X-Com: Classic Ironman Complete!

•October 20, 2012 • 3 Comments

Humanity has been saved! More to come this week on the process and final thoughts.



X-Com: Serious Business

•October 17, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I started my “serious attempt” at Classic Ironman last night, and I’m quite pleased with the initial results. I don’t have my notes handy, but here’s what I recall:

  • It’s around March 24th.
  • I received my first abduction mission on March 2nd – the aliens weren’t screwing around this time.
  • I have the second satellite built and ready for launch at the end of the month.
  • There are only two countries at risk – South Africa and France. Sorry, France. (Although I just received an escort mission in the UK before logging out – I can’t recall if that’s going to lower Continent panic or just country. We’ll see. I want the Africa cash bonus, so Europe is out if I have to choose.)
  • Arc Thrower research completed. Working on Armor now.
  • I have built a Workshop and a Power Generator; the lift is under construction which will land me right next to a Steam outlet so I can build the Thermal Generator and be set for the next few months on Power. Alien Containment also high priority.
  • I have a Satellite Uplink under construction which will finish early next month.
  • Between mission money, loot, and Council funds, I anticipate having more than enough cash to afford 3 sats in early April to have ready for launch at the end of month two – giving me five covered countries by April 30th.
  • I have six “ranked” soldiers through the few missions I’ve had so far – no casualties yet.

I’ll keep you posted of my results as I go along.

X-Com: More Updates

•October 16, 2012 • 2 Comments

All my time spent gaming has been dedicated to X-Com. I’ve tried a myriad of early game strategies out – different starting countries, more/less aggressive base-building approaches, more/less aggressive combat tactics. I’ve loved every minute of it. I also think I’m ready to settle in for a “real” attempt at Classic Ironman.

 The group I mentioned the other day in comments is still where it was, but I think I made a huge error in not getting Arc Throwers early on. The research timer and weapons which can be taken from aliens are a big boost. I’ll try to finish the game with that team, but I have a sneaking suspicion I’ve put myself behind in the arms race and it’s going to catch up with me sooner rather than later.

 I like that there are a myiad of approaches which have worked for people, from the non-traditional “start in South America and research like crazy” guy to the “here are the slow and steady ways to win the race” – I’ve seen quite a collection over on the 2K games forums.

 More X-Com now, please!

X-Com Update

•October 12, 2012 • 2 Comments

 My Classic Ironman squad met their demise last night, rendering the game unwinnable from that point, so I’ve moved on. While I enjoy – conceptually – the idea of Ironman, I don’t feel I quite have a good enough grasp on the base aspects of the game to play it that way. Also, two of my soldiers died on misclicks that sent them wandering far across the map – and that’s a frustrating thing. So, after firing up a few different games and getting the hang of what I wanted to do early on, I’ve landed on the following compromise:

I’m going to play the game on Classic difficulty (I found Normal a bit underwhelming), but not Ironman. I will not save/re-load the game during battles, however, unless I am ending the session. In essence, I’m implementing my own Ironman, but with old save states in case I royally screw something up base-building. With my limited time for gaming, I’d prefer not to have to start from scratch every time.

 Overall, I’m enjoying the game quite a bit.

XCOM: Day 1

•October 10, 2012 • 7 Comments

 Per the “Classic Ironman Challenge” featured over on Gank’s blog – which started from a discussion over at Thade’s Hammer – I began a new game of XCom: Enemy Unknown on the Classic Ironman setting. This means “hard” difficulty and no saves beyond the auto-save and when you quit for the evening. If your troops die, they’re gone for good.

 I only had time to run the opening mission last night, but so far, so good. I was able to make it through without losing any troops, although one guy was injured and will be out of action for a week. Three squaddies had two kills each and were promoted to Heavy, Sniper, and Assault. I was also able to get clean kills (read: not explosive) on the aliens, meaning I got all their weapon fragments and corpses.

 Then, I established my base in Asia – the 50% discount on weapons and such seemed pretty good, and it’s a pretty large landmass. I used my spoils of war to purchase a satellite – which I believe helps track the aliens across the world – and some medkits.

The combat stuff all made sense, but where I’m afraid I’ll royally screw something up is in base management. We’ll see how it goes; looking forward to getting some more play time in this week!

What I’m Playing

•September 19, 2012 • 2 Comments

Obviously, Guild Wars 2, but after donating to Obsidian’s Project Eternity Kickstarter, I had the urge to experience that old-school isometric-style RPG feeling again. So I booted up Dragon Age: Origins again and started up a new character.

I had forgotten just how great that game is.

The voice acting is top-notch. The character development is solid without being overly complex – and with the addition of the “Combat Tweaks 3.2” mod, much better balanced. I’m playing a female noble rogue because I want to see what happens at the end – I understand the option exists to become Alistair’s queen. I’m also playing on “Hard”, which makes combat far more tactical with friendly fire possible.  I’m taking my time and reading all the lore pieces this time, too. I have a pretty solid grasp on the tale, but I tend to get in the habit of being caught up in the “game” and not in the “world”, and I want to remedy that for my single-player experiences.

To touch on “not being overly complex” – that’s been my issue with BG2 which I have tried countless times to play through. Undoubtedly, BG2 is an RPG classic, but it’s also extremely cumbersome to level. It wouldn’t be so bad progressing just the main character (I didn’t encounter this issue in NWN, for example), but dealing with all the classing options for the other companions, and the myriad of spells/special abilities felt more like work than fun. I chose the character I wanted to play – I don’t want to manage six of them, a couple of which I don’t like or fully grok the class mechanics.

 D&D has a pretty significant power-creep problem that once you reach upper levels, it’s just out of control.  So many options, the cross-classing, etc. I could just single-class all of them, sure, but that seems counterintuitive, and … yeah, it’s just a “me” problem, not a “BG2” problem, I know. One of these days, I’ll do it. (Maybe once the updated version comes out – is that still happening?)

 I loved the original Baldur’s Gate because it was a low-level campaign with enough options to keep it interesting, but not so many that it felt laborious. I’m probably in the minority with these complaints, but not having to worry about multi-classing my characters in DA:O (just selecting specializations) just felt like a relief. Like I said above, there are enough skill and talent options without being overly complex, and the Combat Tweaks mod does an excellent job making underused skills relevant. I am also refusing to respec any of the characters to avoid turning Morrigan into a super-healer or super-nuker right out of the gate, for example. It has made for a wonderful play experience thus far.

 Even better? Dragon Age III: Inquisition was just announced shortly after I returned to DA:O. Awesome! There’s a thread up on the BioWare forums where people are providing feedback on what they’d like to see. The best comment I’ve seen so far can be summarized as this:

“Change the name to Dragon Age: Origins II and give us a sequel worthy of the title.”

Amen. Give me a true RPG again – not another hybrid like DA2, please. Meaningful choices and tactical combat. Please, please, please. Please?

GW2: Spiritual Successor to FFXI?

•September 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Given the title, you might think I’m a little crazy. The two games are hardly mirror images of one another, but every time I play GW2, I experience things that remind me of my first MMO.

* Skillchains (FFXI) and Combos (GW2) – in FFXI, you utilized a TP (tactical point) move in quick succession with (most often) someone else’s TP move to do a bonus damage attack. In GW2, you lay a Combo Field and proc additional effects by using Finishers.

* Better Together than Alone – FFXI was notorious for being the game where soloing after level 10 was impossible, unless you were a Beastmaster. GW2 can be played solo, but the greater experience comes by playing in a group, or at a minimum “following the zerg”

* Open World “Bosses” – FFXI did not have instances for most of the bosses. My memory is a bit hazy here, but I believe many could be spawned by using an item at a “???” spot. GW2 has events that can be triggered, and the chains often continue to an exciting boss conclusion.

* Cooking and the overall Discovery System for Crafting- I was a master Chef in FFXI – cooking skill at 99.6 (out of 100) when I hung up my controller. And I loved it. And I love it in GW2 – the recipes make sense. As for crafting in general, the discovery system is basically from FFXI. It was all trial and error, outside of the few recipes the trainers would give you when starting. And spoilers weren’t nearly so rampant online many years ago, so finding a new recipe was an exciting time. I’ve purposely avoided looking up spoilers for my crafting in GW2, as well.

* Missions and Personal Stories – FFXI had Missions that you performed for your country of allegiance with nice cutscenes and memorable characters. I’m enjoying the Personal Story in GW2, and the characters have been equally memorable.

10/3 Edit: In light of my recent comments on “Are We New At This?” regarding GW2 vs. TSW, the last bullet point deserves some follow-up.

 I am sorry I insulted FFXI like I did. The Personal Story in GW2 gets progressively worse, and the “memorable characters” I referenced were from the very initial segments of the tale who never resurfaced after the initial phases, and frankly, I can’t recall their names. Not so memorable after all, it seems. Trahearne is horribly boring, and the one character I did actually like died. Bah.

Bottom line:GW2’s personal story is rubbish. FFXI’s missions were not.