This is where you can read any of my irregular wafflings about computer gaming. The whole point of this blog is to help motivate me to properly finish games, whether they be recent ones or older ones I played when I was younger that I never managed to beat.
17th March 2016 - Rome: Total Bore
A while back I looked at the games I had finished in the last year or so, and saw that none of them were games that I had originally played years ago. Sure, there were a couple in the same series as games I played years ago, but when I went through them last year they were new to me.
In fact, the last such game I completed was Space Crusade in October 2014.
That has changed now with the completion of a game that I played a hell of a lot of around a decade ago, in the form of Rome: Total War. Like a lot of RTS games of the late 90s and early 2000s, I had only ever played the multiplayer and skirmishes rather than bother with the campaign.
I never expected it would take this long at all. Wow what a drag.
I played a short campaign at first, as I read you had to play as a Roman faction to unlock the other factions. As I wanted to use Pontus, who were my fave faction back in the day, this was something I needed to do. Problem was, when I finished that campaign, I found out Pontus weren't even a faction that got unlocked anyway, so I had to go ahead and edit some of the game's files so that I could use them.
But nevermind. I finally got into a long campaign as Pontus.
I quite liked it at first, going through some political wranglings with the Seleucids, Armenians and Egyptians, as alliances were formed and broken, with both the Seleucids and Egyptians stabbing me in the back. It fairly quickly got to a point where I immediately assassinated any diplomat that came my way, and went into full ass-kicking mode.
Once my immediate neighbours were defeated, I started the very, very, very long grind towards Rome.
This is where my problems truly started.
Because it takes so long to build up a city, and so long to train a full army, it took forever to get through this thing. I felt pretty much done with the game after taking about 20 towns, but I'd got to claim a total of 50 to be victorious in the entire campaign. How I managed to stick with it I will never know.
The long push across the map was not helped by all the rebellions I had to deal with, which was the one area of the game I think I hated most. Every few turns, one of my previously taken settlements would start rioting and giving me trouble, inevitably turning rebellious which meant I would have to go and take the town all over again. This constant struggle to keep order within my borders when all I wanted to do was expand really slowed me down and pissed me off no end.
The best bits of the game, which are the battles themselves, were also spoiled by the stupidly bad A.I. opponents. Unless they outnumbered me by a large amount, it seemed there was nothing they could do threaten me. Only early in the campaign, where I came up against elephants with nothing yet to fight them with, did I really have to try.
With the campaign map section spoiled by the very long time needed to build armies plus the rebellions, and the battles being spoiled by the bad A.I., I have really not enjoyed completing this game as much as I should have, as it was a staple multiplayer game for me at times in the past.
Taking a Carthaginian town in the short campaign
Marching against the Seleucids
As the first faction to betray me, I gave the Seleucids no mercy
Pouring into a Seleucid town
Spearing me a wild Parthian
Lots of people in pajamas try and stab each other
These fools think they are getting across my bridge
That's a lot of Romans guarding that city
My first big battle against the Romans
Three Pontic armies fight six Roman armies...
...and emerge victorious
Attacking the walls of Rome
The S.P.Q.R. fail to stop my advance
Seriously? Is this screen all we get at the end?
7th October 2014 - The Ancient Crusade
A marathon of an entry kicks off with the completion of another old Amiga game, in the form of Space Crusade. The board game of this got me into wargaming back in the early 90s, and I also played the computer game a little bit with my friends. I don't ever remember finishing a single mission properly, on the board game or the computer game. But that has changed now with this completion.
I know it's old and simple, but the game was a pain to get through. It was just so slow, constantly switching to pointless little animations that got old real quick. I'd have preferred if there was an option to turn those off. There were other annoying things such as the Soul Suckers being present instead of the Genestealers for some reason, and a few graphics bugs, which may have been down to the emulator.
I went into this controlling both the Imperial Fists and the Ultramarines, not knowing that the Blood Angels are supposed to have the best cards. Still, it made it more of a challenge I guess. Overall it was quite easy, up until the last couple of missions anyway. That was when the weaker Imperial Fists got slaughtered twice when under heavy close assault from many enemies. But the Ultramarines with their better close combat cards and medkit managed to forge a path through every level. Kind of a shame, as I prefer the Fists to the Ultramarines, but oh well.
The Ultramarines deploy
Trapping enemies in doors
A Marine loses his head, and his body
That room is gonna be interesting...
A huge rumble kicks off
Gretchin beat up a Marine
Commander Keifer is killed by a Soul Sucker
That's a Dreadnought not a Soul Sucker. Silly game.
Commander Goldstock fights for his life
Launcher Marine cleaning up the town
In the final mission, the Fists are destroyed
The Ultramarines are able to destroy the Chaos Cube
Don't look so smug, you silly smurf
Another game I thought I could quickly blast through and tick off the completed list was Star Wars Dark Forces. I got to the last level of this back on my original PC in the 90s, but never managed to beat it. Recently I found there was a mod for the game called DarkXL which made it a bit more up to date. After installing the game using DOSBox, I was soon playing the DarkXL version. However, I came up against several problems which stopped me in my tracks. Firstly, the game's very loud music can not be turned down or off using the mod, and also the graphics were incredibly dark with no brightness or gamma control in sight. Also, reading the t'interwebs, there are many bugs with the mod that make the game impossible to finish anyway.
So instead, I booted up the classic game on its own, but had issues there also, particularly the lack of mouse control and the lack of targeting reticule. Just how did I play like that back in the day?
Hopefully, DarkXL will get updated, as it is still in alpha. If it does, I'll be back to this in the future, but for now it's going back to its forgotten corner where it belongs...
Here, have one of my red diamonds
Darth Vader argues with Colonel Mustard
Sit down nerd
The emulator got a further workout when I had a bit of a fad recently on good old Sensible Soccer. I played four leagues on the trot, each one including more and more teams as I thought of new ones to create. It was honestly quite a bit harder than I remember it when I was a kid, and I continually failed to win the title until the fourth league where I really knuckled down. Even then, throughout the course of the madness, I had a fair few second half meltdowns, playing very badly in the second half after doing good work in the first.
But it was so much fun to just go nuts on a fondly remembered game from twenty-odd years ago.
Angron scores passed me for Chaos Utd...
...so I fight Chaos with chaos
Scoring passed the DC comics team
Going for the lunge
Everyone's on their arse
Marvel's keeper tries to head it out
Only Marvel beat me on the way to the title
The midfield battle against the Skumsplattaz
Great save by Aquaman in the DC goal
Champions at last
Me and Scoob have continued in our efforts to find other interesting multiplayer games to play, but unfortunately none of them have really worked for us.
Up first, we tried Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine from Humble Indie Bundle 11. This was fun enough, but after a few levels we quickly got bored, and the blocky art style really spoiled it in my opinion. Had the graphics been created with a sharper, more up to date style, without all the blockiness, I may have continued a bit more.
We also tried Empire Earth which I'd grabbed from GOG, as I was hoping for an interesting strategy game after the failure that was HOMM 3. This thing was a bit of a ball ache to get into, and it seems to be one of those games that starts off slow and builds up to the action. It didn't help that it seemed very close in style to the old Age Of Empire games. I'm not ruling out coming back to this, but if we really fancy playing a game of this type I'm sure we would just go and play Galactic Battlegrounds.
And then we tried one that I bought a while ago, System Shock 2, that I was really looking forward to getting into, mainly because it can be played 3-player co-op, and I thought me, Scoob and JIK could give it a go. In the end, I got tired of waiting for all of us to be available, so me and Scoob tried a 2-player game. I think I'd built it up in my head far too much, and was greatly disappointed. This thing was all kinds of clunky, especially the HUD and inventory. The combat and controls were also slow and frustrating, and we had no real idea what was going on. I went in expecting an interesting FPS horror game, and got psychic monkeys shooting energy balls at us. Hmmph.
Ever since Riot activated intermediate bots in custom games in LoL we've been challenging ourselves more and more against them. The latest challenge, and as far as we can tell, the hardest one we can create, was to go against five burst champions who could root or stun while using fairly weak melee champs ourselves. When the enemy bots grouped up we could not touch them, and they beat us a few times until we changed tactics. Rather than try and team-fight them, we instead outplayed them and pushed the lanes to their base. We were easily able to take their nexus down before they touched our own, with just five kills in the entire game. We have since gone on to beat them with a host of different champs and in straight up fights, so we'll need to find a new challenge...
I see you, copper!
No idea what just happened
The not so scary ghosts of System Shock 2
The definitely not scary monkeys
Another challenge complete
Also had a bit of an RTS revival recently playing a few sessions with Mr. Gallear. Included were some games of Rome: Total War for the first time since my days as a Wild Monkey general. We also played some Soulstorm, with one 2v2v2v2 battle lasting nearly two hours, and another 2v2v2v2 battle where every army was Necrons. Crazy fun.
My wonderful pink cavalry ride to the aid of Mr. Gallear
Catching the enemy from behind
The massive 4v4 battle stretches down into the valley
The Living Saint takes a beating
The Ecto-1 sure looks different these days
March of the Necrons
The enemy Necrons stand no chance