Another update

So I’ve been slow to update again, resulting in the state of limbo so often seen on abandoned websites across the Internet.

In short, I have completed Jade Empire, of which the final battles were the first genuine challenge of the whole game.

I have now started playing the free-to-play MMO Guild Wars. I clocked up over 300 hours on this back in 2005 in the long holiday between finishing university and starting work and have taken it up again to stop myself spending too much money on new games.

Problem is it’s so addictive I’ve just ordered the two expansion packs…

Update

It’s been a while since I last updated here, mainly because their hasn’t been much to say and because I’ve been enjoying the sunshine or being too tired in the evenings to do anything. A quick what I’ve been up to:

Oblivion

I stopped playing shortly after getting Jade Empire. I was getting to the point where I didn’t have the motivation to continue. I was thinking of creating a more evil character and looting houses, joining the Dark Brotherhood etc. but then I thought what’s the point? I could amass a fortune in ‘lewt’ but then two problems arise. As I mentioned previously, this isn’t an MMO so it’s not like I can show it off or use it competitively, and it isn’t Baldur’s Gate and there are not a million different swords or spells to buy. So back on the shelf it goes!

Jade Empire

I was really enjoying this game, but I got a point where I realised I was steaming through it and was nearing the last couple of chapters, so I decided to slow down. I did that so much I stopped playing! I’ll get back into it soon, but with a restart no doubt.

Command and Conquer

I can’t put my finger on it, but I’m not quite ‘getting’ the game. Completed the GDI campaign which ended a bit to quickly. I’m half way through the Nod campaign but don’t have the need to complete it. I’m sure I will eventually…

GTA: San Andreas

I had an urge to play this as I’ve never quite completed it. I thought I’d run through the ambulance missions to boost my health. Got to level ten and hit the mission key by accident, ending the mission. Extremely annoying, so I remapped the key to the other end of the keyboard. Tried it again, got to level 12, bounced off a lorry and handbrake-turned over the final patient. If the keyboard wasn’t wired it would have gone out the window :D. Back in the box it goes!

Defcon

There is a concept I’d like to coin as a ‘Wikipedia wander’. You go on Wikipedia for one article and end up clicking on one of the related links. This repeats itself for a few hours until you are reading up on a completely unrelated topic. I think I started on the history of Aesops Fables, and ended up on technical articles on the workings of atomic weapons! A bit sadistically, this lead me on to play Defcon for an afternoon. The game is very simple to play, but is horrible in its plain depiction of the deaths of hundreds of millions of people. Its only a tenner and worth a play.

Dark Angel

I’m about a third of the way through the first series, it really takes me back to when I was younger and watching through the first time on Sky. It has its quirks, lame acting and action here and there, annoying streek speak, but on the whole its an entertaining piece of TV. Amusingly it would seem that half the cast of Battlestar Galactica starred in it at some point. So far I’ve only seen Gaeta as ‘random Latino-looking Jam Pony messenger’ but looking at episode guides online I think I also spot Dee (as Joshua’s blind girlfriend), Crashdown (as a cultist) and Boomer/Athena (as an x? Manticore subject).

Real life!

So as you can see much of my free time has been half heartedly playing computer games and watching TV. I have actually been outside however! I’ve been to see a few mates for birthdays and meets etc. and have really been enjoying the beautifully sunny weather. Maybe this global warming malarkey isn’t so bad 😉

Jade Empire

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The other day I ordered Jade Empire Special Edition which was recently released for the PC. I have a great respect for the Bioware, the developers who also created (in my opinion) the greatest RPG of them all: Baldur’s Gate II. After hearing some positive things about Jade Empire I picked it up. It got it for £17.99 which was quite reasonable, it came in a ‘steel-book’ case common with Xbox 360 limited edition games, a poster and an art book. The poster is not brilliant and the art book is a short staple bound pamphlet- Half-Life 2 Raising the Bar this isn’t.

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On the whole I’d say I’m impressed with the game. There are only three core attributes: body, mind and spirit as opposed to the array available in Baldur’s Gate or Oblivion. This makes it easier to pick up and play, there isn’t much in the way of customisation to be done. It is a very different game to a traditional RPG. You don’t loot the dead for their belongings to sell to merchants, you receive silver automatically. The primary customisations are not what class of armour you buy- in fact as far as I can tell so far you will be stuck with the same paper doll that you start with – but martial art styles and spells. They all have their different powers and chaining some of them together unleashes ‘harmonic combos’. The only one I have found so far slows an opponent and with the second blow obliterates him leaving behind a health power-up. I think the general feeling I get is that it is a very streamlined RPG, revealing its Xbox origins, but a good one nonetheless. Very much more pick up and play than its larger cousins like Baldur’s Gate or Oblivion.

je_tablelegofdoom.jpgGraphically it has aged okay though having got this after playing Oblivion you can see the difference. After seeing the emotion conveyed in the characters of games like Dead Rising and Gears of War, the NPCs here show the game’s true age. The plot seems deep enough and there are hours of fully spoken dialogue, exposition and conversation trees. Its not however, without its faults which mainly are a result of its porting. A lot of the core assets of the game have not been updated with the port. As a widescreen user this is particularly noticeable with stretched loading screen artwork and menu screens (though it does support my screen’s resolution in true widescreen in game). My main gripe is with the frequent cut-scenes. These FMVs rendered in the game engine but saved as video files are extremely low resolution and are no doubt the same files that were on the Xbox version. The definition of analogue television would have let them get away with it then but now it is a glaring eyesore in an otherwise well produced game.

Despite these complaints its a fun game and I’m enjoying playing it. Its also quite crazy at times. I have the ability to turn into a giant frog and poison my enemies and just this evening I managed to pick up a pair of table legs and wield them like dual katanas, as you can see in the screenshot. Madness. Worth the £17.99, I can see a lot of potential for a ‘next-gen’ sequel.