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Archive for the ‘rpg’ tag

Games I Own: Freedom Force

Posted on 2nd Feb 2010 at 10:54 by Joe Martin with 4 comments

Joe Martin
I only bought the Freedom Force games – both the original and the sequel Freedom Force vs The Third Reich – fairly recently, though I annoyingly timed it just before the recent Steam £2 deal. It was a series I’d often heard lauded as a great tactical RPG to play if you like comics, but I’d never really gotten around to trying it until a few weeks ago.

I don’t totally regret the decision to buy the game, but the fact that I have to mention this up front probably hints clearly at how unsatisfied I am with the game.

What Freedom Force is, is an incredibly tongue-in-cheek game inspired mainly by 1930s comics, as oppose to the modern Marvel and DC conglomerates. It focuses on a series of characters who get exposed to an alien weapon called Energy X which accidentally rains down on the planet as part of an overly convoluted alien plan to take over Earth. The exposed humans subsequently manifest super powers, dividing fairly equally into heroes and villains. The heroes, championed by the ultra-American hero Minuteman, form into Freedom Force and go around fighting evil.

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RE: Choose Your Own Adventure Gamebooks

Posted on 23rd Dec 2009 at 09:50 by Joe Martin with 17 comments

Joe Martin
I used to love Choose Your Own Adventure games and I’d regularly either rent them out of the library or pick them up before going on holiday. Lately I’ve been thinking what a shame it is that the medium has pretty much died out and I’ve been fighting back against this by having a go on some of the later interpretations of the idea.

For those not in the know, CYOA books are essentially multiple-choice driven singleplayer RPGs. You create a character according to the rules established in the start of the book, turn to the first passage, read it and then decide what you would do next. Each option available to you would point you to another passage in the book, creating a rudimentary branching adventure.

In the early ‘90s I remember them being all the rage and there were some long-lasting brands to come out of the short-lived fad, the most popular of which was the Fighting Fantasy series which included the likes of The Legend of Zagor and The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. My personal favourites however were the long-running Lone Wolf books by Joe Dever, - which had a single adventure running across multiple books - and the Fabled Lands series.

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What's your greatest gaming achievement?

Posted on 3rd Aug 2009 at 10:43 by Joe Martin with 48 comments

Joe Martin
It seems strange but some of my proudest moments are ones that I’ve lived through virtually. Some of the best things I’ve done are things that I’ve never really done – though I don’t mean that in the fantastical “I’ve saved planets and won wars” way that projects in-game experiences as being real.

Yes, I’ve made millions trading star dust and I’ve stormed castles and heroically held the line…but those aren’t the moments I’m proud of, not really. Instead, my greatest achievements in gaming recognise games as something I’ve actually done, not a virtual experience. My mental list of great achievements doesn’t include the time that I saved the world from an evil Vizier, but it does have space for the time that I fought through the climactic elevator battle in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time without dying.

I’m being careful here not to fall into the all-too-familiar trap of getting carried away with my own story by the way and I can still draw a distinction between my greatest gaming achievement and my greatest actual achievement. The time that I made it all the way to SinTower in a HardCorps run (i.e. all in one go) in SiN Episodes is a highlight, but it pales next to the first time I got published. There’s a Everything2 quote that comes to mind on this topic – “the most you ever dream of is not better than the least you ever accomplish.

Even so though, I’m at the moment readying myself to embark on something that could be a great achievement for me both in terms of gaming performance and personally. I’ve been building up to it for a fortnight.

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I played Diablo 2 and I hated it

Posted on 5th May 2009 at 10:14 by Joe Martin with 32 comments

Joe Martin
So, I played Diablo 2, just as you asked me to. True to my word I got bit-tech developer Jamie to lend me his copy and I gave it a good ol’ go - by which I mean I played it until I didn't want to play it any more, then tried to persevere for another hour before giving up.

I was utterly underwhelmed by Diablo 2. It appealed to me even less than the very similar Titan Quest – and that’s saying something, considering how I enjoyed that game about as much as I’d enjoy passing a cupful of kidney stones all at once. I hated Diablo 2 because there seemed to be absolutely no need for me to be there. I actually felt that the game would play itself better if I just wasn’t there, as the entire role of the player is to click-click-click-click their character along a pseudo-random, utterly linear path that offers no real chance for exploration or involvement.

Playing Diablo 2 I was left with the impression that it didn’t matter what I did in the game, as fundamentally everything I did only ever had one logical outcome, so I may as well not do anything. I was stifled by the utter lack of room for player expression. You could level the same complaint against almost any FPS where players are funnelled through linear levels too, but at least those games are usually fast paced and full of explosions and a sense of interaction and puzzle solving. Diablo 2 didn’t feel that way to me.

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Games I Own: Baldur's Gate 1

Posted on 2nd Feb 2009 at 10:38 by Joe Martin with 9 comments

Joe Martin
There are four stacks I have in my assortment of computer games at home - two piles of DVD jewel cases, one stack of games in smaller CD cases and three or four small wallets of individual CDs. Badlur's Gate 1 is in the stack of CD cases and is one of only two games I own that have cardboard cases.

Before we go any further though, a clarification is in order; I don't actually own Baldur's Gate 1 (and its packaged expansion Tales of the Sword Coast) - they belong to my brother. I nabbed them from him when he stopped playing games as much as I did.

In fact, let's move from clarification to confession: I never really liked Baldur's Gate.

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