending itself to it pretty well. However, with the new police AI of GTA V it never was really as fun as GTA IV sieges for me, so that was a bit of a disappointment.

It was also a bit disappointment that there wasn’t more opportunity for big gun fights, with only one or two memorable ones in the story. I wished there was a side-mission where you could take part in a gang war, both Trevor and Franklin could easily be worked in to this and it would allow the player to have big gun battles whenever they had the urge – akin to the Gang Wars of the GTA IV DLCs.

Finally there’s the story of GTA V. This gets the most praise of all of the game’s aspects in reviews, and it is a good story. For me though, Trevor never grew on me. I only played as him in missions, outside I never picked him. Michael remained fairly bland, but did grow on me a bit towards the end. Oddly enough, Franklin, who I clicked with the most originally began to irritate me by the end. I get the feeling that Rockstar were trying to say the money had changed him as a person, but it felt a little overdone to me and left me with no characters I really cared about. They could all have died in the final mission and I wouldn’t have minded too much.

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What I said about the heist missions became even more true towards the end as well:

The heist missions, as peaks of previous missions, are fun but often too short after all the work put in to them. Once you’ve completed one you’ll never be watching the bank balance again though, which makes sense but almost makes the game too easy.

Towards the end it really felt like the story was being stretched a bit thin just to squeeze another big heist in, that were too short as it was anyway. I wanted the Heists to be more epic. They were also too easy, I never really felt challenged by them when they felt like they should have been the equivalent of a boss fight for difficulty.

Overall, GTA V was a good game, and I’d still say it’s my Game Of The Year 2013. At the same time though it disappointed me, and lacked a lot that I’ve come to expect from previous GTAs. Once I’d finished the story the world felt empty, I’d seen and experienced everything in it several times over. So, in the end I’ve gone back to GTA IV, which keeps re-playability even years later. GTA V is done, probably never to be played again.

When I sat thinking about GTA V’s re-playability I wondered whether I would replay Sleeping Dogs at all. The answer was, for the martial arts combat. But then, that’s hardly a reason to keep a game where that was only a mechanic of a bigger picture.

Then, when I thought about it more, I realised that I liked the martial arts combat in Sleeping Dogs for all the same reasons I like the Assassins Creed combat. I loved the fighting in Assassins Creed III, but hated the game and world around it, so I didn’t keep it for re-playability. Sleeping Dogs has the same combat hit for me, but a world and a game around it that I can get on with. The thing is, though, is that I’ve not yet picked up Assassins Creed IV. So I wonder, when I do pick that up whether I’ll have any interest left in Sleeping Dogs at all. Maybe I should pick up an MMA game, or an old Tekken. Interesting questions that I won’t know the answer to for a little while yet!

An unexpected rival to Sleeping Dogs?
An unexpected rival to Sleeping Dogs?

In the mean time I’m happy letting my console gather dust for a bit again, and instead playing on my PC. I’ve been on Guild Wars 2 a little as well as playing EU2 and CK2, so I hope to blog about what I’ve been up to on there soon!

 

Digital Salad – https://lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com