Friday, September 24, 2010

Fatal Gaming Overload

I don't think I've ever thrown so many games on my plate to try to play through at once. It's to the point where when I have some free time, if I ask myself the question, "What do you want to play today?" I nearly curl into the fetal position and rock back and forth in a catatonic state from considering all the choices. I'm trying to play through a lot of games, all of which I simultaneously feel like I want to play right the heck now. Don't believe me? Here's the list of games I'd honestly say are ones I'm currently playing:

1. Starcraft II
2. Final Fantasy XIV (I got the collector's edition, thus early access)
3. Hydrophobia (Yes, it's not released until the 29th. I'm working on a prerelease review)
4. Halo Reach
5. Deus Ex
6. Vampire: The Mascarade: Bloodlines
7. Quantum of Solace

Then there's the additional "background" games:

1. Dawn of War II
2. Bayonetta (from Gamefly)
3. Magic: The Gathering
4. Red Dead Redemption

Final Fantasy XIV is an MMO. The playtime potential there is near limitless. Starcraft II has hundreds, if not thousands of hours worth of replayability, as does Halo Reach. I guess this is a good place to be in my official "now that I have FFXIV, I'm not buying any more retail games for the forseeable future" mode. I don't need more games when I have so much I'm working on, and Gamefly to sprinkle in some new content if things ever grow stale.

If you're planning to get Final Fantasy XIV (or even just considering it right now) write this down: My character is named Winter Nightblade, and I'm on the Saronia server. Also, I started in Gridania, which probably won't matter to you later in the game, but is important to know if you're looking for me early in your adventures. Look me up if you want to play together.

After installing FFXIV, I immediately had to lower the settings, as the game can do far more than my new laptop can handle. That's what I get for being economical and not spending for a high range gaming rig. Once I found the acceptable sweet-spot between graphics and performance, I've spent most of my day playing the game, if I'm not playing Hydrophobia. I'd love to talk about that XBLA title, but don't want to do anything to violate the embargo on it. So for now, all I can say is I'm playing it. See the achievements on my tag.

Final Fantasy XIV has been great thus far. I feel completely, utterly lost, but I love it. The feeling of being dropped into a massive world and having to learn the ropes is fantastic. Thankfully, I've found tutorial missions pretty well paced, and there's plenty of help here, without the game totally holding your hand. I like that this game has an actual storyline that's front-and-center (unlike Everquest 2, which had no central narriative and was only so-so at best with storytelling). I'm a huge fan of the fact that the guildleve quests scale based on how many people are in you party, meaning you can treat any quest like a solo challenge or a full-blown raid if you have enough people. I LOVE that versatility.

What I'm not so much a fan of is the fact that there doesn't seem to be a guild system, making maintaining longer-term gaming relationships with some of the same players tougher. It's also harder to see what other people have equipped, or could trade (opposed to EQ2), and the stat-tracking in this game isn't nearly as extensive as my former MMO. Despite those drawbacks, the fights are more engaging and I love that the game is more balanced for solo and group content.

On the Halo front, I'm pretty close to the end of the game, so the next time I sit down to spend some time with it, I should be able to reach the end credits. I've liked this campaign more than Halo 3's, and a lot more than ODST's. Well done Bungie. Now, if you could just learn what the worlds character development mean (something they've had 5 Halo games to imrpove on and have sucked at every single time), the Halo campaigns would be near-perfection. Oh well, maybe Halo's next developer can figure that out, since Bungie already did the matchmaking, stat tracking, and whole gameplay formula thing...

I will be taking a break from gaming long enough to participate in a pre-release tournament for the newest expansion to the Magic: The Gathering card game. It's been eons since I purchased new cards for the game or was involved in that scene, but since it's a sealed deck format, I'm in. The sealed format means everyone gets the same amount of package cards, you open what you got, and have to make a deck out of it for play. It's as "fair" a format as there can be, since everyone has the same number of cards, and everyone has to figure out what the cards do at the same time everyone else does, taking $$$ (some people spend an insane amount to get good decks) and prior knowledge of the whole set out of the equation. I'll post up how I do for my only reader who knows Magic: The Gathering and might remotely care (my brother) =)

That's enough from me for now. Time to get back to FFXIV!

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